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Gobble Gobble

Just a quick post to say Happy Thanksgiving and of course Black Friday. Comical how we give thanks for everything we have then promptly go out and buy everything we don’t have. So here is a way to use up things you have in ways you might not have considered before. I am a bit of an organizational freak. By that I mean I’m pretty terrible at organization and hate myself for it, so am constantly looking for ways to improve that.

I have to wear a full face of makeup to work every day so my vanity drawer where my most used products are stored was getting a little overwhelmed. Enter gift boxes to the rescue.

I won’t show you before pictures of my vanity drawer, the horror is too graphic. I just used some of the gift boxes that I’ve saved over the years to reuse (or in this case repurpose) to give me some compartments to store my makeup in a more organized way. It saves me the hassle of digging around for one particular product and saves my products from getting tossed around and possibly broken in the drawers. I left some blank space in which to put pallets. They will, of course rotate out as the seasons and my mood change. Currently MAC and Too Faced holiday pallets have taken up residence but it allows me to wake up and not worry about hunting down what makeup I’m going to put on that morning.

Hope your holidays find you well.

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The Kitchen Island of Misfit Chairs

It’s not actually an island it’s a dining room table, but that didn’t sound nearly as festive.

So we received this table from a friend of ours. Who had previously got it from another friend of ours, and by the time that “first” owner had it the table was already second hand. So with this project I had the opportunity to do some serious archaeology.

When we received the chairs they had a lovely teal fabric on them. I wasn’t opposed to the teal but they were a little sun faded and stained from years of use and the cushioning was breaking down. I knew our friend hadn’t replaced the cushioning when she reupholstered instead opting just to recover the existing fabric. Which truth be told, is the only kind of upholstery work I’ve ever done.

So out the staples came to reveal what our other friend had for her chair cushions. Each chair a different pattern. We had actually considered doing this, all the same color scheme just different patterns, but eventually I found a bargain on some fabric I loved and just couldn’t pass it up. This is very much her style and her current dining setup has all different chairs not just different patterns on the same chairs.

So off that fabric came…. And what a surprise. The misfits were not the last layer. There was the most boring khaki color you have ever seen underneath.

So off that came as well. To reveal the horrors…

Turns out all of that work was for nothing, the seat bases were delaminating. Also the actual cushioning material was made out of an old egg crate mattress pad. Which was slightly horrifying. That didn’t matter as we planned on replacing that anyway. But the wood for the seats would have to be replaced.

Luckily one had already been replaced, two owners back if the fabric strata are to be believed. So that one was excellent to use as a template. We simply traced it out on our new sheet of plywood, used the table saw to rip it down and a jig saw to round the corners. And hey presto! New seats.

Next on to the foam padding, once again using the already refurbished one as a template.

Finally after the couple of bumps in the road (and a coffee cup full of staples… that could have made for a bad morning) we could get down to upholstery.

I’ve recovered a few things before, like I said I’ve never done it from scratch. The only real difference I found is that because you’re pulling on new foam and placing tension on the fabric you can if you’re not careful run into puckering. As long as you start from the middle, alternate sides, work towards the corners and be careful how much tension you put on the fabric you shouldn’t have too much trouble.

And always remember that if you do get puckering you can always pull out and replace staples to relieve it, mistakes are going to happen and they aren’t permanent in this case. I had to pull out quite a few on my first couple of chairs before I got the hang of it.

When all was said and done, we had lovely and oh so comfortable new seat cushions.

We also had a pile of old fabric and a coffee cup full of staples.

Also note I did not in any way try to center my pattern… do yourself a favor and do the same if you are trying this for the first time, from what I understand it’s not the easiest thing in the world

Next up we will be painting the chairs… wooo hooo!

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Ah Hahaha, I Ascend!

Preface: Yes that was a Borderlands reference. Yes they have been rather frequent of late. What can I say, I’ve been playing the hell out of some Pre-Sequel in what little free time I have.

So there was recently (and by recently I mean back on October 17th … of 2014 if you happen to be reading my backlogs) an article about millennials being pretty terrible at textile care. You can read it here. If you’re lazy though it basically says that due to our parents’ workplace demands and the lack of funding for things like home economics courses in schools we really don’t have a clue when it comes to darning socks and hemming pants and getting out grease stains or even (in some extreme cases) sewing on a button.

This blog post was really supposed to be about this little robot I met on Amazon.

I couldn’t resist him. So instead I have a blog post embedded in a blog post. His full story will be after the rantings.

Now I am technically a member of Generation Y or as it has been recently rechristened by the press a Millennial. For that matter so are pretty much all of my friends. And pretty much all of my friends know how to get spit up out of their clothes. They know how to sew on a button… They also know how to use a dry cleaner when necessary.

But there are a lot of things that we (my generation) didn’t have the privilege of having passed down to us. I was lucky. I have an amazing grandmother who can sew and crochet circles around most people. When I was 17-18 years old she mentored me through my senior project of making a quilt. … A freaking quilt.

Yup! This quilt here, which due to my glorious lack of children has been adopted by my cat… oh god I sound like those forever alone people.

So yes I have hemmed my pants, I have sewn an invisible zipper back into a skirt, I have put a new lining into a favorite vest, I’ve even been known to darn a favorite pair of socks or that oversized cardigan that I just can’t bring myself to give up. But again I’m one of the lucky ones. I also know when it’s going to be cheaper, cost and time wise to just throw it away and buy a new one. Unfortunately that’s most of the time. The aforementioned article states that 5.7% of solid waste was textiles in 2012. Likely because in the 20 minutes that it would take to sew in a $5 zipper on a pair of faded pants, you could have bought a brand new pair for $30. In that 20 minutes earning optimistically for a 20 something $500 a week and having student debt in excess of $15,000 … you could just buy the damned pants and save yourself the heartache… or you could just learn how to sew and save yourself $25. You may not have an amazing grandmother to teach you how to sew, but there are lots of amazing grandmothers on YouTube that will teach you. Go find them.

So on to the meat of the story.

I met a little robot on Amazon I couldn’t resist. The kit came with absolutely everything you need including the little tiny hoop and it was less than $4 with free shipping.

Cross stitch is really very simple and importantly for me, very relaxing. You make a bunch of little slash marks then go back over them the opposite direction to make crosses.

This leaves the back of your stitching with lots of vertical lines.

Time for the tin man to get his heart.

Then it’s on to backstitching. Which is exactly what it sounds like.

You make straight stitches then go back on them to make a solid line.

Now he just needs some eyes.

Oh no! not dead eyes.

In addition to having an amazing grandmother I also once had an amazing art teacher. She gave us a cross stitching assignment once. We had to design our own pattern. Which involved the mathematics of figuring out the symmetry of the pattern and the midpoint/starting point. It also gave us sewing skills. Needless to say a bunch of 11 year old boys in the class weren’t particularly thrilled about it when we first started. Then they figured out the pattern could be anything they wanted as long as it had either horizontal or vertical symmetry. There were lots of flames and skulls and cars. It was pretty cool to see my classmates sewing away at their crazy creations. I’m really thankful I had such wonderful teachers both inside and outside the classroom growing up.

Tah! Dah!

I also highly recommend a project like this to any teachers or parents looking for projects for their kids. Cross stitching needles are blunt so no worries there and you can also get the plastic canvas style needlepoint for even smaller fingers.

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Desk Part 4: The Break Down

So we went from this

To this

Then on to this

And this is what it cost

Desk- $52.00

Handles-$27.00

Stripper- $11.98

Stain-$8.49

Tung Oil-$10.07

Paint for handles and broken foot-$2.98

Glue and resin for broken foot-$6.98

Sand paper-$2.00

Steel Wool-$3.97

Brushes-$1.00

Shop towels-$10.98

Contact paper-$9.99

Gloves-$2.00

Grand total $149.44

A good number of these things (Brushes, wood glue, paint, stripper, shop towels, contact paper, steel wool)are things that either I just had on hand already or have some left over and will be used again for future projects.

In case anyone was under a different impression I just want to note that I am a complete amateur at this. As in, I’ve never done anything of this sort before in my life. There were a lot of firsts with this project. I had never used a rotary tool before, never stained anything before (at least not wood and not on purpose). I had never used Tung oil. I had never used a resin to sculpt something, never had to reapply veneer or try to remove shellac (hopefully I will never have to do those two things ever again). The point is, I believed I could do it. More than that I believed that this sad little cast off of a desk could be something beautiful again, and I’m so very glad that it’s my something beautiful.

Now I do believe there is a dining room table that is begging for some t.l.c. as well. But in the mean time I may need some smaller projects. If any of you have any suggestions I would greatly appreciate them. In fact feel free to follow me on Pinterest so we can swap ideas.

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Desk Part 3: The Cherry On Top

Oh! Finally! The home stretch.

All that’s left is to put handles on. One of those (the one seen in the blog post here) required new holes. I left the drilling of said holes up to someone else. Mainly because I don’t trust myself to get them positioned correctly.

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out Part Zero, Part One, and Part Two

I decided to paint the outsides of the drawer sides. Mostly because I got stain all over them. It wasn’t pretty, and even though I have no intention of leaving the drawers hanging open all the time it will be nice to have them look decent. Instead of looking like I’ve slopped stain all down the sides and hastily tried to wipe it up just to have it spread around. Which is what actually went down. Paint fixes everything in my book.

After one coat of my go to Dark Kettle Black.

I also lined the drawers to cover up the ink stains and various other oddness. This is very much a two person job. Not just a two person job, but a two person job in which you must delegate tasks according to strengths and weaknesses. It turns out my boyfriend is great at spreading out the contact paper smoothly however horrible at holding the contact paper up. I’m the opposite. Actually my boyfriend is likely better at both of those things but that night he couldn’t hold his arms up six inches after having spent the day painting a ceiling. I remember that pain and am not eager to relive it.

The cat approves of this one

The aforementioned handle makes an appearance

To do this you might want a credit card or a small squeegee to smooth out any bubbles or wrinkles, as well as an exact-o knife to cut the excess as close to the edge as possible.

So now absolutely everything is done and ready to be moved in. Its time you see why I was so eager to get a new desk.

This is the setup I’ve been dealing with for the last six months. It’s rather unpleasant in the way of room to work not to mention aesthetics.

Yup he approves

This is so much better, although I will be playing around with the setup over the next couple of days and I doubt my CPU will stay up there. Either way a vast improvement.

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Desk Part 2: In Which the Naked Desk Gets His New Clothes

Yes, my desk is male. Yes, he likes frills and corner details and gilding. Do you have a problem with that?

So when we left off my desk had gone from this to this after a couple of very hot weeks in late august.

You can see its progress in Part 0 and Part 1

After that I wasn’t particularly sure what I wanted to do with the beast. Originally I was going to refinish the top with an ebony stain and paint the base with a grey chalk paint. Then I had planned to go over it with a dark finishing wax to give the carved elements dimension. However, after getting the whole thing sanded down I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to cover up that beautiful wood. So after some convincing and seeing what the top looked like stained I decided it would be worth the little extra work to stain the whole thing with a light ebony stain.

The top with its ebony stain.

I know light ebony sounds like an oxymoron … what I mean is just one light coat of an ebony stain to darken up the wood without adding any additional red since the wood was already reading as red (I’ve no idea what kind of wood it is but it’s very red).

I did some additional sanding over the whole piece with some fine grain sandpaper prior to staining then used a lint free cloth to remove any dust from the desk before actually applying the stain.

Before and after staining on the back panels and drawer fronts

I found it quite hard to get sawdust and lint out of the corners and carved detail no matter what I did. I finally hunted in the bathroom for a bulb syringe to blow air into these areas  and that turned out to be the perfect tool. It was far more efficient than a dust cloth or for that matter my lungs when it came to the crevices.

After all the staining was done it was a matter of protecting the finish I had just worked so hard to get. I originally purchased a can of polyurethane just assuming that’s how you finish things. After doing some research I decided to forego the ungodly coats of poly for just a couple coats of Tung oil. Tung Oil is pretty interesting stuff. If you’re thinking of refinishing furniture any time soon you should consider it as an alternative to poly. It was really easy to work with, a very quick process, and as far as I can tell quite durable. The only prep involved for the Tung oil was a quick buffing with a fine steel wool followed by dusting.

A couple of freshly stained drawer fronts getting the steel wool treatment before Tung oil.

In the end I’m really glad I went with staining the whole thing versus painting.

Tung oil really brings out the grain of the wood without being overly glossy.

Oh and remember that broken foot. It didn’t take stain luckily I had some paint handy, at least it’s an improvement.

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A Quick Revamp

I have an overabundance of makeup brushes. In addition to jewelry boxes as seen here and here. It comes with the job. So I got rather excited when I saw this little desk organizer at target one day for $3 in their back to school bin of goodies.

Admittedly it’s not particularly attractive, but 50 yards of ribbon can fix anything… or is that duct tape?

I didn’t want to paint it or decoupage it because it’s something that is going to have to be cleaned regularly just like my brushes. (speaking of which need a good wash) A little bit of tape or hot glue securing the ribbon on is easily removed for washing.

I just continued to wrap the ribbon around the cylindrical shape of the (now) makeup brush holder … and…Tah-Dah!

Much less cluttered than the drinking glasses and candle holders that previously housed my brush collection.