Monday, November 22, 2010

Chic on the Cheap: Vintage Fork Napkin Rings

With all the travel and holiday talk around here, a diy project has been long overdue. It’s a simple but good one because its relatively easy and (if you have the tools) cheap. Thankfully, I had the husband's brute strength to take care of all the hard bits.

More than a year ago, I picked up a little collection of vintage spoons and forks for a few bucks at a junks store. My plan was to make one of those cutlery chandeliers but that never quite worked out. So that flatware was staring me in the face, daring me to do something with them. It took me long enough but I finally came up with the idea to repurpose them into napkin rings.

Materials needed: Old forks, metal stamp set, (I have this one) , vice, small section of galvanized pipe, vice grips, rubber mallet, sharpie marker, nail polish remover.

I should mention at this point that the cutlery I was using was quite heavy so it made this project more difficult than it had to be. If I were to buy more with this project in mind, I'd pick a lighter weight version. Also, if you have a proper workbench with a vice screwed into it (as opposed to the jimmy rig concoction we were using), this would be even easier. We made do with what we had.

It took some trial and error before we figured out the best way to get this accomplished. First things first, imprint the forks while they are still in their original shape. LetterStampingLetterStamping2

Originally I wanted to stamp in the word for 'eat' in all different languages. Mr. L was wise enough to point out that managing to get 3 letters per fork in somewhat decent shape was going to be hard enough. Ok, point to him.

As you can see in the photos, this is a three handed job. I imagine there are better ways of doing this but we couldn't figure it out. Hand stampers - do you have any tips?

So now its time for the real hard work - bending the spoon into a ring. Holding a length of 2 inch pipe in the vice, bang the spoon against it with a rubber mallet until its in a semi - ring shape. We couldn't get them into perfect circles this way but that didn't really matter. As long is it held the napkin, I was happy.

Bang Bang Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. You get the idea. You'll want to start with the end of the fork so that you can turn it without hitting the tines.


At this point they are functional but the imprint is a bit hard to read. Enter a sharpie marker. Have a little cotton ball with some acetone on it standing by. Rub the imprint with the sharpie, let sit for a minute and carefully wipe the excess away with the acetone. This takes a bit of a finesse to get the ink off the face of the fork without removing it from the letter grooves but eventually I mastered it.

The ones on the left are about to be sharpied, the two at the right already got their treatment. Makes quite a difference.

After that was all done, I had 12 lovely vintage forks turned napkin rings. Or as Mr. Limestone calls them, Frings.

Next step is to have a matching set of 12 napkins and Ill feel much more like a grown up.