Friday, October 31, 2014

New Life for 100 Year Old Furniture

Someone in my family has been storing/using this furniture set since my Great-Grandmother moved into a nursing home & left it to my Uncle over 30 years ago.  It is a solid maple couch and 2 chairs.  It is in such good shape & so old that no one ever wanted to get rid of it. 

My Uncle moved to Germany & could not take it.  It had terribly lumpy black cushions, but we used it in our play room as kids.  It was fine for playing Nintendo or building forts. It had more than 15 happy years with Legos, Barbies, Brio Trains, and Cheerios in the basement.

When my Uncle moved back to the states he ended up in Texas, so he still didn't want to move it.  He gifted it to me as a newly-wed, which, of course meant that it still lived with my mom because we did not have a place for it in our little apartment.  My mom, though, had bought a big farm house & decided to make new cushions for it & actually use it in a public room.  She made some very nice simple white cushions that were more attractive & placed the couch in the den/TV room where it lived quietly for only 2 or 3 years.

Then I moved into my first house and finally took the set with me.  It was not living room quality so I put it in my attic studio/kid room.  The couch was used a little but mostly just being stored again since the kids didn't really spend much time up there.  It spent 9 hot summers and cold winters in the attic where the chairs sadly remained uncushioned. 

Now that we are in a new, bigger house we the whole set regularly.  We are blessed with a living room and a "play room" which is more like a family room.  It consists of toys, games, TV, and art desks for the kids.  I originally made up some simple cushions for the chairs that did not match anything including the sofa.  It worked but was not great.  If you sat on the sofa for too long your butt would fall asleep.  If you sat on the chairs, you had to continually adjust the back cushions to the right height.

The whole combination needed a new life if they were to continue on as our main furniture in the room.  With Mom moving again, she gifted us with her 30 year old 7' sofa for our Living Room which left the other couch (that I recovered several years ago) with a question mark hanging over it.  Wouldn't you know, the seat cushions from it fit the 100 year old couch perfectly!  No kidding.  That settled it.  Those cushions moved to the maple set, the old living room couch went bye-bye, the old white butt-numbing seat cushion became the couch back, and the couch back (cut in half) became the chair backs.  Comfort all around, but more mismatched than ever!

 I have a huge stash of fabric samples from a furniture store.  I picked out a pile of yellow golds, brick reds, and sage greens.  I sewed for 2 days straight.  What do you think now?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Tula Pink City Sampler Blocks: 1-10

I started the Tula Pink  City Sampler for Rebekah.  I probably won't do all 100 but nearly.  I am using mostly pink, purple, and grey.

block 2

block 3

block 4

block 5

block 6

block 7

block 10

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Mexico's Blown Glass Artistry: NOVICA Live Feature

Since the 1990s, Javier Gutiérrez and Efrén Canteras have worked together to preserve Mexico's blown glass artistry. "This type of work is a beautiful craft. I love blown glass because of the pure imagination poured into every piece created," confides Efrén.

champagne flutes, Multi-color Specks, set of 6
"Even though the art of blowing glass originally came to Mexico from Spain, and it is practiced all over the world, Mexico's blown glass artistry is unique," says Javier enthusiastically.

Drinking Glasses, Lime Twist, set of 6
 "I was 15 years old when I began blowing glass. Now I have the opportunity to teach the art of blowing hot glass to other young artisans. I start by employing people as my assistants, but I aim to train them to be experts, glass blowers equipped with a beautiful and useful skill.

Blown Glass Pitcher, Confetti Fiesta
Working as a team, Javier specializes in the design of the pieces, and Efrén transforms the designs into a reality. "Efrén and I make a great team. Over the years we have worked hard to design truly original styles with a distinctly Mexican accent."

Blown Wine Glasses, Crimson Serpentines, set of 6
Javier and Efren work with lead-free, un-tempered and recycled glass, which is melted at very high temperatures. They use a long steel blowpipe to pick a glob of molten glass and, holding the pipe with one hand, they masterfully start shaping the desired piece by blowing through the other end of the pipe using tools with their free hand. They must work fast, while the molten glass is still hot, adding color and other desired effects.

Margarita Glasses, Ruby Afternoon, set of 4
  When the piece is ready, they cut it off the pipe leaving a pontil on the bottom indicating the piece is mouth blown. It is placed in a tempering kiln for several hours and then left to cool.

Blown Glass Goblets, Night Sky, set of 6
Given the handcrafted nature of the process, there will never be two completely identical pieces. Air bubbles are often present as a result of this technique, adding to the admirable uniqueness of this legendary art form.

These beautiful, handmade glass pieces and more are all available at my NOVICA Live website.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Dining Room Tour

After a year and a half, my dining room is done and beautiful!  When we first moved in to this wallpapered house, one of the first things I tackled was the dining room walls. 

The main layer of paper came off beautifully so in no time I was left with just the underneath newsprint type paperiness.  This too came off fairly easily with some water and a scraper.  I did as high as I could reach and then quit.  This is what we lived with for the last year and a half!  I couldn't decide what color to paint and so I just didn't do anything to it.

Last week I had off of work.  All week!  My mom said, "which room are we going to do?"  "Dining Room!" we decided.  Monday we scraped the rest of the paper off.  Tuesday we scrubbed the glue-iness off and bought paint and tissue paper.

Wait!  What?  Tissue paper.  Seriously.  I knew I wanted a textured look.  We thought about a two tone or a glaze or a plaster, but in the end the tissue paper method was the easiest. I do not envy the homeowner who decides to try to take this off the walls!

Thursday we painted more.  Friday we recovered the chairs.

And we put everything back where it belongs.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Pallet Bird House - Completed

Well, It's about time!  Right?  I decided to paint my "Martin House" with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (R) in Old White.  With Annie's paint there is no need to wax or seal it for outside.  One less step!  I set it on a side table painted in Provence (also Annie Sloan).  I added a thin trim along the top edges of the table so that I could pour bird seed around the house itself. 

  I hung a black metal wall sconce with 3 little off-white pots on it from a hook that was inexplicably grown into the tree already.  I hope to plant ivy in the pots that will hang down over the bird house
in the spring.

I placed one of Grandma's painted birdhouses amidst some newly planted ferns and hosta.  When you transplant ferns they often look very dead for the rest of that season.  Don't worry.  They should reimerge in the spring wholeheartedly.

 I have not noticed any birds living in the house yet but several have enjoyed the buffet including chickadee, tufted titmouse, junco, blue jay, robin, cardinal, and chipping sparrow.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Pallet Bird Houses

If you know me at all, you know that I am not precise in most crafty endeavors.  Therefore, be warned, all measurements are in inches-ish.  Meaning I do measure before I cut, but I do not have a table saw with a straight edge, if the last piece ends up an inch shorter or longer I just go with it, and when fitting a piece in as an afterthought I just measure in "about"s.  That being said...let's make some bird houses.

Check pinterest for some bird house inspiration.  Here is mine from French Country Cottage.

I have always enjoyed these bird mansions.  I never knew that they are actually for a certain type of bird, Martins.  Apparently, Martins enjoy apartment style living. In a real Martin house each hole leads to its own section inside. This will not be happening in my bird house.  I know it would never fit together right. 

I surveyed my wood pile which is made almost entirely of broken down pallets and 2x2ish spacers that I get free at Lowe's.  I do not have any plywood so I decided that I would make the sides out of  pallet boards. You will need:

8 pallet boards (about 3.5" wide) cut to 20"
8 pallet boards (about 3.5" wide) cut to 12"
4 spacers (2"x2" or similar) cut to 14" (or 4 times the width of your boards)
2 trinagles with a base of 12"-13"
2 pallet boards cut to fit between spacers, about 9" CUT LATER
4 pallet boards (about 5" wide) cut to 24"
a bunch of screws

Start by attaching a spacer to each end of 4 longer 3.5" boards.  This will make one long wall.  Do the same for the second wall.  Once you have 2 long walls attach the shorter boards to the ends.  Hopefully you now have something that looks like a crate with no top or bottom

Now for the roof.  I admit I was a bit daunted by the roof at first.  Start by measuring the distance between the two spacers on the shorter wall.  Cut the last 2 boards slightly (1.8") smaller than that.  It needs to fit between the spacers easily but not wiggle around much.  The attach  to your triangles as shown above.  These will sit on top of the short ends.

Next, place one of your wider boards on top of the triangles (lined up with the peak and hanging over the edges evenly).  Attach to triangles.  Line up next board under the first.  Do the same to the other side of the roof.  Remember to line up the top board with the top board on the other side, Not the peak of the triangle.

I know, there is something important missing.  This step may involve meeting your neighbors.  Mine is Tom, and he lives a few doors down.  His garage is full of furniture that he is refinishing so I knew he must have tools.  Besides, the other neighbors told me he does.  I got a tour of his garage/workshop, yard, and garden and finally left with a 1.5" drill bit.  Thanks Tom.  I'll have that back soon.

Stay tuned for the full reveal.  I have to go drill holes now.

Thursday, August 7, 2014


I have been hand sewing these cute hanging bird.  They are all listed in my Etsy shop now.  Take a look.  They are all made with heavy home decor fabrics, vintage lace and vintage buttons.  $10 each