Monday, January 26, 2015

Hidden Gems

As a chronic collector (and the owner of an ever-expanding number of vintage baubles), I always have an eye out at thrift stores for old jewelry boxes like these to house my precious non-precious gems:


The good news is: There are tons of old jewelry boxes out there. The bad news is: Even the most mild-mannered-looking ones on the outside generally look something like this on the inside:


(Sorry, I should have warned you not to look directly at the photo; I'm pretty sure prolonged exposure to all that red satin can burn your retinas.)

Needless to say, I am not a red satin kind of girl. It's way too loud and Hollywood glam for my Midwestern sensibilities.

After seeing dozens of red-satin-lined boxes, I didn't have high hopes when I found this beat-up old box at a thrift store.


But when I opened it up, I was happily surprised...


... to see a beautifully restrained blue velvet lining.

(Pretend you don't notice the stained white pleather and just focus on the Restrained Blue Velvet for a moment.) Miraculously the velvet was clean and in almost perfect condition -- and it was a pretty close match to the blue tones in my bedroom, where the jewelry box would live.

On a side note, I would like to point out the sneaky, out-of-focus photobombing cat in the lower right corner of the above picture. He has clearly made it his mission to appear in as many posts as possible.

But back to the jewelry box. I hemmed and hawed about whether to buy it because eventually I did notice the stained white pleather, and it was pretty disgusting. I wasn't sure if the stains would come off or if paint would adhere to pleather or how I could fix the chipped corners. As I was walking through the store debating whether the box was a lost cause, I happened upon a remnant of wallpaper...

Williamsburg blue

... that was the same shade of blue as the Restrained Velvet. Clearly it as a sign.

I'm guessing the wallpaper is from the 1980s because that's when everybody was wallpapering everything in that Williamsburg blue color. (Then in the '90s everybody covered their Williamsburg blue wallpaper with hunter green paint.)

I for one am back in love with Williamsburg blue again. So I bought the stained jewelry box and the wallpaper remnant and put the two together, so this once shabby box....


... now looks like this.


And I'm happy to report the inside cleaned up very nicely.


As a bonus, the original tag/guarantee was still inside the box in all its 1950s glory. Here's the cover:


And here's the inside:


Fortunately, I still had a remnant of the remnant wallpaper left when I was done covering the box, because a few months later I found two more ugly-on-the-outside but velvety-blue-on-the-inside cases. They started out looking like this ...


... and now look like this:

wallpaper over old jewelry box

Their interiors went from looking like this...


... to looking like this...

Mod Podge

I lined the inside covers with some white tissue paper with faux handwriting printed on it.

And because I still had a tiny remnant of the remnant of the original remnant left over when I was done with covering all of the jewelry boxes, I dug this Williamsburg blue vintage suitcase out of storage ...


...and pasted a plaid liner on its inside cover.


He's full of Christmas ornaments right now.


I love storage that's pretty and practical.

So all together, here are my four Williamsburg blue boxes:

jewelry boxes

And this is what the three jewelry boxes look like inside* now that they're in use:


*Jewelry collection may have been edited to include only tasteful silver, white and blue baubles. Actual collection may be much larger and louder and considerably less photogenic.

Linking up to:

Monday, January 19, 2015

Planks A Lot

This was my birthday present from my husband last year:


No, not the cat. The wall.

We've actually owned the wall (and the house that it's attached to) for 20 years. But the planks -- and the installation of them -- were my husband's gift.

There's a reason I've been married to the man for 25 years, and it's not (entirely) because of his DIY skills. It's because he knows the way to my heart is through a beautiful planked wall.


While I absolutely loved my new wall, I thought it looked a little naked. And I started getting twitchy at the sight of all that empty space.

I had a couple things that I wanted to hang there, starting with this vintage Wisconsin plate that my sister had given me...


... and our son's senior picture (taken by a friend and former co-worker of mine, the talented Cory Schaefer).


I also had a few treasured black-and-white photos that were in a box under my bed. So I decided to use those items as the starting point and put together a black-and-white gallery-style wall.

I scoured thrift stores for frames, mats and anything else that I could hang there.

Among the things I found were a chalkboard...


... that I drew this on:


A large wooden key...


... that I painted black and stenciled a Greek key pattern onto.

Greek key stencil

A wooden kids puzzle...


...that I took out of the frame, glued together and painted black.



And this framed picture...


 ... which I painted black and stenciled an ampersand onto. (Sorry, Duke.)



I also found a frame and mat for this photo of my dad, taken in about 1978:


The photo was taken by an insurance adjuster the day after Dad had been in a farm accident. He'd been hauling a load of corn from the field to the barn, and when he crossed the railroad tracks between the two, he didn't notice the freight train barreling down on him. Dad and the tractor (barely) made it across the tracks; the gravity box didn't. It was smashed into a million pieces. In the photo, Dad's sitting on the tractor he was driving during the crash, but the gravity box is, obviously, a different one.

I also found a frame for this photo that my son took when we were vacationing on Galveston Island in 2008:


And one last frame that I found went for an old postcard I had of our City Hall. The card has a 1-cent stamp on the back and a postmark from Sept. 2, 1905. The City Hall remains the signature building of our downtown today and still houses our local government offices.

Columbus City Hall

The one thing that I bought for the wall that didn't come from a thrift store was this license plate. I wish I could say it was a  family heirloom, but it came from Ebay, by way of a seller in Michigan. (I'm sure it's glad to be back home.)


When I was done rounding up all the pieces for the wall, I laid everything out on the floor and just kept moving things around (and subbing things out -- I had overbought, it turns out) until I was happy with the arrangement. 


Once I decided on a final layout, everything went up on the wall (except for the cat).

I love how the art balances out the window next to it.


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Cabin Fever

I have a small collection of little log cabins. Or a little collection of small log cabins.


Two of the buildings are incense burners, and the third is a Christmas ornament. They're not particularly old or valuable, which makes them very easy to find and collect.

I see cabins like these at thrift stores all the time, but I was able to resist the temptation to own one until last fall. In a weak moment, I gave in and bought one. And then another. And before I knew it, I had three.

miniature log cabin

Of course, three of anything is a collection and all but begs to be displayed together, preferably under glass. The closest thing I had to a glass museum case was this tabletop greenhouse.


The greenhouse's frame had been stained a delightful (and by "delightful" I mean "hideous") orange color when I bought it years ago. A few months back, I finally decided to paint it white. Unfortunately midway through the painting process I realized that I couldn't get at the inside of the frame where it pressed up against the glass (and by "glass" I mean "clear plastic"). So now the greenhouse is white on the outside and orange on the inside. Sigh.


To create a miniature forest inside the orange/white greenhouse, I stacked some styrofoam pieces on the bottom, varying the height of the "terrain." Then I added the cabins and some trees...


... and blanketed the landscape with faux snow.

winter diorama

After the blizzard, I went hunting for my stash of miniature deer.

reindeer

I love them all, but I decided I'd have to cull the herd a bit ...

Because some were too Christmas-y:


Others were too tall:


These guys were just wrong:


I almost used these two:

miniature deer

But I liked this little group a bit more:


I burrowed the chosen ones down into the snowdrifts.

miniature log cabins


miniature cabins

And then I stepped back to admire the scene.

miniature cabins

Here's an aerial view:

miniature cabins

I decided the cabins needed a little Terry Redlinesque glow inside them at night, so I added some battery-operated tea lights.

winter scene diorama

Ahh. Much better.

miniature deer and cabin

I have a feeling that this is a collection that will continue to grow.