Eclectic Upcyclery for All and Sundry!

Posts tagged “hints

How to make a lamp out of a bottle (or anything else)

Go to a hardware store, buy a lamp kit, and stick it through pretty much anything. Seriously, that’s it. They cost about six to ten bucks.

No, wait, fine: here’s an instruction guide on how to drill through glass so as to upcycle a glass bottle into a lamp. Suzi seems to have stuck with liquor bottles–and considering that there’s a brand of vodka that comes in a glass skull, who can blame her?–but there’s no reason you shouldn’t be recycling other things, too. Hang on a sec, I’ll see what Google Image Search turns up.

Soup cans…

A car air filter…

A tea set…

Plumbing fixtures…

A blender…

INSTRUMENTAL LIGHTING - TRUMPETS | Instrument, Lamp, Upcycling, Upcycle, Recycle, Handmade, New York City, Jaime Cornett, Trumpet, Brass, Gift for the Musician | UncommonGoods

Musical instruments…

Pretty much anything you can put a hole through that will stand up on its own. (Click the images to links to the original sites for more in-depth instructions in most cases.) If you’re still using incandescent bulbs like some kind of environment-hating endangered-owl-kicking dinosaur jerk that doesn’t wanna spring for a weird-colored light-bulb that costs, like, twenty times as much, be sure to use things that won’t melt (no soda bottles, for example); if you’ve switched over to fluorescent bulbs, even those will work. What a time to be alive, right?

Milk Jug Scoop

Not so much “awesome recycled craft project” as it is “handy household tip”, but it still counts. And no, I haven’t done this one yet personally–I don’t drink a lot of milk these days, and besides, which would you prefer: blurry pictures from my webcam, or this handy guide with cheerful commentary in…what is that, Korean? Do remember, though, not to try and make a cat-box scoop; the handle is hollow, and when you pick it up you’ll spill litter down your sleeve.

Bingo Cage Fruit Bowl

I’m afraid I’m not going to post a picture of this, for the (I hope) very sensible reason that I’m not actually doing it: not only do I already own a regular fruit bowl, it is usually empty because it’s silly to keep Mountain Dews and chocolate-chip granola bars in them. (The bars are kept in a ceramic candy-dish shaped like a smiling blue bulldog.) But if something happens to that fruit bowl, and then I suddenly need to keep a bunch of oranges and kiwis sitting on my kitchen counter, I’m totally going out and getting myself one of these:

They seem to be variously known as a bingo roller, a bingo cage, a bingo roller cage, or a number-sphere, which sounds more like a prototype computer from that really snazzy, futuristic part of the 60’s that the Jetsons live in.

The photo comes from eBay, where they have lots of them from plastic ones for fifteen bucks to vintage metal ones for hundreds, depending on how much you want to pay for your weird hipster kitchen decor.

Doll House Spice Rack

Wow, four posts in one day? I dunno, inspiration hit. I was at a thrift store earlier, looking for lamps, when I saw this:

Now I think this is the manger from a nativity set, and I totally don’t want to offend anybody. So if you’re offended, well…I dunno what to tell you. Sorry. A regular dollhouse would work exactly the same way, but that’s not what I found for four bucks–this is. All my little seasonings hanging out in there together. Yet again, makes me wish it was Christmas, so I could make some sort of awful “seasonings’ greetings” pun, and don’t think I won’t when the time comes.

As much as I like this, though, the spices you see here are just what I use to cook; my girlfriend uses a completely different set of spices, and this thing’s already at capacity. So the thing we usually use–which has been in use for a few years now, and it totally didn’t occur to me that it belongs in this blog–was originally, I think, a shoe rack or…something. I don’t know, it was just a couple of bucks at a thrift store.

How to Hang Anything Wooden from the Wall

Like that, that’s how. It should also work on anything rigid you can get a screw into: plastic, cardboard, styrofoam…what? I don’t know what you’re trying to hang on your walls. I’d try to use a screw instead of a nail, since they hold better, but this really looks like it could hold a decent amount of weight.

(I seem to have closed the tab that I copied this out of, and now I can’t find it in my page history, for some reason. I doubt the original owner will mind too much, but hey, if that’s you and you want credit, just let me know, kay?)

One more thing: I didn’t think it was quite awesome enough to merit a whole post, but if you ever need a big panel of metal, they sell cookie sheets at the dollar store.

Soda Bottle Planter

This is some “cat-grass” I was growing; I accidentally let the cats at it before I remembered I needed a picture, but I promise it looked nicer than this before. Make sure to poke a needle or small nail through the bottom one too so the water can drain out–I forgot to, and I think that’s why so much more grew out of the top one.

For materials, I just used twine; something a little more water-proof would be good if you’re planning on keeping things growing for a long time, but cat-grass grows fast (this took less than a week). Some people might complain that the plastic is going to leach into the plants, but if you’re worried about that, you’re probably not drinking soda out of bottles in the first place.

And don’t stop here! If you can grow plants out of a Mountain Dew bottle, you can grow it out of anything. As long as it’s got sides, won’t dissolve in water, and you can poke or drill a little drainage hole in the bottom, it’ll work. Suggestions: office supply caddies, old tupperware (including those discolored ones that have been used in the microwave too often), cake pans, muffin tins, tea cups, the casings from old electronics (like a desktop computer or a VCR)…lots of things. All the things.

And just in case you haven’t already seen this, here’s somebody taking this idea to epic proportions:


That’s a project from the show “Home Sweet Home” and popularized by Apartment Therapy, where they periodically feature some good upcycling ideas. If anybody over there asks, tell ’em the ol’ Cromulent Bricoleur sent you!

Discussion: My Favorite Glue

I guess this should be brought up in discussion with my last post: how exactly do you attach VHS tapes and other bits of garbage to one another?

Whenever possible, use screws. Mechanical connections are the best, so long as you’ve got something you can drill through. Barring that, a good strong glue is your best bet. Some people swear by glues hot, super, and crazy, but these people may just be thinking about an ex-girlfriend; others throw their support behind two-part epoxy. This stuff is supposed to be amazing: you mix two liquids together, and a few minutes later, they become solid forever. You really feel like a pro when using this stuff, since for most people, mixing two liquids of different colors = doing science, plus this is the stuff that really can glue your fingers to each other forever and ever, forcing you to live the life of Danny DeVito in that one Batman movie where he was really gross and somehow got elected mayor of Gotham, and who wants the ulcers that job comes with? So don’t glue your fingers together: a safety message from the Cromulent Bricoleur.

But this post is about my favorite glue: Goop. It comes in a few varieties–I think it’s “Carpenter’s Goop”, “Plumber’s Goop”, “Household Goop”, and “Cool Ranch Goop”, although I might have imagined the last one while trying to hold a late-night burrito together. The “Household” flavor is the best. “Carpenter” works even better on wood, but not well on metal; “Plumber” works on metal but not wood. “Household”, like Baby Bear’s porridge or Mario, is the master of balanced stats–it works pretty gosh-damned well on everything (not including styrofoam, rubber, or burritos). I spent most of my college days gluing bits of junk together, and this is what I used that whole time.

Yep, you can get a degree in that.

I like Goop because after you first apply it, you can make adjustments for a good ten minutes; after that you can pull it apart and try again. After about an hour it’s solid enough to play with a little, and overnight, it hardens to the point of holding together any number of frightening garbage monsters, as seen above. If, however, you decide you want to undo what you glued (or unglue what you dood), with a little muscle and some twisty tearing motions, you can snap it back apart. The one bad news is that the spot where it was glued will often be a little disfigured, what with the glue having very gently melted it.

When gluing, make sure both surfaces are clean. Besides rubber and styrofoam (and food), you can’t glue over top of a sticker–it’s more like you’re gluing to the sticker than to the object underneath, so it’s like you’ve got a load-bearing address label–and cheap wood usually doesn’t work, because the part you’ve glued to will just splinter off. While it will hold cardboard and paper really well, don’t expect them to hold a lot of weight.

One more note that a lot of people don’t know about: white glue works really well on wood. I don’t know that I’d start making furniture out of Elmer’s and popsicle sticks or anything, but small-scale wood bits being glued to other wood bits? It’s easier to work with than wood-glue, and since it dries clear instead of mucous-y mustard yellow, any blurping (or whatever you call it when you use too much glue and some gushes out the sides of the joint when you push two things together) will be near-invisible.