Creativity Unhampered!

I thought I’d begin my first creative post by posing a question. What in tarnation is this thing, anyway?

Take a Guess www.midweststoryteller.comThink.  Whimsical?  Practical?  (Close family members are not allowed to take part in this quiz.) Don’t scroll down. Control yourself! Give yourself a chance. By the time you finish reading this, you may end up with the satisfaction of knowing that you think like my mother.

My mom could literally make something out of nothing. I never knew anyone quite like her for inventing what-cha-ma-call-its and doo-dads.

Like Mom, I loved turning my imaginings into realities, but I didn’t want to do it her way. I’d been in the stores. I’d seen the catalogs. I wanted glorious, brand new, coordinating supplies that would meld together seamlessly into a masterpiece.

That didn’t happen. I’d gather up what scraps and tidbits we had around the house, complaining that it would never come close to what I had in mind. She’d listen, then dive into her stash. She had a knack for squirreling away the oddest things. I know, you’ve all got that auntie who saves cottage cheese cartons or the plastic rings off milk jugs. Mom, however, saved the singular, the curious, the nifty.

I’d pout when I ran short of materials for a project. Mom would say, “Don’t worry. We’ll piece it.” I remember telling her one day (I was at “that age”) that I didn’t want to piece it! I told her that someday I’d march into stores and buy up plenty of just what I needed. I’d make wonderful things, not even caring if I kept the leftovers! “Piecing it” would be a thing of the past and as far as I was concerned, the sooner the better! On the whole, I was a good, compliant kid, but I had my moments.

I had no idea! The things I learned from Mom while we “pieced it” have come to my rescue over and over again.

Have you figured out what that thing was yet?

Without Mom, without “piecing it”, my community wouldn’t have had a youth theater. Well, anyway, if we’d had one, we wouldn’t have had much in the way of sets, props or costumes. Have you ever stared at a script that called for an “Inthermo Device”, capable of blowing up the Statue of Liberty? I pieced it. It was cool! A lifetime of “piecing it” gave my daughter a fabulous wedding on a budget that didn’t make us hyperventilate. More on that in future posts.

Among Mom’s things that I couldn’t throw away was a cruddy old clothes hamper. Sitting in our bathroom for as long as I can remember, it was a sad-looking thing. The braided trim drooped. It’s wicker, decades behind at receiving necessary paint jobs, took a further beating from seven children. It’s wooden lid, covered in a strange laminate “stuff” that had grown tired and peeled away sometime back in the 1950’s, snagged at your hands and clothes if you happened to brush against it. Once it passed from decrepit to hideous, Mom retired it to the recesses of her upstairs, stuffing it full of other things she didn’t throw away.

Smuffy advised me to pitch it. He sighed when I said I had plans for it. My cogs turned for months, considering methods and materials. I took before, during and after photos. And now, here’s where I give my disclaimer. Creative minds can have a bit of a problem with keeping all the snippets in their proper mental cubbyholes. I have no idea what happened to my “before” and “during” photos, so I’ve given up looking. Here’s the hamper, minus the drooping braid, banged-up wicker and naked wood lid. Not bad!

Rescued Hamper

Braid and wicker didn’t pose a huge problem. Smuffy tacked the braid back on and I spray painted it.  Then, I met my challenge. The handles in the photo are original, somehow managing to survive with their laminate “stuff” in good shape. Determined to keep the hamper as original as possible, I racked my brain for a way to make the top look like this shiny, black-with-swishes and a hint of gold stuff.

I did the logical thing. I spent a good, long time in Heaven. Oops! I meant to say Hobby Lobby. I found this –

Triple Thick

Triple Thick! I had a hunch this might be the answer. I gave the wooden lid three coats of gloss black paint with a sponge brush. Then, I mixed (at a ratio of about 8/1) faux-finishing glaze with some ivory paint. I sponged this over the lid until it looked as much like the handles as I could achieve. (Sponging with glaze has a long drying time, allowing you to wipe off mistakes and start over.)  After it dried, I mixed a dab of gold paint into some more glaze and gave it a coat to tone down the ivory, “aging” the finish a bit.

Now for the Triple Thick. I needed something to give a slick mirror-like finish to the lid without my having to sand, lacquer, sand, lacquer….Oh, please! Triple Thick gives a diamond, non-yellowing clear finish that looks like you’ve applied coats and coats. I used the whole jar – the large size.  It sells for $5.99.  The small size is pictured above.  I’m pretty well pleased with the shine, depth and the degree to which it matches the handles.

Hamper Lid Makeover

I had rescued the perishing! Mom would be proud. But, this Triple Thick stuff – WOW! The possibilities! What else might I be capable of with a jar of this in my hands?

And then it rained. The rose bushes dropped their leaves. The wind pasted them all over my wet porch. I noticed that they looked like lace, having lost all but their veining. And then I heard that little voice say, “You could save those.” Then, the voice said, “Triple Thick!

Not about to let anything “hamper” my creativity (I’m so witty), I pressed the leaves between paper towels and waited. And you’ll have to wait, too. That story’s coming soon.

Oh! Did you guess? Here it is –

Mom's Recipe Holder www.midweststoryteller.comIt’s a recipe holder, of course! How could you not know? Mom did what anybody would do, right?  You’d know, wouldn’t you, to save the innards of an old broken percolator and an old fork that’s lost it’s bakelite handle? Then, of course, you’d shove them together to see if they fit, because you’ve been wanting a way to keep that recipe right in front of you. Mom left it “as is”, but I gave it a snazzy paint job so it would look cute in my kitchen.

I believe there’s a TV show called “Strange Inheritance”. I could show them a thing or two!

Coming soon: The Rose Leaf Project. SUBSCRIBE, so you don’t miss it!

Questions? Comments? I’d love to hear from you!

4 thoughts on “Creativity Unhampered!

  1. I was mostly right. I figured a memo holder or something similar. The only thing I knew for sure was that it wasn’t used for eating. I would have loved your mom.

  2. Of course I knew what it was. Knowing me, would you doubt it?
    I had a similar holder one of my boys made at Bible School.
    The kids decorated paper cups, the teachers poured in just a bit
    of plaster of Paris, and the kids stuck in colored plastic forks.
    I used it a lot; in fact, I wore it plumb out.

    I was absolutely fascinated by your complete restoration of the
    wicker hamper. Wow! I can see where you will be giving me a lot
    of new ideas.

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