Friday, November 8, 2013

Sideboard Saved

After selling the hutch that was in our kitchen when we moved here, I searched Craigslist and consignment shops for a long time, looking for a piece to go along a big wall in our eat-in kitchen. Finally, I found one with potential for just over $100. 

The buffet was made of mahogany by the Drexel furniture company sometime in the 1930s-1940s. I know mahogany is a great thing to find and refinish, but this piece had some serious dents and scratches all over the place. Since it was solidly built, though, I thought it might have some potential.

I left the thrift shop tchotchkes behind and took the buffet home to begin the repairs. I removed the hardware, filled dings and scratches and gave these areas a light sanding before applying the Stix primer. I had half a quart left from a family project, saving me money, and it also kept me from having to sand the entire piece before painting. 

While the Stix coat dried, I worked on salvaging the hardware. I did a magnet test to find out if it was plated or solid (solid-yay!) and then mixed up a batch of vinegar, hot water, and salt to remove some of the gunk. This solution is actually what I use for cleaning my silver jewelry after soldering, and I like it because I always have it on hand. 

I left the handles in the pickle solution for about 45 minutes, and took pieces out one-by-one for a final scrub with Barkeeper's Friend and an old toothbrush. While it was really good at removing the black gunk, the pickle also pulled the copper color to the surface of the brass and gave it a bit of a pink tinge. The scouring powder and toothbrush took care of this, and I was left with a warm glow on all of the pieces. Yes, it was time-consuming, but I love how they came out. 

I gave each piece a quick wipe with some Pledge, which is actually a pretty hard wax. I am hoping that it will keep these looking good at least a little longer than they would otherwise. 

I wanted a very matte finish on this sideboard, but I was hesitant to go the chalk paint route, because of the waxing/buffing step and questions about the durability of these products. After talking to the owners of my local Benjamin Moore store, I came up with an alternative that I think worked out pretty well in the end.  In the past I've used Benjamin Moore's Advance line that I've used for furniture, but I thought Advance was just a little too shiny, even in satin.  

Instead of a regular-finish paint or something fancy like Advance, I just stuck with a Fresh Start primer tinted to the color I wanted-a soft grey without any odd undertones. I brushed on two coats of the grey Fresh Start and let it dry.  Lastly, I followed this up with two coats of Benwood Acrylic Polyurethane in "flat" finish, using a small, foam roller. The final product seems like it will hold up well, and the finish is very warm and soft looking, not shiny, but not dull, either. 

I'm not quite sure what to do next as far as a runner, lamp, etc. to go on top of the buffet, but I like how the painting above also has a lot of blues and grey tones in it as well.  

From start to finish, this was a worthwhile project, despite the elbow grease and time required. The buffet was $110, and paint/supplies were another $50, but I don't think I could get something like this for that price anywhere else.  Come to think of it, since I sold the previous hutch for $150, I am actually only out $10 if I factor this into my project costs/totals! That is nuts...

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Peacock Pottery

My clay class worked on painting and finishing up their peacock bowls last night. (We said they were "peacock-inspired" or "magical peacocks" because we didn't use real peacock feathers...). This lesson was prompted by a link I found on Pinterest to this site: Peacock Palooza Mixed Mediahowever, I am not sure if it's the original source or not-there weren't any steps or details.  

After making a basic pinchpot, students added and shaped the bird heads and made holes around the back to later hold feathers. They worked on making them as smooth as possible so the painting process would be easier.  Once fired in the bisque kiln, the pots were painted with black, green or violet acrylic paint, and sparkly details were added with metallic paint. Kids then got to hunt and dig for their favorite feather combinations. A dot of glue held each feather in place once the final feathery composition had been arranged. 

This one has a feathered crown. 

We brainstormed some ideas about what we could put in our bowls....bracelets, barrettes, rings and well as what NOT to keep in our bird bowls (food and candles-stay away!)

All the birds, tucked in to roost!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Bedside Table Goes Green

This is a wrap-up on how my bedside table turned out, after having the piece on my to-do list for pretty much a year.

After many struggles, gobs of goo, and a broken bottom shelf, it started to look like the end was in sight.

I replaced the broken wood, and filled the cracks with wood filler, before giving it a darker final coat of "primer" (in this case, leftover "Newburyport Blue" flat wall paint, mixed with white primer.  

This, I think, could very well be referred to as this tables "ugly duckling" phase.  It's gotta get bad before it can get better, right?  Oouffff.....

The table and I went indoors for the glossy green coat--Benjamin Moore's Advance Water-based paint in "Celtic Green."  Then I added a knob from Anthropologie that is pretty sweet--made from a geode!  It looks soooo much prettier in person, too--the outside has swirls of blue and the same green that's in the table, and the center is cloudy, purply-grey quartz.

It was dark out by the time the table was dry (and unstinky) enough to put upstairs next to the bed, so lighting was a struggle.  I topped it with the piece of glass my friend had gotten cut to fit the table many years ago.  It's nice to know that I won't have to worry about the tabletop getting scratched by my books, phone, etc. every night.  

Friday, October 11, 2013

Birds of Hope Wall Ornaments

My six- to eight-year-olds are working on this fun clay project.  I got this idea from I am happy with how they are turning out, and the kids seemed to really enjoy the process of creating and texturizing the birds, as well as hunting for the letter stamps.  We talked about positive messages and brainstormed ways to use the letter stamps and help our art "say something." I am letting them dry slowly so they don't warp too much, and once they're fired, we will underglaze them. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Year-long Living-room Overhaul

This is my living room a year ago.

We had just moved in and unpacked. This was it. 

I know it's only an iPhone pic, but this shows some of what we've done in the past year. 
The basic guts of the room stayed the same--the couch, two side chairs, side tables, and the floor pillow are all the same. I did, however, make some color and pattern changes that really give the room a warm, cozy feel. The rug's nothing fancy, just a Home Depot special.  But I think what made the greatest impact were the wall and window updates. The dark walls and tall curtains add height to what's actually a fairly small room. The fabric, plain white muslin, provides much needed contrast against the dark walls and was a bargain at around $2.00 a yard with a coupon.  I didn't want to spend the money on cafe clips to hang them, so I sewed loops on the back of each panel. The curtains and bamboo shades are also hung higher than the height of the window to make the space feel larger.  Even though there are quite a few different patterns, it's more unified than what I had before, because the color holds it together. 

I am still trying to figure out what this odd little area below the way-up-high cabinets requires. Not another flat, framed picture, but something...something is still missing here...

Here're the details on this little room:
Paint color -Benjamin Moore, Newburyport Blue
White curtains -white muslin, handmade by me
Bamboo blinds
Floor pillow, blanket basket, gold mirror -HomeGoods
Rug -Home Depot
Cherry and steel coffee table, stump side table-handmade by my Dad
Lamps -HomeGoods and thrift store finds, repainted
Wingback chair -recovered, Uzbek Jewel, P. Kaufman
Side chair -Craigslist, recovered in grey
Art -collected. Some is my own work, others are from people I went to school with, people I know. Some is less exciting reprinted stuff that I just happened to like. 
Antique town map - Rustology in Stafford Springs
Bench -handmade by my Dad when I was a kid 
Pillows -the feather one and grey one I made, the round pillow is from LauraFrisk, on etsy
Wicker chair -was in the house when we moved in; cushion recovered

The pellet stove is so cozy this time of year. 

I have enjoyed figuring this room out and putting it together from so many different pieces

Inspiration for this room really started with this fabric I found over three years ago. I bought it from JoAnn's Special Order department with a 60% off coupon (the best kind!), hoping to redo a wingback chair. Although I loved the motif, I was waiting for the perfect chair and space in which to use it, so the fabric sat on a bolt on my dresser for years, just looking at me. When we moved here, this chair was kindly left with the house, and I had the inspiration for this room ready and loaded to go. 

Here is a close-up of the wingback chair fabric-love the elephants and crocodiles!  
P. Kaufman Uzbek Jewel

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Falling for Value

This week the students finished up some monochromatic value-based leaf paintings. Last week we drew our outlines on black paper with glue.  There was one exploding glue incident-only slightly distracting-and we let them dry for a week before finishing our work. Tonight we tried mixing some paint use with white and/or black to fill in the spaces and create our leaves. Kids had a great time, we talked about value, and it took the whole class to finish these.

Monday, September 30, 2013

A Useful Tray to Put Things In

This project actually began with a trip to the paint store, where I bought paint for my yet-unfinished bedside table. I found the Best Green Ever, Benjamin Moore's Celtic Green, and ordered it in the fancy Advance series, satin finish, recommended for furniture. And before I even got started on my original project, a quick stop at AC Moore with one of those reward coupons burning a hole in my pocket got me looking at these unfinished wooden trays.

I could see one of these in that bold green, with some kind of fancy paper lining the bottom, so I got the stuff together and got working on this quick-ish project.

I got my tray primed and recruited my mom, with her stained glass-cutting expertise, to help me cut some old picture frame glass down to size. 

Thanks, Mom! Third time's the charm!

Two coats of Celtic Green later, and here we are! 

Other projects finished this weekend include a color adjustment in the wall pigmentation (from kapow! Patriot Blue to something else, a little more like what I was originally going for), and a redo on the above lamp. I can't believe I forgot a picture on this one--just envision a big, peachy, heirloom-ish tomato with green streaks running vertically in a quasi-pearlescent glaze, topped with a burlap shade at least two sizes too large. Got the picture? Got it?

Only a new shade and half a can of Krylon later, you get this shiny, bulbous blossom of illumination. Squee! I love a good lamp. 

Still on the to-do list for this week: my table, my table, my time-consuming, sort of haunting, full-of-lovely-potential-table!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Drawing on pots

I am working on some pottery projects, mainly drawing on bowls and mugs. Here are a few that are ready for clear glaze!

This is the larger of two bowls, pretty much a cereal bowl. 

This bowl is hard to photograph-makes more sense in person.

Here are some mugs with the same kind of drawing on them...

I like drawing these house-fragments. 

This is the opposite side of the same mug.

This one feels like a sketchbook page to me. I am trying some close-up compositions...this one is a vine around a railing that wraps around to the other side-

...shown here. A baluster and a handle are both good for hanging on to. These mugs are ready for clear glaze and a final firing. Here's hoping they don't shrink too much!

I am also working on some textured slab mugs. I will find out this week if they make the cut after glaze firing. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Progress on a table makeover

At the beginning of the summer, my friend Louise gave me a table she had had for a long time.  It is a pretty neat table, with a nice shape, and a tiny drawer under the bottom shelf.  She had given the table a few updates over the years, most recently a textured finish.  I decided to update the table once again by stripping the table down and reprinting it to fit my style, and gave it a sanding to see if that could help smooth the texture down at all.  It just didn't do the trick, so I started stripping it with citrus-based paint remover.  UGH! What a process! 

I started this process two months ago in the driveway, and left gooey globs everywhere that won't come up, and had the table sitting in our porch for the rest of the summer, looking all sad and busted up.  

Before make-over

Mid-makeover, I think I'm about halfway there, wouldn't ya say?

I wish I took a few progress shots, but I was so frustrated and paint-goo-covered that I couldn't even begin to think about documenting it. Just picture me trying to scrape yellow goo away, and then realize  that there were several more layers to scrape away.  First yellow, then I think it was a periwinkle blue, and under that I actually found a very detailed miniature painting of a frontier town that Louise had painted, signed and dated 1992.  I wish I had gotten a shot of that, too-it felt very archeological-dig to me! 

Yesterday I put on a final coat of the citrus stripper, and let it sit a few hours.  I scrubbed it with a metal brush and a rag, then this morning I took mineral spirits and a toothbrush to it, trying to clean up the rest of the goo. I hope I was doing the right thing, I don't even know! The metal scraper and brush I used gouged up the surface pretty badly; I made a lot more work for myself that I need to go over and clean up with the detail sander.  UGH! 

So that's where I am at on this project.  Time to get the sander...and some wood glue.....and some putty....

Monday, September 2, 2013

Herringbone Style Coffee Table

Earlier this summer I decided I wanted to give a pretty beat-up coffee table of mine a new top.  It had been a tag-sale find that my parents picked up when I was a kid.  When they got it, the piece was really wobbly, so my dad had reinforced it and attached wooden feet beneath the iron base.  I think the metal part of the table was from one of those old sewing tables, and the top was a bread board with a hole at one end for a hook.  

This thing had one corner that was chewed off by a puppy long ago, and tons of scratches, so it was time for a total overhaul!

I am really liking the herringbone style of laying down wood, so I did some research, a little bit of math, and bought a box of 100 paint stirring sticks on Amazon.  I figured out that if I cut my pieces to 8", I would have enough with my cut remnants to do the table and have a few extras.  It was good to have some extra, too, since not all the birch paint sticks are flat enough for this project.   

Next, I got the table ready for this project by gluing and screwing down a thick sheet of birch plywood so my pieces would have a smooth, flat surface to adhere to. 

On this piece, I found center and drew a line that the peak of the herringbone would follow.  I used a square to help keep my pattern on track as I glued each stick down, piece by piece with thinned out carpenter's glue. 

The edges proved to be annoying, but luckily I was working on this project at my parents' house, and my dad was able to trim the edges with a circular saw. I bought an extra fine saw blade for this project so the thin wood wouldn't split. All that was left on the top in this picture was the corners and a few tiny pieces.  The table stayed like this for over a month while I went away on vacation' came back, and did some other projects.

Finally, this weekend, I almost-finished this project.  I glued and clamped down these tiny pieces, cut some trim/edging to cover up the sides of the tabletop, and stained everything. The top is stained Golden Oak, and for the sides I used English Chestnut stain that was leftover in the basement.  Tomorrow I hope to give the thing a coat of polyurethane and call it done!