DIY Memo Center - Recycling Flea Market Finds

Do you ever have a vision in your head of some awesome thing you're going to make and when the making part starts happening it becomes apparent that this thing you're DIYing is totally going to blow? Yup. That's been me for like the past two weeks on the memo center adventure. Come along!

You see, way back in July when I met up with some of my blogging BFFs, they thought I was cool enough to enter into their circle of trust (not really, I just thought it kind of sounded like a Fight Club thing if I put it that way) and asked me to participate in a Flea Market Swap. Basically, a bunch of us hit up a thrift store or Goodwill or something of the like and mail our finds to another blogger to see what they come up with.  

I got to send stuff to Charlotte from Ciburbanity and Jen from The Chronicles of Home got to send stuff to me. One day a fluffy manila envelope arrived amid the bills and junk. After explaining to the kids that not all packages can be for them I got to examine my loot. Here were the goods.

Yep. I'm pretty sure that terracotta pot started it's journey south as a whole pot but it appears to have not survived it's trip. Womp, womp. Besides the pot carnage, I got a few really pretty feathers and two packages of some sort of powder (and really cute wrapping, thanks Jen!). Even though the pot arrived broken, I was totally on board with using it that way and thought I could turn it into some sort of cool art thing.

The first idea I had was to frame everything (feathers, broken pot pieces) and sort of make a museum-esq gallery wall kind of deal out of them. I kit up IKEA for a few frames and went to work painting the mattes. I used a spray ink that's been in my craft stash forever but I'd never used before. It was bright yellow and I thought it would look fabulous in my guest room.

Me: "This is going to be awesome!" *spritz, spritz, spritz* "Ummm, maybe it just needs to dry? Keep spritzing..." *spritz, spritz, spritz* Ummmm. Crap.
Yeah, it looked horrible. A little bit like pee and a whole lot not like what I was envisioning. On top of that the mattes were soaked and really not savable (believe me, I tried).

So on to plan B (probably more like plan E, but I'm going to spare you all of the desperate attempts I made to save this thing). I moved onto the big guns and cut new mattes out of 1/4" plywood with a jigsaw. I just traced the frame backs and went to town. Went super quick. 

After they were cut out, I gave them both a quick sanding.

And stained them using Minwax Pre-stain and Wood Finish Cloths. Think wet-wipes soaked in stain :)

I used the Pre-Stain since I had some left over from the dresser project and it makes stain go on really even. 

It just wipes right on and sort of makes the wood a little wet.

Then I applied the stain. And since I couldn't figure out how to take pictures of myself staining whilst my hands were covered in stain, you're just going to have to imagine this part. It involves a hoarded-out hot garage, me in yoga pants, and a 4 year old begging me to help him find lizards.

Once the stain is applied, lean them against your child's bike to dry... like nature intended.

After they were dry, I traced the opening from the old matte on top in a pencil. (note the old matte is no longer yellow... that color is craft fail #2... I spared you the details. You're welcome.)

Then I taped off a boarder and applied glue with a brush in sort of a frame around where the matte opening would have been. My plan was to use the powder like you would glitter (it totally looked like glitter when I peaked in the package) and have it stick to the glue. I wanted crisp sparkle next to the rustic wood.

Houston, we have a problem. When I opened the packets of powder, they looked exactly like glitter. However, upon use, I realized I made a terrible mistake. It was totally more like baby powder and got everywhere... glue or no glue, it coated everything. Just call me Oscar the Grouch hands. While I love the color, I was hoping for a crisp line where I added the glue. That did not happen. It was more like a big smeary blob of shimmery green goodness. What to do, what to do...
I'm going to admit I totally cheated on this part. Like cheater cheater pumpkin eater, cheated. I just sanded off the green and restained the wood a bit. Technically the green powder is still part of the project, you just can't see it :)

Amidts my cheating guilt, I moved on to painting the actual frames. This went off without a hitch. Glam gold spray paint for the rounded corners.

After that I mixed up a little limey yellow green and painted about a third of each matte.

When that was dry, I attempted to arrange the broken pot pieces and feathers into some form of modern art. Seriously, you guys, in my head it was going to be awesome. In real life, not so much. 27 attempts later, I abandoned modern art and the memo center idea was born. :) To achieve memo center greatness, I decided the pot pieces needed to be smaller.
(Either that or I had some pent up frustration.)

Then I sprayed the pot pieces a mix of gold and teal.

I also painted on a little chalkboard paint and added smaller mattes from old frames with hot glue. (You can still see the green in this picture!) Then most of the feathers got turned into feather pens with a little hot glue and twine.

I used the tiny painted pot pieces like jewelry. I actually really love this "gem" from the stash glued on top of a screw to hold the pen on.

And there you have it. A semi recycled, almost craft fail, totally modern chic memo center. Even after epic fail after epic fail, it looks really great in our office.

My kids keep calling the pens, Harry Potter pens :)

So what flea market finds have you saved? Show us! Add your project below to the link up and enjoy the fun. I can't wait to see what you've made.


  1. Oh my goodness, Sarah! What a circus! Sorry the pot arrived in pieces - drat! I was so intrigued by that powder...sorry to hear it wasn't easier to work with. I love the feathers as pens and the whole message center, stops and starts and all, came out great!

    1. Thanks Jen! For the record... I LOVE the powder and can't wait to try it again on something else, now that I know what it is. I probably should have done a little test prior to dumping it all over my project. lol. fail. The feathers are awesome. Love the pattern on them. Even with the numerous craft fails, it was fun and I want to do it again next year!

  2. your memo center is adorable and i love how you even used the broken pot pieces! i love your eclectic vibe!

  3. It's SO good! THIS is why I need to figure out photoshop because I'm confident that the ideas in my head would make for incredible faux images to pin! Well played!

  4. I think it turned out great! We've all been there with the fails and I love how you embraced it and kept moving on. Love what you ended up with and the story makes it even better! Great work!!!

  5. Such a clever and very useful makeover! YOu had a few chalenges and look how great your thrifted finds turned out!

  6. Girl, WHAT?! Showing me the "after", I never would've known there were so many...challenges. You're amazing and nature DID intend for bikes to be drying racks...just like it intended my couch to be my personal filing system. Wait, no? LOVE that you did this with us! xoxoxo

  7. Love your new message center! I especially like the feathers as pens!

  8. I agree with the other gals, I'd never have guessed you had any craft fails if you hadn't shown us! But I've totally been there too... the vision starts out great, the actual making - not so much. But I'm glad you kept pushing forward, because those memo boards totally rock! I want some Harry Potter pens for myself!

  9. Love the feather pens! What a fun idea for a message center. x

  10. What a fun DIY project with a great group of bloggers. As always you are so creative!