RSS Feed

Category Archives: Paint Pot

Window Boxes from Upcycled Fruit Boxes

Posted on

I have been busily brandishing a paintbrush for the first time in many months, returning to an idea that I blogged about on Curiously Creatively last year. You might recall that I wrote about picking up discarded wooden fruit boxes from Lidl in the spring, with various ideas for transforming them into something useful. Well, the months went by and nothing happened to the boxes, which meanwhile, were getting dustier and dustier out in the shed. Recently on a shopping trip to Lidl I noticed an abandoned orange box left in the bagging area by the checkouts and I had to force myself not to pick it up, aware that I had four at home already. It was time to take action and get painting! Only then, I told myself, I could allow myself to go collecting more…

My plan is to paint and decorate a couple of the boxes ready to contain some herbs or salad leaves for the summer. I will probably locate them on the windowsills at either the front or the back of the house. The house is roughly east west oriented so there are advantages to either side for sunlight. We were toying with the idea of building some window boxes anyway, so up-cycling these boxes should be a good alternative. They are slightly wider than the outside sill, but I don’t think the overhang will be enough to cause a problem (they won’t be either heavy or high enough to land on an unwary head). The dream of being able to open the kitchen window and snip some basil leaves as I cook is carrying me away! Let us see whether my fantasy can be made to meet reality.

The box painting process has had a somewhat piecemeal quality to it (not only because of it having taken so long to get started) because I have been using up left over match pots to clear out a cupboard. I began with two boxes and covered the outsides with a basic coat of some stone coloured matt emulsion paint. Amongst the odds and ends of mini paint pots, I found two green ones (left over from Verity’s pallets and from my kitchen shelf project) and a sunny yellow shade that was once used on a dolls’ shop front. Not all of the paints are robust enough for outdoor use, but a) I am in a using up and de-cluttering mood, b) I will coat the boxes in yacht varnish anyway and c) the paint would end up being thrown away if I didn’t use it up on a small project of some sort.

So, to report on the painting stages:

I have done at least two base coats of paints on the outside and two coats on the inner sides. I did not have enough paint to cover the inside of the base, but that doesn’t really matter. My plan is to use a lining cut from an old compost bag for the base and sides, so that will help to protect the wood on the base. As you can see from my photographs, I have used up the green paint on the shorter sides and corners, while the rest is covered in the ‘Sunshine Yellow’. I decided to have a bash at stencilling some garden themed shapes on the sides after discovering some leftover red paint, which I also used to edge and top the corner pieces. The final stage was to give the boxes a couple of coats of yacht varnish to make them more weather proofed. Ideally, I will have more than merely one season of use from them.

My stencilling efforts were not wholly satisfactory; the thickened paint and my lack of experience of using stencils with anything other than felt pens on paper both contributed to a less than perfect finish. However, I am pleased with the general effect and I think the decorated boxes will look well on the windowsills. I am looking forward to getting them planted up soon, I just need some more of our seeds to sprout so I have something to plant!

Now, all I need to do is to decide what to do with my remaining orange boxes! Any suggestions from the floor?

Crazy for Craft Kits

Posted on

I realised after Christmas that I had several craft kits which wanted making up. Firstly, there was my gingerbread reindeer kit. Then, my Big Hoot owl and finally two model aircraft.

The gingerbread reindeer was a Christmas present which I made up a few weeks ago. However, there is still some of it left to eat. In this kit, the body and head, antlers, base and legs were all supplied as pre-baked gingerbread biscuits. There was icing sugar, sprinkles and little chocolates with coloured shells. The assembly was easy-peasy. We used out own icing sugar to make the icing with, because we had a packet open already. The gingerbread base had slots into which the legs could be stuck with icing. Then, we slotted the body into the legs and put the antlers on.

Gingerbread Reindeer

Jazzy Gingerbread Reindeer

When it came to the decoration, I strayed away a little bit from the picture on the box, and I used the small coloured disks which we already had in instead of the sprinkles. The result was rather jazzy! Unfortunately, the reindeer’s neck soon broke under the weight of the antlers. We hadn’t re-baked the biscuits through first because the instructions said only to do this if they seemed soft. In hindsight, we probably should have done it anyway. Also, the icing really needed to be left to set before the antlers were placed on. Still, although my reindeer didn’t last long, he looked good while he did!

My second kit, also a Christmas present, was for painting a model plaster owl. It was merchandise from The Big Hoot, an outdoor exhibition of giant owls across Birmingham city centre, which we saw last summer. The exhibition was very similar to the Easter Egg Hunt and Pigs on Parade, both of which we saw in Dublin.

The kit comes with about five tiny paint pots in a basic range of colours and two small paint brushes. When I started doing this kit, I quickly realised that the brushes and paints supplied were hopeless. Although I stirred up the paint as best I could, some of it was too hard and set to mix. I got my own paints out to replace them. The bristles on the brushes were too long and bendy to be accurate, I tried cutting them down, but this had little effect. In the end, I got out my own paintbrushes as well. So much for kits with ‘all materials included’! Anyway, at the moment the owl is half-finished and awaiting a second coat of paint.

Finally, I have two model aircraft kits, one from a trip to Cosford Air Museum last summer and one was a Christmas gift. The Red Arrow kit is by Airfix, similar to the Hawker Hurricane and Gloster Gladiator that I made before. The other kit is quite different. It’s a Hurricane in balsa wood and tissue paper which is rubber powered and can really be flown.

Hawker Hurricane

Hawker Hurricane kit

I’ve never made a plane kit like this before and I’m looking forward to doing it as a summer project this year. Also, I’m going to finish my owl sometime soon. He Who Put The Shelves Up suggested making it an Emperor Owl and painting on some gold leaf to suggest a chest plate or chain mail. Gold leaf is sold in lot of craft shops and I might pick some up to try out this unusual idea.

What have you been making and baking recently? Drop us a line in the comment box below…

Creative Uses for Fruit Boxes

Posted on

As I was picking up a few groceries in Lidl the other day, I noticed that someone had abandoned a small wooden crate that had previously contained oranges. Clearly, an over burdened customer didn’t want to take the empty box home and had thoughtfully left it for someone else to clear away. The more I looked at it, the more I felt that surely I could find a use for the orange box. Then, I realised what stray thought had prompted my musing. When I was a child, my dad made me a dolls’ bed from a similar wooden fruit box, donated by the local greengrocer.

Fruit Box

Waiting for inspiration to strike…

Sadly, I no longer have the bed, but I can still picture it to myself (that is, if my memory serves me correctly). Dad made the bed as a divan style, putting padding on the top of the box and tacking (striped ?) fabric over it to form the mattress. I think he made a padded headboard too. With a pillow, sheet and a blanket my dolls must have been quite comfortable. Though I am almost sure that at some point the bed ended up being used as something else entirely (turned upside down, it could have been a boat). Anyway, I think that dolls’ bed transformation was doing up-cycling before it was even called up-cycling and it became a fashionable thing to do.

Now, I am trying to come up with an idea to use my ill-gotten gain from the supermarket. I have even considered lugging a full box of oranges home on the bus so that I have another box to incorporate into some grand creative plan. One of my ideas (apart from making my own dolls’ bed) is to make some sort of outdoor planter for the spring. With a good coat of exterior paint or varnish, this type of wooden box could make a great herb planter for instance. If I painted some up, they would complement Verity’s painted pallets very nicely. You could get quite arty with the decoration, perhaps painting ‘parsley’, ‘mint’ etc. and painting leaves and flowers. I can see another excuse to buy an assortment of match pots in all the colours of the rainbow.

My other idea, again by adding at least one more crate, is to make a vegetable storage structure. These boxes are stackable, so you could store potatoes in one box, green stuff in another and so on. A bit of fancy painting, and there you are. In fact they would make great storage towers for all sorts of items. Of course, on the other hand I could simply break the box up for kindling…what do you think folks?

More Fruit Boxes

And then there was three…

UPDATE: I now have three boxes to use, since I found two more on a trip to yet another branch of Lidl (I do occasionally shop elsewhere you know!).  At present, they are stored in the shed, waiting  for my inspiration to strike. I can see them as I look through the kitchen window, so there is no escaping the task ahead….


Painting the Kitchen Shelves: Round Two

Posted on

This is a much-delayed update on the refurbishing of the kitchen shelves, the delay mainly due to the delay in getting around to the painting. Secondary to the late painting job I’m afraid to say,  was the delay in writing about the work. I had plenty of good intentions, but what with one thing and another, you know how it is. And then there’s always having the right weather for painting (or so I tell myself)!

Two Tone Shelves

First stages…

Luckily, I managed to find a spell of dry weather a couple of months ago so that I could set the shelves up outside and set to painting. I know what I am like wielding a paintbrush loaded with brightly coloured paint, so  I am definitely better with plenty of space around. If you remember the previous shelf bulletin, I had sanded down and done an undercoat, in preparation for playing around with some colours. Clearly, I left the job half finished for much longer than I intended, but I suppose that at least I did get around to it eventually. If you recall, we had been on one of our trips to Homebase and selected some bright n’ cheerful match pots to try. I chose two lighter tones and a darker one, with Moroccan Red, Village Green and Zest. As I remarked before, we were probably suckers for the evocative sounding paint names. 


Yet more match pots…

My original intention was to paint each shelf in stripes of different colours, as each shelf comprises four slats. As you can see from the photograph this was quite a tricky operation and I wasn’t confident of achieving sufficient neatness in the end result. I think it may have been possible to achieve a straight line using masking tape, but I decided to take the easy way out and paint each shelf a different colour instead. I also painted a different colour on the two front and back supports and picked out edges in red. Please note – I did paint the underneath of the shelves too!

Painted Shelves

Getting there!

The question of colour division produced a spell of dithering on my part but I did make a decision before the paint began to dry. In retrospect, I wish that I had put the red on the middle shelf to balance the tones a little better. Having said that, I’m pleased with the way the colours go together and the brightening effect they have on the kitchen. I am now considering what to paint next, but don’t hold your breath on a decision any time soon. These things take time…

After doing a couple of coats of colour over two days of painting, I finished off the shelves with some clear varnish as I did with the bedside cabinet last year. My mistake however, was that this time I didn’t leave enough drying time between the two coats of varnish. Probably I was also too hasty in bringing the shelf unit back into service, as the upshot is that the shelves are already showing signs of damage from regular use. I am going to have to do a repair job and be a little more careful and patient in my working methods. A lesson learned I think. Maybe I should have tried a gloss paint instead.

If anyone has any recommendations for furniture paint, do please drop us a line. Until next time…

Finished Shelves

Almost finished…


Painting my Pallets

Posted on

I’ve almost finished painting my two pallets and they should be ready to set up soon. I’ve chosen pots that fit in and planted them up with sweet peas, Italian Borlotti beans, dwarf beans and spinach. When the beans and sweet peas flower it should look very colourful.

Painted pallet

The small pallet in Wild Willow, Purple Pansy and Pure Duck Egg.

The pallets both needed scrubbing and sanding, the smaller one turned much lighter after that. I gave them a white undercoat first with some household paint, left over from doing a ceiling I think. I bought five match-pots, optimistically thinking that would be enough paint. I have two Home of Colour, Garden Colour paints, from Homebase and three Cuprinol, Garden Shades. The Home of Colour ones are in Wild Willow and Pure Duck Egg, the others are Purple Pansy, Barleywood and Sunny Lime. The Home of Colour paints have more in them and are better value but there is not a very large range of match-pots.

Painted pallet

The large pallet in Pure Duck Egg, Sunny Lime and Barleywood

I tried to do a couple of coats on most of the surfaces and to paint all the inside bits that won’t be visible but as some of the wood is splintered or gouged, there are a few white patches still. Everything went well until it came to painting the back of the larger pallet and I realised I didn’t have enough paint left. I painted a few stripes in the last of the Wild Willow and Sunny Lime. However, the rest is some leftover Dulux, My Space, Amazon Blue that I bought for painting a dolls’ house a few years ago. As you can see from the picture, the front of the larger pallet is still white. I have about half a pot of Dulux, Vinyl Matt, Summer Sun left over from the same dolls’ house project and I might finish that off on the front, although I’m not sure if there is enough. The Amazon Blue is indoor paint so I’ll have to varnish that part at least, although I might do the whole thing to make the pallets last a bit longer.

Painted pallet

Back of the larger pallet in Sunny Lime, Wild Willow and Amazon Blue

Are you doing any painting in the warm weather? Let us know what projects you have on the go!

Pallets with potential

Posted on

Another project has commenced, after two lucky finds. I was very taken with the idea of having a pallet when I saw them used as furniture, in gardens and in window displays. Unfortunately, it has proved a bit tricky to bet hold of any. He Who Put The Shelves Up sourced the first one, in the local river. It was half a mini-pallet which had obviously been in the river for some time. Then, a week or so ago, we had another breakthrough when Chris found a whole mini-pallet at work. This one was brand new and homeless! We carried it home and installed it in the garden.


Pallets with potential

I had been so focused on getting my pallets that I hadn’t thought much about what to do when I got them. He Who Put The Shelves Up suggested fitting a tray of plants behind each bar (you’ll know what I mean when you look at the pictures) and setting them up in the garden. I think this will work nicely so that is now the Official Pallet Plan.

A pallet

My brand new mini-pallet

However, the wood needs treating first. The new pallet needs sanding, the older one is so worn away that I don’t think sanding would achieve anything. Then I will either paint or varnish both of them. I could paint them and then pick plants that match the colour scheme!

My pallet

Salvaged pallet

This could take quite a while, it’ll be a good up-cycling summer project. For now, I’m just glad to have got my hands on two pallets, for keeps!

Brightening up some kitchen shelves

Posted on

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about one of our renovations projects, a bedside chest of drawers that we repainted in three pastel shades. This time the renovation project is a set of kitchen shelves that look rather tired and worn. The shelves were made up several years ago from one of those self assembly kits from B&Q. I always meant to either paint or varnish them but never quite got around to it. The shelves have moved house a few times as well as acquiring various marks, so I thought it was finally time to apply a little attention with a paintbrush.

kitchen shelves

The raw material…

We browsed the paint selection in Homebase once more, having again decided to play around with a multi-colour finish.  The idea was to choose three colours with a warm, Mediterranean feel that we could later pick up in other pieces in the kitchen. We have another larger shelf unit of similar vintage and a table and chairs that might benefit from an overhaul in the future. Without being too ‘matchy matchy’ about it, I think it would be possible to link these items together in a coherent way. Well, that’s our design theory anyway, let’s see what we can come up with over the next few months. After much humming and hawing we plumped for the shades shown here (match pot sizes) in a matt emulsion. We chose Moroccan Red, Zest and Village Green. The names alone sounded quite evocative, but that’s us falling for cynical marketing ploys I suppose.

This project was slated to be started right at the beginning of the school holidays but somehow it got pushed further and further back until it was no longer really even summer. Thus, one fine morning last week I cleared the pots and pans off the unit in a determined fashion and took it into the back garden for a scrub and sand down. The wood has never been painted or varnished and the surface is quite smooth so I didn’t really need to do too much preparation on the shelves. Fortunately I didn’t have any filling to do either, only a certain amount of residue from some stickers to remove.


Yet more match pots…

As before, I decided to give a base or undercoat to the wood before I started applying the colours. I haven’t used a specific primer, just a white matt emulsion to give a good surface to work on later. So far, I’ve only put one coat of white paint on, but I might do one more before starting on the colours. I’m undecided about how much grain I want showing through on the finished surface. As I don’t want a surface that looks too ‘finished’ I may end up leaving it at one base coat. Fortunately the weather held long enough for the scrubbing, sanding and painting process in the garden and I returned the shelves to the kitchen in the short-term.

For now, the saucepans are back in place until I earmark another day in the weekly routine to complete the next stage. If the dry weather holds, the Curiously, Creatively team may be in paint-a-thon mode at the weekend in a bid to get the task completed. That is, unless we get distracted by another activity. There are lots of jobs that need doing in the garden at the moment! But, for now here’s the stage I’m at: one partly finished piece of kitchen furniture which already looks brighter and fresher than it did before.

white painted shelves

The half-way stage

As I’ve said before, any painting tips are more than welcome as we’re working in an experimental, see what works, see what effects we can obtain, sort of way.

A Little Spot of Painting: Bedside Cabinet

Posted on

This furniture painting project has been lurking in the wings for a long while. The paintwork on the chest was faded and coffee stained (I will confess that as the chest lives on my side of the bed, any beverage staining is entirely my fault) and in need of a pick me up. An earlier paint job done by He Who Put The Shelves Up had been in different colours due to using up paint oddments. It therefore seemed to me to be a good idea to continue the multi colour theme and the broad colour and tonal range. I forgot to take a ‘before’ picture, but if I say that the piece had been painted in pastel shades of green and blue (vinyl silk I think) you will have an idea of the appearance. I can’t remember exactly where we bought the  cabinet from originally, but it was a second-hand piece that just needed smartening up a bit.

Painted Bedside Cabinet

Three Colour Harmony

I chose to use match pots of paint for this project, and having a rather economical view I bought from the Homebase range of colours. After much deliberation, my final choice was mat emulsion in Amethyst, Pale Green and Cobalt. After cleaning and sanding down the chest, I painted one coat of white matt that I happened to have in. I don’t know that it was really necessary to do so but it seemed a good idea to start with a clean slate, so to speak. Then I painted the back in green, the sides in blue and the top and front framework in the Amethyst.

As you can see from the photographs, I became a bit carried away with the drawer fronts and used all three colours. In the end, I gave all the sections three coats of paint because the wood seemed to drink up the paint. I know that the choice of paint probably should have been a gloss or satin but I wanted a matt finish so I experimented with trying this paint on the wood. I think it worked well, and with a reasonable cost of three small pots of paint it resulted in a bright, fresh piece of furniture.

Drawer Handles

Drawer Detail

My guilty secret (but not for much longer) is that I didn’t paint inside any further than I needed to for appearances sake. I did all of the edges and the drawer runners but stopped short of painting inside the drawers and main framework. One issue that I didn’t sufficiently take into account was that the finish needed to be coffee stain proof, so the nice matt finish had to be given a light seal with clear varnish. Again I used a Homebase product, choosing the quick drying clear varnish with a satin finish. The protected surface was much more practical from the bedside cuppa point of view, two coats being applied overall.

Cabinet Side View

I like the fashion for the chalk finish paints, but at about £5 for a match pot, the paint I used made for a cheaper version and there’s no reason to suppose that it won’t last well (or at least until I fancy a change of colour scheme). We’ve got in mind to paint some kitchen shelves next, so that will be the follow-up project to this one and we have even already agreed on the colours so keep an eye out for further painting blog posts. I might even experiment with the chalk paints at some point. I am intrigued by the claims that they cover any surface with no sanding required at all. It almost sounds too good to be true.

PS I have indeed managed to dribble coffee on the newly painted surface, much to my dismay. The cheering news is that it wiped off easily thanks to the varnished finish. I must however attempt to be more careful in future after going to all of the effort to jazz up the cupboard in the first place. Please note that these snaps were taken while the surfaces were still pristine!

If you have got any paint projects on at the moment or any useful hints and tips, then please let us know…

%d bloggers like this: