human behavior

DIY Lamp Makeover

Posted in Crafts by humanb on November 19, 2013


At more than 38 weeks pregnant, I’m still on a craft tear, but the clock is ticking for me to wrap up my nursery projects.

A lamp makeover was hardly necessary, but my husband kept complaining about my bedside lamp for some reason. I never really minded it, but it was quite plain. Moreover, it encroaches on the beginning of the nursery wall in the bedroom that we’ll share with the baby, so it could benefit from a bit of color.

As per usual, this project was only going to satisfy me if I could make use of materials that I already owned; and seeing as I had heaps of yarn left over from my nursery mobile, I resolved to use it.

Besides, a second yarn-related piece in the room would better ground the nursery mobile in the space, and provide further texture for a cozier atmosphere.

Like most of my craft projects, this one wasn’t original. I spent a good bit of time Googling “lamp makeovers” that used yarn, and found a recurring aesthetic idea…

lamp_orangered lamp_blueteal lamp_blueyellow

Painted bases and 3-toned horizontal bands of yarn were clearly the trend, and the shift from one colour to the next was universally handled with alternating stripes for added interest. I really hate being trendy, but I’m not so delusional or arrogant as to think that I’m immune from the influence of popular design aesthetics. I like the look of the shades, I admit. Would I have liked the shades ten years ago when they weren’t on trend? Who knows. But I was determined to mix things up – at least a bit – with my shade.

I don’t like the way the lamp bases are painted however – at least not the white ones. I’ve remained happily immune to the so-called ‘charms’ of painted white furniture, but you’ll find it everywhere and especially in nurseries. People seem to think that white paint makes furniture look ‘fresh’. But I think it makes it look cheap, with some exceptions.

Like past projects, this one was fun for the challenge of using pre-owned materials. I was limited in the colours of yarn I could use, and I was forced to work with a lamp shade with a much sharper angle, such that the yarn almost never stayed in place as I wrapped it around the shade. In the end, I resorted to using double-sided tape for every row, which worked like a dream.


I didn’t really have a colour or design plan as I worked…


I just stopped with one colour when it felt right, and switched to another, being mindful to start and stop along the shade’s primary seam. A dot of craft glue was used at the tips.


While the double-sided tape worked wonders as I went up the shade, the very top and bottom rows never did stay put without a final line of glue.


But in the end, the shade looked surprisingly tidy.


I was happy at this stage to call the project done, but my husband felt the base needed a coat of paint. Curiously, he suggested a dark grey – the very colour used in the example above – which he’d never seen. (That’s the strong and silent influence of trends for you.) But I’ve not been led astray in trusting his instincts yet.

As I was out of black acrylic paint, I had to make my own grey. And while I had every intention of making a true grey, I ended up with muted shade of blue. But what a happy coincidence that it so closely resembled the blue yarn that I’d used. Here’s the final result:


I’m still not convinced that the base needed painting, or that this was the best paint colour for it. And I acknowledge that the shade pattern is predictable. But I still like this lamp.

Of course, no one ever mentions or considers how these lamps will look at night, when the light is on.


Meh. Not so great. The light it gives off is pleasantly warm, but the lamp shade itself doesn’t look very nice with its colours so altered. But no biggie.


I’ll just admire it during the day. 😉



The Shoddy Craftsman: DIY Plywood Mailbox

Posted in Crafts by humanb on March 22, 2013

Back in September, I did a series of craft projects to decorate my mother-in-law’s bare and never-used front porch. I made a house number mosaic, a mosaic bench seat, a piece of driftwood wall art inspired by my own driftwood piece, and a piece of scrap wood wall art.  I also made her a mosaic poolside table for her backyard deck, a beer coaster collage for a bedroom,  and a book cover collage for another bedroom. Some projects were more successful than others, but I think they all served to improve the look of the areas they adorned.

That left her mailbox…


Her mailbox had fallen down in a storm, and was now supported by a bungee cord tied to an ugly utility pole. The maroon paint was stripped away from the bottom of the box, and the gold address stickers never did work well.

In my mother-in-law’s defence, my husband and I bought her that mailbox and improperly installed it when she was away. So it was high time I redeemed myself.

I was inspired by this mailbox I found online:


It’s made of metal, and I’m no metal worker, so I tried my hand at a similar mailbox made from plywood. Here’s the result:


An improvement? Undoubtedly. Well-made? Not so much. I should have used pine, but I’ve only owned a jigsaw for a few months now, and I’ve never had any instruction in furniture or box making. I didn’t even have a how-to-guide for this one…


I made a handheld model out of index cards and tape first, and then tried to replicate the model in plywood.


I love that it looks like an envelope, and the grain detail in the front right corner looks pretty cool. The house numbers are painted wood.


To deliver mail, the postman has to lift the ‘envelope’ flap…


Note the ugly square pieces of wood glued at the ends and the rubber strip underneath the flap to prevent rain water from soaking the mail inside. I couldn’t come up with a more elegant solution. Note also the jarring silver brackets fixing the wooden post to the mailbox. I wanted to use brown or black brackets, but had no luck at the big-box hardware store. Ah well.

To retrieve mail, you simply lift open the back flap…


I should have considered a more elegant handle, and if I could have figured out how to hide my hinges inside, it would’ve looked better.

But truth be told, I’m pretty proud of my first woodworking attempt. It’s not likely to last very long, being made of plywood, but that’s an excellent excuse for trying this project again. 😉

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