by Chris Gardner from the book Make It! Secondhand Chic from Curbly.
The housewares section of secondhand shops are filled with old wooden items â€“ salad bowls, serving trays, baskets â€“ many of which have the dull wood finish of the late 70s and early 80s. Items that would match any contemporary decor in finish and texture are pretty rare. But with a few coats of bold spray paint, any structurally sound secondhand item can be both functional and beautiful.
This candle vignette uses old, non-functioning pepper grinders. They often have elegant profiles that pop when brightly colored, offering a beautiful blend of classic and contemporary. When finding pepper grinders, look for items of varying heights and profiles. Donâ€™t worry about color or wood species, or whether the grinding mechanism functions. Just avoid any major splinters or gashes. We were able to snag ours for 35 cents apiece.
Remove the tops, then carefully take out all the grinding hardware using a small screwdriver, needle-nose pliers, and other tools such as punches and wedges. A quick bang on the tabletop worked perfectly for one of ours.
Then, sand each with a fine grit sandpaper, and wipe away any dust with a damp cloth. Fill with the pennies, weights, or sinkers, to keep the candlesticks bottom heavy (which prevents knocking over the lit candles), then place a layer of hot glue on top to fill in the gaps and keep anything from rattling around.
Find a platform that can house a standard glass votive candle cup; plastic bottle caps, wooden disks from the craft store, or actual candle pedestals will all work perfectly. Ours came from a one dollar multi-tiered candelabra from the same thrift store. Use the adhesive to attach the pedestal atop each grinder.
When the glue has dried, simply give each grinder-cum-candlestick two coats of spray paint, and place the glass cups atop each one. Place a candle or tea light in each, and hit the lights!
Did you know people collect pepper mills? Danish-designed pepper mills from the mid 20th century are especially prized, and some are quite rare and valuable, occassionally going for over $700. Hoping to find one of these treasures at the secondhand shop? Look for a Peugot brand mechanism and the word â€˜Denmarkâ€™ on the base.