Making a Jewelry Organizer From Junk

how to make a jewelry organizerHaving a teenage girl has definitely made me think more about jewelry than I have for a long time. I used to care about jewelry when I was still dating……a million years ago, but now I think my husband is just glad if I show up clean and not smelling of paint. To be completely honest, he’ll still take me out dirty and smelly but only because he doesn’t have many other offers……..not that I do. Anyway, back to the jewelry. I got an idea for a hanging jewelry organizer when I was rummaging through my junk and I thought I’d share the steps I went through to create it, just in case you have some junk laying around too…..oh, and some jewelry. In the above photo you can see what I started with. The frame and back board were originally together as a piece of “art” from Ross. The “art” was ugly so I pulled it out and used the back. I bought it at an estate liquidator place for $5, which is high (I think the guy thought it was “art” too) but he gave me two others for $1 so I’m telling myself I paid $2 for it. Ah, the rationalizations of the hoarder mind. The ugly metal knobs are in two pieces and I found them at a thrift store for 50 cents each.  I think the metal screen is used for radiators, but since we don’t have those in San Diego, that may be an urban legend. I found it in my friend’s garage and she let me take it for free. Yay! gilding size appliedI decided to gild the frame with metal leaf. The first step in gilding is applying gilding size and I always use Rolco Aquasize which is water-based and dries quickly. Gilding size is a watery adhesive that you brush on. The photo above shows the frame after the size was applied, which is why it’s shiny. The metal leaf I used is called Celestial Leaf and the color is Moonbeam. This is a variegated metal leaf, so the color is inconsistent, which I actually love. Celestial Leaf comes in books and each sheet is applied individually. metal leaf applied After the size has dried and become tacky, lay a piece of leaf on the surface and push it in to the crevices with a soft brush. Try to not touch the leaf with your bare hands as the oil from your hands can discolor the leaf. When you have the entire surface covered in leaf, smooth it out with a sheepskin pad. If you don’t have a sheepskin pad you can use a really soft rag, but just know that it may scratch the leaf if it’s not truly soft. frame gilded in Celestial leaf When the leaf is all shiny and pretty you can spray a coat of varnish on it to protect it from tarnish. I really recommend this step if it will be hung near a shower. Modern Masters and Faux Effects productsMoving on to the knobs….after cleaning them well, I primed them with Faux Effects Black SetCoat, but you could use any metal primer that works with water based paint. I painted them first with with one coat of Antique Bronze metallic paint from Modern Masters and then a second coat in Pale Gold. knobs painted in metallic paintMetallic paint can be fairly transparent which is why I used a black primer. I stippled (fancy word for blobbing on light layers of paint) a thin coat of each color with a small, badly, crumpled artist brush. Use a bad brush so that the pattern is irregular. Smooth brushes leave streaks if you just brush on metallic paint. You can get a better look by stabbing it on randomly, while allowing a little of the black primer peek through. Silk soft paint Now for the fun part; the backboard. I sanded the board to get rid of scratches but it was still a little uneven. I decided to hide the blemishes by using this Blue Pearl paint called Silk Soft, in the color Asian Silk. This is a metallic paint that actually has small fibers in it making it thicker and textured to the touch. To amplify this effect I applied it heavily with a rough chip brush in one direction. It looks very much like raw silk and it’s a great background for the next step. lace stencil from Royal Design StudioI used a new stencil from Royal Design Studio called Snowflake Lace. Royal Design just released a whole group of lace stencils that are really fun to use. I used Modern Masters metallic paint in Black Cherry and a brush from Royal Design Studio. Please don’t consider doing this with anything other than a stencil brush. Sponge brushes and artist brushes suck and should never be used for stenciling. You can use them, just don’t call me crying about it when it’s hideous. I told you not to use them. Dip your brush lightly in the paint, then rub off the excess paint in a swirling motion on a paper towel until there’s barely any paint on your brush. Swirl your brush lightly on the edges of the stencil openings, working your way into the center of each opening. Lift the stencil to check your progress as you go. It takes very little paint to leave an impression. beautiful job stencilingDo you see any blobs of paint? Any ooze under the stencil? No? That’s because I used a proper brush and a very light amount of paint.  It’s not rocket science. Just use the right brush for the project, and don’t go heavy with the paint. finished jewelry organizerWhen all the pieces were painted and pretty I put them together. The metal screen didn’t need to be painted, I just sanded off the dullness before attaching it to the backboard. The screen and the knobs were attached with bolts after I drilled holes in the board. necklace and ear ring holderSo from pieces of junk I created a great place to organize jewelry. I love how it all came together. It’s for sale in my Etsy shop now if you know anybody that could use a little help with corralling their accessories. This was so fun, I may have to make another one. Inventory used: Metallic paint


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.

The Bathroom Remodel is complete

finished remodelThe remodel of my daughter’s bathroom is finally complete. The studio and the downstairs half of my house is clean and I’m finally at peace. Let’s visit the Before shots for a moment shall we……….

BEFOREI shudder just looking at this. This was the starting point of our unplanned bathroom remodel. In our defense, it was this way when we bought it. But at the same time… was this way when we bought it……12 years ago.

ugly bathroom BEFOREThat nasty piece of terry cloth has been hanging there for 12 freaking years! Some model home designer stuck it there in a stroke of brilliance and I chose to ignore it for over a decade. Amazing what one can deny exists in our own homes. Now back to the pretty pictures:

beauty centralFirst thing to go was the wallpaper, which sucked to remove because the walls hadn’t be primed and they installed it right on the drywall. The glue really wanted to stay on forever but we washed it over and over and over and then primed. Dianna went with a great shade of blue on the walls and bright white on the cabinets. We raised the height of the vanity and added some new hardware on the drawers and doors which I love.

wood countertopWe removed the old counter top and tile backsplash and replaced it with a solid wood top and a backsplash made from “clear wood” which I think is code for “plastic with a faux wood veneer.” It’s light weight and cheap but I bought it because I thought it would be a good choice considering the risk of water damage.

Both the top and splash were stained with a Faux Effects product called Stain & Seal and three coats of C-500, a urethane product also from Faux Effects.

Lace flowersI know it looks like I put stickers on the backsplash, but this is a painted detail I swear. I used a Martha Stewart silkscreen design to create this border. This is my first time using a silkscreen. What I liked about it was that I could use much thicker paint than with a stencil, creating a more dimensional design, which is why it looks like a sticker. My daughter loves lace and she chose the design. She also has a connection to my mother through daisies, so she loves having these around.

union jack organizerThis jewelry organizer, complete with Union Jack design is one of our favorite additions. I can not take credit for the design. My friend Melanie created this design on an old IKEA door for a photo shoot, but then didn’t need it afterward so I got to take it home. Being huge fans of all things British, we had to incorporate it somehow. Thanks Melanie!

the new Assmaster 2000The new Assmaster 2000 has been installed and is no longer being crowded by 12 year old terry cloth (so nasty). My daughter decided that a door to the shower area was stupid since she’s an only child and no one walks in on her. She opted for a curtain in the doorway instead. Kind of like a dressing room.

The photo above also shows off the new floor. It’s vinyl planks which are really easy to install and extremely cheap. They look really nice and give the look of wood without having to take out a loan.

cool teen bathroomWe removed the giant sheet of mirror and replaced it with two new mirrors. We paid $15 for each of them but they came with ugly dark brown frames. We made them over with high gloss white spray paint. I filled the gap between them with two shelves I made from the scrap piece of MDF left over from the new footer on the cabinet. We also made over the clock and the light fixture with the high gloss white and they look brand new.

remodel on the cheapSo that’s our little project. We did get rid of some paint and stain from The Stash which is always good. Dianna loves her grown up bathroom and I love having my life back.

Inventory Used: latex paint and Stain and Seal

Are you The Queen of Washi Tape?

Washi tape cabinetWashi tape is all the rage right now and if you haven’t bought a roll to play with I’d like to know what you’re doing with your time. Seriously! Washi tape is almost like post-it tape on a roll. You can tape something up with it, pull it off and it doesn’t harm the surface.

Washi Tape mural

Washi tape mural

The mural above was made using washi tape and when Rosa gets tired of it she can pull it down without leaving a trace of tape behind it. Great if you’re renting or in a dorm.

washi tape inspiration

washi tape inspiration

As you can see, the ideas are endless and the craft companies are coming out with new tape designs every day. I’ve even seen people striping their walls with the stuff, which totally beats painting stripes, striping with paint totally sucks.

washi tape storage

In response to the need to contain a person’s obsession, I created this washi tape cabinet.

salvaged wine boxI found this box at a yard sale. I’m guessing it was a wine box, based on it’s size and the imprinted graphic.

drilling holes for dowelsI drilled four holes on each side, big enough to insert four wood dowels. Easy peasy. Next I embellished it a little.

washi tape rackOkay, so I embellished it a lot. I wallpapered the insides with this cool grey, green and copper paper, painted the side a matching green, painted the dowels copper (Royal Design Studio Copper Stencil Creme), and glazed the whole box.

The collage on the front was a ton of fun to do. I painted in the castle, added a Queen, some flowers and two angels flying with bouquets of hydrangeas. Perfect.

lots of washi tapeThis cabinet can hold 80 standard washi tape rolls. Can you even imagine?! Now, obviously, I am not The Queen of Washi Tape. This is all the tape that my daughter and I own, and to be honest, we went out and bought a few more just so this photo didn’t look pathetic (that’s the kind of sacrifice I’m willing to make for my art). But for a serious taper (not a tapir, they don’t have thumbs, just hooves) this cabinet would give them the ability to not only contain their collection, but also add to it. Nirvana!

This was a really fun piece to make and I love how it came out. If you think you might be the Queen, or know someone who is, the cabinet is for sale in my Etsy Shop now.

Inventory used: acrylic craft paints, Stain & Seal

I Can’t Help Myself! Bed to Bench Makeover Day 3

I didn’t get much sleep last night. I’m blaming my Starbucks addiction. So I pretty much dragged myself in to the studio to find sandpaper with the intention of distressing the paint on the bench and following it with a dark glaze. On my way I bumped into a stencil and while looking at it I suddenly got a new idea.

stenciled flower vasesAdorable, right?! The stencil is a new design from Royal Design Studio, licensed from pattern designer, Bonnie Christine. This stencil is actually laid out on one piece of mylar, to be used as an allover wallpaper pattern. I decided to instead use them in a straight line, like a border.

painted headboardThis large blank space had been staring at me. I had a thought to install a tufted panel of fabric but I was struggling with the right way to do it. Then this stencil jumped out and saved me. I had planned on keeping this piece simple, but like I said, I can’t help myself. I have a really hard time leaving things unadorned, and I was too weak from lack of sleep to stop myself.

hand painted flower vaseIt’s so freaking cute I’m nearly weeping. Can you even stand it?!

I’ll try again tomorrow to sand and glaze it, which will complete the paint portion of this project. All I need is a good night’s sleep.

Repurposing Trash

chalk paint tableOkay, so I’m kinda cheating by showing the ‘After’ picture first…..just trying to get you to stay on my blog for more than 12 seconds. What’s the rush?! Okay, okay, I’ll move on…..

My friend was looking for a piece of furniture to use in a photo shoot and I found this sewing table in my neighborhood on trash day. It had great mid-century modern style, and no rats living inside, so I threw it in the back of my car.

Annie Sloan's chalk paintI painted it with Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint and it looked great in the photo. The thing was, I painted it in what I call “Photo Lazy Style.” Meaning, it was painted so that it looks good in a photo, but not good enough to be used in real life. The inside and back side weren’t painted, because they aren’t seen in the photo.

damaged tableThis piece is actually a sewing table, so the top opens up and it has a hole for a sewing machine to be stored in (I know that seems obvious, but I’m just trying to keep everyone in the loop). The wood had a heavy varnish on it that was damaged and chipping away. I used Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint in Barcelona Orange to make it photo ready, but the inside was left for me to do later.

planter liningI sanded the wood with an 80 grit sandpaper and then stapled a plastic liner around the edge of the hole. (This ended up being a bad idea… stay tuned)

trim moldingBecause I thought the black plastic around the edge looked tacky, I quickly cut a few pieces of trim to cover them and nailed them down. I had also hoped that they would help keep the plastic attached (totally didn’t work…….keep staying tuned).

Chalk Paint supplies


I used Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint in Provence for the inside. Annie Sloan’s Chalk paint is popular for many reasons, but mostly because it will stick to nearly anything without need for a primer. Typically she does it with brushes without smoothing out the brush marks. I wanted this to be smoother so I rolled it………okay, okay, I did it with a roller cuz it’s faster……sheesh!

blue chalk paintThis is the piece done with two coats.

failure to use primerWhen working with questionable topcoats or veneers they recommend always priming it with shellac. When I did the orange on the outside I did it right and sprayed a layer of  shellac before I painted and it kept all the old nasty stuff from seeping through the orange paint. This piece is destined for the outside and I want it to look weathered pretty quickly so I painted it without a primer. I bumped up the contrast on the photo so you can see the discoloration coming through the paint. Just wanted you to know why you prime if your goal is to have a pristine piece of furniture.

potted tableHere it is after I put the plants in and placed random objects on it to make the photo prettier. (Cuz people regularly wrap books in burlap, leave adorable tea cups out and place their gardening trowels just so………whatever, leave me alone)

chalk paint tableSo here’s the story behind the story (thanks for staying tuned): The plastic lining started to tear when I got the plants and soil in. I had a bad feeling that would happen. I had initially planned on using chicken wire first, but that seemed like overkill, turns out that would have been the right amount of kill. When the plastic started to tear I grabbed a piece of muslin and laid down underneath the table and stapled it to the underside of the table as a reinforcement. I have a feeling that will rot away in a few months and I’ll come out in the morning to an empty table and a pile of dead flowers on my porch. Whatever, at least I got a good photo today, and I think it’s adorable.

I did a lot of things with this piece that I wouldn’t have done if I had planned on using it inside or if I was going to sell it. Please keep that in mind when you read through the process. Since it was rescued from the trash, and being used as a planter, I skipped a lot of steps. Please don’t judge my painting ability by this post. I’m way more anal with stuff that matters….ask anyone that lives with me.


Vintage Table Makeover

retro magazine tableThis adorable table caught my eye a few months ago in the sad part of my favorite thrift store. The Veteran’s thrift store in Chula Vista has a section outside that you get to through the back of the store. The first section is still indoors and they keep bigger items, crappy glassware, furniture and hardware in big bins. If you push through that you end up outside and this is where the sad stuff is. I say it’s sad because the store puts pieces there when they’ve given up on them. They let them weather the rain and the sun and dust accumulation. It’s sad, but luckily this stuff is also marked down to real cheap. This is where this table was, in the sad zone.

vintage magazine tableSo this is the state it was in when I put it in my car. Pretty good shape, really. Some scratches, but no real dings or damage. The top was practically perfect. One of the reasons I picked it up is that I could see that you could unscrew the legs, top and post from the magazine rack portion, making it easier to paint. To start the paint process I  took it all apart.

Let me start by saying that, although this blog was created to document my using up my paint stash until it disappears, I did end up spray painting the primer and base coat. Yes, I bought spray paint. Here’s the thing…..when I started painting pieces like this years ago I did everything by hand, with tiny brushes. It took f*#king forever and it never looked good. Pieces with spindles need to be spray painted. That’s just my opinion, but I’m pretty sure most painters would agree with me. Except tole painters……I’m almost positive that they get some sort of sick pleasure in painting with brushes with 3 hairs in them and spending 6 months on a serving tray. Not judging, just saying.

prepping a wood table

When you spray paint an item it’s important to set the pieces up in a way that you can get at all angles, that you don’t have to touch them, and that they won’t stick to anything. In this photo I have them set up to do the undersides first. When they dried I turned them over and placed something small (in this case several pebbles) between the freshly painted underside and the work surface. You’ll also notice that I have screwed the legs into shoe boxes. This is so I can move them around with out touching them, and spray from all sides. The shoe boxes can go in the recycling bin when you’re done.

spray primer stepThis shows the pieces after they’ve been sprayed with primer. I used a Valspar primer. I tend to buy primers that claim they will work on everything, including plastic. If it can stick to plastic it will stick to anything.

When you buy vintage pieces you never know what kind of products were used on it before it got to you. Back in the day, they didn’t have the EPA, so all kinds of nasty stuff was used. Basic water-base primer doesn’t stick to everything, especially not nasty oil-based stuff. You also don’t know if wax has been used which is really hard to paint over. So I always go for hard core products to prevent my getting all the way to the last layer, pulling the tape, and the whole finish coming off (That happens and it’s ugly). When that happens my husband comes home and I’ve been drinking since noon (It’s 5 o’clock somewhere, people!) and he says things like, “You can just paint it again!” ……..and then I stab him in his sleep. Let’s just say it’s better to use hard core primers, OK?

green paint layerSo here are the pieces painted a nice green apple color. The thing is, I went in to Lowe’s with every intention of coming home with a nice cream color. I got to the spray paint cage and after they figured out I wasn’t a tagger, they opened the cage for me to grab my paint. I really did try to grab a can of white or vanilla or ivory but I ended up grabbing this green instead. It’s a problem. I’m addicted to this color. I’m sorry, but I love it.

stenciled tableI decided to stick with the era it was created in and went with a retro green, yellow and orange palette. The stencil I used on the top is from Royal Design Studio. I think it fits the style of the table perfectly. This stencil comes in a set with a bunch of different sizes and patterns and I’ve used them a thousand times. Totally worth it.

vintage side tableI hand painted the rest of the details with a steady hand and a small brush. I top coated it, again with a spray product because I wanted to make sure it got in all the crevices.

It’s an adorable piece and it’s for sale in my Etsy shop now, all ready to go to a new, loving home.

Inventory used: acrylic craft paints