Upcycled Tin Cans

Since cutting plastic out of my life I don’t really have to deal with too much wasted food packaging. However, I am English which means there is some packaging that will never be truly banished from my world: the humble aluminium casing that temporarily houses my baked beans! Due to my jacket-tatty-with-beans addiction I have accumulated quite a few of these cans and while they are recyclable I much prefer to reuse where I can. Then while I was cruising the interwebs I spied the below picture and got all inspired…

What a sweet and clever idea! So I decided to expand on that and instead cover my cans with pretty paper – because my cans would not look as gorgeously rustic as those pictured… it would literally just be a big collection of Heinz beans cans! Either way I think the results are gorgeous and this would make a gorgeous eco solution for a wedding centerpieces which would hardly break the budget (the whole project cost me $12). Best thing about this project – it was unbelievably quick and simple.

What You’ll Need

  • Washed tin cans
  • Pretty paper (a standard can will get use half a sheet)
  • Ruler (Steel ruler would be best for accuracy)
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Glue gun

Method

Wash all your tin cans thoroughly and remove labels. Having little remnants of paper is fine – they may even help with the adhesion of the paper.

Without glue, wrap a sheet of paper around the width of the can (to see the amount you will need). I always allow for a 2cm overlap.

Fold the excess amount back over itself. You can then cut along the crease line.

Then measure the length of the can as accurately as possible. If you want to have a little leeway make sure you cut the paper a little thinner rather than leaving it a little too wide – you don’t want the paper taller than the can as it will fray and get messy.

Now you are ready to roll (literally). Apply a stripe of glue along one end of the paper (the shorter end that will go across the height of the can).

Carefully place and stick the paper onto the can keeping it as straight as possible.

Once the paper is stuck to the can, flip it over so that you can see the underside of the paper and apply 4 lines of glue – along the top, middle, bottom and side of the paper. Carefully (and as quickly as possible so the glue doesn’t dry) roll the paper around the can.

If the edge of the paper is not completely stuck down apply small blobs of glue to the corners. You don’t want the blobs to be too big as they may squish out and look untidy.

And Voila!!! Repeat this for each of your cans until you have a beautiful assortment of colours and patterns.

Once you have your assortment of cans fill them with flowers and/or tea lights and use them as a centre-piece for a table or a beautiful feature on a side table or shelf.

If filling them with flowers here are two things to consider;

  1. You will have to be very careful with water as the new coating is paper and will ruin if it is wet
  2. Try to avoid cut flowers from stores! As I explained in this post they are often imported and wrapped in plastic. The ones I have used in this picture are a mixture of weeds from the verge-side in my suburb or a few flowers from my own garden. I can’t wait until my lavender bushes really kick off for this very purpose!

Anyway… here are a few more pictures. Happy crafting!

Add some tea-lights for some extra pretty mood lighting!

Since completing this project I have seen that loads of people have done similar with their old tin cans. You can follow me on Pinterest here but for the moment here are some special mentions of some other gorgeous tin can upcycling projects…

Such a stunning arrangement for a baby shower from Bump Smitten.com

Pretty pen pots from Craft Gawker.com

More storage tins… this time with ribbons! From The Ornament Girl.com/blog/

Classic White Votive Tins from One Womens Haven.blogspot.com.au

Recycled Ladder Shelf

My love of all things old continues, my latest obsession being vintage wooden ladders! I find old, worn, loved-up ladders so charming – they transport me to a realm of nostalgia in the same way that teapots do. When I look at them I think about all the excited feet that could have stood on them before… young couples painting their first home together, an excited daddy-to-be preparing a nursery or the father that is always there to help out his kids (now adults) with any renovations. Maybe this pregnancy is making me more emotional than I first thought but either way it is a symbol that warms the cockles of me heart and I wanted to use a ladder in my home. All the better that it is an old unloved material that completely cancels out the need to chop down a new tree. Check vintage stores, gumtree, Ebay, opshops, the local tip and roadside collections. And remember… the more paint stains the better!

What You’ll Need

  • An old ladder
  • Spirit level
  • Brackets – the amount will depend on the ladder size. For one this size I used two along the bottom and one to stabilise at the top.
  • Wall plugs
  • Screws
  • Drill
  • Hammer
  • Pencil
  • Extra pair of hands is useful in this project… maybe two if you have a longer ladder!

Method

1)   After you have found your ladder you need to pick the perfect spot for it!

2)   If your ladder is a step ladder then you will need to take the two rails apart. Once apart choose which part of the ladder you will use… you may even want to use both!

3)   Hold your ladder up against the wall to measure whereabouts you want your shelf.

4)   Measure with spirit level to ensure the ladder is level.

5)   Borrow the spare set of hands and slide the brackets into place (where they will need to be to hold the ladder up) behind the ladder and quickly pencil in the holes. You want the brackets to be as hidden as possible which means the outside/underside of your ladder will sit on the bracket like a shelf, rather than being supported like a perch. If that doesn’t make sense just look at the third picture in the below sequence.

6)   Drill the holes into the walls. Hammer  in the wall plugs and then screw in your brackets.

7)   Once your brackets are drilled in, rest your ladder upon them. Put a bracket on the top of your ladder to secure and stabilize it and repeat the bracket drilling process.

8)   Once all your brackets are drilled in and your ladder feels securely ‘wedged’ you will need to screw the brackets into the ladder. Very gently drill screws into the ladder… you must be careful so as not to split the ladder.

9)   The amount of brackets you need and the way in which you organise them will vary depending on what size and shape ladder you find. Just make sure it is secure and supported. Then, the fun bit…

10)   Time to decorate! I had so much fun choosing what goodies to put on my ladder. Bobert (my leaf-tailed Gekko made from scrap metal) has pride of place and every time I look over at him walking up his little hill it makes me smile. Then I have the champagne glasses that Mark and I left our wedding venue still holding (completely accidental theft, I promise!) and I filled them with pebbles and shells that I collected the day after I met him. It is so lovely to be able to honor those little things that make your heart sing every time you look at them!

And here it is from one more angle… just because pride is bursting out my eyes like little sunbeams…

 

If you like this sort of quirky shelving you may also like my DIY Tutorial for “Book Shelves” wink wink. See that here.

I will leave you with this beautiful quote about… what else?… ladders!

One only gets to the top rung of the ladder by steadily climbing up one at a time, and suddenly all sorts of powers, all sorts of abilities which you thought never belonged to you — suddenly become within your own possibility and you think, “Well, I’ll have a go, too.”

Margaret Thatcher

How To Make “Book Shelves”

Honestly, is there anything more beautiful than an old, tattered book? I often lose hours in vintage stores; running my finger along the frayed cloth spines, peeking inside the cover to try find a bygone message filled with love or the occasional long-lost bookmark.

With this fascination in mind, it is no surprise that I have always loved using books around my home as whimsical design features. So as soon as I spied Pinterest pictures (follow me here) using books themselves as book shelves (Say whaaaat?!)  I was hooked. Not only that but I had the perfectly drab wall just screaming for some upcycled decoration!

What You’ll Need

  • Old Books (1 book = 1 shelf)
  • 3 brackets per book – 2 for the base, 1 for the top (Aim for a bracket length that is about half the width of the book so that it will be stable and load-bearing. I am sure if you want a smaller bracket for aesthetic reasons you could manage it. In retrospect the brackets I used would be smaller… these are slightly too prominent).
  • Screws
  • Wall plugs
  • Drill
  • Hammer
  • Pencil
  • Spirit Level
  • If you have a spare set of hands/muscles it will make this project a hell of a lot easier!

Method

First part is the best bit. You need to get yourself to a vintage store and find yourselves some books. Take into account the size, the spine, how the combination looks together and the book subject. I found the perfect little green book but then realised it was a book about war weapons – not a subject I really want in my house. I wanted books that reflected interests and personalities in my life. I ended up with a rare book from 1930 about sheep (my parents have 21 pet sheep), The Statutes of Western Australia (where I live) and The Generous Earth (about the beauty of living simply). Score!

Old books are so undervalued!

The thing I love the most about this method of fixing the books to the wall is that you don’t ruin the books! If you ever want to you can take your ‘shelf’ out of the brackets and have a flick through before putting it back. Even though I have seen super cool designs using books as the material I just feel wrong about damaging an old book. They are noble beasts… we must love them.

1).   Measure whereabouts you want the books on your wall and hold the base brackets underneath the book in a way that will support them. Mark a pencil line along the bottom of the book.

2).   Measure that the brackets are flat and level with your spirit level

3).   Mark the bracket holes where you will need to drill with a pencil.

4).   Line your book up with the pencil line and then draw a line along the top of the book so that you can see how thick  it is. Put your top bracket on top of the book and make sure it is completely vertical (with your spirit level). Mark the holes where you are going to drill.

5).   Shove lots of material into your ears and drill holes into the wall.  Hammer wall plugs into the wall.

6).   Screw your brackets into the wall.

7).   Slide your books into place and decorate the hell out of them with all your most loved knick knacks. I filled mine with some vintage bottles that were found in the ocean, my collection of owls (the big guy was my Grandpa’s, is 60 years old and his name is Costa) and my rolled magazine plant in an upcycled old vase (tutorial here).

So I wish you luck in your shelving!!! I will leave you with a beautiful passage that is at the beginning of what is now my top shelf. I think it is a gorgeous sentiment and I love that I have such a sweet message hidden away in my wall fittings!

Upcycled Flowers from Magazines

We have all heard of Fair Trade chocolate and coffee – but did you ever stop to think about flowers?

Yep, those brightly cellophaned flowers that you buy as last minute presents are generally imported from countries like Zimbabwe, Colombia and Kenya and have often been produced through unethical working conditions and environmentally unsound practices. It makes me feel so bloody ungrateful when I catch myself grumbling about the office when these plantation workers are forced to work over 12 hours a day for less than a dollar, live in cramped and unsafe conditions and handle harsh chemicals without any protective gear. In Kenya right now the Ngiro River – a life sustaining river resource for farmers – is being drunk dry due to the booming cut-flower trade. That’s right, people are dying of thirst and farms do not have access to enough water to irrigate their crops just so wealthier nations can have a pretty floral arrangements on their breakfast tables. First-world greed epitomised.

I am going to write a proper article about this later because I find it jaw-dropping that it is not a more spoken-of issue. BUT! In the meantime I do love flowers and it made me wonder if there were any eco solutions out there. Of course there was! I stumbled across these stunning Rolled Roses by Jones Design Company (their tutorial here) and figured that I would give it a go using old magazines. They’ll be colourful, made from a ‘waste product’, won’t need to be watered and will never wilt. Here is how to do it.

Equipment

  • Old magazines, book pages or sheet music
  • Hot glue gun
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Florist wire or twigs (depends how you want to use them)

Method

1. Cut your pages into squares. Draw an irregular spiral in pencil.

2.Cut the outline of the circle out.

3.Cut along the spiral pencil line till you get a big wormy piece of paper

4. Starting at the outside start rolling your paper in a tight rosette. Whatever side of the paper you want as the petals should be on the inside of the roll. I rolled this flower the wrong way and the ‘petals’ ended up black rather than that beautiful blue. This takes a little while… so maybe whack on ‘Proud Mary’ by Tina Turner and sing while you roll.

5. As you can see in the bottom left square you will roll until there is only the circular centre of the flower left. Put a splodge of hot glue onto the circle and press the bottom of the rosette onto it. While the glue is drying you will need to have a bit of a play with it… let it unfurl, unscrew bits looser, twist bits tighter until you have the perfect looking rose.

5. It takes a bit of fiddling before you get a perfect looking little rose.

6. Marvel at your rose for a second before moving on to the next step.

7. Now it is time for the leaves. (1) Cut a simple leaf shape out. (2) Fold the base in half before (3) folding back onto itself. Then (4) dab a bit of hot glue within the folds and stick it in place.

8. The glue your leaves to the back of the rose. If you want a bouquet of roses then bend a hook in the end of your florists wire and glue on the wire in whatever arrangement you like.

Other Ideas

As the above rose was my first I kept practicing away. You end up very quick at it and the flowers look better each time. Of course if you are already crafty your flower probably looks perfect first go. Damn you talented people! My favorite ‘other’ application for my roses was using them to tszuj up gift wrapping. Sometimes people have told me off just for wrapping their presents in boring brown paper or (shock horror) newspaper and I figure that as long as I add one of these there can be no more complaining!!!

This wrap was made using an old paper bag, some left over natural twine and scrap magazines. I think it looks pretty spesh.

100% upcycled wrapping option

I also attempted a sustainable flower arrangement in my DIY Painted Vase post (see that here). While it looks a bit dinky in that photo, it is quite gorgeous at the entrance to our house.

If you give it a go let me know in comments… or if you have any handy tips on sustainable gift-wrapping. Or just to say hi! I get lonely sometimes. 

Big News, Little Facelift and A Whole New View

Well it has been quite a while since I got my blogging clogs on… two whole months in fact. And my, my how much can change in such a short time! Firstly, I’d like to say thanks to all the little emails and messages that I got, checking I was still alive and greening. I am! And after a two month interlude I feel that not only should I give a bit of an explanation on where the hell I’ve been but also a re-launch of sorts. I am taking the blog in a slightly different direction and wanted to explain how I got there and the little journey I have been on.

The Big News

Back in March I started feeling really sick and really tired. There are some fairly obvious deductions a young lady can make about those symptoms and after a quick dash to the chemist it was confirmed – we are expecting a little bundle of joy! My gorgeous husband and I are ridiculously excited about the bub but I have encountered one not-so-tiny drawback… morning sickness. Except it was actually all-day-all-night sickness! This is not the type of green I like to promote on my blog! So even though I have been dying to update my blog I have been completely incapacitated. My amazing husband has seriously picked up the slack and has basically spent the past few weeks carting in buckets and buckets of raspberries – Hero! Slowly, slowly it is starting to get better though so it is onwards and outwards from here my friends!

Nicknamed Yertle.

The Move

In some weird collision of fate my little family has made the move back into the home we own rather than our gorgeous shabby rental in Freo. The timing was partly perfect (due to the impending expansion of our brood) but also a tad upsetting as Secret Harbour is a decidedly less eco suburb. I have moved past the devastation though and I am now actually really excited about this new challenge! In Fremantle it is expected and oh, so easy to be environmentally friendly. Don’t get me wrong, that is fab, but my blog is about encouraging people to be sustainable which includes a large amount of people who may not have all the resources conveniently at their fingertips! I am now one of those people. I will be constantly reminded about how hard choosing the more sustainable, ethical option can be for some people and therefore will make sure I give as many options, ideas and resources as possible.

We have set sail for the coast.

What does this all mean for the blog?

Even though I have been splitting my time between moving house and vomiting (charming beast aren’t it?) it has, in a way, been great having a bit of time away from the blog. It has given me time to look from afar, think about what I enjoy writing about most, seeing which posts you guys like reading the most and just pondering how I want to approach life in general. Here is what I came up with…

More Positive Posts

In the past I have undertaken massive and draining articles about huge issues like the other GFC (the Global Fish Crisis) or Palm Oil. The main reason I wrote these was because before looking at how to change bad habits, I like to ensure I am absolutely the full bottle on the issue myself. I used it almost as a self-education process. But one thing I have noticed is that even though the posts are important, reading about catastrophe after catastrophe can be, well, bloody depressing. I also found it made me narrow-minded and a bit cockeyed really – a Green Nazi if you will.

We definitely all need to make sure we know exactly what is happening in the world – knowledge is power – but I think it is also SO important to focus on what we can do as well as acknowledging the good that is being done already. Use success stories as your cheer squad – prevent that completely unconstructive feeling of hopelessness. So while I will touch on the nitty gritty I will mainly focus on what we can all do to avoid contributing negatively to the planet. This being said… there will be the occasional issue that I won’t be able to pass on – Monsanto, I’m looking at you punks!

There’s still a whole lotta beauty in the world!

Health Focus (With Occasional Baby Bits)

I want to make my house the perfect healthy environment for a little munchkin to grow up in which for me equates to no chemicals, organic food and a happy lifestyle. And – according to Mrs Obama – that means being selfish and looking after myself! This is a new concept to me. So I am looking forward to exploring and experimenting with natural therapies, meditation, yoga, spending time outdoors, possibly throwing away the TV and cooking foods from scratch. And updating my blog with the progress of course.

More DIY and Upcycling

Now that I am in my own home I am able to renovate, retrofit and plant! I have so many projects that I just didn’t have space for in the last place so I am really excited to now have the ability. Hopefully I can give ideas on simple DIY ways to be more sustainable (eg; growing your own food) as well as fun ways to reduce your impact (like making your own products, furniture and art). I will also commit to using as many (if not all) recycled and reclaimed materials rather than just being one of those craft blogs that just goes out and buys everything new!

Bunting… or “Funting” if you will?

And Finally…

In keeping with the selfish theme I am just going to start enjoying life a bit more. Get out there exploring (with my camera always in tow so that I can share my virtual picture album). Be happy. Read some books. Draw.  Smooch my husband a bit more. Take the scenic route. Marvel at simple beautiful things… like strawberries! Choose some crazy wallpaper just because it makes me laugh. Read Dr Seuss every day. Judge less. Do more for animals. Finally, hug that Boab in Kings Park (his name is George). Celebrate the good that is being done rather than mourning all the bad. I have come to the conclusion that a smile will change a lot more minds than a big, ranting frown will! So here goes.

Barefoot and without a care in the world.

P.S. Just in case you are wondering what the inspiration is behind this sudden perspective change then please take some time out and watch the video below. Alice Herz Sommer provided me with a virtual kick in the arse. When I’m 108 I want to be just like her…

“I look where it is good. I know about the bad, but I look at the good thing” 

– Alice Herz Sommer, Happiest Woman In The World! 

Some Amazing DIY Pallet Projects

If ever there was the perfect ingredient for upcycling it would have to be the ubiquitous wooden pallet. I make a habit of counting how many I see ditched kerbside on my morning walks and it boggles my mind to think that they are considered junk. Pallets are the perfect material to create rustic, quirky and bespoke furniture. Here are a few of my absolute favourite uses of pallets in the home.

Shabby Chic Shelving System

From Design Sponge

I am a massive fan of clutter. My husband is not. Solution? Shelving units: little contained spaces of magical clutter. This is why I squealed with joy when I saw this amazing shelf, a fabulous creation by New Zealand sensation Claire Terry AKA Madame Fancy Pants. For the entire DIY tutorial see here – I might finally be able to start working through the stock pile of pallets that I have in the shed!

Pallet Daybed for a nursery

From Ashley Ann Photography Blog

This awesome design not only uses pallets but also includes an old and beautifully worn door – hinges included! By creating a mish-mash of textures (the crocheted blanket, ornate photo frames, and the amazing collection of lanterns) it celebrates what is best about this old rickety piece of ‘trash’ – its coarseness. That is one of my favourite aspects of the upcycling movement – celebrating imperfection! This is a really simple DIY project that you can find here care of one of my favourite Phoblographers (yes I made that up) Under the Sycamore.

Pallet Bed with built in storage

From Organic Authority

Have you ever seen a more relaxing room? I love that it is minimalist but still absolutely reaks of character – especially with the trellis above the bed. Mental note, check! The great thing about pallets – and probably why they are starting to explode in the world of upcycling – is that they are really sturdy. Perfect for the base of a bed and with the added benefit perfectly sized storage slots for shoes and books. While I couldn’t find the link to make this exact version a similar version can be found here at the Flaxseed and Soynuts blog along with some other inspirational ideas for all things recycled.

Cheapest Bed Head Ever!

From Green Home Design Source

While we are talking all things bed, why not tack on an old pallet as a bed head. All you need to do is bolt two pallets together and then attach them to the base of your bed. I am going to give it a go and stencil on some inspiring, happy words onto it like this..

Image by Adorning Alabama.blogspot.com.au

Kitchen Island

From Homedit.com

In my dream house I will have this kitchen bench – but maybe in a lighter colour. This DIY requires a minimum of three pallets, a few tools and some paint. I could not find instructions on how to make this but luckily it is a very simple structure that would be easy enough to replicate with a bit of guess work. I like the industrial look and think it brings a bit of warmth into a modern kitchen.

Pallet Art

From Twiddlerhouse.blogspot.com.au

If you are already sorted for all your furniture needs you could even make a simple, gorgeous art piece from the wood of the pallets. You’ll need to get your Destructo hat on and remove the boards from the pallet and reposition them to how you like. I would saw them to be different lengths and create a bit of interest but I have seen some beautifully effective square pieces. They can be as colourful and as natural as you choose and create a truly individual piece that will be sure to get many comments from visitors. This is perfect for me as a renter, because I can actually stand the pallet up rather than drilling it into the wall. Here is an amazing DIY tutorial that I will be using on the weekend.

Proof that one man’s trash is another’s treasure!