Retro Revamp: Funky Projects from Handbags to Housewares


So the dresser doesn't match the nightstand, the four kitchen chairs are from four different sets, and the bracelet is a thrift store special. Well, it doesn't mean you can't have styleand how! Thanks to Retro Revamp's chic and imaginative ideas, you can turn anything so-so into so, SO fabulous. Filled with full-color photographs, and decorated throughout with sassy collage-art and illustrations, this book is a treasure in itself. The projects inside range from necklaces to nightlights and are made from a variety...

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So the dresser doesn't match the nightstand, the four kitchen chairs are from four different sets, and the bracelet is a thrift store special. Well, it doesn't mean you can't have styleand how! Thanks to Retro Revamp's chic and imaginative ideas, you can turn anything so-so into so, SO fabulous. Filled with full-color photographs, and decorated throughout with sassy collage-art and illustrations, this book is a treasure in itself. The projects inside range from necklaces to nightlights and are made from a variety of materials that are readily accessible at your drugstore, nearest vintage shop, or neighborhood sidewalk sale. For an evening on the town, don't be caught without Holly Golightly's Dream Bag fashioned from ribbon scraps and a made-in-a-minute Chopstick-do hair accessory to keep your tresses intact. Indoors, a nostalgic Mystery Date End Table and some Ugly Chair First Aid will have you entertaining with elan. And the Car Carma Dashboard Shrine and Mr. Potato Head Beach Bag will help you hit the road in style. You don't have to know how to knit and you don't have to be a kooky bottlecap collector. All you need is some extra junk you don't know what to do with, an adventurous spirit, and one copy of Retro Revamp.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780811825238
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC
  • Publication date: 2/1/2000
  • Edition description: SPIRAL
  • Pages: 124
  • Product dimensions: 1.00 (w) x 1.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Jennifer Knapp

Jennifer Knapp began her crafty career as the prize crayon-eater of Bay View Kindergarten. She is the author of Go Go Dogs.

Teresa Domka specializes in product photography and lives in Seattle, Washington.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One



With the right product, painting is simple and fun. The wilder the colors, the less a bad prep job will show! Water-based paints are best because of their easy cleanup and their less noxious fumes. See the Materials section of this book for suggestions. Invest in natural-bristle paintbrushes. They will make all paint jobs more pleasant. Sponge brushes are a good second choice, with cheap bristle brushes best consigned to the garbage can. Always put down newspaper or a reusable tarp before beginning a project. If you do drip paint where it doesn't belong, clean it up with water and a rag before it dries.

Experiment with staining rather than painting raw wood. Some common household items that will stain raw wood are: food coloring, fabric dye, grape juice, Kool-Aid and colorful hair dyes. These dyes can be thinned with water and applied with a sponge brush (they might stain a natural-bristle brush). Then seal the stain with a light varnish or a spray-on glaze.


Everyone hates prepping. No instant gratification here, although it can save time in the long run. In this book, about all that's expected is some cleanup and maybe a little sanding. Call me cooty paranoid, but I generally like to give found items a thorough cleaning anyway. Throw it in the wash or dishwasher. Clean it with a little soap and a rough kitchen pad. This works on most items. Larger items can be hosed off. Remove all dirt, cobwebs, loose paint, or varnish by spraying and scrubbing with a brush or kitchen pad and some soap. If you arecleaning wood furniture, let it dry thoroughly and then sand it with medium-grit sandpaper. If you do not have sandpaper, use coarse steel wool.

On sticky stuff, such as price tags and labels, that is not removable with soap, various solvents work well. Some spray-on window cleaners will work. Experiment on a small area with lighter fluid, nail polish remover, or Bestine. These are very toxic substances; Do not use them all at once or mix them in any way! Read the labels and be careful. Better yet, just leave the sticky stuff!


Running Stitch This is the granddaddy of all sewing stitches. If you learned to sew for kindergarten projects, this is the stitch you probably used. The classic: Poke the needle through the top of the fabric to the bottom, then up through the bottom to the top. Make each stitch about a fourth of an inch long and a fourth of an inch apart. Soon you will have a lovely dotted line of stitches.

Whipstitch This stitch runs along the edge of the fabrics and binds the edge. Stick the needle down through the top of the fabric and over the edge back to the top of the fabric. Now stick the needle back down through the top of the fabric again and pull. Thus, you will have formed a loop around the edge. This is a good stitch to use on a buttonhole. Space the stitches very close together so as to seal the raw edge of the fabric with the loops of thread.

Folk-Art Stitch This simple decorative stitch is a variation on the whipstitch and is also known as the blanket stitch. Begin by making one whipstitch. Now run the needle back through the loop along the edge (see diagram). Begin another whipstitch a fourth of an inch long the fabric. Before the loop is pulled tight to the edge, thread the needle through the loop. Pull tight. You will have a row of connected whipstitches. This is also a good stitch to use on pulled-out sweater necks.


Remove can ends with a can opener and the use tin snips to shape the pieces. Pop cans are made of such a thin material that after removing the ends they can be cut with scissors or an X-acto knife. The main problem with cutting metal is cutting yourself! If you have leather or canvas work gloves, wear them. Mittens will not work! Metal can be very sneaky—a metal cut is just like a paper cut except that this wound will be bloody, gaping, and require stitches. The folk-art stitch is not recommended, by the way! Also keep in mind how the piece you are creating will be used. Where will it be used? Will people be handling it? Are all the metal edges safely surrounded by nails or bent under? These are all questions that need to be asked. Nothing puts a damper on a party like a guest having his or her finger cut off by a really cool looking chair—and you the embrassed hostess! it's worse than burning the meatloaf.


Hair dryers are very handy for the impatient crafter. Even if you don't have a bouffant to tend, pick one up anyway. They speed up the drying of white glue, matte medium, and some paints. Read the package of the material you want to dry. Don't get caught in the predicament of burning the house down trying to dry flammable materials!


It is nice to have a flat surface for items to sit on safely while drying. Make sure the objects are clean and dry before you glue. White glue can be spread with a brush or a small square of cardboard. See the Materials section of this book for suggestions on glues, and read the labels carefully. Except for with white glue, drying shortcuts are not advised.


One of these projects calls for grout, which can be purchased ready-mixed at a hardware store. It is a bit messy and has a mind of its own. Remember, once it dries it's not moving and it will stick to almost anything, so be careful! This is not the project to attempt on your prize fifties Formica dinette set. Before using grout, lay down plenty of newspaper and have towels and water ready to doub up any bits that escape.


Some of the recipes call for laminating flat images at a copy shop. If this is not possible, art stores sell self-laminating products. Wide strips of clear packing tape also work. It may not be as smooth as laminating, but in some cases tape works better because it is more flexible.


Different solvents, such as nail polish remover, lighter fluid, and paint thinner, can work in strange ways on magazine images and color copies. Even if you are not an illustrator, you can create some interesting images. Experiment with this on projects that call for flat paper images. Be careful with all the toxic stuff! Read the directions.


Most lumberyards will cut wood to your pattern for a very small fee. Take advantage of this service, which means fewer tools and less mess for you!


For most of the projects, using a hammer and various nail widths works well. Bottle caps, tin cans, and thin sheet metal can be "drilled" in this way. However, a drill is sometimes necessary—if you are making holes in coins, for instance. Sometimes sheet-metal fabricators will drill holes for a small fee.


Any good art supply store should have many different varieties of the materials mentioned here, plus plenty of advice on their use. I will mention some brand names in case you are buying from a catalog.


Liquitex produces both a matte gel medium and a gloss gel medium, both of which are acrylic mediums that thin with water. Matte creates a smooth finish, whereas gloss is shiny. Both are excellent sealants that form a waterproof surface when dry.


Indoor latex works well for the furniture projects. It is available on a variety of finishes from paint stores. For painting on metal and plastic and about any other surface, try Liquitex "glossies" acrylic enamel or Deka acrylic enamel. If you use a different brand (there are many), just look for something that thins with water for ease of cleanup. In a pinch, for small areas, use colored nail polish!


Just because you are making crafts doesn't mean you need a glue gun! Other glues, though perhaps less handy, work a lot better. Basic all-purpose white glue works well on paper, cloth, and even wood. You will also need a super-stick glue that works on all surfaces. Bond 527 multipurpose cement glue works extremely well. It is similar to epoxy but without the messy mixing. It bonds all surfaces: ceramic, glass, plastic, metal, etc.


There are a couple of brands—Fimo and Sculpey—of colorful malleable clay that can be baked hard in your home oven. Plasticine clay is a good material to use to create certain objects you can't find like the perfect Eiffel Tower topknot for a jewelry box. Choose from various colors or paint the clay with acrylic enamels after baking.


The bright colors looks festive and distract from messy stitches.


Always handy, and now they come in neon and glitter!


For prepping furniture. Coarse steel wool can be used in a pinch.


An extraordinary number of items are available premade, including table legs, tabletops, mini rag dolls, and birdhouses. Look for these items if you need to save time. They are available at hardware and crafts stores.


Art tape, a high quality multipurpose white tape. Varnish, spray sealant or even clear nail polish.


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Table of Contents

Introduction 9
Techniques 13
Materials 18
Tools 20
Things to Collect 23
Holly Golightly's Dream Bag 27
Bizarre Bustier 30
Chopstick-do 32
Gypsy Fortune Teller Skirt 34
Eiffel Tower Sac à Main 36
Zsa-Zsa Jewelry Box 38
Button Bracelet 41
Charming Bracelet 42
Safety-Pin Bracelet 44
Do-It-Yourself Necklace 46
Comfy T-Shirt Quilt 49
Tweety House 52
Murder-Mystery Boxes 55
Ticktock Clocks 57
Midnight Moon Nightlights 58
Mismatched-Metal Medicine Cabinet 60
Mad Hatter Teapot 63
Bottle Cap Frames 66
Cigar Box Shrine 69
Queen Victoria's Bug Collection 72
Car Carma: Dashboard Shrine 75
Happy Smiling Wallets 77
Voodoo Dolls 79
Message in a Bottle 80
Flower-Power Bike Basket 83
Mr. Potato Head Beach Bag 84
Pink Posie Envelopes 86
Mystery Date End Table 89
Divine Dresser 91
Coca-Cola End Table 95
Ugly Chair First Aid 97
Kindergarten Cards 101
How Do I Love Thee Valentine 103
Zen Paper Bowls 106
Paper Star 109
Zany Zoo 113
Dapper Dog Collar 117
Mice Madness 118
Sarah Bernhardt Digit Décor 120
Sources 122
Art Supplies by Mail 123
Reading Material 123
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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2000

    This book rocks!

    This is essential to the cool girl's collection along with 'Swell' and 'Deal with it'. It is applicable to teenagers and those of us in our late 20's that still enjoy visually fun books with creative ideas. Practical for the novice crafter and the advanced Martha Stewart types.

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