Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Operation Shoeshine: my first DIY project

Bonjour, mes amies. Thanks so much for your warm responses to my last post. I had a break from the thankyou note writing today - it was too hard to concentrate with certain pixies' exploits going on around me! Here's the promised post about the birthday present I gave my lovely sister the other day. 
Here it is, all wrapped up in its fluttery glory
It's my first ever DIY reno - something I never would have dreamed about, let alone done, before I started blogging. However, the fabulous handiwork of my sweet friend Melissa and her constant encouragement to 'give it a go' myself, gave me the courage to spruce up this old girl. I bought her at an auction house for a very reasonable price. It reminded me of our Dad and how as children we were always encouraged to polish our shoes, both the front and the back. No half-measures allowed. I thought it might make my sister smile.
Hmm, not much to look at, is it? Worn, unloved, stained and rough to the touch - it needed some TLC.

After a good working over with sandpaper, I varnished it with a dark stain. Hmm, looking better already, don't you think?
Then I whipped out the pretty little French stencil number set Melissa had encouraged me to buy from here (do treat yourself - you won't regret it!) and set to with a gold gel pen to mark my sister's house number. That wasn't really the right tool as it didn't like the grooves of the wood.

A quick trip into town later and I had the answer - an Artline 990XF gold pen with a soft, thick 1.2 mm nib. And that, lovely Planetarians, did the business beautifully. Voila!
And see that little groove there? Well, open it up and what do we have inside?
Some vintage brushes to shine your shoes! There's plenty of room to store all your polishes and creams, too.

And then, my friends, comes my demonstration of how you use this fancy little box - I present my booted foot as Exhibit A!
Nifty, don't you think? Here is is from another angle, as I'm sitting down, ready to start a-polishing.
And the verdict? Well, the birthday girl seemed suitably impressed which pleased me no end. Now I just have to set to on its ugly duckling sister I also bought - bring on the DIY work on Planet Baby ☺. 

Tell me, have any of you ever used such a thing? I have only ever seen them in the QVB and The Strand Arcade in Sydney where gentlemen polish your shoes for a fee while you wait. I wonder if these little beauties were commonplace in the 1930s and 1940s in Australia? Let me know if you have any snippets to add!


  1. Dear Jane

    What an amazing make over and such a unique gift. There is no bound in what you could do.


  2. What a gorgeous gift Jane! I can imagine how much it was loved by your sister andso thoughtful that you took the time to restore it and personalise it for her x

  3. It looks beautiful stained with the painted numbers Jane. What a lovely gift to give and so loving restored. My father had something similar but much newer, I had completely forgotten about it till you reminded me. xo


    Can you hear me squealing with delight and smiling from here!!??

    Told you it was in there my dear friend!!

    You are the creative little soul you always wanted to just hadn't opened that door in your head yet!
    Now you have- there will be no stopping you!

    Love the shape, love the numbers- love that you sanded it perfectly....

    Cannot wait to see what you have up your creative sleeve next!

    Sooo proud of you- and doesn't feel good- up-cycling, being reminded of your dad, your childhood & making something for someone with love...

    you did REAL good....

    Melissa xx

  5. Hi Jane

    This is my first time visiting, I came via 'Maxabella Loves'. What a beautiful and very personal gift you bought/made for your sister. It'a an amazing gift you've given.
    Whilst here I took time to read other posts and was so delighted to find your 'blogging tips'. I've been blogging for a while now, but only started taking it seriously about a year ago. I'd love more tips on how to get 'traffic' and make it maybe more interesting for people visiting. All advice will be gratefully received.

    Sheila x

    Ps ~ I've now got a fancy new signature, thanks!

  6. That is an absolutely fabulous gift - in every way. I'm sure it will be treasured.
    You are one super special sister!

  7. Wow, what a lucky sister! You did such a great job. I might need to keep a look out for one of those for down here. My shoes certainly need it. Fabulous work :)

  8. That is sensational! My Granny had one - it was at the back door (she was married in 1932) and by my time it was all dusty and muddy - it also had a mud scraper thingo on it.

  9. Absolute PERFECTION, Jane!!! Your sister would have been absolutely over the moon! Not only because of the fabulous way it looks, but also with the lovely reminder of times spent with your beloved Dad as special! What an amazing first DIY... you are a pro and I can't wait to see what comes next!!! ~ xx

  10. What a great personalised present - and your DIY work looks superb (not to mention the wrapping paper!). Good work Jane

  11. You did am amazing job Jane , I think my Nana had one similar ( her hubby did ...he had lived in same house in Rozelle for 80 yrs ). I am inspired to do some polishing up of anything now.

  12. Just gorgeous Jane.
    I've been having trouble commenting as per Blogger's usual temperamental nature, but want you to know your posts regarding your father have been so beautiful. I do hope you're coping, along with all your family, particularly your mum. Take care.

  13. Beautiful work Jane and such a thoughtful gift. I actually have one! Everyone comments on it. I bought it in Tasmania many years ago and it has had many uses over the years - little stool beside the lounge for my coffee, hiding spot for kids toys. But now it sits at the front door and holds all the kids socks!!

    Mine is a little different, more like a box/stool with a half lid like this one but in beautiful condition

    Keep on going with your lovely projects.

    Mel xx

  14. What a lovely present for your sister.

    I saw similar shoe shine boxes (or whatever you call them) in Turkey but not in here in France coming to think of it.

    Do post about the swan transformation of its ugly duckling sister.

  15. What a sensational transformation looks fantastic :)
    I have only ever seen them in the movies.


  16. What a beautiful and unique gift! I'm sure your sister will treasure it. I have a couple of old wooden pieces of furniture - worn down but really good structure - that I picked up on the side of a street in NY and dragged over to Tokyo. I have yet to fix them up but this is inspiring me. They would look great with a good sand down and varnish.

    Oh, and shoe shiners are all over the place in New York. I never remember seeing them in Australia (I must have missed them in the QVB!) but in NY they are everywhere. All the businessmen stop on their way to work, having their shoes shined while reading their papers.

  17. Oh i love it!! Nice work & happy shoe shining. I married a soldier so he takes care of our shoes, every end-of-Winter he does my boots to keep them perfect for the next season. Love Posie

  18. What an original gift and even better that you had a hand in bringing it back o life.
    I remember holidays in Spain as a child and seeing old men on street corners with these kind of boxes,. They were very popular and probably a good way for the locals to make some money from the tourists.

  19. What an awesome makeover! It makes the perfect gift! It will become a family treasure! X

  20. This is amazing Jane, your sister will love it you have transformed it not only to preserve it for the next 50 years but with love, just beautiful. Thank you so much for your lovely email it was really wonderful to hear from you. Sending you happy thoughts every day.

    Always Wendy

  21. Oh Jane, this is ab fab! I love it! The idea, the DIY work, the craftsmanship of the gold lettering. All put together so perfectly. No wonder your sister was suitably impressed, so much effort and love, in the one practical, functional gift. Wonderful!
    I have seen the men polishing shoes in the QVB using one of those. Such a tribute to yesteryear, clean shoes were all about pride in appearance and that my friend, is truly timeless. Well done clever crafter :o) xo

  22. Gorgeous gift Jane! I can imagine how much it was loved by your sister andso thoughtful that you took the time to restore it and personalise it for her.

  23. Oh what a cool present, love it! Hugs Tesca

  24. Oh my stars! I am so moved by your enthusiasm about my little start at DIY. Thankyou.

    I'm so thrilled you approve of my effort, Miss Melissa ☺. Without you and people like Tina, I would never have thought to do this. I owe you two so much for inspiring me.

    And I loved reading all your little snippets about where you've seen them and who owns one. Fascinating!

    I promise I'll post about how her ugly duckling sister turns out. J x

  25. You clever, clever girl! A-M xx

  26. Hi Jane,

    What a clever sox you are! It looks great and makes a brilliant present! I've been meaning to contact you for the past week to thank you for the gorgeous card you sent. It is sitting on my desk as a beautiful reminder of my friend down in Tassie. You are a kindred spirit and an inspiration. Life here has been rather crazy with both Andre and I working full time from home and looking after Leo as well. Not much time left for writing and reading blogs these days... wish I could somehow manufacture another whole day in the week!

    Big hugs and kisses

    Ang x

  27. That is an awesome refurb! I'm going to on the look out for one now. CrashHubby keeps his shoeshinig stuff in a plastic bag. Clearly that will not do!

  28. I cannot even begin to describe how fantastic that I think this is! I absolutely love it! What a brilliant job you have done Jane! Such a great present and I'm sure you're sister loved it - not only because you did it, but because it is so so cool!

  29. gorgeous work!!! what a special gift you have one very lucky sister xox

  30. Thanks, ladies. I'm so touched by your enthusiasm. I can't wait to get to work on ours! And so fabulous to hear from Ang, you sweetheart. J x

  31. Hi Jane so sorry I haven't stopped by for ages been off line as the in-laws came to stay for 5 weeks so had a break I love your DIY its so fab & I love it!! :))


Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, you gorgeous soul. You've just made my day! J x

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