Hi, I'm Alison, and I make stuff. I Could Make That is a log of my crafty life. Welcome!

Okay, so this project might be a little niche for some of you, but I’d argue that you might need it sometime if you are:

  • interested in getting rid of rust on old metal
  • interested in preventing new rust from forming on old metal
  • interested in painting with oil-based enamel

So here’s how I took an old A-frame from this:

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to this:

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I bought this A-frame on Craigslist for $15. I think it used to be a child’s swing set; the little rusty chains at the top were only about a foot apart, too small for an adult to use. We will get to what I’m going to use it for later, but first let’s take a closer look:

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Holey rusted metal, Batman! That’s a lot of rust. I even took this picture after scrubbing off some of the excess rust. I’d read somewhere that apple cider vinegar was great for removing rust, so I tried dipping steel wool in some ACV and scrubbing the rust with that, but it didn’t really work that well. I guess you have to soak the rusted metal in ACV, and of course I did not have a gigantic vat and 500 gallons of ACV to soak a 6-foot frame, so that wasn’t going to fly.

But I could soak the bottoms of the legs, right? The bottoms of the pipes still had the pipe threads on them, and I wanted to make sure I got the rust off those threads just in case I wanted to screw longer lengths of pipe to them and make the A-frame taller. I put a plastic Solo cup under each leg:

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I filled each cup with some apple cider vinegar:

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While I waited for that to work, I painted the rest of the A-frame with two coats of rust converter. Rust converter is fascinating! It’s this substance that, instead of getting rid of rust, changes rust into a hard chemical barrier that protects the surface against further corrosion. I chose to use rust converter because the A-frame was so rusty I worried that I’d weaken it if I tried to sand it down too much. Here is the rust converter I bought from Amazon (affiliate link).

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I poured a little bit into an old yogurt container and used a disposable foam brush to apply it. I normally don’t use disposable brushes, but I wasn’t sure how this was going to work out, and I didn’t want to ruin one of my brushes. But this rust converter wasn’t very noxious, and washed out of the brush easily. And look what it did to the rust!

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(You can see in the above photo that I also removed the little hanging chains from the top of the frame, since I wasn’t going to need them.)

That was just the first coat, too. I couldn’t have sanded all that rust off this thing in a million years, so I was delighted that the rust converter worked so well. In some cases it foamed up a little as I applied it to the nooks and crannies:

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But as the rust converter dried, those foamy areas became mostly flat and smooth. I wouldn’t use rust converter by itself on any metal surface that I wanted to look very nice, but it’s fine here since I’m painting over it. 

I did two coats of rust converter, which I’m not sure was entirely necessary, but I wanted to make sure I treated all the rust in the tiny nooks and crannies on this thing. And look how much better it looks after two coats!

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While I let those two coats dry, I checked on my ACV cups at the bases of the legs. I’d left them soaking for 48 hours, changing the ACV out just once. Here’s what the cups looked like when I took them out. So cloudy and gross!

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And look at this!

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They look so much better! I wiped the metal dry and brushed around the threads with a metal brush, and all the rust just came right off. On this one you can actually see the liquid line where the ACV stopped:

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So I’d highly recommend doing an ACV soak on any rusted metal you can. It’s cheap, it works great, and it’s non-toxic. I only wish I could’ve soaked this whole frame in it!

After I cleaned all the leftover ACV and rust off the bases of the legs, I gave them a very light coat of rust converter, because I wanted to prevent more rust from forming without gumming up the threads. Then it was time to paint!

I had never, ever used oil-based paint before, and I was a little scared, especially after the first coat looked like this:

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Augh! So terrible. But subsequent coats looked better and better, so I began to relax. After every coat I rinsed my brush out with paint thinner and let it air dry. Yes, I used a small brush to paint this whole thing. I didn’t really know what else to use, and since I find painting to be soothing, I wasn’t bothered by how long it took. 

I did not paint the bases of the legs where the threads were, since as I said before I didn’t want to gum up the pipe threads in case I needed to use them. 

Four coats of paint later, and the surface of the A-frame looked like this!

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It should be noted that I did not sand in between coats. I read that oil-based enamel doesn’t need to be sanded, since it sort of levels itself out as it dries. I also wasn’t bothered by having a lumpy surface like this. As long as the color was uniform and the rust was gone, I knew I’d be happy. And I am! Look how happy I am:

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I am using my A-frame for trapeze practice! I have been taking trapeze lessons over the past few months, and I’d like to be able to train a little at home. I taped up the top bar with athletic tape for better grip, and I’m doing pull-ups, inverted sit-ups and other conditioning exercises on it. I may even use the side bars for balancing practice. Future plans include sinking the legs into the ground a little for extra stability, and making or buying a crash mat.

What can you do with an old A-frame or stripped-down swing set like this? There are lots of possibilities! I like the ideas of using it as part of a garden trellis, as a frame for a chicken coop, as a hanging planter garden, or even as part of a fort. 

Solving the World’s Deodorant Crisis: A New Soothing Recipe | Crunchy Betty

I have been on a quest to make my own deodorant, and I think this is the next recipe I’m going to try.

(How to Overdye a Bedspread | Teal and Lime)

I am going to do this to our orange damask print IKEA duvet cover. I’m pretty tired of it, but it’s in perfectly good shape. I think I might try tie-dye.

(How to make an industrial pipe floor lamp | How About Orange)

Holy macaroni! This is a more expensive project than I usually do myself, but damned if this lamp won’t last forever and ever.

(Here’s part 1 where I made a cork board from an old frame using 1/4” thick cork tiles.)
Are you guys ready for part 2 of cork boards? i KNOW YOU ARE!
For this cork board, I’m using a thin roll of cork (Amazon affiliate link) that looks like this:
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I had two rolls of this at home. My brother-in-law buys storage units at auction and sells off the contents (like on Storage Wars), and he gave me a box of needlepoint supplies he found in one of his units. It had plastic canvas, needlepoint yarn, and two rolls of cork. If I’m remembering my grandmother’s hobbies correctly, squares of this thin cork are glued to the bottom of needlepoint coasters, to provide an absorbent surface and hide the stitches and knots and stuff on the back of the needlepoint work. 

But I have no plans to make needlepoint coasters anytime soon, so I used this cork to make cork boards.

Once again, here are the supplies you’ll need:

  • Old frame(s)
  • Old cardboard (you can cut it from a cardboard box)
  • an X-acto knife or a box cutter
  • spray adhesive or rubber cement
  • spray paint (optional, to paint the frames)

As I said in the previous tutorial, your old frame should have a piece of cardboard or chipboard inside it, and that’s where you’ll glue the cork. If your frame doesn’t have that, do what I did in the previous tutorial and use a box cutter or X-acto knife to cut one to size from an old cardboard box. 

Since the cork we’re using for this frame is really thin (2mm maybe?), we’ll want to use two layers so that there’ll be enough cork to push pins or thumbtacks through. 

Part of the roll I had was a little bit torn, so I used that part for the first layer since it’ll be covered up by the second layer. If your cork roll is nice and smooth and intact, you won’t have to do that. Here are the pieces of cork I cut for the first layer.

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You can see the little tears in the cork in the photo above. I’m glad I did it this way, because then that piece of cork didn’t go to waste. I used spray adhesive to stick those cork pieces to the chipboard rectangle that was inside my frame.

So that’s pretty ugly, no? This cork is so thin that when I stuck the first piece (the one on the left) in the wrong place and tried to pull it up, it tore even more. But it’s okay, because we’re going to cover this all up with a second layer of cork. 

For the second layer, I didn’t cut it to size first; I just sprayed some adhesive on the first layer of cork on the chipboard, and then smacked it right down onto an unrolled portion of the cork. That way I didn’t have to worry about positioning it incorrectly and having to pull it up. Plus it was easy to use my X-acto knife to cut off the excess cork. 

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Once you’ve cut off the excess, take this whole cork sandwich and put it under some heavy books for a day or so until the glue dries. This will make sure the second layer of cork sticks to the first and doesn’t pull up. 

After that, you can just put that cork sandwich in your frame and you’re done! Here’s mine, which I spray-painted turquoise to match the other cork board I made:

See, don’t they look so nice next to each other?

I have plans to show you what my craft room looks like now (I live in a different house, so it’s not the same as it looked here), but that’ll have to wait for another day.

I’m clumsy, and I’ve moved a lot over the past few years, so I’ve got a few picture frames around the house with no glass in them. I’ve dropped them, I’ve left them on the floor leaning against the wall and kicked them by mistake, etc. I can get new frames for the art, but what to do with the old frames that don’t have any glass?

Cork boards! I had two old frames and two kinds of cork lying around, so I’ll show you two ways to make these boards. The first method is below, and I’ll be back with the second method tomorrow. 

For both projects, you’ll need:

  • Old frame(s)
  • Old cardboard (you can cut it from a cardboard box)
  • an X-acto knife or a box cutter
  • spray adhesive or rubber cement
  • spray paint (optional, to paint the frames)

1st way: with thick cork tiles

For this one, you’ll need 12”x12” cork tiles like these (Amazon affiliate link). I think you can get a pack of 4 at Target as well. The cork tiles a little less than 1/4” thick:

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I had some pieces of these left over from a coaster project. I’d nailed them up to my wall by themselves, which worked okay but didn’t look that nice. They had chips and nail holes in the corners:

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For this first project, you’ll also need a piece of fabric the same size as your frame. I chose this linen-cotton blend left over from a jacket:

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Use the back piece of the frame as a template to make sure you’ve got the right amount of fabric, and then cut a piece of fabric that is one inch larger than the back piece on all four sides

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So if your frame piece is 18”x18”, your piece of fabric will be 20”x20”. 

(Note: I changed my mind on the fabric later, so the finished product has a different fabric, but the instructions are the same.)

Inside your frame, besides the art, maybe a mat, and the back piece pictured above, you’ll sometimes find a piece of cardboard or chip board that adds thickness and helps the art stay where it is. You’ll adhere your cork to this board. In my case, there was no such board inside my old frame, so I made one by tracing the mat that was inside of the frame and cutting out a square of cardboard with a ruler and a box cutter. If your frame doesn’t have a mat you can use the back piece of the frame just like you did with the fabric.

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If your frame is less than 12”x12”, you’ll only need one cork tile. Mine was 18”x18”, so I had to use pieces of several tiles. 

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I used spray adhesive to stick the cork tiles to the board. This is a good one, but there are lots of others out there. If you don’t have spray adhesive, rubber cement will also work.

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Oh, and if you have a nice manicure and want to keep it that way, wear gloves when you use spray adhesive. I didn’t use gloves, so I had to do a lot of scrubbing on my nails to get the glue off them. But I do not have a nice manicure. 

You are going to want to stick the cork tiles to the cardboard and then cut them to size, not the other way around. If you cut them first, you will have no margin of error if you accidentally stick one in the wrong place! Trust me on this. Here are the first two pieces stuck to the board. You can see that the cork goes over the edge of the board slightly, both for the aforementioned margin of error and because I wanted to cut off the nail holes too.

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I ended up gluing four pieces of cork to the cardboard. While the adhesive dried, I put some heavy paint cans on top of the tiles to make sure they stayed down.

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Once the adhesive was dry, I turned the whole thing over and used my box cutter to cut off the excess cork. Here’s the cork all glued to the cardboard and cut to size. 

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If your frame was small and you only used one tile, you could in theory just go ahead and stick the cork+cardboard in your frame and call it a day. But if yours looks like mine and has several tiles, you’ll want to cover up the seams with some pretty fabric! 

You’ll use spray adhesive for this part, too. Don’t spray the whole cork piece at once; it will be really hard to smooth all your fabric down over such a large area without getting any wrinkles or bumps. Instead, do it a little at a time: spray a stripe or two of adhesive across the top 2” or so of the cork, smooth the fabric down onto the adhesive, lift up the excess (not-yet-glued) fabric, spray another stripe or two across, smooth the fabric down, and keep going until you’ve got the whole thing done. While you do this you’ll need to pay strict attention to the smoothing part—don’t let wrinkles happen, and don’t let any debris get trapped underneath the fabric. 

Once you’ve sprayed all your fabric down, turn the piece over and use scissors to cut off the excess fabric. When all the adhesive dries (give it a day or so), you can put your fabric-covered cork in the frame and hang it on the wall! Mine looks like this:

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The frame used to be black, but I spray-painted it turquoise. Here’s a closeup:

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I’ve pinned to it some old photos I found at an estate sale, a brooch I like, some jewelry drawings and prototypes, a family photo, a postcard, and the post office receipt from when I shipped all the rewards to my Kickstarter backers. It’s probably weird to hang a receipt on your cork board, but I’m proud of all my hard work, and that receipt is longer than I am tall! 

There are some things I wanted to pin to the board without putting pinholes in the paper, so I put them in bulldog clips and then pinned the clips to the board. 

Tomorrow: another way to make a cork board from an old frame! See you then. 

I would love to make one or two of these for gifts. I keep hearing about this magic braid thing, and I’ve always wanted to try it.

(via Thanks, I Made It : DIY Magic Braid Leather Keychain)

Hi! It’s been a long time since I’ve posted here with any regularity, for a few reasons:

  1. When I was updating this site on a regular basis, I was unemployed. I had plenty of time!
  2. Then I got a job making jewelry, and I loved that job so much. It was fun and creative and fulfilling and I thought, this is it! This is what I want to do. This is my future.
  3. A little over a year later, I got laid off. It was sad and frustrating and demoralizing, but I learned a very valuable lesson from it: working for someone else cannot ever be my “this is it.” Working for someone else can be fun and creative and fulfilling, and is certainly necessary for 90% of people on the planet (myself included, more on that in a minute). But I can’t let it be the thing that defines me, because when I work for someone else, it’s up to them to decide whether I’m there or not, and I need to be in control of the things that define me as a person.
  4. A few months after I was laid off, I did a successful Kickstarter to fund my own jewelry business. Which was great! It doesn’t make money yet, but I enjoy it and I feel good about its possibilities.

These days I split my time between my jewelry business, working from home doing web development for a company I like, and of course making things like usual. The web job is interesting and diverting without sapping all my energy, it pays the bills, and working remotely gives me more free time than I usually have when working for someone else. 

All of those things made me realize that there’s no good reason for me to be neglecting this website. I still make stuff, I have time to photograph that stuff and write about it for you. And I’ve really missed doing all that.

So let’s try this again, shall we? I’ll return soon with some good projects. Welcome back, everybody.

storagegeek:

Clever tank top storage. I’ve seen shower curtain rings used for a few things (scarves, purses and even hair elastics) but this is the first I’ve seen them used for tank tops. I think it’s a great way to free up space in a dresser drawer.

I could not find a source for this anywhere, Google just kept leading back to Pinterest where just the image was pinned, not a website. So if you have a source I would love it, thanks!

Mind. Blown.

Everybody Loves Hypnotoad! (by splityarn)

Holy crap, this is a Hypnotoad quilt.