Pet Food Has Never Looked So Good!

At the risk of sounding redundant, I am going to mention that we have four cats and a dog.  Which only really means in this context that we buy a lot of pet food.  A lot.  And *that* means that we usually have two large paper bags poorly scrunched up and attracting ants hovering in the corner of our kitchen.  After recently sprucing up the whole area where we feed the animals, it seemed likes something really needed to be done about the ugly sacques des pellets.  I devised a plan.  I waited watched and waited to find the perfect inexpensive thingamabob.

To read the blog post where I talk about our pets’ feeding station, visit here:  www.lovenestdesign.com/cat-rackin/

The Popcorn Tin, Before

The Popcorn Tin, Before

That thingamabob ended up coming in the form of a large popcorn tin that I found at KARM, a local chain of thrift shops.  I only bought one, to try with one type of food, I want to be sure that the stuff stays fresh and pest-free before I totally commit with both the dog and cat foods.  But I’m pretty sure that since it originally held popcorn (a substance that– let’s face it– gets stale waaaaay easy) that we should be good.

The store had four to choose from that afternoon, two of them were four dollars, and two were six.  Six dollars seems kinda crazypants to me, especially since none of them were adorable and something that I would bring home and put straight into use.  Anyway.  I looked at the two that were offered at four, and chose the one that was in the best shape– i.e., least warped.  That ended up being the super-shiny mappy number to the left, which isn’t really *ugly* per se, but toootally not me or my taste.  It’s okay though, it was sort of a given that I was going to muck with whatever I found, it seems that IS part of my taste.

The first task I had to undertake with its overhaul was the removal of the tape and its who-knows-how-old adhesive. This gunk was gummy, ya’ll.  (If you click twice on the pic you can see it.)  This was a lot of peeling with my fingernails followed by a LOT of Goo Gone on q-tips and rubbing.  Goo Gone is the one that smells like oranges, not the one that’s like lighter fluid.  (That’s Goof Off, it would probably work too, but I feel a little willy about getting that all over my skin, so maybe wear gloves if you use it.)  After I was sure that the tape and sticky was 100% gone– I couldn’t leave any because it would make the paint look bad– I washed it with soapy water to remove the Goo Gone, which would also muck up my paint if left on the surface.  Because tin can rust, I was careful to thoroughly dry the whole shebang immediately after with a cotton cloth before it could create another obstacle on the road to super-cute dog food buckets.

The next step was to figure out how I did want it to look, and I started looking through my stuff.  I am a decoupage junkie (I totally get it from my Mom, and anyone that knows her knows that this is truth) so the natural leap I went to was to cover it with paper.  The bin’s dimensions are pretty big for scrapbook paper, if I were to use that I would probably need to have at six standard sheets just to be sure I could cover the main body of the tin.  While looking, I noticed I had a large ‘swatch’ piece that had been cut from my kitchen wallpaper, a pattern devised of two wide rows of trompe l’oiel shelves filled with cute goodies on a grey background.  The swatch was a cut of just both of the shelves, and with some clipping I discovered that the height of the tallest decor pictured on the shelf would just cover my tin to the little ridge where the lid stops.  (My swatch piece was about the size of one sheet from those folded giftwrap packs that are made for gifting something presented in a shirt box, can you picture the ones?)  I was really surprised to figure out that it took nearly that WHOLE PIECE to cover this thing, what with piecing the design as attractively as possible.

Prepped With Paint

Prepped With Paint

I opted to not paper the lid at all, I had spent so much time getting the gunks off that I decided to bask in the glory of the smoothness.  I chose a really nice Rust-Oleum 2X Cover in a sweet pale pink shade, and gave it a couple of smooth coats.  I also painted the top rim and bottom edge of the main body of the tin, just so I didn’t need to be paranoid about how perfectly my papered covered everything.  (Plus, if you’re doing this, you don’t want to try paper above the aforementioned lid-ridge.  You want your lid to still fit on easily, right?)  I simply tipped the can over for this step so that the open rim of the can was down onto the newspaper and did the area around the top and bottom with two a nice coat of bright white Rust-Oleum 2X Cover spray paint.  I tipped it down just to ensure that  there wouldn’t be a whole lot of overspray into the inside of the tin where it would come into contact with my pet’s food.  I don’t want that.

I also decided to trim out the white scallops of the wallpapers ‘shelves’ with scissors, a task that took very little time, and I executed it while I was watching some Willy Wonka– no joke.  I kinda got wierded out (could that be a case of– the Willies?) during the scene in the candy shop where Bill sings, “The Candy Man Can”– those jars look sooo much like the ones on the shelves!  Maybe I should start calling myself the “Candyma’am,” haha.  After this task and my paint coats were dry, it was on to the papering.

So, I know that mod podge is no mystery to this world, but since I’ve told you what steps I’ve taken to this stage, I might as well keep on truckin’.  Or muckin’.  Or whatever.

For this stage of the process, I worked in large sections, working from the seam on the back of the tin, around to the other side.  I used a wide brush to smear on a thick layer of mod podge (the classic gloss variety) in about six inch swaths, from that top lip to bottom.  (Again, you want to avoid the area where you take the lid on and off, I reeeally didn’t want to do all of this work getting it cute and then inadvertently glue my lid to the can body.)

My secret to successful and smoothly decoupaged paper is a big dish of water.  (You can see it to the right in the above picture.)  I wet my paper before I apply it to my gluey surface.  Wallpaper is really, really thick.  A lot thicker than scrapbook paper or giftwrap or a lot of the other options out there, so I soaked it for a LOT longer than I usually soak my papers, but it is an important step.  (Don’t soak tissue, however, it will fall apart.)  The main reason you do this has to do with smoothness.  Paper fibers expand when they become wet, and if you simply apply a layer of mod podge and then slap your paper on, you’ll get bubbles every time, because the paper begins to absorb the moisture in the glue, but it does so unevenly, creating bulges and pockets were some areas became wetter than others.  If you dip your paper in a tray of water first, however, it all takes on the moisture in the same way, and this intentional waterlogging allows you to smooth your decoupage more easily and use less mod podge in the process.

So anyway, work in strips: painting on podge while soaking and watching your paper; delicately sticking down your moist paper; decoupaging on top with more podge; all while smoothing outward to the edge of the paper any bubbles and excess glue/water with your brush.  When you position your damp paper, you want to try and as closely as possible place it where it goes, so you are keeping the moving and lifting of that paper to a minimum.  Once it seems to have fully dried, consider adding another layer of podge if your first coat seems spotty.  (Mine was fine.)

Put Me On A Pedestal.

Put Me On A Pedestal.

To dress it up, keep the paint in slightly better condition, *and* help the kiddo feed the animals a little more easily, I added a sweet pink “glass” (plastic) knob to the top.  I purchased the faux crystal knob at Micheal’s on clearance for suuuper cheap.  Fifty cents!  Not bad!   The screw that came with it was slightly longer than I needed it to be, as they had anticipated going through the thickness of a drawer or cabinet, and the lid of the tin is much thinner than this, of course.  Once I had marked and drilled my hole for my knob, I simply took the lid, knob, and existing screw to my local Ace hardware and asked for help.  Totally that easy. (I don’t know if it is just the one here in Bearden, or if every Ace everywhere is so helpful, but dang, they have NEVER let me down on friendliness and customer service.) They sold me a small pack of screws for something like two bucks (which I will save for when I do the second pet food/ popcorn tin), as well as some appropriate metal washers as well as a pack of rubbery ones.  My thought on this was that the washer needed to be there to increase the surface area of the lid that was being tugged on for the repeated opening of the thang, and the rubber one was just to seal up any gaps in that hole I drilled, in order to keep the food fresher longer.  Assembly was easy-peasy once I had the right parts.

Cupcakes for Pupcakes

Cupcakes for Pupcakes

A few more tips for if you attempt this project– if this is your first decoupage project and you are worried about the trickyeness of paper, use fabric instead.  It’s MUCH more forgiving, allowing you to lift it over and over and smooth endlessly.  Visually you’ll get the same beautiful result!  With paper and fabric it’s important that you plot out and trim the material to be as finished as possible from the get go, it is so much easier to do it on this end that to try and trim your beautiful paper or fabric after stuff has been glued.  BUT, if you do end up having some that needs to be trimmed away, wait until it’s 100% dry, and then do it with a sharp blade.  It’ll be 100% easier and won’t piss you off needlessly.  Glue-soaked media + attempted trimming= the crappiest cuts in the universe, it’s embarrassing how many times I have had to learn this.  So just wait.

I am sorry for the self-horn-honking, but this is officially the CUTEST pet food container I have ever seen!  And to think how easily it came together….  I can’t wait to see how well it works with the pet food piled in it, and if we can keep the stuff from getting stale.  Although– how will I know, really?  It’s not like Rosie can tell me what she thinks about it….  I’ll have to see if she’s even more disinterested than *usual* in her dry kibble.  This is going to look so sweet sitting on my white ceramic tile floor, and it just fits perfectly under the kitty shelf!  I’m already thinking about how I can do the second one to coordinate without making it the same– don’t want to confuse the 7 year-old that dispenses the foodstuffs with too-matchy buckets!  What do you think?  Does your pet food situation need an overhaul?  Or have you come up with a different (and better) solution I may need when this one sucks?  Talk to me!


 


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