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Today’s the big day!  The $5 Challenge is live at Lindsay’s!  (Click the glue gun graphic to go see all the wonderful projects.)

Earlier this month, I posted a tutorial for bamboo vases, and after using them for three weeks, I have to say I’m still in love with them.  This week, I finally got started on my second project.

Here’s the second half of my haul from the dollar store:

-One small oval serving tray
-One set of four small bowls
-Two bags of decorative “accent gems” – a nod to the current decor trend of teals and aquas
-One resin birdie on branch

Items on hand that I used: Spray paint, spray poly, and a bag of tea lights.

Yesterday, while the weather was beautiful, I took the tray and bird outside to my high-tech painting booth (*cough* *cough*) and gave them each a couple of coats of paint & poly.  (I wanted a glossier finish than the paint alone would give.  I also planned to put things on the tray, so hopefully the poly will protect the paint from scratches.)

I went in wishing I had a brighter white paint for this project, but I only had Heirloom White on hand.  It always goes on creamier than I want it, but now that it’s dry, I’m pretty happy with it.

Learn from my mistake – prime the bird.  I used way too much of the precious Heirloom White trying to cover up his darker feathers and the branch.  (Also, if you come over to my house, don’t look underneath his tail.  I kind of missed a bit.  Shh.)

After they’d spent a couple of hours basking in the sunshine, I brought them inside to cure overnight.

This morning, it was time to play.  It did not go quite as planned.  My original thought was pebbles on tray, bowls amongst pebbles, tea lights in bowls.  I didn’t like it, so I started messing with it.  (That’s how the pros do it, I promise!  Mess around with it until you like it!)

Hmm.  Seems I didn’t need the bowls after all.  Okay, so it’s a $4 project!  If you have clear cup tea lights on hand, I think it would be even prettier.  I’m fresh out.

And there you have it – a $4 candle arrangement, suitable for end tables, very wide mantles, breakfast bars, and kitchen tables.*

P.S. I’m also linking this up to the Frugal Friday Linky Party over at The Shabby Nest.  Have fun looking through those projects, too!

*This isn’t the steadiest candle arrangement in the world…As with all candles, please don’t put this anywhere a child or animal could disrupt it and get burned or spread the flames.  And, of course, don’t leave it unattended!  You knew that, right?

So, Lindsay has thrown down the gauntlet and wants to know what attractive home decor items we can make with $5 of materials from the dollar store.  My trip to Dollar Tree after she posted last week netted me materials for two different projects.  (Here’s the second one!)

I was inspired to make vases the instant I saw these  colorful bamboo place mats.  I spent about ten minutes playing with the glassware at the store to make sure I could make the number of vases I wanted with only $5 worth of stuff.

I came home with this:

-Three large sugar shakers (at least that’s what they’re labeled – I think they look more like Parmesan cheese shakers)
-Two bamboo placemats

Yesterday, I gathered my tools:

-Hot glue gun (with extra glue) – plug it in before you start cutting
-Craft knife
-Self-healing mat (um, you might want to have yours right-side up)
-Rubber bands (not shown)
-Silver Sharpie (not shown – I chose silver rather than black, so any marks left on the bamboo wouldn’t be too obvious)

I began by setting the shakers’ tops aside (they might come in handy for another project someday, right?) and wrapping a mat around one of the shakers.  I then cut the mat to just fit around the shaker.

I figured out pretty quickly that you’ll want to secure the end pieces of the mat immediately with some hot glue in a couple of places, to keep it from falling apart.  Once the strings are cut, the bamboo sticks will pop off and scatter like mad.

I then applied hot glue to the mat and carefully wrapped it around the shaker, being sure to line the bottom edge of the shaker up with the bottom edge of the mat, and secured it with rubber bands.

My plan was to come up with three vases of different heights.  Here’s where I spent my time in the dollar store: making sure that I could get two shorter vases out of one place mat.

The manufacturers of the “sugar” shakers were quite helpful and made them exactly 5 inches high.  So, I measured and drew a line 5″ from the edge of the mat with my silver Sharpie.  I scored it a couple of times with the craft knife (I put a fresh blade in first!) before cutting it with my scissors.  The scoring helped keep my scissors on track, and I ended up with a pretty straight cut.  I cut and applied the two pieces of mat to their shakers and set them to dry/cool while I hit the yard for some appropriately springlike blooms.

Doesn’t forsythia scream “Spring is coming!!”?  It reminds me of my parents’ yard in Georgia.  By the time I had the stems de-budded, the vases were all ready for some water, flowers, and a photo shoot.

I have got to learn to use the manual settings on my camera…

Don’t they frame the boys nicely?  I’m thrilled with my new $5 set of vases.  It occurs to me that they might make nice tea light holders, too.  I’ll give that a try with the forsythia dies and let you all know how it works out.

So how about you?  Are you up for Lindsay’s challenge?

My boys

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