New to my Etsy shop [editor’s note: the shop has closed]: Keys covered in words from a recycled old book (a paperback copy of “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin with yellowed pages and a missing cover). Here are two out of a dozen recently added to Miss Stefanie’s House of Crafts & Collectibles.
I’ve collected quite a lot of wine corks, with vague notions of getting crafty with them one day. My need for a better necklace holder was just the incentive I needed to upcycle a bunch. This was very simple: all you need are wine corks, a piece of cardboard, a glue gun, small nails, and a sawtooth hanger.
Cut a piece of cardboard from a cereal box, about 1-inch wide. Use glue gun to evenly apply glue to the back of a wine cork and place it on the cardboard to stick. Then glue a small amount to the side of the wine cork before applying the next, so the wine corks are glued to the cardboard and to each other. Continue until the cardboard strip is filled. When glue has solidified, gently push in a small nail into each wine cork. On the back of the cardboard strip, attach the wall hanger in the center. I applied my corks a bit unevenly so each side curves down a bit, but you could also make it straight. Voila.
I have loved upcycling denim since I was a kid. Here is my childhood pet rock with a DIY denim hat.
I found an old key to a NY apartment and was inspired to make it a necklace. Simple DIY decoupage job: I tore words from the yellowed pages of a thrift store paperback copy of a favorite book (“The Awakening” by Kate Chopin) and glued them on one side of the key. The key is hanging from a chord made of a strip of black jersey from an old T-shirt.
Another upcycling project for old pairs of jeans: covering seat cushions on antique chairs. I was given two of these from a friend with a love of chairs who was cleaning house (after finding another couple of antique chairs…). I simply sanded and oiled the wood and recovered the cushions with strips of denim from a recycled pairs of jeans.
Vintage food tins used as planters at Venice Beach Wines.
I have already phased out cosmetics and personal care products that contain harmful chemical toxins in favor of safer alternatives. Recently, my green beauty experiments have led me to the kitchen, to use pantry ingredients that are actually good enough to eat (see previous post on olive oil). For a facial exfoliator, I’ve begun to use baking soda weekly or as needed, simply blending about a 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda with water and gently rubbing the paste on my face using a circular motion. It’s safe, easy, effective—and a lot less expensive than other facial washes and scrubs. I’ve also filled an empty shampoo bottle with distilled water (DIY distilled water: boil filtered water, let cool, use) and a tablespoon of baking soda and use it instead of traditional shampoo a few times a week.
(Public service footnote: Learn more about this from the Campaign For Safe Cosmetics and find out what’s in your products from the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep website).
Are you ever too old for friendship bracelets? I say no. These upcycled bracelets are made from an old handkerchief; I simply braided strips of the fabric and secured the end with a few stitches. I like the slight messiness of the stray threads and ties. I also like making something new from an item that was collecting dust in a drawer or closet. I used a lavender and floral-printed hankie for this trio—for me and two friends going to see a Prince concert. (Accessorizing in purple seems necessary for the Artist Once Again Known As Prince.)
It’s the time of year when you see magazine articles and blog posts on how to achieve glowing and golden skin, featuring products made with toxic chemicals I wouldn’t want on my face and absorbed in my body. There are so many better-for-you (and the environment) products available out there and I always consult the Skin Deep website for their ratings of products when looking to buy something new. My favorites right now:
For a subtle glow, I like Jane Iredale’s 24-Karat Gold Dust in Rose Gold. This mineral shimmer comes in powder form, but I blend it with shea butter to apply it across my cheekbones, down the bridge of my nose, and on my eyelids. I carry some of this mixture in my bag in a contact lens case. (Pictured above; the cute blue scarf it’s sitting on was a thrift store gift from my mom).
For a golden faux tan, I like RMS Beauty’s Lip 2 Cheek in Promise. It’s a creamy mineral stain in a pot and the smallest amount is needed to give cheekbones a hint of bronze. (To apply more liberally to my face, neck, and chest, I’ll blend some with shea butter or coconut oil.)
My favorite DIY projects are ones that involve taking something you have and making it better—more functional or simply more fun and stylish—using materials I already have. Before I added some embellishments to these two bracelets, they didn’t come out of my jewelry box very often. The one with the subway tokens now has the addition of glass beads from a broken chandelier I found years ago at a yard sale, along with some freshwater pearls from a broken bracelet. The silver Tiffany ID bracelet now has tulle ties from a leftover roll of tulle I got when I made a hair accessory for a family wedding.
I saw a post on a style blog yesterday about a new product available: an anti-frizz comb infused with olive oil. Infused with olive oil! To that, I say this: Ain’t nothing like the real thing, baby. There’s no need to buy a new comb or product—simply use olive oil. I keep olive oil in a vintage glass bottle in the bathroom. Usually I take a few drops and rub it between my palms and then gently run my hands through my hair, away from the scalp. When hair is very dry, I use olive oil as a deep conditioner, soaking the strands with the oil and twisting it into a ponytail knot for an hour before shampooing it out in the shower. Hair is softened and frizz-free—and I take great comfort in using a product that’s safe enough to eat (and already in the house). Photo note: I keep the olive oil away from the light to keep it fresh, but it’s photographed in the window here to catch the pretty morning light.
Photo: Courtesy of Lacoste/Catherine Malandrino
Photos of Catherine Malandrino’s collection for Lacoste were released today (on sale next month) and I’m looking to it for inspiration on how I can up-style the Lacoste polo shirt already hanging in my closet. It’s been worn only a handful of times and I want to love it; the fit is great, the crocodile is adorable, it’s can’t-go-wrong-black, but it’s so…. preppy. I like preppy on other people, but it doesn’t feel quite right on me. So up-styling here for me means de-prepping. Because I always try to shop my closet before acquiring anything else, accessorizing with jewelry is my best and easiest option. I’m most likely to wear the shirt with denim cut-offs or jeans and black Chuck Taylors or strappy sandals, but I might try to pair the shirt with a long maxi skirt and Obi belt. Shown with DIY bleached Levi’s, two vintage black beaded necklaces with a clear one made from a yard sale chandelier’s crystal beads; also shown, a black beaded necklace layered with a vintage cameo on a leather cord and an upcycled vintage rosary bead necklace (I replaced the cross with a mermaid charm)… Music in my head: Elton John’s “Crocodile Love.”
Here’s the ID bracelet mentioned previously in a post on things I wear that make me feel young. I made this bracelet when I was a teen, using the glass turquoise beads from a broken set of rosary beads and lettered beads I got from a shop on Long Island called Fantasyland. My mother shopped at Fantasyland for all her crafting needs—and it was one of my favorite places for tagging along. Mom went to the section with dried flowers and other materials for her wreath-making and flower-arranging; I went to the bead section and marveled at all the colors and varieties. On a counter in the jewelry section was a large fishbowl filled with hundreds of lettered beads and I remember digging for the letters in my name. The first bracelet I made was by stringing those lettered beads with colored plastic ones on elastic thread. Later I taught myself to cut and twist wire to make chains of beads (using rosary beads as my model), but the elastic bracelet was a hit with junior high friends who paid me to make them similar bracelets and necklaces. I was happy for my own reason to visit Fantasyland and to collect some cash for doing something that was so much fun. Making stuff, including jewelry, still ranks as one of my favorite activities. When I recently consolidated all my beads and jewelry-making materials in plastic bins, I found the pictured Fantasyland postcard and other beads acquired way back when—including the remaining beads from the rosary used to make the ID bracelet, which I put to use by making the dangly earrings seen to the right of the bracelet.
After crafting a recycled Christmas tree using pages from “Vogue” magazine, I decided to make a paper wreath for the front door. I used pages from an old paperback that was falling apart (“Brideshead Revisited” by Evelyn Waugh), and simply taped the cut leaves to a cardboard base. The idea for this was borrowed (and I cannot locate the blog I landed on that showed a wreath like this); my own personal detail was to add a bow made from an old T-shirt. Voila.