Sunday, March 15, 2015

Faux bone inlay dresser

Hi everyone!

I'm amazed you guys are still hanging around here since it's been a while since last.

I'm just working away and trying to fit in some creative time where I can. I recently finished this faux bone inlay dresser which turned out so great I needed to share. Please excuse the pics being a little fuzzy as I just used the phone. Now I wish I had taken the time to use the camera and take some proper pictures.

My inspiration was something similar to this Anthropologie beauty:

And what I had was this huge dresser our neighbors had put out on the curb. You can't beat free :)

I first considered painting it but the finish was a little cracked and scuffed here and there, and as the profile of the dresser was straight enough to stencil I decided to go ahead and buy Kim Myles' stencil from Cutting edge stencils and go all out.

First some stripping of the old finish.

The wood was all kinds of colors but I kept my cool, thinking the stain and the patterns would cover a multitude of imperfections. I also added wooden knobs from Lowe's.

Next I decided to use a vinegar/steel wool/instant coffee stain to mimic that aged, darker wood in Indian furniture. I filled up a mason jar with distilled white vinegar, dropped in a pad of fine steel wool, then let it sit for several days until the wool was mostly dissolved. I then put in a generous tablespoon of instant coffee and let it sit another day or so.

This is after one coat of stain and here is where I started to get seriously worried this might not look all that great in the end since the finish was so splotchy. I went over the lightest areas with as thin of a coat as I could, immediately wiping of the excess with some paper towels. It still looked pretty bad so I just decided to go ahead and finish it and see what would happen. Maybe the patterns would distract the eye enough to make it work anyway?

And it did! Here are the afters.

I used an ivory colored craft paint and I finished the dresser with two coats of wipe-on poly to protect the finish. The polyurethane deepened the stain and made it look warmer and the white all over pattern totally distracts from the stain being all splotchy. I achieved the variations in the stencil patterns by creatively taping off and re-using various parts of the stencil. I estimate the whole thing cost me about $150 in supplies (free dresser, stencil, stain components, wood filler, stencil brushes, poly etc) and took me about 40 hours spread out over about 2 weeks. It was a a lot of hard work but since it came out so great it was all worth it.

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

DIY reclaimed wood shelves

You know how they say one person's pain is another person's gain? Or something to that effect, at least.

Well, someone tore down the little abandoned house next door to us and I'm sure someone, somewhere must have lost some money on that.

 They've been working on this off and on for a few weeks. And I've been eyeing these piles of perfectly usable wood destined for the dump. I finally decided to adopt a few.

Can you tell we're thirsty for water over here? Oy, keeping a garden alive in a drought is very ungrateful work, I tell you.

My gain - free wood. These are just the leftovers. But I used about 7 of these 2x6x10 studs with plenty of imperfections character to them, such as cracks, old nail holes and the occasional rusted nail that I just could not get out and decided to hammer into the wood instead. More character :)

 I didn't take any step by step pics of the construction because, honestly, I was just trying to not succumb to heat stroke or dehydration while working on these in our non-air conditioned garage in 100+ degree heat. I lived to tell the tale of how horrible those working conditions were. But at least I got some kinda cool, rustic, custom shelves from it and that makes it worth the effort.

 I just used some random lamps that I scrounged from around the house here. My whole thought with these shelves was to put a pair of coordinating lamps on the shelves to bring some much needed light to this dark corner of our living room/entry way.
 I left all the imperfections as they were, I only sanded them a little bit to take most of the splinters off.

It's a little hard to see here but I used these little reproduction metal brackets in the corners that I picked up at an antiques store months ago with the thought of making some kind of shelves like these.

Along with the light came some extra storage space and when have you ever complained that you had too much storage? Never, I'd guess. I intend to fashion some kind of baskets for the bottom shelves to store things like hats and mittens and other little things you might not necessarily want to look at every day but that are oh so needed at times. This armoire between the shelves holds all our shoes and various other small items that often find themselves trying to multiply and escape their enclosures. So I think the baskets will help that situation.

Since these shelves are so rustic and I'm not really going for a full-blown farmhouse feel in here but more of an eclectic mishmash of all the things I like with what I would hope is some sort of chic twist to it, I decided that the permanent lamps for this spot needed to be more modern in style and shape.

So here's what I came up with. I used these thrifted tall blue glass vases that I've had around for awhile, added some beat-up clearance shades from Target and a bottle lamp kit, and some bits of leftover drop cloth fabric and black grosgrain ribbon to cover the shades with. Looks pretty good, I think.

You certainly wouldn't guess these shades only cost me about $7 each.

Here's how the lamp kit is attached to the vase tops. Cork. I got the idea after seeing the same set up on a few glass lamps I spotted in stores. I could have ordered corks of the right dimensions online, or driven all over town trying to find something like it locally. I decided to cut little circles of the right size from my broken cork pot holders. A quick fix and a secure hold for my kit/shades. Perfect.

Here's a previous incarnation of this wall.

And the after again.

Since I'm thinking re-sale these days I'm thinking this wall color will change to a more muted blue-gray, light enough to contrast with dark woods etc but still dark enough to pop against whites. Accented by blues and yellows. And maybe some mirrors behind these lamps?
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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Wanderlust, or crafterlust

So I just watched the movie Wanderlust with Jennifer Aniston last night. I know, I know. Not the most brain enhancing selection, but I have to fill my Netflix queue with something and this happened to be it last night.

I wasn't very enamored with the movie as a whole even if it was slightly amusing at times. But every time I see the concept of "free love" (which, by the way, seems to me to mean "free sex") depicted in movies it just kills me inside. I can't stand seeing these characters buying into it and hurting their spouses/partners. "Free heartache for all" is what I would call it.

But, apart from that I kind of liked the hippie esthetic shown throughout the movie and I was rewarded for sitting through the difficult parts in the very last scene of the movie, where Jennifer and her on-screen husband are back in civilization again. I made my husband make some screen shots of this to show you and also so I could have a reminder myself. The pics are a little bit blurry and you can't see it all here but I just loved the way they have put this room together. You'll have to watch the movie yourself to get all the details, pause and move along one second at a time like I did :)

First, check out this gorgeous, rustic bookshelf! Not to mention the styling of it.

 This shelf I think I could pretty easily DIY with some 4x4s for supports and 1x6s or 1x8s for the shelves. I'm almost positive that I'll do it sometime in the future :)

And then for this circular wall art. 

 In the movie they referred to it as a "God's eye" and it might be but after spending most of the late evening last night and early morning today googling and researching I think it looks more like some kind of curve stitching design or circular string art. Maybe those things are the same to some people? Since I'm not interested in the possible spiritual pedigree it doesn't really matter to me.

While watching the movie you can clearly see it's string and nails on a board and I like how the board contrasts with the string in dark and light blue. It's like another spin on sunbursts :) In another part of the movie they have one hung above the fire place which looked great as well. I would love to make a few of these and add some color in all the right places. I think this could be replicated fairly easily. Without knowing for sure it looks like this is the general pattern they used.

Light blue on top and a smaller circle just like it in dark blue layered underneath.

Here's some other examples of string art I found.

 Shell motif.

Heart, or fan motif directly onto the wall.

Circular motif.

If you want to wander into slightly different and more complicated territory.


I for one like the original colorful circle the best and if you do too here's a place to get simple templates to get you started.

So after watching that movie I'm now filled not with wanderlust so much as crafterlust :) How about you?

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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Little soap trick

When we re-did our bathroom here a few months ago (check it out if you want) there was no longer any room for a soap pump on the tiny sink. Or a soap dish. And the slippery little soap refused to stay put on its own but ended up in the sink over and over, no matter what I tried. Until... a bright idea presented itself! You guys know how much I love my pistachio shells :)

 Take your favorite bar soap (this is one I found and it smells divine, if a bit pricey. But sometimes a tiny splurge is sooo satisfying) and some cast off pistachio shells. I found six per bar works perfectly but you might be able to get by with less.

 Press your six shells into the bottom of the soap, just enough to where they are secured into the soap without falling out. If your bar is very hard you may have to soften it with water before adding the shells.

 Place your bar on the sink, admire the perfect fit and watch how it stays put beautifully. Even when wet.

 See how the bar now has it's own built-in non-slip soap dish which keeps it elevated off the surface of the sink. No more melting soaps or soaps that slide off it's intended shelf. To lather up you just soap up like normal and the shells stay put amazingly well. Once in a while you may have to push them back on but it only takes a minute and then you're good to go again. We've used this bar now for about 2 months I think and only once has a shell come off it. When the bar gets to be too small you just remove some or all of the shells and discard them and start over with a new bar and new shells.

Whatever you do with your bar soap slivers is up to you :)

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Monday, July 22, 2013

Update on garden and teeth

Hi again and long time no talk!

It's been a crazy spring/summer over here and that's why I've been absent yet again for a longer period of time. It's hard to concentrate on enjoyable and seemingly unimportant things as crafting and decorating when your teeth are breaking on you one by one. Things are looking up for us, though, as the temperature is climbing over here. 

Brief recap for those of you who don't recall. Daughter with broken arm in February that required surgery and an overnight stay at the hospital (she's fine now), then in March I noticed the first of a total of 7 cracked teeth in my mouth. They've all been crowned by now and we're just working on adjusting my bite now but this has been far too long in the making - 4 months! Don't know if that's normal in dentist circles but it doesn't seem normal to me and I'm seriously eyeing a new dentist for my next cleaning.

And while my dentist doesn't know exactly why this happened it seems like the stress of anticipation of that hospital bill combined with nightly teeth grinding and slightly crooked teeth is what did it. I'm now wearing a night guard so things should be fine from now on. Ironically, the hospital bill (after a generous discount by the hospital) turned out to be smaller than my dental bill. Learn from me, guys. Don't worry about bills to come or they might get worse... :/

Through it all God has been faithful and kept us up. As I mentioned the hospital discounted our bill by about $3000 which was a relief. My teeth have been about $1100 per crown so that credit card bill is not pretty. Needless to say my crafting budget is now zero and I'm also looking for a part time job to try to help pay for things. With both kids going to school full time starting this fall it's probably going to work out just fine. I've been on a few interviews already and I guess sooner or later someone's going to realize what a gem I am and hire me :)

Which leads me to my garden. Someone left a comment during the spring wanting to know how my garden was doing. Here's a few pics of the front (which looks a lot nicer than the backyard) that were taken about two months ago. Gardening is not my forte and I'm trying to find plants that can stand little water, intense heat and pretty much take care of themselves despite the harsh conditions. It's kind of one step forward, two steps backwards. But I must say things are looking better than when I started so I guess things are going in the right direction.

I have no recent pic of this but both vines on the lamp posts are now in bloom (and much larger), they're trumpet vines. Large orange trumpets, gorgeous! This is the first year they're blooming.

So the yard isn't beautiful exactly, but I still have wildflowers coming up on their own that I planted a few years ago.

That tuft of grass is pampas grass that I rescued off the curb when someone was remodeling their yard, I have one in the previous picture as well. I wasn't sure it would survive but they're doing great and now I wish I would have grabbed a few more since they were free.
I won't make any promises about how often you'll see me on here in the near future but I intend to keep going, if I have anything to share I will. There's always little straggling projects I could finish (from my huge pile of procrastinated projects I should have finished a year ago) and when I do get a job I should have my meager crafting budget back. But less time to play with.

This area is kind of messy since I'm always propagating new stuff and I'm keeping the babies here so I'll remember to water them now and then. I did manage to get my cinder block planter painted white this spring and I now have ice plants growing in the little compartments.

The yellow flowers are one of the wildflowers that keep coming back on their own but the pinks are my rose collection which I'm very happy with. These roses don't get any care beyond a trim once or twice a year. I plan on propagating/buying more roses, they're so easy to care for!
Throughout these months of unknowns my therapy has been Pinterest :) Nothing like pretty pictures to cheer you up when things are tough. So, because I've been on there pretty much constantly I've managed to collect and curate quite an amount of pictures, ideas and inspirations. You might find something you like on there if you care to join me?

The trailing ice plants in the planters are going strong. I give them a drink every few weeks if there's no rain and some slow release fertilizer if they stop blooming, and that's about it. All my other container plants just die on me as soon as it gets hot so I'm looking for other pretty succulents to fill those containers with as well.

You can find more pics of the front yard in it's previous stages over here, here and here. Hope you're having a great summer, we're staying busy with swim lessons etc over here! Almost time for back to school crunch...
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