Flea Market Inspiration + Elbow Grease

I was recently reminded of a flea market find I mentioned back in February. It was a cool old cast iron feeder that had seen better days, but I thought would be perfect for my Mom if spiffed up a bit. Here’s a refresher of what it looked like:

Pretty neat and vintage, but in need of help.

At the time, I hoped the weather would be good enough to do some outdoor derusting and painting so it would be ready by Mother’s Day.

Well, the weather this spring stunk for that kind of work – cold and damp, damp, damp. But there were enough breaks in the weather to get it going. Starting with a wire brush (and yes, even a putty knife for some crusty bits) to get rid of excess rust, I followed up with this lovely black rust converter spray that stops the rusting process and primes the surface for paint.

After using various tools to derust the bird feeder, it received several coats of rust stopper

After using various tools to derust the bird feeder, it received several coats of rust converter.

It’s not much fun to get off your fingers, and the can could use a kinder spray nozzle that didn’t make my finger feel like it was going to have a permanent indentation – but it did provide a nice base on which to paint.


Man, those paint can nozzles can hurt!

At first, I considered a bright yellow because it’s not the same old, same old – and it’s one of my Mom’s favorite colors. But she’s also pretty traditional, so I went with white. I also considered trying to paint the bird, but I know I’m not that good of an artist – especially when the bird is tucked away like it is here. So, it’s just white. So much for creativity.

And it was done in time for Mother’s Day. I wrapped a ribbon around it and carried it into her home that Sunday – she genuinely seemed surprised that it was for her. And she genuinely seemed to like it, though it can be hard to tell for sure – she may have been nice to save my feelings (although Mom has become much more blunt than she used to be).

Voila! Finished bird feeder.

Voila! Finished bird feeder.

This went so smoothly that soon after, I tackled a cute little wrought iron wheelbarrow planter. And that one’s for me (and for a later post)!


• Flea Market Inspiration

Sometimes I get too many projects going at a time. My newest project I blame completely on Flea Market Gardens magazine.

The 2013 edition came out recently and, while hanging out with some friends a couple weeks ago at the book store, we perused the fun and funky projects throughout the magazine’s pages. So the next day, I decided to check out a large local flea market to find some garden inspiration.

I wove through several of the long, endless aisles. And then there it was, amidst a booth running amock with garden-bound items including a lovely wrought-iron arbor, about a half dozen chipped and rusting (known as “vintage” in the world of flea markets) hanging wire baskets, and more. It was an old – excuse me, vintage – cast iron bird feeder:

Feeder & planter

The metal planter beside it was found in the same booth. It looked like it would go nicely with the bird feeder if painted the same color, but the feeder was definitely what caught my eye. Though I kept looking for something that could be used to make a more unique garden creation, the feeder turned out to be the main prize for the day.

Admittedly, I bought it to clean it up, paint it, and find a place for it in my own yard. But as I unloaded it from the car, I realized that this was something my Mom might really like.

And the timing for new outdoor décor couldn’t be better. A couple months ago, Mom moved to a ground-level senior apartment. Luckily, they allow residents to create small flowerbeds or veggie patches around their apartments. Mom’s is currently pretty bare, and she has suggested that helping create some pretty outdoor areas would be a great Mother’s Day gift

But would she like a rusty old feeder?

Sneaky girl that I am, I left it and the planter on the front porch so Mom would see it when she visited on Sunday. “Did you see my flea market finds?” I asked her innocently. Sure enough, she did love the bird feeder (not sure the she had much to say about the planter). I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised – Mom loves all things bird. She loves to feed wild birds and see what kind she can get to come to her yard. She likes ornaments, pictures, and other ornamentation with birds. You can bet the Christmas cards she sends will have a cardinal or chickadee on it somewhere. She even has a clock that chimes each hour with a different birdcall. Annoying thing.

Definitely "birdy"

Definitely “birdy”

Though not putting the feeder in my own yard makes me a little wistful, I feel that I was supposed to find the feeder in order to pass it on to a person who would enjoy it more. Sometimes things are put in our hands for safekeeping until we realize who it is truly meant for.

Now I just need to wait for the weather to cooperate for some outdoor rust removal and painting. I’ll post a pic to share how the cleanup goes.

So what’s the favorite thing you’ve done to surprise a loved one?