Archive | September, 2010

Point #35- Your Brother’s Old Furniture Sucks

22 Sep

There comes a point in your life where you should not be getting hand-me-downs from your YOUNGER brother. When that brother is (sorry, Alastair…not that he will ever read this) of typically dubious taste (as a young bachelor should be), the suck increases exponentially. I know I am a dumpster diver, but getting my brother’s old dresser, by way of my sister, who had it in my niece’s room, gah! It seemed just a little too “Please, sir, may I have some more…sketchily painted and sadly handed down cheap pine bedroom pieces?” for my liking. Ya know, if Oliver Twist was having trouble furnishing and decorating an en suite.

It isn’t a bad little dresser, save for one slightly wonky drawer. It just belonged to that that 90s school of thought that says absolutely everything is better with a light white wash stain, including furniture, pets, jeans, your dreams, and the economy. It’s certainly a roomy creature, having six big drawers and four small ones, with a lovely big top to hold all of one’s little knick knacks and doohickeys. And all kidding aside, I was pleased to have it.

And so it sat, with a deep, profound sitness, performing the important function of being the place I always intended my clean laundry to be put into but usually ended up wearing right out of the rumpled basket, and gathering assorted detritus on its top. One day I decided enough was enough, and resolved to paint it black. Unintentional Rolling Stones reference notwithstanding, I thought it would work well in my bedroom.

Quick explanation: I have settled on the theme of “vampire bordello” for my bedroom. I wanted a rich, cozy, low light nest with ornate details, Asian and Eastern influences, a little Victorian, definitely sexy. Like someone had lived a long life, travelled much, and surrounded him/herself with the resulting trappings of same. Lots of red and purple, black accents, texture, colour, etc.

So I got the dresser about half painted before I thought to take before pictures. Whoops.

The bottom half is the original “This would look awesome with my Friends poster!” white wash finish.

Aw, fart…it’s sideways, but you get the picture.

The black was just plain craft paint, which in addition to being a bad idea texture wise (I never sand crap, remember? It shows) was too flat to be appealing. I figured I would eventually polyurethane it and that would fix the problem. Again with the sitting for months.

Recently I decided to kind of start over and cover the black with a nice dark reddish purple glossy paint. The first coat, streaked like a glaze with the black just peeking through looked so cool, I went with it. I am lazy, so the painting process took the form of “whenever I damn well feel like it” meaning essentially a drawer or two…read my book…a drawer or two…work on another project….a drawer or two…take a nap, and so on. This went on until this past weekend, when, the dresser almost finished, I took a trip to IKEA and found some gorgeous purple napkins that I knew I could decoupage on SOMETHING. I wasn’t thinking of the dresser at the time, but when I came home and took them into the bedroom to find some inspiration, I realised the colours were perfect. And so:

I can’t really say that the flash does or doesn’t make it look lighter or darker, because while it does make the glaze “hot”, to borrow a theatre lighting term, so does natural sunlight hitting it right. The colour is immensely changeable, which would normally bug the crap out of me, but perfectly fits in with the look I am going for.

Mod Podging with napkins can be tricky, you want to have your placement pretty well set before you squish it down and smooth out the bubbles. Make sure you remove at least one ply from the napkin (I suggest, at least), although I left a second one to give it heft. Even the wrinkles work when you smooth it down…gives it a cool fabric or even leather look.

So that is my first big furniture redo. It only took the better part of year to get around to. Remember, if it’s worth doing, it is worth involving a lot of naps.

Point #34- Pimping a BAD Day.

16 Sep

I was checking my blog stats and was getting this monster (for me on an average day) number of views and so I checked the referrers and saw that my buddy Rana, whose marvelous blogs on her awesome work can be found in my blogroll (check out Definitive Designs) had posted a comment to a post over at Epbot. Consequently a whole loada folks came and checked me out. I wanted to thank Rana, Jen-the amazing talent behind not only Epbot but also the immensely wonderful Cake Wrecks, and the folks who swung by to give me a view.

Jen at Epbot talks in this post about a crushing disappointment which led her to find solace in the laughter that reading other people’s brings her and invited commenters to link to their go-to belly laugh providers. She also challenged readers to turn a day of disappointment, sadness, or fear into a B.A.D Day (Blogger Appreciation Day Day…yes, the redunancy is part of the joke). I thought it was a cool idea, and felt it really odd that it coincided with my rare serious post about finding happiness where you can.

So turn a bad day into a B.A.D. Day when you can.

*toots a clown horn*

Point #33- Emo is Lame-o

15 Sep

I have done a lot of tutorial-y type entries lately and I like that I have turned in that direction overall on my blog. But I do occasionally plan to get back to my rambling bloggy roots, and lucky, lucky lucky you, this is one of those entries.

It was completely by accident that this particular entry ended up being #33, which is my adult lucky number (as opposed to 21, my number of choice through child- and young adulthood); it just turned out that way.

I have been crafting like a mad fiend lately, and it is good for me. I have some times where I get very low, and when I don’t think my life is going terribly right, and making things helps with that. I think that is true of anyone. Doing things you love makes you happy. Stop the damn presses and alert Deepak Chopra; what a flipping novel concept. But while it may be evident, it isn’t always easy.

I have recently realised that there are some folks in my life, along with me, that find it hard to be happy at times, no matter what is happening in their lives. I call it “waiting for life to begin” syndrome. I am guilty as hell of it (wow, just remembered my wedding song is going to be “Waiting for My Real Life to Begin” by Colin Hay…meta much?) Heed the words of John Lennon: life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.

So I am immersing myself in craft. It’s awesome. What a lame phrase to encompass such a strong feeling. But it is true. It is awesome, in the most literal and original sense of the word…awe inspiring, huge, majestic, and just. It makes sense that what we create should inspire feelings of awe. Part of my whole “Points for Creativity” philosophy is the concept of expressing spirituality through creation; most religions have a creation story-even several. Even humanists and many atheists believe in the power of human intelligence to manifest something greater than itself.

I was not planning for this to be serious. I was expecting that I would do more of a “tooting a clown horn every thirty seconds” type post like I have in the past, but it ended up taking a more introspective turn. I’ll leave you with this, and then tomorrow I will toot a clown horn and post something pretty again, I promise. These are five things that have made me ridiculously happy in the past few weeks that I realised are the type of thing that is the whole point of living. Not suggestions for you to do, necessarily, but goofy things that *I* did that made me realise “I need no other plans, this IS my life, there is no need to make it begin.”

1. Bought a cheap VCR (yes, I said VCR, for seven dollars, why not?) and stacks of cheap, sometimes out of print, fluffy, did I mention cheap Disney movies. I had a ton and don’t feel like necessarily rebuying them all on DVD or BluRay and have since picked up a buttload more at thrift stores.

2. Have made it a habit to wander the toy aisles at any store I go to. There is something about playing with action figures, bouncy balls, and foam swords that makes it impossible to be unhappy. You may not be incredibly popular with the WalMart staff but hell, where else can you do this:

3. Paint something. Anything. A picture, a piece of furniture, a wall. Whether painting is your craft of choice or if you even do crafts at all, paint stuff. It’s soothing. It’s fun. And you can almost paint it over if you mess up.

4. Make art of toilet paper rolls. More on that soon, but trust me, it’s fun.

5. Hanging out with my niece. There is something amazing about spending time with a little version of you (she has my nose) that you can boss around, listen to, be farted on by, mildly torture in public, and ultimately give back. Being an aunt is wonderful.

That’s all. I will return with more wacky hijinks soon, but for now, here’s tooting in an introverted and emo-y way at you. Imagine My Chemical Romance playing if you’d like.

Point #32-Always Look Past a Bad Paint Job

12 Sep

Oh man, is there a lot of crap out there. I, like many fellow crafty types, like to troll the thrift stores to find treasures just waiting to have their potential unlocked. I found one such diamond in the rough at my local Goodwill: a tabletop cabinet that revealed itself upon getting it home and untaping the taped-shut doors to have a tiny set of drawers inside. Not even that tiny; they easily hold my makeup and other small items. But I digress…in very un-me fashion, I will leave off the thick wall of bloggy text and let my pictures and commentary do the talking on my latest project.

This is what I started with. I saw its awesome bones right away. The dreadful country nightmare of a paint job will HAVE to go, though.

When I bought it, it was taped shut and so I wasn’t sure if the inside was shelves or what, so I was really excited to get it home and find a tiny set of drawers inside. This would be a cool way to hide away makeup and other small items on my bureau. The horrific festival of suck continues on the inside paint job, however.

I assault your eyes with a view of both the inside and outside at once. You are welcome. And ack! with acking…the paint carnage wraps around both sides, too.

Oh my dear sweet Jesus…this thing does NOT want to take paint. Yes, I know sanding helps. No, I do not want to. It will take eight trillion coats to cover the grim jollity of the world’s tackiest cheer fest. I think dozens of My Little Ponies died painting this thing. I don’t know how, I just sense they did.

In spite of the fact that the original paint is still leering like an undead spector at me, I can already see improvement. My plans for the doors mean I can ease up on the frantic painting on those sections at least. This helps alleviate the “The hills, THE HILLS! The flowery, bloody, evil hills” that I keep muttering as I feverishly splash red paint about with terrified abandon.

Ok…the bad paint job has almost entirely gone away now. I am breathing more easily and the South Park episode “Christmas Critters” has ALMOST stopped flittering through my brain.

Drawer is painted copper, the sides are fully coated, and I know the door will soon be covered so thoroughly the scary romping cheermongers of doom will never escape that damn meadow. The door knobs are copper, too, and wanting a little extra detail up top (where formerly was seen a painted pink bow….a frightening, frightening bow) I stuck on a clear plastic self adhesive scrapbook detail and than splattered some copper paint on it.

Ha! Take that, frolicking hordes! I have covered the sylvan terror with sheet music (The Coronation Mass, same as the mirror I recently did) that has been aged with coffee and walnut ink. I decoupage it on the doors and the tiny piping voices of evil woodland creatures finally cease.

The little bun feet painted copper. A word about a couple of details: as horrible as the original paint job was, a couple of original bits were allowed to show through. The inside of the doors, for instance, went from a stark, uneven black and white stripe to a softer, more festive looking stripe reminiscent of a turn of the last century carnival or Moulin Rouge look. Very 19th century. It reminds me of carnival bunting or a lady’s walking costume, all striped silk and elegance. The round feet had a swirled design with that same feel, and I didn’t cover them quite as thickly to let that show through the copper.

The paper has been decoupaged on and a dry brushing of gold paint to make it shine more. It catches the light and adds to the luxe look I was going for. Suck it, flowery hills. The sides have also been dry brushed with a bit of gold/copper paint to help mask the last remnants of the first paint job, and the upper edges has likewise been kissed just a bit with the metallic paint.

Little drawers to hold my treasures.

And there we go. I realise that that super cute country look has its place. But sometimes it is time to step away from the Donna Dewberry “Peaceful Meadow” collection and let the developers take over.

Point #31-Shameless Self-Promotion

2 Sep

Hey, just wanted to toss out a quick couple of links to some work I have done elsewhere on teh intarwebz. These are my various articles on Mookychick, a very cool UK based lifestyles website for the alternative type human female. It’s a pretty awesome site, so give it a look. Especially my stuff. Cuz I rock.

Point #30-My Fandom’s Made of Paint Chips

2 Sep

My last post, uploaded mere hours ago, outlined my groovy foray into the exciting world of figuring out what the shiny hell to do with all the paint chips I obsessively collect like Pogs. Or Pokemon cards. Crap, I don’t know what kids collect these days. Something to do with Twilight, no doubt, but you get my point.

The other night, my exhusband/bestfriend-type-person came a-swingin’ by with his lovely lady to pick up some books, and he took one look at my awesome paint chippery upon the wall and declared “want”. I am one to oblige my nearest and dearest who like them a piece of the hastily created out of random objects style of craft I produce and so I set to work the next day. Gary had a very simple colour request: black, gold, and white, stating that those colours “go with anything”. Horse doots. That isn’t why he picked those colours. You see, during my marriage to the fellow, I developed many fandoms, one of which in particular stays with me to this day. In spite of never having once set foot in Pittsburgh, I am a die-hard Steelers fan, as is he. This made the challenge doubly fun for me, and I set to work enthusiastically.

Crap crap crap crap, quintuple crunchy crap.

In limiting the colours to variations (and I most broadly interpreted, let me tell you) of the three he listed, I did not have enough of them in any one size to cover the other DAVE box (packaging from IKEA’s computer table, DAVE) fully. *kick chair, get in rage, wonder if drive to hardware store just to “steal” paint chips would be ridiculous…sigh* The neato thing is, this forced me to improvise, and honestly, I think the resulting project is actually awesomer (shaddup, it’s a word.) than my original attempt. The chips are different sizes, the colours are uniform but not matchy matchy, and the black paint outlines give it a cool graffiti finish that I like very much. It is subtly indicative of his favourite team, without outright using and abusing any logos or copyrights (observant folks may notice a subtle swish of paint on three chips meant to pay homage to the team logo in the shape of a hypocycloid; present, but not overwhelming) and something that even a non-fan would potentially find appealing strictly as a work of art. In other words: woo. Go me. Go Team! Go paint chips!!! *waves big foam finger*

This shows that wonderful Mod Podge shiny goodness:

A close up showing some textured chips as well as some left with the name of the paint colour showing:

A close up of the hypocycloids:

I’m entering the CSI Challenge this week! Check out their site for other awesome projects!

Point #29-Just Tell Yourself You Really WILL Paint the Spare Room Someday

2 Sep

I am obsessed with paint chips.

I promise I am going somewhere with this.

I collect paint chips with a furtive, secretive, obsessive glee that is going to land me on Hoarders one of these days, I swear. I have gone so far to acquire a small, desktop plastic little set of drawers to hold them, carefully arranged in order of colour and by manufacturer. I have even added a small label, helpfully proclaiming “PAINT CHIPS” in sensible white on black traditional label tape; indeed I used my handy (if slightly outdated) label maker, taking my customary pleasure in the solid “GRONCH! GRONHCH!” noise it makes as each letter is punched. I acquire these chips and then I sorta just…have them. It’s a pride of ownership thing that happens with many crafters, especially shoestring, seat of pants type crafters like me. You don’t even want to see the jar holding my bottle cap collection.

I knew someday that I would find use for this vast collection and recently I did! Now in the words of the great auteur Kevin Williamson (c’mon…you watched Dawson’s Creek, just freaking admit it)my idea is a “rip off of a rip off”, but I like my take on it. (Edit: I found the original post I was snaking the idea from!!!! In the world of commercial type art, those big canvases covered in colour blocks are very popular and tend to go with everything. The more expensive ones can be upwards of $200; the cheaper ones at Target are still around $50. As readers of this blog are aware, I tend not to spend money on commercial art I can make myselfand this was no exception.

Since I don’t have a start to finish tutorial on this, being a very simple project, I will share a few photos and then outline what I did. I know you are panting to know.

Pretty, no? And oh so easy peasy. I used some particularly cool almost square ones that are textured in some way…sandstone and Venetian plaster finishes and the like. I glued them down onto, of all the weird things, the packaging from a DAVE computer table from IKEA. The size and shape were perfect to emulate a broad canvas. Once they were all glued down, a quick smear of burgundy paint around each chip to rough up the edges and the whole thing looked painted. The whole thing was covered two layers of ModPodge to seal it and give it a nice shiny finish. Now, I wasn’t sure how to finish off the cardboard edges, which were not only the wrong colour, but also a bit torn from opening the merchandise to begin with, but some cool burgundy coloured duct tape wrapped around the edges finished it off nicely.

So there you go. Obsession is good, boys and girls. Hoard like mad. Saunter out of home improvement stores with your blouse stuffed with paint chips. Date the paint counter guy so he can hook you up. Live at the top of those big shelves and live off of plants in the nursery. No one will think it’s weird at all.