2014-Looking Forward To It

mammoth sunflower

I didn’t want to be like all the other bloggers out there; oozing hope and sunshine, bright and early on New Year’s Day. I wanted to catch you a few days into the new year, after the gloss had worn off just a bit. (Okay, so truthfully, I got blown off course by a family crisis on Christmas Eve and am just now getting back on track)

2014 is going to be a year full of changes with my daughter graduating from high school in June, putting our house up for sale in the summer and all of us moving from the suburbs of Chula Vista to city life in San Diego.

This blog began 18 months ago with a self-imposed challenge to get rid of my paint stash before we move this coming summer. So as of right now, I have about 6 1/2 months to get rid of the rest of my stash. I’ve looked at the the projects left to do around my house and have come to realize that I’m never going to use up all these products. The challenge – as I wrote it – allows for four ways to reduce my stash. I can use it up, trade it, sell it or donate it. Right now I’m keen on donating it, however, the products that are taking up the most space are specialty, faux finishing products that the general public doesn’t know how to use. So I’ve decided to host a paint-and-play day for my painter friends. We’ll open everything up and see if they can lighten my load, and have a little fun getting messy.

Even though I’m planning on giving away the majority of my paint, I’ll still have plenty of paint projects to post, I promise. I’ll be trying to destash the other materials in my studio as well, so there will also by fabric and crafting posts just to keep it interesting.

Salvaged Sanity did well over the holidays and as a result, the shop is looking kind of empty. I’ve got some new ideas for creative storage products using secondhand stuff that I just can’t wait to make. Of course that will involve a few treasure hunts through estate sales and flea markets and I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

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The Hardest People to Shop For – aka, my family

My immediate family is very small, so leaving home yesterday with the intention of doing all my Christmas shopping in one day was not outside the realm of possibility. I got my Starbucks on and good music in my car and shuttled myself up to one of San Diego’s major malls. (For all you people who like to guilt people for shopping in malls: I already did my small business and Etsy shopping last week and have made 50% of my gifts, so back off)

I’ll let you know ahead of time that I did achieve my goal, but about two thirds of the way through my day I started to get the panic that only comes from shopping for my family. I’ve put off telling you my family’s ugly little secret, but I think I need a little support from all the normal people out there so here goes…….

Two out of the three people in my family suffer from Urticaria….there, I said it. Wikipedia defines it this way:

Urticaria (from the Latin urtica, nettle,[1]) commonly referred to as hives, is a kind of skin rash notable for pale red, raised, itchy bumps. Hives might also cause a burning or stinging sensation. Chronic urticaria (hives lasting longer than six weeks) is rarely due to an allergy. Less common causes of hives include friction, pressure, temperature extremes, exercise, and sunlight.

Okay, so now you’re sitting there saying, “What do you mean they get hives from pressure and friction?” To state it simply, they break out from seams in clothing, uneven fabric, carved details, ridges, bumps, dirt, sand, dust, basically from being alive. My husband has had it all his life and I had high hopes that my daughter wouldn’t develop it, but this year she went from sensitive skin to insane requirements for anything that may touch her. Awesome.

Now back to shopping…..remember, the panic was setting in. I had ideas for what I was shopping for (which I won’t tell you because that would ruin the surprise), but having not been out in public lately, I was unaware that this year’s styles are an urticaria sufferers worst night mare.

I’m not even going to get into the zippers and the studs, which are ridiculous, what mostly caused the panic was the texture of the sweater itself. My daughter would get a rash from just looking at these…….and that’s all they’re selling this year.

About halfway through my trip I started laughing because if any security person was watching the manner in which I shopped, they would think I was blind. I manhandle every single item I consider, for way too long. Even in Sur la Table I was fondling the handles of utensils for over 20 minutes. You have no idea how many items were not purchased because they had ridges, or fibers, or were designed in such a way that it would rub a neck, a finger or wrist which could possibly result in hives.

And here’s the kicker, as much time as I spent trying to find these perfectly smooth items, they will probably end up returning half of what I bought because of a seam or ridge that I missed. Let’s just say that I put a definite dent in the box of wine when I got home, which I drank it out of my special bumpy, carved glass as a sort of F U to the Urticaria Gods. Take that!

Christmas Decorating without a Tree

Christmas focus wallI will admit that Christmas is not my favorite holiday. I don’t like spending endless amounts of money, or overeating and it seems senseless to buy decorations that sit in a box 11 months out of every year. I know you could say the same thing about Halloween, but Halloween is fun. There’s just so much guilt wrapped around Christmas. Did you spend too much? Not enough? Did you cook it right? Cook enough? Are you making it memorable? Are your kids disappointed? Spoiled? Ungrateful? The list goes on and on, mostly in my head, but it weighs so heavily on my heart as well.

I combat these feelings with making a lot of the gifts I give and the decorations we put up. For the past few years I’ve had an argument inside about the Christmas tree. I really don’t like putting them up. We had an ugly, fake one for a long time. We bought it because it was ugly. It made me feel like I was thrusting my middle finger at The Christmas Police. “You want me to have a tree? Here! Here’s your freaking tree!” A couple years ago it became too ugly, even for me. Ever since, I’ve had to figure out some way of putting up my ornaments, without buying a tree. This year’s solution is my absolute favorite because it was free and it used up four spray paint cans out of my stash.

branches painted blackI brought home five branches that I found on the ground at the park next to my house. I painted them first with black floral spray paint to make them stand out a little more since my wall is a little busy. To make it look like they had snow on them I sprayed them a few inches at a time with clear topcoat spray and while they were wet I sprinkled them with small mica flakes and then I coated them really well with more topcoat to get the flakes to stick. I had the flakes on hand from when I used to make countertops. (I didn’t want to use glitter because I was afraid my dog might eat it and get sick)

mica snowmy kind of ChristmasTo hang them I put four small eye hooks in the ceiling about 3 inches from the wall and about two feet apart.  I tied thread in two places on each branch and suspended them at different heights.

Christmas branchesOrnaments on highI love the way it really shows off our ornaments. Plus, unlike a tree, there’s no bad side, no broken lights and no need to water it. Way better than a tree, at least for me. Please don’t get me wrong, I think Christmas trees are beautiful and I love all the lights, I just hate doing it. My hats are off to all you Christmas tree decorators out there. I admire your tenacity. You’re a better man than me.

The Evolution of a Girl and her Room

My daughter and I just finished making over her room for the fourth and final time (whew!). Her room has had more ideas splashed on its walls than any other room in the house. I swear her room has decreased in square footage from all the plaster and paint we’ve added over the last 12 years. Each makeover reflected her growth and her latest and greatest dreams. I’ve loved trying to bring her ideas to life and it’s been worth every bruise and back spasm to give her a space that’s all hers.

first day homeOur house was a model home, so when we moved in, her room had already been given a theme – butterflies (the caterpillar came with the room as well). I can’t even believe how little she was when we first got there.

butterfly roomThe paint job had been poorly done so we repainted it with a slightly different palette and expanded on the butterfly theme to include all sorts of insects (those butterflies came with the room as well). Dianna was a tomboy and wanted more bugs than beauty so we added ants and spiders to keep it from being too precious. The fun part was having my paint friends come help. We figured out how to do raised stenciling and then we added little jewels to the wings for a little sparkle. So totally fun!

I searched forever for pictures of the raised stenciling and all I’ve figured out is that they’re gone and this computer is refusing to do anything with the pile of negatives I have in a shoe box. I’ve tried cramming them in the disc drive, but my husband says that’s not good for the computer. Negatives! Can you even remember those?

Gryffindor room In 2003 I was fully entrenched in my faux finishing business and had been introduced to a product that created a stone-like finish in two easy steps. That sparked the idea for a Harry Potter themed room. We’re both huge fans (friends will tell you that huge does not describe our obsession accurately) of the books and the movies, and had traveled to Oxford, England just to visit some of the spots where the movies were filmed. I incorporated some of the architectural elements into the room including a carved window looking out toward the Whomping Willow (she has kept this mural through all the other makeovers).

Hogwarts muralThe room reflected Dianna’s love of dragons and magic without going to that girly side where glitter and unicorns usually spring up. Most of her friends were boys at this age so a feminine room would have been less than inviting. Thankfully all the work we put in to this room was rewarded by her loving it for six years……an eternity in kid-time.

graffiti on2009 was the year she decided to move on. She was loving rockers like Hayley Williams, Avril Lavigne and Green Day and the Potter room just wasn’t working any more. She really didn’t know what she was looking for, but she knew she wanted it to be dark. We dove in to that makeover with a gallon of nearly black paint. It was awesome.

metallic foil guitarWe experimented with spray painting through stencils and a lot of metallic foil. The foil guitar image was one of Dianna’s own designs and gave the room a focus wall.

the writing on the wallAfter wallpapering photos, maps and posters everywhere, we decided to let her and her friends fill in the blank spaces. So one afternoon I taught 5 junior high boys how to stencil, gave them paint and brushes and then let them all go. They created a graffiti masterpiece. I think the boys’ mothers thought I was crazy, but that really was one of the funnest things we’ve ever done and I know Dianna will never forget it.

All through high school Dianna’s friends added to the walls whenever they were inspired. It was like living inside a yearbook with all your friends’ comments and inside jokes. I kept the base colors in little cans so she could subtract things like old boyfriends or bad memories….you can paint over almost anything.

This summer Dianna decided she needed a change. Heading in to her senior year was moving a little too quickly. With friends leaving and her trying to figure out what to do after graduation, she was feeling the need for a small refuge from all the changes going on outside. The graffiti and the darkness of her room seemed to be dragging her down and she was searching for calm and light.

The graffiti room had a lot of stuff that had to be removed, patch and plastered. It was definitely a suck job and I’ll tell you all about it some other day, but for now, just know that Dianna finally has some peace, and a quiet place  to slow down in.

peaceful room

But Wait! There’s More!

Beautiful medallionThe above photo is of the completed ceiling medallion that I delivered to my client on Monday. They loved it!

Then on Tuesday they called and although they still “loved it,” they wished there was more of the aluminum leaf. aka: not actually loving it.

This is one of the reasons I quit working with clients. It’s not their fault. I’m just one of those people that loves to check things off a list and be done with it. To get a call for a change when I’ve put everything away and moved on to the next project just makes me crazy. What’s worse is that I can’t say no because I can’t stand for people to be unhappy with my work. So all the materials came back out and I went back to work. Grrrrrrrrrr.

after adding more leafing We agreed on adding more aluminum leaf to the flowers and the centers of the teardrop carvings. I actually think it’s a huge improvement.

painted-ceiling-medallionSo here’s the final, FINAL ceiling medallion. They love it…….at least until tomorrow.

How-To Paint a Ceiling Medallion

painting tutorialI have always wanted to paint one of these decorative ceiling medallions and last week an old client of mine handed me an unfinished one simply asking me to “do my magic.” I was all over it.

unfinished medallionIf you haven’t seen these you can find them almost anywhere that sells lighting. This one came from Home Depot and is made of foam. They come primed and ready to paint.

metallic paintI chose to use Modern Masters metallic paint in the color Brass which coordinates with the other fixtures in the room where this will be installed. The glazing brush I’m using came from Pierre Finkelstein’s collection and is perfect for getting into the nooks and crannies on this piece.

stipplingMetallic paint will show brush marks if you try to simply brush it on, making it look streaky. It’s best to use a stippling, pouncing motion to not only get the paint in the crevices but to also give the paint a more even finish. This paint is a little transparent so it required three coats.

painting finishedWhen the three coats of brass were on I painted the inside and outside rings with two coats of an off white latex paint. The latex was in a satin finish which is important because I planned on glazing it. If I had painted it with craft paints or matte latex the glaze wouldn’t work properly and the piece would end up too dark and splotchy.

painter's tapeThe chandelier that will hang under this medallion is chrome and glass, so I decided to add aluminum leaf on one part of the molding and on a couple small pieces on the inside carving. The first step in applying leaf is applying a liquid size which is very runny so I taped off the ring to prevent the size from dripping where I didn’t want it to go.

Leafing sizeI use Rolco Aquasize because it’s water based and dries faster. Traditional oil-based size takes forever to tack up. I buy the metal leaf from Royal Design Studio, which is really close to my house and has a great selection. You can buy online from them as well.

Apply the size in thin layers with a soft brush. The size is the consistency of water so there’s really no way to put on a thick coat. It takes 25 minutes to dry and get tacky. If after 25 minutes it’s not tacky enough, put on one more thin coat.

A quick note on metal leafing: True metal leafing is an art form that takes years to master and pristine tools and environments. What I’m describing here is what I call Crafter’s Leafing. I’m just gluing on shiny metal. I’m breaking every rule of leafing, and I’m fully aware, so there’s no need to point it out.

aluminum leafMetal leaf comes in square sheets and is lighter than air, so don’t do this outside or near an open window, or while you’re blow drying your hair. Simply lay a piece of leaf over an area with size. It will stick immediately.

small soft brushI used a small soft brush to press the leaf into the crevices. Don’t press it with your fingers because the oil on your hands can discolor the leaf.

sheepskin padWhen all the leaf is on, burnish or rub softly with a sheepskin pad. This will even out the sheen and remove any little flakes lying around.

missing leafIf there are places where the leaf is missing, it just means you missed a spot when you were applying size. That’s easy to do when working with light colors because the size is transparent. Apply more size to the spot and add leaf when it’s tacky. It will blend in when you burnish it.

burnish marksAfter I burnished the leaf I noticed that it had left grey smudges along the edges. I touched it up with the latex paint before moving on to the next step.

glaze applicationI wanted to age the whole piece so I mixed up a very dark glaze and applied it heavily in small sections. Don’t glaze the whole piece at once or the glaze will dry before you can rag it off.

The glaze I use isn’t readily available to DIY people, but if I could give you a recipe I would tell you to  go to an art supply store and pick up Golden’s Acrylic glaze and Van Dyke Brown fluid acrylic. I would mix one part pigment to six parts glaze. Always test it before slopping it on the whole piece.

ragging offOnce you get the glaze on a section, remove it from the high points with a soft rag. Leave the glaze in the crevices.

hake brushI use a soft hake brush to stipple the glaze in the low flat areas. It evens out the glaze, blends it with the adjoining section and gets rid of smears. Work in small sections around the piece, glazing the outside molding last. Acrylic glazes take 24 hours to dry completely and may take even longer where the glaze puddles in the crevices.

finished medallionI love how the glaze settled in the outside molding. It took just enough shine off the aluminum leaf to make it pretty and not garish.

Beautiful medallionSo there it is. I’ll post a picture of it when it gets hung with the chandelier. They’re really happy with it and I had a lot of fun painting it. Now it’s your turn!

A small note: this didn’t end up being the final product thanks to the client’s wanting more metal leafing. Please go to this post to see the real final product.

A Gilded Life – Spellbound Event


Welcome Dinner
The Spellbound Event hosted by A Gilded Life Studio was one of the funnest things I’ve ever done. Forgive me for taking so long to post this, but the amount of photos I had to go through was a little overwhelming. I want to take you through the event, but I don’t want this to be a never ending post so I’ve made collages to keep the photos to a minimum length.

Pre-Event SoireeFor people that were able to get to the hotel one day early, they were treated to a Pre-Event Soiree at A Gilded Life studio in Santa Ana. A bus collected all of us for free and took us to a place where my kind of dreams are made of. They really should have handed out napkins at the door because the drool was seriously flowing.

The studio hosts classes and is also a retail shop for the most beautiful things you can imagine. They primed us with an amazing buffet, ridiculously beautiful desserts and of course champagne. Then they taught us a craft with a brand new embossing/cutting machine that’s yet to be on the market. Crafting AND Champagne?! I was giddy. So of course I went shopping.

A Gilded Life purchaseThis was my first night, so I really tried to reign it in because I knew there were going to be many other shopping events throughout the week. I bought this remnant of ruffled fabric that I plan to make a skirt with for Dianna. The two yards of lace are also for Dianna, but the lime green, velvet leaves are for me. I have no idea what I’m going to do with them, but I just had to have them.

The French General StoreThe next day a local store called The French General hosted a free crafting/luncheon for those attendees who could drop by. I have loved French General products for years so to have a chance to craft in the store was so exciting. The store did not disappoint. They have an incredible assortment of fabric, beads, buttons, ribbon and paper ephemera. I ate my lunch, made a couple bracelets and scanned the store for what was going to have to go home with me.

French General NotionsMy restraint had started to weaken, obviously. So, so many pretty things.

We rushed back to the hotel with all our goodies and got ready for the Welcome Dinner in the ballroom of the Pasadena Langham Hotel.

Gift Tote bagThe first thing I noticed was that every chair had a really beautiful tote bag hanging on the back. We took our seats and tried to be grown ups and not the little kid inside who wanted to dump out the bags on the floor and check out all the candy. It took a couple glasses of wine to quiet that desperate impulse. I was able to keep a handle on it, which was difficult considering that this is what the inside looked like:

gift bag treasuresThe hosts and sponsors of this event were extremely generous with their products. There were so many cool new products in this bag that I think I’ve returned to  square one on my destashing efforts. But wait………there’s more……….

Spellbound embossing machineAfter dessert they surprised us by giving every single attendee a brand new, not on the market yet, Spellbound Artisan machine and a ton of dies and plates to go with it. I thought Oprah was going to come out and hand out car keys next. If you haven’t heard a room full of grown women squeal before, you’re definitely missing out. It absolutely made my heart race.

embossed bookThere are lots of embossing and die cutting machines on the market. This new machine’s advantage is that it can do both at the same time. The little book above is what we made the night before. We inked the plate before running the linen covered paper through the machine so not only was it embossed, it was stained in the low areas as well. So beautiful and so easy. It works on paper, fabric and leather. You have to get one.

When I got to my room with my new machine and bag full of awesome crap I totally dumped it all on my bed like a little girl and looked at every little treasure one at a time. It was awesome.

mixed media classesThe four classes I took over the next two days were amazing. I would love to show you all the finished products but I’m going to give a couple as gifts, so they have to remain a secret. The teachers were great and I learned so many new techniques that I’m still pumped up with ideas.

mercantile displayFriday night was the Dreamland Mercantile, and with a lot of help from my roommate I got my display set up with enough time to shop the other vendor tables.

Dreamland Mercantile vendorsThey had about 30 vendors, all real different, but all so beautiful. I sold enough to pay for my table and make a little profit. The feedback I got was very valuable so I’m definitely glad I did it.

Saturday night they hosted an Up All Night Craft Party that was a total blast. The vendors set up about six different craft stations with a different project at each of them. More free stuff!

They also provided late night munchies like sliders and mac n cheese, which was followed by an amazing display of desserts. I should have taken a picture but I was in a chocolate coma.

Craft party projectsThese are the things I made. They taught us how to make flowers with our new machines and we cut flowers out of a bunch of different fabrics and glued them all on an apron. It’s adorable. I made a mixed media tag book that’s so cute. I also stenciled a canvas bag to hold all my new stuff. The long necklace laying on top was the name tag every one wore. They made 150 of these, and each metal bezzle has our name floated in the resin inside. It’s stunning and actually one of my favorite things from the event.The Rose Bowl Flea MarketThe event was topped off with a Sunday morning trip to the Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena. I had always wanted to go, and it was definitely worth the drive. They have a huge number of very good vendors with a vast array of antique and vintage finds. I loved the fabric stall at the top which specialized in vintage fabrics and trim. Very good prices and a large selection.

I have to say sorry to my good friend Jerry for not picking up the clown painting. I know it would go great over your bed, but I just didn’t have any more room in my car.

Rose Bowl purchasesThis is what came home with me. I’m going to use the vintage runners on my Thanksgiving tables this year and they’ll be so cute.

From there I drove home with a car full of treasures and a brain buzzing with ideas. The event was more than I could have dreamed of and I will definitely be returning next year. The generosity of the hosts and sponsors was overwhelming, but it was their attention to every detail that really pushed it over the top. It was obvious that they understood what makes a woman’s heart sing, and they were just so willing to make it happen.

A big Thank You to the women at A Gilded Life and the people at Spellbound. You gave me more than you’ll ever know.