DIY · etsy shop · Home · Jewelry

“Free” Shutter!

work table

This is the story of a happy marriage.*

free shutter

I found this shutter on the side of the road just down the street from me. I was driving with the kids when I saw it leaned up against a stop sign. I did a U-ey in the middle of the street and went back to inspect. It turned out to be a louvered folding door (but I’m still calling it a “shutter”), so I had to put the middle of the back seat down and slide it through to the front seat in order to get it home. The kids didn’t flinch – they are used to me picking up random things and attempting to fit them in our car. At this point, I wasn’t even sure how I wanted to use it, but I was sure it was quite a find and that I would come up with something brilliant for it. (Cue Husband snickering in the background.)

(Also cue BB doing air quotes. BB learned about air quotes at the beginning of first grade and spent much of the year using them incorrectly, mostly to quote how he is really feeling. (This dinner is “good” when it’s his favorite, this movie is “funny” when it is, in fact, really funny.) However, in the last week, he has used them correctly 6 times in a row. He is so proud.)

The shutter lived in the garage for a few days, and then it moved into the house so I could try it out. The best idea I had was to put it in my work corner (see more here and here) to hold completed jewelry projects to list on Etsy. I didn’t like it white (it’s right next to the door that leads out to the garage – also white), and I thought about painting it black, but I decided it would be “fun” (air quotes) and might look best stripped down to its natural wood – a contrast between our charcoal gray walls and white Hoosier cabinet work table.

Have you ever stripped shutters or louvered doors? Because, WOW.

Our first attempt involved our neighbor’s pressure washer. After talking with the neighbor and watching YouTube videos, I was sure this would be a very simple and quick method of paint removal.


It was not.

You can see in this photo the small chips of paint removed in the middle of the far left edge. That’s all that came off. I was not deterred.

shutter stripping

I bought a can of paint stripper spray and a stripping tool. Husband volunteered to help me with this project, a decision he would later come to regret.

He applied the spray, and we quickly realized I had grossly underestimated how much paint stripper we would need. I headed back to Ace to buy out their entire stock.

paint stripper

Here is one side after a couple of cans of spray and A LOT OF TIME scraping the paint off with the little scraper tool. Husband scraped one side, and I scraped the other.

Husband: “You know what they say about the couple that strips paint together….”

Me: “They are divorced in 3 months?”

Husband: “Exactly.”

I won’t tell you who did which side, but one of us was certain the remaining paint and stripper would come off after another round with the pressure washer.

paint stripper

It did not.

And here is where the photo documentation of this DIY project ends. Because it’s really hard to take photos of endless rounds of sanding off paint and stripper. One becomes completely engrossed in the project because one is determined to actually finish this before the children leave for college. Suffice it to say there were multiple sessions on multiple weekends of sanding and sanding and sanding (with various grit sizes) each of those little, tiny slats of wood, attempting to remove all traces of orange from the crevices and joints from the front and back of the shutter.

At one point, Husband says, “Do you have any idea how many man-hours this project is going to take?”

I do a quick calculation. “Maybe 25?”

“Ha. Do you know how much my man-hours are worth?”

“Not as much as my woman-hours are worth,” I replied.

I think I got the side eye and some words muttered under his breath.

I had already decided I liked the look of some of the white paint remaining – to remind me of the blood, sweat, and tears we put into the project – so as I finished up the last 3 rounds of sanding, I was careful to not remove every last bit of paint. Besides, I didn’t want it to look like I had just gone to Home Depot and bought an unfinished folding closet door – what would be the “fun” in that? (“Heh,” Husband says.)

jewelry corner

But then it was finally finished. I immediately moved it back into the house and put it to work.


I used S-hooks from the hardware store to hang the necklaces.

beautiful objects earrings

The earrings hang from their own hooks.

jewelry work space

We are a week out on finishing this project, and now that the tingling in my sanding arm has mostly gone away, I can say that this DIY was definitely a learning experience, if not a “fun” one.

*Also the title of the book I’m currently reading.

etsy shop · Jewelry

My New Favorite Earrings

gold marquis earrings

Oh, these earrings. These are still probably my all-time favorites, but they have seen better days. I made them years ago during 31 Days: The Thrift Project. I thrifted a gold-tone necklace with different shaped links, and I made a few pairs of earrings out of them. These were by far the best – simple, elegant, and they go with everything. You can see the “gold tone” is wearing off, but I still wear them a couple times a week.

DSC_0003 (2)

I found similar shaped links online, but in 14K gold, and I recreated the original pair with those. I gave several away as gifts, and I listed them in my Etsy shop.

DSC_0015Last fall, a dear friend of mine celebrated her 40th birthday. I planned to pair my gift of champagne with a pair of those gold, marquise-shaped earrings, but when I went to my jewelry supplies, I was all out of the links. So I improvised. I found my favorite bronze-toned glass beads and strung them onto gold wire in different shapes – marquise, circles, and teardrops. I liked the teardrops best, so I gave her these sparkling earrings and sparkling wine. The birthday girl loved them, and I’ve made a few more pairs since then as gifts.

gold and copper beads

But then I ran out of my favorite beads, too! I ordered new beads in “gold” and “copper”, hoping they were the right. While the colors were beautiful, but they weren’t THE ONES.

So I scoured the internet, including eBay, Etsy, and websites written entirely in Slavic languages. I went to my local bead store and asked the owner. She said those were her favorite, too, but that she hasn’t seen them in years. I dug through the racks anyway, hoping to find something I liked just as well. I didn’t. But then, on the very bottom, in a few tiny little bags, they appeared. THE ONES! The shop owner said she didn’t even know they were there. I said that I was going to buy her out, but I reconsidered and left her one bag (I’m so nice!) and told her to keep up the search!

crystal bronze czech glass

So now I’m the proud owner of what could possibly the last of these beads on Earth. (I know, not really, but it feels like it.)

seed bead earrings all

So I made earrings out of all 3 colors. The copper ones (above center) are really sweet and look great with pinks and other pastels. The gold ones (above right) are bright and very sparkly. But the bronze (above left) are, of course, my favorite. They are the color of champagne, and they go with everything.

And all 3 are available in my shop!


These are my new favorites, so now I’m searching thrift stores and bead shops for other fun seed bead options. I’ll keep you posted on what I find!



Jewelry · Sewing · Thrifts

Plum(b) Wore Out

plum dress + handmade necklace

Happy Monday! How was your weekend? (Or should I say how were your last two months?)

It’s been a really busy season for us. Once the new year started, we hit the ground running. I’m one of the fundraisers at BG’s preschool, and we have our big Bunco Night every February (more on last year’s event here and here), so the weeks leading up are hectic – it’s a full-time job. This year’s event was a BLAST and a huge success, and now that it’s done, I want to get back to sewing and making jewelry and finishing (starting?) projects.

But before I could do that, I needed a week to do nothing. I was exhausted (or, as my Appalachian Mammaw would say, I was “plumb wore out”). Turned out my week to do nothing included starting Little League with BB, ballet with BG, choir practice for BB, joining a small group for Husband and me, and catching up on all the life that passed by during January and February. Phew!

But finally, I felt I could make some space to be creative. I started small.

thrifted dress - before

First, I took this dress I thrifted. (It’s pink in some light, a plum purple in others. It’s magic!)

thrifted dress- before

It’s a super comfy sweatshirt material dress that started at a very unflattering length.

shorter hem for thrifted dress

A lot of times, thrifted dresses only need a little tweaking to update them. This one needed a shorter hemline.


And a removal of these weird plastic drawstring beads.



Much easier than I thought.

Since this was such an easy makeover, I made some earrings and a necklace to go with it.

beaded earrings

The earrings were made from two large beaded beads (get that?) that I salvaged from a necklace I found last week. I’ve been using the other beads from that necklace to try out some new earring designs. It’s been so much fun having time to just play.

handmade necklace

This necklace was made from recycled metal beads. I strung them on sterling silver wire and added a sterling silver chain.

plum dress + handmade necklace


plum dress + handmade necklace

plum dress + handmade necklace

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to head back to my studio (cabinet) to play around with some more earrings.

Or take a nap, one of the two.

Let’s be honest, it’s probably going to be the nap.