If you follow me on Facebook, you saw a brief post about this repurposing project a while back. But I’m posting it again on LiveJournal, along with some further thoughts about the ways in which creative side trips can serve as mirrors (and fuel) for my writing project.
Disclaimer: The fine artists among us are free to leave the room now. Please steer clear of the zoom feature, if you stay. I’m not an expert upcycler by any means; my creative urges far outstrip my skills. But for the as-yet-unitiated, I’m offer up some things I learned along the way.
I’d recently painted my bedroom furniture–heavy oak pieces, circa 1980s. Brightly colored plastics were all the rage back then, but situated as mine was on the freshly painted dresser, well! I saw my Caboodle for the eyesore it was. I
needed wanted a new jewelry box, stat. I couldn’t find one that I liked, so I got this crazy idea pored through the upcycled jewelry boxes on Pinterest. Trash to treasures. Relics, resurrected. Inspired by page after page of magical transformations, I headed to Goodwill to see what I could find.
I wish I’d taken a better ‘before’ picture, but trust me: This former silverware storage box was a moldering, dinged-up mess, inside and out. It was half-price day for all blue-stickered items, though, so I laid $6.00 on the counter and took her home.
Some people are happiest when they can fly by the seat of their pants. I’m that way in many regards, but when it comes to writing and artwork, I like to lay the groundwork first. It’s time consuming, but it makes for a smoother process in the long run.
First I gathered all the supplies I thought I'd need. Read the instructions for each, not once but twice. It was only then that I started in on the box. I buffed out the scratches, removed the mildewed lining, sprayed everything down with a vinegar-and-baking-soda mixture, and left the box in the sun to dry.
The moldering smell of old jewelry cloth was vanquished. But as you can see, the beautiful vintage hardware got buried under the first coat of paint. That, and the sickly yellow varnish started to seep through the white.
Truth be told, I was more than a little disheartened. It looked so shabby at this point–not at all like the vintage-inspired image I'd pictured it in my mind's eye beforehand.
I was keenly aware of the rough-hewn elements, of the places where my work was more sloppy than refined. The caddy-whompus drawer linings, for instance, and the insect that met its demise in the second coat of paint. So out came the sandpaper, the ruler, and a second type of glue.
I despaired of ever finishing. It’s not unlike writing a book, is it? You rewrite a passage again and again, and then once more, convinced all the while that your readers aren’t going to see things in the same way that you do, now or ever. But in the end, dogged determination won out. That, and the realization that I didn't need to please anyone but myself.
It was at this point that my imagination waltzed in on red-soled stilettoes. The box is too plain, she said. It needs some bedazzlements, don't you think? What if, for example, you gussied up the box lid with some of your favorite sheet music? Oh, and did you know that gemstones look even more lovely, draped across a bed of soft velvet? And: The pitted brass plate looks awful, but a tortoiseshell button (courtesy of Nana’s prized collection) could dress up that hardware something fierce.
When the project was completed—when I could at long last stand back to admire the results of my efforts—I experienced a soul-deep sense of satisfaction. Not because the jewelry box is perfect, mind you. It’s not. But I’d proved to myself that I could do it, Art projects rarely turn out the way you first imagined them, but I experienced the magic of creation. I worked with my hands and witnessed the transformations firsthand. With that sense of accomplishment at the forefront of my mind, I'm working through this next round of edits for CAN I GET A WITNESS?