Oh The Things You Can Do With Paintsticks

Those humble little paint sticks. So useful for stirring paint. And for so many other things. I had a brief email conversation with a woman who had used paint sticks and adhered them to the side of a cabinet, gave it a quaint little finish, almost like siding. It was awesome.

I got to thinking about all the uses of those paint sticks, and more specifically, all the things I have used them for. They work wonders as shims, propping up furniture so that you can paint down to the bottom of a piece of furniture, heck, I’ve even used them for fly swatters.

I wanted to share with you something I am working on now. I am putting together a tall, skinny cabinet and needed a top for it. After scrounging in my wood pile, I just did not have something that would work and I bristled at the thought of yet another trip to The HomeDepot. I looked around the garage and what did I see?

DSCN2539Yes, my trusty bucket of paint sticks. And then brilliance struck. I would make a solid piece of wood using paint sticks. So one by one, I spread glue onto the sticks and positioned them together. They are actually made of two paints sticks end to end and then side to side, and staggered so that the ‘seam’ of the two sticks wouldn’t line up in a row on the finished piece.

I could have sworn that I had taken a photo of them while the glue was drying, but cannot find it now. But once the glue dried, I removed the clamps. As you can see in the picture, the surface – front and back – was a bit rough.

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I measured out the length that I needed. I marked it with a pencil and using a circular saw, The Kid trimmed both ends. I figured it would be easier to sand the thing if I was only sanding the section that I would be using.

DSCN2518Here is the rough piece and the ends that were cut off. Not too much excess. Still trying to figure out what I can do with the leftover pieces. Hmmm….

Top Made of Paint Sticks

Then the sanding began. This was not for the faint of heart… if I do something like this again, I will definitely be more careful with lining up the sticks. Also, I wouldn’t use quite so much glue. I think sanding off the glue was the hardest part.

Top RoughAfter much sanding, it started getting smooth. I must have gone through 6 sheets of sand paper working on this. At this stage, I used some wood filler on some of the gaps and divots and areas that needed more sanding. I figured that as long as there was still filler on the board, I would know where to continue sanding to make it all even.

DSCN2535Finally, it is smooth on all sides. I don’t know about you, but it looks like a solid piece of wood with some really great grain. Heavier than all get out, but I am still in love with this.

DSCN2536The Kid came out and did the routing on three sides. Just so minor sanding and then it was ready for the first coat of stain. I used a very light stain, as I don’t want to cover up that beauty, just keep it sealed. I ran out of the stain after the first coat though, so will have to finish this later.DSCN2537

Here is a shot of the end of the wood… I just love the way that looks!

I just wanted to point out the wonderful ways to use those paint stir sticks. It is a regular habit for both me and The Kid to stop and pick up a few on each trip to the store. I never feel like I am ‘stealing’ anything as I buy a butt-load of paint from them and they offer them free to their customers.

I’d love to see what you’ve made with stir sticks. They’re really handy!

julie

 

Pink, pink and some more pink!

Seems that every thing that I do lately seems to take about three times longer than it used to. I suppose that is partly due to the fact that I seem to have little ‘spare’ time to work on projects. Dang job getting in the way of my hobbies! How dare it! LOL

I did manage, with The Kid’s help, to get two more projects completed. And of course, as the title hints exclaims, both are finished in my favorite shades of pink.

First came the trunk which I imagine being used as either a toy box or perhaps a keepsake trunk. I found this on the curb about three houses down from where I was picking up some piece of furniture, just sitting there forlorn. To be fair, it had seen better days and it needed new hardware, as the lid was sitting next to it. But I could see the potential.

It got a light sanding and a base primer. Then I replaced the hinge and added a ‘soft down lid’ hinge, keeps the lid from DSCN2511slamming on little fingers. I also added felt around the top of the box to prevent it from banging when closed. Once the hardware was done, I applied two coats of pale pink in a high gloss finish. At that time, it was transferred to the ottoman in front of the couch (halfway between the couch and television), so that I could hand paint the “dots” and still watch my recent binge… “Nurse Jackie”. But that is a whole ‘nuther discussion!

Using four simple round objects – a plate, a bowl, a large glass and a small glass – I randomly marked circles over the entirety of the box. Then it was time to sit back and paint them all in. One thing I did learn was to not paint the very lightest color when the room was dim… found the following morning that I hadn’t done such a great job after all. :-) Just took a little clean up and second coats on most of the colors. But in the end, it turned out fabulous.

I added the little bun feet, just to add a little charm. I glued some more felt to the bottom to take care of any wood floors. And it would be easy to reposition, so that toys could be accessed easily. Here is the end product:

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The trunk is lined with cedar, but I am sure that it is only a veneer. Still, smells nice and I am pretty sure would repel moths.

DSCN2531Next up is the little desk that I picked up from a thrift store for $8. My original intention was to take it apart and stack the drawer units to create a tall vanity, but The Kid pointed out that it had a waterfall front and was in more than awesome shape, so he talked me into painting it too.

Once again, it was primed and painted the base coat of pink. I love the way the high gloss looks, making everything look very shiny. Then the drawers (also primed) received one of four colors of paint, the ombré style of painting. I can’t get enough of this, it makes me think of little princesses. It previously had these weird wood handles over indentions and I didn’t want to put them back on. A while back, I had purchased handles for another project that didn’t turn out, so I opted to use them on the desk.

DSCN2532Again, loved the way this turned out. The photo makes it look a little darker than it really is, I waited until evening to take the picture, so there isn’t a whole lot of natural light. And speaking of pictures, I have reverted to my old (bad) habit of not taking a ‘before’ photo. Sigh. I didn’t have pictures of either of these projects, but live and let live. I like the ‘after’ photos better anyway.

DSCN2533Another angle. This piece could easily be used as a vanity as well. A cute little dresser mirror on top and viola!, vanity!

DSCN2534All wood construction, always start with good bones. This was just too good of a deal to pass up.

Well into the next couple of projects, trying to get things cleared up in the garage, so that I can do my remodel out there. My plan is the effectively build a wall between the larger and smaller garage bays and get some vertical height in which to store things. Right now its all on the floor, which takes up more room than I want. I really want to be able to all the cars in the garage when necessary (I live in tornado alley after all) by just moving a few things out of the way. Right now, I feel lucky when I can get one of my three cars into the garage. Need organization!

julie

 

Gentle Music, Courtesy of Mother Nature

This weekend was really all about my baby’s birthday. He turns nineteen tomorrow, but he will always be my baby!

Didn’t accomplish much this weekend, with the celebration but did get a few things a little further towards completion. I will show you the one thing I did accomplish though.

I had picked up this metal star during one of our thrifting weekends. Wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it, but I finally did figure out that the o-rings on the ends once held something that twinkled or dinged. So I painted the star red and then picked up red coated chain and purchased big red bells from eBay. From there it was pretty quick work of creating equal lengths of the chain and attaching the bells. It twinkled wonderfully on the kitchen deck with a gentle breeze blowing.

DSCN2529Okay, now I have to take a moment for a little kvetching. Usually I have only the best things to say about CraigsList in the Kansas City community, it is very active and usually people are very inviting and accommodating. But something occurred today that has me questioning people in general.

You see, I ran across two ads that I was very interested in. The first was an ad for two dressers for free. One was pretty standard average-type dresser, more glue than actual wood, but the other was a very nice example of quality construction from mid-century. When I contacted the author of the ad, I was told that only the one of better quality was available. I sent The Kid out to pick it up. I wrote back to the ad’s author and asked that she take down the ad and/or move the dresser from the curb as my son was en route to pick it up. A few minutes later, I found another ad, with this lovely piece of furniture also posted and sent The Kid the address and asked him to pick it up following.

00K0K_2cGClmATCNw_600x450Some twenty minutes later, I got a text from The Kid who informed me that neither pieces of furniture were available. I am guestimating that he put some good 50 miles on the truck to retrieve these items only to find out the neither were available.

At first I was disappointed, but as I thought about it, I got angry. And angrier. I specifically inquired the dresser and the other ad had been up for hours already. If people had already given away the items, they should be more considerate and remove the ad. In fact, I waited until The Kid got home and checked CraigsList again and still, both ads were up.

It was then that I sent yet another email to the author of the first ad. I have to admit that I was a little angry,  but was polite enough in the email advising her to remove the ad. Sheesh. The second ad only had the address, no way to contact the seller, but I flagged the ad since the piece had already been picked up.

I love the way CraigsList gives us a way to give and to get free stuff (not to mention being a great local way to sell and buy goods of all kinds), but it has to be used respectfully but everyone. As you can probably tell, I am still a little peeved, but typing this up is helping me get some catharsis.

Well, another ending to another weekend. The weekends are once again, coming too slowly and ending too quickly. Guess that happens when you’re working Monday through Friday. Living for the weekends. Sigh.

julie

Recognizing the Wonderful

One of the best things about writing a creative blog is all the wonderful people I get to meet. Young and old and in between, men and women and kids; hurried people and laid back folks… I get to meet them all.

I have mentioned before that I am not sponsored. Nor am I looking to be. I want to use the tools and materials that I want and not have anything dictated to me. Or have to be careful about the review. Usually I will tell you what I used that I love and maybe skate over what didn’t work or didn’t live up to my expectations. Once in a great while, I share with you when something goes badly. Hopefully my disappointment or headache won’t be yours!

THD

So with that in mind, I want to shout a great big thank you to Matthew at The Home Depot store in Liberty. When I was there this weekend, looking to get in and out and back to projects, I met this extremely wonderful young man. Kudos to you, I appreciated your efforts immensely. Just when I was getting frustrated and tired, your great big smile made things right again.

So thank you! And thanks to all the wonderful folks at The Home Depot.

julie

I Don’t Have to Tell You, You Know I Love Pink!

I grew up, essentially, with 5 brothers (my two sisters are 11 years older and 11 years younger). I was a tomboy from the get-go. I had to just to survive! Although my mother did her best to try to get me to be feminine, I rarely did. When she bought and hung two toned pink curtains in my room, I revolted. For years, I hated pink.

That would all change – or so I thought – when I had children. But mother nature was tough and long story short, five years and the cost of a new house, I was able to bring my one and only child into the world: my son The Kid. There would be no pink and taffeta and dolls and tea sets and tulle and ballerina slippers. Just my rough and tumble little boy. I wouldn’t trade a single second of having him in my life, it has been the best toughest joy of my life.

But I didn’t get to do pink. :-(

Lately, a lot of the furniture makeovers have been pink. As you may (or may not) know, I stumbled over the ombre style of painting and I’ve done a bit: black, green, blue, and yes, pink. And guess what? Pink sells the best and fastest and generally speaking, for asking price. It just is so adorable!

So, currently, I have a toy box and a small desk that are just about ready to be listed for sale. And I am forever hunting for cheap (preferably free) pieces of furniture to refinish/redecorate. Last time I bought paint, I opted for high gloss, which those little paint the small paint samples don’t come in that finish… so in order to get all those shades, I had to buy quarts (and a gallon of the base color). That means, in order to get my money’s worth, I need to do a few more.

The pink is just so cheery and feminine. It looks perfect in a nursery, a toddler or little girl’s room… heck, even teenaged girls love pink (some opt for purple!). I actually know that at least one piece I sold was going into a little girl’s room who was trapped inside a 40′s something woman’s body! Ha! Power to the spirit of the little girl who lives inside all women!

Recently, I picked up a small wood dresser. I like the detailing on the front and thought it would make a good project. It was in terrible condition when I got it and even with a lot of sanding, I couldn’t get it to a clean slate. So, I opted to paint it as it stood and in the end, it turned out okay. I like to describe it as having character. A thing doesn’t exist for that many years and not take on some blemishes or dings.

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This was the last one done with the satin finish. I also decoupaged the inside of each drawer using illustrations I cut from an old children’s book of fairy tales.

Drwer InteriorIt sold quickly, like this style does. So, more are on the way. I think a few people have figured out my success as I am seeing more of the ombré style recently.

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Added a sweet touch with these crystal handles.

KnobAnd the Before/After photo:

Before & AfterKeep an eye peeled for unveiling of several pieces soon. I am also working on a desk converted to a tall chest of drawers, The Kid’s Victrola makeover and the restoration of the larger Victrola. And of course, I am always on the lookout for things that get the creative juice flowing.

julie

Never Enough Time

Recently, I went back to work. Full time. With a commute. I lost, effectively, about 50 hours a week that I used to spend hunting down pieces to work on and actually working on them. And writing this blog. And once I’ve been off and used to sleeping enough and tailoring my days as I wanted. Weekends are now a blur of intent, planning and trying to have some sort of life.

I was able to finish a couple of things, and am madly trying to get this post done so that I can still have part of a weekend to relax. I am sure that my blogs will be, for a while anyway, a little more sparse. I will have The Kid help with a lot more this time around, but in the end it will be my inspiration and plan and execution, he will just help with the ‘heavy lifting’.

Beginning last summer, I have been collecting these little toy glockenspiels, ostensibly for the metal bars. I have seen them in a couple of places, keep your eyes peeled in the toy section of your favorite thrift stores.

il_fullxfull.315937278 Side note: While writing this piece, I kept referring to the toys as xylophones, but now know that they are called glockenspiels. Xylophones have wood bars to strike, while a glockenspiel has metal.

So, I had two that are in the shapes of alligators and one more traditional shaped. But I really just wanted them for the metal bars. I finally got around last week to making the chimes. It was pretty pretty easy to just brute force these apart, as it wasn’t really intended to come apart. I also kept the things you use to hit the bars with, they would become the clangers in the chimes.

The biggest hurdle I faced was what to use as the base of the chime. In one of our recent thrifting experiences, I ran across this thing, and to tell you the truth, I don’t know what it is or what it was used for. But one look at the pattern of holes and I knew it would work perfect for me.

Chime BaseFrom there is was just a matter of looping the string through. I used a nylon coated cord, I have found with other chimes, this seems to last the longest. I’ve been repairing chimes for as long as I can remember, lots of the ones that I have hanging along the eves were pricey, I mean upwards and over the hundred dollar mark. I love the long, wide tubes, as they ‘bong’ instead of ‘clink’… much like church organ pipes. So, when one breaks, I fix it. Recently, I used the tubes from about 6 or 7 chimes making one big one, and it is wonderful. If you want to see that post, go here.

Because I had a fair amount of the metal bars, I opted for a two tiered chime. The clangers are the actual clangers (what else would you call them?) just by drilling a hole in the top ball. It all came together very nicely.

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Then I repaired these two chimes and rehung them. I am back to almost full eves on both sides, one by the master bedroom and the other by the kitchen. We’ve had our share of windy days lately and I love the music that plays.

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DSCN2512I’ve been working on a toy box, in my signature ombré color style and had The Kid move it into the living room so that I could paint the circles while watching television. Close to being done, but here is a sneak peak.

DSCN2511Okay, I need to actually get some more projects finished, but I am seriously wanting to just kick back and put my feet up! Wonder if I can do both?

julie

No Drought In Kansas City

As many of you know, I am a transplant to Kansas City from Northern California’s Silicon Valley. We celebrate ten years in the Show-Me state next month. Even so, I always pay attention to the weather and wild fires out in California, which I still think of as ‘home’. They’ve been through some devastating drought conditions which have led to major wild fires. I feel for my peeps on the west coast.

But drought is one thing that Kansas City has not experienced. Well, at least not this year! Everything is greener than green and if you follow my blog, you know that my strawberry patch…

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…and The Kid’s pumpkin patch…

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….are growing like gang-busters. As I understood strawberries, the plants really don’t mature until the third year and then you can expect some decent harvests. Well, mine are only in their second year but have already harvested many quarts. And this even with me leaving about a third on the ground to help fill in light patches!My HouseI have a larger than standard lot, as our house is on a semi-cul-de-sac. I don’t know what else to call it. It is a corner where one street turns 90 degrees and becomes another street, but the corner is set back and we have a wide half-round area in front of my house and two of my neighbors. This makes for larger backyards, which good or bad, means we have more lawn.

Screen Shot 2014-06-13 at 6.34.56 PMHowever, the way that our property is naturally graded, all run off from the eastern neighbor flows into a little stream through our back yard and then into a underground culvert that then feeds into a (very small) lake in the neighborhood just south of us. Thankfully this ugly culvert is in the back of my western neighbor and he has done a great job of camouflaging it.

One might reasonably think that this should work well and most of the time it does. However, when we have had multiple days of heavy rain (as we have recently), it doesn’t seem to work and we get a lot of standing water in our backyard. Or as I call it, “A River Runs Through It”.

DSCN2486The small leafy patch just to the left of the tree (behind the river) is the Kid’s pumpkin patch. Lots of rain is working a minor miracle on the plants… the vines have gone gangbusters and there are hundreds of blossoms! I think we can safely expect a lot of pumpkins… not the biggest, but I am expecting numbers! So, the standing water isn’t a big deal (although it does make it tough to mow that part of the yard), but mostly it keeps the grass beautifully green and nourishes my tree line.

All of Kansas City is just so healthy and green as well. For once, I can honestly look at Kansas City and call it beautiful! I don’t dislike KC, but there is nothing to compare with San Jose/San Francisco area and the Pacific Ocean and the Sierra Madre mountains and everything in between. I really miss California!

Me and The Kid have been slowly been working on some new projects – The Kid now more than me since I’ve gone back to work. Last night we sold the purple vanity (yay!) and I think I have a buyer for the umpteenth pink ombre dresser that I finished an evening or so ago. That leaves just the two-tone vanity left to sell and I will officially have my entry way cleared!

photoI am also about a third or so complete on a 8″ x 10″ cross stitch project, I just picked up the canvas and some thread and started stitching! I am thinking that I will make it into an iPad case when I am done. Or something. Ha! I always have to have something to do with my hands even when I am too tired to refinish furniture and just am sitting on the couch watching ‘Nurse Jackie’. (Don’t get me started talking about binge series watching… that’s another whole different post!)

Thankfully, today is Friday and the end of my first week on the new job. I am really liking it, as I have a super team and an even more super (super-duper?) manager and I am coming up to speed really quick. Which is great, ’cause I really don’t like being the ‘new’ person. I see me doing this for a while. I hope!

julie

Strawberries! And Another Vanity Restore

First, let me just brag about the crazy awesomeness of my strawberry patch! A couple of weeks ago, the patch was covered in little white flowers and last week I harvested about a pint of sweet berries. Me and The Kid went out last night to check the pumpkin patch and I thought to give the strawberries a quick check! Yowza!

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I did find a couple more of those pesky snails, so it would seem I need pesticide. Or some natural bug killer. One more thing on the TO DO list!

Oh, here is a quick shot of the pumpkin patch. These were started from seeds kept from last year around Halloween and sprouted in the kitchen. We were worried at first that they wouldn’t grow, but should have known better!

IMG_6559I have also been working on another vanity, originally I had hoped to keep it for myself, but the house is already overflowing to stretching the seams! This had a great story behind it, the man who I got it from told us that it was built in US-occupied Japan and was built with old growth oak. There was a lot of beautiful wood in the piece, unfortunately, it had been sitting in his damp basement for way too long and had a lot of wood and veneer damage. So, I salvaged what I could, which was sanded and re-varnished. What I couldn’t replace was replaced by maple plywood and painted a high gloss ivory. The handles were painted a matching color and replace. I also painted the last 40″ square mirror to match and it looks spectacular. The matching bench seat was all oak, so it too, was sanded and re-varnished. I covered the top with a gorgeous two toned upholstery fabric and viola!, perfection!

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Isn’t it beautiful? I love the way the two tones play off of each other. (You can see the reflection of the as-of-yet still-unsold doll house! :-().

DSCN2472A quick shot of the kid helping with the vanity. I am the luckiest mom to have been blessed with The Kid. He is the antithesis of what I was at his age! Thank heavens!

And not to go on and on, but isn’t CraigsList just the best thing ever?! I don’t know what I am going to do with it, but a student of architecture was giving away one of his projects and I had to have it! Not quite the normal scale of 1 inch to 1 FOOT scale that most dollhouses are, none of the existing furniture or fixtures I have will work in this house. And did I mention it was HUGE? It stands about 4 1/2 foot tall and the base is 4′ x 4′ but it is FRIGGIN’ COOL!

photo 1

photo 2The Kid has claimed one of the remaining Victrola cabinets and has been working on it. I think it will turn out even better than if I had done the work. He has a great imagination and loves the wood working. If it just weren’t already getting so hot and muggy!

More stuff on the way! Come back soon!

julie

Pumpkins, Strawberries and Spiders

Today’s post deals with my attempts at gardening. I’ve been pretty successful with growing houseplants and indoor trees. Five or so years ago I planted 24 seedling evergreens that today are more than 12 feet tall. Last year I planted strawberries in the space under the deck, and got a few little fruit during the season.

I was out in the backyard recently and found that the strawberry plants had nicely weathered the winter and were growing well, spreading out establishing new shoots. A few weeks back, I noticed that the plants were covered with little white flowers and yesterday, I saw that the little white flowers have been replaced with little tiny berries.

DSCN2443 DSCN2444 DSCN2441 DSCN2442The Kid has planted pumpkins, he had saved a pumpkin from fall that lasted all through the winter and into early spring. A few weeks ago, we started them in a long rectangluar planted in the kitchen near the window of houseplants and they sprang into life overnight! Last weekend, we removed sod in a great patch beneath the big tree, laid down some Miracle Gro soil and replanted the pumpkins. The Kid has been out everyday, tending to the plants and giving them water. I am excited to see his enthusaism and we are looking forward to at least one or two pumpkins by Halloween.

DSCN2439We had a house guest last night. But I am a firm believer that killing spiders is just wrong. So, we coaxed it onto a fly swatter and gave this little guy a ride into the back yard. Its cool that spiders are out there reducing the insect population, but they need to be outside and not in my kitchen!

DSCN2449We’re working on a garage-full of projects, they all seem to be in the middle of being done. Argh… it is so frustrating to have so much work to be done and yet so much time is spent waiting. Waiting for paint and stain and glue to dry. And while stained and paint are drying, you can’t get saw dust in the air, so that has to wait. And yet, while I wait for this to be done, I am busy acquiring other projects to work on. Its a crazy cycle!

julie

A Quick Chime Report

So, in closing yesterday’s post, I showed you the pieces I had ready for the next chime. I simply cannot be that close to a conclusion and not finish the project. So first thing this morning, I set up threading the chime.

Collander ChimesUsing an old colander as the base, I had also purchased a much smaller one. This originally was meant to be used in the American Girl dollhouse (you can see the post about it here), but the scale was a bit too large. And it was blue (the dollhouse kitchen was turquoise). So it was appropriated this morning for the wind chime (after being spray painted silver). Since most of the utensils that I was planning on using were silver or red (or both!), I thought that the two colanders being the same color workable.

As a side note, I just wanted to discuss painting. Painting in all forms is one of the easiest, quickest and least permanent ways of changing the look of just about anything and everything. A room or piece of furniture or frame or just about anything can be easily and usually inexpensive changed. And if you don’t like the new color or you’ve changed the decor of the room, it can be easily changed again. That said, use caution when applying paint: be sure to read instructions, follow cautions and use proper preparations. And always paint with with proper ventilation. End of lecture!

Using a larger red ball that was left from the disintegration of wind chimes past, I threaded into the silver colander. Then the larger red colander was threaded atop the small silver one. I was lucky with the length of string that I used and only had to discard but a few inches while allowing the threading to rise from the top colander and onto an “S” hook (also from the pieces box).

Then it was just a matter of again threading through the existing holes of the colander (so easy!) to hang the utensils. I only used one red spoon to provide an even number which worked perfectly with the design of the colander.

Colander ChimeSo there it is! I really like how it came out and now proudly hangs from the eves on the kitchen deck. Which is a bit poetic, since these were kitchen utensils and colanders. And is my favorite kitchen colors.

We’re expecting storms in the Midwest tonight, so I am hoping this will make for some beautiful music!

julie

 

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