Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Seeing Stars Again

My first bit of press. So exciting. Many thanks to Jules of ikea hacker.

My full directions for this project are here...

Yesterday, I realized there was one more thing in the office left undone, so I drywalled the closet... (cue music now)... All By Myself. I am so proud of my inner contractor. Now I have only to primer and paint the closet, and together we must cut and paint the molding and trim for the room, and hang a few shelves... and then we're done. The holiday weekend and impending obligations may or may not interfere, but I think we're in single digits now, so that I should still be back in the office by the beginning of next week. What a relief it will be to really get back to work, and to have all of my supplies at my fingertips again.

Not to mention having the rest of the house back from its current state as storage facility.

Monday, November 20, 2006

So close...

We finished laying the floor last night and now we have only to cut and paint molding and window trim and put up outlet covers, etc. We'll most likely do this on Friday, and I should be back in the studio before the weekend is over. I am so excited.

The floor looks absolutely gorgeous.

Of course, now I'll need new furniture. I'm refinishing one storage item right now, about which I am very, very excited. I'll post pictures of that when it's in place.

Next, once we have all of the debris out of the garage, I want to build a custom painting table. Since I have no experience building furniture (if you don't count trying to make a prefab desk that didn't work, work), I want to keep it as simple as possible for now, so I think I will start with something like this. I'd like to add another drawer and I'd like to extend the top out further so it is more of a desk than a table. But I like the basics of it very much and it will give me an excuse to use the new miter saw and the table saw I talked Al into buying (as if he needed that much persuading... but he was trying to stick to the budget while I just kept insisting it would pay for itself. I think it already has.).

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Out of the Box

My mom said to me on a recent visit, "I wish I were creative like you."

I know for a fact that my mother is creative -- I've seen evidence of it in her home. And I believe everyone is creative naturally, but some people just don't know how to access that creativity.

So I decided to give my mom some tools to jump-start her creativity and I concocted a gift for her:

A Creativity Toolbox

I put a quote in the bottom of the box by Wassily Kandinsky:
There is no must in art because art is free.

I raided my own stash of supplies for sequins, embroidery thread, and other embellishments. I added new paints, brushes and a palette tray.

I picked out some fun and pretty papers:

And then I made her a guidebook.

I threw in some more quotes from famous artists and added some tips on how to be creative:

And I made up some "rules."

I don't know if she'll ever use it, but I think she really liked it.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Oh, Starry Table, how I love thee

I am delighted and honored that Jules of Ikea Hacker invited me to write up the instructions for my star table. They are a little long, but they are in reality very simple, and I hope, inspiring. This is the project that, ahem, ruined me. That is, I cannot look at a piece of furniture anymore without wondering how I can make it better, more interesting, or totally mine.

This was my first decoupage project ever and I did it on the fly with a few materials I was given for free. I just did it because I thought I could. I didn’t do a lot of research into decoupage, nor did I worry too much about the process as I was doing it. Since then, I have tried a variety of decoupage techniques, but I find the simpler, the better, and I tend to use these very same steps. I am always learning, though.

The table was a hand-me-down from someone who purchased it at Ikea, but I can’t find it any longer on the Ikea site and, sadly, I’m too far away to go look for myself. But these techniques should work with any wood furniture. If you're really attached to the furniture and/or a perfectionist, you may wish to practice on something else first.

Supplies needed:

table and chairs, sandpaper, paper cutouts to be decoupaged, gesso, acrylic paints, glue (Mod Podge or other decoupage glue), polyurethane, brushes

The simple steps:

1. Take everything apart and sand the wood.

2. Cover with gesso and then paint.

3. Glue paper shapes to the painted surfaces with mod podge.

4. Varnish with many layers of polyurethane.

The detailed steps:


1. Unscrew table top from base and chair seats from frames.

2. Lay the table top and seats on a tarp or other okay-to-get-paint-on-it surface.

3. Sand wood lightly.


4. Cover all to-be-painted surfaces with gesso.

(If you’re unfamiliar with gesso, it’s acrylic primer found in art/craft stores and pronounced “jesso,” as I learned when I had to buy it the first time for myself and asked for “gesso” with a hard “g.” In my opinion, you don’t need expensive gesso, paint or brushes for this project. Buy them cheap. I used the cheap black foam brushes and threw them away when I was done.)

5. Paint all to-be-painted surfaces with as many coats as you need to achieve the hue you want. Let dry between each coat, unless you want to blend colors, in which case, apply the colors at the same time.

(I used only blue and red on this. I painted the underside of the table and chair seats red and let them dry. Then I painted the top surfaces with both colors: I mixed the blue and red on a tray to make purple, then blotched together red, blue and purple on the table, and blended them to get the look I wanted. I also went for a scratchy look, which has been great as I've moved the table from place to place - any dings looks sort of intentional. To know the drying time for each coat of gesso, paints, glue and polyurethane, read the manufacturer’s instructions.)


6. Cut out the paper pieces while the paint dries.

(I cut these stars out of wrapping paper. I really like using wrapping paper, because it’s so thin that, if you get bubbles as the paper gets wet with glue, you can sort of crush them out with your hand. You will usually end up with a crinkly effect, but I like that look, and at the end, the finish will make the whole table very smooth to the touch. If you want it to look and be smooth from the start, try heavier paper and carefully smooth it out from the inside to the outer edge. If you use magazine cutouts, be warned that the text or images on the back might be visible through the paper.)

7. Spread Mod Podge or some other decoupage glue over the surface in a thin but total layer. Lay the paper pieces on the table in the arrangement you want. Spread another thin layer of the glue/podge on top of the paper pieces. Let that dry.

(If you do see bubbles you don’t want after the glue dries, the recommended technique is to cut a tiny “x” with a craft knife and push a little glue down there before putting the “x” back together so that the edges of the x overlap. I have tried this with mixed results. As for the glue, different decoupagers have their favorite products, such as wallpaper paste, spray adhesives and others. I like Mod Podge, and have not had any problems with it)

The crinkly effect:


8. Finally, I coated everything with three or four thin layers of polyurethane. This is the part of the process that takes the longest, because of drying times between coats.

(I used Anita’s Water Clean-Up Polyurethane and found that an 8 oz. jar was more than enough for this one project, but you can buy a gallon of polyurethane at a paint store if you like. The very best thing about this finish is that every time I’ve discovered a water ring or such on the table, I have just brushed another coat of polyurethane on the table and the mark has gone away.)

9. I recommend waiting at least 24 hours to use it even if the whole thing is dry to the touch.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Almost Finished...

Well, the delay in finishing the studio/office renovations has lengthened by weeks thanks to Other Things Happening, but we have been working as hard as we can, and we are so close to being done, I can smell it. Oh, wait, that's the glue I'm smelling.

The last drywall screw goes in. Whew. I'm not saying I wouldn't hang drywall again. But I'm glad this batch is done.

This was before we realized the drywall tape really wasn't staying down.

So we had to come up with a solution. And that was to make stucco! I like stucco. Stucco reminds me of California, which I miss every day. Now I have California inside. This is just the beginning of the finish, before the textured paint was added.

This is after -- and the best shot I have with a realistic depiction of "Honey Moon." Ah, so rich and warm and buttery and honey-like. And it has no lead in it, so if I get hungry, I can lick the walls. Which I might do. I like the paint that much.

There are tremendous benefits to being married to an electrician. One, he can teach me to do cool things, like installing outlets (me being a girl who shocked herself installing an extra phone jack). Two, if I don't feel like risking life and limb playing with wires, he'll do it. Thank you, honey.

The ceiling fan has a remote. Amazing. Of course, our ceilings are so low, I can touch them while barely even reaching, and the chain for the ceiling fan nearly brushes my head. But just in case my arm hurts, there's a remote.

I don't think this looks like me, but I do think I look skinny in this picture, so I'll keep it.

Down goes the first row.

On Day One of floor-laying, we learned that two humongous tubes of glue don't go very far. We had to stop and then buy a CASE of glue tubes the next day.

This is where we are now. The last few rows have to be mitered to fit in with the strangely angled staircase, so we had to call it quits for the day. And now our plans will be postponed again as we must go out of town this weekend. But we're almost done.

A complete set of photos can be found here. These aren't for the faint-hearted. There are 69 of them.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Experiments in Interdependence

Leave well enough alone? Oh, guess what. I am not capable of that. I must always tweak and alter and change.

So I am adding a blog to the RadioGirl web site family (and hope very soon to have one ring to rule them all... oh, sorry... I meant, one main web site with my own domain to be RadioGirl Headquarters... I'm working on it now).

Anyway, as I was saying, this new blog, I am RadioGirl, will be an offshoot of this "professional" blog, RadioGirl Designs. I am sometimes extremely disorganized, and sometimes organized to the point of overdoing it (overcompensation, you know), but in the long run, I think it will be easier if I keep the "random-thoughts-dreams-opinions-hilarious discoveries" and the "professional" stuff connected but still independent from each other... or perhaps the best word is interdependent.

It may become a bit of a hassle to maintain two blogs (three, actually, if you include my husband's and my personal blog, which is entirely separate), but I am looking forward to the challenge. This move will free me to write about things that I do want to share with others, but don't necessarily feel fit perfectly here on RadioGirl Designs. That is... this is the show, and that's

It's an experiment. One of my all-time favorite words. An experiment in interdependence.

(and if you pop over there now, you can read the story of the RadioGirl name...)

One exception to this separation of material will be the continuing renovation of my studio/office, which is very nearly done. I promise I will post more pictures here soon. Today, I hope. It looks amazing - better than I ever dreamed - and it is still visibly incomplete. I am bubbling with excitement and anticipation of how it will look when finished.