craftiness · decorating / homefront · it's all about me

Be careful what you wish for (a cautionary tale of upcycling)

Being fifty-something, you’d think I’d have learnt to keep my big mouth shut.

When I went public on this Nothing Like a Candle in the Wind blogpost about my fetish for Fowlers Vacola jars, I should have known I’d get more than I bargained for.

And so it was.

My sister K responded with an offer of an entire Fowlers Vacola bottling kit, which was gathering dust in her garage.

When Mum passed away in 2005, K was voted the Sister Most Likely to Bottle and accepted the challenge of stewardship of Mum’s preserving kit.

It’s eight years on. The urge to bottle hasn’t kicked in for K (or any of the rest of us) so I now have guardianship of the Fowlers Vacola manifest … with the family’s blessing to do with it whatever I feel best.

Obviously, that means upcycling.

The challenge is on … I have the big sterilising pot (or, as we refer to it: “the cauldron” – we love a witchy reference), a bag full of multi-sized lids, clips, rings, instruction booklets, tongs, bands and the bottles/jars. More than one hundred of them. Yikes! That’s a lot of candles in the wind.

I have a mountain of upcycling ahead of me.

Here are my first two projects. You will notice, I have picked off the “low-hanging fruit” to begin with, while I give some thought to how I can make meaningful use of ALL those bottles.

#1 Fowlers Vacola Upcycle – Rhubarb Pot Cauldron

This makes perfect sense in our family. Mum and Dad were mad, keen gardeners and always had a thriving bed of rhubarb under cultivation.

Rhubarb is undergoing a resurgence in the foodie world. I checked with the horticulturist at our local nursery and discovered that rhubarb is a very pot-friendly vegetable (yes, it’s technically a veg) and that there were seedlings in season, ready-to-go.

Mr P drilled some drainage holes in the base of the cauldron, panel-beated the lid out into a saucer shape and I planted it up.

There we have it … an upcycled cauldron of rhubarb-in-the-making. That’s the original colour of the cauldron (no repainting required) and I’m already loving the pop of colour in the wintry garden.

#2 Fowlers Vacola Upcycle – Tall, tall candlesticks

This simple project took care of four Fowlers Vacola metal lids and helped me upcycle these two turned wood “pieces” I picked up a couple of months back at the Ballarat Trash and Trivia Market for $1 each.

Let’s call them wooden legs, just for the family in-joke reference … see The Peculiar Language of Families.

Mr P evened the wooden legs with a saw. We then screwed two larger Fowlers Vacola lids to the bases of the wooden legs and two smaller Fowlers Vacola lids to the tops.

A slap of undercoat, a swish of Dulux Antique White, a light sand to add some distress detail, a coat of white wax and these 55cm-tall babies were ready.

With a couple of chunky white candles ($2 each at the $2 Shop … amazing, because very few things in the $2 Shop actually cost $2) these make quite a statement in the hallway.

I’m pleased to have made a start on this over-sized upcycling project that has inveigled its way into my life. It’s an elephant I’m going to devour one bite at a time. I will keep you posted with my progress, bite-by-bite.

In the meantime, be careful what you wish for.

7 thoughts on “Be careful what you wish for (a cautionary tale of upcycling)

  1. I’m always looking for ways to “upcycle” – don’t think I’ve heard that word before. I’m cleaning out my parents home and in the haul are many of these type of jars. Mine are the blue Ball jars with aluminum tops.
    It’s great that your husband helps you with the process 🙂

    1. I’m down to the last few, Matt. I’ve made dozens of jar candles (sold some, gifted some), filled others with cookies and baked treats for gifts, and used several as vases for gifted flower bunches. It’s amazing how versatile these jars are. 🙂

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