Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bet you all thought I vanished!

Well...I sorta did. At least from the blogging world. I've just been so occupied with school, and then trying to figure out how to keep my house running with my limited time (answer to that, if you are wondering...teach your kids how to run the laundry, and make it their own responsibility to have clean clothes...)

This semester was totally worth it, though! I LOVE being in school, and learning fun new things. I really loved my design class, and gained a lot from it, but my truly exciting fun awesome class was woodworking. I had a blast every day in there! We started with safety and how to use all the cool, big machines without cutting our fingers off. Then our first project was a nightstand (I'll have to get pictures of that one tomorrow to show you cause it's awesome, too) Then we were told we could build what we wanted if we had a plan (either one we found or our own). We've been really needing a good ottoman. I wanted a nice big one. I'd show you a "before" but it was just a pile of boards :) and then I turned them into...

(that's a kid's rocking chair in the back...just so you don't get confused and think I made a truly giant ottoman....It's 3ft square and about 14in tall)

I'm in love! There is something incredibly satisfying in having something made by my own hands.
I even turned the legs on the lathe (which was, hands down, the funnest part of this whole thing...and since I loved making this, that is saying something) They are not all quite the same, but considering it was my first time and I mostly eyeballed the curves, I think they are pretty close. I was a little worried when I decided to use a lathe for this, because I think most turned legs tend to look very traditional or very country and neither of those fit my style. These, I think, lean toward traditional, but the curve is simple enough that it's not quite. Next semester, I want to try to make some candlesticks...and a lamp base...and...(can you tell I have lathe on the brain?...anyone out there want to contribute to my lathe fund so I can have one to play with in my own shop? This is the one I want :)

So, there is some of what I've been up to while I've been not blogging. I'm going to be on Christmas break now, though, so maybe I can get caught up with some projects I managed to squeeze in these last few months.

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Monday, August 30, 2010

It's a Paint Booth...sorta...

Lookie! It's a paint booth. :) Only took us three weekends, but we got it done. Did you know they make ultra thick plastic? Well, if I thought about it I would have known...but until I asked the guy at the hardware store what would work for a paint booth, and he was all "plastic" and I was all..."I tried painters plastic and it was a disaster..." and he was all "HAHAHA YOU FOOL! WHAT WERE YOU THINKING!" (ok, not really...) He pointed me to the "6 mil" stuff, which works quite nicely. Eventually I'd like to add a 4th wall, and top and ventilation...but for now, this catches the overspray quite nicely, and I got this....

To protect my lungs while I work in here. Pretty, eh?

Now, if only I'd remembered tack cloth when I bought my plastic, I'd have several finished projects to show you...as it is, I have 3 sitting in the garage, sanded and waiting to be cleaned up properly before they can be painted. I don't have school tomorrow, though, so I'll get them done then.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Fantasy Friday - my dining room dream

This is what my new dining room would look like in a perfect world!

I've been dying to paint my room Gray forever. I want a neutral background because I want to bring in lots of color in accents and I like to change them up frequently. And gray is less stark then white and less boring than cream. It looks so calming and soft. I think SW Gray Screen would be perfect in our space.

I think my dining table is perfect, so I wouldn't change it up at all, and I have a chandelier very similar to the one here. I'd just need permission from the landlord to switch it out. (I have permission to paint, and switch out curtains...do you think that extends to electrical fixtures?...hmmmm) Then, I'd add ultra modern and colorful dining chairs and layer in colorful, whimsical accessories.

Very eclectic, but the idea feels so "me" and fun and makes me smile.

Art (I love art from The Black Apple!)
Chairs (from my file...anyone have the link?)
candlesticks (from my file...now that I'm planning on doing this on a regular basis, I'll keep better track of these things)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Learning things is lots of fun!

Lookie what I started this week!!!! I'm going back to college. Mr. Duck has been going part time for about a year, and amped it up to time and a half this semester, so we figure that since we were living off of school loans anyway, I should take the time to go back and finish my interior design degree. Well, start over really since none of my credits transfer, but it's been several years, and I wasn't that far in, so I'm ok with starting over. This semester I'm taking intro to interior design and beginning woodworking. I figure they both go along with what I'm doing for work, and they are both things I feel passionate about.

Woodworking is going to be really exciting. We went over safety for most of the tools this week, and Monday we will be voting on our first project. We all have to do the same one, but he has 3 for us to choose from. I'm hoping for a nightstand/end table, or a small desk. I just hope it's not something lame that I don't need/want or I may rush through it to start on whatever I want....well, whatever I want that I can actually make with the skills I'll have learned by then...but it's not like I don't have any experience...it's just mostly assisting, and theory, and watching the Wood Whisperer...So I'm excited to take this class to get more hands on time with the tools.

I'm really excited about my design class, too. Like I said, I've taken it...but it was online, and some things are hard to really grasp over the internet...like exactly how to say "juxtaposition"...I know how to say it now, but it took me a long time to really feel confident with it. And "Analogous"...I'm still not quite positive how that one is pronounced...I should look it up...Also, they have a lab on campus with fabric, floor and wall-covering samples so I won't have to drive all over collecting them for class projects, and we'll do field trips to local stores that designers would shop at, and my teacher has worked locally in design so she will know of other places to shop. I didn't get any of that in online classes. Not that I didn't learn a ton before, and even studying and reading about design since. I'm just looking forward to being able to really focus on it again, and have teachers and peers to talk to.

So I may be posting on awesome stuff I'm learning, and pictures of awesome stuff I'm doing. Should be exciting around here!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Not so busy....

It's been hot here...and I mean, really hot...and I don't know if you know this about me, but I don't function well in the heat. I don't function well in the cold either, but I think I function better in the cold then the heat...and since a lot of what I do is painting, and you're not supposed to paint when it's really hot, I figured I had a good excuse (ok, not really...I just get lazy in the heat...) But I did want to show a few of the things I've been up to. Mostly this last week as it's been slightly cooler, so I got slightly productive...

Trying out oil based paint
Is it wrong to want to marry a color? I know, this needs to be sanded and have another coat of paint...but that color! In case anyone is dying to know, this is SW Lime Ricky. I totally heart it!

Painting a little table and adding a lock for a niece on her way to college.

I know the black is a HUGE improvement...but I kick myself looking at this picture and wondering how I could forget to paint the hinges silver!

Trying to construct a paint booth since it's so windy in our yard, I feel I waste more paint then necessary....this was meant to be a quick fix, but is a total fail!
The spray gun blows the plastic all over the place (even though it's anchored top and bottom) and there is no way to clean up the saw dust it kicks up, so it kicks it right onto my wet paint. I'm looking at other options, but if anyone has an inexpensive idea for a paint booth that they'd share, I'd appreciate it...I'm thinking of getting foam insulator boards or maybe cheap paneling and something to brace it up....

And building planter boxes.
After the luck we had with tomatoes in our tiny plot this year, we want to expand and have more veggies next year. This box is for my sister-in-law's yard, but she said we could use it for the next few years. I'll post some more pictures when it's all set up.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Newest peice of furniture

We managed to get a smokin' awesome deal on a great piano this week. My girls and I had been saving our pennies, then we got some unexpected funds via a laptop we sold. I wanted a short one mostly because I thought it would be more visually pleasing in our space, and because it would be easier to move. Plus it needed to be in tune, or at least not damaged so it could be tuned, and have an OK sound. My sister-in-law stepped in to help with the shopping since she and her husband know a thing or two (or a million more then me) about pianos. They spotted this one on KSL (utah version of craigslist...but better), and suggested strongly that we snatch it up. So we did :) It sounds great, is in tune, has no stuck keys at all, is well made and a good brand (is brand the right work...make? model?...whatever....)

When I was originally shopping, I was really wanting one I wouldn't feel bad about paining, but this one has a really nice cherry finish....I still want to paint it, but I don't know what color yet, and it still feels like a crime to paint pretty wood. But then, I feel the dark wood just gives such a heavy, dated look to a room. I'm wanting to paint the living room, and I could work it around the dark wood, but I have a vision for light and fun with colors that pop....and I'm not sure a dark piano fits or adds to that vision. Especially where our floor plan puts the piano smack in the middle of the room backing the sofa (yeah, we have a weird big room with not many walls...but the piano kind of works there, so I'm going with it for now.). So the piano is kind of the main focal point in the room, which I'm OK with, but it makes me want to paint it more since it's so prominent....

heehee...did you like my long rant there? do you have an opinion on painting nice wood? I generally say do what you love and what works in your space, and I know I'd love it painted...but I also know it will be a good deal of work that my husband won't be too happy about helping me with. Guess we'll make a decision if we ever get around to painting the front room...

Oh, and in case you've never seen a pretty piano makeover with paint, here is one....see? nice hu? so fresh and clean.

and another...

and another...

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Love a good garage sale!

I rolled my family out of bed bright and early with a bag full of pop tarts and pushed them straight into the van to go find awesome at garage sales. At first...nothin'. We only saw a few sales and they didn't have anything really very good. Then, as usually happens, we called it for the day and then saw one more sign. It was placed oddly so it was hard to find the garage, but when I spotted it, I knew I was going to be IN HEAVEN! The garage was PACKED with end tables, side tables, serving tables, dining tables, dishes, vases, and chairs...and I would have bought every single thing if I could have afforded it. Most was in beautiful shape, and vintage lines and build. Unfortunately, I couldn't, so I restrained myself to 4 items. It took me a good while to really decide which to get.

Ever since seeing this post from Memoirs of the Shoe Obsessed, I've been pining for a telephone table. Not that I want to do exactly that, but because it was such an awesome transformation, and telephone tables aren't something you see everyday. So you know this was the first one I grabbed...
Even the upholstery is in really great shape, but just a bit too dated. I'm going to check my stash to see what I can find that's fun, then decide on paint.

Then this one...I love the curved legs and scalloped apron...I'm seeing a little girl's room paint job.

Then this...She started refinishing it, so the topcoat is bubbly from the stripper, but other then that, it's really in great shape...sturdy, drop leaves work great...I usually don't buy a piece without a clear vision or idea for it, but it was such a unique piece, I couldn't leave it behind.


Did you notice this bowl? It just seemed so interesting and unique to me, that I had to have it. The glass is that 70's green stuff that usually just looks tacky, but I just feel in love with this one. I don't know if it's the shape or what, but I snatched it up!

One thing, was that this garage sale, being hard to see, didn't look real well attended. I asked what she would be doing with the stuff unsold and if I could call to see if she still had stuff in a few weeks when my budget allowed for it...she said that she does one every couple weeks. You know I'm going to be going back! There were a couple items that I had a VERY hard time walking away without.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The story of a refinished table (part 2 - stain)

Wow, part two took a long time. It's been very HOT here, so I've only been able to work very early in the morning...turning one day's worth of work into several. So let's jump in. I left you with a damp table waiting for grain to raise....
After about an hour, if you run your hand over the surface you will feel how bumpy it is. Use 220 grit sandpaper to smooth it. This is usually a pretty quick process and I use my hand to feel for bumps as I go to make sure I get the whole thing. Wipe it with a cloth and then a tack cloth to make sure you get ALL the dust off.

I'm working with this water based stain in walnut, and I'm starting with the idea that this top cannot get too dark. I haven't worked with a normal stain for a long time, but I know most of the directions say to spread it on, let it sit, then wipe it off. This one says that too, but that method doesn't work very well because it soaks into the wood so fast. Plus it dries so fast that it's hard to use that method and get an even color. (at least for me...some people may be more talented...but I'm going to tell you how I found to work well with this stuff).

Start by applying liberally, then you kindof buff it in. Try to use really long smooth strokes with your rag, and when you get streaks or blotches, rub them out as soon as you see them(sometimes it takes a good bit of elbow grease). If they are being stubborn, try putting more stain on it, buff out the blotch, then rub it out smooth. This stuff dries fast, and you can probably do a second coat after it sits for an hour or so, but don't let your blotches sit. They won't come out...even though the can says you can add more stain to wet and even out blotches or streaks, I've found it doesn't work after it's sat very long. It also says you can try spraying water on it to get it wet and even it, but I didn't think that worked well at all...just made weird water drop pattern that I couldn't get to buff out.

See how you have some grain with no stain down in it? For the first coat it's not a real big deal, but to get rid of it, you have to put a good pool of stain and rub both across and the long way to get it down into that part, then smooth/buff out streaks. A lot of times, after the first coat, it won't mater how well I got these spots, the grain will still suck the color off the surface and leave light spots.

Very blotchy after the first coat. It's interesting to me to see how different spots in the wood absorb color so differently. Between coats, be sure to use tack cloth to get rid of any dust that has settled.

When putting on the second stain, I'm sure to focus on the light spots, but hit the whole thing again. At this point it's looking pretty good, but I think it can be a little better...

3rd coat....really focus on light spots, and even out to get a nice, even, dark color.
When that is nice and set, I brushed on polycrylic in semi-gloss. It's also water based, so it dries nice and fast and has a lot less smell then the oil based stuff. It looks like milk in the can and goes on very cloudy, but dries nice and clear. You want to put on thin coats, in long even strokes going with the grain. Be careful not to "overbrush". It can be a fine line. If your brush isn't sliding easily over the surface, if it feels tacky at all, you are overbrushing and will leave visable brush strokes. As long as it's sliding easily over the surface, the poly will self-level pretty well and give you a nice smooth finish. Watch for drips down the sides, or bubbles in the finish. Drips, you can just brush out if you see them when they happen. Bubbles are a little trickier because you have to brush them out, but don't want to overbrush....it's a fine line...sometimes I'll add a little more poly and then work out the bubbles.

You want to wait at least 3 hours between coats of poly. The directions say to sand between coats, but I was worried about having stain problems like we had before, so I just didn't and guess what? It was just fine :). I've actually done that before and had not problems with the results after not sanding. It bonds just fine. You just have to be more careful with each coat because you won't be fixing it with sandpaper. I use 3 - 4 coats...on this I did 3 and felt it was good.
And finished! again...:) No more drips...no weird light spot in the middle....Now it is ready to be sold.

Friday, July 23, 2010

So worth it!

Well, I finished it. I built two new front legs and delivered this chair today. At the end of a project I get all worried that they are not going to be happy with my work. For this one, I was worried because I hadn't been able to match the old color, so I had painted the whole thing a brown that was close...I was worried they would be mad. When I'd picked it up from this older couple, they told me it had been his step-mother's, but that if it couldn't be fixed it wasn't a problem. But when I brought it back today, I could see in their faces how happy it made them to see it in usable condition...sturdy and in one piece. It made all the difficulty we had in fixing it so worth it. I pretty much love my job :)

(of course, I forgot to get a final picture before delivering it...maybe I'll call to see if I can come by and get a picture...)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The story of a refinished table (part 1 - prep)

This is the story of a table with a lovely walnut colored top.
See? Pretty! But let's take a closer look.
(If you click on the image you can see it bigger, and get full appreciation for my screw ups) I got drippy poly down the sides because I was working in an area that didn't have very good light...so I missed them.

Then, you have to keep in mind that this is a truely handmade table top. It is smooth and fabulous, but it is not 100% flat. When we went to lightly sand after the first coat of polycrylic, one little spot did "something weird". It cut through the single layer of poly on one tiny high spot (even though we were very gentle with it and it was set plenty long) and took off the stain. It was a hard spot, so the stain hadn't gone deep. I figured I'd just re-stain that spot, but I went to hit it and it was like it had pulled the stain off *below* the poly because it would not take stain on that spot again...like I said...weird! Anyway, we wanted pictures of the table for advertising and stuff, so we decided at that point, to fix it, we'd have to strip it anyway, so I finished a few more coats of poly hoping that it wouldn't look as bad in the morning...But it did.

So, due to one little weird spot, you get to take the ride with me as we refinish this table and I'll share what I've learned and what I used on this project.

Step 1....sand the table.
I know that I only had a couple little mistake spots. And I tried to spot fix them, but since we were going from such light wood to such a dark stain, I quickly found it was not possible to do to my satisfaction. (well, the drips could have been an easy fix since I could have just re-done the end with drips, but the top could not easily be fixed). Mr. Duck was in charge of the sanding. His weapon of choice for this is a belt sander. It is MUCH faster then a palm or random orbit sander, and helps give a flatter surface, cutting though stuff more evenly...but I think it must take a skill I don't have because I feel like I always cut through the wood too fast and take off more then I want to. I would have used a palm sander for this and taken a day and a half, where it took him about 2 hours. Start with course grit and work your way to finer grits. He used 40, 80, 120, then 220 on the belts. 40 cuts through VERY fast so it's only used with extreme caution, and he only put it on when he found the 80 was having a hard time getting though the finish. Mr. Duck's tips on using a belt sander - "hold the sander in a 'neutral' hand position...not tipping it front to back or sided to side because that will leave gouges. Let it sit flat on your surface and only use your grip to slide it around."

Follow up with a sanding block and 220 grit paper. Pay special attention to the end grain as it will absorb stain faster...the smoother it is, the better it is to work with.
This is a good time to take a break and see what is growing in the garden, and see how cute Katie is :)
Step 2 - Set up your work space and gather supplies
Put your table somewhere with good, even lighting (to avoid drips the second time around....) and gather your supplies. I like to work with water based products whenever possible...they are less smelly, dry quickly and don't require special attention when disposing of rags and brushes. Plus, the water based stain comes in TONS of colors. Yes, that is water in a spray bottle, I'll get to that in a moment. For rags right now, I'm using an old baby blanket, But t-shirts work very nicely too.

Step 3 - pre-raise the grain
Because I'm working with water based stain, I want to pre-raise the grain. When you put water on wood, it will absorb the water and the grain will lift up giving a bumpy surface. Minwax makes a wood conditioner that will do this too, but I've found this method to work just as well on hardwood. On a soft wood, I'd use the wood conditioner. To raise the grain, give the whole top a liberal misting of water. I have read that some hard water will leave spots and to use distilled water...I use filtered water and find it to work fine. Let this sit for about 1 hour then hand sand with 220 grit.

This is the end of part one (as I'm blogging while eating lunch and waiting for my hour to be up to sand....) At this point, you are pretty much at the end of the "prep" phase of refinishing a stained table. Next up, we'll actually get some color on that top!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A new table finished

Well, it took a bit longer then we'd planned, but I'm so happy with how it turned out.
I'm trying to decide if I want to glaze the apron and legs...I probably will because Mr. Duck feels like there is too much contrast...I kinda like it, though. I think we'll bring it into the house to set it up for a proper photo shoot if my brother is willing when he is here tomorrow, but for now, you can see my snapshots.

The top and apron are solid ash. The legs are reclaimed and I'm not sure what they are, but they are solid. It measures 37 x 89 inches and can easily seat 8 people. This table will be listed for sale (once I make a final choice on glazing the apron and legs a bit) so if anyone is interested, contact me for price information.

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Friday, July 9, 2010

Never look at catalogs the same again

So maybe I'm slow, and everyone else has discovered this already, but I just had to show you this blog I stumbled across. I laughed so hard! It's called Catalog Living, and gives short stories of "the people living in your catalog." See if you can find my favorites (the q-tips, and the ball of twine...)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sweet and Sophisticated

Remember this little thing? She was pretty scratched up, but sturdy. And I had a vision for her the moment I saw her!

Do you like it?

I'm really pleased with how it's turned out.

A new color for the hardware.

Nice glossy black, and a touch of surprise pink inside the drawer.

And I had the ultra cool fabric I've been dying to use, and I thought it was perfect for the top of this table! I think it's the perfect balance of sweet and sophisticated.

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Make it stop!

I came across this article on HGTV.com today....Seriously??? Why oh WHY do people still insist that empty frames are fashionable? They we...