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Footstool Upcycle – Update 1: Prep!

Last month I asked for your help on Instagram to help me stretch my creative muscles. When I get new ideas for things to make out of punctured bicycle inner tubes, they often get set aside due to lack of time. There’s always something pressing when you run your own business!

So I popped a poll in my Instagram stories: should I upcycle a footstool or a folding craft basket/knitting bag frame with inner tubes in April?

The footstool won, though for a while it was neck and neck.

So now I’m committed, and hoping the process gives me some accountability to see these ideas through. While I doubt this will become something I’m able to add to my regular line, the point of this is to try new things and push myself. Hopefully I’ll learn new techniques that will inform my making in the future.

First thing’s first: Prep

As much as I’d like to dive straight in with the inner tubes, the frame needed sorting out. Where the woven rush ‘seat’ for the stool had been and at the top corners, there was some damage to the wood.

Damage to the top rungs of the footstool

It needed a sand. After about an hour of work in the sunshine with my little power sander, I’d taken it as far as I could…and probably annoyed all of my neighbours in the process (sorry!).

As you can see in the second image, there were some areas the little sander was still too big to reach. I’ve since ordered some sheets of sandpaper, and hopefully the weather will improve enough for me to be outside for a few hours without freezing. This pass was done with 80 grit sandpaper, so it’ll take a good bit of time to work my way up the grades to be done.

While I don’t want to buy things specifically for this project, sandpaper is something I’ll make use of eventually – if not for products than for my evening woodworking classes or random makes at my local men’s shed – whenever it’s safe to go back to those!

This is definitely getting ahead of my self, but once sanding’s done I can wax/polish. While I sand by hand, I’ll start thinking about what I can do with those inner tubes…

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Upcycled Earring Display Tutorial

Team Sikel is all about creative reuse, so as much as possible of my craft stall displays are second hand or upcycled by me. It’s easy to get carried away, but also a lot of fun.

One of my early wins was this upcycled picture frame to display my earrings:

Upcycled Earring Display

While I’ve moved on to a smaller frame as my balance of stock shifted, I was really pleased with how this turned out. This was the first version to be able to stand on its own.

Without the stand, the picture frame is a simple make that shows off your earring collection in a unique way.

Want to make your own?

Read on to learn how to make a wall-hanging version, but if you’re interested in how I made my stand, or have any other questions, email me. Once I find where I saved the pictures of my process for the stand, I’ll write another post!

Step 1: Collect Your Materials

Wooden Picture Frame
Wire Mesh
Pliers / Wire Cutter
Staple Gun & Staples
Thick Work Gloves

You’ll be cutting and bending wire mesh, so thick work gloves will help prevent injuries to your hands. Your clothes may get caught by the mesh, so wear something you don’t mind getting holes in, too!

Some top tips:

  • Deep box picture frames work best – shallow ones won’t leave enough room for your backings to hang properly.
  • Look for wood frames – something you can staple into.
  • Before buying your mesh, measure the height/width of the picture recess- that’s what I’m calling the part where the glass and picture go. My picture recess was 51 cm high x 40 cm wide, so I needed at least 53 x 42 cm of mesh.
  • Keep metal allergies in mind when picking out your mesh. I used galvanised steel, which means it’s coated in zinc (a common metal in jewellery). My next one will probably be brass.
  • Buy staples that are shorter than the thickness of your frame or they’ll bust through to the outside (ask me how I know!). Mine was about 1cm thick.
  • Thicker gauge staples will be easier to tap in if necessary, and less likely to snap if you need to remove a mistake.

Step 2: Prepare Your Picture Frame

​Remove any glass, backing, and pictures from your frame. You may need to use your pliers to remove staples. I ended up with several staples that snapped until only tiny points remained above the wood that I couldn’t remove. Just tap those in with a hammer.

Backing sits on the ledge to the right
No backing ledge

If you’re using a deep frame (and I hope you are), take a look at where your backing sits. On frames that give you the full depth in front of where the backing sits, you can choose to leave in the metal strips that hold the backing in place (first photo above). On other frames, you can remove those, too (second photo above).

Did you want to decorate your frame? I like the industrial raw wood look. If you’re going to paint or decoupage, do it now. It will be much harder when the mesh is in and stapled.

Step 3: Cut your mesh to size

Take the picture recess height and width, and add at least 1cm to each side for the staples to catch (I’m assuming you’re using a deep frame here, remember). Your exact amount depends on the depth of your frame, and whether or not you’ll use the backing.

My picture recess height and width were 51 cm and 40 cm respectively. Adding 1 cm to each side gets me to 53 cm x 42 cm. (NB: when doing this version I added the full 1.5 depth, or maybe even a little more, which caused problems later. You can see in the photos).

Mark your measurements along the mesh at intervals and cut with your wire cutters. Be careful not to cut yourself, and wear the gloves to prevent any injuries from the wires.

Once you’ve got it cut out, remove the corners as shown: Take out a square with sides as long as the depth amount you added. I removed a 1 cm x 1 cm square from each corner, but your measurements will vary.

Step 4: Fold and staple in your mesh

Carefully fold the mesh to the dimensions of your picture recess.

Check that your mesh fits properly within the frame. As I mentioned in the section above, I added too much to my picture recess dimensions: on my first attempt, wires were poking past the edge of the frame. That meant it would leave scratches on the wall. If you follow my instructions above you shouldn’t have this problem, but if you do, just take the mesh out of the frame and cut off a little more along each side.

Once it fits properly, use your staple gun to attach the mesh. Start at the centre of each side, and once all four sides have a staple in, you can move towards the corners.

Use enough staples that it’s secure. You may need to use a hammer to tap some in.

Step 5: Hang and Enjoy

Hang using your preferred method. As the frame I showed ended up getting a stand, here’s the one I use for my personal collection:

If you’ve used a box frame that allows you to keep the backing, you can use the existing hanger, and also change up the background from time to time.

It’s hard to see above, but I’ve used some pretty wrapping paper I carefully removed from a birthday present.

Thanks for reading – please share on social and tag me @teamsikel on Instagram and Facebook if you make one of your own!