April showers bring May flowers then garage sales! As the warm weather approaches I am definitely dreaming of warm days in the backyard, family outings and gatherings and if our youngest dog could speak I know she would tell us she can’t wait to be back at the park, and in the yard playing, as well as jumping in her pool, actually any body of water she can find, including puddles~ muddy puddles are a bonus to her.
But warmer weather also means spring cleaning and where does all those goodies you pull out of your attic end up? Donated to thrift stores or priced to sell on tables on your drive way, otherwise known as a garage sale! For my husband and I Saturday mornings then mean getting up as early as we can, grabbing our wallets and our coffee and tea and heading out on our treasure hunt. We can spend the entire morning going from place to place digging through bottomless boxes if we have to, because you never know what treasures you will find, you know how the saying goes, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure, and we love treasures all kinds.
With the explosion of upcycling and many of us hot glued to Pinterest I know a lot of you may be thinking, just another girl thinking she is unique, while I admit Pinterest and the dozens of blogs and web sites I favor for inspiration do help, this girl is the daughter of a man who upcycled when it wasn’t “cool”, in fact as a little girl I would think oh my goodness what is he doing/making now! If MacGyver and Martha Stewart had a child that was my dad, I’ve often referred to his work as Macgyvering it, but only recently have I reflected back and seen how he was ahead of his time with his upcycling. One project in particular that always stands out for me was how he took an old floor television and turned it into a budgie cage, our budgie cage, and I’ve wished more than once I had that cage today. Then he would take apart anything that didn’t work (only if he tried and failed to fix it first) and use parts for anything imaginable, stock piling all the bits and pieces for future needs. He was the king of road side finds and I thank him for introducing me to the world of flea markets.
Now a days Etsy is filled with one of a kind “art”, as a child our drawer was full of one of a kind utensils with MacGyver handles, DIY cheese graters from old metal lids,(usually the powder nesquick ones, the ones dad didn’t use as storage for his bits and pieces), our house filled with refinished chairs tables and other “unique” things that I hastily erased from memory with full regret now ,things I was so embarrassed of then but wish more than ever I had now. I recall a house model he helped my little brother with for a school project, while my mom sewed up the curtains and such for it, it was dads creative mind that came up with the ideas. He dug into his stock piles and wired that little house with working lights, decked it out with many little details, all from scraps of this and that, our daughter played with it for years, yet another thing I wish I had still today.
My dad passed in 2007 I wish the most of all that I had him still, here with us, as I imagine him and I in my garage or his shed “tinkering”, but since he isn’t I thank the universe for my husband who isn’t exactly like my dad but who loves a “good find” and who smiles at all my ideas and creations. Although I’ve seen the raised eyebrow once or twice, my fellow upcyclers and thrifters, you know? “the brow”, the one that quietly says, you’re going to do what with that? we truly are a great team, he is my muscle and my biggest supporter (and enabler lol) I can’t count all the times he has dragged something home he has found (thrifting, at a yard sale, off the side of the road, and even crates and such from work. Little shout out to my daughter who works in a wood factory and is always thinking of mom too) sometimes I have an idea but don’t have the physical capacity to execute it and he is right there for me, he is also officially my measuring tape as I’ve learned that 3 ft 1/4 and 2 ticks isn’t an official way to measure things!
I keep a list of things for us to look out for, sometimes a particular item for a project I have in mind, but often projects jump out at me once I see an item, the only rule we set out is that we get it for cheap. Some things I look out for all the time are vintage fabrics, vintage wood items (you know the ones who’s guts aren’t made of glued together saw dust) old hardware old board games(and video games) and old pop culture things.(of our childhood past) Of course we don’t upcycle everything, many things are set out as decor as found, and we use many things too, nothing more nostalgic then having a drink from a vintage ET cup or an old fire king mug (I love my set in all their colourful glory) while playing the gremlins board game or zapping away yars revenge on our Atari. Below are some pictures of just a few things we’ve upcycled, our house is full of them and thrifted/vintage finds so check back for future throwback Thursday posts, ill maybe even include instructions here and there for projects, for now I hope maybe the pictures will inspire you.
This is a quilt I made with dad’s clothes (I had to add some purchased fabric as well and of course it was thrifted fabric) it sports the jeans he always wore, his plaid short sleeve button shirts, the middle has the pocket of one of his green work shirts (ironically there was and probably still is saw dust in it) and on the edges is remnants of a grey sweatshirt he wore while he was going through chemo therapy. It is lovingly known as the papa blanket.
While the quilt holds personal memories and history here are 2 tote/shopping bags made from someone else’s history and of our childhood memories. I took a vintage M.A.S.H bed sheet and a vintage Pac-Man bed sheet I found on my treasure hunts, and turned them into these bags, something I do often.
Lastly is a picture of my sewing desk since May 2016, this beauty took me a year to find, I wanted real wood, the top would never have been painted and it had to be vintage, this beauty cost us $15. Someone had purchased it, started sanding it but decided she had other projects she wanted to do instead and needed the space in her garage. We took it, finished sanding it, re-stained and varnished the top and the drawers (also one of those slide out writing trays) and painted the rest with dark grey melamine paint. There was damage on the main drawer, what looked to be a hole from some sort of brass lock, I cut out a wooden plate to cover it, painting it red to match the chair I had already for it. Vinegar and steel wool brought the handles back to life.