Thrifty to Nifty

Introduction: Thrifty to Nifty

About: I'm a Renaissance woman. I love to create things with a fantasy, medieval, or geeky edge. I'm also a math/science nerd. I have a passion for all things Halloween. I like to build props, create costume elemen...

I love garage sales, thrift stores, and clearance sales.  With a just a little imagination and a few crafting skills, it's easy to transform items and give them new life.  These are a few of the things I've created from bargain finds.

Candle Holder Trio
I found three strange short black iron candle holders at a yard sale for 25 cents each.  They consisted of the top and bottom metal pieces seen on each of this trio.  There was no middle section.  The two pieces were secured with a nut and bolt that went through holes in the center of each metal piece.  So I added these turned wooden rods, cut at three different lengths to make a substantial and very tall candle holder set.

The turned wooden centers are from pieces of the crib each of my children used.  The crib, once it was taken out of commission, was useless because the side rail no longer stayed up.  It had lived out its life.  However, I salvaged the wooden bars on the end sections.  Three of the best, least scratched ones were cut to length.  After spray painting the iron pieces and 6 screws with hammered metal paint, they were assembled as you see them.    It was a simple revamp and now I still retain a piece of my children's crib.

Cork Board and Chalk Board
I purchased these two frames at GoodWill for a dollar each.  They were made from picture framing molding but had obviously been cut and assembled incorrectly.  Because of this, each frame had a lip recessed around 3/8" down from the top surface.  This meant that things mounted in these frames not only had to be mounted from the front but that they could only be 3/8" thick or else be thicker for a good reason.

I painted the frames.  Then I cut two pieces of 1/8" scrap Masonite to fit into the frames, which were each slightly different dimensions.  One of these pieces of Masonite was painted with a chalkboard finish.  This chalkboard was secured using construction adhesive.  I also cut 1/4" square balsa dowels to cover the top edges of the chalkboard, mitering the corners to fit.  These were painted to match the frame and put in place.  I drilled very small holes through the dowel and chalkboard, and into the frame.  These were countersunk, the holes filled, and the paint over them was touched-up.  The shape of the frame stock is perfect for holding pieces of chalk on the top.

On the cork board frame, I secured the Masonite with construction adhesive.  Then I cut a large piece off a thin cork sheet I had (a $2 yard sale find) to fit over the Masonite.  It was glued down using wood glue.  Then I got out my bag of corks ($3 at a yard sale got me hundreds of corks).  These were sliced in half on my heavy duty (yard sale) meat slicer and laid out on the cork layer.  Once I had arranged them as I liked, I used wood glue to secure each one.

Skull Lamp
I admit it is a little cheesy but this lamp is my husband's pride and joy.  My husband who is a pirate aficionado (and, strangely, a dilettante on the various forms of the plague) always wanted his own skull lamp so I set out to build one after  I found a hollow plastic skull on clearance long after Halloween.  It was not ideal for the skull itself but I was sure it had potential.  After mulling it over, I came up with a plan. 

I bought a candle style lamp to serve as the light source.  I decided to insert the handle lamp from the bottom, using it with the base intact so it could be removed and replaced when necessary.  I made a large hole in the top of the plastic piece and another on the bottom that would accommodate it.  The plan was to fill the hole with plaster.  However, I needed an analog of the candle lamp to leave the right sized hole behind after the plaster was poured.  So I found a piece of 1" doweling (actually, it was a broken garden flag pole piece) in my scrap lumber.  This was covered in clear cellophane tape to make it slippery so it would be easy to take out of the poured plaster.  Then I used modeling clay pressed around the dowel to copy the base of the lamp which flared out.  I pushed the candle lamp analog into the hole and used more clay to seal the gaps so plaster would not leak out of it. 

Then I mixed my plaster and poured it into the top hole around the doweling piece.  Once the plaster had fully set, a few days later, I cut off the plastic skull mold and pulled out the dowel.  There were some small imperfections and the jaw broke off.  I glued the jaw back in place with plain white glue.  Then I skim coated over the skull several times with a very thin plaster and water mix, filling in gaps and smoothing it out.  Once it was coated and cured, I smoothed it out using finer and finer grades of sandpaper and painted it to make it look aged.  Then the candle lamp was slid in from the bottom.

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    2 Discussions

    I love using the plastic hollow skull to use as a mold. I'd never thought of that, what a great idea. Thank you for sharing!