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Take it from your Tool Kit - Upcycling Old Tools

Posted on April 11, 2017 at 9:00 AM Comments comments (0)

A while ago, I joined the Ottawa Tool Library where you can borrow a tool just like you would a book at a traditional library. If you’re in the need of a tool for, say, a DIY, gardening, cooking, or small repair project, instead of buying it and never using it again, you borrow it. So why buy, when you can borrow.

Tool libraries have become very popular and are located in quite a few cities including the one here in Ottawa, Toronto (Ontario), Edinburgh (Scotland), London (England). To find one in your area, check here

Which brings me to this post. I’ve always been interested in woodworking and gardening tools most of my life, especially, antique and vintage ones. One of my favourite tools is a 19th century wood plane that's somewhere in my storage unit; well, that and a 19th century oak sap bucket. I love the idea of owning something that has been used for generations and is still perfectly useful today. If you are a lover of old tools, chances are you may have or have come across a few that are no longer used but still worth keeping.

Here’s are a few ways to recycle/upcycle them and keep in circulation.

Found Art

I catagorize this as 'found art'. Floyd Elzinga transforms shovels into humongous tree cones (the above is a pinecone). He is a Canadian artist who currently lives next to his studio in Beamsville, Ontario nestled on the Niagara Escarpment. Makes me want to run out and find some old shovels to recycle.

View his other works here.

IPad Stand

You can purchase this interesting tablet holder here or why not build one yourself? All you need are a a couple of hammers, a screwdriver and a piece of wood dowel. 

Magnetic Notice Board

If you're attached to your old cutting saws but not using them, here's a nifty idea that's easy enough even for me! Transform your old saws into attractive magnetic notice boards. Nice for a workshop. Lots of saws and other tools available on Ebay.

Photo Display

A unique idea from Icon Design for an unused spackle knife used to display a vintage photograph. Or you can make it if you're lucky enough to have both or you could just buy it (if it's still available) here.

Picture Frame

Neat use for old wrenches (would make a great Dad's Day gift). You can get a similar one from Zulily. 

Coat Racks

I found a number of coat racks made from old tools, Below are two of my favourites:

Trowel Coat Rack

If these vintage trowel coat hangers are no longer available to buy at Sweet Daphne Design, you can make your own. You can still find the old trowels at flea markets, junk stores, or charity shops. Or use new ones like I did here:

I bought new ones that came with ready made holes and attached these to an old dance hall sign (given to me by a friend) for a garden/coat rack.

Screwdriver Coat Rack

There are very good instructions over at Homemade Modern to make this screwdrive coat rack so if you've a surfeit of old screwdrivers, this one is for you. Get the info here.


Add a bit of festivity to your workshop door with this grapevine wreath transformed with old tools tied on with binder's twine.I found it on Pinterest here

I've also upcycled a a couple of garden tools rescued from the trash here (as a flower display) and here (to hold my fishing poles, basket, and net). 



Workshop News and What's Going On ...

Posted on March 4, 2017 at 9:40 AM Comments comments (0)

My Paper Bead workshop went well despite the weather - heavy freezing rain but people showed up and we had a great time making beads. Some of the participant went home wearing their work!

I just opened an instagram account and have become addicted (well, almost). Why not see what I'm up to at my new Instagram account?


Happy Valentine's Day

Posted on February 12, 2017 at 11:30 AM Comments comments (0)

I'm having problems with my web host - I can't upload any images or videos and that's why I have been so silent. I had such great ones I wanted to use.

Apologies - have a great Valentine's Day!

Workshops 2017

Posted on January 30, 2017 at 10:25 AM Comments comments (0)

I'm in the process of designing my 2017 workshops and am very excited about some of them (okay, I get excited easily). But I'm having a ball coming up with new ideas and making my samples which I will post on Instagram (I'll be setting this up soon) as soon as I am done making the samples. Among some of my workshop ideas are a packing tape sticker label workshop (where we recycle glass jars into storage containers), a bath bomb workshop (recycling egg cartons) and an amazing book folding workshop creating woodland critters by recycling old paperbacks.


My first workshop is a Basic Paper Bead WorkshopThis is a basic workshop where we recycling magazines, junk mail, old maps, newspapers, calendars, catalogues - well any scrap paper into paper beads. Participants will be shown the various techniques used for making and then create their very own. All you really need for making paper beads is any one of these paper materials and you can make necklaces, earrings, brooches, and bracelets. Let your imagination go wild.


It also occurred to me that all those drawings that my little friends made for me could be repurposed as beads. I love this idea as it's a great way of preserving their work in an incredibly creative way. So, if you've got a pile of drawings that you don't want to toss out, why not consider upcycling these into beads. 


Beads can be made in a variety of shapes and sizes from large intricate beads to more sophisticated ones. I always look for ways to make a recycling craft easy (and fast) so I was inspired by a neighbour who has arthritis in her hands to come up with an very simple way for her (and kids) to create spectacular beads quickly and easily. The above necklaces were made by a group of 7- and 8-year olds. Took less than 20 minutes!



More adventuresome crafters can create itty-bitty ones such as the one above. If you are in the Ottawa area, why not come along for a great time to create something wonderful and spend some time with other creatives. Making paper beads is actually simple with my methods - any kids who come along will enjoy this workshop as well. And, bonus, you'll have gifts already on hand when a birthday or other festive occasion pops up.

For more info on the paper bead workshop, click here.

A New Year, A New Start

Posted on December 31, 2016 at 8:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Just before leaving for Edinburgh for Christmas with my family, I came down with a whopper of a cold and couldn't make the trip. Thanks goodness for Skype so I could at least enjoy the festivities and stay in touch with my loved ones. Happily, a few of my friends rallied round with chicken soup and hot rum toddies so I was not left on my own. As a gift to them, I designed and made a calendar for each one with some inspirational words. Earlier this last year, I came across a box bursting with small clipboards outside a shop that had closed down. I, of course, lugged the box home and then had promptly forgot about it. Since I needed some way to hold the calendar months together, I thought of the clipboards. And voila, here they are ...

The neat thing (at least I think so) about these calendars is that once the year is over, you can flip the sheets over and you've got a notebook! I actually enjoyed finding the appropriate quotes for each recipient and found myself so inspired that I made one for me!!

Since I can't send a calendar to all my faithful followers, I will at least send you the best wishes for a very Happy (and prosperous) New Year. Stay healthy and, if you too starting something new, remember it's always seems impossible until it's done (Nelson Mandela said that).


White Christmas!

Posted on December 23, 2016 at 11:10 AM Comments comments (0)

So excited - we're having a real white Christmas this year in Ottawa. Doesn't happen very often any more. Joy to the world!

See you in the new year with lots of new goodies. Hope you all are having a wonderful Christmas and happy holiday!