DIY centerpieces are a great way to save money on your tablescape and get exactly what you want. The possibilities are endless, and you can often make a beautiful centerpiece with materials you already have in your home. We used an old wooden salad bowl, salvaged hutch parts and gild to make a gorgeous centerpiece!
Now, I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right – this is the kind of project that Handan usually tackles. And it started out that way, really. But she kept asking me to do stuff…
“Hey babes, can you cut these spindles for me?”
“Hey babes, can you make a bigger base for this?”
“Hey babes, can you glue this?”
“Hey babes, can you stain this?”
“Hey babes, can you put polyurethane on this?”
At some point, it became my project, even though I wasn’t calling the shots. So, my project, my blog post!
This project, like most, started at the dump. We were tossing some old drywall into the construction waste area when Handan spied an opportunity. Mind you, all I saw was junk – broken, useless junk – but Handan saw Solomon’s Treasure.
There was an antique hutch in with the other detritus – an old, broken thing, far beyond restoration. Again, my eyes saw only garbage. But Handan keyed in on the doors, some fancy trim and some spindle thingies. We loaded the battered behemoth into our car and headed home so I could dissect the carcass and extract Handan’s prizes. The doors and trim will be used for some future project. The spindle thingies are shown below.
Handan’s original plan was to make something for our deck with these pieces. But then she started experimenting with different toppers for them – trays, discs, bowls – until she grabbed an old wooden salad bowl (a Put & Take find – pictured below with a bed post)…
…and held it over one of the spindles. She liked what she saw. And that’s where I come in. She wanted me to make the bases bigger. Well, that was easy enough.
I grabbed a scrap piece of maple and cut it to the size she wanted. Then I found a router bit in my set that pretty much matched the pattern above and routed the piece of maple.
I had made two bases, because at this point, Handan was still thinking these would end up outside.
I also cut the spindles shorter (no pics), and glued them onto the bases.
Okay, I want to give credit where credit is due. I didn’t do all the work for this project. Handan did sand the bowl – and she got to use her new detail sander to boot!
I told her the outside didn’t have to be perfect. A slightly flawed bowl would add interest to the final piece. She didn’t bother sanding the inside, as she had other plans for that. Meanwhile, I stained the maple base to the same color as the rest of the pedestal. At that point, Handan’s plan was to paint the pedestal white and distress it, which is why she wanted me to stain the maple base.
To finish the bowl, I decided to try something a little different than the standard salad bowl finish (polyurethane thinned with mineral spirits) that I was planning to use. I had picked up a gallon of boiled linseed oil at a tag sale a couple of years ago, but I never got the chance to use it. This bowl offered the perfect opportunity to try it out.
I applied the boiled linseed oil with a clean patch of cloth, then waited the recommended 5 minutes. I then wiped up all the excess with another clean cloth. I did this every day for 5 days. BLO gives a beautiful satin sheen, and I will use it in the future for other woodworking projects. There’s just one really important safety consideration with boiled linseed oil. Since it is what’s called a polymerizing oil or drying oil, it reacts with oxygen to form a durable, protective finish. But this process is exothermic – in other words, it creates heat. Rags soaked with BLO must be laid out to dry. They must NEVER be bunched up and thrown away. Here’s a video showing what can happen and how to safely dispose of BLO -soaked rags:
Here’s the bowl after a week of BLO applications.
At this point, Handan changed her mind about painting the pedestal white. She wanted to leave it as is. I agreed. It had a nice, rustic look going on, and I’m not sure a distressed white pedestal would have added to the look.
The last step – gilding the inside of the bowl – was also Handan’s job. Her idea was to paint the inside with liquid leaf – sorta like a gild paint.
It looked good, but I thought it was too dark. Since the outside was already dark wood, I thought the inside needed to come alive. I asked if she could apply actual gilding over the liquid gild. She obliged, and the change was stunning! For a full tutorial on applying gild, you can check out Handan’s Gilded Pumpkins post. Gilding couldn’t be easier, and it adds such a cool look.
And that’s it, folks! Easy. Simple. Quick. Wait, did I say quick? Nothing’s ever quick around here! It actually took a few months to finish this project, because we worked on it 5 minutes here, 5 minutes there. It would have taken a day (not including the week of BLO applications), but we really stretched it out. Enjoy the beauty shots!
It looks great on its own, but it really comes alive with water and tea lights!
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