Thursday 28 May 2015

Altering Found Objects

Hi Julia here with this weeks inspiration post. I love finding objects which others have no further use for and giving them a new lease of life. My post shows step by step (as far as possible!) how I have transformed my latest find. I have mainly used DecoArt products but you can substitute any similar products you have in your collection. I love to incorporate a variety of techniques when creating so please scroll down to see how developed this piece. I should warn you that this post is photo heavy in order to show most steps and supporting close ups!

My purchase from a charity shop which is in dire need of a makeover!

A good price for a useful object even if it needs some tlc!

The final piece - a notepad holder - which is a far cry from the original. I should add that I don't think this photo does the piece justice. Make your own mind up when you've seen the close up shots.

The entire piece is given two coats of gesso with some light sanding in between.

Die cut some shapes from scrap card and trim as necessary.

Glue die cuts into position. I decided not to attach any to the area below where the notepad goes as it may make writing more difficult. I drew a pencil line around the pad so I knew where to avoid anything other than flat decoration.

To make 'stud' style embellishments add 'googly' eyes and half pearls.

Paint everything in your chosen colour then add colour to the die cut sections.

Add stamping using archival ink - you don't need to be too particular! 

Detail shot to show stamped images.

Use a pen lid and acrylic paint to stamp circles over the previous stamping. 

Detail shot of pen lid stamping.

When stamping with paint, always brush the paint thinly onto your craft mat and tap the stamp into the paint. Remember to clean the paint off a rubber/clear stamp before it dries.

Add stencilling and 'stamping' (using the top of a pen) as required.

Detail shot to show stencilling and small dots made by the top of a pen.

Add crackle glaze to all the red stencilling and stamping. Also apply to the die cut pieces and 'studs'.

Detail shot to show dry crackle glaze.

Antique the crackle glaze by rubbing in some acrylic paint and wiping back with a baby wipe. Dry brush some metallic gold paint over some of the crackle glazed areas. When dry brushing always add paint to a dry brush and wipe most of it off onto a scrap of paper/tissue and apply using light strokes in all directions. If the brush is too loaded with paint the effect will not work. Build up layers gradually to enable the previous layers to show through.

Add layers of stamping using a chalky paint and when dry, cover with background paint to blend into the design. Do this several times to build up layers. 

Detail shot to show layers. Note the diagonal line across the centre of the shot. This was made using a credit card and some chalk paint then layer upon layer of translucent paint are added. The final stamping with the chalky paint has only been partially covered with translucent paint.

Use layers of Burnt Umber paint and the dry brushing technique to build up an aged look. In this shot you can see the dry brushing being built up around the diamond plate.

Detail shot to show layers of dry brushing built up around the die cuts. The metallic paint adds a warm tone to crackled areas too.

More detail showing dry brushing with both burnt umber and metallic gold. Note gold layers on the 'stud' and the clip.

The diamond shape is cut from foam board. Use a knife to carve out notches. Make faux screw shapes with a sharp knife. Paint the background and stamp as before. Stencil using acrylic paint and chalky paint. Apply crackle glaze. Age with a thin layer of Quinacridone gold paint.

Detail shot to show faux 'screw' and carved notches. 

Detail showing stencilling, stamping, crackle glaze and ageing layers of paint.

Use metallic gold paint and a sponge to finish the edges of the holder. Apologies the focus is not clear over all the photo!

Allow the sponged paint to overlap onto the top surface to give a 'gilded' edged finish.

The notepad holder already has a hole for hanging it on the wall. I have decided to thread a double length of jute string through this hole to hang the holder with.

Detail shot.

Detail shot.

Detail shot.

I do hope this post gives you an insight into how I alter and transform a found piece. I get great satisfaction from working on projects like this, even if I'm often not sure about where I'm headed until I get there! Many of you already make such projects but if all this is new to you, then why not have a go? It becomes addictive!


  1. A really stunning transformation with wonderful techniques. Thank you for sharing how you made it

    Love Chrissie xx

  2. Oh Julia, the layers pay off, such texture and detail, gorgeous work! Queen of crackle, thanks so much for a brilliant step by I inspired? Of course!!! Ruth xx

  3. Totally brilliant Julia, this makeover is truly fantastic!!! The effects you have achieved are amazing and the detailed photos (stunningly perfect in themselves, what a photographer you are...) really help to take in all the layers and understand the process. I particularly love the treatment you gave that metal clip that holds the paper. The whole piece just looks fantastic! Thanks for this inspiring post, I really enjoyed following your process!!

  4. what a transformation Julia !! loved seeing all the steps and the details on your project !!

  5. Another jaw-droppingly gorgeous transformation Julia!!! At first the colour choices seem scary and bold but as you continue through with the layers it all just blends to a jewel like-look replete with crackle, texture and all those little details that make your work so incredibly special. Hats off to you as ever. Jenny xxx

  6. Wow,brilliant tutorial Julia, can't believe what a fab transformation you achieved! Love it,really detailed and helpful post too :)
    Big hugs
    Donna xxx

  7. Wow Julia that is a stunning transformation. Gorgeous colours, that wonderful crackle and I love the effects you have created with the die cut. Great inspiration and a fabulous tutorial. Thank you!! Jennie x

  8. This is just spectacular Julia!! It was such a pleasure to walk through the process with you, so many carefully executed steps done with TLC! Love the finished work, a real piece of art! hugs :)

  9. A stunning transformation Julia, awesome effects and textures. Its a super tutorial.
    Yvonne xx

  10. Fantastic inspiration post Julia, love all the details, got my mind buzzing...

    Sharon xx

  11. A really fantastic tutorial Julia, I love the gorgeous crackling and also the colour you achieved, it looks wonderful in your close-ups. A really fantastic transformation! Hugs, Anne xx

  12. Fantastic inspirational post Julia! I love all the close up shots, it really shows how fabulous the crackle is. What an amazing transformation, can feel a trip to the charity shop coming on! Sue C x

  13. Julie, that is stunning! Amazing layers and details, what an incredible transformation. Thanks so much for sharing your process.

  14. fabulous work Julie - this is really wonderful! Hugs Rachel x

  15. Stunning creation, every bit of this. Thanks for sharing detail is very inspiring and impressive. I would love to try these techniques.

  16. Gorgeous Julia!! Gotta love that burnt umber to tie everything together!! Love your elements!! xx

  17. Julia...this piece is awesome and you are right...HUGE improvement over the original! Your crackled background is amazing! The richness of your colors really makes this note holder. I love the harlequin emerging from the background.

  18. Fantastic transformation! Thanks for the detailed step by step.

  19. Gorgeous piece!! Your tutorial was wonderful too!!

  20. Oh Julia, this is an AMAZING project and tutorial, I love it to bits!!!!
    I'm always an avid reader of your posts and projects, just time is missing sometimes too much to look at them all... But this time, so happy to be able to catch-up with this stunning Harlequins piece wow! A big thank you for all the steps so well showed and detailed. :) Coco xx

  21. Julia, a brilliant transformation! Thank you for showing all your steps and the products you used. I have been so curious about these DecoArt products, as they are not available in stores here.

  22. Apologies Julia ! I thought I'd left a comment on this fabulous post but it's nowhere to be seen ! I love the way you have transformed this hanger, the colours, the texture, the crackling, it's all gorgeous !! Toni x

  23. A beautiful note holder here Julia. Love the aged gilded look snow those cracks look awesome. Great transformation.

  24. Gorgeous note holder loving the fab layer and textures x Have a lovely weekend

  25. Painty crackly heaven. What a fantastic tutorial post taking us through all those layers and techniques... I agree the picture of the whole piece can't do justice to the details captured in the close-ups - what a wonderful project!
    Alison x