I’m a Proud Little Algae Eater

Standing in front of a great big aquarium at the pet store, a strange analogy popped into my head.

Auction-goers are a lot like fish in an aquarium.


     Yes, fish. 

Let me explain.

Aquariums usually have 3 types of fish in them, and auctions usually have 3 types of bidders.

There are the top feeding fish.  Top feeding fish in an aquarium get first dibs on food coming in the tank.  Their food floats at the top, easy to snatch up.

The top “feeders” at auctions are the people who come looking for pristine and really unique pieces, and they are willing to pay top dollar.  It’s almost impossible to outbid them.  They are often antique dealers looking for top-quality and specialty merchandise, or they are people who want to take an item straight fro the auction floor to their living room, without any work or effort.  They don’t have much competition, because most people attending auctions can’t afford their level of bidding.

     …….I’m not a top feeder.

Then there are the mid-level feeders in an aquarium.

This is the active part of the aquarium, where you often see schooling fish like tetras.  They get the food that makes it past the top feeders.

At an auction, the mid-level feeders are the majority of auction goers.  They are looking for things in nice condition that are fairly common.  They want nice items at prices lower than they’d find in an antique store.

     …….I’m not a mid-level feeder either.

Then there are the bottom feeders in the tank.

Bottom feeding fish are the clean-up crew in the tank.  They eat what sinks to the bottom, and are a bit like scavengers eating up what’s left behind by the rest of the fish.  There’s less competition at the bottom of the tank, so if they’re patient, they’ll get their fill too.

Bottom feeders at an auction are looking for what no one else is looking for or bidding on.  They’ll often be the person who buys toilets an sinks to put in apartment rentals, or the guy that buys a non-working upright freezer for a buck, so he can sell the metal to a recycling center.

     …….I’m a bottom feeder.

I’m not looking for old toilets, sinks, or non-working upright freezers though.

What I am looking for is a diamond in the rough.

And I mean really rough.

I’m the person bidding on a broken dresser, because it’s made of quality wood that I can repurpose.

I’m the person bidding on a super rusty toolbox filled with dirt and grime, because I’m willing to clean it up and turn it into a flower box.

I’m the person who gets excited when I see things like bird poop and dirt on a pair of broken old chairs, …

caned chairs

because under that bird poop and filth is some amazing detail.

THIS is why I’m so happy to be a bottom feeder!

antique chair back

It’s been over a year since I brought home that pair of broken, bird poop and filth covered chairs.  I fixed up one of them and turned it into a beautiful grain sack style chair.  Even I was shocked at how pretty it looked once it got cleaned up and loved on.

But the other chair?

It’s been sitting in my workshop ever since.  One of the spindles on the chair back was detached, because a little chip of wood was missing to hold it in place.

I thought eventually I’d repair it, and give it a similar treatment as the first chair, but I finally realized that was never likely to happen, so I came up with a new idea.

My husband cut the chair back away from the chair frame and cut off the remaining two spindles, then I painted it white.  I decided against doing any distressing, because I think the details didn’t need any accenting from me – they are gorgeous as-is.

repurposed chairs chalkboard

I painted a piece of 1/4″ paneling wood with chalkboard paint, cut to fit inside the opening in the chair back and screwed it onto the frame.

upcycled chair back chalkboard - KnickofTime.net

And easy as that, I have a repurposed chair back chalkboard!

repurposed chair back chalkboard

Life is good at the bottom of the tank!


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  1. I love it! Angie if I had only one blog to read it would be yours. I seriously love every project !

  2. High 5 to you! Looks awesome.

    P.S. I’m a bottom feeder too! It’s all about the bones!

  3. Carol Morris says

    I too am a bottom feeder, or junk picker upper or dumpster diver.
    That chair back chalkboard sign, looks amazing. Beautiful job.

  4. I really enjoyed reading your fish tank analogy, Angie. Have a lovely weekend, Ardith

  5. Very Cute!

  6. I’m with you Angie. The bottom of the tank is where the good stuff is, that is, if you are willing to do a little work and get your hands dirty. Love what you did with the chair.
    Audrey Z. @ Timeless Treasures

  7. It’s JUST mahhhvelous, Angie……I love it, with its curves, chalkboard, and details in the wood!! I’ll join you as a bottom feeder any day… we’ve rarely had anything new…our 1st home was a shack ready to be condemned that we paid $5500 for in 1974. We’ve never had a new vehicle, and rarely bought new appliances. Our first dryer was bought for $5 at an auction!! We like it at the “bottom!”

  8. I am so totally a bottom feeder. How can you not be? Once you able to find things for $5, eventually you find them for $1 and then you keep hunting because sometimes you are able to find those things for free!!! Bottom feeders unite, just don’t come to my neighborhood to snatch the good deals out from under me 🙂

  9. Bottom feeding is my kind of territory too! Love this project!!

  10. Judy Lincicum says

    What a clever design that is, Dear Bottom Feeder! It turned out beautifully. Those chairs were really pretty with those details and it looks like they were made from beautiful wood. I would like to see a picture of your other chair too! Good job, Angie.

  11. You never cease to amaze me Angie at what your creative mind produces! Wonderful idea!

  12. I love your vision Angie! The way you can take something and turn it into something totally different, and beautiful.

    Thank you for sharing with us.


  13. Don’t know which I loved better, today … the post or the project. Hubs is becoming more appreciative of my blogging and the buddies I’ve found there. We both were enjoying the dirt and bird poop story! Lately, he’s a lot more understanding about my “bottom of the barrel” finds, seeing what all of us can do with them.

  14. My husband and I went to a preview of an auction the other day, just to see what was there. I saw so many things that I just knew you would make something unique out of. I kept thinking “Angie would buy this,” even when it was just what you call “bottom feeder” stuff. Isn’t it cool how blogs make us think of someone we really don’t know, who lives thousands of miles away?

  15. How creative! Those chairs were a great find in your hands. 🙂

  16. This is, perhaps, the most beautiful chalkboard I’ve ever set my eyes on! It is truly gorgeous with its ultra-feminine curves and you’ve really helped those curves to stand out with your paint choice…brava, Angie!

    This post was right up my alley, too…I love going to the auction…it’s one of my favourite things to do and I don’t necessarily have to buy anything in order to make it fun…I just enjoy watching people get sooooo excited over certain items. Like, last Friday at the auction we went to, a lady paid $3,500 for a sewing machine…I never thought sewing machines could get that expensive, but apparently, this one was worth $7,000. Anyway, at the end of the bidding, the entire audience clapped and cheered the winning bidder…I thought it was great how we all were on the edge of our seats waiting to see just how high the bidding would go. Obviously, that lady was a top feeder…but I probably fall between the mid-level feeder and bottom feeder. We’ve furnished our home with stuff from the auction, flea markets, yard sales and the like. I just think the furniture is much higher quality than what you’d find at many furniture stores nowadays, even if you do have to put some work into making it look like it was bought new. Recently I bought an antique dresser in pretty bad shape for $5…I got some looks from some doubters, including the people I had come with…but it was solid wood, in the shaker style and had a harp mirror. Mind you, the harp had been painted bubblegum pink and had paint slopped all over the mirror, the dresser had some sort of stains all over it, the original hardware had been removed, leaving holes in the drawers, and the drawers don’t slide very well…but I love it and I think I got the deal of a lifetime…and just wait til I fix ‘er up…she’s going to look like a proper lady and all of those naysayers will gasp with awe and wonder! Or, so I hope…hehe!

    • I’ll bet that dresser is going to look amazing when you get done with it! It sounds like a bargain and a fun project.

      • Thank you so very much for your kind encouragement, which means a lot to me…you have much more confidence in my abilities than I do, but my lack of confidence won’t stop me from trying…I really think this little dresser is worth the effort! I still haven’t chosen my paint colours, but anything has to be better than bubblegum pink! What were they thinking??? 🙂

  17. The chalkboard is really pretty. I like the bottom of the barrel too! Many pieces in my home are $1.00 and $2.00 finds that others just can’t see the potential in. You do a great job of bringing those kinds of things back to life.

  18. I’m a bottom feeder!

    I love the way your little chair chalkboard turned out. What are you doing with the rest of the pieces?


  19. Can’t wait to see what you do with the 2 lovely spindles and the legs!

  20. It pays to be a bottom feeder! I absolutely love how you repurposed this chair back into a chalkboard! This is one of the prettiest chalkboards I’ve ever seen. I’m sure you will find something to do with the rest of the chair too.

  21. You always do the coolest things with old chairs Angie! Thanks for sharing!!

  22. This has to be the cutest chalkboard I have seen. I love this upcycle, the chair back makes for a lovely interesting curved frame.

  23. Congratulations! Your post was my feature pick at #WWBlogHop this week.

  24. Wow! I would have never thought of this creative up-cycle. Great results. Happy Crafting, Kippi

  25. Oh my goodness. I love this chairback chalkboard. Congratulations on the feature at Wonderful Wednesday.

  26. Yes to bottom feeders, they’re the best and most creative people out there. Love, love, love what you did with the other chair back Angie. It’s beautiful and I bet you get loads of compliments and questions about it too. Brilliant idea

  27. Jennie Wallick says

    36 years into marriage my husband just laughs at my bottom of the barrel finds, because he knows he’s going to be involved in some way to help me. Being limited sucks. I lose my keys constantly, I think I’d put 3 hooks on the bottom. I really love this project.

  28. What a gorgeous chalkboard! I would never have thought of that, but seeing yours makes me want one. I have had some less-than-perfect chairs I have hung onto over the years, thinking that I’d do “something” cool with them “someday.” (Pretty sure the Mr. rolls his eyes every time I say that, lol.) When clean-out-the-shop day would come around, I’d finally say, “Ok, I’ll never get all the projects done…go ahead and take them somewhere.” Now I wish I had some of those chairs so I could make a beautiful chalkboard! Guess I will just have to find a NEW broken chair now…lol. I love your auction and fish analogy, too. So true! I really enjoy auctions, although I rarely go anymore. I have never had the money (or desire) to be a top feeder, so I guess that makes me a middle feeder… AND a bottom feeder. I do love finding a bargain on something that doesn’t need much work, but I am also drawn to the rusty, dusty, ugly-duckling things, too. I love the challenge of fixing something up…I just don’t have all the great ideas you do!

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