Summer and a BIG project announcement!!

I know, I know, it’s been a while since I blogged.  In fact, it’s been a while since I Facebooked, Instagrammed  and social mediaed all together. I wish I could tell you I burned all my paintbrushes in one sweet semi-toxic bonfire.  With s’mores.  Or used my computer to tackle the ever-expanding list of books I’d like to read on a beach somewhere. But honestly, this summer was just plain CRAZY busy.  Of course I found the time to de-ugly things, it’s my mission after all, but I didn’t take the time to document a lot of it, and for that I’m a little sorry/not too sorry.

 

But I have missed you.

 

And I did have some genuine FUN this summer, here are the highlights:

 

-My family spent the most GORGEOUS weather week ever in Park Rapids on Lake Belle Taine.  It is the only week of the year where I truly don’t allow myself to work (much), and it is divine.  I always end the trip with a mini breakdown where we all stare at the lake to say our goodbyes, and I tearily remind the family over and over that this was my “one break, …. my one break for the YEAR!”  And they usually pat me on the shoulder and nod in solemn agreement that I need to chill more.

 

-My 15-year-old daughter Emmalee and I road-tripped to Brandon, SD where we saw her favorite band, Panic at the Disco, and one of my favorite bands WAY back in high school, Weezer.  It is a strange and wonderful feeling sharing the music I enjoyed when I was 15, with my 15-year-old.  (And she liked it) It was 95 degrees, with 90% humidity, and we got as close as we could to the stage in a shoulder to shoulder, VERY sweaty crowd.  But it was a blast! (and my daughter insisted I mention how much I enjoyed Panic at the Disco, which I actually really did)

 

-I got my hair chopped off!  Over 10 inches.  I did that!  And yeah, I don’t have a before and after, I can’t do selfies.  But it’s cute and retains less heat.

 

-My beloved sister-in-law Jamie got married!  The bride was beautiful, the wedding was perfect, and so much fun.  And I finally got to wear matching dresses with my daughter and see my son and husband in matching tuxes, what more could a mom want?

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-I turned two years older than 35.

 

-My mom, sister and I went on our yearly Duluth trip.  My mom found and immediately bought a life-sized doll at a thrift store that we named Bethlehem (Beth for short), and she teamed up with us for much of the trip. (and she got a much-needed makeover)  We also got to see the Temptations and the Beach Boys, which was so much fun, my face hurt from smiling so much.  My sister won our annual rummy game this year, which is weird because she usually sucks.

 

Take that Shawna!

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Here’s Beth watching us eat on the deck.

 

-AND we have walls up in our garage addition (we are making a much-needed work shop), and hopefully a lot more will be done in the next month or two.

 

All in all, I can’t complain, it was a really hectic summer, but a happy one.  Now on to school, football, Junk Market, um… snow, deep winter depression, cabin fever….. AND a new BIG project to blog about.

 

What’s that you say?  A project?

 

Yes, that’s right!  This project has been a small baby bloom, sprouting in my brain for over 5 years now.  Design aspects have changed of course, but the mission remained the same.

And it will be a huge.

It will be time-consuming.

And many aspects of it will require an unnecessary amount of work (but will be so worth it, I hope)

 

And here it is…

I am doing some major kitchen remodeling, DIY style, on a budget!  And I want you to journey along with me.   Here’s my plan!

  1. Sand down, prime, prime, paint, and seal the cabinets, change or paint knobs
  2. Buy new countertops and sink, install ourselves
  3. Build the cabinets up toward the ceiling, add crown moulding
  4. Build an appliance garage, move middle cabinet out few inches
  5. Rip out old backsplash, apply new, all the way to the ceiling and on walls
  6. Re-vamp kitchen island with paint and reclaimed wood
  7. New trim on windows and doors
  8. Prime and paint doors
  9. New paint on walls
  10. New light fixture over sink

Just 10 SUPER easy steps!  (that is how I presented it to my husband)  I know, actually, it’s a little overwhelming isn’t it?  Don’t worry, I’m going to break it down for you, and don’t be surprised if one step starts before the other is finished.  (I say this speaking from the future, as this has already happened quite a bit!)

Stay tuned for my next post which will cover my process of painting the base kitchen cabinets.  And of course, here are some before pictures. (sorry the quality is so poor!)

 

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As always, thanks for reading!

 

Jessie

Can you turn a armoire into a desk? Yes, you can, cause I just did.

Often times, when I buy a new piece to makeover, I like to give myself time to daydream about it until “THE idea” comes to me.  This is usually about the time I am bundled up in my bed with my blankie wrapped around my head and saying my nightly prayers.  I can tell you, when you have a creative bug, there is nothing more distracting then when an idea pops into your head and I often find myself in the midst of talking to God about all the things that matter in my life, when…. “OH MY GOSH, I could totally turn that armoire into a desk!” comes barreling through.  And once the idea is implanted in my head, it is hard to remove and I often have to end my prayers with something like, “oh, and I’m sorry I keep thinking about that dresser.”  But I have to remind myself that God gave me the creative bug in the first place, so I hope he understands.

So that is how it was with this fairly dated, hotel style, oversized tv cabinet that I had yet to own.  It was at an upcoming auction and I already knew it would be mine.  Fast forward a week or so, and it was (for a reasonable price I might add), and it was even bigger and more hotel style then I ever imagined.  But I knew what was going down with this piece, and I was excited!

So here’s my plan.  I was going to cut off the top, I know, some of you are cringing, but this vision came to me, mid-prayer, so it must have been important. So just go with it.  Ok, so remove the top entirely, keeping the hardware of course, because it’s fabulous.  Paint the dresser using Amy Howard’s High Performance Furniture Lacquer in Belgium Blue. We are talking a high gloss, super strong , durable, gorgeous finish.  Then I’m going to add a long metal top, maybe an aged zinc finish, and some cute metal legs from the pile of legs I have in my basement.  It is going to be so cool.

So cool.

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Armoire Before

So, of course, this was in the middle of winter, and painting with that lacquer was not something I can do indoors without killing my family’s brain cells fume-style, so I held my ideas close to my heart, and waited and waited, as a good Minnesota girl often has to do.

But then there was a break, March 12 was the day, and it was mid 60’s, so I got out my wood filler, and sandpaper and my paint, and I went to work on the first drawer.  Here’s what I did.

  1. Fill any major scratches, holes and dents. This is especially important for a high gloss paint because it is way less forgiving.
  2. Once dry, sand the spots you filled using whatever grit you are comfortable with. I used 220 to make it go faster.
  3. Sand the whole piece with 400 grit sandpaper.
  4. Clean thoroughly using a degreaser and a lint free rag.
  5. Remove any trace of the degreaser with a damp lint free rag.
  6. Tape off any areas you don’t want painted.
  7. Spray with Amy Howard Primer using a sweeping motion, just as if you were using a paint brush. (more on this later)
  8. Let primer dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  9. Sand with 400 grit sandpaper and remove dust.

Note: the primer is meant to go with the lacquer, and is especially important for filling wood grain, if your piece has a heavy wood grain texture, you may want to do several coats of the primer to get a smooth, glass like finish.

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Here’s the drawer after the filling, sanding and priming.

 

  1. Now the paint. With my drawer face facing the sky, I first painted all of the vertical edges of the piece, using a fairly quick, clean sweep.  Then (and this is the most important part for this paint) I started at the corners closest to myself and started to sweep, back and forth very intentionally and carefully going slightly past the piece on both sides.  (the reason you start closest to you is to avoid overspray, which will make your finish blotchy and less glossy in some areas.

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11. Once dry, sand lightly with 400 grit sandpaper, and do a second coat using the same method.

12. For extra protection, top painted finish with Amy Howard Bright Idea using the same technique.

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Here’s the completed drawer. What a gorgeous finish!

So over that next week or two, I finished all of the drawers and the body of the dresser/desk.  The main thing you need to think about with this product is to avoid overspray.  Always keep that in mind.

 

Next comes the top.  I wanted to do something different then a plain wood top, so I thought it would be neat to try a metal top with an aged zinc finish. Finding the sheet metal was more of an undertaking than I had thought, but thankfully, my husband used his contractor wiles to get me a sheet of 4X10 foot sheet metal, 26 gauge.  The goal was to wrap a piece of 3/4 inch thick plywood that I had cut to size with the sheet metal.

 

Now, I am leaving out the metal bending part for a reason.  For those of you who want to duplicate this look, you either need to own a break, (and if you own a break, you already know how to bend metal) or you need to have a metal worker bend it for you.  From what I have read, this can cost around $100 or more.  Thankfully, my wonderful husband used breaks for many years, and also had access to one.  So he bent up the corners for me so I could wrap the plywood.

 

Now for the top.  The metal was very shiny, scratched and etched in areas, but that’s no problem, it just adds to the look I wanted.  I used a strong de-greaser, followed by a rinse of tap water and let dry.  Then I got out my oxidizing product.  I used Amy Howard Zinc Antiquing Solution.

This process was so easy!  Wearing gloves, I poured out the zinc solution in a glass bowl and started blotting it on, very liberally at first.  You will notice the oxidizing starts immediately.  Once it is covered completely, you’ll see that the metal will resist it in some areas.  What Amy Howard recommends is rubbing the product in, in a circular motion using mild pressure.  Do this for 15 minutes.  Then blot again, making sure to make your blots random so you don’t have a detectable pattern.  Let dry about 60 minutes or more. Dry time is important.

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Here I am applying the Zinc Solution in a circular motion.

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Here is the top after it is almost dry.

Once the top had dried for at least an hour, I used my wax brush and brushed on clear wax in a circular pattern, waited 10 minutes, and buffed it.  I used Amy Howard’s Clear Wax.  Note that most waxes are not food safe, so be smart.  Use a plate.

 

With any waxed surface you will want to periodically re-wax using the same method.  And please keep in mind that this metal will scratch.  I think this just adds to the look.  However, if you get so many scratches and want to re-age the piece.  Remove the wax with mineral spirits, and re-apply the Zinc solution as I did above.  Then re-wax.  No, it will not remove the scratches, but it will blend them into the patina, by making them dark.

 

Once the top was finished and waxed, we made a skirt for the desk part, to make it look more desky, and also to cover the hardware for the legs.  Then we attached our top to our dresser, added the legs, and Voila…. something totally unique and trendy!

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I can’t say enough about how much I love this finish.  The photos just don’t do it justice.   Amy Howard products are available at Ace Hardware, and this lacquer is worth checking out.  The end product is so smooth I have a strange desire to lick it.  (But don’t worry, I haven’t…. yet.)  This awesome desk will be at Eco Chic’s Design Conference on April 23rd at the Scheel’s Arena.  (yep, that’s this weekend) There are still tickets available and it is going to be a super fun show.  I hope to see you all there!

 

ps.  that extremely cool glo-dial advertising neon clock is available as well, that is, if you can pry it from my husband’s cold dead hands.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Jessie

 

 

Mercury Glass Finish

When I started this project, I had not meant it to be a tutorial or a review, so I apologize ahead of time for the lack of photos.  I just loved how it turned out and I was impressed with the products I used, and I thought I’d share a bit about both.

First, the piece.  I bought this cute little cabinet at an auction recently.  I knew instantly that I wanted to paint it black.  It was originally a record cabinet that had been gutted, there’s even a hole, which I opted not to fill, where the old Victrola handle used to be.  (I wish it still was)

So after a very thorough cleaning, very light sanding, and a major fix and filling of the veneer on the top, I painted it using Americana Decor Chalky finish in carbon.  I have used this paint many times, and have never been disappointed, and the nice thing, for a small project like this, the little sizes they come in are perfect!

So I got out my black, gave it two coats (lightly sanding in between coats) and a wet sanding.  For those of you who don’t know, this paint is great for wet sanding.  After it dries to the touch, about 30 minutes or so, take a damp sponge, and a clean bucket of water, and just start rubbing over the parts you’d like to sand.  No dust, which means if you are careful, you can easily do this inside.  You do have to clean off your sponge often to avoid mess and black fingertips.

The next day after another light sanding, I waxed and buffed my piece.

Now for the fun part!  The glass.  When I bought this cabinet, the glass was clear, and you could see the contents of the cabinet.  However, the shelves are narrow, and I didn’t see it as the best piece to put things on display, so I decided to try doing a mercury glass finish to the glass.

After reading several tutorials on this, all of them different, but similar, I came to the conclusion that you can’t really screw this up.  So this is exactly what I did.

  1. Remove the cabinet door and tape off the frame surrounding the glass. I also cleaned the glass. Important: You do this to the back side of your cabinet door, not the front.
  2. You take a spray bottle and spritz the glass (still on the back side) with straight vinegar.
  3. You shake up a can of Krylon Looking Glass spray for at least a minute. Then give the cabinet door a light spray in a sweeping motion over top of your vinegar droplets.  I did two light coats, one about 30 seconds after the other.
  4. Then I did another very light spritz of vinegar and another two light coats.
  5. After about 2 minutes I took a paper towel, balled it up and VERY lightly blotted the surface.
  6. I repeated this process until I got the look and opacity that I desired.

Speaking of opacity, this stuff is so cool.  When you looked at it from a distance, it looked like an old mirror, but when you looked at it close up, you could see right through it.  I LOVED how it turned out, and like I said, I don’t think you can screw this up.

 

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As usual with my photography, it looks much better in person, I had a terrible time trying to get an accurate photo of the glass finish.

And there you have it, a super simple, SUPER neat finish. Try it on a project of your own and send me a pic, I’d love to see your own creations!

 

As always, thanks for reading.

 

Jessie

 

Ho Ho Holiday lights display!!

As I was filling out the registration forms for my son and daughter for school this last year, there was a little blurb  you were supposed to fill in about special ways your family may be able to contribute “volunteer-wise” to the school.  (my words)  Now, we LOVE our kids’ school, but I wouldn’t say either my husband or I are terribly good at volunteering, mainly because volunteering often involves being with people, and any time I am with people, I am internally reminded of the fact that I am a strange introvert that doesn’t know or understand how to make small talk.  This grosses me out about myself, and you know… Ryan also kinda sucks in this way too.   So I tried to think of a way we could be helpful, but, ahem… not on a regular basis.  I wrote in something about having a little woodworking skills, and didn’t expect to get called in very often to prove it.    But then in September of this year we received… an email.

dum dum dum.

The school was wondering if my husband and I would like to help with a little project.  The project being new holiday lights display piece at Lindenwood Park.  For those of you who don’t know what that is, it is a fundraiser for the FM Sertoma club.  For a small fee, local businesses get a chance to set up a display.  It’s always fun to grab a hot chocolate, and put on some Christmas music, and drive through the park at night and see all the pretty twinkly things.  And proceeds go to a great cause.

This email was received about 2-3 weeks before the Junk Market, and for those of you who have the unfortunate “treat” of being around me during that time, you know that I am in no position to take on new projects.  But the my creative wheels started speeding away from the logical part of my mind, and I sent a quick email asking if any ideas had been submitted.

Because I had some.

Next thing I know, I am volunteering myself and my husband to do the whole thing ourselves.  No, I don’t do this to be gracious.  Again.. I do this because I do not work well with other people.  Now besides being an awkward introvert, I suffer from a strange and conflicting combination of extreme humility, and extreme arrogance.  (I get this from my Dad)  In creative projects, my arrogance tells me that my idea is the best of the best, and that I know precisely how I want to go about doing it.  My humility tells me that I have no right to impose my idea on others because it is disgustingly terrible, even though it is so great…. it might not be….. but it is….. you get the idea.  So if I have a plan that I think will be cool, I just volunteer to do the whole thing, and force Ryan to help.

Here’s my main caveat, this kind of work is not in my area of expertise.   Yes, I had an idea I thought would be really neat, but I, in fact, I had very little clue how I was going to execute it.

So here’s the inspiration for my idea.  And I think it’s beautiful.  lightFor those of you who are not familiar with the verse from the Bible, it is from the book of John, chapter 8 verse 12.  The full verse says “When Jesus spoke again to the people he said “I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Oh how I love that message.  And it’s not too “Christmas cliché” (I hate clichés!)    I knew that whatever I came up with would not look exactly like it, but I was confident it would be cool.  I knew I wanted to cut out the letters and maybe some of the light “holes” and somehow shine light through.

That is all I knew.

First things first, talking size.  Our space is 20 feet, and I wanted a reasonable amount of darkness surrounding both sides of our display, so we bought six 4×8 pieces of plywood,(three for the front, three for the back) making our display 12 feet long, by 8 feet high.

Next was transferring the image onto the plywood.  After a little photo editing and scaling, I was able to make the image more visible and compatible with the 8×12 size we were using. I ordered a transparency that works with laser printers off of Amazon.   This process required an old timey overhead projector which we were fortunate enough to borrow from our church.  The unfortunate part was, due to the size of the plywood, we had to do this outside, and we needed to do it in the dark to get a good clear image, and because we only had a couple nights before the projector needed to be back, we ended up having to do it in the rain.  I traced, while Ryan graciously held an umbrella over the projector.  But the process was much more rushed and unsteady then I would have liked.  But the good news, neither one of us got electrocuted.

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Here’s the image projected onto the plywood in my driveway.

Next came cutting out the letters.  This was a bit challenging.  I brought my kitchen bar stools outside, and laid a 4×8 section flat on top of them.  I drilled a couple larger holes into each letter, (large enough to get my jig saw blade into) and then I began cutting.  This took me a few days because unfortunately, I lost daylight before I could get too much done, but eventually, I got all of the letters cut out.  Then I sanded lightly to get rid of any majorly frayed edges.

Next came the painting.  Now, I have very strong opinions about interior paints, but I’m completely clueless when it comes to exterior so after consulting with the good people at Home Depot, I went with Behr Ultra paint and primer in one.  Flat black.  I painted the front and sides of each panel with two coats of paint, and the back side with one.  It took two whole gallons to cover all six.  And yes… because of the cooler weather, I did the painting in my kitchen.  (if you think too many hutches look dumb in my kitchen, you should see how dumb 6 pieces of 4×8 plywood look)

All painted! It barely fits in my garage.

All painted! It barely fits in my garage.

About this time, I am both giddy, and anxious about how this is going to turn out.  Since I have no idea what I am doing, the lighting is key to making this project a win.  And, to make matters worse, I found out midway through the project that there is a strict limit on the amount of lighting we can use, so we are going to have to be strategic about it and perhaps let my dream of major dazzle fly away.

We decided it would be best to line the entire inside with some sort of reflective material.  We first checked at Menards, in the gardening area, hoping to find some rolls of Mylar, but we were out of luck.  Then we thought we could use tinfoil, but we were hoping to find an alternative.  Then it occurred to me that we could use those emergency Mylar blankets you keep in your car.  So I ordered a pack of 12 on Amazon.  Prime Baby!!

Two days later, we were ready to add the Mylar.  This is where the biggest expense came into play.  The spray adhesive, 4 cans at $12 something a pop.  This is also where I accidentally got high (in a completely non-fun way) and had to go lay down for a good 45 minutes.   Following the manufacturer’s instructions, we managed to line all the plywood backs with the Mylar.

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Next came setting up the structure.  Using our backyard patio space, Ryan braced all the pieces that had the word cutouts, to give them a little more strength, then he made some simple braces, attached the back, and for the first time… we got to see what it would look like with some flood lights shining against the back.

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And I was really disappointed.  Cause it was so… anti-climactic.  And boring.

So we started drilling holes.   Hundreds of holes.  Then we got tired, and went to bed.  But the night day… more holes. All sizes.  We went through one lithium battery after another. “HOLES!” I said, “We need more holes!” like a crazy tyrant.  I’m still not certain we did enough, but we had to stop….

We HAD to stop.

I also noticed that the words and even the big holes, needed a filter.  I used a florescent light cover to filter the word “LIGHT” and some white plastic Menards bags that I stapled on to filter the words “I am the” and “of the world”.

This, and the magic little holes of course, made all the difference.

Next we bought more plywood and cut out triangles to completely enclose the sides.  These I also painted and added Mylar to the inside, in my kitchen of course.

Arranging set up was tricky, but in good old Schultz fashion, we ended up setting it up the morning of the day it was supposed to debut.  In the light, so I had to guess how to situate the lights before we closed it up.  And even now, having never seen the complete project at night…

 

Here it is, right before we closed it up for display.

Here it is, right before we closed it up for display.

 

 

I have to hope that it turned out ok.

The end.

 

 

 

 

 

UPDATE:

Haha… what I wrote was true, 12 days after they opened the display for public viewing, I had not seen it and it was tearing me up inside.  But finally, I did see it, and you know, it’s not half bad.

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Pretty neat!  And much  better in person.

All in all, I like the finished project.  No, it is not as flashy as the graphic image, but, with light restriction, and the fact that I had no idea what I was doing, I’m kinda pleased.  Actually, I am drawn to all of the things that are terrible about it, but I’m choosing to be proud of it instead.  And I promised my husband I would never bring up (aloud) how much I hate the wonky “G”.

Overall the cost was around $300.  Approximately $10 for the transparencies, $75 for the plywood, $65 for the paint, $50 for the spray adhesive, $10 for the Mylar, $30 for the 2×4’s,  and $60 for the lights.

And you know, a much smaller version of something like this would be fantastic for your own personal outdoor display.  You should give it a try and send me your photos!

Hope this was helpful, and thanks for reading!

Jessie

Cool new products, and beard scares.

Sanding in a state of trepidation is a good way to sand.  While a certain amount of unease is, uncomfortable, you tend to get a lot done when your mind is elsewhere.  So it all works out.

Recently, this is how I felt when I sanded a little cabinet, and the reason I sanded like this is because my husband Ryan was beginning the slow and terrifying process of trimming his beard.

While it varies, the routine goes something like this.  He grows his beard out for a few months, he doesn’t exactly grow it long, but just puffy, thick, copper colored.  You know, long enough to lose track of his chin.  Sort of, Leprechauny.  (we tend to live more like brother and sister when he does this).  Then one day, when he’s tired of his mustache getting in the way of his food, he starts to trim.  And it is a process that makes the whole family uneasy.

I will explain with this handy graph.

My nightmare

My nightmare

He starts with step 1, the bushy beard.  This in itself is not good, but we all know that it can get so much worse.  You see, what he enjoys doing is just trimming off a bit at a time, sometimes letting hours or EVEN days pass before moving on to the next beard monstrosity.  I am amazed at what the style of a beard can do transform a person’s looks.  He can go from a hillbilly to a redneck to some sort of pervert in a couple of hours.  (number 3 or 4 is exactly the kind of person you could imagine lurking around your property and raping your goats) And the more we protest, the more strength he gains to carry on. Ultimately, he gets to step 6, and becomes my handsome man again.  But the images in my head….

They remain.

What’s that got to do with sanding?  Well, nothing. But now you know my state of mind while performing my least favorite task. I had a fervor that one only feels when their husband is trimming his beard and showing off the midway results.  The good news, the sanding went fast.

So here’s the fun news, I actually got the products I’m about to review for freeeeeeeeeeeeeee and it was like Christmas in August  for me when I received them. (yeah, I started this post a long time ago… so what?) I decided to try these products on a little cabinet Ryan brought home the other day.  It had good bones, but was missing some larger pieces of veneer from the door front.

If a little veneer is missing, I’ll go for a simple, sandable/paintable wood filler.  If a lot is missing, I break out the big guns, BONDO, which is so stinkin’ stinky but so effective, it dries rock hard and sands like butta.  (I mean butter people, although, butter would be disgusting to sand, so let’s move on)

But today I’m trying a new product and I’m excited.  It is called SculpWood, by SYSTEM THREE products.  It’s a spreadable epoxy paste.  It is easy to sand and machines just like wood.  Following the manufacturers instructions, I added a dollop of part A, and an equal sized dollop of part B on a disposable plate.  Using a little putty knife, (which, in my case, was a piece of cardboard) I mixed part A and part B together and spread it on my missing veneer, making sure to slightly overfill.  It had a similar consistency to the BONDO I use but I thought it smelled quite a bit better, but still strong.  Now I just had to wait for it to dry.  Because of the ridiculous humidity, I knew it would take a while for it to cure, so I let it be.

 

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Ew, just ew.

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Better!

Now for the cabinet.

I removed the hardware and sanded down the entire thing lightly, both to even out any issues with the former finish and also to rough it up a bit.  Next I cleaned the entire thing to remove oils and excess dust.  The product I’m using says that no prep is needed, but since this is a piece I will hopefully sell someday, I prefer to prep, if only just to give it a nicer surface to apply the paint.  If you were to follow the “no prep” suggestion, make sure to thoroughly clean the piece beforehand, even if it doesn’t look dirty.  I also gave it a quick spray of primer, because I had it and it certainly can’t hurt.

 

After the primer dried, I gave it another quick sanding and cleaning and it was finally time to whip out my product, Krylon Chalky Finish in “Waterfall” They were kind enough to send me two cans, and a few more goodies.  I sprayed it in a sweeping motion and it went on very nicely and dried to a smooth even finish.  I went through the first can quickly, having left one moderately patchy coat, but covering the whole thing.  I left it to dry, and went in for a second coat with the new can.  Again, it went on very well, I was impressed.  Unfortunately, even with two cans, I ran out of product and didn’t have enough for the final few touch-ups, or the door I had patched.  So I went on a mad hunt to purchase a third can.  According to the website, it is sold at Michaels, JoAnn Fabrics, Hobby Lobby, and Walmart.  (to mention a few local stores)  However, over the course of the next couple weeks, I visited all of those stores and not one of them (at the time I am writing this post) stocked this product.  So I had to turn to another way of purchasing things.  It is called the internet.

My first stop was Amazon, as a Prime Member, I always look here first because you can’t beat free, two-day shipping.  Unfortunately, the color I needed was out of stock.  I then went to several different sites and searched for corresponding coupon codes.  But, ultimately, I ended up ordering through JoAnnfabrics.com for a whopping $17 a can, (including shipping)  Yep.

So while I was waiting to receive my shipment, I went back to my door.  The filler worked like magic, it dried nicely, sanded smoothly, and had a hard, wood-like finish.  It was every bit as good as the BONDO, but less stinky.  A win.

So once I sanded down the door a bit, I put a quick coat of primer on both sides, and eventually, when I got my Krylon Chalky Finish in the mail, I went right to work.  Thankfully, I had enough to finish with touch-ups and the door.  I also took off the back of the cabinet, and added some fabric for fun.  This piece is bright and happy so I went with it with all of my heart.

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Ain’t she happy!

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Just like with any chalk paint, you’re going to want to lightly sand it to give it a smooth, even finish.  And then you’ll want to seal it.  Since I was trying new products, I decided to try one more.  This one is from a company called Goddards.  The product I used is called Cabinet Maker’s Wax Spray.  This is the lazy man’s chalk paint waxing dream, and I am that lazy man.  It is a lemon and beeswax wood cleaner, sealer and protector.  It is divine.  After I sanded and removed the dust from my piece, I gave it a quick spray, buffed in the wax, let it dry, and gave it another coat. It ended up leaving a nice even sheen.  I am in Heaven, seriously, this product may change my life.  Now, for heavier use, I would go with a traditional wood wax, or for really heavy use, I’d go with a polyurethane, lacquer, or water based polyurethane, but for something like this, this spray worked perfectly.  And it is only $5.99 per bottle!  (not including shipping)

So, for the review.  I absolutely loved the ease and finish of the Krylon Chalky Finish spray paint.  Great product!  The cons really have to do with availability and price. If I had bought three cans online, at $17 each, along with paying $15 for the piece itself, and the several hours of time put into it, let’s just say, there’s no profit in it for the person who de-uglied it.  (boo hoo, that be me) If you can find this product at a store it retails for $10.  That price is still a little high for me, considering I ended up using three cans, but many places, Michaels, JoAnn Fabrics, and Hobby Lobby for example, have a 40-50% coupon and I would say, if they end up stocking this paint, go get yourself some.  I sure hope to eventually find this paint locally, because I really did like it.

I loved the Goddards products, I have tried several now for my wood AND painted pieces and the quality is fantastic.  I have never used a nicer furniture polish, and that wax spray will be my go-to for my jewelry boxes especially.

I also really liked the Sculpwood, and will definitely be purchasing this in the future, they even have a product that you can mold like clay, and then when it cures, you can sand and shape it.  There are so many times I could have used something like that.  Now to find the piece…..

All in all, with the exception of the availability issues with the Krylon paint, I’d have to say all of these products are a win, go give them a try for yourself.

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And now, a warning. If you see a man in the FM area running around with a number 3 mustache/beard combo… just to be safe, you better keep your goats in the house.

beard

BEWARE!

 

 

Just a personal note, I know I haven’t been very active on any of my social media sites or blog lately.  If I can be honest, I’m experiencing a little amount of work/business/home burnout, and haven’t fully recovered.    I just want you all to know that I haven’t disappeared, and I am still very proud of my little side business.  Thanks for your support, patience and for accepting me and my business as I am.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

 

Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint, mishaps and triumphs

A couple weeks ago after arriving home from a long day at work, I was greeted at the door by my smiling daughter who announced she had a surprise for me.  She had arranged a cardboard box upside down in the center of my kitchen island, and she told me to get ready for something BIG.  You see, a while back, my sweet Emmi had told me that she was going to email a couple of companies I liked and request a sample on my behalf, in exchange for an honest review.  I told her to go ahead, that it sounded like a great idea, but hadn’t expected much in return.  So when she lifted off the box I found myself in the midst of having a small, but positive heart attack.  Oh…my…gosh… is this really happening? Yes it is.  It really is.  I had received a very generous gift from Miss Mustard Seed that included three bags of Miss Mustard Seed milk paint, a mechanical stirrer, some help oil, a paint brush, and a look book.  Is it my birthday, anniversary, mother’s day all rolled into one?  Well, no, but if felt like it.  Needless to say, I told Emmi with a great deal of urgency, “We need to get something to paint… NOW!”  We both stormed the basement, taking stairs two at a time, snagged a couple of smallish wall hanging type of décor pieces, and started prepping.  (which included a light sanding and cleaning)

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My bounty, I’m not even the slightest bit joking when I say it is probably going to be the highlight of 2015. So grateful!

Now, I have used milk paint in the past, but it was long ago and it was not Miss Mustard Seed’s brand, so I was anxious to give this a try, I have heard it is quite amazing, but can have quite a learning curve.  And oh boy, did it ever.  First off, our first mix was way too thin, but because we didn’t want to waste any more of our precious paint, we decided to just apply 400 layers of ultra-thin paint to our pieces (at least the dry time was quick).  In the end, after hours of painting at my dining room table and watching two or more episodes of “LOST”, (we’re a little behind the times people) we had two cute pieces of home décor with a nice, smooth matte finish.  Not bad.

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While the mix was a little thin, they still have a very nice finish. We just had to do a lot more coats to achieve the look.

But for this generous bounty, I knew I needed to give it “real” try, on an actual piece of furniture.  And I knew just the one.

A few months back, a friend of mine had kindly given me a fabulous dresser.  It had great bones, minus the fact that it was missing a leg and had several unfortunate coats of paint that had seen better days. Often, this dresser would sneer at me from across my garage, and I would wave my angry fist back at it in response.  Not because it was a bad dresser, it was LOADED with potential, but because it was a dresser I was in no hurry to makeover. I knew it would require a complete and very time-consuming amount of stripping and sanding.  Then there was the matter of the leg.  The stinkin’ missing leg.

drawers1

Original piece, notice the left front leg is missing so I propped it up with piles of wood.

It was, however a dresser that would be a perfect candidate for milk paint.  Classic lines and solid bones. A time-worn beauty she was indeed.  Ug.

So Friday, when I got home from work, I went straight to my garage, and started stripping. (the paint that is…) The layers of paint were cooperative, not super cooperative mind you, I’d give them about a 6 out of 10.  The rest of the job had to be done with my “favorite” technique.  The devil sanding.  So I masked up, and started out with a few drawers, stripping, scraping, and sanding.  Did I mention it was 95 degrees out?  Gross.

And on a side note, for some reason, instead of having a designated pair of painting shorts, I just roll my pink painting sweat pants up about 30 times, so it looks like I’m wearing one large donut around each thigh.  And I tend to wear nurse clogs without socks while I work.  And I was sweating, a lot.

I write this to give you a mental picture of how cool I looked in my driveway that day.

So I loved the old lines on this dresser, and since I was embracing milk paint, and hopefully a few of its quirks, I decided to NOT fill chips and other things I would normally fill in, and leave it looking a little worn.  This was a hard decision and left me quite shaken.  In general, I like to make things look new again, as in, completely smooth and pristine. But the dresser told me that I should be a little open-minded, and just “let it go”.  (like the song)

drawers

These are the drawers after the stripping, before the sanding. Notice the wood on the top drawer is completely different from the wood on the bottom drawers.  What up with dat?

So after all the stripping, scraping, sanding, and cleaning I had done.  I mixed the milk paint.  This time, I added the perfect amount of milk paint (it’s a powder) to water, and I mixed and mixed and mixed, and let it sit for 15 minutes, then mixed again.  And then I painted my freshly sanded and cleaned drawers.  Three of them, the last drawer was currently blocked so I just did the three, figuring I’d do the fourth later.

This would be my first mistake.

The color I used was a very subtle green called “Layla’s Mint”.   Now, I was open to the idea of chipping, in fact, I had hoped for a little, and thought that painting in the super heat (a no-no) would possibly aid in the chipping.  But it was not to be, most likely because I sanded too well. The piece was practically bare wood again, so the milk paint sunk right in. But that’s ok, the finish was really pretty, similar to chalk paint, but with some subtle color variation, which I was loving.

After some light sanding, I painted a second coat, let it dry, sanded again, and decided to glaze the drawers using General Finishes Glaze Effects in Van Dyke brown.

Second mistake.  For those of you who have glazed, you will know that glazing in almost 100 degree heat is… impossible frustrating.  Yes, I knew it would be problematic, I ain’t stupid.  (just impatient) Let’s just say my shoulders got a really good workout trying to rub out all that excess glaze.  But, the end results looked terrific. It was just the look I was going for.  Now for the rest of the dresser.


 

Let me digress for a moment to give a shout out to the Milk Paint.  I had literally painted the drawers only about an hour before applying the glaze.  And as I said, it was so hot, the glaze just cemented itself to the drawer.  I used all my strength to rub that glaze out, and the paint didn’t budge.  That stuff is tough!!


 

Instead of stressing over exactly how I was going to fix the leg of the dresser, I made an executive decision and cut them all off.  I know.  It was hard, but once I started, it was quite liberating and I may have laughed maniacally during the whole process, which I barely ever get to do these days.  And I actually like the results, a lot!   Next was more of the same, stripping, scraping and sanding.  I had been working on the dresser for about 7 hours now, and it was starting to get dark.  BUT, I still had some paint mixed up from those three drawers, so I thought I better paint that last drawer.  The paint had gotten fairly chunky (probably from the heat) so I added a little more water, and started mixing.  It didn’t go very well, so I mixed a new amount, just to do that last drawer.  Problem solved.

Or so I thought.  Now, like I said, it was getting dark.  So I painted the first and second coat and glazed the drawer like I had the others.  It looked great, just like the first three.  Until I brought it over to the other three and it was a completely different color.  The other three, were definitely a muted green.  The fourth.  A toupey-grey.

What the?

But I was glad.  I had met my first quirk.  I had read in Marian’s look book just the night before about color variations, and the importance of mixing up enough milk paint to do the first coat on the entire piece to avoid such variations.  She was right.  Girl knows her paint.

And I should have known better.

I decided to sleep on it.  (literally, I crawled into one of the drawers) Honestly, if it had been more than one drawer, I maybe would have kept it that way, because it was cool.  But just having the bottom drawer gray was odd, so the next day, I mixed up the rest of the mix all at once, and I painted the entire piece including all four drawers again.  This fixed the issue.  After sanding, there was a delightful color variation in the dresser, and it had such a pretty authentic finish to it, like it had been around for ages.

And it sort of felt like it had to me too.

Next, I glazed the entire thing, again, in the heat and refinished the top using General Finishes Java gel stain.  I decided I wanted to leave some of the old chippy finish to the lip around the top, and I also lightly sanded down the Java stained top to give it a worn look.  When dry, I sealed it with the hemp oil, applying three coats with several days of cure time in between.  I brought it inside for this process.

Next, I added the hardware, and drilled some new holes for the original castors, which is nice because this thing is HEAVY!

And here’s the finished look, it is exactly how I envisioned it, and I’m pleased as pie!  (French Silk)  The parts I didn’t fill, they just add to the look I was going for.  While I’ll admit, it’s a lot more shabby chic than what I usually go for, I have fallen in love with this dresser, and all of its sweet, timeless character.  I loved Miss Mustard Seeds milk paint, I loved that it gives a true authentic finish, that it is all natural, and mostly that is has a mind of its own.

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Here she is!

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I’d like to add a few notes on Miss Mustard Seed Milk paint.  First, there are several ways to mix it, check out Marian’s website for tips and tricks.  Also, you can mix colors to create your own unique look.  (and OMG… the colors are amazing)  For a chippier appearance, apply over an existing finish (but make sure to at least sand down the sheen for a more authentic look)  And something to keep in mind, a lot of people think “farmhouse chippy” when they think of milk paint, and while you can especially master that look using these products, with the addition of a bonding agent, you can make your finish more predictable, and your piece perfectly pristine, leaving out all of the shabby, but none of the chic.  (I bet you knew I was going to write that)  I would highly recommend this paint and can’t thank Marian of Miss Mustard Seed enough for the fantastic gift.  Stay tuned for a few more pieces I had the privilege of using this paint on.  And just an FYI, Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint is available locally at Eco Chic in Fargo.  Go get some, I most definitely will.


 

This little cutie pie will be available at the Junk Market, October 2-3 at the West Fargo Fairgrounds.  I am, ahem… scrambling to get my booth ready and as always, guarantee a fantastic show.  For reals.

 

Thank you so much for reading!

 

DIY Banquette seating, and a fun announcement!

I am not even the slightest bit exaggerating when I say that this post took over a year to complete.  Let me explain.  It all started several years ago with a couple of crazy kids (myself and my husband) who had just moved into a new house.  In our former house, we had no space for a dining room table, but now, with this new house, it was time to go shopping.  The person that I am now would have looked for something used that I could fix up, but the person I was then wanted a bar height table with 6 chairs within the hour, and pre-owned bar height dining sets were harder to come by several years ago,  so we went to a local furniture store, and purchased a floor model at a discount, because… it was literally on the showroom floor.  It came with four chairs, and we ordered and PAID for two more to be picked up at a later date.  Fast forward almost two years, and we still hadn’t picked up those two chairs and the more time that passed, the more concerned I became that even though we had paid for them, the chairs would no longer be waiting for us.  Because…you know, two years.  And I was correct.  When we finally went in to pick up the chairs,  the local furniture store (let’s just say it has the appropriate word “Con” in it’s name) strangely had no record of our purchase of not only the chairs, but the table as well.  They did however, have records of all of the other items we had purchased from the store including two couches several there years prior to buying the dining set.

While I do think the whole thing was incredibly shady, and was disappointed we were out $240. I had to accept part of the blame.  I no longer had the receipt and let’s face it, I had waited almost two years to pick up the chairs.   My procrastination and lack of proper documentation has bitten me in the butt.  And it left a scar, a big en.

 

Fast forward another year or so to the fall of 2013.  I had been cleaning up after a dinner we hosted in which I crammed 9 people into the corner of my dining/living room. We used four regular and five makeshift chairs and while everything went okay, it occurred to me that this area of my home needed an improvement.  Space was an issue, I couldn’t allot for more, but why not build a banquette seat here?  We wouldn’t have to buy more chairs (which I refuse to do anyway), and it wouldn’t take up any more space.  AND… AND…we could put crap underneath.  Genius.  Seriously Genius.  So I thought, meticulously about this, day and night for about 5 months.  That is when I decided to present the idea to my wonderfully talented husband Ryan as something he could build as a birthday gift for ME!

He actually seemed quite open to the idea which is so unlike him and my ideas.

 

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Here is my living room before the banquette. We used to have wallpaper there, but removed it when I added the herringbone wood wall.

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Here’s the area where we will be adding the banquette seating.

 

Shortly after I presented this genius idea to my husband, things got busy and my July birthday came and went.  Then, there was beginning of school for the kids, and the 2014 Junk Market to keep us occupied.  But once those things passed, Ryan got started on the banquette with almost no urgent prodding from me at all.

Here's the start, as you can see, it is easy construction, just start out with 2x4 rectangular boxes.

Here’s the start, as you can see, it is easy construction, using 2×4’s, frame out the skeleton of your desired seating area.

 

Because we had a cold air return, we chose to add extra ventilation to both ends by adding this metal grate.

Because we had a cold air return, we chose to add extra ventilation to both ends by adding this metal grate.

 

Next we added a top, (later we chose to go with a solid piece of wood instead of 1x4's)

Next we added a top, (later we chose to go with a solid piece of wood instead of 1×4’s)

And now the plywood sides.  Progress!

And now the plywood sides. Progress!

So we had a seat we could sit on, but unfortunately, that is where the progress stalled.  For a year.  I’m not sure why, seriously, we get really busy, and we try to pay attention to our lovely children so, yeah, it stayed as a plywood, ripped up wallpaper mess for over a year.

 

A year…year….year…. (this is an echo)

 

But I had a plan.  Late June of this year, I noticed the telltale signs around my forehead that I was once again, going to age soon, so I decided to go for a twofer. I asked for the banquette seating to be finished as a gift to me.  Again.  I really wanted it done.  So a few weeks ago when I was celebrating my 36th birthday at the lake with my beloved family, I received a nice little card with a sum of $$ for spending on whatever I wanted, AND… dum dum dum… the promise that while I was in Duluth for an upcoming annual trip with my mom and sis, that Ryan would finish the building of the banquette.  Yes!!! There was a time limit!  Why hadn’t I thought of that?

And so, I spent the next week, pre-thanking my husband for the banquette (which also served as a friendly reminder) and set off for Duluth.  I spent the weekend with two of my most favorite people in the world, and came back to a fully built banquette.  What a homecoming. Hooray!!!

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Here’s the photo he sent me while I was in Duluth. Loving it!

But now my work began.  Not only did I want the banquette built, but I also wanted to paint it, upholster the seats (which open up), add a painted plank wall to the back, trim it all out, remove the wallpaper fuzz and repaint the remaining wall, add an adorable shelf, some clever art work, you get the idea.  So right after work all week, I worked on the banquette.

Monday’s task:  fill nail holes and gaps.

Tuesday’s task:  sanding and painting the bench seat.

Wednesday’s task: installing the plank wall and filling holes. (I also did a great deal of staring that day)

 

 

This was Wednesday night, before the plank wall got  sanded and painted.

This was Wednesday night, before the plank wall got sanded and painted.  If you look closely you can see Ryan in the background.  He is drinking water, that crazy thirsty guy!

Thursday’s task: sanding and painting the plank wall.

Friday was the biggest day of all.  I got off work early, bought the cushioning and fabric, button kit and all the trim pieces I needed.  Then, for the next two days, I finished the seats, and installed, filled and painted all the trim.  I asked Ryan to dig through his “pick-ins” for a cool sign to hang over my shelf, and he nailed it.  (I mean literally, because he had to build a frame for this cool cardboard trolley sign he managed to find) But it does add a much needed pop of color.  Nice job Ry.

 

Saturday night, we had a gorgeous banquette.  Yes, the new, clean finished look of the banquette seat certainly brings out the fact that I already need to refinish my table top, but that’s for a later day.  A much later day.  Like never.

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Finished!!

 

For now, I’ll just enjoy the banquette, it’s just one of those things where you get excited to go into your living room.  I LOVE that!

 

 

Now for the big announcement…. as some of you know, my husband Ryan is my picker.  The cool “junk” in my stand, that’s all him. He is the one that finds a majority of my pieces at sales, auctions, etc., but his specialty is what he calls “backroad pickin'” where he finds the best, one of a kind junk and collectibles.  He has a really good eye for what’s trending, what’s authentic, and what is just cool.  I am often disturbed by the random knowledge he stores in that brain of his when it comes to certain types of antiques.  (he especially loves vintage clocks and advertising pieces, you know… “man cave stuff”) On August 22, we will be setting up shop at the Fargo Flea Market to debut his finds.  Yes there will be some de-uglied stuff as well, so look for my sign, but what you can also expect is a mix of high end vintage and the usual junk that’s just for fun.  It’s going to be a great show. Hope to see you all there.

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Here’s my husband’s “man cave” and pretty much everything here, plus a lot more, is going to be at our stand. yep… it’s time to clean house.

Wood slat CRAZY!! (the tutorial)

Some of you have noticed that I love me a good wood slat project.  I can’t get enough of the look of wood grains going in all different directions, but coming together as a whole, beautiful piece.   Here’s just a few examples of past projects.

mywall1        wooooood

dresser1             wall2

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2014-04-30 18.18.51 2014-04-30 18.32.10

I’ve also gotten a lot of questions as to exactly how this is done on furniture, so you know what… I’ll show you.

First and most important, find the right piece of furniture.  For me, that is a piece that has recessed area with good quality craftsmanship.  You do not want to put this amount of work into something poorly made. This mid-century cutie is perfect!

Notice the way the drawers recess into the frame of the dresser.  Perfect for wood slats!

Notice the way the drawers recess into the frame of the dresser. Perfect for wood slats!

Remove all the hardware, sand lightly (if the drawers are super shiny) and thoroughly clean the fronts of the drawers.

Line them up on a flat, level surface with the drawer fronts facing up.

Put spacers between each drawer.  (tape them in to get them to stay put)  I used lath, but the spacers could be thinner.  Just make sure you can get the blade of your jigsaw between each drawer.

Find the center of the drawers.  Think of all three as one big drawer and find the center of that. All you have to do is draw a diagonal line from corner to corner.  The X formed in the middle will be your center.

 

drawer1

Now, the “fun” begins.  For this project, I cut 18×2 inch wood slats at a 45 degree angle on one end.  Starting in the center, I followed my diagonal line and attached the first piece with wood glue and staples to the drawer front.  Then I formed a “sort of” pin wheel keeping the 45 degree angled end always facing away from the one before it.  (they should never come together to make a 90 degree angle)  Make sure the straight-edged end completely hangs over the side of the drawers.

Once you finish the first row, you do the same thing as before, only, with the second row, I faced the 45 degree angled end in the opposite direction as the first row.  (so if you started with the angled end facing down, this row, you’d start with it facing up).  And it fits, just like a puzzle piece.  Keep going until you finish the second row.

Continue each row, alternating how the angled end faces per entire row.  Warning… as you get further along, this process can play tricks on your eyes!

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Note.. you DO need to glue every piece.  But you DO NOT need to staple every piece.  I always staple the first pin wheel row so they don’t shift.  Once that row is in place, only staple when needed.  (like if a wood slat is a little warped.

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What is actually looks like (side view)

Let dry overnight.

The next day (or whenever you get around to it), remove your spacers and cut out your drawers using a jigsaw.  Draw a line from corner to corner where you need to make your cuts.

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Next comes the sanding.  And by golly, there’s A LOT of it. Use an orbital or belt sander, start with 60 grit, then 80, and then 120.

Once the major ridges are out, (and they are major… we’re talking hours) go ahead and route your edges.  This makes such a difference and really gives it a professional look.

Now fill in your gaps with a stainable wood filler.  Wait several hours or overnight for it to thoroughly dry.

dresserbefore2

The next day using 240 grit sandpaper, sand away the remaining wood filler.  And don’t forget to take a moment to enjoy the smooth feel of sanded wood.  Woo hoo!

Now this really is the fun part.. staining!  I took one light-colored stain (I used Minwax’s “Weathered Oak”) and stained over the entire piece.  I let this dry for a couple of hours, and then I took my detail brush and began to stain each “pin wheel” row individually.  I started with Minwax’s Ebony, in row 1, Minwax’s “Dark Walnut” in row 2.  Row 3 was a mix of “Dark Walnut” and “Weathered Oak”.  Row 4 was just another coat of “Weathered Oak” (just to deepen the stain from the first coat) and Row 5 was left with just the first coat of “Weathered Oak”.

Let it dry overnight and seal with polyurethane.  I use Minwax’s satin, oil based polyurethane.  I chose to use my spray gun, and applied two coats, allowing plenty of dry time in between.

 

 

I don’t think I need to tell you how to paint the rest of the piece, but I’ll share what I did.

Thoroughly sand and fill in any scratches or holes.

Prime the piece using a shellac or synthetic shellac based primer.  (shellac is the best for keeping the wood tannins from bleeding) let dry.

Sand lightly using a sanding sponge, apply a second coat if needed.

Paint your piece!  I used Sherwin Williams ProClassic paint in satin.  It is becoming one of my favorite paints and I’ve used… a lot of paint.  It is a little $$ but absolutely worth it and dries to a rock hard finish with little to no brush strokes.  BUT… I will warn you, it self-levels which also means, longer drying time.  (Impatient people, like myself, beware)  The color I used for this project is called “Mindful Gray”.  And mindful it is……

Let dry, sand lightly with a sanding sponge, and apply a second coat.  Apply a third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh coat.  (Kidding… usually 2 coats does it)

If you choose, you can add extra protection by sealing the paint with clear acrylic sealer.  My go-to water based sealer is Minwax’s polycrylic in satin.  Use a water based sealer when you don’t want your finish to yellow over time.

Clean the old hardware, and put it back on.  Since the original nail holes are now covered up with wood from the outside, I use a very teeny drill bit, drill new holes from the inside.  (where the original holes are)  Then I take the proper sized bit (whatever size your screws are) and drill from the outside in. You don’t want to start with a big drill bit going from the inside first, or it may chip out small pieces of your wood slats.  You will also need longer screws now that the drawers are thicker.

And that’s it!!  Here’s the finished product.  Yes, it is a LOT of work, but it is totally worth it.  I can’t stop looking at her.  She’s my darling lady and she could be yours.  This piece will be available at “the studio” for their June Event.  To see other items I have at the studio, just check out my “items available” album on  the Facebook.

 

dresser8 dressers1 dressers2 dressers6

before dresser

Thanks for reading!

Jessie

How I got started and my very first show

You know those tests to determine whether you are right brained or left brained?  Well, every time I take one of those tests, I get a result that basically says I am equally controlled by the left and right sides of my brain.  I know it’s mostly bunk, but this makes sense to me. On one hand, I’m usually very logical, yet can be dreamy and whimsical, I love facts and figures, but just as equally love art and music.

When it came time to choose a career, my gut told me that I wanted to be an interior designer, but my head told me to go into something medical, which would almost guarantee me a decent job.  You see, I’m from the small, modest town of Wadena, Minnesota.  Not many people pay for interior designers there, in fact, the concept seemed foreign and unstable.  On the other hand, people never stop getting sick… So I went with my head and began my career in Histology, which is the study of tissue.  I was told it was the “perfect mix of art and science”.  Win win right?

If you want to know what Histology is, (I get the question a lot) read on, otherwise, skip to next paragraph.

This is the tissue (surrounded by the paraffin) laying on the water bath.  Just pick up one of those sections with a glass slide.

This is the tissue (surrounded by the paraffin) laying on the water bath. Just pick up one of those sections with a glass slide.

This is what a section of large intestine looks like under a microscope.  Wow!!!

This is what a section of large intestine looks like under a microscope. Wow!!!

To simplify things, you know when you get something removed, like a strange looking mole on your skin?  Well, my lab gets that mole in a bottle with a diluted form of formaldehyde, called formalin.  A section of the mole, no thicker than a nickel is cut and put into a small cassette.  It is put into a processor overnight. This preserves, dehydrates and infiltrates the section of the mole with melted paraffin (like candle wax).  Then next day I take it and create a block of tissue (the tissue surrounded by solidified paraffin). From this block I can cut sections thinner than a piece of tissue paper. (one cell layer thick) These sections are laid on a heated bath of water, and picked up with a glass slide.  I can then stain this slide and put a thin piece of glass over it to keep it from scratching off.  From there, a pathologist can look at this slide under a microscope and determine whether or not you have say, a melanoma.  It is the same process for all types of tissue and species.  The fun part is, I can recut that same block of tissue, and stain it a different type of stain.  There are hundreds of stains.  One stain may be able to detect fungus in your tissue, another may detect bacteria, calcium, iron, etc.  Then there is a field called Immunohistochemistry, that can actually trigger an immune response in that small piece of tissue that results in a stain that can detect all sorts of diseases and cell types. This can help narrow down the origin of the type of cancer a person may have, which in turn, helps determine the best way to treat that cancer.  Pretty amazing right?

 

So I have a great job, I worked at Essentia Health, Innovis at the time, for 7 years, and am now starting my 8th year at NDSU in the veterinary diagnostic lab.  I run the Histology portion myself, which I love, but it can be lonely and stressful at times.  (and it’s hard to take time off!)  I am very thankful for my career, but the whole “perfect mix of art and science”, well, that was mostly crap.  You see, while I get to create some pretty slides, art is about creativity.  I am, under no circumstances, allowed to stray from the “standard operating procedures”, in my field.  And that is understandable.  But it does leave a creative mind feeling a little restless.

A few years into my career (about 11 years ago) I confided to my husband Ryan, that I wanted to start stockpiling used furniture and décor items and “fix them up” so that someday I would own my own boutique.  I’d name it “Furniture Facelifts” or something hopefully better.  I started my future business with a pair of chairs.  I painted them black, reupholstered the seats, nothing special, but I was hooked and I thought they were the greatest chairs in the world.

Shortly after this, a store in Moorhead opened up called Funky Junque.  Everything in the store was displayed so well, the work was so fun, and very unique at the time, and precisely how I envisioned my future boutique to look.  After touring the store with my husband, I felt quite dejected.  I imagined myself going back into the store and begging the owner to somehow go into business with me.  Me with the full time job that I could not quit, no additional money whatsoever, and my two painted chairs.  Ah shucks…..  So I gave up the dream then and there.

But you can’t keep your creative bug locked up.  Over the years I found myself taking on lots overzealous house projects, some good, some…. not so good.  We flipped a house just before the market crashed -I don’t want to talk about it. I also spent a year writing a book of short essays, and another year trying to find an agent and publisher.  I had no real place to land all my artistic thoughts and ideas and I would become obsessive about the strangest things, like the year I spent studying decorative concrete applications.  We even made our own concrete countertops.

Our DIY concrete countertops.

Our DIY concrete countertops.

Fast forward to 2012.  I was sitting in the break room at work, talking to my co-worker and friend Kelly.  She casually mentioned that there was a type of updated version of a craft show with furniture in town over the weekend, called the Junk Market.  Hmmmmm.

I didn’t go to the Junk Market, I don’t remember why, but the thought of it hovered over me for a few days, or weeks, and I decided to look up how to be a vendor.  Now, I’m no risk taker, I am usually logical remember, and I happen to be very self-critical, to the point where go out of my way to not put myself out there to be judged.  I am incredibly sensitive to harsh and even unharsh criticism.  In fact, as a child of the 80’s, I didn’t dare wear the brand “Squeeze jeans” because I knew it would only be a matter of time before someone yelled out to me “yeah, I bet you had to SQUEEZE into those jeans fatty?”

But, the heart wants what it wants, and I wanted my boutique, or a smaller weekend version of it.  So I went for it.  I bought my first piece on the way home, and painted it that night.  Over the next months, I bought books, subscribed to magazines and read countless articles and blogs on the best ways to paint furniture and began to stockpile.


 

Now, if you would allow me to digress a moment, I am no stranger to a certain type of craftsmanship.  Besides my many personal painting experiences, I grew up watching  and learning from my Dad. He was the shop teacher at Wadena-Deer Creek High school and also made custom furniture.  We’re talking high end, solid wood, gorgeous furniture.  The kind that makes other furniture bow their heads in their ugly shame.  So many nights growing up, we’d be driving home from here or there, and he’d make a turn that meant we weren’t going home, but stopping at his shop for a quick “something-or-other” that usually lasted at least an hour.   I’d cringe at these moments and can recall the hours I spent there, watching him with his handiwork, impressed but mostly impatient.  Only now I can appreciate those memories.  Whenever I cut into a quality piece of wood, or open up a can of stain, the scent brings me back to those days, watching my dad and the care he put into every detail of his craft.  There is something so comforting about the sounds and smells of a workshop.  I know my work is quite different than my Dad’s, but I’d like to think it would have made him proud of what I have learned and accomplished.

My mom on the other hand is a talented artist as well, she can paint murals and portraits, and sketch in a way that makes my chicken scratch look like it was done by a monkey.  She is also the most resourceful person I know.  If she thinks something, anything, needs to be improved upon, she’ll find a way to do it.  Immediately.  And usually for little cost.  She’s the ultimate re-purposer and DIYer.  Cool parents huh?

 


 

An opportunity like the Junk Market was something I had prayed about for many years, and by the time I set the plan in motion, my husband and I were really scrapping by financially.  Even the prospect of buying up “cheap” furniture was impossible for us.  But, as he does, God provided in a miraculous way.  Ryan got a side job cleaning out foreclosures.  This meant, that at times, free discarded furniture would fall into my lap.  His job didn’t last long, but long enough for me to get plenty of great pieces to start my business, when we had very little to put into it the first year.

So, as you all know, I did get into the Junk Market, and what a relief it was, because I had a LOT of furniture ready to go.

So once I knew it was in, I became obsessive, as I tend to do.  I ordered a tent, mapped out my stand on grid paper, (over and over) and did everything I could to make it a great first show.  My friend at work, Kelly, the same one that told me about the Junk Market in the first place, took some professional photos for me, and I posted them to my new Facebook page, which had a total of 6 likes.  By the time the Junk Market rolled around, I was at 72!!

We rented a U-haul and I was fortunate enough to have members of my family to help with the kids, set up, and run the show. The next morning, bright and early (I think it was around 5 am) we headed for the Eco Chic parking lot in West Fargo.  I was so anxious/excited/exhausted.  I still had curlers in my hair as we unloaded my precious furniture onto the parking lot.

Unfortunately, with any outdoor event, especially in Fargo, the weather played a huge roll in this process.  Here we were, June 1st… and we were getting gusts of wind that, even with 200 pound tent weights, sent my tent flying up into the sky. It was cold, in the 40’s and drizzling.  There was no way we could set say, a jewelry box on top of a dresser, it would blow right off, so all my small items remained in boxes, waiting for a break in the weather.  For the next couple of hours we heard one crash after another from other vendor booths. It was all-together not what I had envisioned.  Then my crash came.  One of my largest pieces, a mid-century hutch, blew face down on the pavement, breaking its leg and smashing the glass doors to pieces.  So there was glass everywhere, a tent that had to be constantly held down, a light rain saturating all my painted furniture….. you get the idea.  So after the crash, it was about that time where I thought I would have myself a really quick cry.  I crawled under one of my tables to screw the top to the base and let it go.  Like the song.  Only my version came with a snot fountain. (i cry through my nose)  At one point another vendor kindly leaned under the table to offer me a word of encouragement, and slowly backed away at the sight of me.  Curlers, snot and buffy eyes.  My sister-in-law Jamie who was helping with the set up could see my disappointment.  She took me aside and  suggested I disconnect from this situation for a bit and go get changed (aka… lose the curlers) at my sisters and she and Ryan would finish up. (have I mentioned how much I adore my sister-in-law?)

The hutch that broke.  It's little legs just couldn't take the Fargo winds.

The hutch that broke. It’s little legs just couldn’t take the Fargo winds.

So I did, I gathered myself together and drove the few blocks to my sisters where she had hot coffee and a sympathetic ear for me as I got dressed.  Then we went back to the show together and I was feeling ready for whatever came my way.  By that time, we had been given permission to also use our U-haul to display things, because of the wind.  Jamie and Ryan had taken the top off my tent, so the wind wouldn’t catch it, and things were set up as best they could be.

DSC_0023 DSC_0024 DSC_0056

U-haul display

U-haul display

DSC_0065

green

 

 

And there was a line of people waiting to get in!  A long one.

Then is began!  And people bought stuff, stuff of mine!  In fact, I may have witnessed someone jumping the gate to claim a dresser I had done.  That’s dedication.  (but, you know, probably don’t do that)  Everyone was so nice, the other vendors were great, no one was mean or competitive, the staff at Eco Chic was delightful and helpful, and mostly, all of you were so, so kind. And encouraging, and in that yucky weather, brave (or maybe little crazy).

I even sold, at a steep discount, my broken hutch that was laying out in the lawn.

In contrast, the weather was still not nice for the remainder of the day.  It was raining on and off, and unseasonably cold and windy.  My sister Shawna and Ryan were such help, and stuck by me all day!  Thankfully, I did ok with the sales, lots and lots of small items, a few big.   But as we were loading the U-haul at the end of the day, I started to feel like maybe my sales were not all that good afterall, the U-Haul still had to be strategically packed like a Tetris game and the promise I made to my family that “we would get our garage and house back” was a bust.  Look out kids, the furniture is coming back home.

Is it bad admit that I had hoped the U-haul would be hauling loads of money bags with gold dollar signs on the outside and nothing else?

While Ryan returned the U-haul, I sat in the car and for the second time that day, I may have gotten a little teary.  I had let myself and my family down.  We drove home in silence, and then Ryan, who is a man of few words, and even less in the complimentary department, told me that he was very proud of me, that he couldn’t believe the positive responses he received and what a success the show was.

 

That was just what I needed.

 

The second thing I needed, and got, was some absolutely stunning photos that Kelly took for me of my booth space.  She brought them into work on Monday and I’m telling you,  she made the day look beautiful.  I credit her skill a great deal for what happened next.

I posted the photos into an album on my Facebook page which still had very few followers.  But things started moving gradually and gratefully Eco Chic, who had a LOT of followers, posted my album as well.  That got things moving a lot faster.  My computer was getting notification after notification for days, it was crazy!!  In 24 hours, I got over 300 likes on my page alone.  Within a few weeks, I had sold almost all of my major pieces!!!

 

Ah… success!

 

So that was the story of how I got started and my first show ever, I am so thankful for the experience, the people who have helped me get to where I’m at, and the endless encouragement from so many individuals, (minus the guy who said a piece of mine was atrocious last year).  I hope to continue to refine my craft, my skills, and my judgement as I build my little business.

 

And finally, I am happy to say, that with the addition of “de-uglied designs” to my life, both sides of my brain are working in almost perfect harmony.

 

As always, thanks for taking the time to read.

 

Jessie

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