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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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Best $10

This might just be the easiest project I’ve ever done. It’s also up there as one of the cheapest and most versatile. If you read my On The Horizon post you got to see a little sneak peak of these babies.

But I am beyond pleased with how they actually turned out. They are made out of very light weight (what I think is) balsa ply and ranged in price from $0.89 to $1.39 for the largest one. The paint was $2.89 for a sample pot of Valspar Dark Kettle Black. Of course this project didn’t make a dent in that sample pot and I will likely be using it for various other projects. It’s not really a true black but the most glorious charcoal color ever. Did I mention grey is my favorite color. You could just as easily use spray paint but its more expensive, its messy, its smelly, and it would use a whole darn can just to cover them because it goes everywhere except where you want it to… but I’m biased.

 

Because these frames are so light I just hung them with straight pins. Yes the kind you use to tack a hem. You could just as easily use 3M adhesive strips or blu-tack, but pins were handy and they leave nary a hole to be seen. So for about $10, we will say $13 with paint I turned my money wall into the wall of nothing. The wall of money was far too small for such a large expanse of blank wall so I was glad to find a cheap way to fill it.

These little balsa frames are possibly my new favorite thing and I’m sure I will be getting more for future projects. They would be marvelous with strip magnets on the back for a refridgerator frame, or if you have a massive steel front door and birds who love wreaths (the struggle is real). It would make a good alternative welcome sign to the ridiculous mesh monstrosities adorning houses around the country. You also don’t have to stick with boring black or brown. It would be an easy, as well as easily changed way to inject a pop of color into a space.

It also just makes a lovely thing to carry around in case of accidental photobombing or as a classy selfie prop. Seriously though these would be wonderful hanging from trees or the tent at a wedding for just that purpose as well as adding a bit of decoration to otherwise neglected areas.

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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.