Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

November 26, 2014

Shop Update and Spider News

The Etsy shop I run with my Mom and Grandma has been chugging along, and I'm so thrilled that we made some great sales in our first month of being open again:


Some of my favorites were out the door first!  Every time I packaged something up I thought, "maybe I should have kept this?"  Our spendy new furnace has made it much easier to part with treasures, though...

In addition to the shop, I've held two Instagram sales.  For the first sale, a vintage hodge podge with enteraining goodies, I listed about 25 things and sold 10.  For the second sale, I listed just over 30 items (mostly Pyrex, some Fire King and Hazel Atlas) and sold nearly everything.  The women at the post office fought over who had to help me with my truckload of packages (1-2-3 not it!).  I've been so surprised by the underground economy of vintage selling/trading on Instagram - it's like the Wild Wild West over there.  It's nice, though, because you get to know sellers personally.  I've even bought/traded some vintage Pyrex that way.  But I do love Etsy.  I like being able to list lots of photos and pen supremely lengthy descriptions.  You might have guessed that I'm a bit chatty!  Plus, I downloaded the Etsy app onto my phone and I hear a little "Cha-CHING" when I sell something.

I recently added some new listings to the shop and thought I'd give you a peek.  I like to make jobs more difficult than they need to be, so I've continued to try to list items in colour groupings.  It looks so good that way that I can't stop.  Behold my reds and greens:


Those green anchor hocking tumblers gleam like emerald!  I love those, but I think the mint condition red polka dot Fire King grease jar is my favorite.  The vintage medical jars are really neat and I'd love to see them in a vintage-inspired bathroom.  The red and white coffee set has the word "coffee" written in a bunch of different language, from Finnish to Spanish, French and German.  And no winter is complete without a fondue pot ;) - I saved the most incredible fondue recipe as a sweet surprise for the purchaser.

I also added some vintage jewellery, including some rhinestone stunners, a sweet pair of 14k gold half moon studs, and a really striking pair of enamel earrings in mint, gold, and black.  Perfect for holiday parties.


Finally, some exciting news (get ready to pat me on the head!): I've added three listings, each with bunches of my handmade Christmas spiders.  See them here, here, and here

UPDATE: This listings above sold, but I've got three new listings, with five choices in each:
Click here for blues, greens, and purples
Click here for pinks and reds
Click here for gold and jewel hues

I've been meaning to list them on Etsy for years (I want to say 2011...), but I always sell out locally.  This year I started making them very early and set aside some for the shop.  I can't custom make them for Etsy buyers at this time, but for YOU folks I will happily make one in a certain colour(s), or snag one from my local inventory.  If you want one and don't see one that's perfect, just let me know (in the comments here, through Etsy convos, or feel free to email dans.le.townhouse@gmail.com) and I can send photos of more options. I can also use your zip or postal code to see if the shipping to you would be less expensive than the estimate - I offer this to anyone, for any listing.

Even if I don't sell a single one on Etsy (weep), I'm feeling really good because I've finally fulfilled a four year old goal.  I've been working on getting stuff done (as you might have gleaned).  No excuses, no more delays, and no distractions. 

Truthfully, it was a pleasure making extra spiders this year.  It was so relaxing to hunker down on cold days and just create - and not feel guilty about doing it (like I should be cleaning or doing laundry).  I also love a good excuse to binge watch Gilmore Girls (for the millionth time, but it's on Netflix now and who can resist?).  The process is kind of adorable.  I make the bodies first, so I have a big batch of these weird looking guys:



Then I bead the legs and they still look like little octopi until the legs gets formed and shaped into spider legs.


Hubby actually shapes most of them for me - he is eerily skilled at forming the legs.  Mine always look a little frightened and/or squashed, but his look so elegant.


I can't help myself, the photo below is just perfect for this: "get 'em before they're gone..."  


That's my shop update!! Take a peek at our Minden Shop here if you're curious.  Thanks so much for your encouragement and support.  I know some of you have even bought things, recently and over the years, and that's just so kind of you.  Thank you!  I never expect a purchase from readers, but it's really touching when I'm able to send a vintage treasure to someone I know here. 
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November 24, 2014

Going for Gold - How to Paint a Vintage Typewriter Table

I'm sharing a furniture makeover today, and it's NOT aqua!  In fact, it's not any of my safe and favored colours - it's gold.  Gold and I have a weird friendship.  I love to wear gold jewellery (my gold charm bracelet is a staple).  I have mooned over many a gold-filled DIY project.  An art exhibit featuring white plaster and gold had me totally mesmerized.  When I came back from my second visit to Hungay, I was totally obsessed.  But I just don't love gold in my house.  I've tried: my framed agates have a delicate edge of gold.  That's okay.  But remember when I had a cute vintage print framed in a pretty, brushed gold frame?  Well, that ended up at my Mom's place, where the frame will look great with her original 1950s antique brass hardware (she doesn't like the print, but I think a photograph from our travels will look great - maybe in black and white).  I was sad to see it go - especially because the frame wasn't cheap - but it was just too much gold for me!!  Even though I appreciate gold, and love seeing it in other homes, in my own home I love the coolness of brushed nickel.  It complements the watery palette that makes me happiest, and just feels refreshing.

With all that said, I wanted to try a little gold spray paint.  I can sense you sighing, "she's so stubborn".

I had thrifted this vintage metal typewriter table for $2.50 and decided it might look cute in the computer shop I've been slowly helping gussy up.  Two chairs in their waiting area + a fancy coffee maker necessitated a side table.  I don't know why, but I decided this would be my chance to try gold spray paint.  Here it is before (I had already popped the wheelie feet off):


I actually liked the patina, but it was bordering on shabby.  And the computer shop owner detests shabby (remember the cute antique chair that was vetoed?).   


I scrubbed the table with Mr. Clean, then rinsed it and let it dry.  I used a fine grit sandpaper and lightly sanded the entire surface and then wiped it down again.  I removed the wheels (they just pop off) and carefully wrapped them in painter's tape.


Then I got to spraying, using Rust-Oleum Universal Metallic in Pure Gold.  This Rust-Oleum spray paint bonds well with metal and has a built-in primer so painting the table was easy.  This was another spray painting job I tackled in my Father-in-law's spray painting booth.  I am so ecstatic about the potential for cold-weather spray painting!!  Paint ALL the things...

I flipped the table over and did the underside first.  I let it dry about half an hour and then gingerly flipped it back to spray paint the top and sides.  The spray in any direction nozzles are so fabulous - how did we spray paint without them?  Also, these new formulas dry fast - I love that.


I have been doing my best to be a patient spray-painter: applying super thin, sheer coats and waiting a few minutes in between.  When we were out at my in-laws', chopping wood and painting, we brought Szuka and added her to my father-in-law's existing three dogs (one of whom won't play nice with anyone, and two that do hang out but can't be let outside together).  I was on puppy-patrol and was kept pretty busy letting them out individually for pee breaks and breaking up fights.  Paint a little, let a dog out for a pee, paint another coat, try to find that dog and lure it back inside, spray on another thin coat, let out another dog.  It worked well for me!  Being distracted is great for spray painting projects because it keeps me from sitting there, with a twitchy spray painting finger, globbing on heavy coat coat after coat.

Once done, I let it cure for a few hours while we had dinner.  Hubby's Dad said the finish looked so perfect, it's like it came from the factory like that!  He said it didn't look spray painted, which is a high compliment from a woodworker who knows his finishes.  Hubby and his Dad actually both like the colour, which was surprising because it's gold, which I thought they'd deem to be too "feminine".  This gold is pretty - it's not glam and glitzy, it's a subtle gold with the tiniest amount of gleam.  I'm really pleased with how it turned out and I reluctantly delivered it to the computer shop last week, but not before I snapped a few photos.



The finished product is not as yellow-gold as the lid, and I suspect that's because it was applied to a green-ish colour to begin with.  Had I primed with white, I suspect the gold would have been truer. 



This winter I'll be recovering the computer store's counter with Rustoleum's counter top refinishing kit (I'm so curious and just have to try it out) and then maybe I'll show you the shop.

For now, you'll have to take my word that it's such a cute piece of furniture for an otherwise modern computer store.   These typewriter tables seem to be a dime a dozen.  If you stumble across one for cheap, you might one to give it a little makeover.  If not gold, then perhaps one of these gorgeous colours? 

Visual Heart, Our Secondhand House, Design Dining Diapers

Thanks to Rustoleum for providing the product for this project.  I've been really lucky to be able to work with a great brand (a longtime favorite), who gives me total freedom concerning what projects I tackle, what products I use, when (or if) I blog about them, and how I write my posts. 
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November 19, 2014

Salamander? Check. Also: How to Stop Gutters from Leaking

Hubby and I tend to drag our heels a bit when it comes to projects around the house that lack a certain panache.  But we are motivated by saving money, so when our municipality offered a free landfill day, well, that lit a fire under our bums to get some things done (normally a truckload is $25).  It started with cleaning out the garage and tidying up around the property so we could take the opportunity to throw out/recycle all of the debris, but once we were in the zone there was no stopping us.  We replaced/added about half a dozen motion lights (now a squirrel can't even cross our property without being lit up like an opera singer), and put up driveway markers in the hopes that this winter I won't ditch the truck (again).  We gleefully stashed the lawnmower, but sadly serviced the snowblower, plus I got a refresher course in operating it (I do 50% of the snow removal, yay).  We were busy bees!  Shortly before free dump day we realized that we had a bit of room left in the truck, so we decided to remove the busted stairs leading up to the garage.  Hubby had acccidentally put his foot through a rotten step in the summer - it was in terrible shape and totally pointless. 

He tackled Project Stair Removal while I was giving our headboard a refresh.  We allotted ourselves a half hour to complete our respective tasks.  While it took me closer to an hour to spray paint the headboard and nightstands, Hubby realized he could just flip up and remove the entire set of stairs in minutes, instead of taking it apart piece by piece as he had planned.


He spent the rest of his half hour examining the salamander he found:


Once the salamander was thoroughly examined, we tackled a few more projects - propelled by the victorious feeling that accompanies a problem-free project.  Our gutters had been leaking all summer, so I asked my friends at Rustoleum if I could try some Leak Seal:


I tried to demonstrate the leaking in a manner that didn't involve me standing outside in the pouring rain (I think Hubby longs for the pre-blog DIY days when we didn't have to document everything):  


Happily, the Leak Seal - a flexible rubber sealant - seemed to work perfectly and it took barely any time at all to seal up the cracks.  Eagle-eyed Hubby had been keeping tabs on the gutters during rainy days and already knew exactly which spots needed sealing.  Next spring we want to add gutter guards because they get filled with leaves and cleaning the gutters is a weekly job, but at least they're no longer holey.


We were on fire, right?  I even started doubling up on jobs.


While we were splitting and stacking firewood at my father-in-law's, I absconded into his awesome spray painting booth and knocked out a few fun projects (photos soon!).  I also tackled one boring one: our doorbell cover was beige and stood out against our white walls.  A blast of Rust-Oleum's Universal Paint + Primer solved that problem!  I obviously love that this paint is formulated for plastic


I really wish I had painted to doorbell cover in the townhouse.  It always bothered me but I just never got around to it, not because I didn't have the time, but because it seemed like a totally boring project and so I avoided it.  It truly was a boring project, and I doubt you even spotted the difference in my most recent hallway post compared to the original reveal, but every day I notice the difference.  I'm so happy I took the five minutes to paint it.

Now
Before
Our to-list is far from complete, and now that we've discovered that all 202 episodes of The X Files are on Netflix I suspect our productivity will decline, but I'm thrilled that we tackled so many projects this fall that normally get eclipsed by more fun and rewarding projects, like making frames for paintings and rub 'n buffing hardware

A huge thanks to Rust-Oleum for providing the Leak Seal and Universal Paint + Primer (and thereby also providing that extra dose of motivation to get stuff done!)
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November 17, 2014

How to Make a DIY Float Frame + Turn Your Photo into an Oil Painting

When I was approached by Artsheaven to choose a piece from their selection of oil painting reproductions, or have one of my own photos turned into a painting, my thoughts turned dark.  Part of me was really tempted to order a copy of some truly famous painting, then convince my wee niece and nephew that I was an art thief and had stolen the original, and what people were seeing in the Louvre was actually a copy.  I'd feed dinner guests who had imbibed a little too much the same tall tale.  In the end, though, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to have one of my favorite photos turned into a painting.  It took me all of five minutes to decide which photo (you might remember it from this post):

Budapest Hungary Photo

This photo from Hungary is one of my favorites!  It's a drugstore around the corner from the apartment I lived in while doing research in Budapest.  The building still has the original red lettering from when it had been a home decor store.  I frequented this particular drugstore often, for soap and toothpaste (and chocolate, I'm not going to lie), so the familiarity of it is comforting, but the real showstopper in the photo is the orange moped parked in front.  I love this photo and I knew that Hubby - with his lust for motorcycles (close enough) and penchant for orange - would appreciate this hanging on our walls (plus he spent some time in Budapest with me, and recognizes the place too!).   

I sent in the photo, but asked for these changes:
  • Remove the old dudes who were staring at me.
  • Make the aqua window trim more saturated - I didn't specify how much more vivid
  • Turn the little red car lime green.  This is an homage to my beloved Charlie (but I also thought the red competed with the orange moped).
Here is my photograph turned into an oil painting:

Get a favorite photo turned into an oil painting
How to turn a favorite photo into an oil painting

I didn't know what to expect and I was pleasantly surprised.  It turned out so beautifully!  I'm currently thinking about putting it in one of two very prominent spots in the lakehouse (which is a testament to how much I like it, because some of my favorites - like my framed agate slices - have yet to find a home).  Right now I like my new oil painting in the hallway:
Artsheaven product review
How to build a floating frame for art

It picks up some of the orange and green from my DIY triptych:

DIY art ideas
I hadn't even thought to ask how my new painting would be shipped and was a little disappointed when it arrived un-stretched.  It makes total sense, though, because it's a safe and cost-effective way to ship a painting.  However, even though I've stretched many of my own canvases for my DIY paintings, they've always been gessoed after.  I have always thought that stretching canvas that's already painted looks like a huge pain.  What if the paint cracks? What if I wreck the painting?  How do I get it taught enough when it's so stiff? We Googled and then dove right in.

Supplies: 

Here's how to stretch a canvas painting onto a canvas stretcher:

Hubby and I bought canvas stretcher bars from Michael's but because they were out of the size we needed, we bought a size larger and instead of clicking them together with the pre-cut slats, just cut the edges and made mitered corners.  In hindsight, because we could have customized the size, we should have made it a smidge smaller than the painting, which would have made stretching it a snap.  As it was, the task was a little tricky because there was very little wiggle room for getting the painting positioned evenly and squarely.  It took a few tries, and a lot of staple removal, but we eventually got it centred and it really wasn't as bad as I thought it would be - it's a lot like upholstering a chair seat!  The paint cracked a smidge on the corners but it's not seen from the front.  We were able to get it fairly taught, even without canvas pliers (which I really think would be handy).

Our hands were full so it was tricky to take photos, but there are a lot of great tutorials with step-by-step photos and diagrams.   I recommend this this wiki article about how to stretch a canvas for its really clear diagrams, but this article about stretching canvas also has a video if that's more helpful to you.

For the corners, we looked at various tutorials and found many different ways to do it.  In the end, this is what we were able to do, given the thickness and stiffness of the canvas:

How to stretch a painting

Here's the back when it's all finished:

How to stretch a canvas

It was hard to get the corners to be really smooth and flat, but for our first try I think they turned out okay.

Create neat corners when stretching canvas

Once the painting was stretched, a float frame was a snap.  A Beautiful Mess has an excellent post about how to build three different frame styles.

How to built a float frame for a painting:

I like the look of a float frame, so we picked up eight pieces of pre-planed wood from the molding section of Home Depot - they were .5" x 1.5".  All we did was glue them together into an L-shape:

DIY frame for art

We used a miter joint to be put them together, with wood glue and small finishing nails.  We used an air nailer, but the ABM tutorial shows how to do this with no power tools required.  The frame is ever so slightly bigger than the canvas - we left a 3/16 gap between the canvas and the inside of the frame.
  
Inexpensive framing ideas

Once assembled, I lightly sanded the edges and sanded the surface smooth before applying multiple light coats of Rust-Oleum Universal primer + paint, in Satin White.

How to spend less of framing art

After the paint was dry, we attached the frame to the canvas stretchers from the back, just screwing the back of the "L" to the canvas stretcher bars.  We used cardboard shims to make sure that it was centred in the frame while the frame was being attached to the painting.  The finished piece is hung with screw eyes and picture hanging wire.  This was a different approach than the last frame we made, and it seemed just as easy.  We could have painted/stained the back of the "L" to create some depth/interest but I liked the white on white look.  Plus, because the edges of the painting are white, the unpainted edges disappear in the white float frame.

The cost for the frame was about $20 and the stretchers cost roughly $25 (they could have been cheaper because the size we actually needed was less expensive).

Sentimental art gift ideas
Meaningful gift idea: painting from a treasured photo
One of a kind gift idea
Build an easy float frame for art
Save money of framing art

Szuka doesn't give a hoot and just wants me to stop fussing with this painting and go outside and play with her.

Frame art for less
How to turn your photo into an oil painting

Artsheaven provided this custom painting, but I was not otherwise compensated for this post or encouraged to provide a positive review.  Special thanks also to Rust-Oleum for providing the paint for this framing project.  And thank you, Szuka, for trying to get into every single picture.  You're a cutie and with photos of you included, I know I can just type total jibberish and no one will notice.

Komondor dog
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