ideas are free #02: Bottle~o~Buttons

~{ I’m sure that Anthropolgie stole it from somewhere too }~

I can’t lay claim to this idea because I saw it a while ago at Anthropologie. A smaller, less unique looking bottle full of antique buttons for $16.

I liked the idea but I didn’t care for the price however. In fact I don’t think I like any of Anthro’s prices but I digress.

I made this bottle for my favorite price: $0

I now have a unique item that is currently sitting on my coffee table at home. From a discarded bottle of Patron and a bin of old buttons I happened to have, I recreated the Anthropologie look and you can too!

You might not happen to have an assortment of old buttons at your disposal you might be able to procure some at a thrift store or a yard sale for just pennies. Bottles and jars are pretty easy to come by. The jar I used isn’t even old, it’s just neat looking with a fun cork. An old apothecary bottle or even a mason jar that would do quite nicely as well.

And why stop at buttons? Fill it full of something else unique that you might have ~ antique keys, dice, old fish hooks, bow ties, toy soldiers, origami swans, etc. If you try it out, take a picture and send it to me and I’ll put it here!

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Fishy Finds

Here’s something to know about me: I’m a very good secret keeper. I never let any cats out of anyone’s bag. But today, I’m cracking. And I’ll let you in on my secret. It’s a place called Fishy Finds in Simi Valley.

I still remember my first trip there. After a year of living in beautiful Simi Valley, California my wife and I decided to one day check out the thrift & antique stores in the area. The first one we went to was the one with the funny name: Fishy Finds. Even from the parking lot I could see inside the open door and I know instantly that this place was magical and was about to charm me.

It’s the antique shop that I always wished existed. I always describe it like what it might look like if Knott’s Berry Farm had a yard sale. This place is for those who love the thrill-of-the-hunt and who love the stories behind the things. The owner, Tania,  is about as sweet as they come and she literally knows the story behind each and every piece in the store.  If you pick up an item to ask about the price, she’ll be able to tell you where it’s from, how old it is, who’s it was, and how she obtained it. What a gem!

My wife had the brilliant idea of taking some of the innards of the piano I recently gutted (that’s a whole new blog post coming soon, God willing) and seeing if we can’t sell them at Fishy Finds. I had taken out the piano’s action a few months ago and had it set aside while I figured out what on earth to do with it.  As interesting as it was I was probably going to throw it away as I had zero room for it but lo and behold we brought the store and we’re officially antique consignors. Not only that but Tania suggested a $225 price tag on it! See below.

My wife gets the kudos for the idea for hawking this. Right after we put it in the store and it got a heft price tag attached to it, I told her “see, I’ve got good stuff! I know how to find the good stuff!” and she said, “yeah, and I know how to tell it!

Did you happen to notice what’s underneath said piano action?   Here’s a better view.

Yes indeed, that’s our ice box that I got for free by the side of the road a month or two ago.  It’s been sitting in the garage since I found it as we really don’t have room for it so we decided to part with it, as neat as it is. The price tag now on it? $175.  Imagine that! We brought in a few unused picture frames from the 60s & 70’s I’d collected over the years as well as an antique garden tool.

Total potential winnings:$530. After the 60/40 split we’d get $318. Granted there’s gonna be a bit of negotiating and we probably won’t get the full asking price for all the items but that’s no matter as I paid $0 for all the things we brought in.

So all that to say, I let you in on my best kept secret.
Now go buy our stuff!

Happy hunting and good luck finding it!

A Piano Stool Rescue. Part I

If you recall, a few weeks ago I posted a picture of the Christmas present I bought for my wife last month. Now with a great item like this, we need two things: great seating and great lighting. Three things if you count great prices

We’ve had our eye out for all of these and we solved out seating problem by finding a late 1800’s/early 1900’s era ball & claw piano stool at one of our favorite antique stores in Simi Valley. We already figured we’d likely end up with a piano stool because we wanted to be able to push in our seating to keep it out of the way and the leg space beneath the vanity is very small. A piano stool would be one of the few things that would fit the bill. It also had to be functional. The stool would not be just for decoration but for actual everyday use.

The stool was in unfortunately bad shape when we took a closer look in it at the shop and the shop owner dropped the price down from $65 to $25.  Twenty-five was still a lot for an old stool that we weren’t sure we could fix. The cast iron piece that was holding the seat to the swiveling rod (which didn’t turn) was completely shattered and the seat itself was broken in two pieces. We decided to go for it and I had to enlist my dad’s help to fix it.

I didn’t get around to taking a before picture of the crumbled cast iron but here’s all of the problems it had and the solutions that we came up with.

Granted the stool is not all back to it’s original pieces so it’s not a pure restoration. In order to make this seat sturdy enough for daily use we had to add to it somewhat. The X-shaped cast iron piece couldn’t be welded of course so it was brazed from the inside and then a metal plate was made to go in between the wood seat and the piece. The pieces were both painted with a glossy black coat to make the cast iron and the plate look uniform.

Putting the seat back it, we discovered it was lopsided so my dad even it out using washers as shims and then put wood dough (which I plan to use a mahogany stain on) in the excess space.

These photos don’t tell the story very well but here’s the now-sturdy stool which is in dire need of a deep cleaning. There’s a hundred years worth of dust gathered in the grooves of the ball & claw feet. But right now the wood needs some serious attention:

Tho’ it’s hard to tell in the photographs, one treatment with Howard’s Feed-n-Wax made a considerable difference in the wood (see the picture on the right). Howard’s is my favorite wood cleaning product I’ve used so far in my venture into restoring/refinishing. It really keeps the wood from drying out, replenishes the moisture, and gives it a nice shine. For best results, leave it on for 20 minutes before wiping off, just as the bottle suggests.

So that’s where I am now…in mid-clean. I cleaned the ball & claw feet as best I could but it still needs a great deal of attention. I’m going to need to figure out the best way to properly clean those feet.

More pictures to come as the project continues! Not bad for a $25 piece of turn-of-the-century furniture that might’ve been thrown away otherwise!

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