The Journey Begins…

How did I get interested in upcycling you ask? Sure you did.

I started watching those reno shows: Fixer-Upper, Masters of Flip,  Leave it to Bryan, Holmes on Holmes, and several others. My faves these days are Save My Reno because they upcycle, and Good Bones because I just want to hang out with Karen. She’s so much fun. And? She upcycles.

From there, the slippery slope led to Pinterest, and then various Facebook Groups. I love Upcyclers Anonymous, Paint it Beautiful, and several others. There appears to be a great divide between chalk paint and mineral paint, but that’s a tangent for another day.

Since I have a “discount for life” at Canadian Tire, I usually start there. I had just moved into my new home in Aurora, Ontario, and hired a painter to paint the entire multi-pastel house in a rainbow of greys. (Not quite 50 Shades…). So at Canadian Tire, I bought black outdoor paint for my patio table, grey chalk paint and a can of protective topcoat. All by Rustoleum, because that was what they had. I had yet to hear of Annie Sloan, Dixie Bell and F.A.T. paints. Not to mention Fusion Mineral Paints.

Hmmm. Not sure it’s a good idea to buy a specialty product at a general store, because the can must have been sitting there for years. The bottom had hardened into a lump that defied stirring. But the top looked okay, so I persisted. It was just practice for now, right?

I grabbed a little Ikea shelf I’d had for years, a box that wine had come in, and five “heads” I’d snagged at a thrift store. Oh, and some carved dragons I’d bought on the beach in Bali in 2000.

So I primed with white Bulls Eye primer and painted. It’s not as easy as it looks. Brush strokes and bleeding paint are my nemesis, but for these projects, it was good practice.

I also experimented with Modge Podge, stencilling and stickers on these pieces. The stencilling worked best. I’ve yet to try transfers, because they’re not cheap. I’ve read that you can make your own by feeding wax paper into an ink jet printer. I see a jammed up ink jet printer in my future, so I’m holding off on that.

Enough words, Gina. Show us what you got:

First up, my little Ikea drawer system. My learning here is that I don’t like it when the rest of the piece isn’t nicely finished. However, I’d read that when you paint a drawer, it can often get just that tiniest bit too big for easy sliding.

Here’s the finished box deployed on my office bookcase. As you can see, I’ve covered the poorly decoupaged top with a stationery tray, and added the little bat sticker. It’s cute. It’s functional. I really didn’t care how it turned out. Next…


Next was the wine box. I practied my painting, and later, stencilling. I used a dollar store self-adhesive stencil and as you can see, it pulled off some of the paint. Note to self: use the protector coat first, then the stencil. Haven’t tried that yet. Will let you know how it goes.

The next two projects actually worked out pretty well. First were the dragons. I’d bought them from a seller who walked the beach in Bali–a memorial trip I’d taken when my mother passed away. The seller told me they were stained with brown shoe polish. I can’t recall if I primed them and I don’t have a before picture, but I painted 2 coats of the grey chalk paint, then dry brushed on some of the Rustoleum black even though it is for outdoor furniture. Then dry brushed some dollar store gold acryllic paint. The inside of their mouths was done with dollar store red nail polish. I love how they turned out. They have place of pride on top of a beautiful antique cabinet purchased years ago at an auction in Toronto.


Lastly, I painted the white styrophone heads grey. I wanted them to be vaguely reminiscent of Doctor Who’s Weeping Angels. Painting styrophone was a challenge because it kept chipping off. I finally found if I handled it very carefully, and then didn’t touch them till the protective coating had dried, that I could then dress them and display them. Now they sit atop my antique barrister’s bookcase.


At first, I just sat the heads directly on the bookcase, but after posting a picture to Upcycler’s Anonymous, someone suggested I acquire candlesticks. A quick trip to Salvation Army and $12.00 (less senior’s discount) later, here we are.

So far, I was 2/4 on my practice projects. It was time to move to something real. Stay tuned for my next blog post…

#upcycling #newlife #thrifymystery

About Gina Storm Grant

I'm a writer and upcycler. I have 14 books published under 3 pen names: Storm Grant, Gina X. Grant, and Gina Storm Grant. I rescue found furniture from the curb, as well as one oversized Mexican Street Dog named Canoli.

Posted on February 17, 2019, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Pingback: Ahoy, Matey! |

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