You never know what you’ll find when you’re looking for something else. I was poking around the garage not that long ago, looking for some scrap wood, and I saw something peeking from the storage up in the rafters. It looked like an old life-preserver. A really old life-preserver. And it WAS a really old life-preserver. Nasty and dusty with a few fossilized bugs on it from 1970-something. Funny thing is, I was looking to get a life-preserver for some fun patio decor. Low and behold, it just fell on me. Well, after I shimmied it around with a nearby broom. I took a hose to it and this is what my canvas looked like…


ImageHow I Preserved An Old Life Preserver:


• 1″ rope

• Spray paint for outdoor

• Black acrylic paint

• Small paint brush

• Letter stencils

• Glue gun (and glue sticks)

• Nail (or hook if it works for you)

Step 1:  Scraped off as much of the old fragile and ripped canvasy material that was still holding on. I wasn’t too worried about every morsel coming off, since I was planning on rewrapping it with the rope I picked up from Home Depot.

ImageStep 2: Paint! My good friend, Mr. Orange Paint came back to say hello. He was going to be a great contrast to the life-preserver’s backdrop. Vibrant and hard to miss.

photo copy 8

ImageStep 3: Got my glue gun action on. I measured how many wraps I needed to make it look authentic as well as cover any of the old junk underneath. A good 6 times around seemed to be the way to go. I dotted some glue on the back and started the rope placement and just dotted and placed and kept wrapping.

ImageStep 4: Now to really give it personality. I toyed with a bunch of phrases until I decided on “Let’s Swim.” Action-oriented, cheerful and inviting – done! I used a pencil to lightly stencil the letters onto my preserver. Then I used simple black acrylic paint to fill it all in.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAStep 5: Hang this baby up! Vinyl siding isn’t an easy thing to hang stuff on, so I MacGyver’d a solution. One long nail. Pretty simple and a current go-to fix for a few things lately. I worked the head of the nail into the tight spaces between the siding and then poked the other end of the nail into the styrofoam preserver. And it’s stuck there. (Note: I did try some double stick adhesive tape, but with humidity it just fell. Wah-wah. The nail is the trick and there are no holes in the wall. :)


As soon as I hung it up, I followed the orders and swam! It makes me pretty happy. I love how it’s imperfect and marked up still. Gives it some story. Some nice age. I also love it that I can see it from the kitchen sink window. It’s a smile-maker. Now it’s your turn to share. Discover anything lately that needed some DIY love? Let’s see it!

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  1. R. J. Kessler - June 25, 2013

    I’m not a big DIY person but having read a few of your entries, my interest has been sparked. I love the blog design, too – pleasing to the eye, easy to read, not cluttered at all. I’ve subscribed and look forward to more even if I may not put any of the posts to use myself. :)

    • Sharon Sprague - June 25, 2013

      So nice of you! Thank you!!! I’m glad to have you aboard and hopefully we’ll inspire you to try something one of these days. It can be quite rewarding. Again, thanks so much for following my blog. – Sharon

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