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Upcycle a Junk Wood Drawer Shelf - A Junky to Funky Demo

Updated on August 19, 2014

Functional, fun and frugal. That works.

All images are my own original photographs taken during the creation of this project.
All images are my own original photographs taken during the creation of this project. | Source

Dirty, nasty and bug infested, but still working.

It's time to turn my frown upside down, get my attack cat Sammie to deal with any more bugs and hop to.
It's time to turn my frown upside down, get my attack cat Sammie to deal with any more bugs and hop to.

How to save old wooden items through recycle crafting.

Saving the wooden drawers... And, me! Infested was the word.

I'm a die hard recycler. I love to take things headed for the already overcrowded landfills and give them new life.

Knowing this, my dear husband is forever bringing me little odds and ends that he thinks I might turn into something. I would say something cool but you never know. This one came out pretty good.

When he first brought this piece in the house, he deposited the nastiest, dirtiest thing on my clean kitchen table. So not a good thing but his heart was in the right place. He was beaming and so obviously pleased with himself.

As I said thank you and went to grab the top to move it, the biggest, grossest, most hairy spider I ever saw popped up from the back. I kid you not. I think that thing growled at me. I will not lie. There was a spider hurt in the making of this project.

He wasn't alone. When I went to pull out one of the drawers to inspect what I would be working with, I got a lovely surprise. Not! There was a scorpion in the drawer. For real. I about died.

A word of warning, when working with found objects and old wood that has not been cared for, look out for bugs. Have a fly swatter on hand and wear gloves.

A totally recycled storage system made the do it yourself way.
A totally recycled storage system made the do it yourself way.

Reuse, re-purpose and recycle.

Do you like turning something old or broken and headed for the trash heap into something new?

See results

First up, clean it within an inch of its life. Then, do it again.

Dust it off.  Deal with any squatters that may be found.  Scrub, scrub and scrub some more.
Dust it off. Deal with any squatters that may be found. Scrub, scrub and scrub some more.

Come along to see how these found drawers in a shelf went from disgusting to shabby chic.

This was actually a pretty easy project to pull off.

Don't get me wrong, it was gross at first but such is the nature of giving new life to something old and about to die.

As for cost, I think I have about three to five dollars in this. The shelf unit was free, so big bonus there.

Especially cool for me is the reason hubby dear brought it home in the first place.

I've been complaining I need more storage space for little stuff. Mr. Lytle thought the drawers would be good.

He was right but let's not tell him just yet. He did bring a live scorpion into my kitchen. God love him. He's like a little boy that will drag up who knows what and at the oddest times.


For very little, I got a lot of storage and it's cute.
For very little, I got a lot of storage and it's cute.

What supplies were used?

Surprisingly little was used in the way of crafting supplies.

The tools - One glue gun and glue sticks, one medium painter's brush and one smaller but still medium sized artist brush. You will also need containers to hold the paint.

The supplies - Two sheets of clear backed, three dimensional, glitter stickers, one cheap strand of fake pearls like you would use for holiday garlands, four fat, semi clear, greenish beads and paint.

Best ways to get crafting supplies on the cheap

Found Items
Bulk Items
Unusual Items
Can't be beat on the price.
As long as you use it, bulk saves big bucks.
Temporary tattoos are better than stickers, if sealed right.
Look for just about anywhere.
Bulk is awesome for getting a variety of the same object like wooden picture frames or chipboard boxes.
Again, look at what you throw away. That pretty pink cardboard on little Susie's new Hello Kitty toy might be great for scrapbooking.
Look at what you throw away, especially glass containers and broken wood.
Bulk items are often shipped for free.
Go outside. There are the coolest rocks, pebbles, flowers, leaves, all kinds of really cool stuff just laying around decomposing.
White, brown and glitter green crafting paint were used on the entire unit.
White, brown and glitter green crafting paint were used on the entire unit.

Paint, to mix or to purchase?

Do you like to mix your own or buy the exact shade you want?

See results
Rough dry brush coats one after another after the base coat drys.  To get the dry brush look, barely dip the brush then wipe gently on a painter's rag before painting on the actual project.
Rough dry brush coats one after another after the base coat drys. To get the dry brush look, barely dip the brush then wipe gently on a painter's rag before painting on the actual project.

After you clean up the wood unit, grab the paint.

This was done the super simple old fashioned way. I just grabbed a paintbrush and started slinging the color.

Getting the multiple tones shabby chick finish wasn't hard but it did take some time.

The exact shades wanted were not in my crafting supply bins. To remedy the situation, I mixed my own.

The base coat was a lot of white, some brown and glitter green.

Those same colors were repeated four times in slightly different combinations to get the desired shades of green.

The sides of the shelf and insides of the drawers were given a few rough coats of the darker tone of green.

The front of the unit was almost dry brushed with several close shades of the same green tone as the base coat.

It's really easy to pull off. Mix the lightest tone you want first.

After applying, just add a drop or two of a darker color and remix to get a slightly darker shade.

Just play around with it until you get the right color for you.

Layer the different shades one atop the other.

For the streaks and shades, after doing one or two good bottom base coats, rough semi dry brush the rest.
For the streaks and shades, after doing one or two good bottom base coats, rough semi dry brush the rest.

Will the paint ever dry?

What do you do while waiting for paint to dry?

See results

You're going to be looking at some significant dry time between coats.

The painting itself is such a breeze. I used one regular paintbrush like you would use for doing the house and one medium tip artist brush for the inside drawer tops.

You could easily use a sponge brush for this project.

I highly recommend allowing each coat to dry fully before adding anything. I found in projects past that rushing it will only result in smears and frustration.

Of course, I had to try anyway. I confirmed what I already knew. It's a bad idea. I need to grow some patience or invest in a heat gun. As is, I opened the doors and put a fan on it.

That works well for the most part until you get a critter that sneaks in and wants to rest on your project.


This would make paint dry so much faster. It would be great for shrinking type plastic projects too.

Kawasaki 840015 Black 10-Piece Heat Gun Kit
Kawasaki 840015 Black 10-Piece Heat Gun Kit

I don't have a heat gun but so wish I did. I've been checking them out on Amazon and this is the one that's going on my wish list for a few reasons.

First and foremost was the attachments factor. I really like that I can isolate where the blast goes.

Next up, I consulted Mr. Lytle. He uses these kinds of tools more than I do. He recommended this set or the Dewalt brand. Since this is a fraction of what the other one cost, I'm going with the Kawasaki version.

 

The drawers with new handles and pretty flower art work.

As you can see, I still have some glue strings to pull off here and there.  Why is it I never see them until I view the pictures?  Is it a crafting curse?
As you can see, I still have some glue strings to pull off here and there. Why is it I never see them until I view the pictures? Is it a crafting curse?
Stickers aren't just for kids or scrapbooks as far as I'm concerned.
Stickers aren't just for kids or scrapbooks as far as I'm concerned.

To get the gorgeous flowers look, cheat.

It's so simple. It really is like cheating.

I would so love to be able to whip out a paintbrush or even a marker and draw up something as beautiful as these little flowers. It's just not going to happen. We all have our talents. That ability is sadly just not one of mine.

Am I going to give up on getting the look I want? Please. Not a chance in a very hot place. You can do it too. Anyone can. What's the secret to great art in your crafting projects with very little if any talent and not much money? Stickers!

For real, stickers are the absolute coolest thing in crafting.

Peel and stick where ever you want your flowers.

There are a few things to remember about the nature of stickers to get a good looking finished piece.

First up, pay attention to the backing. Be sure the backing is clear or it's not going to look so good.

Next, stickers aren't really made to last. Since I want this piece to last, I have to treat the stickers. This can be done one of two ways. You can seal the sticker before you apply it or after.

Remember, colorful stickers may bleed out when sealant is applied. I anticipated that in this project and thought the look would go well with a shabby chic vibe.

If you find it's bleeding out too much, take a damp cloth and wipe it off while it's still wet. If you don't want any bleed out to show, seal the sticker before applying.

For this unit, I used a spray on acrylic sealant for the stickers.

I got photo bombed!  This illustrates well the dangers of crafting with the doors open.  Little curious creatures decide to check out you stuff.
I got photo bombed! This illustrates well the dangers of crafting with the doors open. Little curious creatures decide to check out you stuff.

Even the best laid plans bite the big one on occasion.

Do your plans on DIY project always work?

See results

Next up, add the beads.

I wanted some kind of something to work as an edge along the back. The bar across the top need a little attention too.

Stickers would not do well on the bar. As you can see, they are three dimensional. They stick up a bit here and there.

It looks great on the sides and drawers, but I really didn't think it would hold up well over time on the round surface that is the bar.

No worries. I grabbed a string of fake pearls left over from crafting projects long gone by and viola, one almost finished shelf with drawers.

The beads were simply affixed with a hot glue gun.

A word to the wise, use this tool with great care and in good lighting.

If allowing the kids to do this project, supervise if they will be using the glue gun. Rubber cement would be a good solution for those you are not sure are ready for the gun.


Crafting with found objects is fun, creative and helps our world.
Crafting with found objects is fun, creative and helps our world.

How to get the knobs on the drawers.

This was missing one knob when I got it. My original thought was to take off the other three and apply new ones that screw in.

That was shot down when the screws that were already there resisted all my mightiest efforts at removal.

I got sick of fighting it. What to do? Improvise.

I used four matching large beads I had laying around from a broken bracelet. They were just stuck on with tons of hot glue.

The last step is to re-seal the entire thing.

You really need to go outside for this. The spray on acrylic I used stinks like no one's business. I mean seriously, guys and gals, this stuff will knock you down.

Blast the whole thing. Wait a few minutes and do it again. Check it out, you just made something cool from trash. Smile and go get a cookie. You earned it.

Crafts are fantastic for kids, big and little ones.

Advantages for kids
Advantages for adults
Advantages for the planet
Learn patience
Relaxation
Keeps things out of landfills
Learn measurement
Pride in accomplishment
Keep people busy. When your crafting, your not getting in any trouble.
Learn problem solving
Getting to use your hands
Everything that is remade means one less thing consuming resources and being shipped.

Easy enough for older children and teenagers.

Go from junk to funky fun with just a little effort.

Start with the junk.

A few final tips and tricks.

Since these stickers are a layered three dimensional type, it helps to use hot glue where things want to stick up.

Just dot a drop of glue onto a toothpick. Use the toothpick to then apply the glue under the layer you want to lay down. Slide out the toothpick as you press down on the image.

End with funky fun shabby chic.

© 2014 Rhonda Lytle

What are your thoughts on crafting with found items? Ever see or make anything cool?

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    • Rhonda Lytle profile image
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      Rhonda Lytle 3 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      ~ auntjennie - Thank you :). I hope it works out well for you. I love them not only for the art but further because compared to most crafting supplies, they really are affordable. God bless and most happy craft projects.

    • auntjennie profile image

      Jen 3 years ago from Canada

      Your project is beautiful. I never thought of using stickers or temporary tattoos on my projects before. Thanks for the great ideas.

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image
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      Rhonda Lytle 3 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      ~ skye2day - Thank you so much for not only the sweetest comment, but also for the information on the share. Really, very nice of both Jackie L and yourself. I like to do crafts in the fall too. It's good to stay in and be warm, get ready for winter. Best of luck with the stickers. Here's a trick I use a lot. If I can't find what I want in a sticker, get it in a temporary tattoo. The art is often even better and the cost is less. The won't go on everything but go on glass fantastically and you can seal it with hairspray. I know they go on paper, cardstock, doilies, and plastic petty good. I have not tried wood yet but I think I'm about to just to find out. God bless you and most happy and successful projects!

    • skye2day profile image

      skye2day 3 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      I discovered your hub on my feed, via Jackie L She is such a sweetie. I am grateful to come in for a visit girl. I am inspired by your work of art. Thank you so much for posting how to for us. Fall is a perfect time to get into the craft mode. I look forward to a couple of projects I have in mind so thank you! I will certainly remember your tips with the stickers. May the peace of God be on you and yours precious girl. Hugs your way. Skye

      voted and shared!

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image
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      Rhonda Lytle 3 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      ~ MizBejabbers - I don't know where that spider came from but he seems to have brought some buddies. We're in the boons and sometimes I think they are straight out of a super sized creature feature.

      Thank you for sharing about you chest. That is so cool. It occurs to me that lovely piece of history most likely would have been deposited in a dump by now had you not saved it. How many pieces of 100 year old furniture are there still hanging around? Not nearly enough.

      Thank you so much for a most kind and interesting comment. God bless you!

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image
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      Rhonda Lytle 3 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      ~ Jackie Lynnley - Thank you :). It's hanging out in the kitchen screaming for a shelving system to go with it. God bless you and most happy crafting projects.

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James-MizBejabbers 3 years ago

      What fun and how funny! I hope that wasn’t one of the crazy spiders that haunt our house and love to live in the litter box. Seriously, that is a lovely project that you have created. You saved money, saved some space In the landfill, and have a pretty piece of furniture.

      I told my husband that I would like to have a new bedroom suite, but the blue chest stays. He asked what I found so compelling about it and to him I answered, the drawers are twice as tall as those you buy nowadays. He was satisfied. The truth is, when I was a single parent, I bought the chest of drawers from a friend for $3.00 . At that time it was old and dirty and almost forgotten in her storage house. After a male friend nearly rebuilt the drawers, I painted a white base coat and then used a delft blue antiquing. It was to be a temporary piece until I could buy some furniture, but I’ve had it over 40 years, which makes it about 100 years old. Today it is priceless to me and it stays! Keep up the good work. Your writing is great, too. Voted up ++

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      That is so pretty and my kind of thing too! It would be great in so many places just to toss tiny things to store! Thanks for sharing! ^+ Shared

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image
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      Rhonda Lytle 3 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      ~ Snakesmum - Love it! A pretty snake cage, now that's cute. I knew a lady once whose son had a large boa. She got up one morning and went to step into the shower. She said the snake, who should have been put up, was almost upright at eye level going for the drip on the shower head she assumed. She further stated she screamed her head off and almost dropped dead on the spot of a heart attack. That would be me. God bless :).

    • Snakesmum profile image

      Jean DAndrea 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      The idea just crossed my mind to put stickers on the snakes' cages to pretty them up a bit, as you did on your drawer set. Don't think the partner would agree though. And the snakes eat rats, mice, and rabbits, which we buy frozen from a pet store. :-) Big boy weighs 7 k or 15 lbs.

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image
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      Rhonda Lytle 3 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      ~ Snakesmum - I do love animals but must admit drawing the line at snakes. My husband used to keep them before we married. Eight feet is huge! Oh, my gosh, I doubt I could even pick him up, or her. I have to wonder what an eight foot snake eats. I keep hearing the punch line whatever it wants in my head, but seriously, I imagine an eight foot snake could eat one out of house and kibble. God bless but I still say you got guts girl!

    • Snakesmum profile image

      Jean DAndrea 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Rhonda, I don't have guts - I just love snakes. The one on my shoulders in the pic. is one of my little ones. The biggest is well over 8 feet - he's a gentle giant.

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image
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      Rhonda Lytle 3 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      ~ Dolores Monet - Thank you so much :). I like the colors. I want to do something similar but bigger. I have zero, nadda, zilch even in the way of artistic talent, so stickers to the rescue for me. God bless and most happy crafts.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 3 years ago from East Coast, United States

      The drawer looks so pretty! I was surprised to learn that the flowers were actually stickers. I thought they were painted!

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image
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      Rhonda Lytle 3 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      ~ Snakesmum - Thank you :). It's working out really well here in the kitchen. I really enjoyed this and want to try my hand tackling something larger. I'm thinking of going to the flea market. I have a really nice dining room set that's way too big for our new space. I'm thinking of replacing it DIY style and donating the old one to the church. Thank you so much for your kind words. I might have had vision on this one, but you got guts. There is no way I could walk around happy with a snake on my shoulders!

    • Snakesmum profile image

      Jean DAndrea 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Loved what you did with the old piece of furniture. Wish I had the imagination to see something beautiful in the original as you did. :-)

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image
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      Rhonda Lytle 3 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      ~ Writer Fox - Thank you so much. God bless and most happy craft activities for you and yours. :)

    • Writer Fox profile image

      Writer Fox 3 years ago from the wadi near the little river

      What a great idea! Your photos add so much to understanding how to do this. Voted up!

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image
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      Rhonda Lytle 3 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      ~ Cari Kay - Oh, thank you so much. That's the sweetest thing. There was really nothing to it. God bless you!

    • Cari Kay 11 profile image

      Kay 3 years ago

      I admire anybody who can do this sort of thing. How beautiful!

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image
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      Rhonda Lytle 3 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      ~ Pawpawwrites - Thank you :). God bless and may all your projects come out right.

    • Pawpawwrites profile image

      Jim 3 years ago from Kansas

      Very cool idea.

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image
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      Rhonda Lytle 3 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      ~ Colin323 Thank you very much for saying. I'm loving it. I couldn't quit crafting if I wanted to. It's like therapy. Doing political and social articles tends to send me into the red zone. Crafting brings me back to human. As for the job, you have my attention. Email me.

    • profile image

      Colin323 3 years ago

      Nice work, Rhonda. What a transformation! It is very satisfying and creative to turn initially unwanted stuff into work of art. Keep at it. Want a job ?

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image
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      Rhonda Lytle 3 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      ~ Linda BookLady - Thank you. Best of luck on your project! I would love to see it. Whatever you do, have fun. God bless you and most enjoyable crafting.

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image
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      Rhonda Lytle 3 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      ~ Favored - Yes, the pearls are a bit girly that's for sure :) Thanks for dropping by. I hope you are liking it over here. It's different, that's for sure. God bless and most happy crafting.

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 3 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      That's adorable! I love what you did with your shelf. The pearls are a nice touch. I have a project in mind now. Thanks...

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 3 years ago from USA

      I really like what you did, but don't think my hubby would like the pearls :) It turned out really nice.

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image
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      Rhonda Lytle 3 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      David ~ Oh, my gosh, you say the sweetest things. I hope you are right though I surely won't be holding my breath. The purposefully misleading way this whole transition was handled by Squidoo makes me suspicious of those they merged with who also knew way ahead of time but told no one. Lies by omission are still lies. I can't even think about it without getting angry over the way these people acted like nothing more than politicians, a group I have zero faith in to do anything other than hurt us all. I hope I'm wrong. I really doubt it.

      On a much more cheerful note, I hope you do well here. I always liked HP. I think you will do VERY well here. You write in depth, well and can argue a point with the best of them. Here's wishing you nothing but the best. God bless.

    • David Stone profile image

      David Stone 3 years ago from New York City

      Rhonda, I'm not someone who'd take on such a project, although I admire those who do. They have more patience than I do.

      Anyway, what I wanted to say is that your writing skills shine brightly here. HubPages is going to be happy with one of the newer arrivals.

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image
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      Rhonda Lytle 3 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      Thank you, Arachnea :). I must admit, I had my doubts when I first saw it. God bless and happy crafting!

    • Arachnea profile image

      Tanya Jones 3 years ago from Texas USA

      Your end result is just lovely. It's really marvelous that you arrived there from where you started. Great hub.

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image
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      Rhonda Lytle 3 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      Elsie, thank you so much for saying. I agree with you. Waste not! I'm enjoying getting my too many cookie cutters out of my already overcrowded kitchen drawer I'm thinking of making cookies :). God bless and most happiest of crafting.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 3 years ago from New Zealand

      You did a great job with this one. Amazing wht you can do with someone elses junk. I believe in the saying "Waste not" "Want not" Love your photos.

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image
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      Rhonda Lytle 3 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      It's good to see you too Scott. I was really afraid I would not see any familiar faces since I've been gone from here for so long. It seems many are trying to make the move. I hope everyone does well. God bless!

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image
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      Rhonda Lytle 3 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      :) Thank you so much. It's loaded up with all my cookie cutters now freeing up much needed bigger drawer space. Thanks bunches for the read and supportive words. God bless you!

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image
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      Rhonda Lytle 3 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      Hi! It's great to see you again. I've been gone from here for way too long. I didn't think the crafty thing would go over so well here. Thank you so much for the shares but much more so for the support you showed a want to be writer some back. I'll never forget it. God bless you!

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image
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      Rhonda Lytle 3 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      Hi, Nell. It's so good to see you. Thank you for the cool comment. It's nice to know my hubby isn't the only one that brings in crazy stuff. He actually drug in an injured catfish once for me to nurse. A catfish? I had no idea what to do so just threw him in the weedy part of the pond. I was afraid the whole time I would be food for snake. God bless and have the most awesome week!

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      Scott A McCray 3 years ago

      Nicely done, Rhonda! Great to see you here!

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      You did a fantastic job both on your project and creating a hub about it. That's what it's all about!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well welcome back my friend. An interesting article from my firebrand friend. Very crafty indeed. I'll pass this along to my crafty friends for sure.

      Take care and again, it is good to have you back.

      bill

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      Hiya Rhonda, this is amazing, I love it! my hubby brings things in all the time, bit like a cat with a mouse! lol! he deposits it on the front room floor and says, there, of you go! lol!

      I love the way you used the stickers and the beads, and using the glue gun helps too, we never use that, great job! voted up and shared, nell

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