Thursday, February 26, 2009

a month of making

i've actually been finishing some things this month! (i think it is an adverse, though productive, byproduct of my birthday)..made a lamp shade out of old x-rays, a drumstick case for my sweetheart, dyed some recycled merino wool and cashmere with quebacho and logwood plant dyes, spun up the roving i dyed this summer and spun up all 'loosey goosey', made some pin cushions, and of course, pillows.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

blog cameo

a fun day of skill sharing as documented by the lovely kpone of mignonette bridal (it's been a while since i practiced the non-lazy style of draping;)

Saturday, February 7, 2009


is what i've decided to call the tung oil residue which, 24 hours later (many of those spent scrubbing with a very hard and painful scrub brush) i still have slightly green, cement hard goop dried onto my nails, knuckles and palms. the label suggested applying it by hand! i thought i was being safe by using a rag, but no, i actually had to pry my fingers apart numerous times. why didn't i stop? because i am me and my rationalization process goes like this: "humm, this is quite sticky i wonder if i should stop, wash up and put gloves on"..(brain responds to brain's question)"if you are going to wash it off now, you might as well finish the job and wash more of it off later as it's too late to avoid washing altogether." sounds reasonable of course (to me) so as i proceed i add to the goop party on my hands and allow it to slowly dry over the 2+hours that i spend finishing my new honey,sweetie,baby birthday present spinning wheel (mwah mwah mwah c;)
the wheel has fared better than my hands and looks beautiful (and not at all sticky, the lucky bastard). another 2 hours putting it together and it appears to be ready to go! just a bit of oil (i wonder if knitting machine oil will work?) and find the roving i dyed before the move- still packed up in the basement probably. hooray! now if i can just scrape off the rest of this tungidue mess- blech

the difference is like mid morning to afternoon

finally! got around to restoring our new/old end tables and coffee table (inspired by the arrival of my beeeeeeeautiful spinning wheel which my honey got me for my birthday - love, love, love i am i) decided that if i needed to stain the wheel before putting it together i should do all the stinky tasks at once. so, windows open i took stock (read: pictures) and gathered my supplies: 1) howards restor-a-finish
2) gloves

3) steel wool 0000 super fine

4) scrap cotton jersey cloth

5) optional drop cloth -i put down an old nasty rug but didn't end up needing it

6) face mask - i didn't use one but i had a whole wall of windows open - the stuff smelt like strong nail polish remover and was gross but not gross enough to motivate a trip to the garage to dig around for a mask

7) i had a little container on hand to pour the restore-a-finish into but ended up just tipping it directly onto the steel wool instead

#1 the coffee table - 30-40minutes

loads of water stains, scratches, dents and a few chips. since i've never refinished anything before i decided to start small and try the restore-a-finish before attempting any of methods i found on the internet (e.g. mixing cigarette ash and mineral spirits, or maybe oil and rubbing it all over, stripping off the old finish with crazy chemical strippers etc.)

after wiping down the table i poured a bit of the restore-a-finish stuff onto the steel wool and rubbed with the grain of the wood (i don't know if it's cheating but i went back and forth along the grain lines) i had to scrub pretty f*in hard on some parts but i saw the difference pretty quickly. i only worked on a small area at a time and wiped it down with my cloth before i moved on to the next area- some of the really dirty areas i wiped with the cloth, then re dipped my scrubber and went at it again i cleaned the rounded legs and rails by wrapping the steel wool around it to cover more surface areathe entire table probably took 30-40 minutes and while there are still scratches and dents i am quite pleased with the difference considering the minimal effort/time/tools it required

#2 end table one: before

(my camera can't decide on its color pallet)

#3 end table two: before

after :
3 steel wool pads, about 2 hours and 1 very dirty wipe cloth later i have 3 greatly improved pieces of furniture! now i just have to email the photos to the nice fella who sold them to me so cheap off of craigslist- thanks michael!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

zipper rants

oooh fun- a customer is eyeing the pillows i just made for my day job- very satisfying, if not particularly lucrative, sigh. on the upside, after spending 4 years in school staunchly anti-zipper (working at mission thrift for years disillusioned me -so many garments rendered useless by a shapely booty busting a zipper and tearing a seam - the only upside being that i then got to go home with great fabric to re purpose- and that broken zipper chucked in the garbage to go take up space in a landfill somewhere with god-knows how many chemicals leeching out into the soil- pthalates anyone? i mean really, as cute as gay seagulls are i think the adoption/insemination options for queer birds are as under evolved and limited as some of our equally un evolved states (ehem, you know who you are and we're not going to put up with it much longer thank you very much)- but i digress- my point is, sewing pillows for not very much money but a good cause (my boss' are gems and on a budget) i get practice on my self imposed, rusty zipper application skills and a brief rest bit from trying to figure out how to make a a reversible closure out of thread scraps and force of will;) now if only i can get down the sewing time to under an hour, consistently- damn zippers! perhaps i will try and sell my boss on the classic and classy back placket closure and explain to him that its for the good of all the little gay birdies out their who cant adopt but can look forward to generations of androgenital mutations...

cohabitating tastes

needing to channel the seemingly endless downtime (read: compulsive internet surfing) afforded me by my wonderful job- though sadly i'm only at this one 2 days a week- but really, i need to cut down my time spent researching obscure things on the world wide interweb. e.g. last week i spent 8 hours trying to identify 2 monstrously large plants my honey and i bought at an estate sale. true, i was successful- go me- but honestly, 8 hours?! too much - though i now know, or at least am convinced, that i have a queen of night cactus tree thingy and a angel winged, cane begonia (who knew that begonias could grow 12+ feet tall!) . anyway moving into our little house 2 months ago has inspired more projects than i can handle, let alone know how to do, but again, that is the beauty of the internet! after waaaaay to many hours researching "how-to's" i have rewired 3 old, broken lamps i picked up at the alameny flea market, reinforced the joints on a bunch of old, wobbly picture frames and cleaned up the rest, with plans to refinish some of them on the burner. i hung them up clean, but mostly empty just to get them out of the way (or so i told c. who, "thinks empty picture frames look weird") but i like them! and they only look a little odd hanging out all empty with their "weird selves". i haven't strung wire on the backs or taken off the joint ties- i will get around to making them hang straight and look a bit neater but in the meantime i think i've got a convert and the empty frames can stay.... i just need to refinish the lane end and coffee tables i got off craigslist - must say that there is some comfort in pre-restored pieces for i know once i put all the effort into fixing them up i will be afraid of messing them up. but, having logged at least 20 hours researching how to restore mid century furniture and 10 more trying to identify the wood used and the year the pieces were made i have to fix them to assuage my guilt for being a "how-to" internet junkie. (for those who were curious, lane furniture, when it was made in alta vista, virginia date their pieces via the serial number but they put all the information in backwards e.g. serial #569001 means that the piece was made on 10/09/1965 -i may be flubbing this a bit but you get the idea).
anyway, its amazing how much more cohesive our motley assortment of living room furniture now looks with 2 matching end tables and a complimentary coffee table to anchor them- then i made some pillow covers in the main living room colors to help blend them all together (green couch + red couch + turquoise chair + purple curtains = coordinating headache) putting up some of my yarn cones above the windows also seems to help with the color balance and certainly with freeing up some space in my studio.

so next up is a carpet/rug- they are soo expensive! and so many of them are downright ugly. i have a modular carpet i made out of old upholstery swatches that i'm quite partial too, naturally, but it got vetoed for being "too busy". i assumed that when we moved in together decorating would be easy and fun because we have similar taste- turns out that similar taste is not quite the same thing as sharing a brain and that my cluttered/everything cozied or upholstered aesthetic is not shared by c. sigh.
so the modular carpet has been disassembled and stowed in the closet and i'm now experimenting with making a rug runner our of burlap and my scrap wool yarns that i don't know what to do with - it's coming along okay- still trying to decide if i want to leave it just woven through on the weft threads or i want to do it warp-wise as well- and then of course, to felt, or not to felt! but i am days away from such tough choices (though if i continue to find working links to watch house online my progress will surley be speeded)