Status Report

You may have not noticed, but I’ve been absent from the blogoshpere. (You probably didn’t notice, but just humor me for right now) I decided to take a break from blogging to see what life would look like without it. In a nutshell, if I don’t take time to post to my blog I get a lot more done.

I started this blog mostly to document the destashing of my paint stock, but also to advertise my work. I had hoped I could bring in some income either by selling my salvaged pieces or creating a money-making blog. Having been born to parents with Hoosier work ethics, the drive to produce never takes a break. It’s a little voice in my head saying, “Surely you could be doing something better with your time.” (It’s constant…….and stop calling me Shirley) If I’m not working, I’m feeling guilty about not working. There is no other option available to me. Even though I have made a little money, it seems to take a lot of time engaged in marketing to get results. I’m figuring out that I really don’t enjoy all the time I have to spend on the computer, but mostly because it’s keeping me from painting and fixing things. So I took a month off to just work and I’ve been very productive.

I’ve been working on getting this house ready to be sold this summer. During a recent home appraisal it was brought to my attention that my work on the design of our home had taken it from the starter home we bought in 2001, to a home that will now sell at the high end of our development. The phrase “bidding war” has been thrown around, which is really exciting.

As a result I have decided that the best way to contribute to our income is to make this house a knockout. So I’ve been working my way through the house restoring every part to it’s original condition, or upgrading it to be even better. I know this is all good material for blog posts, but here’s where I’m at; blogging slows me down. And secondly, a lot of what I’m doing is boring, and definitely not worth photographing. For example, I spent a fair amount of time this week scrubbing, staining and restoring the original finish to worn areas on my bathroom vanity. I know…….mind-numbing.

I am committed to the challenge of this blog and will continue to post significant projects that involve whittling down my stash, but it’s not going to be an every day thing. I am getting way more work done by not constantly posting. I also feel especially good about not filling your inbox with details about the grunge that builds up in window tracks when you don’t clean them for 13 years. Be glad I saved you from that photo. Gross!

I think we can all feel good about that.

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Stitched and Painted Bird Art

painted and stitched bird portraitI’ve been collecting all sorts of ideas for art gallery vignettes that I want to create in my home before we leave. The idea for this little beauty came from an article in Sew Somerset magazine that I pulled out over 18 months ago. I rip articles out that I like and keep them in binders in clear plastic pockets so that the rest of the magazine can be recycled. I recently confessed this behavior to a woman I chatted with at a bookstore. She said that I’m way too organized, but I think it sounds a little better than the hoarder house full of hundreds of magazines that she lives in. I don’t want to be found two weeks after I died, trapped under 10 year old craft magazines…….that would be so embarrassing.

Sew Somerset Summer 2012This article was written by Colette Copeland  who writes on a blog called a-bird-in-the-hand. I was taken in by the simple shapes, the single word, and the idea of outlining the image with hand stitching.

estate sale findI decided to use this frame that I picked up for 50 cents at an estate sale. The gold painted edges were dinged up and it had no back or glass, just a slot for a really thick image. I fixed the edges really easily with gold acrylic paint.

simple bird portraitSince the slot for the image was so deep I decided to paint it on a piece of an old book cover that was too broken to be used for anything else (Don’t ask me why I keep crap like that and don’t think I don’t know that you’re picturing me right now, dead under a stack of broken book covers, just stop it!). I sketched the outline first and then filled it in with watered down acrylic paint. When it was dry I poked holes with an awl all the way around the outline. I stitched the outline with pink embroidery floss using a backstitch.

trio of handmade artI framed a doodle stitching piece (my first ever) in another gold frame I found at the same estate sale, and hung both of them with vintage pink ribbon. I put eyelets in the ribbon to make them easy to hang. They flank the collage piece that I made at the Spellbound Art retreat in November. I love this piece so much, but I had nothing else in this color scheme in my house, so I decided to make something to coordinate with it and that’s how this little grouping came about. I’m working on a bigger piece that I started at Spellbound for the opposite wall and I’m really excited about finishing it. I like these pieces because they’re so different from anything I’ve done before. I’m loving the freedom I have right now to try new things.

The three of them look great together, especially on the mottled, taupe, Venetian plaster in my guest bath. I did the plaster years ago and until now there hasn’t been any artwork in there. Mostly because Venetian plaster is hard to repair so I didn’t want to hang anything unless I was in love with it. There’s no poking holes, just willy-nilly when it comes to plaster, at least not in my house. The collage is light enough to be hung on a 3M adhesive hook but the two side pieces I hung on Monkey Hooks that only leave pin size holes, which shouldn’t be too hard to touch up………but only because I’m so awesome.

Inventory used: acrylic craft paint

A Peaceful Bedroom

grey and lavenderMy daughter chose a color palette of powder grey, lavender and sky blue for her bedroom’s last makeover. As I mentioned earlier, this would be the fourth makeover since she was five. She’s nearly 18 now and wanted to make her surroundings peaceful and serene. The challenge in redoing this room was that the third makeover had made the walls extremely difficult to paint.

the writing on the wallThis was what I had to cover up. I had at least been smart in that only water-based products had been used on the walls. I had even found water-based Sharpie paint markers so that the writing wouldn’t bleed through the next layer. The biggest problem was covering up the paper images. Apparently, I really glued those things down. So rather than try to remove them, I decided to plaster over them. I have several gallons of various plaster products in my Stash and this was a great opportunity to use them. I’m not going to tell you what I used because they can’t be bought by the general public, and I didn’t use them the way they were supposed to be used and I really don’t want to give you people any ideas.

plaster over sheet musicThis is what I call “artistic experimentation.” I troweled on different products until I found one that gave me the look that I wanted. I ended up giving the walls a skip-troweled finish which I love. It took me a week to get the walls plastered and even. Once it was sanded and level we finally got to paint.

Whomping Willow muralMy daughter is still not ready to let go of the Whomping Willow mural I painted two makeovers ago. It originally looked like this:

Hogwarts mural

Then I transformed it to this:

Harry Potter posterThe idea was to make the mural look like an advertising poster for the Harry Potter exhibit opening at Universal Studios in 2010. One mistake I made was stamping those designs in the corners. I didn’t think about what the ink was made of and when I tried to plaster and paint over them, the ink kept bleeding through. It took about 5 coats, no kidding.

trompe l'oeil muralI didn’t like the raw plaster edges around the mural so I ended up cutting wood trim and attaching it to the edges. The bottom piece of trim actually has a small lip like a ledge. I faux finished the trim to match the mural, added some trompe l’oeil details to the top corners and lightened up the color of the frame so that it complements the wall color better. I’m really happy with how it came out.

thrift store fabric curtainsWe really lucked out on the day we went shopping for curtain fabric. We went to our local DAV thrift store and these sheets were just sitting there, along with a lavender sheet that I used as a dust ruffle.The curtains were cut from one twin size sheet and one queen size. I lined them with two plain white sheets to block out more light. I think I spent less than $20 on all the fabric. The rods and rings are from Target. I made the tie backs from lace, ribbon and fabric snaps out of my sewing stash. I absolutely love how these look on the windows.

wood birdhouseMy daughter got rid of a lot of stuff so that the walls would be sparsely decorated and less busy. This is the first room in the entire house that I haven’t added pattern to the walls in one form or another. It’s a new experience, but I think I love it.

Inventory used: 1 gallon faux stone

 

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

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.

Haunted Halloween Porch 2013

2013 Halloween PorchSeeing as we will be moving next summer, this will be our last Halloween in this house. We don’t know where we’ll end up just yet, so I don’t even know if I’ll have a place to decorate, like if we move to a condo. My daughter and I put everything up yesterday and we’re pretty pleased with the results.

creepy abandoned porchWe have two new pieces of furniture to work with on the porch; the repurposed sewing table and the garden bench. We draped the bench in white sheets and topped the sewing table with a variety of creepy decorations.

love my creepy dollI got my creepy doll last year at Matilda’s Mouse Antique Show and I still love her. Earlier this year my friend found these glass display globes and she knew they needed to be on my porch on Halloween. They came complete with years and years worth of dust accumulation from her grandparents garage. Thanks, Kate! The creepy clown bottle in the back is for my friend Jeremiah because I know he loves clowns. He’s coming for you, Jerry!

Halloween crows and pumpkinsWe love crows so they are placed throughout the porch, in bushes, on planters, etc. I go to Trader Joe’s for my pumpkins because they sell both the fantasy pumpkins and what I call, ugly pumpkins. I like the black ones and the ones unfortunately stricken with small pox.Halloween signs zombie-Halloween-decorThe signs hanging from my wine barrel rings are new and came from Target’s $1 bins. I love the zombie reference, “Eat Locals.” The back of the Stop sign says, “STOP Scaring Me.” Cracks me up.they're watching youMy daughter had a great idea for the white sheets covering the bench. We poked holes in the sheets, pushed red twinkle lights through and then drew eyes around the holes. Way cool, totally love it, she’s brilliant.

So that’s our porch for Halloween. Come by if you need candy on October 31st. We’ll be open for business.