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?