Friday, November 30, 2012

Pre-owned Art

There is a project in our house that I am particularly proud of, simply because of it's organic origins. It started out using 100% products we already had on hand, and was a completely free decorative art project that I love! (Once you find out what it is, you may wonder why the sense of pride [because it's really quite simple], but you must know about me that I do not have a creative bone in my body. So coming up with ideas for the house is not exactly something that comes naturally, so when I do end up creating something or having a brilliant idea on my own, no matter how small, it's a big deal.) Phil has always been a fan of what I lovingly call "stick art." You know, those vases at Target and Pier 1 you see that are just chock full of... well, sticks. I never understood it. Here's an example of what I'm talking about (thanks Pinterest!):
This actually is one of the better versions of this concept I've seen. There are much uglier ones in the world, I promise you. And I had never thought of it as something I'd want in my house.


Yup, I was converted! Something about being FREE just makes a concept automatically more my bag. (I also apologize for the crappy photography.  It's something I'm working on, and once a project has been altered [which this one has], I can't exactly go back and get a better shot. Also, Phil broke my camera so I've only got my phone camera to work with right now).  The vase was already on hand, and the sticks are actually dead branches from our elderberry bushes in the backyard.  The idea hit me when trimming back some dead branches this summer.. after dumping a bunch in the trash bin I realized they might look better in a vase. I was right.

After sitting with that gnarly purple vase for a while, though, I found the color and shininess of the vase to be not so easy on the eyes.  The shade of purple just did not jive with the other colors in the room.  So I remedied this with a $5 spool of burlap ribbon from Hobby Lobby and...

Instantly better! Magically, the project not only had a much more palatable color, but also got some sweet texture and a funky new vibe.  While this regrettably made the project no longer free, the ribbon will last beyond this project and was a worthwhile expense in my mind.

So to take you back in time for a moment, and explain why such a stick art project was so exciting, this project started as a way to fill this random ledge/mantel that is adjacent to the fireplace mantel.

It feels like such a tall space, and without anything with some height it just looked perpetually empty and cold.  Smaller-scale items just didn't fill the space and it felt unfinished and half-assed.

See how those small trinkets just don't quite do it in that tall space. It just looks... bad.  So I knew we needed something with some height, and had visions of having to shell out serious $$ to get some sort of tall statue or something.   Until my genius kicked in, that is.

See how it fills that space so well, and no longer makes that corner feel so awkward. Even tucked behind seasonal trinkets, it's nice to have that space filled.

And it works from various angles.  Since this area is on a corner, you see it in many different perspectives depending on where you are in the house.  Works from the front, as you see above.

Works from the side, too.  This is the view walking into the living area from the entryway area.

Considering a vase full of sticks can run you $20 or upwards, I'm pleased to have spent just a few buckaroos on this puppy. Plus, the pride that comes from having come up with this solution to this random, empty corner of mantel is priceless.  I've also been trying to customize it for the seasons/holidays by sticking branches full of colorful fall leaves in there, or branches full of mini-crabapples that I find in the yard.  The problem with that is it looks great for a day or two, but then the leaves/berries start to die and look trashy, and that makes it pretty high-maintenance (yes, swapping out a couple branches every couple days makes a project high maintenance in my book). High maintenance is not so much my bag, so for the most part this sucker stays as is in the pic above. But it's fun to know I can doll it up if I wanted to for a party or what have you. (And please ignore the random selection of knick knacks that surround the vase. I can't quite get the adjacent trinkets to look right and it's constantly changing). 

Lesson Learned: Before you go spending your hard earned cash on art or decor, take a look around and see what you've already got.  And never rule out what you might find outside! 

Wow thanks for sticking with me through that.  I didn't know I had that much to say about such a simple project. Whew. Has anyone else magically found a great project hiding in a closet, or in their backyard? Do you have any other ideas for how to turn already owned items into art or house decor?

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