Friday, January 27, 2012

Adventures in Thrifting and Knockoffs

It all started when I discovered this tiered stand from Pottery Barn and couldn't quit thinking about it.  I thought it would be perfect for birthday parties, especially with all my boys because of its rustic qualities.  Unfortunately I just couldn't justify the hefty price tag.  So.  It became a mission...nay an obsession.  Ask my sister.  Ask my husband.  Ask my friend.  Ask my kids.  I searched the web diligently looking for cheaper knockoffs...without success.  Supposedly HomeGoods carried a similar version, but they were sold out. 

So then I started wondering if I could make it myself.  And I thought of cake pans.  And I found a few DIY knockoffs online but none I liked 100%.  Some used vintage cake pans and candlestick holders, which were cute, but not rustic and utilitarian like I wanted.  Finally after combing, scouring and searching the internet, I found the knockoff I was looking for.  However, they used new pans and I wanted mine galvanized-looking or at least vintage and worn. So.  I set out on a hunt.  Q and I went to eight thrift stores in one day.  Luckily they're all fairly close to each other.  I found a few different pans but not a large one for the bottom base.  I finally decided to buy a 12-inch pan from Michaels with my 40% off coupon and age it somehow.  

Then I followed the instructions on how to assemble the masterpiece.  I bought metal conduit, and cut it (clamped to my kitchen counter) with a hack saw.  You have to cut the conduit extremely, extremely straight or the pans won't lay flat (trust me...I cut a lot of conduit).  Next I bought all thread (threaded pipe that holds the whole thing together and attaches to the knob on the top) and threaded it through each conduit piece, washer, pan (with a nail-hole punched through), more pipe, washer, pan, etc. and then finished it off at the bottom with a large washer and wing nut (to hold it very tight).  I also inverted one last pan to set the whole thing on so that the nut/washer/all thread combo wouldn't be sticking out and inhibiting my masterpiece from sitting flat.

To age my large pan, I tried a variety of methods, including baking jam in it, scouring it with fine grit sandpaper and steel wool, and finally washing it in the dishwasher on the bottom rack with harsh detergent.   Anyway, that seemed to do the trick.  It's not as shiny-with-age as the other two but it definitely looks more aged and less perfectly spotless than when I bought it.

And it all comes apart and stores in my cupboard.  Bonus.  I doubt Pottery Barn's can do that.  Plus it cost me $20...aaaaand I learned what all thread is, how to cut conduit, the benefits of wing nuts and Q and I had quite the thrift store shopping extravaganza. 

After that I had to buy pretty fruit so I had something to put in it while I waited for my next party...and then I might have got a little carried away taking pictures of the whole enchilada.  Because the fruit, the straws, the was all too much.  I couldn't handle the eye-candy. I snapped and snapped and snapped. The kids thought I was nuts. But it's much more fun to take pictures of fruit than do the dishes.

2  6-inch pieces of conduit (I think I used 3/4 inch conduit)
1  4 1/2-inch piece of conduit for the top
One length of all thread (long enough to fit the length of your stand)
4 washers 
1 wing nut
1 drawer pull (make sure you get the right size of all thread to screw into our pull)
1 hack saw
1 clamp
4 pans in different sizes (either the 4 pack from Michaels or vintage ones, etc)  


  1. Good for you. I love when we can just 'figure' something out. Priceless! Looks great. So does the fruit. :)

  2. You may use this for my party on the 27th of Feb. ;~) You are my most amazing Lou. :)

  3. It looks so summery and nice!! Seems so odd when it's 19 degrees here :O) The stand is way better than PB! And will be so useful!!

  4. You are quite the Wonder Woman, I can't wait for you to make mine, uhm I mean to make mine.

  5. Did I miss the link to the instructions for how you made the cake stands? I know you said you finally found a tutorial you liked for it?


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