Making a Jewelry Organizer From Junk

how to make a jewelry organizerHaving a teenage girl has definitely made me think more about jewelry than I have for a long time. I used to care about jewelry when I was still dating……a million years ago, but now I think my husband is just glad if I show up clean and not smelling of paint. To be completely honest, he’ll still take me out dirty and smelly but only because he doesn’t have many other offers……..not that I do. Anyway, back to the jewelry. I got an idea for a hanging jewelry organizer when I was rummaging through my junk and I thought I’d share the steps I went through to create it, just in case you have some junk laying around too…..oh, and some jewelry. In the above photo you can see what I started with. The frame and back board were originally together as a piece of “art” from Ross. The “art” was ugly so I pulled it out and used the back. I bought it at an estate liquidator place for $5, which is high (I think the guy thought it was “art” too) but he gave me two others for $1 so I’m telling myself I paid $2 for it. Ah, the rationalizations of the hoarder mind. The ugly metal knobs are in two pieces and I found them at a thrift store for 50 cents each.  I think the metal screen is used for radiators, but since we don’t have those in San Diego, that may be an urban legend. I found it in my friend’s garage and she let me take it for free. Yay! gilding size appliedI decided to gild the frame with metal leaf. The first step in gilding is applying gilding size and I always use Rolco Aquasize which is water-based and dries quickly. Gilding size is a watery adhesive that you brush on. The photo above shows the frame after the size was applied, which is why it’s shiny. The metal leaf I used is called Celestial Leaf and the color is Moonbeam. This is a variegated metal leaf, so the color is inconsistent, which I actually love. Celestial Leaf comes in books and each sheet is applied individually. metal leaf applied After the size has dried and become tacky, lay a piece of leaf on the surface and push it in to the crevices with a soft brush. Try to not touch the leaf with your bare hands as the oil from your hands can discolor the leaf. When you have the entire surface covered in leaf, smooth it out with a sheepskin pad. If you don’t have a sheepskin pad you can use a really soft rag, but just know that it may scratch the leaf if it’s not truly soft. frame gilded in Celestial leaf When the leaf is all shiny and pretty you can spray a coat of varnish on it to protect it from tarnish. I really recommend this step if it will be hung near a shower. Modern Masters and Faux Effects productsMoving on to the knobs….after cleaning them well, I primed them with Faux Effects Black SetCoat, but you could use any metal primer that works with water based paint. I painted them first with with one coat of Antique Bronze metallic paint from Modern Masters and then a second coat in Pale Gold. knobs painted in metallic paintMetallic paint can be fairly transparent which is why I used a black primer. I stippled (fancy word for blobbing on light layers of paint) a thin coat of each color with a small, badly, crumpled artist brush. Use a bad brush so that the pattern is irregular. Smooth brushes leave streaks if you just brush on metallic paint. You can get a better look by stabbing it on randomly, while allowing a little of the black primer peek through. Silk soft paint Now for the fun part; the backboard. I sanded the board to get rid of scratches but it was still a little uneven. I decided to hide the blemishes by using this Blue Pearl paint called Silk Soft, in the color Asian Silk. This is a metallic paint that actually has small fibers in it making it thicker and textured to the touch. To amplify this effect I applied it heavily with a rough chip brush in one direction. It looks very much like raw silk and it’s a great background for the next step. lace stencil from Royal Design StudioI used a new stencil from Royal Design Studio called Snowflake Lace. Royal Design just released a whole group of lace stencils that are really fun to use. I used Modern Masters metallic paint in Black Cherry and a brush from Royal Design Studio. Please don’t consider doing this with anything other than a stencil brush. Sponge brushes and artist brushes suck and should never be used for stenciling. You can use them, just don’t call me crying about it when it’s hideous. I told you not to use them. Dip your brush lightly in the paint, then rub off the excess paint in a swirling motion on a paper towel until there’s barely any paint on your brush. Swirl your brush lightly on the edges of the stencil openings, working your way into the center of each opening. Lift the stencil to check your progress as you go. It takes very little paint to leave an impression. beautiful job stencilingDo you see any blobs of paint? Any ooze under the stencil? No? That’s because I used a proper brush and a very light amount of paint.  It’s not rocket science. Just use the right brush for the project, and don’t go heavy with the paint. finished jewelry organizerWhen all the pieces were painted and pretty I put them together. The metal screen didn’t need to be painted, I just sanded off the dullness before attaching it to the backboard. The screen and the knobs were attached with bolts after I drilled holes in the board. necklace and ear ring holderSo from pieces of junk I created a great place to organize jewelry. I love how it all came together. It’s for sale in my Etsy shop now if you know anybody that could use a little help with corralling their accessories. This was so fun, I may have to make another one. Inventory used: Metallic paint

Stitched and Painted Bird Art

painted and stitched bird portraitI’ve been collecting all sorts of ideas for art gallery vignettes that I want to create in my home before we leave. The idea for this little beauty came from an article in Sew Somerset magazine that I pulled out over 18 months ago. I rip articles out that I like and keep them in binders in clear plastic pockets so that the rest of the magazine can be recycled. I recently confessed this behavior to a woman I chatted with at a bookstore. She said that I’m way too organized, but I think it sounds a little better than the hoarder house full of hundreds of magazines that she lives in. I don’t want to be found two weeks after I died, trapped under 10 year old craft magazines…….that would be so embarrassing.

Sew Somerset Summer 2012This article was written by Colette Copeland  who writes on a blog called a-bird-in-the-hand. I was taken in by the simple shapes, the single word, and the idea of outlining the image with hand stitching.

estate sale findI decided to use this frame that I picked up for 50 cents at an estate sale. The gold painted edges were dinged up and it had no back or glass, just a slot for a really thick image. I fixed the edges really easily with gold acrylic paint.

simple bird portraitSince the slot for the image was so deep I decided to paint it on a piece of an old book cover that was too broken to be used for anything else (Don’t ask me why I keep crap like that and don’t think I don’t know that you’re picturing me right now, dead under a stack of broken book covers, just stop it!). I sketched the outline first and then filled it in with watered down acrylic paint. When it was dry I poked holes with an awl all the way around the outline. I stitched the outline with pink embroidery floss using a backstitch.

trio of handmade artI framed a doodle stitching piece (my first ever) in another gold frame I found at the same estate sale, and hung both of them with vintage pink ribbon. I put eyelets in the ribbon to make them easy to hang. They flank the collage piece that I made at the Spellbound Art retreat in November. I love this piece so much, but I had nothing else in this color scheme in my house, so I decided to make something to coordinate with it and that’s how this little grouping came about. I’m working on a bigger piece that I started at Spellbound for the opposite wall and I’m really excited about finishing it. I like these pieces because they’re so different from anything I’ve done before. I’m loving the freedom I have right now to try new things.

The three of them look great together, especially on the mottled, taupe, Venetian plaster in my guest bath. I did the plaster years ago and until now there hasn’t been any artwork in there. Mostly because Venetian plaster is hard to repair so I didn’t want to hang anything unless I was in love with it. There’s no poking holes, just willy-nilly when it comes to plaster, at least not in my house. The collage is light enough to be hung on a 3M adhesive hook but the two side pieces I hung on Monkey Hooks that only leave pin size holes, which shouldn’t be too hard to touch up………but only because I’m so awesome.

Inventory used: acrylic craft paint

Mixed Media Collage

Terms of EndeermentTwo months ago I attended the Spellbound Event in Pasadena and it was the funnest thing I’ve done in a long time. Spellbound is an art retreat hosted by A Gilded Life and I’m definitely planning on going again this year. The collage above is from the first class I took at the retreat. The class was called “Terms of Endeerment” and was taught by Cathe Holden. I picked this class mostly because of the deer head. It’s awesome.

Rosette corsageCathe was a fantastic teacher and although there were a lot of layers in this project she broke it down and made it seem easy. Cathee has a book out called Rosette Art, so I guess you could call her a rosette expert.

I never did sports growing up so I don’t have any ribbons hanging on my wall or stuffed in boxes. I think this one’s prettier than all the hundreds my sister got for gymnastics. No, I’m not bitter, just lazy and prone to fainting spells when I sweat.

I loved how this piece came out, but when my daughter’s friend saw it in my studio, she really, really loved it. Now normally, I’m generous with my stuff, but like I said, I love how this piece came out, so it’s not leaving my studio anytime soon. I decided to make her something similar. It makes me look generous without having to give up any of my own stuff.

rosette art collageI made the background out of a foam core board that I plastered with a scrap of flocked wallpaper. (I love flocked wallpaper!) I made the rosette from a fabric covered button that I recovered with velvet. I got the pendant at the bottom from Michael’s, but the rest of it came from the stash drawers in my studio.

velvet rosette collageI think it’s a close enough reproduction to make her happy. It definitely says something for Cathe Holden’s ability to teach that I was able to duplicate it without her help two months later. Taking classes opens you up to to new ideas, tools and techniques, and I waited way too long to take one again. I’m so glad I got the chance to take this class, and in turn make something cool for a really deserving girl that could use a little frivolous beauty in her life. Everybody wins.

Christmas Decorating without a Tree

Christmas focus wallI will admit that Christmas is not my favorite holiday. I don’t like spending endless amounts of money, or overeating and it seems senseless to buy decorations that sit in a box 11 months out of every year. I know you could say the same thing about Halloween, but Halloween is fun. There’s just so much guilt wrapped around Christmas. Did you spend too much? Not enough? Did you cook it right? Cook enough? Are you making it memorable? Are your kids disappointed? Spoiled? Ungrateful? The list goes on and on, mostly in my head, but it weighs so heavily on my heart as well.

I combat these feelings with making a lot of the gifts I give and the decorations we put up. For the past few years I’ve had an argument inside about the Christmas tree. I really don’t like putting them up. We had an ugly, fake one for a long time. We bought it because it was ugly. It made me feel like I was thrusting my middle finger at The Christmas Police. “You want me to have a tree? Here! Here’s your freaking tree!” A couple years ago it became too ugly, even for me. Ever since, I’ve had to figure out some way of putting up my ornaments, without buying a tree. This year’s solution is my absolute favorite because it was free and it used up four spray paint cans out of my stash.

branches painted blackI brought home five branches that I found on the ground at the park next to my house. I painted them first with black floral spray paint to make them stand out a little more since my wall is a little busy. To make it look like they had snow on them I sprayed them a few inches at a time with clear topcoat spray and while they were wet I sprinkled them with small mica flakes and then I coated them really well with more topcoat to get the flakes to stick. I had the flakes on hand from when I used to make countertops. (I didn’t want to use glitter because I was afraid my dog might eat it and get sick)

mica snowmy kind of ChristmasTo hang them I put four small eye hooks in the ceiling about 3 inches from the wall and about two feet apart.  I tied thread in two places on each branch and suspended them at different heights.

Christmas branchesOrnaments on highI love the way it really shows off our ornaments. Plus, unlike a tree, there’s no bad side, no broken lights and no need to water it. Way better than a tree, at least for me. Please don’t get me wrong, I think Christmas trees are beautiful and I love all the lights, I just hate doing it. My hats are off to all you Christmas tree decorators out there. I admire your tenacity. You’re a better man than me.

A Gilded Life – Spellbound Event


Welcome Dinner
The Spellbound Event hosted by A Gilded Life Studio was one of the funnest things I’ve ever done. Forgive me for taking so long to post this, but the amount of photos I had to go through was a little overwhelming. I want to take you through the event, but I don’t want this to be a never ending post so I’ve made collages to keep the photos to a minimum length.

Pre-Event SoireeFor people that were able to get to the hotel one day early, they were treated to a Pre-Event Soiree at A Gilded Life studio in Santa Ana. A bus collected all of us for free and took us to a place where my kind of dreams are made of. They really should have handed out napkins at the door because the drool was seriously flowing.

The studio hosts classes and is also a retail shop for the most beautiful things you can imagine. They primed us with an amazing buffet, ridiculously beautiful desserts and of course champagne. Then they taught us a craft with a brand new embossing/cutting machine that’s yet to be on the market. Crafting AND Champagne?! I was giddy. So of course I went shopping.

A Gilded Life purchaseThis was my first night, so I really tried to reign it in because I knew there were going to be many other shopping events throughout the week. I bought this remnant of ruffled fabric that I plan to make a skirt with for Dianna. The two yards of lace are also for Dianna, but the lime green, velvet leaves are for me. I have no idea what I’m going to do with them, but I just had to have them.

The French General StoreThe next day a local store called The French General hosted a free crafting/luncheon for those attendees who could drop by. I have loved French General products for years so to have a chance to craft in the store was so exciting. The store did not disappoint. They have an incredible assortment of fabric, beads, buttons, ribbon and paper ephemera. I ate my lunch, made a couple bracelets and scanned the store for what was going to have to go home with me.

French General NotionsMy restraint had started to weaken, obviously. So, so many pretty things.

We rushed back to the hotel with all our goodies and got ready for the Welcome Dinner in the ballroom of the Pasadena Langham Hotel.

Gift Tote bagThe first thing I noticed was that every chair had a really beautiful tote bag hanging on the back. We took our seats and tried to be grown ups and not the little kid inside who wanted to dump out the bags on the floor and check out all the candy. It took a couple glasses of wine to quiet that desperate impulse. I was able to keep a handle on it, which was difficult considering that this is what the inside looked like:

gift bag treasuresThe hosts and sponsors of this event were extremely generous with their products. There were so many cool new products in this bag that I think I’ve returned to  square one on my destashing efforts. But wait………there’s more……….

Spellbound embossing machineAfter dessert they surprised us by giving every single attendee a brand new, not on the market yet, Spellbound Artisan machine and a ton of dies and plates to go with it. I thought Oprah was going to come out and hand out car keys next. If you haven’t heard a room full of grown women squeal before, you’re definitely missing out. It absolutely made my heart race.

embossed bookThere are lots of embossing and die cutting machines on the market. This new machine’s advantage is that it can do both at the same time. The little book above is what we made the night before. We inked the plate before running the linen covered paper through the machine so not only was it embossed, it was stained in the low areas as well. So beautiful and so easy. It works on paper, fabric and leather. You have to get one.

When I got to my room with my new machine and bag full of awesome crap I totally dumped it all on my bed like a little girl and looked at every little treasure one at a time. It was awesome.

mixed media classesThe four classes I took over the next two days were amazing. I would love to show you all the finished products but I’m going to give a couple as gifts, so they have to remain a secret. The teachers were great and I learned so many new techniques that I’m still pumped up with ideas.

mercantile displayFriday night was the Dreamland Mercantile, and with a lot of help from my roommate I got my display set up with enough time to shop the other vendor tables.

Dreamland Mercantile vendorsThey had about 30 vendors, all real different, but all so beautiful. I sold enough to pay for my table and make a little profit. The feedback I got was very valuable so I’m definitely glad I did it.

Saturday night they hosted an Up All Night Craft Party that was a total blast. The vendors set up about six different craft stations with a different project at each of them. More free stuff!

They also provided late night munchies like sliders and mac n cheese, which was followed by an amazing display of desserts. I should have taken a picture but I was in a chocolate coma.

Craft party projectsThese are the things I made. They taught us how to make flowers with our new machines and we cut flowers out of a bunch of different fabrics and glued them all on an apron. It’s adorable. I made a mixed media tag book that’s so cute. I also stenciled a canvas bag to hold all my new stuff. The long necklace laying on top was the name tag every one wore. They made 150 of these, and each metal bezzle has our name floated in the resin inside. It’s stunning and actually one of my favorite things from the event.The Rose Bowl Flea MarketThe event was topped off with a Sunday morning trip to the Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena. I had always wanted to go, and it was definitely worth the drive. They have a huge number of very good vendors with a vast array of antique and vintage finds. I loved the fabric stall at the top which specialized in vintage fabrics and trim. Very good prices and a large selection.

I have to say sorry to my good friend Jerry for not picking up the clown painting. I know it would go great over your bed, but I just didn’t have any more room in my car.

Rose Bowl purchasesThis is what came home with me. I’m going to use the vintage runners on my Thanksgiving tables this year and they’ll be so cute.

From there I drove home with a car full of treasures and a brain buzzing with ideas. The event was more than I could have dreamed of and I will definitely be returning next year. The generosity of the hosts and sponsors was overwhelming, but it was their attention to every detail that really pushed it over the top. It was obvious that they understood what makes a woman’s heart sing, and they were just so willing to make it happen.

A big Thank You to the women at A Gilded Life and the people at Spellbound. You gave me more than you’ll ever know.

Creating a Craft Fair Display from Scratch

salvaged sanity displayThis past week I’ve been working furiously on the display I’ll be taking to A Gilded Life art retreat this coming Wednesday. I say furiously because anyone getting in my way or slowing me down has definitely experienced my wrath (sincerest apologies to my family). I finished it yesterday and I’m pretty happy with the results. I’ll take photos at the actual event….this is just what it looks like in my dining room.

mail organizer displaySalvaged Sanity mail organizers should ideally be displayed on walls, but since this venue doesn’t provide any, and I can’t fit those in a Prius, I had to come up with something else. The most important factor the display had to work around was that it had to break down into parts small enough to fit in my car, and be easy enough to put together by myself.

My husband came up with the designs for the table racks and I came up with the idea for using an IKEA $10 clothes rack for hanging the Design-Your-Own message center components. Other than the IKEA purchase all the other parts were salvaged either from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore or my studio.

standing display rackThe hanging table racks are made from two 1″ x 4″s and two 30″ sections of 1/2″ x 1″molding to fit a standard 30″ x 72″ banquet table. You could actually fit three of these racks on this size table, but I needed only two. I added hooks at the top of the 1″x 4″s for my boards to hang on. The rack fits right over the edges of the table and the weight of the hanging boards balances each other. They fit snug enough that if you remove one of them, the other side stays in place.

IKEA clothes rack display

To display the pieces that are for sale a’ la carte I used chandelier chain, s-hooks and gutter screens to hang everything from the clothes rack. All that stuff folds down to practically nothing and yesI had all that stuff in my studio.

craft show display tableFor the table top holders I got lucky at the ReStore when I found an old wooden sliding door track. I cut it into four equal pieces and my boards slide right on to them. I formed triangles out of two organizers tied together at the top and their bottoms stabilized in the wood tracks.

I had the fabric for the tablecloth (a thrift store find) and all the material for the signs in various corners of my home. So this whole thing came together for less than $20 and a lot of imagination.

Today I’m doing the hard part – figuring out how to get it all in my car and still be able to see out the windows. I’ve always loved a good puzzle. Wish me luck!

Dreaming of an Art Retreat

Spellbinders EventOne year ago I saw an ad for this art retreat and I was dying to go. I’ve wanted to go to a mixed-media event for years, but they’ve always involved airfare and I just couldn’t justify it. This Spellbound Event was just two hours drive from my house, but since I didn’t have any extra cash, I didn’t go last year. I promised myself I would go this year so I set aside money ahead of time. I signed up for it the day registration opened in April and I’ve been counting the days ever since.

embellished bookThe retreat consists of a formal welcome dinner, followed by late night crafting, two days of classes, a mixed-media market, an up all night craft party and a field trip to the Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena. I’ve died and gone to Heaven!

mixed media necklaceI’ve signed up for 5 classes, three of which I’ve posted photos of the finished products here. I picked classes that were either teaching techniques I’m not familiar with or products that I haven’t used.

embellished panelI didn’t want to post all five photos because you would be sobbing with jealousy. I’m sure by now you’re a little weepy and I’m sorry, but I just had to show you why I’m so excited. The group has also added a pre-event Soiree at A Gilded Life Studio, and a field trip to The French General in LA, both of which have been on my must-see list for years.

Because I wasn’t worked up enough, I decided at the last minute (no joke, like two weeks ago) to rent a table at their market and bring all my Salvaged Sanity products to sell. One of the major sponsors of the event is “Where Women Create” magazine, which is my all-time favorite magazine, and I would love to get my products in front of their editor who is attending the event. I think my stuff is right up her alley.

So the past few days I’ve been putting a table together and getting my stuff ready to sell. It would be nice to sell a few things, but more than anything I’m just trying to be seen.

Langham Hotel PasadenaThe retreat takes place at the Langham Hotel which looks stunning from the pictures. I’m going to be sharing a room with a woman I have only spoken to on the phone and through email. We actually have a lot in common and I’m really looking forward to meeting her.

So that’s what my life is revolving around this week. I leave November 6th which is just a few days away. I’ve practically got my table finished and I’m going to make a few more things to sell. The big challenge will be getting all of this into my Prius. Wish me luck!

All photography, except the hotel shot, are by I See the Moon photography.