Upcycling Transformations

I love the feeling of solid furniture made from actual wood, by human hands in a shop. About a year ago I started seeking out pieces like this and upcycling them by fixing parts, reinforcing areas, then painting and stenciling to decorate. I often wish I had a woodshop and the skill to craft these things myself, but I get plenty of satisfaction from changing them with my own hands.

As much as I enjoy upcycling it’s hard to find affordable furniture like this, or work and store them in my limited space so I decided to stop. Sure enough, not long into that decision I came across a really great piece. This bookcase was exactly what I like: sturdy, untreated wood put together simply but well. It had been sitting at an outdoor antique fair through some weather when I found it but I could tell it had potential (beneath the scissor stains and other signs of neglect.)

So it came home to my studio apartment where I ruminated on what to do. My neighbor was interested in it and her favorite color is blue so I decided to go with a paint chip look. First I taped off the largest section to be the darkest blue and turned it upside to paint. I’m not usually so calculated and precise, but for this look to come off I had to measure the sections and the paint. I mixed equal parts dark blue and white to paint the middle shade. For the top I once again mixed equal parts blue and white to further dilute the color.

Now comes the fun: stenciling! I matched these patterns together and made a pallet of blue and green tones that I could blend with stippling brushes. This project was so much fun and I’m really pleased with the result 🙂

When I try to explain to people what types of art I enjoy making I look for something cohesive to say other than “I do what I enjoy.” The best I can do is point back to butterflies. I’ve loved them since the second grade class project and a couple weeks ago I went to Santa Cruz to see the monarchs winter nesting. As gorgeous as they are I’m also enchanted by their chrysalises, the perfect green pods that hold all that potential. The reason I love upcycling, mosaics, collages, and throwing ceramics is my fascination with watching something beautiful emerge from old magazines, layers of grout, lumps of muddy clay and neglected furniture. And of course, I love everything that I do. ❤


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