Friday, June 21, 2013

Refinished Bottle Cap Table

The best season for thrift hunting is the beginning of the summer.  People are on the move with dorm rooms to evacuate and apartments to swap; you can most certainly take down a stray butterfly chair, or bonus points! dresser set.  When I saw 2 side tables sitting in a generally known "I'm getting rid of these and if you want them you can take them otherwise they're getting picked up by the dump truck" space, I checked my license (read: currently unoccupied floor space) and bagged some beauts.

Big Image
Teddy would be proud.

Giddy with the celebratory beer and the fact I just gained ~$30 of decor, I decided to challenge myself to use only the crafting supplies I had on hand to resurface one of the tables for use in the outdoors.  I'm just as guilty as everyone of buying new supplies just to follow up on an idea.  Though after awhile, your stockpile contains a bit of everything.

This isn't even everything.
Challenge: remake the outside table using only the materials on hand.  Total individual project cost: free!  Because supplies are like beer: if you bought it before, using them now doesn't factor into the cost.  I rounded up some bottle caps in true sidebar style to create a fun diagonal pattern to cover the top of a planter table.  And did I mention it was free???

Side or End table
256 bottle caps; enough for 16x16 dimension bottle cap table - can be slightly bent
Acrylic paint - light blue, orange, plum, white
Modge Podge or other sealant

Determine how many bottle caps are going to fit around the top of your table.  I layed out a 16x16 pattern on the top of mine.  Remember if you're using salvage bottle caps, they're more than an inch a piece, more like 1 1/8" - 1 1/4" each.  It's a good jumping point, but sometimes the best thing to do is lay out the caps.
If you lay out all of the caps, it could crowd.
Pro tip: start collecting bottle caps.  I've been obsessively collecting them to refinish the top of the mini bar and they've just become a valuable resource to have up your crafting sleeve.  Mostly because there are so many things you can do with caps.  These are 256 things you can do, right here on the floor.

It took me days to pick out which ones would be sacrificed.  This was painful
After you identify the sacrificial victims, break out the pants.  I went with bright colors to contrast the black and a metallic because we're going fancy.  It's a pop of color in a pop of color.  I chose orange, light blue, purple, and pewter.  I wouldn't go more than 4 as the color scheme just gets crazy at that point.  We're fancy, not gaudy.  Paint 64 bottle caps each color.

Make sure they go well with black.  That answer should be obvious; everything goes with black
Sidebar #2: the next step will be so much easier if you have spray paint.  I'm only using the acrylics from a tube and hand painting each because the challenge had been accepted.   For the love of Biscoff spread, use spray paints.  It took a documentary, comedy, and drama to get through them while I should have just watched Disney's Hunchback of Nortre Dame because that's what I looked like after I was done painting.  However... free.

You fancy huh?
After they dry, arrange the caps on the table in a diagonal line.  Alternate the colors: purple, orange, pewter, light blue.

After getting the rows all laid out, it's time to start gluing.  Take off the first 3 rows from the end, and apply the glue liberally to the table.

Smear around the glue with a bottle cap.  Place in a row.

Continue up the row; gluing down 2 rows at a time.  The glue will hang over into the 3rd row.  Take off next 2 rows.

Repeat across the surface of the table.  After you're done, seal with a coat of Mod Podge or other sealant.

Be prepared for some complements, and at least one place to put things when trying to carry up all the bags from your car ever!  Get that porch garden ready to go by picking up the plants approved by Southern Living.  Then you know you're truly ready for your feature article.


Friday, June 14, 2013

Gift Kit: 1-2-3-Teach!

I'd think the 3 biggest bar nights of the year in the States are: St. Patrick's Day, Cinco de Mayo, and the day before spring commencement.  Unless you're in Michigan where you'd have to account for the day before Thanksgiving.  You could argue that they're giving thanks for the bartenders that care for them throughout the year, and that help them "remember" the recipe for the best Bloody Mary that they'll be making the next morning while splashing a bit into the stuffing.

I'm sure in the morning you actually look like Bloody Mary as well
Amongst these graduates opening their hung-over-from-college eyes, are several that will join the next wave of the people that helped get them there.  Yes, these wonderful, tolerant, generous, sweet, and currently enjoying the first summer break from the other side of the desk people are collecting their red pens and gearing up for the start of the new school year.  I have a great deal of respect for teachers; anyone who is willing to deal with a) small children, b) bratty tweens, and c) entitled and lazy teenagers is under appreciated within our society.  The last thing most young people do is want to learn, and a lot of what school teaches you is only understood later.  The ones that teach for the passion of learning and for the children are some of the most valuable shapers of society. </soapbox>
This is about how old I sound right now.  Next they'll be getting on my yard.  I'm so crotchety I didn't pay for the picture :P
For more about the state of education today, you can peruse Netflix's category with several documentaries on the subject that bring up problems from money to incentives to kids' behaviors.  Ok, really they're not all that bad, but there's always the one.... even in the "real world" there's alllllways the one.  Straight talk: teachers bring in a lot of their own stuff to help create the classroom environment to encourage learning and discovery of the world's secrets.  I'm sure that everyone has a teacher they remember from school.  A tall drink says they brought in their own stuff.

90% funded out of the generosity of their hearts and 100% reused for years

So, we're putting together a graduation gift kit for those awesome new teachers that will get some essentials for all levels and the flexibility to customize per grade level.  These are a few of the basics that will free up your new teach to get specifics based on curriculum.  Congrats new grads and welcome new teachers!

Elements of this gift kit:
+ Pens - black/blue/red  --  highly recommend going the crafty route with the clay covered pen tutorial from Creative in Chicago.  I made a few and use them all the time at work!
+ Sharpies - multiple colors for multiple reasons!  "All teachers need sharpies" - an old pro
+ Sticky notes - you can never have enough sticky notes.  Ever.  I got 2 because one had funny sayings on it and everyone needs a partial to do list on a sticky note.  You can usually find fun ones at Fred & Friends.
+ Journal - notes for the day and other teacherly commentary
+ Page Flags - mark places in the text book or other
+ Paper clips - get to gradin!
+ Desk Bin - for holding kit
+ Target Gift Card - the universal Teachers' Mart
&&& the most important & appreciated element: emergency chocolate

I got pretty much everything here from Target.  Because you get me going in the dollar bin section and there's no stopping me.  What's nice is that meant that I was able to assemble a lot of things that were essentials & not feel like breaking the bank with the gift card.

Other things that teachers <3
Pencils - if you're bored of mechanical ones, and you've got a green thumb check out Sprout
Dry erase markers
Apples/apple related things  (yessss easy birthday gifts) :)
Magnetic clips for their chalkboards
Badge holders
Watch - clip or wrist
Fun and indestructible bins of all sizes

If your teacher is mobile; I suggest getting a rolling cart or file cabinet cart to hold everything.  If you're really ambitious and the teacher knows he/she'd like a desk, check out some tutorials on nomadic furniture.  You yourself might learn a few tricks.  Education: the gift that keeps on giving.