Thursday, March 31, 2011

Burlap = Awesome

I wanted texture on my wall, but grass cloth or even cork was not in the budget. So, I thought, why not burlap?
I have no math skills. I should never have been allowed to figure out the area of my wall. ;) I was wrong by about a half yard of fabric, so I had to get more. (Actually, it wasn't all math, the burlap sizes, which I didn't account for. I'll just keep telling myself that. Ha.ha.) The total cost of the burlap was $35. I used 2 gallons of liquid starch which cost $12, 2 packs of thumb tacks for $4, and one can of Krylon Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint, $4 (and I only used a little, so I can use the rest on something else.) My wall cost a grand total of $55. Not bad.

So let's get going with a full on tutorial. I give you tips and the good, bad and ugly as we go. 

First, you need your cast of characters:
I found thumb tacks in gold or silver. I did not want either color so I used one of my favorite Krylon colors, Oil Rubbed Bronze, but you can leave them plain if you want. I needed something to hold them while I sprayed and happened to have an empty tissue box. So, I just pushed them into the box

and then spray painted them.

I decided ahead of time that I was going to fill the wall with various sized rectangles. I wanted the extra texture that the frayed edges meeting up would create. If I was doing this again, I would consider two different possibilities: 1. I would use only small rectangles of the same size, perhaps 8.5 x 11, and I would position them almost like bricks. This size would have been super simple to handle and I would have liked the regularity; or 2. I would have purposely overlapped the edges. I don't mind the peaks of wall color that happen on the edges, but where I did happen to overlap a bit, I kind of like better.

The lady at Jo-Ann's taught me a little trick for cutting burlap. Measure or otherwise decide where you want to cut, and snip one of the threads.

Grab the thread and pull; it will bunch like you are shirring, but then (if you are lucky because they often snap)the thread will pull completely out leaving you with a gap. Now you can easily see where to cut and keep things straight.

To make the panels adhere to the wall, I used liquid starch. Matt found a plastic planter and used plumber's putty to plug the drain holes. We couldn't find one the the wallpaper trays, but that would work too. Pour the starch in the tray you are using.

For large pieces, the easiest is to feed one edge into the liquid and begin rolling it up so you feed all the burlap through. You do want it saturated, but it's hard to get rid of the excess, so you want it to soak as little as possible. DO NOT WRING IT OUT! This will lead to wrinkles that you will never get rid of, trust me. If you have rolled it, or even folded the burlap, you can use your hands to gently squeegee as much excess starch as possible.

Open the burlap and smooth onto your wall just using your hands. The starch will completely adhere the burlap (or any fabric) to the wall once dry. If your piece is big, it may be a little heavy and you might want an extra pair of hands.

Once I had the piece smoothed on the wall, I put a push pin in each corner. Sometimes I had to use a hammer. Watch your fingers! Ouch. 

I used the pins for two reasons. 1. I liked the look of it; I wanted that extra detail, and 2. the pins help hold the heavy pieces in place while drying.

I just worked my way across the wall making sure to vary my sizes and edge placement. This took me several days (over the course of a month and a half). I just couldn't do it all at once. Partly because of time constraints and partly because after awhile the starch would just make me start feeling itchy and I would just have to stop and go shower.

The color of your wall will affect the appearance. The weave of burlap is lose, so even if you overlap edges you'll still have a hint of your wall color. 

I'm loving it. It's different. I won't be leaving it all blank though. I'm on the hunt for old bike and trike wheels to create some art to fill all that space. 

And if someday I don't want the burlap or I go to sell the house and want to make things more neutral, the pieces pull right off with no damage to the wall. Other than needing to clean the wall. I promise I tested that too. :)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Busy as a bee

Busy, actually. As a bee. Bee-like.
Name that show! Two hints: it's not on anymore; Cordelia said it.

Any-who. That's how I have been lately. Bee-like. I have so many things in the works, but I'll try to focus on one at a time for y'all. (Totally not from Texas or anywhere south, but I like y'all. Just saying.) 

Do I seem to lack focus already? Yeah.

It's March 28th. For real. I had to check because even though I shouldn't, I STILL have snow on the ground! (We aren't from here, but the locals assure us this is unusual; I hope so.) It's supposedly Spring Break. I only know this because Big Man is home from school, currently screeching like a howler monkey. Why? Because he can. I certainly don't know it by the weather, but Mateo has faith spring is truly coming and coming to stay.

He is getting ready to garden. True story: I killed a cactus. I do not have a green thumb. But Mateo loves his garden. He's mostly all about growing herbs and fruits and vegetables, but he promised some decorative plants this year as well. So, he needed to get his seeds started because he believes he will be able to get stuff in the ground on time in April and May. The man has more faith than I do. Snow! We still have snow!

This is how all my window ledges look.
Mateo has been saving egg cartons all winter so that he could use them to start seeds. He took it one step further and cut the tops and attached plastic wrap so he has mini greenhouses. How's that for recycling? 

Every ledge. He's running out of places.

So he decided to use a 30-egg carton, but for that he needed to devise a new way to make it into a greenhouse. Did that deter him? Oh, no. Enter scrap wood and more plastic wrap. And voila! another greenhouse on the cheap.

He started an orange tree this winter in an old margarine container and decided to greenhouse it by placing an old peanut butter jar on top.

It's thriving, like a mini Florida in a jar. He was eating a orange from the store that had a seed and said, "I wonder if I can grow this?" That's how we start lots of things around here. It's genetic. He gets it from his grandpa. I think it's cute.

I have no idea what all we are growing this year. I've lost track. I know there will be tomatoes, jalapenos, onion and cilantro (because then I only need to buy a lime to make my Pico de Gallo). There will also be basil, oregano, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (you know, so we can sing Simon and Garfunkle). There will be squash, pumpkins, watermelon, canteloupe, strawberries, bell peppers, beans, and I don't know what else.

I don't garden much, but I love having the fresh produce to cook with...that's my domain. :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Furniture Redo

This wicker basket dresser has been with us for almost seven years. It started out life as baby dresser/changing table. Come to think of it, I should do a post on how to make your own changing table out of a dresser. But that is not what this post is about. 

We used this for both boys until their clothes were too big to fit. I used it a short time while in between dressers, it made a brief stint as kitchen storage, and now it holds school papers and mailing supplies and has the mail organizers on top.

Actually, it is the drop zone where junk piles up. Sigh.

So, the color wasn't working for me. It was fine In the beginning... (it's hard to say that phrase normal and not all Charlton Heston-y, don't you think.) But now I'm over the mid-tone wood.
I was going to do a whole tutorial post, but seriously, it's spray paint. I don't think you need during pics. I took the basket drawers out and sanded. Then grabbed some handy-dandy black satin spray paint (I started with Krylon Satin Black, but then ran out and finished with Rustoleum Canyon Black), and sprayed light even coats. Lots of them. My hand still feels kind of crampy today.

So, what do you think? I love the black. It makes the wicker color look richer. I could have gone white, but I have little kids. For realz, they mess up white stuff. And, I already have black accents, so this was the best choice for us.

I wonder if I should paint the wood brace that goes around the wicker basket. I think I would like that, but the leather handles cannot come off, so that will be tedious work with a small paint brush and paint. So, we'll see.

Linking to:
Fingerprints on the Fridge

Furniture Feature Fridays

Monday, March 21, 2011

Kid's craft: Tissue paper "stained glass" eggs

So, here's a kid's craft idea that they can really do, unlike the egg bunnies. :) 

So, you need wax paper, a permanent marker, tissue paper cut or torn into small pieces, school glue and a paint brush.

Mix glue (eyeball it, a couple tablespoons if it's just one or two, more if you have the whole Brady Bunch) and water. I just add some and stir until I have a runny consistency. You can go half and half if you want.

Use the marker to draw your shape on the wax paper. Go as big or small as you want. Ideas other than an egg shape: flowers, chicks, bunnies. Then FLIP IT OVER! You want the marker on the back, if it is painted with the glue/water it will run.

Use the brush to paint the glue/water inside your shape and start putting on the tissue paper. You can be meticulous, or random. I was working with a three year old, so we went random.
Let your pieces overlap the edge of your shape. 

When it's all filled in, dab over the whole thing with the glue mix. This will make sure all is glued down and sealed in. 

Now, there's nothing left to do but wait, wait, wait.

Once it's dry, grab a pair of scissors and trim out your shape.

Supposedly, you can now peel off the wax paper. Your tissue paper would totally stick together, but I found that my tissue paper was firmly glued to the wax paper. It really doesn't matter much. When you put it in the window, the light still shines through.

Even on a dreary day. (But, hey, no snow so I'll take it!) 

Linking to these great parties:
Blue Cricket Design


Friday, March 18, 2011

Blast from my past

I was bored last night and found this buried under books on my nightstand.
It was a blank journal/book I was given many years ago. I have since filled it with decorating and craft ideas. I started this when I lived in a teeny tiny Boston apartment that barely fit furniture, let alone my big decorating dreams. We did have a great landlord who let us paint (as long as it was neutral) and otherwise enjoy things, but you can't do much that is permanent with a rental.
Ooh, one good idea (and this was pre-digital camera days, so I'd really have to hunt down a photo) was for our non-functioning fireplace. This thing took up a third of our tiny living room and it didn't work so it was an eyesore. So, we took the door off and put a fish tank inside. We used some dense foam to raise it up so the bottom of the tank was even with the bottom of the door opening. It was pretty awesome.
Anyways. Back to the book. It is full of everything I've ever liked but either couldn't do at the time or just didn't know if I could ever use the idea but liked it. I wrote and sketched.
Look at that! Mason jar chandelier years before they became all the rage. If only I'd capitalized on that... :)
I also cut things out of magazines and just taped them into the book. I still have never organized my leftover, touch up paint like that, but it's a good idea.
My design taste has changed over the years -- I was once into the whole shabby chic mix of florals and stripes. I feel slightly shamed for having jumped on that bandwagon. ;) But there are some good ideas in there. Some great inspiration even if I wouldn't do it exactly like what's in the book. And it is kind of fun to look back on how I have changed over time. Kind of like going back through an old diary (and just as potentially embarrassing!).

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Spring has (almost) sprung

I promised myself I'd do some Spring and Easter crafty things with the kids this year. So, project number one turned out to be not so kid friendly because it worked best with hot glue. The best laid plans...
Have you ever used hot glue and not burned yourself? I haven't. It seems to be more successful if you sacrifice a little flesh.
So, bunnies and chicks. You need plastic eggs, felt, googly eyes, and a cotton ball, optional - wire and beans.
I matched my egg and felt colors. I drew out the ears and feet for the bunnies and let Pumpkin Noodle cut them out. 
I drew a little fringe and wings for him to cut out for the chick. He also colored some card stock orange for the beak and feet because I didn't have orange felt. But actually the card stock worked great. 
That's about all the help the kiddo could provide because then I hot glued the pieces in place. For the bunnies, I drew the rest of their faces on with permanent marker and I also glued a bit of cotton ball on the back for the tail.
 Now, you may have noticed that eggs don't stand on end by themselves. I solved it by bending a piece of wire and hot gluing it under the feet.
It does show from the back a bit, but the wire bends and holds it up. Also, I found filling the eggs with some dried pinto beans gave them a little weight that helped them stand on the wire.
And here's a shot of Monkey Bean playing with a bunny - which was about all the help he could actually provide. And, yes, he's wearing a pajama shirt all day long. Why do you ask? :)
 They are pretty sweet even if the kids couldn't actually help much.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Introducing 78

You may have noticed mention of art supplies in other posts. More than just DIY home decor stuff, I actually am an artist. I like the idea of mixing pop culture with art, and thought what better medium for than than the ubiquitous tee shirt.
I am offering these limited edition, hand painted tee shirts under the label "78". The shirts are actually painted by removing the fabric dyes so this will age very well. Each shirt design will have a range of only 5 to 10 shirts ever made. So, you won't have to worry about showing up wearing the same thing as everyone else. Awesome.

[Update: there are only 3 Subway shirts left (any size you need, but I'll only be making 3 more) and 4 "You go, then I'll go." shirts. Also, I do take commissions. Send me a message if you want something you don't see yet.]

I have a few to show you now, and I have a few more designs in the works. Currently I am using Jerzees tee shirts (in an effort to keep costs down for you) and they come in regular or fitted, but I have noticed all the sizes run small.
This shirt was inspired by Mateo's favorite part of The Rally to Restore Sanity when Jon Stewart pointed out how we work together all the time, using the example of merging traffic.
This dark blue shirt depicts merging traffic with the phrase "You go then I'll go" on the front. It is $25 plus shipping.
For an additional $10, you can have added to the back "We live in hard times, not end times." -Jon Stewart.
This next shirt is probably my favorite. It features a subway map as a graphic element. I blocked in where the stops would be labeled, but I was not concerned with words. (Though it might be fun to see if anyone knows what city this is.)It is $25 plus shipping.
This shirt is a little different. I made it for my youngest for Earth Day last year. I used a shirt that was a hand-me-down and painted "It's not a hand-me-down. It's an ecological choice." This is truly an "upcycled" item. I love this one, but my guy has outgrown it, so I'll offer it for $10 plus shipping. It is a 2T. This is a one time offer, first come first serve.
I call the next one, "Chill Monkey." Our boys are monkeys and we are always telling them to chill. But this is one cute monkey you won't want to get off your back -- that's right, this little guy hangs down your back. This shirt is $20 plus shipping.

 This is sort of a test run. I am still uncertain if I should go through with setting up a pay service, like Pay Pal, or not sell online at all. So, for now, email me* or comment on which shirt you would like, what 
color (red, dark blue, royal blue, black, brown, green), 
fitted or regular and what size (XS,S,M,L,XL or YXS,YS,YM,YL). Shipping is $4.95. 
I will confirm your selection and let you know where to send your payment; once received, I'll mail your shirt.

If you are interested in a shirt, but would not buy one unless you could use your credit card, leave a comment about that, so I know. Without enough interest, I'll just sell locally.

*Click on my profile, the contact box on the left will lead you my email. Posting it directly on here can lead to spam, so sorry about the extra step.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Want Spring; Must Organize

Ugh! Spring is taking too long to get here this year. We still have snow on the ground and it snowed a bit early this week. Double grrr. But I know spring is around the corner. I've got the itch to throw open the windows and clean, clean, clean.
I devised a way to organize the mail, the bills, the bits of things I know I want to keep for now, but just kind of pile up. I went to Lowe's and picked up three metal buckets from the paint department. They were pretty cheap, but look nice.
I used a label maker to mark one PAY, one FILE, and one MISC. I know I should be good and file the paid bills right away, but I'm not, so this minimizes clutter. When the bucket fills up, then I can file away. I like the Miscellaneous bucket because then I have somewhere to stick the summer camp brochures and coupons and such. I think the Pay bucket is obvious. :)
I tend to be clutter-y. I don't really have a problem throwing things out, but the stuff I need for awhile tends to just get stacked, usually somewhere inconvenient. I like to keep my piles organized. 

Linking to: