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{DIY} Vinegar + Steel Wool Stained Crate

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset I have always had an affinity for old things. I'm terribly at yoga-style meditation, but find a sort of silence, calm and peace from perusing the aisles of antique and thrift stores in search of secondhand stories. Several years ago, I bought an antique crate from the 1800s. My Dad helped me frame it up and turn it into the most amazing piece of furniture I own.

Alas, with the rise of Pinterest, vintage crates are in high demand these days. (And I can't quite bring myself to budget hundreds of dollars for wooden boxes.) Thankfully, I recently discovered a solution. (Quite literally -- a solution.)

The recipe is simple and uses two items you probably have in your home right now: white vinegar and steel wool. (You can also go further down the exploratory rabbit hole by adding tea bags to the mix.) There are hundreds of posts that share the how/what in great detail (here's a great one), so I'm going to provide the readers digest version.

1. Get something made of wood. In my case, a $10 pine crate from Michael's. You may want to lightly sand to get rid of any sticker goo or waxy coating. 2. Add white vinegar to a sealable jar. 3. Add a puff of steel wool to the vinegar in the jar. 4. Wait 48+ hours. (Longer seems to be better. I forgot about mine, went on vacation and came back two weeks later. Results will vary based on time of "soaking" and type of wood. The photos you're seeing in this post are the product of NO tea and two-week-old stain.) 5. (Optional) Steep some black tea and apply to wood item. The tannins the tea adds to the wood will supposedly alter the color, resulting in a "blacker" look. 6. Tarp off your area. (This stain will stain anything it touches, including concrete!) Apply your stain using a sponge brush.* 7. Marvel at how virgin wood is instantly transformed and takes on the appearance of some marvelous relic that has been hanging out in a barn for the last 80 years.

*I found I achieved the best results when swabbing on semi-haphazardly. You don't want this to look like a perfect paint job. You want it to take on the look of some history. I did a rough swab job, allowed drips to remain, applied additional layers, etc. This is one of those projects that seems to suggest the less strategy, the better the outcome.

Here's where I started... Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 4.19.36 PM

Here's where I ended up... Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

Growing Pains (and Pins): Should Brands Be On Pinterest?

“Pinterest really seems like the next big thing.”“I’m not sure how we can use [Pinterest], but I’m on it because it seems like we should be.” “I don’t know how it will add value to our marketing, but we’re getting on Pinterest because everyone else is.”

The above are REAL statements I have come across online or have heard in conversation relating to brands on Pinterest.

Let me be the first to say: Ick. Ick. And ick.

We’ve recently had a bit of casual BOF banter about whether Pinterest is a good forum for brand participation. The reviews have been mixed to say the least. Upon floating the question to the Twittersphere, feedback (mostly from kindred spirits in the marketing world) has been surprisingly split. Some feel it’s a great space for self-promotion, while others expressed that they feel it is a sacred space and marketers shouldn’t muddy the water.

As an early adopter of Pinterest, I appreciated that, until recently, it was a relatively marketing-free space. It felt pure and untainted. For me there was a rare sense of communal credibility in knowing the things people pinned were shared because they truly enjoyed and believed in them. NOT because they were trying to convince me to buy a $500 pair of leggings or a $70,000 car.

With the influx of brands racing to get on board now that Pinterest has gone mainstream, it has changed the Pinterest game a bit. I have seen fashion brands regurgitate and pin images from every page of their catalogs. I have seen advertisements pinned as though Pinterest is nothing more than a free marketing forum. And as a result, I have started to see the spirit of Pinterest shift from “Look at how great THIS is” to “Look at how great WE are.“

While I recognize it is within a brand’s right to play in the space, it leaves me with the same “ugh” feeling I experienced the first time I came across a T.G.I. Fridays in Europe. Sure, you can be there, but should you be?

THE GOOD It’s not all doom and gloom for brands on Pinterest. I recently spoke with our friend Ryan Morgan, Director of Marketing at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, and he redeemed my faith in brands on Pinterest a bit. Jeni’s is using Pinterest to give their fans and advocates VIP access to the brand.. Pinterest feels like a natural space for Jeni’s in my opinion. They’re not forcing their way into their fans’ lives, they’re inviting them behind the scenes and into their test kitchen. And that, if you’ll pardon the pun, is pretty cool.

So. What say you? Do brands belong on Pinterest? Is it an appropriate space to self-promote or should brands trust their fans to advocate for them in an organic, authentic way? Does it bother you to see brands working their way onto the pinboards you follow? And do you know of any brands that are doing Pinterest really well? Or no so well?

Step up and share your thoughts. We’ll be on pins and needles waiting to hear your thoughts…