Carly Rubach

Make it yourself, Milwaukee

By - Apr 3rd, 2011 04:00 am
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A necklace I made from a neglected T-shirt. There’s nothing like accessories created from free stuff you have lying around around the house.

I like to make things. Do-it-yourself projects can bring personality and pride to your living space and to your everyday life. Say you need a reading lamp for your living room. Instead of buying a new lamp at Target, you might go to the hardware store, buy a light fixture kit, gather a few tea cups and ceramic kettles for your base, glue everything together with a strong adhesive and boom, a homemade lamp. Now that sounds like a good time.

Plus, folks like me are always looking to save a buck, and the DIY mentality is often focused on inexpensive alternatives to store-bought items. And, with the growing popularity of this method of fashion and home decor, the Internet is flooded with resources to satiate your creative appetite. And now you have a resource right here in Milwaukee, in this column on ThirdCoast Digest, every other Sunday beginning today. Welcome.

Button earrings made from a jar of them given by a dear friend.

I am a visual person, so my intent is to share my projects, interests, methods and local resources with photographed steps and descriptive how-to instructions. I’m still learning along the way so I’ll make plenty of mistakes and discoveries as I go. Stick around for upcoming projects as I move into a new apartment, and probably talk about my mom a lot. She’s like Yoda but with crafts—she can re-upholster a chair with her mind.

Every year for Christmas my mom insists that my siblings and I create gifts rather than purchase them. This request has produced laughable poetry, a pencil drawing of an old photograph, pressed foliage, Etch-a-Sketch promises (i.e. picking snowberries, snuggling, etc.) and various paintings.

Though resistant at first, I now prefer gifting handmade crafts. With friends, I usually find a theme and make variations. In college, I painted the cover art from my companions’ favorite albums, including Harvest Moon by Neil Young and Terrapin Station by the Grateful Dead.

Since living on my own in Milwaukee, I find myself constantly looking for ways to enhance my space, just as I witnessed my mom doing for so many years. Do-it-yourself projects allow room for personal expression and, for the most part, the occasional craft can save money. I try to repurpose whenever I can by taking something and old and making it feel new.

I made these for my boyfriend. They’re not perfect, but the next ones will be.

For example, I needed a new coffee table, and after a weeklong thrift store search, I thought I’d ask my mother if I had any old furniture hanging out at home. I did. There was an old chest I painted in high school that no longer suited my style, but fit the space perfectly. I decided to use an antiquing process I found on one of my aunt’s favorite blogs to bring fresh color and character to my space.

At a recent gift exchange, I was challenged to make something for my boyfriend. After playfully Google-ing “DIY man gifts,” I stumbled across an instructional video on how to make a tie. Brilliant. I made my own pattern from a beat up tie that I had tucked in my closet, and was so exhilarated by the process that I made a second one the next day. Mind you, neither are perfect, but I like their imperfections and learned what I would do differently next time.

I am deeply satisfied with the completion of a project that takes time, effort and a little bit of experimentation. And the high only gets sweeter when you give the product to someone you care about and they actually like it, or at least claim to.

I look forward to sharing ideas, learning more about creating a unique space and embracing an everyday DIY mentality. Let’s do this. Stay tuned for our first project as I try to make an ugly couch not ugly through the magic of pillows.

0 thoughts on “TCDIY: Make it yourself, Milwaukee”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Great ideas, Carly! I love the t-shirt necklace. I’m happy you will be sharing instructions and pictures on how to make your creations. I’m a visual person, too, and I always need pictures (and someone to hold my hand)!

    Here’s to paint, glue and the button jar!
    Sharry Sullivan

  2. Anonymous says:

    Carly, you are one of the most stylish and unique individuals I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. This is such a great avenue for you. You once gave me a hand painted flower canvas that still hangs on my walls wherever I’m living. I simply love it!!! It also serves as a conversation piece, which as you know, I’m constantly stifled by lack of conversation. I can’t wait to see more, so good luck to you and happy crafting!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Carly, in the spirit of the frugal, “use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”. I like what you are doing.

  4. Anonymous says:

    So cool to meet a fellow crafty Third Coaster. I make my own soap and other bath products. And I just made my first jewelry box. I’m looking forward to reading your future columns. Thanks for the inspiration.

  5. Anonymous says:

    […] my first column, I was the headless, long-necked bust wearing a yellow T-shirt necklace in one of the photos. I had a few friends ask for the directions, so here they are. I must give […]

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