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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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Handles

Not that handles

Let me rephrase. Drawer pulls. By that I mean I found some to replace the not so attractive ones that were on my desk. Only problem is I wanted the center (I think this used to be called a glove drawer or something) to have a long lock looking pull but there were none that matched the knobs I picked out

Nothing a little paint and eyeshadow can’t fix. Yes, you read that right. After rough sanding the handle to get off any loose paint or patina I painted it black, or close enough.

I then went over portions of the handle that were in relief or would see a lot of wear and tear with a chocolaty brown color.

Then while the paint was still wet I packed on a bronze colored eyeshadow with a dry brush to match the bronze patina on the knobs for the shorter drawers.

Once I was satisfied I dusted off any excess shadow with a soft cloth, and sealed the pull with a clear acrylic. Now I actually have a matching set.

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Desk Part 1: Safety First

I could have called this “Always wear gloves and goggles” or “Shellac is the bane of my existence” or “Sweat does not evaporate in 60% humidity” maybe “DO NOT! Sand in 90 degree heat”. I vote not doing anything in 90 degree heat anyway.

There is always a learning curve and these are the things I’ve learned in the first part of this project. If you missed Part Zero you can find it here

Where do I start? Oh yes, the bane of my existence. That lovely shellac. In case you don’t know what shellac is, here is the short version. Its excretions from a tiny bug dissolved in alcohol and painted onto furniture…. Yes I’m serious. Click here for the long version. Why? I have no earthly idea. It’s not particularly scratch resistant, it turns white when it gets wet, and god forbid you ever want to remove it. It’s an old (I don’t know how old) piece of furniture so I’m not surprised that it’s covered in shellac. Over the years shellac has fallen out of favor to be replaced by much more durable varnishes and polyurethanes. This piece however was caked in a very deep red/amber colored shellac and it has not been fun to remove it.

So about removing it. Sanding sort of works. For the most part though it just gums up your sand paper. And if you were paying attention yes, alcohol will dissolve it. However you have to work incredibly quickly and waste a lot of paper wiping it away, otherwise as the alcohol rapidly dries and you’ve essentially just reapplied the shellac. For the most part strippers aren’t particularly efficient on shellac. I managed to luck out. I have a stripper that I’ve used on a couple of other projects in the past that is absolutely marvelous. Its non-toxic and biodegradable. I have no idea what it’s made of but it even has a bizarrely pleasant smell.

Unlike latex paint its not going to strip it off in lovely sheets that just plop off nice and clean. Instead it turns the shellac into this strange gloop, it’s like blood and viscera… let’s just say always wear gloves unless you want to look like an axe murderer

So after attempting to sand the top and resorting to stripping the whole desk it turned out not as bad as I thought.

Look, I found a water ring hiding under all that shellac and stain.

I also found some pen scratches and what I can only figure are cigarette burns, but after lots of stripping and sanding I found some gorgeous wood underneath.

The poor broken foot received a prosthetic. This is where goggles come in. Always wear goggles when using a rotary tool. Tiny bits of resin in your eye are no fun and also will hinder your sight so that using your rotary tool to sculpt so everything is all nice and neat instead of doing it by hand becomes a moot point.

The before and after of the stripping process on the drawers.

The drawer that had the cracked veneer loosened but has already been re-glued. It’s thick veneer (about 3/16) which made it quite easy. My photographic evidence of the repair work failed me.

It’s looking rather vastly improved already. Now just to figure out what to do with it now that it’s naked.

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Resurrection, or A Lantern for That Glamping Trip

Do you remember that clock I murdered so ferociously without any thought of what I might do with it.

If you don’t you can find it here.

Well I figured out what to do with it in a somewhat round about fashion. I had considered turning it into a lamp but … well, it seemed complicated and despite how this blog may make me appear I’m a lazy person. Then I came across these lovelies on Amazon. They are the tiniest fairy lights you’ve ever seen. They are battery powered and oddly the strand is waterproof. I don’t need it to be but that’s cool none the less.

I also found a roll of window frost on amazon with good reviews. I’ve got a bathroom window that needs frosting and it will only take about 6 square inches of the 9ft roll to do this project so its worth it.

The next bit got a little complicated. Only because I made it so. It doesn’t need to be. I laid the glass over some pretty scrapbooking paper and laid down the frost contact paper over top of it letting the excess hang over the edge to secure it in place. I then used a Knife of Exact Zero* to cut out the pattern of the scrapbooking paper into the contact paper. You can purchase frosted contact paper that has patterns like this in it ready made. I opted for regular old frost since it’s something I’m going to be using for multiple projects, including some I just want to be plain. I decided to stick with the cheaper and more boring frost, and thus created a little bit more work for myself.

After that it was just a matter of spray painting that horrific brass

I then reassembled the glass and faceplate just securing it with a bit of glue and strung the itty bitty adorable lights through the back plate where the clockwork used to be.

Last but not least I happened to have a frame that fit the front of the clock perfect and I glued that on to the front as well to glam it up a bit and voila…

A lantern for your next glamping trip

 

You could skip the pattern in the frost or skip the frost all together by placing some tissue paper (any color) in the lantern. I (or rather my mother) discovered this after the fact but I actually like it a bit better as it also manages to diffuse the light a bit more and hide the wires a bit better. The header picture is of the clock/lantern on with tissue paper behind the face.

At any rate I’m glad our sad, neglected, noisy clock found new life as a glamorous lantern. It will likely come in handy during our regular power outages. What other objects can you think of upcycling into lanterns?

 

 

 

 

*that’s an exacto knife for those of you that are not awesome

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Desk Part 0: And So It Begins

Sorry for possible histrionics and definite garrulousness but I am so excited. I got a desk. It’s old and beat up and possibly unstable, but it’s mine and it’s going to be fabulous.

The story of how this desk came to be in my possession is actually kind of odd. I walked into a local thrift store and immediately fell in love with it. It was the first desk I saw after I decided to finally go looking for one. The clerk who was working there at the time was incredibly nice and helpful and directed us to a few other desks they had in the store. She let us know that they also have several warehouses that they rotate out stock from.

Then I though “there are plenty of fish in the sea” so I spent the next day wandering around antique stores and thrift shops looking for a desk. Every one that I saw got compared to that first one in my mind. So I went back… and it had a little name tag hanging on it. Oh, my heart sank. It didn’t say “sold”. It was just a name and number, so I asked the sales clerk what the deal was. This new clerk wasn’t particularly helpful and had no clue whether it was sold or not and didn’t seem to want to help me with anything else. I left thinking I would never see the desk again.

About a week later my boyfriend said “hey, let’s go back and see if that desk is still there”. I wasn’t particularly keen on the idea, but figured it was worth a try. We walked in and there it was still sitting there, no name on it. The clerk who was working the first day I came in was there again. She let us know that the other customer who was in the store at the same time was also interested in the desk. It figured. She just needed to go home and measure to see if the desk would fit in the space she wanted it for. So the clerk was going to put the customer’s name and number on it as a hold. This solved the mystery of the “not quite sold” tag. I told her the story so far of my longing for this desk and asked her to call me right away if the other customer wasn’t interested.

My boyfriend and I headed out for some birthday fun for him and about an hour later on our way to dinner my phone rang. It turns out this desk and I were destined to be together.

It has some issues, like a broken foot, though that doesn’t seem to bother the stability of the desk. The (incredibly thick) veneer on one of the drawers is cracked and poorly mended. The drawer stops are missing on a few drawers. And don’t get me started on the state of the top. It also looks like someone spilled and entire bottle of ink in the top left hand drawer (the logical place to keep an inkwell… if you’re left handed?).

These are all things I have full confidence I can fix, or at the least hide. At $50 I feel like even if it takes more than that amount to fix it I’ve still gotten a bargain. They don’t make desks like this anymore. I don’t really know much about it as far as style or time period so if anyone can tell me anything about it I would be greatly indebted to you.

Stay tuned as it begins to get its makeover.

The top with it’s abundance of scratches

The aforementioned broken foot

Where the ink spilled over from the drawer onto the desk and the stops which are missing on many of the drawers

The fancy sides… and the name Jordan carved into one of the drawer fronts

The cracked veneer and missing drawer stops

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Yet another

I wasn’t lying when I said there was an overabundance of jewelry boxes

So another one got a makeover. First off, milk paint has a learning curve. The whole thing was a pretty open and shut case prior to finding a bargain batch of milk paint a Michael’s one day. I was just going to replace the broken handles and paint it to match the existing ones I had already done. But then there it was screaming at me. Those bottles of pretty pastel powder.

Knowing I was going to use milk paint I sanded the box completely down to the bare wood. It turns out its maple, and it smelled amazing.

As is typical of me I just jumped right in without doing any research. Google might as well not exist as far as I’m concerned. I just read the simple instructions on the back and decided that was good enough. A one to one ratio of the powdered paint and warm water. Ok sounds good. So off I went doing test patches on the bottom of the box that I sanded. I found a color mix and consistency that I liked, this one was three parts blue one part green and an equal amount of water. Then I went to town on the box. I wasn’t satisfied with the coverage so I figured I would do another coat. But oh yeah… water soluble, powdered paint. Guess what happens when you go over it with more liquid. It just pulls up what you’ve just put down.

So in the end I just had to thicken the mixture to get a higher coverage. Like I said it was a learning curve. It’s still patchy but in the end I decided to distress it so it fits with the overall look of the box itself.

The handles came from my usual favorite idea-ology line. They are made for cardboard box storage so have brad attachments but I found making a pilot hole and using a small hammer to pound in the brads worked just fine at securing them into the wood.

After everything I sealed it with a couple coats of satin clear coat to prevent the milk paint from wearing off or going all liquid at the drop of some water. Hopefully that will do it, or if it doesn’t it will give me an excuse to refinish it again and maybe straighten out that top handle in the process.

 

It didn’t turn out too shabby for my first (possibly last) attempt at milk paint. I had to custom mix the paint in order to attempt to match anything else I owned but it actually doesn’t look that bad. Clearly I am biased in this matter. Let me know what you think.

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In the rear view

I stated in On the Horizon that there were a lot of projects I had done before I started this blog. Really that’s the whole reason I started this blog. That and some pretty fierce and wonderful prompting from my boyfriend. It seemed about time I document my crazy and creative endeavors for the world to see, or at least so I can remember how I accomplished such a thing down the road a ways.

I’m really quite terrible at taking before and after pictures. I remodeled the house I lived in one time. The whole kit and caboodle, 1960’s floors to popcorn ceiling. We completely forgot to take before pictures. So no one ever believes me when I tell them it had orange shag carpet throughout. When I say throughout I mean even in the bathrooms. Live and learn. Your camera phone is your friend.

I just thought I would take a quick second to share the few projects that I can document, though for the most part without before pictures. If you see anything you love let me know, leave me a comment. If you see anything you want to know how to do or where I found the stuff for let me know I am sure I can recreate some of these for a proper tutorial.

I hate switch plate covers. Particularly ones that are the hideous contractor’s choice beige. It just looks constantly dirty. Sure you can buy new ones for pretty cheap, but you can also mod podge them for pretty cheap, and it turns out much cooler. It also happens to make the light switches easier to find fumbling around in a dim room, and comes off with hot soapy water so this is something you can easily do in a rental.

The wall-o-money is really rather self-explanatory. I have an inordinate amount of foreign money and saw a rather wonderful way to display it on Pinterest one day. So some old frames, some new frames, some paint, and some craft paper and I had myself a strange bit of “art work” for my once bare walls. As a warning it is heavy stuff. You may also notice with a coin collection, whether foreign or domestic that the coins are varying thicknesses. I got around this with a little Styrofoam backing which a lot of new frames will come with. As strange as this looks to people I like to point out that I have a frame full of absolutely worthless currency as the majority of it is pre-Euro era European currency. “It’s a commentary on the transient nature of wealth and the shallowness of our material culture.” Damn right it’s “art work”.

Did I mention in addition to being ridiculously girly I have a … nerdy streak? I’m not entirely sure you would call it that. Put it this way, I play video games (perhaps too much) I like comic books and super heroes (who doesn’t?) and I have a soft spot for quantum physics (mechanics just to placate my boyfriend). Anyway, I think this was my favorite project of last year. I was bored and between jobs so I needed a cheap and yet time consuming project. The super hero coasters were born. Let me know if you would like to see a tutorial on how I created these. I’ll take any excuse to do some more even though I’m pretty sure six is plenty.

 

Of course there have been other painting projects as well. This sad shabby microwave stand got an update as a tv stand

And this oh-so 90’s cherry wood veneer night stand became a not so cherry wood veneer night stand.

Once again let me know if there are any projects you would like to see me create (or reacreate) in future blogs. And let me know what you think by commenting, liking, subscribing, following on Facebook or just sitting there reading. I appreciate all of it.

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On the Horizon

I MUTILATED A CLOCK

I know… it was a crime of passion and I feel no remorse. Mainly because I have diabolical plans for its remains. You are probably thinking “What steam-punk rococo funk monstrosity is this woman attempting?” But I can see it, and it’s going to be marvelous…. Or it’s going to be a disaster, either way the clock ran painfully slow so no harm, no foul. I’m actually going to use its hollow remains as a shadow box/display case. I can’t really take credit for the idea as it is something I saw in the Tim Holtz idea-ology section at Michael’s today. Michael’s actually sells brass alarm clock shells, but… screw that I have one at home that would be so much more fun to tear apart. With bonus steam punk gears inside! Side note: if anyone knows how to remove pins from sprockets that would be helpful information. This is just a “side” project with no deadline or motivation other than “oh my god I’m going to tear apart a clock older than I am”. Not that everything else I do is a primary imperative in any way. I’ll get there eventually or I’ll just have a torn apart clock laying in a box for a long time and I hate useless things laying around; I guess that’s the motivation.

So what else will be coming up in the next few weeks, possibly months, maybe by the end of the year? I’m not good at deadlines when it comes to personal projects.

As previously stated in Old Junk New Funk (one day it will have a better title) I do really have an overabundance of jewelry boxes so another makeover is coming along with one of them. This time it will be my first foray into Milk Paint. If you have any tips or tricks you would like to share with me regarding that please let me know. I figured I better start small when it comes to that because I have a couple of future projects that I know I want to use either Milk or Chalk paint on.

Speaking of those (far off) future projects one is a new (and by new I mean antique or thrift store) desk, seeing as though my marvelous computer that has allowed me to start this blog is currently sitting on a fold up table. That will have to wait until funds allow, which shouldn’t be too long off. Another major project to be tackled is liable to be my boyfriend’s new (and by new I mean thanks to our dear friend who moved to the sunshine state) table. We will be reupholstering the seats at the very least and likely painting the chairs and table base, though maybe not all of those things all at once. We have yet to decide if we will paint or just refinish the top. It’s something that I would like to do in chalk or milk paint so I’m doing this dry run on the jewelry box to see how things go. And once again any tips and tricks would be greatly appreciated. This is another something that is going to have to wait until funds allow (upholstery fabric is surprisingly expensive) but the greater obstacle is waiting until the weather cools down a good bit. 95 degrees plus 95% humidity is not ideal for painting.

It is never a good idea for me to go into a craft store or any HBA section as I spend too much money and time there. Clearance at Michael’s was amazing. I have a $10 gallery wall in the making. This is a project that will take longer to arrange than it will to actually make. Just slap some paint on it, find a good wall space, and figure out how to arrange them. And I have exactly the wall. Because they are so light weight I’m guessing if you placed strip magnets on the back of the smaller ones they would make wonderful refrigerator frames for kid’s artwork. Something I don’t have to deal with, but it’s a quickie tutorial I might do for those who do have little ones around. I can also probably attach them to the wall without putting holes in the wall thanks to their weight, so they would be great for apartment use as well. My mind is just going crazy with the possibilities of these cheap and wonderful little do-dads.

I don’t have any health and beauty blogs lined up. Mainly because I don’t feel confident in myself (despite it being my job?) but also I think beauty tutorials come across much better in video form and I don’t have the equipment for that. But I will continue doing write-ups on anything that I find particularly interesting. If I happen to try out any new products I’ll do reviews (Clinique smart serum review may be incoming). I have just started using prescription retinol (tretinoin) and will be chronicling my experiences with it but I would like to give it at least four weeks (more likely 6 or 8) to see how it does.

Anyway these are the things I have lined up. There are lots of little crafty things I have done over the years that (unfortunately?) haven’t been documented. I’ll put a couple pictures of finished projects below. I’m also working on a follow up blog post that is nothing but projects I’ve completed in the last year. Let me know if there is a project you would like to see me do a tutorial on, whether it’s a project I’ve finished once already or a new endeavor entirely.

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Old Junk to… New Funk? No. I need a better Title for this

There is an overabundance of jewelry boxes in my house. Seriously, some families have a collection of china or crystal or silver spoons… snow globes even. What do we have? A butt load (technical term… seriously check it out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_wine_cask_units) of jewelry boxes. So what does one do with a bunch of old jewelry boxes? Things like this apparently

 

 

I got creative with this one a while back and decided it would do well as inspiration for a second one that my skin care fit perfect in. The one pictured is a bit more fancy, and because of this I completely disassembled it (including taking off the little Barbie sized handles) in order to paint it.As you can see I also decoupaged the top of this one. I’ll do a later DIY involving mod podge undoubtedly but its pretty straight forward.

So the first step in any furniture painting project is to clean the object to be painted, I usually do this with just a damp cloth. Just to get off any dust or patina collected over the years but you don’t have to be too thorough because the next step is lightly sanding, my cat was opposed to this idea. You don’t have to be thorough with this either, its just a matter of scuffing up the surface so the paint will stick. After sanding you once again have to clean up the piece to make sure you’ve gotten off all of the dust off. Here is where you get a bit more thorough.

Next you want to prime, I’ve found the best primer for wood surfaces is actually ceiling paint. I know that sounds odd but its relatively cheap, dries quickly and despite not having the best coverage it has really great tooth, a rough texture that allows subsequent paint coats to stick to it. This is after one coat of primer, you could do a secondary one since the wood is dark, but one is all I did and it seemed to do fine with it.

Now moving on to paint. If you are going to do two tone (or possibly more) it’s a good idea to have your layout now instead of trying to do it on the fly. It’s also a good idea to do what is going to be the primary color first and work on the detail color second to avoid secondary line cleanup. In this case the beige is going to be the primary color with green being all detail work. Make sure you have good brushes that you are comfortable using. I’m picky about my brushes both for painting and makeup (oddly my cat is not and will steal all of them). I don’t necessarily buy the most expensive ones but I buy ones of a decent quality that I’m comfortable with: Synthetic fiber that I know will clean up well and last me longer than ones that are sometimes impossible to get washed up nicely. A small preferably angled head for detail work and for larger areas a brush that is smaller than what you think you need.

I tend to use satin wall paint for my furniture projects, it’s readily available in any color you can imagine and about $3 for a small batch. It cures nicely but also washes relatively well. The higher the shine the easier a paint will be to wash, but the more likely it is to stay green (keep some pliability and tendency to take an impression, not good for furniture). The only problem with sample pots is that the small plastic jars they come in tend to be crap. So eventually I end up transferring them to mason jars which are pretty easy to come by and wash up great to be reused.

One of the biggest mistakes people make when painting, whether its walls or furniture or anything else is overloading their brush. You only need paint on about 1/8 to ¼ of your brush (just the tip guys). Admittedly by the end of any project even I will have an overloaded brush but starting out with the proper amount of paint on your brush will give you more even strokes, better coverage in the long run and prevent any drips or thick spots and thus your paint will cure faster. So now that you know all the basics. Off you go… paint to your hearts content. Paint the town red, or paint that red door black. Or paint an overabundance of jewelry boxes in unabashedly girly two tone colors so you have somewhere to put your face creams.

Oh! Keep going… The knobs needed a redo too. I pulled inspiration from my nail polish.

 

So I got all done and those sad little knobs screamed at me, I think they are plastic made to look like brass, or possibly they are brass, I’m not sure, either way they were not cute. But my nails were at the time so …

 

And Voila!!! An afternoon spent well.