Upscale Your Dollar Store Finds

If you’re like me, the clearance aisle and the dollar aisle at any department or craft store is like being let loose in a candy store. I always manage to find something that takes my fancy and that I believe I can “do something with.” It’s typically a piece that I describe as having “good bones” – meaning it is smartly designed, robust, and useful but typically in need of a special “something extra.”

This frame is just that. It is a well-made plastic frame that takes three 2″x2″ photos. It stands up well and it has a certain charm – but that soccer ball at one end just didn’t do it for me. I don’t have kids who play soccer and I’m not a soccer player anymore – though I did play in school – so this frame needed a touch of magic to make it mine.

The photos are easy – whenever I do a photo project I always end up with lots more photos printed than I will actually use so I keep a stash of photos in my craft cabinet. These small images of my cat Molly are leftovers from recent projects so I chose three that would look good together – they have similar color schemes and they are varied in zoom – I find a mix of close-ups and longer shots usually works well in multi-photo frames like this.

Next up was some text to break up the very black area of the frame. I didn’t know if rub-ons would work on plastic but there are lots of things I don’t know will work until I try them. Turns out that rub-ons work really well!

Finally it was time to deal with the soccer ball – I wanted something big enough to cover it and to make the frame work- the answer was a huge fabric flower. I pulled it apart to remove the bit that pokes through all the pieces which is used to connect it to the flower stalk. I did this because I needed a relatively flat back to glue to the frame. Of course as soon as you pull a fabric flower apart like this, it is now in lots of pieces! I used Fabri-Tac  glue to glue the flower back together. Fabri-Tac is thick and grabs fast so it is ideal for gluing flowers.

Once the glue was set, I used E6000 to glue the plastic back on the flower to the frame – although Fabri-Tac would have done just as well.

So, an inexpensive frame now has place of pride in my home and I have a couple more of these frames ready for re-purposing when I’m in need of a fast, unique gift.

So now, what have you found recently that was inexpensive but had “good bones?” What did you do to make it your own?

  by Helen Bradley (

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