Posts Tagged ‘Painting’

The rattle inside a can of spray paint? It’s a marble.

01 Mar

Marble from spray paint canI retrieved this marble from an empty can of spray paint. Retrieving it by breaking open the can with the claw end of a dollar-store hammer was an entertaining challenge. Protip: do it outside.

The rattle inside some spray cans is caused by an object inside the can that helps mix the paint (or other payload) with the propellant inside the can. The propellant forces the paint out of the can, but the propellant and the paint tend to separate over time into two distinct layers inside the can. Bouncing a marble up and down inside the can breaks up the boundary between the two substances and mixes the propellant with the paint, making spray paint actually spray PAINT instead of just plain old propellant.

Is this a worthwhile effort? No. Plain glass marbles can be found at any dollar store (such as The Dollar Tree) in large quantities for much less than the cost of a can of spray paint. I think it’s still worthwhile to know what is inside the mechanical devices we use every day. If you enjoy busting open empty spray cans, you will get a marble for your trouble. Enjoy!

Spray paint can and marble


Eyeball pillows to make your life cushier and creepier

05 Jul

Eyeball pillows on chaiseI have been dying to do justice to the eyeball-pillow concept ever since my list of decorating tricks for Halloween. Judging by the Wife’s obvious discomfort in their presence, my eyeball pillows were having the intended effect, but they weren’t practical for actual use as pillows. I like to prop up my head with a few pillows at a time; the tiny eyeballs would only have worked after some severe head-shrinking on my part. Solution: I needed BIGGER eyeball pillows.

Pillows are easy to make, as you’ll see. I had plenty of white fabric from old t-shirts and gray fabric from hemming some Ikea curtains, so I decided to make reversible pillows: eyes on one side, plain fabric on the other. That way, I could appease the Wife occasionally by flipping them over and thereby keep them in the living room all year long rather than just during October. Read the rest of this entry »


Wire baskets make great drying and/or painting racks

28 Jun

Wire basketYou have probably seen lowly wire baskets hanging out at the laundromat (assuming that the laundromat is still where all the cool kids hang out). You may even have one lurking somewhere in your home. We did not buy our wire basket; it appeared in our basement several moves ago, and it has become an ever-present fact of life. We never use it for laundry, but still it remains.

Flip a wire basket upside-down and you will find a whole host of new uses. The square holes in “laundry-style” wire baskets are a perfect fit for the necks of most glass bottles, making an upside-down basket makes a great drying rack for home brewing.  You can get similar baskets at Ikea for $2.50, so these are good, economical solutions for anyone with a lot of bottles to wash or to paint. By comparison, brewing catalogs charge $40 and up for single-purpose drying racks.

If you need to paint your bottles (which you might do for decoration or to block unwanted light), the wire basket makes an excellent painting station. It’s easy to stand up a few dozen bottles at a time, with enough space between them that spray-painting is a breeze. The space between the bottles ensures quick drying times and minimizes wasted paint.

Wire basket and drying bottlesWire basket and painted bottles

The bottles will usually lean to one side rather than standing straight up, but they don’t fall over. That lean makes it hard to hit every surface of the bottle in one painting session, so I suggest turning each bottle 180 degrees after the first coat of paint has dried so you can cover any missed spots. Also, you may want to protect your basket with a sheet of newspaper to avoid painting the basket along with the bottles.


Aesthetic upgrade to Ikea Bekväm stool

12 Jul

Stool after finishingWe have a very simple Ikea step stool that we use to reach high shelves in the kitchen. I believe it’s an old single-step version of the Bekväm stool (the current model has two steps and costs a bit more than ours did). It came in unfinished pine, which was fine for utilitarian use but not all that handsome to look at.

It turned out to be very easy to give the stool a makeover without even taking it apart. I used a small butane torch to scorch the surface of the step, including the visible edges of the underside of the step. A little masking tape and spray paint later and we had a classy piece that wouldn’t gather so many grimy footprints. I applied three coats of spray finish to protect the wood and called it a day.  Why spend more time or effort on a $10 stool?

You could apply the same techniques to any kind of unfinished wood. This already matches all of my furniture — I like the contrast of a rich wood texture with flat black (a popular Ikea combo, too).

Burning the woodStool masked for paintingStool being paintedFinishing the stool


Painting bottles for brewing, decorating, or just holding liquid

13 May

Bottles with Roman numeralsWarm temperatures can ruin beer, and sunlight is suspected to add not only heat but even faster spoilage — that’s why you should store bottles of homebrew beer or cider in a dark place. Dark bottles also reduce your brew’s exposure to light, which is why the best beers come in brown bottles or opaque kegs. I decided to paint my clear bottles so they’d better protect my cider and so they’d have a more distinctive look. You could also do this on any color of bottle for a decorative effect.

It’s an easy process to paint your bottles in solid colors and get sharp results — the final appearance resembles a dipped coating like wax. Adding shapes or text adds a lot of time to the process, but it may be worth it from time to time.

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