The rules of reality say the Bumble Bee shouldn't be able to fly...some rules were meant to be broken.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Gifts Have Been Given...Time To Share Them Now.

The Christmas gifts have been given, therefore, they can now safely be shared here.  I made altered book photo frames for my sisters, sisters-in-law and my mother.  All I need to do now is find a place to host a how-to class for this art.

These books can be opened and the photograph can be changed in the hard plastic sleeve inside.  I haven't seen this done before, the idea just popped into my noggin one day.

Donna's Book

Mom's Book

Liz's Book

Kathy's Book

Nici's Book

All these books were decorated with various thrift store finds.  Two have Prima flowers.  I love making them just to see what idea pops up next. 

This really did bring out the joy of giving for me this year.  They were greatly appreciated, admired and shared.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to you all.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What Christmas Means

What Christmas Means
Theresa Higby

Tidings of Great Joy by Theresa Higby

Christmas means a Father's promise has been fulfilled.

Christmas means when you have absolutely nowhere else to go, God can relate.

Christmas means the humblest King came to be a servant to all.

Christmas means both the lowliest Shepherd and the noblest Ruler
 can share equally in the greatest gift ever given.

Christmas means religion has died and a relationship has been born.

Christmas means there is nothing that you have to do, it's all been done for you.

Merry Christmas to all. 
 May you truly find the joy of this blessed season.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Crafty Break...

My crafting, and remodeling efforts, are taking a break today so that I can work on a Christmas Present that a friend of mine requested for his wife.  This pretty girl was her pet for many years and my friend asked for the portrait after he saw a painting I did of his father's dog.

I've been painting and drawing all my life and I love being able to share this gift with people knowing that they will be able to find joy in owning a piece of my work.

So, Merry Christmas.  May you find the true joy in giving this year.  Give of what ever gifts you possess.  It's the most blessed joy you can receive during the holiday season.

Post Script 12/21/10  She is done.  What a cute girl!

Post Script Post Script 12/22/10  I was told that the giftee is going to cry.  I never thought the thought of someone crying would make me happy...but I think you know what I mean.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Go Toward The Light...

Turning something kind of tacky into something lovely to look at can be done in all sorts of interesting ways.  Take these lamps.  I found them a few years ago at a consignment store and I fell in love with the glass base.  The cut of the glass and the night light inside made me want to leave them on all the time.  But the ugly, dirty nylon shade left a lot to be desired.

I have no idea where this idea came from, but I really wanted to create something that used the light of the lamp as part of the decor.  Somewhere in the cortex under my hair the idea of a "slide" popped up.  How or what that would result in took a day of idea shopping and thinking.  More on this later...

After bringing in one of the usual suspects, thrift store fabric, I splurged a little bit on this project and spent about $15 on two different coordinating fabrics that match my bedding.  I didn't use this fabric on the lamp but it did help me create that unique light effect.  I also picked up some trim and some ribbon for an additional 8 bucks or so.

The first step was to grab a pair of scissor and remove the cheap nylon strips from the frame of the lamp shade.  Eye sore gone, yeah!  I ripped my cheap cotton fabric in strips and frayed the edges.  Yes, I do like to do this a lot.  It's because I am too lazy to sew things.  I stitched the strips together by hand with the seams facing out and frayed those edges as well.  After wrapping the fabric all around the shade frame I stitched the end onto the rest, again by hand, and frayed the edge.

Here is a tip.  Be sure to count the number of wraps between each support bar on the top so that the strips of fabric are evenly spaced all around. Count the number of times you wrap the fabric around the first frame and duplicate that count around the second. 

Now for the light effect.  I scanned the fabric I bought into my computer and created images of the moth's, butterflies and bees on the fabric and printed 6 color images on a piece of paper.  Since I live close to everything (one of the better features about living in this neighborhood) I made a quick jaunt over to Kinkos and printed 1 copy on transparency film.  Another jaunt over to Mystic Paper and I cut 12 small frames out of Idea-ology Grunge Board.  I made six slides gluing the transparencies between the grunge board with the top piece wrapped in the coordinating fabric.   With a grommet punched into either end of the slide I ran ribbon through and tied 3 slides around each shade.  When the light is on it creates a pretty soft picture on the shade.

Finally, I stitched a coordinating trim to the bottom of each shade and topped them off with a cheap $3 antique finish finial from Home Depot.

Originally my plan was to refinish the brass base as well.  I'm so happy with how pretty these turned out I've decided that it gives it a little bit of pizzaz and have left it alone.   It's very romantic.  Oooo, la la.

Mucho, mucho better.  Most of the time I do leave these lamps on now.  I just love walking into the soft light warming my bedroom.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Captured Beauty

I am blessed to have several friends who are very talented photographers.  John Tarr (click here) not only has a talented eye but nature seems to follow him wherever he goes.

Out-witting physics

 When I saw this one I knew it was the perfect piece of John's art to share here on my blog.  Be sure to follow John.  He is a wonderful teacher and shares a lot of his know-how on the blog.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Today's Thrift Store Re-purpose

Sometimes you run across a piece that you know is just perfect.  Even if you don't know what it is or where you will use it you just know that it's perfect.

An online search for "Maison de Provence" found several links referring to a shop with this name in New Orleans that specializes in French and Antique furnishings.   I think it is a tray for a planter but I was unable to find anything similar on their website.  Regardless, this $2.99 find at Goodwill was the perfect large piece for my kitchen shelf (a former kitchen cabinet).  It was a little grungy when I purchased it so I cleaned up the gooey stuff and was left with just enough distressing to make it simply beautiful.  P.S.  The solid marble candelabra next to it...also a Goodwill find.

These pieces will "pop" quite a bit when I have finished the inside of the shelf with fabric.  

I am becoming a Goodwill addict.  I must learn to control myself.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I Forgot To Mention...

So sorry to forget this.  Particularly since I expect it to be one of the most unique and endearing features of my new kitchen.  I completed the first part of my test on my faux wood beams.  You can find faux wood beams on the internet but the price is, well, let's just say....CRAZY!

As is my calling, I have found a more affordable way to create this look.   I'm using different tools and chemicals to make these but here is the basic shape.  You can buy this styrofoam in 4' x 8' sheets from Home Depot.  It comes in a variety of thicknesses.  I picked the 2" thick foam and glued two pieces together with spray glue.  (Spray both pieces of foam).

I cut the pieces 5" wide and glued them together to form a 4" x 5" beam.  Since I was working outside I reached over and grabbed my Bar B Que scrubber and used it to scrape the foam on the sides and hide the seam.  I scraped it across the wide side of the foam to create a wood grain effect..

Since I have worked with this kind of foam before I know that Mineral Spirits will "eat" it.  Next step...using Mineral Spirits to create the look of aged insect tunnels.  Be sure to check in as I go along to find out how they look.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Kitchen Project - Something A Little Different

These homes built in the 1950's have a wonderful, energy saving feature (NOT!) that you just don't find in new homes.   Nothing says mid-century Ranch in Arizona like crank-out windows.  Windows that crank out require one very important thing, screens that hang "in".  That doesn't necessarily mean Ugly.  Idea time once more.

I painted the metal screen finish white.  A nice dress up, I thought.  But, ooo-ooo-ooohhhh noooo.  That would be way too easy.  A black & white Country French theme is what I'm going for here.  So I printed a Fleur De Lis on card stock and made my own stencil.  A quick spray of black paint and...voile!  (Note the extra touch with the Christmas Ornament for the holiday season)

Don't forget the finishing touches.  They can add a lot of spark.

Bryndal!  Don't chew the screwdriver!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Creative Kitchen Cabinets

Update #1 on the Uber kitchen remodel.  Kitchen cabinets.

Testing various techniques - Tying in to the existing back splash and future counter tops.
I used a door from our old linen closet to create a test board for the techniques I was thinking of using for the kitchen cabinet make-over.  It was still laying around from our Master Suite remodel, and since it is the same type of wood I thought it would be a good work surface.  What I needed to accomplish was to achieve a technique that would maintain the visual integrity of the fabric print but allow me to distress it at the same time.

Fabric Distressing Technique
And the winner is...

I protected the fabric and created texture by covering it in two layers of clear, water-based kitchen caulk.  It's white coming out of the tube which allows you to ensure adequate coverage of your area, and dries clear.  Don't use the type that must be cleaned with mineral spirits.  It's too shiny and sticky, even after it has dried.  The first layer of caulk was spread on thinly with a drywall blade.  The second was slapped on thickly, and rather hap-hazardly to create depth and added a nice touch with the application of the antique glaze. 

I tried a few other ideas that I thought would create the antiqued look I was going for, but none of those protected the fabric.  Once the glaze was applied it just soaked right in and covered the pretty toile print.

In addition, I needed to test my use of old faux wood window blinds as the frame for the doors of the cabinets.  With these blinds you get nice convenient little holes about every 10" which allow the strings to work the blind when it's hanging in a window, but inconveniently create a quandary when you are trying to re-purpose them.   Problem solved.  I covered each hole by applying Spackling Paste to a fleur de lis stencil.  Once the paste was dry I dampened my fingers with a tiny bit of water to rub out any sharp edges and they look very attractive with the glaze applied.

I'll be completing the top doors in the kitchen first.  I think I may simply apply the same technique on all of the lower cabinets without the fabric, to lend a little bit of subtlety to the overall look.

Keep checking in.  This could get very interesting.

Yes, Bryndal, you can chew on my coke bottle.  I'm finished with it.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Dollar Store Dress Up

The creative bug has taken serious hold of me.  That bumble bee has stung me too many times.

As I was going through a few old things while I was cleaning my office I started a thrift store donation box.  I tossed in a shoe I think my dog ate the mate to, some electronics cables that aren't compatible with any equipment that we have, (What exactly is a VCR, anyway?), an old cheap resin parakeet from the 99 cent store, then a...  Wait a minute.  I can do something with that ugly parakeet.

 I mean, really.  They don't come any cheaper than this, do they?  Tacky, tacky, tacky.

But my brain said "NO".  It does not have to stay tacky.  I can rebuild it, I have the technology!   By technology I really only mean the chemicals that make up a can of glazing medium, gesso, and acrylic paint.

So I took this pathetic little guy and covered him in two coats of artists Gesso.  Two more coats of white acrylic paint, and all of the color was thoroughly concealed.  With a whopping large mixture of a spoonful of glazing medium and a spoon of tan paint, I covered him with glaze doing small sections at a time.  I gently sponged most of the color off with a damp cloth.  Two light coats of a matte finish clear coat spray completed the job.

He is, as they say, a new man.  I am no longer ashamed to display this stunning "sculpture" in the public spaces of my home.  I believe he will fit in nicely with a more classic Country French decor.

Remember the old saying..."Don't judge a cheap resin figurine from china by the store you bought it in."   Ok, maybe that's not really how the saying goes but who says we all can't create our own new sayings.  I think this will be my tag line for a while.

Some times a little bit of vision can transform what is before you into a pretty addition to your surroundings.  Try looking at what you see without the color and then picture what you might be able to do with it. 

Bryndal....oh, never mind.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Giganto, Humongous, Mondo, Uber Project Begins

My husband wants a new kitchen.  No! Seriously!  He hates our kitchen and he wants a new one.  Every day he has to walk through the kitchen to get to his precious Man-Cave so he is constantly reminded of how much he hates the kitchen.

1954 was a lovely year for kitchens
 But remodeling would be super costly, and we are too cheap.

So here is the goal...remodel my 1954 kitchen for as low a cost as possible, re-using as many of the current items as possible, while achieving a fine French Country finish deserving of a few "oooo's" and "ahhhhh's".

The cabinets are sight built and structurally bound to the universe.  They don't build them like that anymore.  They'll be staying put and receiving a fine treatment with fabric, recycled window blinds, paint, caulk and drywall mud.

The appliances all work just fine.  Olivia is the original 1954 gas cook top.  She works like a dream.  I'd like to find a way to re-finish her with a heat resistant enamel paint.  Carol (lovingly named after Carol Brady), the 23" gas wall over works just as well.  Even the built in timer functions flawlessy.

Dated but fully functional appliances

Ok, ok, ok.  So I have to throw in this story here.  This is the first house we have had with gas appliances.  Right after we moved in my husband, Dave was yelling from the kitchen that the oven wasn't working.  When I went into the kitchen to investigate he was repeatedly pushing a button above the oven door.  "It worked fine the last time I used it.  What did you do to it?"

"Nothing" he replied.  "But the 'light' button isn't working."

"The what button" I asked curiously?

"The 'light' button" he responded as he pressed his Schwarzenegger finger on the tiny little chrome knob over and over again.  I burst out laughing and he looked up at me with crooked, sheepish grin on his face, those blue eyes twinkling with confusion.

"Honey, dear", I mused.  "That's the button to turn the light on so you can see what's cooking.  You turn the oven on by turning the temperature dial."  I slipped my hand up the knob and turned it to 400 for pizza.

After a brief pause he huffed with embarrassment and said quietly, "Oh.  I thought it was like the stove and it had an ignition."

I love that guy.  Back to the project...

I took the door off of the horizontal cabinet above the sink.  No one but Dave can reach it anyway, so I will add a treatment to this "plant shelf" to tie it in with the cabinets.  I will also be shopping for a set of matching vintage light fixture to replace the ultra cheapo hardware store versions currently in place.

A plant shelf and new light fixtures are in the plans
 And last, but of course not least...the counter tops.  Those lovely Formica counter tops;  those UGLY Formica counter tops with their burn marks, scratches and permanent mold caulking around the sink.  I can't replace them without ruining the back splash, and that I actually like.  We will be tiling over the existing counter with new ceramic tile in black.  The current back splash is in perfect condition and has a sweeee-eet black accent that will tie the whole thing together.  You can see it better in the appliance picture.

Can you say "Yuk!"
I think this project will take several months, lots of man, um no wait-woman hours, and some minor expenses.  The project will be blogged as I proceed with the costs incurred and the techniques.  I will summarize all of the expenses and hours when I am finally able to post the photos of my completed Country French kitchen.

After that...  A vacation.  I don't think I'll be done before our pre-Army ship-out Disneyland trip with my son in March.  Hopefully when we return from his Basic Training graduation in May we will be coming home to our "magnifique cuisine".

Stay tuned...ask questions...make comments if you wish, and don't be surprised if an emergency room tale, or complaints about how old I am surface occasionally.

Where is Bryndal, anyway?
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