Monday, October 22, 2012

From the Mud to a Stud

I always sort of kick myself whenever I realize (much too late) that I didn't take a "before" picture of something. I'm sure many DIY-ers can relate. When you finally decide to throw yourself into working on a piece, you start to see how it's coming along and then it hits you. "I forgot to take a BEFORE shot." Much exaggerated grumbling ensues.

This frame is exactly one of those instances. If ever there was a time I should have captured a *before* picture, this was it. My husband went up to the nearby woods for a walk with our dog. (Our Jammer-boy). While on his walk, he came across a big wood frame in a mud puddle. Knowing our penchant for transforming ordinary frames into sweet chalkboards, he lugged that wet, muddy, beat up brown frame home.

I didn't even want to touch it (yes, I'm one of *those*). I can get my hands covered in paint but keep nature-dirt away! Dirt harbours bugs. Paint doesn't. Anyhow... We propped that frame up to dry for a few days. When I took a closer look at it, it was still with a girly tip-of-my-fingers gesture. Heaven forbid I should get dirt on me. This frame was still caked in dried mud. I handed it to my husband, much like somebody would hold a sodden dirty diaper away from their nose. "Here. Do something with this *thing*."

So he set off to wash, and clean, and scrape, and sand and tighten the thing. A few hours later, you could register the visible surprise on my face when he presented it to me. Wow! It looked amazing! I caressed the smooth edges, eyed the classic design... All of a sudden I wanted it back, ideas starting to flow of how I would paint it.

Hubby then spoke up "I thought maybe it would look good if I oiled it, you know, with the Danish walnut oil." Screech! My internal Pinterest-ovision turned abruptly off. Hmmmm... Oiled? The idea had merit. So I gave him creative control over the frame. I thought it was only fair since he lugged it home and made it so un-dirty and all.

Well he buffed and he rubbed that frame until it was truly a thing of wonder. I was in awe! The oil was definitely a good call. It made the wood look rugged and full of character. Excited, I now wanted to see what it would look like with a chalkboard insert. So I painted up a chalkboard for it and by the time it was installed in the frame, I almost didn't want to sell it. Almost.

Sunday morning, just before leaving for the Queen Square Farmer's Market, I took a picture of the frame and uploaded it to Facebook. Within a couple of hours, we had a buyer for it. I called up my hubby a the Market and asked him to mark the frame as SOLD. I don't know if he was a bit disappointed that it sold so quickly, or proud that it did. We would have been just as happy to have it hanging in our home too. Even so, we're glad that it has a new owner, one who loves it like we did, and who appreciates the story behind it.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Painted Union Jack Table

I've seen so many furniture projects online featuring a painted Union Jack flag that I knew I wanted to try my hand at it as well. I picked up a cute little table one day and my husband wanted to try refinishing it himself. It had originally had a pull out writing shelf in the front but it was no longer with the table when we bought it. So I brought the table to my mother's house and asked if Maurice, her significant other, could make a new front where the missing shelf was. Maurice delivered and in the process made the table much sturdier too. Unfortunately, as is often the case, I didn't snap a before picture.

The veneer on the top of the table was severely chipped and lifting in spots. My husband thought he would work with those defects and make the table look like an old worn British flag. Seeing as how he didn't have any experience painting faux or trompe l'oeil, I had my reservations. A quick sketch of the Union Jack quickly told him that it wasn't going to be as easy as he thought.

I recommended that he remove all the old veneer so that he could at least work from a clean surface. So after much work with a metal palette and a heat gun, he was able to remove the other veneer. He then fixed any imperfections in the top and sanded it smooth. He primed it completely and then it sat. I don't know if he had lost faith but I was itching to take over his project. I could see that the dimensions were ideal for a Union Jack but he just seemed to lose interest. So one day I told him that I was re-claiming "his" table. 

I mixed 3 shades of blue paint with a touch of silver and proceeded to give the whole table three coats of paint. I love the texture that the silver gave to the blue. Once that was dry, I printed off a Union Jack flag to the scale of my table (see how I did that? "my" table...) and used it as my guide for the placement of the lines I carefully taped off the white section and then cut off the intersecting angles. Four coats of white paint, then I removed the tape and re-taped this time for the red. The cross in the center received 4 coats, then the tape was removed and retaped for the red diagonals. I was SO anxious to see the finished project. I removed all the tape and my hubby was kind enough to apply 4 coats of Poly to the top and body of the table. 

Jack was finally done and I was in love. Not so much that I couldn't bear to part with him though. A few days later I brought the table to the Harvesting the Arts Festival and it sold that same day. I am so glad that the table is going to somebody who is in love with all things British. I hope she treasures her table ask much as I enjoyed turning it into a little gem.

It was definitely a lot of work and many hours to paint this design. Would I do it again? Yes! I love the final result and I am very tempted to do it again but using non-traditional colours next time. Somebody also asked if I would do a New Brunswick flag table. I would but it would be on order only. It's a pretty involved design.

It was a bit of an oddity for me to make a Union Jack table (and love it SO much) considering that I am an Acadian and historically, the British Loyalists of the region did not treat my ancestors too kindly. Still, the design resonated on a purely esthetic plane. Would you have a Union Jack piece of furniture in your house?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

A New Retro Look for Vintage Wood Stools

My friend Tina has been a great supporter of all my crafty projects. She told me one day that her mother had a couple of old stools that she no longer needed and asked if I would like them. Never being one to turn down free furniture for refinishing, I said "sure!" I was pleasantly surprised with what I saw when she turned them over to me. They were solid wood, made in Czechoslovakia, and a great clean style that would be a breeze to work with. They were in good shape considering they were over 50 years old.

I loved their simple square shape and knew right away what I was going to do with them. That same week I had seen some decor projects online that were completed using Mexican oilcloth. Oilcloth? I thought that was like the old flooring I had in my last house. Not quite! Oilcloth is a heavy printed plastic backed with threads. It's shiny and waterproof, somewhat supple, perfect for indoor/outdoor furniture, and the Mexican variety is deliciously retro!

My hubby did all the pre-work for me and helped to realize my vision for these beauties. He removed the cushions and completed any needed repairs. Primed and a few (5) coats of pretty red paint later, the stools were almost ready.

Hubby cut new seats and helped me to reupholster the cushions after I beefed them up with extra padding. Once the cushions were done, the stools were sealed with a few coats of poly. Finally the cushions were ready to re-attach to the stools. Ah! Perfection!

Aren't they adorably cute? They make me want to redo my entire kitchen to match. But alas these are for sale. I may shed a tear when they leave my house for their new home. Seriously though, I'm glad I bought a few different patterns of oilcloth. This stuff is seriously cool. I have other projects already planned for the rest.

And a final before and after:

Have you ever used oilcloth for decor projects? Are you tempted now?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Jewellery Organizer with a Spicy Past

When I found this old spice rack (circa 1970s?) it was like a one-legged pirate, with a missing drawer and gate-like wood doors and rusty upholstery tacks. I carried it all over the thrift store with me, not absolutely sure that I really wanted it. I wasn't even sure what I was going to do with it. I even thought I would remove the doors altogether and the lone drawer.

When I got it home and posted pictures of it, comments were surprisingly favourable and it was suggested that the doors should stay and that the missing drawer didn't matter. It was cool, pirate-like and all. So I got to work, or rather, my hubby did. Being the good helper that he is, he removed the tacks then sanded this piece all down for me. I then took it to my workshop. I primed it and painted the entire thing a nice glossy raspberry colour.

A quick trip to the fabric store was in order. I bought a quarter meter of a light green and cream print with delicate filigree butterflies. I wanted something that wasn't going to compete against the jewellery that would be hanging inside. So like the other re-lined boxes I've done, I set to work cutting cardboard, glueing it to fabric then glueing it all into place inside.

I decided to line the opening that had the missing drawer. Plus I lined the very top shelf due to a paint mishap. (I re-sprayed a coat after an hour and before 24 hours. It immediately bubbled and wrinkled on me so I scraped that paint off and decided right then that I would just upholster that surface. It was a plan that worked out well in the end.)

I've since added a length of chain strung across the two large openings, just right for hanging earrings from. I didn't take a picture of it yet with the chains. So from a rickety old pirate to a classy butterfly bedecked lady, I think this was a successful transformation. What do you think?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Knife Box Re-Do

I found (rescued) this sorry looking knife box at the local Salvation Army Thrift Store. I really liked the finger-jointed corners and large flat surface on top, which I knew would be perfect for some art from the Graphics Fairy (You must check it out if you're looking for sweet vintage images.)

Inside the box, there was a long wood block with slots cut into it. It's the kind of thing that would have held fancy silver butter knives or something similar. The pinkish velvet lining wasn't in awful condition but I had plans right away for the inside so I new it all had to go.

First I removed the block, which was held through the bottom with long metal staples. Then out came the velvet lining. I was getting used to this part as I had done it a few times by now (see my previous jewellery box re-do). My darling husband did me the favour of patching and sanding the outside of the box and then I got to work.

I primed and painted the outside and inner edges of the box (and had to touch the inside front corners a few times as *somebody* kept closing the box before it was fully dry, causing the lid to stick shut and lifting some paint when I pried it back open... not naming names, just sayin'... haha). Then I lined the inside of the box with some heavy woven cotton, similar to drop-cloth but not drop cloth. It has a nice semi-nubbly texture to it. I know... nubbly is not a real word but it works. 

I then added a couple of tiny pieced of adhesive cork sheet to prevent the lid from sticking down on itself again (genius!). My next idea to decorate the top didn't turn out at all. I was going to attempt to transfer an image using ModPodge but it came off in big chunks and looked HORRIBLE. (No pics taken. It was hiding in shame.) So I meticulously (painstakingly) scraped off all the transfer and glue and paper with my fingernail. It took forever but thankfully it didn't harm the surface at all. Phew.

I decided to use my tried and true method of colouring the back side of a printout with a pencil and then placing the image on the cover and tracing it with a stylus. Unfortunately it wasn't a very dark leaded pencil so I could barely see the image. I had to keep tilting and tilting the box under different light to see the faintest outline so that I could re-sketch the image in enough to be able to paint it. Finally all sketched in, I then outlined and painted in the entire crown. Wow! I love this image! (Thanks SO much again Graphics Fairy!)

Once it was dry, I brought it back to my workshop and added a few coats of satin spray sealant to the whole outside of the box (which I now say is a Trinket Box.)

It seemed that time had warped the bottom of the box so to prevent it from wobbling, I glued flat glass marbles to the bottom to serve as feet. That made it even better!

What do you think of my trinket box? I wanted to go for a look that could be used by either a man or a woman. Is it too feminine? Or just right?

Before and after:

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Jewellery Box Re-Do

I picked up this jewellery box recently at our local Salvation Army Thrift Shop. My husband must have thought I was crazy but I could see beyond the busted mesh, the scratches and dust, and the horrendous mustard yellow velvet inside.

But my hubby has faith in my eye for treasures so he was a sweetie and dismantled it all for me and started sanding it. I pulled out the dusty velvet from all the nooks and he scraped all the old glue away. (Have I mentioned how much I love this man?)

I set up all the pieces in an assembly line fashion in my basement work space. First came a few coats of primer, then the door and drawers were painted turquoise, the body was painted aqua, and the hardware was painted in my favourite Oil Rubbed Bronze. Everything then received a few coats of protective finish. This all took the better part of a week since it was done during the evening and early morning.

The next step was re-attaching the hardware and re-lining all the drawers, the door and the cubby behind the door. I've done this sort of thing a few times so I have a big bin of cardboard which I saved from old cereal boxes. I measured each opening carefully and cut 30 pieces of cardboard in all. Each one was sprayed with adhesive and placed on the fabric, which is the gorgeous Mandarin print from Amy Butler's Lark line. The colours go perfectly with the blues I chose for the jewellery box.

Then the fabric was cut and the edges were folded over and glued to the backs of the cardboard. Then the pieces were each glued into place inside the drawers. The finishing touch was to add small cork pads to the bottom of the box.

I'm in love with it and will be sad to part with it when it sells but I know that will mean that somebody else fell in love with it too.

Monday, February 20, 2012

New Face for an Old Clock

Hey, Pepper here. Salt and I made our usually weekly visit to the second-hand store uptown. We picked up a cute little table for $20. Salt is working on that one already. I spied this ugly old clock and knew I could turn it into something fabulous! Salt wasn't as convinced and I'm pretty sure she didn't want to spend a single penny from our tickle trunk for this clock. The picture makes it look better than it was but trust me, it was hideous with scratches and brass and flowers and a cheap plastic finial. Uck.

When I asked the shop owner how much the clock was, he said I could just have it. Free with the purchase of our table. Woohoo! Score! And I didn't have to guilt Salt into parting with some of our cash-ola.

Once we were back in our workshop, I quickly got down to the business of dismantling the clock and gave it a good rough sanding to knock down some of the glossy finish. Then I proceeded to fill the dings and scratches (and these weird little country-looking moose-track accents carved into the wood) with some wood filler. Wait for it to dry, re-sand and more wood fill.

Over the course of the next two days, I sanded some more, primed, and applied glossy turquoise paint to the body of this clock 6 times. I also straightened out the clock hands and painted them in a matte black. The plastic finial and brass frame also got sanded, primed and painted in matte black. The final step before bed last night was a good coat of satin sealer to even out the shine.

I had initially cut a bright yellow paper for the clock face but found it too bright next to the equally brilliant turquoise. So I switched it out for an earlier paper that I had picked, which had more shades of green and a hint of blue. I love the final product and can’t wait to see what Salt says. Was it worth it? Well it was free so definitely but even it I had paid $5 for the clock, I would still say that it was money well-spent. What do you think?

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