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Hi there, and welcome to the fall edition of the Pinterest Challenge & link party!

DIY wooden ampersand sculpture - The Ugly Duckling House

I am thrilled to be hosting this party with some of my favorite DIY divas:  Katie from Bower Power, Sherry from Young House Love, & Carmel from Our Fifth House. The idea is fairly simple:  to stop pinning those lovely “someday” projects you’re keeping tucked away on one of your Pinterest boards, & go ahead & complete it! I am really excited to see what you’ve all been up to (and maybe get a few new projects to pin in this vicious cycle). You ready?

Of course, as a host, I couldn’t go without picking a project for myself. Last week when we announced the challenge, I mentioned that I wanted to use a few ideas I’d been pinning and create an outdoor storage bench for my newly repainted front porch makeover. I was so excited to get back into my garage and start woodworking again (I’d been on a little hiatus since building my craft desk thanks to working on my guest bath renovation). I went to the store, bought the wood, started cutting pieces…

… and then my drill’s battery crapped out on me. As in, the battery wouldn’t charge – or so I think. The gears were outta juice and there was no way to power it back up. Frick.

And I realized that because my drill was a cheap-o non-name brand, I’d have a tough time finding the proper replacements at the local hardware store (& thank you, by the way, for all of your comments on Facebook about which brand I should choose for a new drill). But this unexpected expense was not quite in the cards & my budget wasn’t ready for the drill o’ my dreams. Double frick. Or as Sherry & John would say:  wop, wop.

I was super bummed. I had all of my pieces cut & ready to screw together. What was I going to show for my projects? I was going to be a terrible Pinterest Challenge co-host. Nothing to show for myself but a pile of scrap wood.

But when the going get’s tough, tough girls get creative. And I had a thought about my Build/Make board. I was constantly pinning things that I could do with scrap wood; why not take a second glance & see if I could create a scrap wood project (which usually involves nails or wood glue rather than power tools). It would certainly put the challenge in Pinterest Challenge – even if the project itself has to wait on a new drill!

Find these projects here

UPDATE: I later did the couch arm rest sleeve. See here for the full photos.

The original ampersand sculpture I pinned (first spotted on Design*Sponge earlier this month) was made with 2x4s, but since I had a bunch of 1×3 scraps from cutting the pieces for my storage bench, I thought a slim version might look nice in my newly reno’d bath (more on that coming later this week too). I didn’t take many measurements & just began eyeballing the size of each piece. It took more than a few cuts to get it to all fit together, but since I was using only 45- and 90-degree angles, I knew the geek in me would eventually succeed. I would make a cut here, try it out, & cut again if it was too long (of course, it’s always best to err on the long side!). Eventually, I had what looked like an ampersand on the sawdusty floor of the garage:

Using a little wood glue, stain (Rustoleum: American Walnut) & poly, I assembled everything upstairs. And yes – that’s a sock I used to rub off the stain application. Old socks (especially those belonging to ex-boyfriends, husbands, and children) are great for applying stain; they have been through the wash so many times, they are virtually lint-free.

I also had my helper monitoring my progress along the way.

Best of all, I got a chance to try out a few firsts with this project:  I’d never cut 45-degree angles on a compound miter saw before; I’d also never done a project where precision wasn’t top priority (by the way, have you noticed by now the ridiculous overuse of ampersands in this post? hehe). After a little dry time, my ampersand sculpture found its way into the guest bath as the first official piece of art in the room:

Yep – my new bathroom renovation now includes toilet art. Just how I roll.

DIY wooden ampersand sculpture - The Ugly Duckling House

DIY wooden ampersand sculpture - The Ugly Duckling House

DIY wooden ampersand sculpture - The Ugly Duckling House

Cute, right? I love it. I also realized during the making of both projects (well, the cutting of one project and the finishing of the ampersand sculpture) that there is one very important piece of furniture missing in the house:  a sturdy work bench (or two). I have been using plastic folding tables to work on since first moving into the house, & after several attempts now to make do, there is simply no substitute for a table that a) has storage, b) has a flat top that works well with clamps (a plastic top that bows if your clamp is too tight? not so much) & c) can support the weight of a circular saw & a girl with an affinity for hitting things with a hammer. Guess that’s a new challenge for a different date, since I’ve already pinned these plans to make two of them myself.

And now, it’s time for you to share your own lovely projects. Did you answer the challenge? Were you successful? It’s okay if things didn’t work out as you planned. I would still love to see what you tried (since the whole point of the challenge is to make your pins a reality, even if you were met with a few obstacles). And even if you don’t have a blog, you can still share by uploading your picture to an online album & sharing the link. If you share in the link party below, please do me a favor & include a mention of the challenge (with a link) in your post. And be sure to stop by Bower Power, Young House Love, & Our Fifth House to share on their link parties & check out their challenge projects, too!

(Oh, & just a quick reminder:  Pinterest is not sponsoring this. Katie & Sherry just thought it would be a fun way to get our butts off the blog & share what inspires us to get ‘er done.)

Ready? Set? Link! I can’t wait to see what you’ve been working on! (If you have this in a reader, you will likely need to click over to the blog to share your project.)


Some of you have asked for an idea of how I cut the pieces and what sizes each piece is. Hopefully this little color-coded graphic will help:

Also, several of you suggested that I use it for extra toilet paper rolls (since this is a guest bathroom and I want my guests to find the toilet paper, after all). So here you go, folks. The money shot:

(Also sharing this with One Project Closerr)

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  1. Thanks for hosting the Pinterest Challenge. I love your ampersand…it is so sculptural. I have to pin this!

  2. Oh I just LOVE this. I need to get more creative with wood scrap myself-thanks for the inspiration! Thanks for hosting, just linked up! xo

  3. Wow!!! This is totally gorgeous. I have so much scrap wood from recent projects that would be perfect for this. So inspired right now.

  4. Turned out great! I actually repinned this from you a few days ago and I've been giving it the side eye ever since. Except I'm not allowed to start any new projects until I finish the 8,235 current projects around the house.

    Or, barring that, at least not until I have power again.

  5. Love your recovery from drill failure. My first project was an epic fail, and the second project tried to kill me. The important thing, though, is that it looks awesome on the wall! …Right?

    The ampersand looks great. I'm in awe of your skills.

  6. Way to go girl teaming up with this fabulous group :o) I'm always so inspired by all of these pinspired creations. Oh and 3,000,000 Pinterest followers…WOW!

  7. This is super cute. I think it would look great on the wall with washcloths rolled up in the big part. But maybe it isn't deep enough. I wish I could have participated this time but I just didn't seem to have time and then we lost power yesterday due to Hurricane Sandy.

  8. Oh I dig that! Not sure I'd be able to do it though–me and woodworking of any kind don't really mix. Love it though!!!

  9. Love it, Pinning it, doing it. What a great idea! (Oh, and “that's how I roll” made me chortle. Bathroom/toilet humor?0

  10. I hate when you get super pumped for a project and then it all goes downhill. The ampersand is super cute though! Glad to see that I'm not the only one with a super helpful DIY assistant!

  11. Loved this project and the fact that you got creative when the goings got tough! So glad to have found your blog and looking forward to following along!

    Tim & Mary

  12. i love it!

    Could you post the dimensions of your cuts and it's overall size?

    If it was big enough, it would be cool if the toliet paper fit inside

    1. LOL, I think I might try the toilet paper idea when I get home. As for the dimensions, that's a great suggestion – I'll try to come up with a quick image tonight and re-post with an update.

  13. Thanks for hosting this- it's so much fun to participate in!! I love your scrap wood creation- awesome!! And kudos for getting creative when things didn't quite go your way :)

  14. Toilet art. How you roll. I see what you did there. ;) Cute scrappy wood project, even if it was Plan B!

  15. Love how this turned out! What a cool new piece of art. You could actually totally use it to hold toilet paper too – but then you might not see the cool ampersand as easily :). Awesome project.

  16. such a fantastic end result considering it was only a backup plan. and that bookcase of punctuation is amaze balls! off to see who I know that can make it for me :)

  17. Thanks so much for hosting this linkup! I'm really excited about all the projects. And your bathroom looks fantastic!! :-)

  18. Very cute.

    Could you possibly provide a link to your pin/source of that parentheses bookshelf? Very much want to find/repin it.

  19. I LOVE it so so much. It's definitely on my “to do” list now. I pinned it :)

    Haven't seen your blog before but found it through Pinterest Challenge! Love it!

  20. I love it…looks amazing in the bathroom and love that you turned it into fabulous toilet paper storage. Super cute.

  21. Yay for a Pinterest Challenge!!!

    This is adorable! I don't think I'm clever enough to make all those cuts correctly…great job :)

  22. There were a lot of great projects in this round.

    A side note: I wish everyone had the Name/URL option in their comments. Several places did not, so I did not leave a comment…

  23. So cute, Sarah! And congrats on the link party and your company! Wish I had made it here sooner to link up. So sorry.

    Thanks so much for linking up and linking back last week at the Humble Brag! Hope to see you back tomorrow to link up more great projects and see if you were featured. Don't forget, we will be giving away more free ad space! :)