Eclectic Upcyclery for All and Sundry!

Posts tagged “projects

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?


Wall of Mugs

Mug holder made from spoons! (Needs some eco-friendly alteration, but a great idea!)

From the great (and sadly defunct) I wish I had enough wall space (and spoons) to do this. (I have a habit of hoarding strange and interesting cups and mugs; my girlfriend hates it, but I could totally fill a smaller version of this.) Might also be good for a quirky coffee shop–when I lived in Pensacola there was a place that had shelves upcycled out of old bikes, and fixtures that looked like they’d been salvaged out of a dozen different abandoned restaurants.

Personally I’d use something else for the back–probably a hideous painting in a gaudy frame, like they have in thrift stores all the time. As long as you can clean it, maybe some of those antique-looking boards recycling blogs seem to love so much, or even an old table-top.

Suitcase Endtable (and many other things)

How to Make a Suitcase Table: Instructions

Sorry it’s been so long since I posted–I just moved to a new apartment that’s smaller than my old one, so the place is so full I don’t have a lot of need to upcycle furnishings. Still, just because my place is stocked floor to ceiling doesn’t mean I’m not interested in new and better ideas, so here’s an endtable from Stars for Streetlights that offers a handy little storage space; if you’re lucky, you can even find (or already have) a decent suitcase with a lock. Anyway, her blog offers complete detailed instructions on how to build it, or at least how to get your grampa to build it for you. You will need:

How to Make a Suitcase Table: Instructions

And so on.

I’ve seen a lot of ideas for reusing old suitcases: liquor cabinets…

Jewelry displays…

Bathroom cabinets…

And so on. (Every one of those images links to a site with its own list of suggestions.) My only problem is this: I’ve been to the suitcase departments in thrift stores, and they all smell like moldy old clothes. But hey, Febreze is cheap, right?

Elegant Storage Monstrosity & Watering Can Showerhead


Combination bookcase/storage drawers/shelves/etc. I don’t know what you call it exactly, but I think “elegant monstrosity” is a good name for it, and also for my upcoming steampunk-industrial album. No, no, I don’t have an upcoming steampunk-industrial album; I wish I did though. That sounds awesome.

Anyway, this was made by somebody called Isabella Quiroga; I’ve seen it posted in various places all over the Internet, so I’m choosing at random which to link to. (Incidentally, I’m starting to wonder if this blog should have been either a Pinterest board or a Facebook feed.) I really like the idea, although I’m not sure I would paint mine Barney-the-Dinosaur purple…but then again, I might. If I had this many little tables and dressers laying around, I would totally make one of these, but going out and buying them is not quite an option right now; plus I have such unsteady hands I’m not sure I could cut a table straight enough to sit flush against a wall anyway. For those that have them or could buy them, all I can say is make sure you do a really good job attaching the legs to the table underneath.

And speaking of Facebook feeds, if you like upcycling, why don’t you go and follow Upcycling on there? At least half their posts are things I thought about sharing over here (including the purple thing above), and some of their projects are a little more feasible than some re-use blogs–you know, the ones with clever suggestions on things to do with antique footed bathtubs and Victorian china hutches. Instead, they give you this, requiring nothing more than a watering can made of something that doesn’t turn the water funky:

Photo: Yes. Cozy old farmhouse.<br />
(Thank you the cozy old farmhouse blog)

All you do there is cut a hole in the bottom shaped like the one in a door hanger (or the “power” symbol on your computer), then fit it over your shower nozzle, and bam! Watering can shower. Every time you take a shower, you would feel like a beautiful flower in the garden! Which, I mean, uh, ahem, good for chicks–they like that stuff. Not me, though. Ahem. Manly things. Sports. Bacon. Beer. Yeah. Burp. Manly things.

Dresser Drawers Become a Book Case

A surprising number of people have a dresser tucked away someplace that they’re not using. Maybe it’s in the basement serving as a dust bunny hutch, or in the attic collecting spider eggs, or if it’s in the garage, probably serving as a substrate to gather that signature garage mixture of both of the above with cave crickets, finely-diced lawn trimmings, and mildew, with a soupçon of mouse poo.

So if necessary, I suggest you clean it first.

But anyway, once it’s presentable–…Take the drawers out, remove the pulls (save them for other projects) and stack them on top of each other to make a jim-freakin’-dandy book case. If you drill a few holes, flat-headed screws and nuts go through the old drawer-pull holes to hold the whole thing together. If you’re pleased to do so, you can do all sorts of re-finishing or varnishing or painting or whatever you like, but you know what the ol’ Cromulent Bricoleur says? He says, “what the hell.”

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!

Soda Can Skulls for Day of the Dead

Yeah, I know it would make more sense to post this when it was actually closer to the Day of the Dead, but stores are already putting up their Halloween decorations, so I figured I’d do the same.

According to that nice man over at Atomic Shrimp, you have to use tin-snips to get through British aluminum (or rather “aluminium”), but here in ‘Mairkuh, we evidently make our soda-cans out of much thinner stuff,  because all you need is a pair of scissors. (Probably a set you’re not too attached to, since it can’t be great for them.)

The first step, obviously, is to cut the skull shape out. The edges aren’t sharp enough to cut yourself, although any pointed corners will jab you but good, so I would advise you to round those suckers off.

Second, trace in the eyes, nose-hole, and teeth, plus all the various decorations on the BACK using a ball-point pen (an empty one is best so it doesn’t leave little stripes in the next step). Flip it over and trace around your indentations with the pen to exaggerate the lines; the more times you repeat this, the more defined they’ll be. Try to stick with more geometric shapes, since as you can see from the pentagonal one in the top row, organic shapes don’t work as well.

Finally, color it–no self-respecting metal Mexican skull is plain. For these I’ve used Sharpies (dark colors only) and highlighters, but if you’re feeling especially festive, by all means break out the paints, and send me pics.

Now as for what you do with them, well…I don’t know. It’s traditional Mexican craft; I guess do traditional Mexican things with them. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen them strung together in garlands, but that would take a lot of them and I was eager to post this. The small, uncolored one reminds me of nothing so much as the face from a WarHammer 40,000 Ork “killa kan”, so you could totally make some props for your tiny evil army, if you’re into that sort of thing–and I want pictures of that even more than of gaily painted skulls. (Seriously, if they let you use homemade found-object figurines instead of those models you have to paint, I would be the ruler of the Chaos Dimension by now. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, please feel free to ignore this.)