Sisal Wrapped Mirror


Sisal Wrapped Mirror by Just Something I Whipped Up

I have been toting a plain, round Target mirror from residence to residence since I got it for my first high school dorm room. We have had a good run, but on Friday I decided it was time for her to blossom. I really liked the idea of a sisal wrapped mirror in the bathroom and figured that transforming my old buddy who was already in there would be pretty simple. The fact that mine ended up looking just like this $249 version (albeit 12″ smaller) has me feeling good.



  • Round mirror
  • Twisted sisal rope – I used this, leftover from a different project
  • Cardboard box – make sure it is big enough to accommodate the mirror and a 3-inch border.
  • Nail
  • String
  • Carpenters pencil
  • Ruler
  • Glue gun
  • Extra glue sticks
  • E6000 glue
  • Scissors
  • Utility knife

First I measured the diameter of the mirror and added in a 3″ border all around – I needed a cardboard circle 24″ in diameter. For the cardboard I used a box with a side at least that big – it is fine to go across a fold. To get a perfect reasonably round circle, I cut a piece of string a bit over 12″ and tied one end to a nail and the other to a carpenters pencil with a couple of notches in it to prevent slipping. I made sure that the string between the two was 12 inches and then punched the nail into the center of the cardboard. Making sure to keep the string taut, I drew a circle around the nail, going around a bunch of times until a dark circle – let’s call it the average – emerged.

DSC_0907I cut the circle out with the utility knife, following the darkest pencil marks. I wanted to use the same hanging method, so I also pressed the mirror down onto the cardboard to transfer the position of the hardware so that I could cut out around that too. You can see the indents (not the big rip, slightly below and to the right of that) in the picture below.

DSC_0910I glued the mirror to the center of the cardboard with E6000. I thought hot glue might dry too quickly and it is a pretty big surface. There isn’t much load on the cardboard since I cut a hole in it to use the existing hanging mechanism, but I did use enough glue to make sure there were not gaps around the edges.

Finally I got to hot gluing the sisal. It is a simple but tedious process, but I have a couple of tips for making it look cleaner and more professional. First – I cut the sisal at an angle so that there is no bump where the first row and second row overlap. I used it everywhere a row stops or starts and it makes a big difference.

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Second, on the first row around the edge of the mirror, I found that laying the bead of glue next to the mirror but not touching it – not “caulking” it was how I thought of it – prevents glue from seeping onto the mirror itself.

DSC_0916Once I had my technique down, I went around and around until I was happy with the width of the border, which turned out to be less than 3″. That and I got really bored, which made the smaller border even more attractive. At that point, I stopped and trimmed the cardboard down with the utility knife.

DSC_0920After I trimmed the cardboard, I but a row around the outside, concealing the cardboard. The edge still looked messy so I added one more row on top of the one I just did, sort of filling in the gap.

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I thought I was done, but realized that the edge of the mirror was visible, so I added a row on the very inside. It would have been really hard to start with the sisal on the mirror itself, so even though it wasn’t on purpose, I would still not do that row first.

The last step was using cuticle scissors to trim the frizzy bits from the inside row of sisal. I had done the right side in the picture below.

DSC_0927Et voila!

Sisal Wrapped Mirror by Just Something I Whipped Up

Sisal Wrapped Mirror by Just Something I Whipped Up

Sisal Wrapped Mirror by Just Something I Whipped Up

This baby is headed for our poor, neglected, black-toileted downstairs bathroom. I am working on a few other updates in there but I’ll show you once it is in slightly better shape!

XO, Julia


Gold Leafing with Some Risqué Ladies

I have a new entry on my Things To Grab In A Fire list. My mom found a set of six vintage pin-up girl cocktail napkins that used to be my grandmother Tinker’s and let me have them. Here they are in all of their buxom glory:

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They are too fantastic to keep in a drawer or risk staining by actually using, so I decided to frame them and hang them in the living room next to the bar. I measured them and decided to use one long 40″ x 10″ frame. I blithely went to the framer who quoted about $250. I thanked her and fled the building. Next plan – copy the fabulous Jenny over at Little Green Notebook and shrink an existing frame. Fragers quoted me about $25 for the glass I would need, so I was feeling pretty good about reducing this price of this project by an order of magnitude.

I headed up to the Goodwill in search of a frame. The only suitable one was a pretty beat up black one. However, there was a reasonably attractive 30″ x 11″ frame and it occurred to me that it would work perfectly if I only frame 5 of the 6. Done. Since there are two of the women bicycling in the set, I decided that nixing one would be fine and I could be off and running for $9.95. So here is where we start. In case you are wondering, yes, that is painted velvet.


The finish is that sort of fakey-patina-ed gold, so I decided to try gold leafing it and mount the napkins, while making sure they are not damaged and I am not doing anything permanent to them.


Supplies (I am trying a new format here)

Project essentials:

  • Frame
  • Gold leaf – I used Speedball Mona Lisa Composition Gold Leaf (not real gold) that I had already. Had I noticed that when I bought it, I would have used real gold. Not at all as extravagant as it sounds.
  • Adhesive leaf size (glue)
  • Vintage napkins – I found similar ones by searching “Pin-Up Napkins” on eBay
  • Linen
  • Spray adhesive – I used 3M Super 77
  • Flathead pins
  • Extremely sticky double sided tape – I used this

Other tools:

  • Utility knife for cutting the existing paper on the frame
  • 100 grit sanding sponge
  • Scissors
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Paintbrush for glue
  • Foam brush for smoothing the sheets of leaf
  • Iron and starch
  • Carpenter’s square

First I removed the paper backing of the frame with a utility knife to find out what I was working with. All was well, nothing weird. I used needle-nose pliers to pull out the small nails holding the picture in and set those aside to reuse.

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The velvet was backed with foam core! Perfect. I set the glass and the foam core aside, and got to work on the frame. I used a 100 grit sanding pad to rough up the existing finish and then wiped off the dust. Next, starting at one end and working my way to the other, I spread a thin coat of size over the parts of the frame that would show.

After about 10 minutes (much faster than the bottle predicted), the size had gone from milky to clear so I started applying the leaf. I cut it into strips as I went, making it much easier to put on. After putting a section of leaf onto the frame, I used a foam brush to tamp it down onto the frame and then used my finger to sort of burnish it into the grooves. There were lots of flakes, so I would recommend doing this outside. I tried to stick the larger flakes onto bare spots as best I could. Once I covered the whole thing, I let it dry overnight before going back.

While the frame was drying, I mounted the cocktail napkins. I bought some linen yardage at a garage sale last year and finally found a use for it. I ironed it once, then laid the foam core down and figured out how to cut a piece that would leave the largest solid piece of linen left over, and cut it out leaving enough to fold enough around the edges of the foam core.

I re-ironed and starched the cut section to be sure there were no creases. Before I sprayed the adhesive all over the foam core, I tested a section because the can advised against using it on foam. You may remember that I discovered that spray paint melts styrofoam cups whilst making Phoebe’s animal clock, and I didn’t want to repeat the mistake. The cardboard on the foam core proved to be protection enough, so I went for it. I sprayed the whole piece and then put it facedown on the ironed linen. I used the super-sticky double sided tape to wrap the linen around the edges to keep it smooth.

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I ironed the napkins with lots of starch, but I avoided spraying the ladies themselves. I am pretty sure it would have been fine, I mean, they are supposed to be for cocktails, but I would be SO bummed if the color ran or something (really, I would be devastated, but “devastation” in regard to cocktail napkins seems like something I should keep to myself). I arranged my nice flat napkins on the linen covered foam core and used flat head pins to hold them in place. I used a carpenter’s square to get them generally evenly spaced, but in the end I eyeballed them until they looked even. Measuring failed because it turns out neither the napkins nor the foam core was really square. Story of my life. Stay tuned for the day, probably mid-December, when I finally tell you about The F***ing Bookshelves we are working on. I pushed the pins all the way through the foam core and then trimmed them as close as I could with the needle-nose pliers.


The next morning, I touched up the gold leaf and let those bits dry. Once that was dry I put the pieces back together and replaced the finish nails. Since I only used five of the six napkins, I put the sixth in a plastic bag and taped it to the back to that the set at least stayed together. I hung and hung it next to the bar and, voila! Now I can hang out with these fab ladies any time.



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Fourth of July Tablecloth

Fourth of July Tablecloth by Just Something I Whipped Up

It’s almost the 4th of July!  I love the 4th because it means the summer is about to really hit its stride. This year, before we head to HP, I wanted to have a little pre-fourth cookout with our friends in DC. I decided that a festive tablecloth would be a fun project without going overboard.  It was a pretty easy and inexpensive project that can be changed for any party.

Tablecloth Supplies Supplies:

  • Canvas drop cloth. I got this one in the 4’x15′ size so that I can make three.
  • Scissors
  • Stitch Witchery bonding tape
  • Iron/Ironing board
  • At least one roll of painters tape, depending on design
  • Newspaper or plastic sheeting
  • Yardstick
  • Foam brushes and/or a pouncer (I swear it’s a thing). For oil paint, get one per color.
  • Paint. I went with Rustoleum oil paint because it was all our local hardware store had and it ended up working perfectly.  I grabbed some acrylic gold, red, white and blue that I already had just in case.
  • Cardboard

First, measure the table and cut the drop cloth down to fit.  I got a drop cloth specifically to be the right width for the table so that I only had to hem one side.  Make sure the line is generally straight across, but don’t go nuts making the cut perfect since you will be hemming it. Next, hem the cut side.  If I had a sewing machine, I would have used that, but stitch witch is a pretty great substitute.  First, fold the side to be hemmed over and iron flat.  Then lay a strip of stitch witch under the flap – see top left picture.  At this point, if you are not me, your iron won’t start randomly turning off and on and the rest of the ironing parts will be a breeze.  If you are me, this simple project will turn into one which requires the patience of a nun.  Which I definitely DO NOT HAVE.  Anyway.  Using the hottest setting on your iron, slowly run the iron over the flap until the tape melts and fuses the sides together.

Stitch Witch Fourth of July Tablecloth by Just Something I Whipped Up

Then snip the very ends at an angle and fold the newly-hemmed part over and repeat the preceding steps to get a nice neat hem.  It will take a lot longer for the tape to melt on the second pass because there are more layers to get through, but it will melt, don’t give up.

Cut Corner Fourth of July Tablecloth by Just Something I Whipped Up

Let the hem cool for 10 minutes and then put the drop cloth through the washer and dryer to soften it up. You can skip this step, but the resulting tablecloth with be much stiffer and won’t drape over the table as well.  Once it is dry, iron it (the damn iron again…).  At that point I folded it in half the long way and made a small crease to mark the middle.  I ran a pencil over it so that it would be easy to find later. Now for the fun part.  Lay the drop cloth out with newspaper or plastic sheeting under it on something large and flat.  The ground would be ideal if you don’t have a handy-dandy huge piece of plywood like we do.  Full disclosure – it is for drinking games. Not an adult.

Fourth of July Tablecloth by Just Something I Whipped Up

Once your drop cloth is all ready, use painters tape to block off stripes starting from the middle and moving out to the sides. I sketched mine out on paper in advance. I used the yardstick to make sure that the wide stripe in the middle was actually centered around the middle, but after that I just eyeballed the widths of the strips. I pressed that tape down as best I could. In the end it didn’t prevent all bleeding, but I like how it looks slightly freehand. At least for me, actual freehand would have been a wobbly mess.

Fourth of July Tablecloth by Just Something I Whipped Up

Once you like the look of the stripes, paint in the blank spaces. The cloth absorbs a lot of paint, so it is more dabbing than painting. I ended up sticking with the Rustoleum paint and only used the gold acrylic paint for the stars which I added once everything was dry.  While the paint was drying, I cut a star shape out of some cardboard (a frozen pizza box). Once it was ready, I used a foam pouncer and some gold paint to add stars down the middle. Pull off the tape and let dry.

Fourth of July Tablecloth by Just Something I Whipped Up Fourth of July Tablecloth by Just Something I Whipped Up

So there you have it. An easy party project that you can use whenever you need an inexpensive update to impress your friends. Now, like a blog party favor, I leave you with a close-up of my most recent and one of my most fabulous ($5) flea market finds. Thank you Eastern Market for my new brass lobster buddy. May I never again misplace the spare keys.

Fourth of July Tablecloth by Just Something I Whipped Up XO,


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Animal Head Clock Outta Control

                     Animal Clock by Just Something I Whipped Up Animal Clock by Just Something I Whipped Up

For my next trick, here is the clock I made for my sister Phoebe for Christmas last year.  It was inspired by this one from P.S. – I Made This… with a few twists. Not the easiest or least expensive project I have done, but the results were pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.   


  • 12 animal figurines (I used these, these and this, because some stag horns at 12 were a must)
  • Plexiglass circle – our local hardware store cut it for me for around $20. It is not a normal cut so it took a few extra days.
  • Spray paint – Rustoleum Painters Touch Ultra Cover 2X in Brilliant Blue
  • Spray paint – Rustoleum Metallic Gold
  • Glue gun and glue
  • Clock with only hands (I used this)
  • Hacksaw
  • Scissors
  • Drill
  • Poster tape
  • Sticky velcro
  • Triangle picture hanger with screws
  • Small paintbrush
  • Print-out of a clock and a ruler
  • (or a compass & protractor)

I started off by cutting the heads off just in front of the front legs using a hacksaw.  The saw left a pretty rough edge, so I went back over the edge with a pair of scissors to smooth it out.  This was important because it looked better, but also it made a nice flat edge for the glue.  Almost all of the animals were hollow, so it is less work that it looks.  Side note – save the other halves.  I am kicking myself for chucking them because who knows, maybe someday I will want to make an animal butt clock.  Anyway, at the end of a pretty weird evening of decapitating animals, I had this: 

Animal Clock by Just Something I Whipped Up

Once I had all of my animal heads, I coated them with three coats of Rust-Oleum Painters Touch Ultra Cover 2X in Gloss Brilliant Blue. It takes some extra time for the spray paint to cure on rubber, so I let them dry for two hours.

Animal Clock by Just Something I Whipped Up

I had Frager’s, our local hardware store (and one of my favorite places on Earth) cut a 24” diameter piece of 1/4” Plexiglass for me. It took some extra time and several calls from the glass cutter guy because hardware stores don’t normally make round cuts. I had an image in my head of a perfect acrylic disk, but it obviously didn’t come out that way – it didn’t look bad, but slightly irregular and there were kerf marks on the edges. I am sure you can find actual acrylic disks online, but they will be way more expensive. To cover the rough edges, I sprayed some of the blue spray paint into a cup and painted just the edge with a very small brush, wiping up any mess-ups as I went. Incidentally, spray paint eats through styrofoam, in case you were wondering…

Animal Clock by Just Something I Whipped Up

While the animal heads dried, I marked where I was going to glue them. First I marked the middle and then each hour using a print out of a clock and a ruler. I thought I was being precise but I had to make a lot of adjustments after it was all glued down. If I did it again, I would use a compass and a protractor, or at least I would be a lot more careful. Story of my life.

Before gluing the animal heads down, I screwed a triangle picture hanger to the back of the Plexiglass, right behind the clock mechanism. If I do it again, I will put the hanger at 12:00 so that the animal head will cover it. I used a very small drill bit to drill two pilot holes for the screws so that they didn’t crack my precious plastic. Once I got the hour points right, I glued the animal heads down with a glue gun. Here is a view of the back once it was all put together. You can see the animals at the bottom.

Animal Clock by Just Something I Whipped Up

The last piece was the actual clock hands. I spray painted it gold, moving the hands between coats so that there wasn’t a bare spot. The battery pack is inset slightly so I built it out with a few layers of poster tape (the foam kind) and then attached a piece of sticky-back velcro. I left the two sides stuck together and then, with the hands together in the 12:00 position, pointing directly to 12, I stuck the clock to the plexiglass. The velcro means she can remove the clock from the plexiglass to adjust the time or change the battery.

Animal Clock by Just Something I Whipped Up Animal Clock by Just Something I Whipped Up

It was a pretty risky surprise Christmas present, since I had no idea if it would look awesome like it did in my head, or if it would look 100% crazy person. Luckily it was the former, with the added bonus of looking great with the headboard she and my dad made.

Happy animal beheading!



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