DIY Refinished Copper Light Fixture


You know those apartments that have lots of wacky “improvements” that were obviously perpetrated by people devoid of skills, taste, and common sense?

We have one of those apartments.

In our three years of living in our charming Somerville rental, we’ve dealt with a bathtub that drains onto the floor, hideously painted tile that turned out to be sheets of MDF molded to look like tile, and rogue so-called weather-stripping which was actually just strips of worn felt stapled to the inside of the front door. And don’t get me started on the thermostat that is hard-wired with SPEAKER WIRE.

But my favorite misplaced attempt at fixing something in this apartment was uncovered on the light fixture in the kitchen. It’s a lovely vintage schoolhouse style fixture, but with a terrible, chippy paint job on the base.

When I started scraping away the loose paint, thinking I could snazz it up with a new coat, I discovered….COPPER. As in, real, beautiful, timeless COPPER.

Restoring a Copper Light Fixture || Jade and Fern

Seriously, people, how these long-past tenants ever got this brilliant idea into their heads is a mystery. You’re killing me, Smalls.

Thankfully we live in the internet age and solutions to such horrors are only a few searches away. Well, a few searches and several hours of elbow grease away. Afterwards I was left with this:

Restoring a Copper Light Fixture || Jade and Fern

Not too shabby, eh?

The worst part was getting off the non-flaked paint. That required boiling the fixture for several hours, and scraping off what I could with fine grade steel wool. I had to do that twice and it stank up the house with the smell of hot paint. Fun.

Once the biggest areas of paint were off, I loosened the remaining bits by soaking them in boiled water again and carefully scraping them away with a utility knife.

Then all that was left was polishing the piece until my arm fell off. It was very satisfying, though, check out the difference it made:

Restoring a Copper Light Fixture || Jade and Fern

To polish, I dipped the cut half of a lemon in table salt and rubbed off the tarnish. Much oompfh was necessary and I now need a sling to support my exhausted wrist. And finally I rinsed all the goop off, dried the fixture with a paper towel, and buffed it to a shine with a clean rag.

No, it’s not perfect, and yes, there’s some silvery spots where the zinc that was apparently in the piece reacted to the vinegar I used during boiling (lesson learned: use PLAIN WATER, not water and vinegar!).

But it’s mine all mine while I live here and I love it!

Restoring a Copper Light Fixture || Jade and Fern

Never changed a hard-wired fixture before? Neither had I! I used this video to learn. I skipped the volt tester because I live dangerously, but please do as THEY said and not as I did.

What do you think? Have I become the DIY-challenged monster I loathe? Will future tenants love or hate this restoration?


Make It Friday: Timber!


Make It Friday: Tree Slice Tables || DIY Roundup via Jade and Fern

One || Two || Three || Four || Five

Yesterday I off-handedly mentioned that I acquired some tree slices. Well don’t be fooled by the casual tone from that post; I am actually SUPER AMAZINGLY EXCITED. Like, OMG.

Ever since I passed a gorgeous, enormous tree slice sitting all alone and neglected in a nearby driveway, I’ve been fervently scheming to get one of my own. (I did attempt to snag that very one by leaving a note offering to buy it, but I’m assuming my over-use of exclamation points creeped them out).

If you’ve ever looked into buying your own bits of tree, or a finished tree table, you will know that they are stupidly expensive. This is one of those cases where the question, “Buy or DIY?” has a very clear answer. Finding the tree is really the hardest part!

How did I get so lucky with these babies?

Tree Slices || Jade and Fern

I literally called local tree removal companies until I found one that would allow me to come to a removal site. Because I am a crazy person whose tree slice obsession knows no bounds.

The crew was wonderful, and they refused to let me pay—all they wanted in exchange was coffee and bagels. The lesson here, kids, is to not let potentially awkward conversations stop you from making crazy requests.

My favorite bit about the whole scheme is that this tree was scheduled for removal anyways, so I am essentially recycling a few pieces of it. Now my only problem is that I’m working on too many things at once. So until I manage to finish my own tree tables, enjoy the pretty DIYs from this roundup.

Here’s to a weekend of woodworking!


Make It Friday: Are Those Real?


The other week I rounded up some ideas on what to do with a great rack. An antler rack, that is.

But for those of us who don’t have the access or patience to go trekking through the woods, learning the delicate art of hunting antler sheds, here are some projects that still achieve that antlery look we all crave.

Make it Friday: DIY Faux Antlers via Jade and Fern

save a deer, make some antlers by Rae Ann Kelly

floral sketch antlers by Style Policy

branch antlers by Smile and Wave

painted faux antlers by Hi Sugarplum!

antler necklace by A Lion’s Nest

Here’s to a weekend of great projects shared with great friends!




Yesterday, I tackled the first few steps of my long-discussed bookshelf craft table, only to be stopped short by an unexpected culprit: spray paint fumes.

DIY Bookshelf || Jade and Fern

These are the little buggers that got me. Since I was only doing a few coats of primer for each caster and was working outside, I thought it would be ok. But an hour later, my brain told me otherwise when it unleashed a migraine. Damn you, sensitive brain!

So I’ve realized it’s time to invest in a paint-fume blocking mechanism that’s more advanced than holding my breath.

I’m thinking something like this:

Breaking Bad - Image via

Image via

I need the real deal, guys. The masks that can get me safely cooking meth alongside my DIY projects. (There’s a new blog idea: Making Bad—DIY and the Pleasantries of Meth).

Several friends and family recommended the masks by 3M Tekk Protection to avoid spray paint fumes. I purchased the Paint Project Respirator and it works like a charm! I can’t smell a thing through it, and as a bonus it makes me look like Bane:

Marlene as Bane | Image via

Bane image via

Admit it, the resemblance is uncanny.


DIY Dipped Flower Pots for the Procrastinating Gifter


If you’re anything like me, you often wait until the last-minute to think about gifts. You have good intentions, and you don’t live under a rock so you’ve seen the ads and the grocery store displays and the town crier going around shouting “Mother’s Day is coming! Mother’s Day is coming!” And you keep telling yourself you have time, until suddenly—Mother’s Day. Is. TOMORROW.


Never fear, fellow procrastinating crafters, I have just the thing for you: dipped flower pots. Trendy, chic, and SO EASY.

Gold Dipped Flower Pot | Jade and Fern

We’ve got less than a day now, but we’re gonna make this happen. Ready, set, go!

What you need:

  • terra-cotta flower-pot and saucer (and a pretty plant to go inside)
  • painter’s tape
  • craft brushes
  • acrylic paint (I used gold because, well, GOLD)
  • don’t forget to grab a card!

DIY Dipped Flower Pot | Jade and Fern

What you do:

Tape off the pot at an angle of your choice. Press the tape down very firmly to avoid bleeding. I taped mine at a pretty steep angle on both sides, but a web search for “paint dipped pot” will show you a million other examples if the steep angle isn’t your thing. Once taped, start painting.

DIY Dipped Flower Pot | Jade and Fern The paint I was using—DecoArt Dazzling Metallics in Splendid Gold—dried really fast, so I was able to apply a second coat just minutes after the first. Below you can see that the first coat looked very uneven, but the paint smoothed out quite nicely after the second.

DIY Dipped Flower Pot | Jade and Fern

After applying the second coat, peel off the tape, allow it to dry completely, and add your plant. Gorgeous!

DIY Dipped Flower Pot | Jade and Fern

DIY Dipped Flower Pot | Jade and Fern

Your mom/grandma/aunt/friend who’s a mom will never know you whipped it up in 30 minutes. Unless she’s reading this blog. In which case, my bad.