Monday, November 10, 2014

Repurposed Leather Belt Floors

At the beginning of my college career, I attended several different junior colleges. I call it my Junior Colleges of Texas tour. Don't judge, I was considering my options...

During this "college tour" I was considering all my options with my incredible 1.7 GPA. I know, doors just FLING themselves open when you are a brainiac. But as I struggled my parents sat back and watched and thought, "This girl is smart. Why is she struggling so much?" Had they seen my weekend activities, they probably wouldn't have questioned so much.

 I was a pre-med major, (WHAT??!) and I was failing miserably so my parents found out there was a testing facility in Dallas that tested people extensively to determine academic skills, natural abilities, cognitive abilities, etc, etc, etc...

They paid the massive fee, loading my belligerent college rear-end into the car and marched me into the building where I would spend 3 days being tortured. Just kidding, kind of. They tested me in every. single. possible, remote way imaginable. They tested me in math, science, reading, music, logic, physical abilities, and more.

Can I just tell you, I did not excel in music memory or spacial reasoning. Music memory has improved vastly since I married a musician (hello, irony) and spacial reasoning is just laughable.

I cannot do measuring. Can. Not. I cannot figure out how to rotate objects in my mind. Nope. This is something God must've thought I can just do without. Don't laugh when you see me put a map on the ground and step onto it to locate myself. All I can say is UGH.

When the testing facility discovered I was Pre-Med, the gentleman testing me asked with a smile, "How's that going??"

I said, "I'm rocking it. With a 1.7, like a boss."

They said, "You are NOT science brained. You should switch to a liberal arts program. You are very artistic."

Then I laughed. Or more accurately, choke nose-vomited my coke out. They said, "Seriously, you are a mixed bag. You are without a doubt, the MOST ambidextrous person we've ever tested. BY FAR." So, you are using both the left and right side of your brain pretty equally but that's challenging. You are artistic and logical and together, that can be hard."

Let me say this. IT IS.

I am a very logical, organized, punctual, factual, controlling, even keeled, steady-Eddie.

And I am a very emotional, random, artistic, creative, spontaneous ideaphoric.

So THAT is how things like my latest project happen. I need practical and useful in my life. Budgeted and resourceful. I LOVE this planet Earth and am all in for re purpose, re-use, recycle.

So when I was in a funk and decided to re-do the Studio apartment that Tim and I have on our property, I didn't think twice about pulling it all apart and starting over and then I panicked about the money we'd have to have to completely redecorate it. (right brain, meet left brain).

I knew the foyer to the Studio needed to be floored and I wanted earthy, natural, re purposed floors. I did some thinking and rummaging and scavenging. The studio is being done with earthy textures, natural wood tones, leathers, hides, antlers, nature colors. So when I stared at the foyer floor for a very. very. long time I decided leather would be gorgeous.

Then I thought, "LEATHER??! Are you an idiot??" I may or may not have answered my conflicted self.

In order to fulfill the re-use part I decided leather belts were like hardwood planks and I could make it work.

I begged, borrowed (yeah, those are not coming back y'all...sorry) and stole belts from friends, family and neighbors.

And remember the spacially challenged part? Well, I put butcher paper down on the floor I wanted to cover and traced it out. Measuring tapes are for lightweights professionals. I took the paper template, put it on a piece of plywood and traced it. Then I begged my husband to use a saw I would cut my arms off using, and he cut out the template for me.

I took my plywood, painted it brown in case any showed through and to seal the wood, and over the next few days, sat in my office, sun room and yard occasionally and covered it with belts.

I used a flooring rubber cement and brushed it on the back of the belts, placed the belt on the plywood and cut the belt to fit with tin snips. I clamped it in place with clamps and barbie purses.You KNOW.... THESE: (put the silver parts together and turn upside down.... barbie purse)

I glued belts over, and over, and over until my plywood was covered. I then dropped the plywood into place in the foyer and it fit (thank you Tim). I used Nikwax to cover and seal the leather belts and it's waterproof.

I gotta say, I love the floors. They look incredible, they were budget friendly, earth friendly and in the words of my precious friend Don, "They make my heart sing".

Right brain happy. Left brain happy. WHEW.

A couple tips:
-look at good will or thrift shops for belts.
-if doing a larger floor, consider cutting 12x12 inch plywood tiles and then laying them into place alternating direction of belts
-seal the plywood before laying belts on it
-seal with Nikwax after belts are in place
-take your time!
-Clamp belts on the ends to hold in place.
-if a belt shows where its been cut, burn the edge with a lighter.