Tuesday, September 26, 2023

The (Absolute) Beginner’s Guide to Upcycling: Edition #1 – The Makeup Organiser

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I’ve always wanted to be ‘that girl’ who upcycles stuff. I’ve seen the videos on social media where people make it look so. damn. EASY and, for the next few days, I’m daydreaming about paint, sanders and all the cute little op-shops I can drag my boyfriend around to find the ‘next cool thing’ that I’d want to save from the skip and actually have in my house.

But as I’ve written about before, being someone with absolutely NO talent in the art, craft or DIY space it’s always seemed a little too much for me. How do you even paint things? How do you know which sandpaper to get? HOW do you sand things? And, crucially, are you able to do a good enough job that the thing you’re upcycling actually ends up in your house, rather than being sequestered to the garage/kerb/given as a rubbish gift to a relative you don’t really like?

So, welcome to Capsule’s new upcycling series where my colleagues and I attempt to skill up in the DIY space and learn how to turn trash to treasure (optimistic!? I think so!).

Up first, the most basic of tasks: The makeup organiser upcycle.

Capsule x Resene

When we set about figuring out what to do for this upcycle series, Alice, Emma and myself all agreed on one thing (spoiler alert for future editions, it was NOT colour schemes) but rather, let’s start with something small to really hone our skills and get comfy with painting.

I’d wanted a makeup organiser for my bedroom for a long time but I didn’t like the look of the basic, boring Perspex ones that you can see through. As a notorious minimalist who is trying her best to come out of her neutral cage and do just fine, I’ve been playing with brighter colour palettes recently and, much to my surprise, I’ve really been enjoying the combination of a muted pink and bright blue.

The before

For some reason it reminds me of travel, of the French Riviera or Palm Springs or maybe something else entirely. But whatever it is, I knew that’s the look I wanted to inject a little brightness and personality into my bedroom, as well as solve the problem of a very messy dresser top that annoys my partner constantly because nothing has a bloody place because my drawers are too full of clothes that don’t fit because it’s winter, ya know!?

The upcycle:

Armed with my colour palette, a caramel macchiato and a can-do attitude (how basic, I know), I bravely marched into my local Kmart (during the SCHOOL HOLIDAYS – that was a type of hell I’ve never quite experienced) and picked up some cheap bamboo trays, caddies and storage boxes that somehow all fit together rather nicely. Of course, you can use whatever you have on hand at home, which is your traditional upcycle, but I didn’t have anything that I could use and there is nothing wrong with giving new items some customisation too. YOU DO YOU, BOO.

I then paid my local Resene ColorShop a visit, and after a chat with a VERY patient retail worker who humoured my labouring over the perfect colours and my inane sandpaper questions, I had all I needed to begin.

Some tips for you if you’re a true upcycle beginner like us, courtesy of the experts at Resene:

  1. Clean your materials THOROUGHLY first.  If they’re already painted use Resene Interior Paintwork Cleaner, otherwise just use the detergent you would use for your normal cleaning.
  2. If you’re painting something that already has paint on it, you might need to strip the existing paint layers first depending on what look you’re after.  Some looks you can paint direct over the top; some you have to start from an unpainted surface. If you’re not sure, pop into a Resene ColorShop and they’ll advise.
  3. You’ll more than likely also need to sand your surface first, to make sure the paint will stick. The more surface material you need to remove, the grittier the sandpaper needs to be. And don’t forget to wipe off the sanding dust, otherwise the new paint will stick to the dust instead of what you’re upcycling.

What we did:

After a thorough wash and sand, I got to work on the first coat. Being more skilled in the art of baking (kind of) I figured the first coat is kind of like a crumb coat – it’s not going to look good but it gives you a good foundation to work off.

Now, here’s our first learning. Use a primer first, not just a first coat of the colour you want – it’ll extend the lifespan of your finished project and give a smooth finish. It’s also helpful to undercoat if you’re going from a darker to a lighter colour.

As I was painting both the light pinks and the blue, I noticed that the darker colour came out FAR nicer – it’s harder to notice imperfections on dark than it is in light. Something to keep in mind if you’re a beginner!

But eventually, two coats of Resene Vanilla Ice were applied for the base tray, and two coats of Resene Inspire were used for the caddy. The blue – Resene Key Largo – provided a nice pop and contrast.

While I used a brush for the edges and corners, I found much more success with the paint roller (it was also more fun for some weird reason) so it’s definitely worth the investment!

Another tip – leave the coats to dry properly if you don’t want your house to look like it’s been taken over by a particularly messy group of Smurfs. Blue fingerprints everywhere!

I then attempted to do something *jazzy* because I thought we needed a point of interest, and I wanted to bring the colours together somehow. But what can you do with no artistic skills, limited patience and a love of right angles? A checkerboard pattern, of course!

I did this just by applying a grid pattern of washi tape twice – first one way, then the other – to get the grid pattern and holy hell, even I was shook at how good this looked and how easy it was. We had one slightly wonky line, but that was easily fixed.

I then realised I wanted the caddy divider to be blue to tie the colours together, so quickly painted over the pink.

The result:

Well, I’ll be damned – it looks good. Is it perfect? No. There’s a wonky line here and a bit of a splodge there, but upcycling isn’t about perfection. It’s about giving it a go, learning from your mistakes and getting better every time. The key really is patience, and not biting off more than you can chew, so if you’re like us and you’re planning a few bigger upcycling projects in the near future (pray for us please) then I would THOROUGHLY recommend trying your hand at something small like this first.

The best thing about this makeup holder is that it’s given me so much more confidence when it comes to the next projects, and a huge jolt of satisfaction that I actually managed to create something fun, useful and ME.

Stay tuned for the next instalment!

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