an altered recipe box.

Have you made yourself a recipe box scrapbook yet?

I shared this idea a few years back when I made one for our Adriatic cruise.

That cruise went to some of the most beautiful ports I’ve seen; Venice, Ravenna, Kotor, Split and Valletta.  If you’re considering a European cruise, I highly recommend looking for one that visits those ports of call.

But, I digress.  This isn’t supposed to be a travel post.  This is a post about a makeover for this recipe box.

I found it the last time I went thrifting with my friend Sue.  It’s a nice, big one which would make it perfect for photos.

After sanding the box down, I painted it with one coat of Dixie Belle’s Sea Glass.  Once that first coat was dry, I blended more Sea Glass with some of DB’s Juniper around the edges (FYI, I believe Juniper is no longer available, it was a seasonal color back in 2021).

I’m still practicing my blending skills, I do like the way a little blending adds some depth to a piece.

Once painted I added some I.O.D. transfers from the Brocante and Label Ephemera sets.

The floral and the butterfly are from Brocante, the wording is of course from Label Ephemera.

I didn’t paint the inside of the box, but I did line it with some scrapbook paper.

Unfortunately, the previous owner of this box had defaced most of the alphabet index cards.

I have only A thru J in their original state.

The tabs for the rest of the alphabet have been obscured with white out.

Still, someone creative could work with those cards.  Especially if they happen to have any of the October Afternoon word stickers.  They all have index tabs on them, like the “Family History” one below.

You can still find some of the word stickers on Etsy, but October Afternoon has been out of business for several years.

I decided to go ahead and paint over the white with some of Dixie Belle’s Mint Julep to make it a little less obvious.

I used my cute little Savoy camera to stage these photos.

This is one of the few items I’ve ever purchased at a legit antique shop.  It was $30, but I fell in love with the colors, which happen to work beautifully with the colors in the October Afternoon supplies I’ve used on my index cards.

You might be thinking that I plan to save this one for myself, but actually I am going to sell it (without the photos).  If I do eventually decide to make one for my old family photos, I’ll likely theme the outside to something more ‘family like’.  But it was fun to break out the scrapbook supplies and show you what you could do with this box.

So tell me, have I encouraged you to create your own recipe box scrapbook yet?

adding a little age.

Hey everybody!  I’m back from visiting my mom, but haven’t had a spare moment yet to sit down and respond to comments.  I’m going to get to that this morning, but in the meantime, here’s a quick project to enjoy with your morning coffee.

You may remember that I picked up this wooden tote while thrifting a few weeks ago.

It pretty much looked freshly constructed out of new wood.  The one downside was that it was made out of fairly rough sawn wood.

So a week or two ago when I was looking for a quick project to fill some spare time, I pulled this out of the pile to see if I could age it up a bit.

I started by sanding down that rough wood a bit.  I didn’t get it totally smooth, but now you can handle it without getting a splinter.  Next I gave it a base coat of Dixie Belle’s French Linen.  Once that first coat was dry, I added a little bit of Dixie Belle’s Sea Spray (a texture additive for paint) into the French Linen and stippled it on randomly.  Adding some texture to the paint helped further disguise that rough sawn wood.

I think the key to aging a piece is to have several layers of different colored paint, so I then added some of DB’s Bunker Hill Blue here and there.  Once that dried, I painted the entire outside of the tote in DB’s Drop Cloth.

Next up came sanding with 120 grit paper to both smooth out the Sea Spray a bit, and to reveal some of those layers of colors.

I’d recently used one of the Lovely Labels Middy transfers from with prima on a bucket, so I knew there were a couple of segments in that transfer set that would work perfectly on this tote.

I put the ‘Paris 1878’ section on one side, and the ‘blessed’ section on the other side.

Once I had them both applied, I top-coated everything with some of Dixie Belle’s Easy Peasy spray wax.

And yes, that is snow on the window behind the tote, but I took these pics after our April Fool’s Day snow storm.  I returned home from my mom’s to see that all of our snow has melted.  It’s always kind of amazing how fast those big snow banks will melt away in the spring.

I hope you enjoyed this quickie tote makeover.  Leave me a comment and let me know!

Lula and Collette.

Last week I mentioned the dress form that I saw at Acme Junk Co with a price tag of $475.

It was very cool, but you know me, I’d never spend $475 on something like that.

So I thought this might be a fun time to re-visit the stories behind my ‘dress forms’.  One that I made myself out of a Styrofoam mannequin torso, a lamp table base and a door knob, and one that I purchased at a garage sale.

I shared the story of my first ‘dress form’ once before here on the blog, back in 2013.  Yowza, have I really been blogging that long?!

You’ve maybe seen it being used to stage a piece of furniture here and there over the years.

  But lots of you probably don’t know the story behind Lula.

I named her after one of my favorite great aunts.  She was my grandmother’s sister and she and her husband lived on a farm in South Dakota.  As children, my brother, sister and I would stay with them for a week or two in the summer.

That’s a photo of Lula and her first husband, whom I never met.  He passed away and she then married my Uncle Homer.

The mannequin torso that I used to create Lula was rescued from the old Oakdale Mall (for any of you locals who may remember it) by one of the city’s public works superintendents.  The mall was being torn down and the property cleared for new development (it’s now a HyVee grocery store).  He brought it over to City Hall and asked if I wanted it (this, of course, was back when I worked there).

To be honest, I wasn’t quite so sure about a yellow Styrofoam torso, but I took it.

I knew I needed to come up with some sort of a base for it, so when I came across one of those mid-century lamp tables in the free pile at a garage sale I grabbed it.

You remember those lamp tables that were popular in the 50’s and 60’s right?

Mine didn’t look quite like that, and of course it was in pretty rough shape.  But you get the idea.  The base ended up being perfect for my mannequin.

Naturally, I asked for my handyman Ken’s help in attaching the mannequin to the table base.  To this day I’m still not sure exactly how he did it, but they are firmly attached.

It was a long time ago, but I’m pretty sure I painted the table base in black latex paint.  I was totally unfamiliar with chalk paint back then.  However, I painted the Styrofoam torso in Rust-Oleum black chalkboard paint.

I knew I needed to do something to cap off the neck of my mannequin, so I ended up deciding to use an old black enamel door knob.

It’s just pinned to the Styrofoam, but it mostly stays in place.  Same for the metal no. 1 plate.

All of the photos so far in this post are showing Lula decorated with a white chalk pen, but a few years ago I gave the torso a fresh coat of black chalk paint, and then added some gold with prima transfers to her instead.

The crown and the swag on her chest are from their Gilded Home & Nature set, and the wording at the base is from their Somewhere in France set.

My second dress form, Collette, start out life looking like this …

It was covered in an ugly grey jersey knit fabric that had definitely seen better days.

I purchased it at a garage sale, and unfortunately I don’t remember exactly how much I paid, but I know it was less than $100.

It was fairly simple to rip all of that fabric off to reveal the cardboard form underneath.

The metal collar at the neck was still just a bit too new and shiny looking for my taste, so after first painting it with a coat of Dixie Belle’s Caviar, I gave it a coat of Prima Marketing’s Metallique wax in Bronze Age.

Then I changed out the original finial for this painted one …

For the final pièce de résistance, I added bits and pieces from the Prima Marketing Catalogue transfer to it.

By the way, in case any of you are wondering, I did not top coat the transfers on either one of these dress forms and they are still holding up perfectly.  Of course, they are indoors and not handled frequently so that may be a factor.

I totally love how this one turned out.

So much so that I still have it.  In fact, both of these dress forms are in the corner in our bedroom.

I haul them out for the occasional photo shoot, but otherwise they just hang out there holding all of my vintage necklaces.

So let’s see, Lula was mostly free.  The torso was free, the table lamp base was free, the door knob came out of my stash, so that just leaves paint and transfers.  And actually, I was a content creator for with prima at the time, so the transfers were free too.

I don’t remember precisely what I paid for Collette, but I know it was less than $100.  Probably significantly less.  The finial I added was in my stash, and again, the transfer was a freebie at the time.

So, for significantly less than $475 each, I have two pretty cool dress forms.  It just goes to show what you can come up with if you use a little imagination!

the fresh flower market case.

Sometime last summer I came across this wooden case at a garage sale.

I have to admit, I walked away from it at first thinking it was too big and cumbersome, and it felt a bit too utilitarian for my tastes.  But then I realized that of course I could change that last part with some paint, and maybe a stencil or some transfers.  So I went back and grabbed it.

Here’s what the inside looked like initially.

The whole thing looks very much homemade.  I do wonder what it was made for, a ventriloquist’s dummy?  an accordion?  a secret stash of gold bouillon?  Hopefully it wasn’t anything creepy, like that time I accidentally bought an embalming table at an auction.  It’s made out of solid wood, so it is rather heavy for toting things around.  Any of you have any ideas about its original purpose?

After scuff sanding and cleaning the case inside and out, I painted the inside in Dixie Belle’s Collard Greens, and the outside in their Drop Cloth.  Next I added some sections from the I.O.D. Wall Flower transfer to the inside lid.

I think the florals in this transfer have that look of old 1940’s wallpaper.

I also added some pieces of the Wall Flower transfer to the front of the case, and then I pulled out a new stencil from Wallcutz called Fresh Flower Market.

I couldn’t quite fit the entire thing on my case, so I masked off those trim lines around the outside as well as the bottom line of wording using painters tape.  I then stenciled the word “MARKET” in Dixie Belle’s Collard Greens, and the rest of the wording in their Holy Guacamole.

I used a small artist’s brush to fill in the bridges on my stencil, and I think that really made the cursive font of ‘fresh flower’ work better.

For a final little touch, I added one of the bees from the I.O.D. Brocante transfer near the handle of the case.

You can’t have a flower market without bees, right?

With it’s fresh new interior, this wooden case could be used to store all kinds of things.  Maybe your spare linens, or your heavy winter sweaters?  Or even your ventriloquist’s dummy.

Or, you could just simply use it as décor.

It would be sweet just hanging out in your foyer, or on a protected porch.  It would also be perfect in your potting shed …

assuming you can get to it.

Earlier this year when I was planning for this project, I thought I’d be able to photograph the finished case out in the potting shed.  But then we got a lot of snow, and then we got a lot more snow, and then earlier this week we got another 7″ more.  I basically can’t get to the potting shed at this point.

Well … I could if I was willing to trudge through a couple feet of snow, and then shovel away the giant pile that fell off the roof and is now blocking the door.  But I’m not.

This was a bit of a tactical error on my part since most of my garden themed photo props are out there too.  I sure do hope spring is just around the corner.

In the meantime … an indoor photo shoot it is.

What do you think?  What would you use this case for?

The fresh flower market case is for sale, check out my ‘available for local sale‘ page for more details.

Thank you to Dixie Belle Paint Co for providing the paint, and to Wallcutz for providing the stencil used for this project and sponsoring this blog post.

another library book review.

It’s time for another installment of ‘book reviews from mom’s library’!

If you’ve followed me for long, you may remember that last year I borrowed a bunch of decorating books from my mom’s library while I was out visiting her.  Then when I got home I reviewed them all in a blog post.

I was a little sad when I looked back at that photo from February 2022.  See that bougainvillea in the background?  This year it was killed by freezing temps.  Yep, Las Vegas has had a cold winter this year.

But anyway, back to the books.

When I came home from mom’s place last year, I was all fired up to renew my library card and check out the books that were available at my own local library.  As it turned out, the selection wasn’t nearly as good.  I’m guessing that my mom’s library has much better funding than mine and thus is able to purchase new books more often.

Sure enough, I found another nice pile of decorating books at mom’s library last month.

My sister was willing to play along and hold them up while I snapped some photos of them with Lake Mead in the background.  She’s really pretty good about humoring me when it comes to this sort of thing.

Let’s just start at the top of the pile and work our way down.

Rather than being strictly a decorating book, Rescue, Restore, Redecorate by Amy Howard is a ‘how-to’ book with lots of practical step by step instructions for using various products.  It was published in 2018, so it’s semi-recent.

I’m sure many of you are familiar with the Amy Howard brand of chalk paint and other products.  I have to admit, I was surprised to find that she never seemed to mention her own specific products throughout the book.  She mentions them in a generic sort of way, and they are shown in photos, but she never specifically tells you about them.  I wonder why that is?

She includes a lot of info on gold leafing.

I’ve never tried gold leafing, have you?  Lately I’ve been thinking about what new skills I could add to my repertoire, and I think I’m going to give gold leafing a try.  Coincidentally, Dixie Belle has just come out with their own gold, silver and copper leafing-ish product.

I’m not at all sure how it works, so I ordered some of the gold and silver so I can test it out and then share the results with you guys.  Be sure to stay tuned for that.

Amy Howard also has a project using a zinc antiquing solution in her book that is pretty cool.

She takes brand new looking metal and turns it into this …

I will note that I looked this product up on her website and the fine print says it only works on unfinished/uncoated galvanized sheet metal so that would be something to keep in mind if you are thinking about giving this a try.

The item that stole the show for me in this book was this painted stereo cabinet.

I absolutely loved that lime green!  If I’m brave enough, I may have to try that on something.

The next book in the pile is Rediscovered Treasures by Ellen Dyrop and Hanna Kristinsdóttir.

This is a translation of a book originally published in Norway in 2009, so it did feel a bit dated to me.  There were quite a few doilies.

They had a lot of small projects using vintage items though, which I always appreciate.

The next book in the pile is a Country Living book called Simple Sustainable Style and was published in 2012.

It’s written by the same authors as Restore, Recycle, Repurpose, the Country Living book that I reviewed after last year’s visit to my mom’s library.

Let me start by saying that I pretty much love every Country Living book that I’ve ever picked up.  My only complaint about them is that if you also get the magazine, you’ll likely have seen most of what is included in their books.  I especially ran into that with their Christmas at Home (published in 2018).

Although Simple Sustainable Style is somewhat dated, as evidenced by the wall mounted T.V. in this shot …

I think their style is fairly timeless.

And anyone who uses old toolboxes as décor gets a gold star from me!

The books seem to be getting newer as I near the bottom of the pile.  Home Stories by Kim Leggett was published in 2020.  Kim Leggett was also the author of City Farmhouse Style which a lot of you may be familiar with.

In a nutshell, I think ‘city farmhouse’ says it all about her style.  She uses farmhouse style vintage pieces, but pairs them with more modern pieces for an updated look.

Obviously anyone with a stack of vintage suitcases has me at hello, but see how she has added that modern round, black vase?  Just that small touch makes this feel more current to me.  I have to admit though, I really want to paint that dresser, how about you?

She’s got a touch of that ‘dark academia’ look that we’re hearing so much about lately too.

She also uses a mix of painted and un-painted pieces, and some fabulously chippy pieces too!

And who says chalkboards are passé?

There is also a seasonal section at the back of the book that I enjoyed.

I have to say, if I was going to purchase any of these books it would be this one.  This would be a good one to study for ways to update your vintage style.  In fact, I think I might just go ahead and order this one today!

The final book I’m reviewing today is Down to Earth by Lauren Liess, published in 2019.

This one also has an interesting mix of mid-mod and older vintage pieces.  It’s organized into sections by styles such as ‘cozy bohemian’, ‘timeless-ness’ and ‘vintage revival’ with tips for each on how to achieve the look.

There were some very interesting combinations of vintage and modern.

Much like with Kim Leggett’s book, I’m really vibing on this idea of using antiques in a more modern context.

One review I read of this book called it ‘elevated, yet accessible’, but I have to slightly disagree.  In fact, my one complaint about this book is that it didn’t feel accessible at all to me.

As much as I appreciate the stunning beauty of that room, I’m never going to have anything like that.  I felt that way about most of the interiors that were featured.

That being said, there were some ideas I could take away from some of the smaller vignettes like this one.

I don’t think I would spend the money to own this particular book, but it was a good one to check out from the library.

I hope you enjoyed this library book review, and you were able to take away some ideas from today’s post.  Leave me a comment and let me know if any of these books are favorites of yours!

mistakes were made.

I picked up a pair of wooden boxes while thrifting a week or so ago.

After sanding and cleaning them, I painted them with Dixie Belle’s Endless Shore, which is from their Silk paint line (ie. an acrylic paint with a built in primer and top coat).

I pulled out I.O.D.’s Floral Anthology transfer to decorate box no. 1.

After applying the florals, I added some French wording from the I.O.D. Label Ephemera transfer.

Full disclosure, I have only the vaguest idea of what these words mean so it could be total nonsense.  But it looks good to an English speaker.

After decorating the first box, I was about to do something similar with box no. 2.  But then I remembered a customer who once told me that she wished I didn’t put French words on everything!  So, I decided to go in a slightly different direction on the second box.

I first added some grain sack stripes using Dixie Belle’s French Linen.  Then I added the sheep from the I.O.D. Brocante transfer.  The little “No. 1120” and the date in the corners are from a Tim Holtz transfer.

I also added a farm name to the side of the box from the Everyday Farmhouse transfer from with prima.

Finally, I applied one of the with prima knob transfers to the top of the box.

I didn’t paint the insides of either box for a couple of reasons.  First of all, they aren’t real roomy inside and getting in there with a brush would have been a pain.  Second, they are clean inside, so they didn’t really need to be painted.

So far, so good, right?

But this is where I made my mistake.  As you can see in the photos, I distressed the edges of my boxes quite a bit.  Although the Silk paint has that built in topcoat, the transfer still needs some sort of sealer.  In addition, because I sanded the edges down to the bare wood, the Silk paint finish is compromised and will benefit from some protection on those edges as well.  Unfortunately, I decided to topcoat with Dixie Belle’s flat clear coat.  As I’ve learned in the past, sometimes a water based sealer will draw tannins out of the wood.

Honestly, I should have known better.  Look back at that ‘before’ photo, this wood was very orange-y red.  The Silk paint has a built-in stain blocking primer, and it was working quite well up until I added that flat clear coat.  All of the preceding photos were taken before the clear coat was added.

But about 24 hours after adding that clear coat, the boxes started to show bleed thru.

It’s much more obvious on the back of the boxes, but if you’re familiar with the look of bleed thru you can see it on the front as well.  Especially in the area I’ve circled below.

Also, FYI, the bleed thru continued to worsen over time.  Be forewarned, that can happen with bleed thru.  It has been about two weeks since I finished these and they seem to have stopped getting worse now.

If I could go back and start over I would opt to give these boxes a coat of Dixie Belle’s B.O.S.S., followed by their chalk style paint in Drop Cloth, and then a top coat of clear wax after applying the transfers.

But I can’t go back in time, so now what?

If these were pieces of furniture there is no way I would feel good about selling them ‘as is’, but these boxes?  Maybe?  I don’t know, what would you do?  Leave a comment and let me know!

typography transfers.

By now you all know that I have a love of typography.

I like putting words on things.

Sometimes that’s with a stencil.

Or sometimes with an I.O.D. paint inlay.

But most often it’s with a transfer.

My all-time favorite is the Label Ephemera transfer from I.O.D.

I do have one complaint about this one though, that the designs overlap each other.  It can be challenging to cut them apart, and some sections are simply unusable on their own.  In addition, this transfer has been retired, so it’s going to be harder and harder to get my hands on it.

I also really love I.O.D.’s Traditional Pots transfer.

However, all of the designs in this set are curved to fit on a cylindrical kind of object, ie. a pot.  So I think they look a little wonky on flat objects.

This button box is a good example of what I mean by that.  Here’s how it looks on a flat object.

And here’s how it looks on a curved object.

Yep, definitely better on a curved object.

I find that the Classic Vintage Labels from with prima are a little more versatile in that regard.

Although many of them have some curve to them, they also have some straight lines so they tend to work well on flat or curved surfaces.

I just ordered two more sets of these, so I’m looking forward to updating more thrifted finds with them.

But they are rather small.  They are perfect for little stuff, but don’t really have enough impact for bigger projects.

Speaking of small, I also sometimes use Tim Holtz transfers which are even smaller, or the knob transfers from with prima.

That’s one of the knob transfers on that miniature toolbox above and the dresser has a combination of Tim Holtz and I.O.D. Traditional Pots transfers.

Dixie Belle has recently come out with a typography transfer that works well for smaller items called Vintage Post.

I’ve used bits of it on various things like this tackle box.

But again, there is a lot of overlap of designs on this one that makes it challenging to cut out specific elements to use on their own.

Dixie Belle also has their On the Farm transfer that has some typography in it.

I particularly love that one.

And speaking of a ‘farm’ theme, with prima has Everyday Farmhouse.

It’s fairly basic.

Nonetheless, I’ve used it on lots of items.

I keep hoping that someone will come out with more designs similar to the Label Ephemera from I.O.D., whether that’s I.O.D., with prima, Dixie Belle, or some other manufacturer of transfers.

In the meantime, for a change of pace I recently ordered some of the new French Labels Middy transfers from with prima.

I picked up a no-name crock at the Goodwill recently.  I call it ‘no-name’ because it doesn’t have any markings on it anywhere, it’s just plain and not a collectable antique.  So I tested out one of the French Labels on it.

It dressed it up perfectly, taking it from drab to fab!

If you’re just starting out using transfers and you want something easy to apply, these Middy transfers are a great option.  They come on an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet and for around $16 you get three sheets of them, so you aren’t making a big financial commitment and you have plenty to play around with.

As far as quality goes, I find that all of these brands I’ve mentioned work quite well.  I can’t honestly say that the quality of any one brand is better than the others.  The I.O.D. transfers come on a gridded sheet that makes it easier to keep them straight which is nice.  But basically I tend to choose based on the look of the graphics themselves.

You have some options for purchasing transfers.

You can try to find a brick and mortar shop near you that carries them.  Here are links to the ‘find a retailer’ page for I.O.D., Dixie Belle and with prima.  I will warn you though, many of the brick and mortar retailers don’t have a full inventory of products so it can be very hit or miss.  Before driving very far, I would call to see if your nearest retailer has the item you want.

I almost exclusively order my transfers online.  There are lots and lots of options for purchasing from online sellers.  One resource is Etsy.  One caution there, make sure you are looking at transfers.  You’ll also find decals, and digital prints and other things that look like transfers, but aren’t.  Read the fine print before placing your order.

Initially ordering via Etsy has led me to retailers that I now order from directly.

For I.O.D. products, I like The Painted Heirloom.  She always ships items super fast, however, you will pay $6.95 for shipping if you spend less than $60.  She doesn’t offer free shipping until you’ve spent $150 or more.  She also doesn’t have any back inventory of retired designs, so I’m out of luck on getting any more Label Ephemera from her (check Etsy for retired designs, there are usually people out there with back stock).

For with prima products, I ordered my Middy labels from Flipping Fabulous.  She also ships super fast, and offers free shipping for orders over $75.  The Classic Vintage Labels I ordered recently came from Sweet Pickins.  That can be a handy way to order if you also happen to need some of their In a Pickle milk paint!

I always order my Dixie Belle transfers directly from their website, but they do charge shipping.

As for small Tim Holtz transfers, you can find some of his stuff at Hobby Lobby or Michaels, although I don’t know what their current inventory looks like.

I hope I’ve answered a few questions about transfers today.  Now how about you?  Do you have a favorite brand of transfer?  And if so, why?  Leave a comment and let us know.

the naturalist’s box.

My picker, Sue, found this box for me.

As you can see above, the top half of the latch wasn’t attached.  However, it was inside the box so I was able to re-attach it as you’ll see in a minute.

After sanding and cleaning the box, I painted it in two coats of Dixie Belle’s Sawmill Gravy.

I have to say, after painting the other two boxes from my thrift haul in their Silk paint (an acrylic paint, and you’ll see the results of that in a coming post), I think I prefer working with the chalk style paint on these sorts of items.  It adheres better, it distresses more easily, and since I will be adding transfers that have to be sealed anyway the fact of the built-in topcoat in the Silk paint is irrelevant.

That brings me to the fun part, adding bits and pieces of transfers.

The wording on the top is from the I.O.D. Label Ephemera transfer.

The floral bit on the front that flows up onto the top is from the I.O.D. Brocante transfer.

As are the bee and the butterfly (on the top).

That smaller wording is all from a Tim Holtz transfer called Specimen.

After sealing the box with some of Dixie Belle’s flat clear coat, I reattached the original latch.

I then lined the inside of the box with some scrapbook paper and called it good.

Now it’s ready to hold some field notes, specimens, curiosities or evidence … or whatever one wants to keep inside a box.

If you are local and have need of a box to store your specimens in … wait, that sounds gross … but you know what I mean … be sure to check my ‘available for local sale‘ page as this box is for sale.

Thank you to Dixie Belle Paint Co for providing the paint and sealer used on this box.

a pottery predicament.

About 20 years ago, Mr. Q and I took a cruise in the Baltic.  It was an amazing trip with lots of fabulous ports of call like Oslo, Copenhagen, St. Petersburg and Stockholm.  I think Mr. Q’s favorite city though was Helsinki.

We made our way to the Tourist Info office there and picked up a brochure for a self-guided walking tour from the Market Square to Kaivopuisto Park.  Eventually the tour would take us past the Mannerheim Museum where we got a personalized tour of the exhibits, likely because absolutely no one else was visiting the Mannerheim Museum that day.  Mr. Q was in heaven chatting with our unofficial guide about … well … you know, historical military stuff.

But before we headed out from the Market Square, we checked out the open air market stalls there.  Mr. Q ate some reindeer paella, and tried on some fur hats.

And I purchased a mid-century vase.

In my mind it had that quintessential Scandinavian look, and I loved the colors.  I thought it made a great souvenir from our trip.

I have no idea how much I paid for it.  I’m sure it wasn’t terribly much (because we all know I’m pretty cheap).  Plus, 20 years ago mid-mod stuff was not all that hot.

We’ve displayed it in various spots over the years, and most recently it has been on the window ledge at the bottom of our staircase.

Over Christmas I replaced it with a row of nutcrackers.  After taking down my Christmas decorations, I went to put the vase back in place and I thought (as I often do) that it really doesn’t jibe with the rest of my décor.

All this time I’d been hanging onto it because I thought it reminded Mr. Q of the awesome time we had in Helsinki.  But when I asked him about it, he said “What vase? I just remember the fur hat.”

So I thought I’d go ahead and bring it into the shop to sell it.  I was just about to make out a price tag of $25 for it when I thought, gee, maybe I should make sure it isn’t valuable.  After all, it was signed on the bottom.

Maybe Google would have some clues.

Turns out that my vase was made by Pirjo Nylander, probably in the 1960’s.  I found quite a few examples of her work online including this vase …

It has that same motif of rectangles, so I’m sure I’m on the right trail.  This one is listed for €475 at  I found another of her vases on Etsy for $475, but it’s still available so I’m not sure what that means.  There is also a Pirjo Nylander vase listed on 1stDibs for over $1,000.  But then, we all know that the prices on 1stDibs are horribly over-inflated (called ludicrously expensive by some), right?

Well, even so, now I feel like putting a price tag of $25 on my Nylander vase would be a mistake.  But I’m fairly sure a price tag of over $100 would be puzzling to most of the shoppers at Reclaiming Beautiful.  And that brings me to my pottery predicament.  What to do with this vase?

How many of you remember my blog post about the ‘death star’?

This goes back to 2014.  I had purchased some mid-mod furniture at an estate sale, and on a whim I asked about this metal sculpture that was hanging on the wall above the credenza.  The sellers threw it in for free.  After some research, I discovered that it was a signed Curtis Jere, and the exact same piece was listed at 1stDibs for $5,900!

Again, that’s a 1stDibs price, so you have to take it with a grain of salt.  But I did do some further research.  I sent inquiries to two auction houses that specialize in mid-century modern.  Palm Beach Modern Auctions said they would love to take it.  They estimated it would sell for $800 to $1,000.  But, I would have to ship it to them in Florida (and it was extremely heavy and large), and then they take a 20% commission.  So that was a no go.  I also contacted Wright in Chicago.  They estimated its value at $2,000, but they felt it wouldn’t be worth it to ship it to them and pay their auction fees (they did not elaborate on what those are) so they suggested I try to find a local buyer.  I did eventually find a local mid-century dealer who offered me $300 for it, and I took it.

You know what?  I actually kind of hate finding out that something I have is ‘worth something’.  I really regard most home décor as discardable.  I enjoy it for a while, and then I sell it onward or take it to the Goodwill when I’m tired of it.  I don’t have any collectibles that I consider valuable in any way (one of the many reasons I call them non-collections).  Or at least, not that I know of.

One of these days I’m probably going to buy a Rothko for $20 at a garage sale and then sell it on to someone else who will make millions on it (if you’re as fascinated by art that sells for millions as I am you might want to watch Made You Look, it’s a documentary on Netflix about the largest art fraud in American history, to the tune of $80 million).

In the meantime, what am I going to do with my Nylander vase?  Keep it?  Try to find a mid-century lover who will pay what it might or might not be worth?  Or just go ahead and bring it to the shop, maybe with a price tag just a tad higher than $25?

What would you do?


a rose window.

I picked up an old window at a garage sale last year.  I tend to grab chippy old windows, especially when they have a unique shape like this one.

This particular one was in pretty rough shape with the glass practically falling out before I got it home.

So, I started out by giving the window a good clean, and then I re-glazed the glass.  Now, you should be forewarned that I have very little talent for glazing and I really don’t know what I’m doing.  But, I need to get it figured out because we have quite a few windows at our house that need re-glazing and I want to do it myself.  So this seemed like a good way to get some practice in.

However, I’m pretty sure I picked the wrong product.

I saw the words ‘window’, ‘clear’ and ‘paintable’ on the label and thought it was what I needed.  I also thought a ‘sealant’ was what I needed.  In the end, this worked OK for my purpose here, which was basically to hold the glass firmly in place.  But it’s not really the right product for glazing windows, so I’ll be going back to the drawing board before I attempt to work on my house windows next summer.

In the meantime, here’s how my totally imperfect sealant looks on the back side of the window.

Fortunately it’s on the back, and it’s clear, so it really isn’t noticeable from the front at all.

Next up I debated re-painting the frame.  But the thing is, I like the authentically chippy look.  So rather than paint it, I sanded off any loose paint and then added a couple of coats of Dixie Belle’s flat clear coat to seal it.

Next up I pulled out two sections from the I.O.D. Ladies in Waiting transfer to add to the glass.

I cleaned the glass well before starting and then applied the transfers to the front of the window.

I have to confess that I nearly applied the first one to the back of the window before coming to my senses.  The transfers do not work that way.  Here’s how that would have looked …

Yep, I dodged a bullet on that one.  Don’t know what I was thinking.

Ultimately the Ladies in Waiting transfers were the perfect fit for this window.  One on each side (the full set includes four of them).

I added a number to the side of the window frame too.

That came from my pile of transfer scraps, so I’m sorry, but I don’t know which particular transfer it was from originally.

One question I get frequently is whether or not I use a sealer over transfers that are applied on glass, and I do not.  The transfers stick to glass extremely well.  However, they can be removed using a razor blade, if one should ever want to remove it down the road.

As for cleaning, I would simply dust it using a soft cloth.  I would not recommend using a spray glass cleaner of any kind on a transfer.

This window looks great hung on the wall over a desk.

But you could hang it anywhere.

What do you think?  Are you a fan of transfers on glass?

If so, here are links to some other projects I’ve done with transfers on glass; this one is on a mirror, this one is on a barrister bookcase, and this one features glass cannisters with transfers on them.  Check them out!

In the meantime, this window is for sale.  Check out my ‘available for local sale‘ page for more details.