#FBF: When Good Ideas Make Bad Crafts: My DIY Copper Fail

by | Jan 29, 2016 | Crafts, Flashback Fridays | 2 comments

Recently, A Beautiful Mess posted a DIY Copper Ladder blog which, guys, let me tell you: hurt. It hurt so bad because one and a half years ago, I had attempted and failed, at the same. damn. thing.

So, let’s revisit that majestic fail here today. And, ya know, if you were curious:
1. Yes, I still have it.
2. Yes, I have decommissioned it
3. Yes, I do have $80 dollars on cut up copper pipe shoved into a closet to be used at a currently undetermined future date.



#FBF: When Good Ideas Make Bad Crafts: My DIY Copper Fail
Originally blogged on August 8, 2014

Let’s face it, Moonstruck is one of the greatest movies every made. When I was high rolling (i.e. living at home on my parents dime), I would watch it every single time it came on tv. If my mother was in the room, she would stop everything to watch it. If my aunt was over for a quick stop over and Moonstruck came on, well, there was an unspoken agreement that we would all be there until the credits rolled. I believe this is where my obsession with copper began. Screw you, Cosmos, I blame you!

Recently, there have been some very notable DIY Copper tutorials running amok on my pinterest board and this copper trend had my DIY feathers ruffling feverishly. I had casually strolled through the copper pipe section in my local Home Depot hundreds of times, sizing up the possibility of adding more copper to my life. “All I would need are the pipes, a pipe cutter, and my imagination”, I would say under my breath, dreaming of all of the side tables, all of the lamps, and all of the clothes racks that could be in my life with the easiest of ease.

I am in-love with these copper DIYS:

  1. This great copper side table by Emily Henderson.
  2. This amazing (!!!) tripod lamp by Sarah M. Dorsey (which I am dying to DIY)
  3. This tres fabulous copper clothing rack from Victoria Smith.

So, much to the encouragement of Shauna (my DIY guru), I decided 2014 was the year of the Copper Ladder. Yes, you heard me correctly. I was going to take the crisp industrial lines of a copper pipe, fit it together with certain knobs and bobs, and have the haute design item of 2013 in my home. People were going to come in droves just to see the epic of my copper ladder. Thick historical tomes would accredit me, Natasha, as the creator and inventor of the Copper Ladder. My name would be in lights. I would be a copper god among metallic man and beast. All of these were my aspirations as I dragged my boyfriend to Home Depot on a Saturday night to pick up my copper piping. Now, let me tell you how I failed.

What not to do when DIY’ing with Copper:

1. Don’t get any piece of pipe, just because it is the last one in the store.
This was my first, and ultimately my biggest mistake. It was late, they had called the 15 minute warning over the Home Depot PA system. I was scrambling to find enough pipes for my project that, for some unknown reason, I had to finish that weekend. I didn’t have time in my life to wait and go to another Home Depot, people, this was an IMMEDIATE DIY THAT HAD TO BE DONE AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE. I settled with a good, shiny, beautiful, and brand-spankin’-new 12 foot pipe, and an old, green, disgusting, decrepit, bottom of the barrel, dilapidated, morose looking 12 foot pipe. I reassured myself that I could clean it, and restore it back to it’s natural beauty as I had seen others do on the internet, and purchased it with seconds to spare.

2. Measure and cut it properly with the adequate tools.
I don’t know if you read the About Us page, but in my bio I mention that I half-plan all of my projects. This one takes no exceptions. How, one would ask, did I plan on cutting 24 feet of copper into runs of a ladder? Well, I had it beautifully mapped out, each side would be 1 ft.  and each run would be 1 1/2 ft. for a total of 19 cut pieces of copper. How hard could that be, right? I watched numerous youtube videos on how to cut pipes, with big hairy plumber hands making it look stupid easy; I needed a simple pipe cutter, some flicks of the wrist, and blammo: I would have crisp cut pipes. Now, with 10 minutes left of the clock, and 24 feet of pipe in my arms, I came to this fork in the  road. The pipe cutter was about $20 dollars, the car was by no means 12 feet long, but the ‘cut it yourself’ hack-saw section of Home Depot was $0 dollars and right there. Against all of the plummer’s advice on the internet, I thought I was going to save some travel headaches and cash by cutting the pipes in the store with a free hacksaw and the manual labouring provided by my already annoyed boyfriend. This did not turn out well at all. Sweaty, hulk-angry, and with a mismatch of jagged and irregularly sized pipes later, we silently walked out of Home Depot, trying not to make eye contact with the renovation retailers that just heard us spurt the foulest of language for the final 10 minutes of their shift.

3. Don’t try and skimp out of necessary costs.
Yes, I got a deal on the disgusting pipe. Yes, I saved the cost of a pipe-cutter. Yes, by using lemon and salt I did not have to purchase harsh chemicals to clean copper. But in reality, all of these things became my ultimate downfall. The ill-fitting pipes do not fit together as they should, causing a very real slanty-Tim-Burtony-style of ladder. The disgusting pipe, no matter how many times it was cleaned and sealed, remains black and green to this day. This project should have been incredibly easy, but instead it was hard, expensive (copper pipe is not cheap, let me tell you), and generally not blog-able at all.

All in all, it is not a complete waste. I sealed the pipes with a clear metal friendly polyurethane, and now I hang all of my fabrics on it for a constant reminder of the sewing that I need to do. It is a functional, but not fashionable piece of art. My name is not in lights. I am no god. Cosmos would be upset with me.

Now, fellow bloggers, if you have ever worked with copper before, please leave a comment below, or hop on to instagram, to tell me how I can not fail this hard next time.

happy crafting


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  1. Kerry

    Don’t feel too bad Nat. Plumbers can fit pipe like theres no tomorrow but they can’t find a pair of pants that fit well enough to cover the crack in their ass. Ahhh, the delicate balance of life

    • Natasha

      HAHAHA! #best


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