Thursday, October 30, 2014

Making A Folk Art Family Tree

Looking for a special and unique holiday season project that is focused on family history? Something that could also be a centerpiece at holiday meals? Take a look at this antique piece of Victorian Americana: A folk art family tree! 

This is most definitely not your Styrofoam & glitter family tree craft project!

Yes, this rare item is for sale in our Etsy shop; but I mainly post it here as an inspiration. You'll have to make a wooden base (in pyramid style, with flat sides), but the rest is plaster, some frames with family photos, and seashells. (Of course, you could embellish it however you like.) Finding small glass frames, especially those with fancy gold frames or mats, may take a bit of time...

You can search for tintypes and other antique photos with frames; cheaper yet, search for broken cases, like this. You can search for antique metal picture mats. If you're especially crafty, you can probably create something out of metallic gold picture mats. There's also Modern Day Antique, where they make & sell reproduction gold picture case mats (from resin). Prices range from $5 to $25, depending upon size.

In any case, once you get the matting and/or frames, you'll need to create photographs in the sizes which will look great in those frames. (Pretty easy with today's scanners, tech, and even image services.) Then you'll need to get glass and/or frames cut to fit too. Now those antique photograph cases don't seem so expensive, do they? *wink*

Of course, you can also just search for some small picture frames that capture the look and feel you want. (Sometimes the dollar stores, the craft stores, and even WalMart have lots of cute little frames -- for cheap. Usually not when I am looking for them lol) Just remember that you want to make sure that they are not too thick, with flat backs (no easels) so that the plaster can hold them; and that they are sealed nicely so the plaster won't damage or distort the images you place inside.

I'm sure this all can sound overwhelming... But once you're done, you'll have a family heirloom piece for sure!

PS Make sure you keep a record of all the family members in the photos and keep it with the family tree. (Perhaps adhere it to the bottom of the piece.) That way future generations will know who is literally on the family tree!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Cleaning Antique Bottles Found In The Dirt

A bookcase toppled in our house *sigh*, so until I get that bookshelf replaced, my scanner remains inaccessible due to stacks of books. But don't worry, I'll get to that scanner yet! Meanwhile...

At that last estate sale I helped my parents with there were a number of old bottles. Old dirty bottles. Even long after the house was built, in the early 1970s, the owners would do some gardening and find old glass bottles in the ground. Apparently, they had built on land that previously had been the old farmhouse dumping ground. Some of these bottles had been in the ground for 100 years! While the family had rescued the bottles from the earth, they had simply put them in the garage or potting shed. As is. Meaning they all needed to be cleaned.

Cleaning the bottles is relatively easy. After all, these were not filled with "unknown gunk", but with dirt. And, sad to say, a number of dead mice. Ack! (One may have been a frog; but I couldn't bear to look at it long enough.)

To safely clean old antique glass and vintage bottles (without paper labels) found in the dirt, here's what you do -- but remember, always handle these old bottles carefully, looking for any chips and cracks in the glass or parts of broken metal lids that could be dangerous.

Step One: Soak them in warm soapy water. Any dish washing detergent will do.

Step Two: Pour the dirty water out of the bottles and rinse them a bit. Use a tweezers to pull out larger chunks of dirt and debris (including the little dead bodies of mice *shiver*) and to pull off any rusty remnants of bottle caps or lids.

You'll probably need to scrub some areas. I recommend using a toothbrush. Not only do the bristles get under edges where bottle caps and other lids were, but it is narrow enough to get inside most of the openings so you can scrub a bit of the inside of the bottles as well. You won't be able to reach all the dirt this way, but some sometimes that loosens enough that soaking a bit longer will get the rest out.

If not, you'll probably need to get a tub full of fresh warm sudsy water and try a new approach.

Step Three: Fill a bottle about half-way full of warm sudsy water. Cover the opening of the bottle with your hand, and shake. The agitation of the water will jar a lot of the dirt loose.

If that doesn't get enough of the dirt out, cut a small piece of Brillo or steel wool scrubbing pad and again, with your hand over the mouth of the bottle, shake. This time, the steel wool does the scrubbing and scraping. You'll need to turn the bottle in different positions to focus the scrubbing on specific areas, but eventually, you'll get all the dirt out.

Step Four: Disinfect the bottles using a mixture of bleach and water (I like to use 1/4 cup of Clorox bleach per one gallon of water). Let the bottles soak in the bleach water for at least five minutes to ensure they are disinfected. Then rinse.

Step Five: Let the bottles dry.

Step Six: Now that the bottles are dry, inspect them. Those that have dangerous chips should be tossed (unless you have another project in mind for those -- more here). But those with brown rust spots, white mineral deposits, etc. can still be saved by using CLR, Calcium, Rust and Lime Remover.

Make a mixture, equal parts water and CLR. Fill a bottle about half way with the liquid mixture and, covering the opening of the bottle with a gloved hand, shake as you did with the water. Tip the bottle as needed so as to ensure that the whole bottle, especially the spotted parts, are covered in the CLR mixture. Using a sponge, apply some of the CLR mixture to the outside of the bottle as well. Feel free to use your old friend, Mr. Toothbrush, to scrub some areas as needed. (Just be sure to properly clean the toothbrush afterwards, so no chemicals remain on it!)

 Rinse thoroughly in cold water after about two minutes.  Reapply and repeat as necessary.  You may also wish to let the bottles dry before trying the mixture again, to see how they really look.

Most of the bottles will be clean enough to display. However, some will be too cloudy, etched, and damaged to be in collectible conditions. Since Halloween is almost here, I turned most of those not-good-enough bottles into spirit bottles!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Healthy Links For Vintage & Thrifty Living

Good heavens, this summer has been a blur! I'm still at least a week away from getting back into regular posting here, but you'll likely enjoy some of my recent eBay guides:

Quick & Easy Halloween Party Treats -- includes nut-free options!

Decorating Your Home For Halloween With Vintage Graphics (These tips work for other holidays & parties too - just search for other vintage images!)

A Beginner's Guide To Flatware, aka silverware.

Hand Washing Dishes Is More That "Just A Tradition": info on health, the environment, thrift, etc. Especially important for the upcoming holiday seasons as it offers the best practices for taking care of your antique china, crystal, silverware, vintage glassware, and other dishes!

Find more of my eBay Guides here.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

This Week's Thrifty Contest Links

My friend, Suburban Diva ®, has a contest: Disney and Kohl’s are giving one of you a $50 gift card.

Marzetti has a recipe sharing contest; a chance to win a $250 gift card and coupons.

Have you seen the Clorox Periodic Table of Stains? It's on Pinterest. It's really all about using Clorox, but the images and descriptions are kind of cute. (And how many times can you say talking about stains is "cute"?) If you are member of Social Moms, you can earn points for sharing the pins -- not only the Period Table of Stains pins, but Social Moms' Cleaning & Household Tips pins too.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Economical Vintage Living Link Round-Up

Winter isn't over where I live, is it over by you? For those of you struggling with propane shortages and costs, I've tried these wonderful eheat wall panel heaters -- and I love them!

Here are 5 simple ways to make your home a little greener.

Green thumb or not, antique seed planters still work!

Whether you are going green, reconsidering the healthy aspects of dryer sheets, or just want to save money by not using them, here are 7 ways to avoid static cling in the laundry without 'em.

Speaking "7", are you making these 7 recycling mistakes?

Things Your Grandmother Knew © 2008 Por *Templates para Você*