Skip to main content

5 "Thrift Store Find" DIY Craft Projects They Keep Showing, for Things You Haven't Been Able to Find at Thriftstores Since 1987.

Me love Pinterest.
I know it's all a big, fantastic lie, but like every other pretty magazine catering to our fantasies before it, it makes us feel like we can achieve the same, heavily worked-over, fantastically styled, filtered, and photo-shopped perfection in our own lives. And sometimes that's enough.

But as a professional builder of ridiculous, up-cycled things, and a veteran thrifter (I can show you the scars!), some of these Pinterest DIY are just a parade of despair, false promises and dashed hopes. There's no call for that.

1. Vintage Suitcase Crafts:

 Not only is this type of vintage suitcase VERY rare at your garden variety thrift store, follow this link to see how much rather highly involved work went into it.

Or this link to the more likely outcome

2. Stuff made with old "thrift store" silverware.

Here's what you'd hope to find:

Here's what you're most likely to find:
Oh, this stainless steel crap will bend alright--most of it already has the scars of the church community center garbage disposal and some cock-toothed nursing home fight--but it ain't pretty. Never will be. Move on.

3. Shit made out of old books. 
These old books--with their worn book-cloth covers and awesome typeset pages and illustrated plates are very, very rare at your garden variety thrift stores.
Of course, you're hoping to find a charming used bookshop like this: 
But more likely this is what you will find: 

And not that there's anything wrong with some good YA novels, cheesy romance novels, or embossed-cover thrillers, but you're just not going to be making those vintage-y bookmarks with old, timeworn spines, or cute, craftsy things like that. Trust me on this one.
Unless you find a box of silverfish-infested, moldy books in someone's leaking shed, you probably won't want to tear "curious and rare" books apart for your crappy attempts at "crafty-ness".

4) Stuff made with wooden thread spools.          Seriously--what year do you think it is? When was the last time you bought a spool of thread? They haven't used wooden spools since the 1960's! These pictured here are as rare (and as expensive) as unicorn shit.  (I have a few DIY projects using Unicorn Shit...)                                  Honestly, when did any of these craft-DIY-ers go to an actual thrift store?? ( I just found a box of 15 wooden spools for $50 at a fancy schmancy antique store. The thread is so old, it's dry-rotted and absolutely useless--so those are some expensive Christmas crafts).        No wonder people would rather scroll through Pinterest than actually make the things on Pinterest.

5) Crap made from old furniture: 
First of all, it's very hard to just pop into a thrift store and find good, solid wood stuff like this:

That someone like you hasn't already mucked up trying to paint and turned into an incredibly uncomfortable bench. (I have one that I made!)

Most of what you'll find is that greasy-surfaced laminate/particle board crap that is just badly proportioned, cheaply made and if it's not already delaminating, it's just so friggin' tricky to paint. And, if you do manage to get paint to stick to it, it will look like that greasy-surfaced, cheap laminate/particle board crap that you tried to paint in some vomitous color of "Fleckstone" or other novelty type of spray paint.

Trust me on this: you will end up spending $50 dollars on the greasy-surfaced laminate crap, $50 on spray paint and a priceless amount of time and aggravation and it will end up on the curb for one of your neighbors to pick up thinking, "hey...with just a coat of paint I could make something gorgeous..." (6 weeks later you will see it five blocks away in a new vomitous shade of spray paint. That may be your form of entertainment. In which case...I have this old bed frame you can buy...)


Popular posts from this blog

The Lost Designer of the 80's

Claude Barthelemy seems to have been one of those if-you-needed-to-ask-you-didn't-need-to-know designers. In the '80's, he was listed as a young, hot couturier alongside go-the-distance blue chips like Karl Lagerfeld and Lanvin with his oversized sweaters, minis, leggings and fur-trimmed stoles. Exclusive stores carried his soft-edged jackets to shoppers in the know.

And then what happened? His pleated skirts, intarsia sweaters, and naughty, zippered wool catsuits still fetch high prices in vintage world and any dealer with his elegantly simple, Gallic tag on her racks raises a flutter in second-hand seekers. He designed for Barbie, for heaven's sake! But the designer himself, who seems to have cut a meteoric swath across the runways and then...?

So what's the story with this wasp-waisted pleated skirt? I wondered what else this woman could have dropped off on her Goodwill drive-by--a Chanel original? A couture Pucci? Surely someone this linked in wouldn't just h…

A Rare Skill

I do know how to take a compliment.
But it still kinda-sorta bugs me when people say anything about my thrifting habits. "You find the most amazing stuff! You must have some sort of Midas touch when it comes to the junk stores!" "I just can't go to thrift stores--not like you do. I never find anything good." "You must really love your stores."

Admittedly, I am showing them Chanel shoes and Tod's purses and Bally briefcases, which is amazing stuff, to be sure--that's why I'm showing it to them. But if I had a true 'Midas Touch,' I sure as hell wouldn't be using it trying to remove set-in wine stains and sweater pills. I'd be raking in money investing in real estate and have someone else shop at Saks for me so that I could donate amazing stuff for some alternate universe version of me to find.

As for the second comment, it's true: You can't find anything good in thrift stores if you don't go to thrift stores. And,…

Meditations: Easter Sunday Mass, The Goodwill, and the Slow and Agonizing Death of the Myth of Quality Time that Couldn't Come Soon Enough.

Quality Time is horse shit.

The entire trite idea--from its insipid, pseudo-psycho-babbly-style name to its central philosophy--of "Quality Time" is horse shit.

I was an impatient, self-involved, artsy-fartsy teenager when all those insipid, pseudo-psycho-babblers started bandying the term about and I knew it was horse shit. They knew it was horse shit but they sold the stupid parenting books anyway!! EVERYBODY knew it was horse shit. But, much like the fantasy-land of politically-mandated communism, people still want to believe it can work. If you just get the right people in charge, if you can just apply the right amount of legislation and force and if we can just keep everyone from fleeing the can work! 

It will not.

It is horse shit.

People, children, animals, weather, opportunities, tides, horses, flowers, tomatoes and so on won't do something or have something or be something you want them to do or have or be simply because you designate a moment that…