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How To Upcycle Vintage Copper Pots the Wrong Way

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Sometimes you are so excited to get started on a project. In your mind you have it all planned out and you imagine these perfect results. But in reality it doesn’t always work out the way you want it. Hence the title of this project. Because there is definitely a wrong way to upcycle vintage copper pots, and I am going to show you!

Beaded lantern on vintage copper pot lid

This month I was challenged by my blogger friends to come up with a project using a thrift store find. The only problem is that there are no thrift stores in my town. Nada! Zero! Nothing! So I asked the ladies if I could find something from my basement which is really the best thrift store around! But you all know that!!​ 

​At the end of this project you’ll be able to see what my friends did with their thrift store finds. So make sure you go all the way to the end and read my hard earned lessons too!

Upcycle Challenge Blog hop logo.

Off I went to the basement where I found these two vintage cooper pot bowl dishes with strange looking lids. After a bit of sleuthing I found out that they are vintage copper pots from the 1950’s and were selling for about $36 for a set of two. 

What I didn’t find out was why the lids were such a strange shape. Anyone have a clue?

Vintage copper pots.

The first step was to clean them up.  That was very easy to do. I cut a lemon in two and poured some salt onto the lemon halves. 

A lemon cut in half and a salt shaker.

Next I rubbed the salted lemon onto the bowls. As you can see below the result was instant. You can even see the lemon juice dripping and how clean the copper became. 

I was so happy and excited!  Now I would just fill them up and make a pretty vignette!

Cleaning the vintage copper pot with a lemon and salt mixture.

Here is the vintage copper pot lid all shiny. Do you know what that is used for? The million dollar question!

vintage copper pot lid.

For that perfect vignette I had in my mind that I would use some plants my husband had bought home. And then I would add some rocks and some dried flowers. And I would use a dried squash which had been painted and a milk pourer and so on.

And then I filled them up like this. 

But you know what?  I hated the vignette!

Vignette made with copper pots, rocks, plants and succulents.

I mean, what is this supposed to be anyway? A lid with rocks and a … I don’t even know what that is. I’ve had it in the house for as long as I can remember.

I had to ask the hubs, and he said that it was a piece of wood we found in the river many, many years ago, and I’d liked it so much I bought it back home with us. I guess I was hunting for junk even back then. 

Copper lid with rocks and wood stump.

Sentimentality aside, it does nothing for me.  And why am I showing it to you?  Cause it makes for a cool photo.  “wink”

​Let’s stretch the truth a bit and call it abstract art!

Overhead view of rocks and wood stump on a copper lid.

The bottom portion of the bowl was turned into a rock garden, which in my opinion is an epic fail.  I always drool over everyone else’s fairy gardens but I am so bad at these things. 

I had painted these rocks last year. You can see them on the balcony tour here

Rock garden in copper bowl.

Maybe if we look at it overhead it won’t be so bad?! Of course that defeats the purpose of upcycling the vintage copper pots. 

Overhead view of rock garden.

The big copper pot was used as a very bad planter for the tomato plants. 

Copper pot planter.

Now I have a confession to make. As you all know I am no gardener but even I can grow succulents. However this year I have been so busy fixing up the new space that I have neglected my meager succulents.  And so when I went to add some to my other lid, this was the result.  

Copper lid holding dying succulents.

It is pitiful and I am embarrassed to show it to you, but I think that we can be truthful here. After all, we are among friends.

Rock garden and dying succulents in a copper pot lid.

​I hated it so much that I just took everything out, cleaned it up and started again. 

Upcycling my Vintage Copper Pots

While I was decluttering the other day, I had found a container full of tiny beads. They belonged to my girls who liked to make bracelets and other crafts when they were younger, much younger.  But these beads had been abandoned to their useless fate.  It was a chance for me to use them so I grabbed them and tossed some watery glue on the inside of the lid and added them on top. 

Copper lid covered in beads.

Then I randomly threw some more glue onto a jar and added more beads. Once they were dry I simply placed the jar on top of the beaded lid. 

Adding a bead covered jar onto the copper pot.

I added some dried flowers in the mix and added a tea light. You can never have enough tea lights!

Adding flowers and a tea light.

I had started with a whole different vision for this vintage copper pots project, and this is what I ended up with. It’s not the greatest craft but at least it beats that pitiful excuse of a succulent garden.

Oh and in case you’re wondering the beads are holding up very well, even on a windy balcony. 

Side view of copper lid with beads.

Here they are on the balcony.  The bowl with the painted rocks and behind it the backgammon tray which was once a drawer.

Rock garden on balcony.

And on the pallet couch the other three pieces. To the left is the “Abstract Art” piece.  And to the right I have placed the lantern on top of the larger pot to give it some height.  You see my husband took back his plants and put them in real planters. 

Abstract art and beaded lantern on pallet couch.

My vision has been ruined but at least I got a few good photos out of the project.

Beaded lantern on vintage copper pot lid

What did I learn after this fiasco of a project?

To stay away from plants?

Or at least to prepare ahead of time so the succulents will be alive?

When in doubt go with blingy beads?

A pretty picture can make even the silliest stump look like art?

Or just to stay out of the basement for a while?

Which one is most on point?

Close up of a succulent.

And here ends my tale of how to upcycle vintage cooper pots the wrong way. Because sometimes things turn out the wrong way! But at least I’ve learned a few lessons.   

And now for that most important question.  Do any of you know why the lids are shaped like that?

AND THE MYSTERY HAS BEEN SOLVED!  I belong to an Upcycle Sharin group on Facebook. Within minutes they responded that it was used as a serving dish.  Apparently if I take out my “Abstract Art” I can actually serve food in it.  So the small bowl shape on top is actually a pedestal. How cool is that!?

Beaded lantern on vintage copper pot lid with text overlay.

Make sure to hop on over and visit my blogging friends to see what they have come up with for this thrift store upcycle challenge. 

​More Vintage ideas:  

Vintage coffee roaster.
Vintage Coffee Roaster
Vintage cauldron.
Antique Cauldron
Vintage suitcase.
Vintage Suitcase Makeover
vintage chalkboard.
Vintage Chalkboard


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Amber Harrop

Tuesday 18th of July 2017

I adore your tale of updating the pots in the wrong way - we have all been there but not all of us are brave enough to admit it


Wednesday 19th of July 2017

My motto is that perfection is overrated so I would be amiss if I didn't show you all the reality!

Barb M

Monday 10th of July 2017

Everyone seems to have success with their diy projects --thanks for telling the truth. It's refreshing and shows there is hope for me.


Monday 10th of July 2017

I am always trying to keep it real around here Barb. After all, I'm just like you a regular person with no special skills at all. It's a wonder the powers that be let me run this blog! Lol!!

Gail @Purple Hues and Me

Monday 10th of July 2017

I swear, Mary, you have the best thrift items in your basement! The fact that you hauled those lovely bowls out and clean them up is good enough - but then things went kinda south for you, but you successfully pulled it off with dressing one up with beads. That's an awesome idea! As for the others, we all have diy failures! Sometimes things never turn out as we hoped they would. You are just brave enough to show us! And we love you for that!


Tuesday 11th of July 2017

Thank you Gail. I let nothing go to waste not even a bad project. haha!!


Monday 10th of July 2017

When in doubt...add bling!! Those copper pots are quite a find. Don't feel too bad, succulents don't like me either, lol!


Tuesday 11th of July 2017

I'm so glad to hear that I'm not alone. ;)


Monday 10th of July 2017

Oh well. That's always what I say when I have a fail. Oh well. Probably it would have worked out better if you had used smaller rocks, but what do I know? I've never done it, or tried to grow succulents either. It's my understanding you can easily kill them with over-watering. I didn't know about the lemon trick. I'll try that next time. Those are the coolest copper pots! I don't know a thing about them though. Also I liked your blingy bead thing. So it wasn't a total fail.


Tuesday 11th of July 2017

It wasn't a total fail. At least I am using them in some capacity. Florence I am not going to rest till I find out about those lids. My husband was hypothesizing that they were like that so rocks could be put on top to hold the lid down since back in the day there were no fridges. Does that even make sense.

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