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The hand that feeds

Boy do I feel like a slacker. I took a planned week off, then last weekend I was attacked by a house cat. No joke, I’ve got the scars to prove it. And this weekend was spent in Raleigh NC with our best friends. 

I did post some painting progress on my Facebook so be sure to head over there and like my page for updates between posts. I’m hoping to get more painting done in the next month or so. 

Mr. Smith will be on a month long business trip so that leaves me with lots of spare time and an empty garage. 

Something I won’t be painting are these frames I scored at the state flea market in Raleigh. 

  
They are wonderfully finished so I don’t have to lift a finger. I’m going to do like I did in my post way back here and just hang them empty. I’ll probably even add some of the old ones from that arrangement to these after some paint. 

  
We also picked up a “new” light fixture for our back porch which desperately needed one and which is going to get a makeover in the spring. 

  
Sorry for the absence I promise with Mr. Smith gone I’ll be driven crazy with boredom, so look for lots of postings. 

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New Beginings

We started on a couple of new projects today. They are going to be in the works for a long time, mostly because we are still working on getting settled into our new house. 

One of them is this old mid-century modern dresser that was passed down to me from my great grand mother.

  
 We actually have the set but the dresser is going to be our new entertainment center, believe it or not.

I just removed a couple of the drawers that are a little worse for ware. 

  
See it’s better already,

Used a hole saw to cut a few holes for components in the backer board. Or let Mr. Smith do so, since hole saws terrify me after my father almost lost a finger to one. 

  
And voila 

  
I plan on painting the top, sides,  and bottom boards, as well as the vertical support in the middle. Then I’ll  refinish the drawer fronts and feet and stain them a darker wood color to match the other furniture in the house. Im still not sure what color I’ll paint the exterior. I might go with the same TARDIS blue the side table is. What do you think? 

I’ll save the other project we started on for a later post. It’s going to be quite a doosie in the long run. 

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Something Old

Clearance isles are the bane of my existence. This has already been established. But I couldn’t resist these little beauties

  
They are pendant frames, though to big for me to imagine actually wearing it as a pendant they are still very small.

I knew almost immediately what I wanted to do with them, I just needed cooperative subjects. 

So I sat Mr. Smith down for a picture. Then I had to get him to take a profile picture of me. That was a little harder since it was me trying to direct him so that he was exactly beside me. Height difference and all

  
I then printed off those pictures and cut out the silhouettes

  
Because the pictures were taken from different distances and different orientations (portrait vs. landscape) I then used my copier to shrink them down to appropriate and equal sizes.

  
 Then I just transferred the images onto the tiny canvases and used a fine sharpie to fill it in

   
As you can see my hair was a little to big and wild to fit in an oval frame and the texture of the canvas made using a sharpie not ideal. I’ll likely go over all of this with paint. Perhaps when I’m more comfortable with the medium given this week’s endeavors. It’s been all down hill since last week. 

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Bulls and Bears

No, I’m not in Chicago (Alas, I’m sure it’s much cooler there) But amidst all the things in my life I completely forgot to blog about a project I did a couple of months back for the office I work at.

This isn’t the first decorating project I’ve had the chance to do for the office and I’m sure it won’t be the last; if you want to see the others you can click here or here

  
I work at a financial planning office. It’s pretty awesome but it is lacking a little… Style. Luckily I’ve been given the go ahead to jazz it up a bit. We had a bunch of coasters from various places but no matching sets so I took the liberty of buying a little pack of blanks from the craft store and sanding them nice and smooth.

   
 Then I just doodled a little geometric design. I chose a bull and a bear since we work in stock portfolios (among a myriad of other things), used my scanner to enlarg it to the right size for the coaster then numbered each section to correspond with a paint color. In other words I made myself a paint by numbers, that way I wouldn’t end up with two like colors touching each other due to lack of planning. 

  
Then I taped the photocopied image onto the coaster and traced over the lines with the blunt edge of an exact-o knife

  
This left an etching of the image in the soft pine wood of the coaster. 

  
After that it was just a matter of painting each section like I had planned out. 

  
I had four coasters in total so to make each one different i flipped the images so the animals were facing opposite directions and also shuffled which numbers corresponded to which colors. 

  
After the paint was dried I then used a walnut stain over top. Stain over paint may sound kind of silly but on a thin coat of paint  it still pulls out the grain of the wood and gives the paint a distressed/vintage look.

   
 The final touch is just a quick clear coat to seal everything and protect it from sweating water glasses. 

  

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A Plethora of Jars

Somebody (I won’t name names) has gone a little glass jar happy. Between candles and target bins and advantageous clearance finds I’ve accrued quite a collection.

  
The latest acquisition is these colored Ball Heritage Collection Jars (they are the 100 year old ball design) on clearance for $1 a piece

  
Anyway, what is a girl to do with a whole bunch of pretty jars? I mean I could do wedding decor, but I’ve only got my own wedding to plan and really that’s not going to happen any time soon and it’s going to be a small affair.

So I better go for smaller projects

A Frankenstein project involving an old soap pump and one of the aforementioned mason jars
First I just poke a hole in the lid of the jar and using tin snips and needle nosed pliers make it large enough to fit the base of the pump through

  
Then just seal it with hot glue or even silicon caulk 

  
Tah! Dah! Super easy!

  
You could paint the top or embellish the jar, but I’m lazy lately.

  
Also I used a foaming pump, the ones from bath and body are the perfect size and length for  a mason jar. You can use whatever pump you have after a bottle gets emptied, it just happens to be the one I had. And foaming hand soap is super easy and cheap to make. It’s essentially 1 part liquid soap to 6 or 7 parts water.

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A Long Story

2014 was a rather interesting and amazing year for me. I would do a retrospective of my best blog posts but, since I only just started this adventure last year it would be rather boring for the few people that follow this blog. However feel free to browse through the archives where you will find some interesting gems like the chairs I recovered and painted.

Being the person I am I couldn’t let the pile of fabric that the reupholstering process created go to waste. Especially considering I knew the wonderful individuals that owned the chairs before me and lived with those amazing fabrics in their homes. Those chairs have a long story and I thought it would be nice to tell that story with the fabric that was left over. I may now be the owner of the chairs but I thought it would be nice for them to have a conversation piece to remember the table that so many dinners and friendsgivings were held at.

So with the holidays coming up I decided to embark on a project that… well let’s just say it might have been a bit too ambitious for my not-so-honed skills.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I am lucky enough to have a family that has taught me how to sew (albeit rudimentarily) and I also have a friend that has taught me how to dye and fix fabric. So when I washed the old fabric and came out with the most magical colored water I couldn’t resist tinting the other fabric to fit into the color scheme. I simply let the fabrics that I wanted to dye soak in the colored water along with a generous amount of salt to act as a fixative. I then took the fabric out, rubbed some more salt on the fabric, then rinsed them and voila pale teal fabric.

I didn’t stop to consider the fabric wouldn’t be the only thing that would be dyed.

Now it was just a matter of what to do with the newly dyed fabric. I thought I would be overly ambitious and tackle applique. Keeping in mind that I have no idea how to do applique or embroidery.

The first step was to round up some supplies. Fusible webbing, an embroidery hoop, and embroidery floss in colors that would go with the fabrics. I choose a light and dark teal as well as a light and dark brown to tie everything together. Next I had to choose a design to work with. I figured I would go with a tried and true (as well as relatively simple) leaf motif.

I then just traced out leaf figures on my fusible web then roughly cut them out to place the sticky side down on the various fabrics (including the new one that I used) and cut out the final shape. Once all my leaves were cut I chose the leaves I wanted to use and arranged them on my backing fabric. I then just followed the directions of the fusible web to iron them onto the backing fabric.

All of that is the easy part. Next was the tedious part of embroidering around the leaves. Like I said, I have no idea how to applique or embroider so I didn’t do anything fancy here. I simply did a back stitch all the way around the perimeter of the leaves in a contrasting color to secure them. Then I just put a few ornamental veins in the leaves.

Just as in my last project I completely failed to get pictures of the finished project because I’m a terrible blogger. Luckily I have very obliging friends so they let me take pictures once they opened their presents so you have pictures of wrinkled finished products. And yes I gave my friends back their own fabric for Christmas. Strange, but an enjoyable project. I also gave them extra leaves and blocks of fabric in case they want to do their own block and turn it into a pillow, though one had the brilliant idea of an apron, which I love. I think my own might just become that.

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Cheater’s Chalk Paint

Back to those darn chairs, shall we?

I love the look of chalk paint particularly when used with dark wax. I just don’t love the price tag. A quart of good quality chalk paint can cost upwards of $30 add in the cost of the specialized wax and brushes and you’re looking at a $100 project. I figured I could either do it far cheaper or fail miserably at trying.

So first and foremost I cleaned up my chairs, chalk painting claims not to have any prep work. No sanding etc. but if you are working on old dining room chairs I suggest at least giving them a scrub with some Murphy’s Oil Soap just to get the grime from years of family dinners and years of furniture polish and wax off, or not even the best paint will stick.

After that I just started painting away with my favorite primer, which happens to be a really cheap ceiling paint. Ceiling paint is very thick, and very flat so it likes to stick to things and dries rather quickly, it also has good tooth to it. Tooth is the texture that helps other things stick. It’s like painting a canvas with gesso before starting a painting.

After the primer was dry I went in with the color. I did end up buying a quart of this color (it was a custom mix to match the fabric) just because I love it so I know I’ll use it on other projects, but I could have gotten away with just one $3 sample pot. Even at a quart it was only $15.

After getting the paint done I decided to tempt fate and go for the waxing. I decided to try to tint my own wax, I used Minwax finishing wax in natural (aka clear) which is around $10 for a can and a chocolate brown paint I had lying around. I simply took a scoop of the wax and a drizzle of the paint and very thoroughly mixed the two. As you can tell my measuring was very precise.

EEEEEEEWWWWW

I just used a cheap chip brush to mush the wax on, waited a minute or two, and buffed it off. The finishing wax is technically a matte varnish so it will dry hard and help protect the paint finish on the piece. That also means you have to work in small areas at a time so you don’t allow it to dry all the way before buffing it off. The now tinted wax will stick in recessed areas like corners and carved details and any cracks and scratches that the piece has accrued over the years. You could also distress the piece before starting if you wanted it to have a little more character. I discovered that if you happen to have a patch that dries a bit too much before you get a chance to buff it, it can be salvaged. Just put some wet wax overtop of it, wait a minute, and wipe again. It will soften the dried wax and take it back up.

Keep in mind you don’t have to tint your wax a chocolate brown you can tint it whatever color you like. A darker version of the color you’ve already painted the piece would look amazing I have a feeling. Go crazy and do lime green wax on a bright pink piece. Actually I would really like to see that. Or you could tint the wax with white paint and put it over a natural wood piece to give relief to carved areas.

From this to that to finally done!

Yes I realize in the long run it is a few more steps than chalk paint but it also only cost (even with brushes) around $35 in supplies versus the inordinate amount that doing it with chalk paint would have cost me. So the pros, at least for me, outweigh the cons.