Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A lesson in scavenging

Scavenging- it sounds so dirty and low class. When we think about scavengers we usually envision vultures, crows, or other 'undesirable' creatures that live off free pickings. A lot of us can't stand the idea of buying second hand or shopping in thrift stores, the very idea that someone else owned something before you seems offensive. Who wants to go through garbage to get free things that could otherwise be valuable? A lot of people, especially those trying to be green, creative, or both and enjoy finding used, cheap, or free things and making them their own. One man's garbage is another man's treasure. 

A lot of people are finding that they can make use of things that would be deemed garbage. One of my goals is to develop a program for dealing with my own household wastes. Ideally, I would like to have zero landfill input. I have to avoid buying any food or items that are sold in materials that are not recyclable. All of my biodegradable trash, such as food scraps, paper rolls, and cardboard, I will turn into soil using a worm bin. And other items that are recyclable such as glass or aluminum cans, I want to make use out of in innovative ways. 

As for scavenging, I decided that when I moved to Miami, I would not buy any furniture while I am here. I wanted to challenge my creative side by utilizing thrown out furniture and making it my own. And why not? I love the idea of getting free furniture, and believe me there is plenty for the taking in a materialistic city like Miami. 

When I moved into my new apartment, I found this gem next to the dumpster of my apartment complex. I snagged it with no shame, took it up to my place and dusted it off. It was hand made by someone out of solid wood, not particle board. How often do people throw out real wood furniture? It looked pretty bad with the two colors being cheap red wine and some sort of off white that was tinted with bile. I wanted to get rid of the colors and make it a lot darker. I like the look of aged worn furniture but I wanted to add an edge to the color.  I sanded most of the paint off, the edges of the shelf where I wanted to stain it with red mahogany. And on the insides I wanted it to look like tarnished copper, with the 'metal' oxidized so that the blues and greens come out. 

 I got both the stains and the paint from Home Depot, totaling $12. I put two coats of the red mahogany stain on the wood bordering the shelves. I painted two coats of the copper paint on the inside. Once the copper paint dried, I took some old oil paint (Green, Blue, Silver) that I had lying around and I lightly painted all over the insides of the shelf. To get the oxidized rusty look, I watered some of the paint down and let it drip down the inside, then I went behind with a small artist's brush and blotted the drops, so that it looked like the tarnished metal was spreading from the drip marks. After I finished this, I stained my old coffee table to see how it would come out. Once it's done drying, I'll post a picture. It's a lot of fun once you finish your first piece. 


  1. I love this! the post and the piece. It came out beautifully, as did your first venture into sharing with the world the amazing, thoughtful person that is you. Welcome to the blogosphere, my friend. Can't wait to see what comes next!

  2. Thanks friend! I'm already sort of addicted. Two posts in one day :)