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Pinterest Challenge: Thrift Store Cake Stands

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I’m not sure if you guys know this or not, but I’m kinda obsessed with Pinterest. This sounds really cheesy and kumbaya-y, but the truth is, Pinterest helps restore my faith in the human race. There are so many clever, creative and interesting ideas on there that it makes me feel like, as a species, we must be doing something right.

How to Make Cake Stands from Thrift Store Finds

That all being said, there is a dark side to it all. Pinterest has a bit of a reputation of being the place where good ideas go to die. Millions of people may pin something and say, “Oh! I’m totally going to do that.” but in actuality, only a small percentage actually do. People pin without acting. I’ve been guilty of this too! No more. Enter my monthly Pinterest Challenge. The idea comes from Young House Love. You pick one pinned project each month (they do it seasonally) and actually do it. I know, crazy, right?

So I dug around through my boards and found three items that I thought might be fun to do: thrift store cake stands, a circle rug made out of old t-shirts and homemade laundry detergent.

While I’m sure all of them will be made at some point, I landed on tackling the cake stands for my very first Pinterest Challenge. I am always looking for new and interesting ways to display food for food photography, and I’m all about an economical way to add some fun new pieces to my dishware collection. So let me step you through my process from Goodwill to cake stand!

First up, we (obviously) had to hit up the thrift store. We made the 1 minute drive over to our local Goodwill and hit up the impressive dinnerware section. Babyface and I spent about 20 minutes stacking different plates and glasses in the aisle trying to figure out the best shape and proportion for both a standard cake stand and a cupcake tier. What we kept in mind—interesting texture that would come through once painted, flat (not cupped) plates and how sturdy everything felt together. We probably looked more than a little insane sitting on the floor of our Goodwill store.

After we’d paid for out loot at the Goodwill, we crossed the street to the hardware store to pick up paint and adhesive. I desperately wanted to paint my cake stands in bright and obnoxious colors, but the truth is, I just wouldn’t use them. Almost all of my dishes for food photography are white because it helps make the food stand out so much better. If they were bright colors, I know I wouldn’t use them. So white it was.

We also picked up some frosted glass spray “paint” as recommended by the original blog post. The frosted glass works as a primer on the ceramic and glass pieces so the spray paint can stick well. You can skip this step if you happen upon some spray paint made for glass (we didn’t see any).

Once home, I spread out our drop cloth (what, you don’t use TMNT sheets as a drop cloth?) and spread out our plates and glasses for a primer coat of the frosted glass stuff.

One thin coat and a 10 minute drying period later (the stuff dries fast), it was ready to be painted.

Over the course of three days, I ended up doing about four thin, even coats of white spray paint on each side just to make sure everyone was even and covered. Between each coat, I let it bake out in the sun for 4-6 hours so it could get nice and dry. This is the spray paint we used. Mostly because it was on sale, and partially because of the 2X coverage.

Hi, Puppyface!

All white and even!

I let the plates and glasses cure for a few more days (paint may feel dry and not tacky, but it can still nick and dent for days after it’s been painted) before assembly. Once I felt like they were ready to be put together. I pulled out the adhesive we bought. This silicone adhesive is waterproof and heatproof. Which means that these stands can be handwashed in warm water without a problem.

I worked one piece at a time and did a thin, evenish bead all the way around the contact points.

And then I did the really scientific method of eyeballing it in the center of the next item. You can move around the adhesive, so I’d center it, and then use a paper towel to wipe of any extra adhesive. Note: the “3” in this picture was written in permanent marker on the bottom of the plate, even after three coats, I couldn’t get it covered. I just left it because it was on the bottom.

Per the directions on the adhesive, I let the stands cure for 24 hours before moving them. I took them outside for one more touch up coat of paint, let that dry and cure and then hand-washed them to remove any extra goop or gunk.

And then, BAM, they were ready for some store-bought baked goods.

I am so in love with these. I have a quirky and eclectic style, and I love that they aren’t matchy-matchy. I also really appreciate the fact that this is upcycling at its finest. We took some sad wares that would probably never been purchased and made them into something beautiful and useful. Also worth noting, I am so glad I went with the white! I think both the brightly-frosted cupcakes and the deeply-rich chocolate cake pop off the white so nicely.

And the best part of all? Total cost: $26.23. And about half of that was for the frosted glass paint, the spray paint and adhesive, which can all be used for other projects. That’s how much just the single cake stand would cost alone in the stores!

I’d call this first Pinterest Challenge a success!

Have you ever made something off of your Pinterest boards?

Cassie is the founder and CEO of Wholefully. She's a home cook and wellness junkie with a love of all things healthy living. She lives on a small hobby farm in Southern Indiana with her husband, daughter, two dogs, two cats, and 15 chickens.

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24 Responses
  1. Natalie

    Great job! I too did a Pinterest challenge. I used it to help curb evening cigarette cravings so I went a little extreme and did 1 project a day! Cupcake stands were one of my projects. I used china found at good will and candle sticks from the dollar tree so no painting required. Here I am… 3 weeks later, I have 6 cupcake stands, a strawberry pallet garden, a new bar for my back patio made out of wine bottles (don’t worry – I didn’t drink away my cravings but asked family and friends for empty bottles – turns out having a bartender in the family has all kinds of perks), and a succulent garden of 16 plants which started as 3 plants! But I haven’t had a smoke. Pinterest saves lives! 😉 I really like your painted version. Think I’ll try that next.

  2. Sharon Foley

    Hi I love this! I just bought some dishes at goodwill the other day. I also want to make some pieces for my kids out of my own China. Is the paint safe for food?

    1. Cassie

      I’ve never been too concerned with the paint, but, if you’re worried, you can find food-safe spray coatings to cover it all up. 🙂

  3. silvia

    hi, i would like to know if the spray paint and the frost spray are safe for food? is there any chemical or anything that is bad for human body?

  4. This is an AMAZING IDEA!!! I have been wanting a cake stand for ages but I would way rather make my own. Fantastic, fantastic, fantastic. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Shauna

    This was one of my goals for 2012. I wanted to do more Pinterest projects. So far, I’ve split my projects into “crafty” things and “organization” things. I started out trying to do one of each every month, but that fizzled out. I now just choose one project a month to do, unless I feel inspired/motivated to do more. This month’s project is a Household Binder. January’s project was laundry detergent (I am just now needing to make another batch, and I do 8 loads of laundry a week!). I didn’t do anything in February or March, though.

    Also, 100% of our toddler craft ideas come from Pinterest, and we do a special craft once a week! Pinterest has been SO awesome for me as a mom. 🙂

  6. Olivia

    I’ve always wanted to do this but am worried about using regular spray paint verses food safe paint. Do you think it’s safe to serve food on that?

    1. Cassie

      I figured it would be fine. Chances are, most food will only be on it for a limited time and I won’t be heating it or storing it on them. 🙂

  7. Melissa

    I recognize the Goodwill you went to! 🙂

    I made two gallons worth of liquid hand soap this weekend out of bar soap, water, and liquid glycerine. 10 bucks to fill up the homemade mason jar pumps I created! Both ideas were from pinterest.

  8. Gorgeous!!! My friend did this idea for her wedding and it was so great. I’d love to do one at some point. And I like the idea of being challenged to actually use pins! I myself attempt to look through my pinned recipes and whatnot if I need a new idea, and I’ve found some great recipes through that. I agree though, most people pin things without ever using them. Good for you for actually doing it!

  9. LOVE this idea!!! I should’ve seen it sooner – I borrowed a bunch of cupcake stands for my mother in law’s 80th birthday. I could’ve made them all!
    Oh – I see you changed your heading – Good for you – I was trying to figure out what was missing. A VINTAGE lifestyle – that makes more sense! 🙂

  10. I love this idea! I find a lot of knitting projects on Pinterest I want to make, but I’ve only made one of them so far. I really need to do more.

    Also, the cake stands turned out GREAT. I would have thought the same thing initially, to paint them obnoxious colors, but the white definitely was the best choice! Great work!

  11. What a great idea for the monthly challenge!! I am a victim of pinning too much and not acting also. I even have a “pin now, read later” pinboard! What I did finally do is make a “Made it, Hooray” pinboard where I “re-pin” things that I have actually made, cooked, created. It comes in super handy when I want to find that recipe or blog again. Happy Pinning Cas! And great job on the cake stands!!

    1. Katharyn

      Brilliant! Thank you! I’m off to make a “made it” board because I’ve sewn quite a few things from pinterest. But I do pin more things than I can do in a lifetime!

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Hello. My name is Cassie, and I’m a healthy home cooking expert.

I'm a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, and I've been developing healthy recipes professionally for over 15 years. Food is my love language, and my kitchen tips and nourishing recipes are my love letter to you!

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Close up of the finished cake on a cake stand with orange glaze and sugared cranberries on top.

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