Epic Sharpie Fail

Well heeeeey there!  Its been a while, I know! I kinda fell off the blogging horse and have been having a tough time getting back up.  I wish I had a fantastic story, excuse or mid-life crisis to explain my absence but I don't.   Just life, work, kids... same old-same old...
I've been posting on Insta because its a quick fix, but I miss you guys and it's just not quite the same.
Anyway, I have tons to share with you guys, so let's just jump right in.  I feel like an epic fail is a great way to start because I don't want any of you making this mistake.

So back in the end of the summer I was working on the boys bathroom, contemplating wallpaper choices when one day I got a wild hair and went at the walls with a navy blue Sharpie. 
Dots........................... an endless sea of dots.  
It took all day, but I didn't care. 
I was full of the "manic idea crazies" and it was going to be great! 

And fun!

That was until I learned a horrifying fact.
Sharpies BLEED, like "cut you" bleed.
 And cry tears of sadness.
 I had no idea. 
I've never used them in a bathroom.
It turns out they don't like moisture and steam.
I should have used a paint pen.
So now ya know. 
And I'm off to the drawing board again with this room.

Be back soon, I mean it.

How To: Upgrade a Bookcase with Crown Molding

I've been busy getting my office pulled together!  Please join me over at True Value for an easy DIY tutorial showing how to add molding to basic bookshelves to create a more custom built-in look (and a peek at how things are shaping up).  Have a great weekend!

How to use a Paint Sprayer on Furniture

It's no secret that I can't resist painting something.  Whether it's reinventing a piece of furniture I already have or breathing new life into a found object, I just have to paint it!  We are currently in the midst of the boy's bathroom renovation and I found a vanity that fit perfectly in the small space and had the look I wanted.  It came pre-painted in a soft grey, which was actually very nice, but I wanted to go bolder and had already envisioned a soft navy blue for the vanity and woodwork. 

For small jobs a can of spray paint or a brush usually works just fine, but for this one I am breaking out the big guns... the paint sprayer.  The vanity had a lot of bead-board and recessed nooks that are hard to get into with a brush and are magnets for paint drips.  The reason I love this tool is that you can paint very evenly and it gives you a smooth professional finish.   Unlike regular spray paint, which has a strong odor and limited color selection, you can use a water based latex paint in any color available and even paint indoors.  

Let me give you a little background on the paint sprayer I'm using.  I recently upgraded my paint sprayer to the Wagner Flexio 590 from my old Wagner Flexio 570.  Both work great and are very similar and easy to clean.  You can paint everything from furniture to wall and ceilings (no compressor needed), but the 590 has an additional Detail Finish Nozzle for small areas and an improved X-Boost Power Dial that gives you 8 power settings as opposed to the 570's low or high setting.   If you already own a 570 and it's in good working order you can also buy the Detail Finish Nozzle separately and use it with it.  This was a big deal for me because I have had problems in the past with the 570 when I was painting a smaller piece with a lot of raised detail.  I tended to get too much paint in those areas and things got drippy looking fast no matter how much I fidgeted with its settings.  I had much more control with the Detail Finish Nozzle.

Before you get started you will need to prep your piece just like you would for any other paint job.  
-Lay out a drop cloth and protect any nearby surfaces from overspray.  The spray gun does give off a fine mist so be sure to cover floors and wear a mask.  

-Lightly sand and clean the surface to be painted.  Wipe off any dust with a tack cloth. 

-Remove any hardware or cover with tape.  
This is a little trick I use to stay organized when I have to remove screws and hardware… an old ice cube tray.  The compartments let me sort by cabinet or drawer.

Once your piece is taken apart, clean and lightly sanded you are ready to go!
It is now time to fill your paint gun.  I used Easy Care Ultra Premium in the color "Gage-B306".  This paint has a primer built in so it saved me a step and covered like a dream.  I filled my reservoir about halfway.  Just a little note here... if you are using the Detailed Finish Nozzle be sure to thin your paint with a little water.  They don't recommend latex paints or primer because they are heavier, but I found  by thinning it with just an ounce of water it worked just fine.
Be sure to familiarize your self with your spray gun.  With the Wagner Flexio 570 or 590 there are three main controls you need to know.  
-The Power Dial controls how much force is used to expel the paint.  The heavier the paint, the more power/ higher setting you'll need.  For thinner coatings like stains or lacers you will want it on a lower setting.
-The Material Flow Control allows you to adjust how much material is coming out.  You will need to practice first to get familiar with how thick you want your coating to be.  Too little and it barely coats, too much and it's thick and drippy.
-Finally, the Adjustment Ring located around the nozzle will control the direction and width of your paint. It offers a width horizontal swath for painting up and down motions and a vertical swath for painting in a side to side motion.  The Detail Finish Nozzle offers a narrower focused swath for doing circular motions or diagonals. 

Now it's time to test out the gun.  I used an old piece of plywood I had laying around to practice on.  I played around with the power and material flow controls until I had just the right amount I needed coming out.

If you find you are getting too much overspray or “spitting” make sure the black ring near your adjustment ring is tight.  Practice moving your arm back and forth keeping the gun the same distance from the surface to ensure an even coat.  Once you feel comfortable you can start on your piece. 
Since I had a lot of raised areas and detail I gave the entire piece one coat going in an up and down motion.  Once that dried I gave it a second coat in a side to side motion to fill any recessed areas I missed.  This of course was AFTER my impatient side won out and I attempted to do TWO coats at once.  The right side of my vanity ended up with a mess like this, TOO MUCH PAINT!
I would love to say I did this on purpose to show you how to fix a common mistake, but the truth is I’m just a little spastic and I thought I could actually pull two coats off.  To fix this get a clean brush and wipe off your excess.  Feather and brush the area out.  LET DRY!  If the brush strokes bother you, lightly sand.  Now get back to spraying and don’t attempt that again!

Once your piece has the coverage you desire you are finished!  
Clean up was a breeze.  I simply poured the remaining paint back into the can and rinsed out the reservoir.  I then filled the reservoir with water and ran it through the sprayer until it came out clean.  I rinsed the nozzle and uptake tube clean and I was done.  

Once all was dry I reassembled the door and drawers.  Here is the vanity after two coats…

and now placed in its new home.  I absolutely love the new color and how much it changed the look of this piece.  Now I just need to commit to a wallpaper and this bathroom is almost done!

 I was one of the bloggers selected by True Value to work on the DIY Squad. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program as well as writing about my experience. I have also been compensated for the materials needed for my DIY project. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.

Getting the Yard Summer Ready

Please join me over at True Value where I will be talking about getting your yard ready for summer.

This winter was extra tough on my yard!  
It actually motivated me to check a bunch of projects off my list, like expanding my garden beds and FINALLY adding cobble stone edging to my patio.  Hop over here to see how it turned out!

Part 2: Starburst Tube Sculpture "not reals"

So yesterday I made a tubular brass sculpture using real brass.  It's not for the faint of heart... you need a soldering iron which can run you between 20-30 bucks, as well as a few other supplies.  Not to mention the soldering part is hard and gets freaking hot hot hot!  Its great if you want the "real deal" on a budget or want to make a light fixture of something that needs to be very durable.

Today I made the same sculpture using drinking straws, some super glue and gold spray paint.
Quick, painless and cheap.  

Here is a look at Round 2.
I have yesterday's real brass sculpture on the left and the new drinking straw version on the right...
 Not bad, I just wish I had a brighter gold spray paint.  The one I had kicking around is a bit on teh brown side. 
 So here is how I did this one.  
Gather supplies.
-A dozen paper drinking straws.  Smoother thicker plastic ones would be the best, but I was using what I had.  I found a link for rigid plastic tubing you can buy by the foot in several different diameters here.  Much cheaper than buying rigid drinking straws suprisingly!
-Super glue/ glue of your choice.
 Start by gluing (2) groups of 3 straws together to create "A" shapes...
 Once dry (about 3 minutes- patience is needed or else your fingers are gonna stick together) glue the 2 "A" shapes together forming a teepee.  Add straws one by one to complete your sculpture.
It feels a bit like Pick-Up sticks...
 I actually really liked it striped.  I thought it would make great centerpiece or table toppers, even hanging decorations for parties...
 Here it is in front of my new painting from Jenny...
 and here it is after one coat of gold spray paint...

and an up close...
you can see the paper straw lines, but if its going up on a shelf it would be fine.
This is why smooth thick plastic tubing is the ticket if you are painting it.
and one more side by side.
Super easy and super cheap.
Thats all for now folks!

Brass Starburst Sculpture "for reals"

 I say "for reals" because I have only made these out of wooden skewers, not actual brass before.
(see sculpture here and light fixture here)
I decided to go for the real thing for this one...
 I have a client that saw this and loved it, but not the $$$$ attached to it...
Having welded my kitchen lights this winter with my Dad's help I felt ready for the challenge.  
I also took jewelry design in art school and inhaled my fair share of lead making stained glass so I thought "no big deal"... its actually quite a big deal.  This is a level 7 on a scale of 1-10 for difficultly.  
*If you don't have a soldering gun or trust yourself near high heat, spray some drinking straws gold and then glue them together. See tutorial for that here*  

So, I picked up some 36" long 3/8" brass tubing at my local True Value Hardware store, a soldering iron, solder-without lead cause that is BAD for the brain, and a mini tubing cutter...
 These tubes also came in 12" lengths, which is what I will be using for my client, but I wanted to make a smaller "sister" burst to go with it/ practice on.
I marked the 36" tubes at 9" intervals..
  Then I used a great little contraption called a mini tubing cutter.  Best tool I tell you!  All you do is put your tube in and tighten the clamp.  Next twist the tube once and tighten the clamp again.  Repeat until the tube cuts in half.  Its like magic!
 It took me 3 twists/ tightens to make this happen...
 They are so smooth I'd drink from them if 
I wasn't such a "don't know where that tube has been" type!
 I made (12) 9" pieces from (3) 36" tubes...
 Now for the hard part... soldering.
I used a piece of leftover ceramic tile with a layer of aluminum foil for my work area 
since this gets VERY (900 degrees) HOT!
Gather your soldering iron, solder and some fine steel wool.
 You will need to rub the tubes down with the steel wool to make sure they are clean.
Very important!  If there is any coating on the brass the solder will not stick and it will just break off.
 I recommend having three arms for the next step if you are new to soldering, so grab a friend.
Here's the deal... you need to hold the soldering iron to the metal areas you want to solder until they reach a temperature that will melt the solder.  It gets tricky because the tubes natural want to roll, so I used masking tape to hold the end in place that was farthest away from the heat source.
I used a solder with a rosin flux core (this helps it spread easier and bonds the metals together).  If you use basic solder be sure to treat the area with flux separately.
 I touched the solder to the brass until it melted and then I quickly lifted the soldering iron.  This takes a lot of practice!!!!  Next, let the solder cool before handling.
Please note my messy soldering marks... rookie.
 I kept adding tubes and using tape to hold ends in place since I didn't have a third arm or a buddy...
 It's my first attempt so it's quite obvious...
 I used my Krylon Paint Pen to cover up the majority of silver solder marks...
Here is the breakdown on cost...
The actual tubing cost less than $18:
(3) 36" brass tubes @ $5.99 each
This is the "tools" cost, so if you own any of this you are ahead of the game...
Tubing Cutter $9.49
3 oz. Solder $11.99
Soldering Iron $31.99
About $50.  Gets pricey, but just think of all the cool stuff you can now make!
Now I am off to practice some more and make one for my client.
I'll keep you posted!

One Pot Painted Three Ways

I can play this game all day!
I've been staring at a couple of metal cachepots that have been sitting on my kitchen window sill for the past year and thought "these little buggers would be so easy to zhush up"- but then the phone would ring, or someone needed a snack or I'd see a squirrel and then I'd forget about them...
SO today, in the midst of a big deadline, I decide NOW was the time to bedazzle those babies. Procrastination gets shit done that doesn't really need to be done- am I right?
This took me an hour to do, and I have about 50 more ideas on how to paint this little pots, but for now I'll show you three.  It just takes a little paint, a steady hand and your imagination.

There's a style for everyone here-
 traditional chinoiserie, clean and simple modern lines and the eclectic/funky "evil eye". 

 Here are some tips...
-don't try this after drinking 2 cups of coffee- shaky hands, disaster!
-If using spray paint let your base coat color dry completely before doing your top pattern, otherwise the Sharpies and paint pens will get gooey/smudgy.  Learned this the hard way. 
 Use acrylics to avoid the wait.
-I used a white chalk marker (this one) because it was very smooth and fluid for drawing the chinoiserie scene.  It also will wash off with a wet rag if you make mistakes, so be sure to seal it with and polyurethane when you're finished.
-Sharpies work great for fine detail, just be sure to use an acrylic polyurethane on top, since some oil-based ones will make Sharpies bleed.
-Krylon Gold Paint pen does it again!  Easy peasy for lining the rims and coloring in the feet.
-I used a ruler to draw in the lines on my mint green pot, and then free hand traced to beef them up a bit.
-For the eyes, draw in the whites first with a chalk marker or acrylic paint.  Add colored irises with paint, and then line, lash and dot with a black Sharpie.
 The change up is fast and easy to do, and they'd make great little gifts.
What's your favorite?

p.s. -I found my pots at a local floral supply shop last summer, but I've seen these ingarden centers too.

yard stuff

Sticking my head outside for a moment...
I love this idea for quick and easy garden beds/planters using pallets:

And I really dig this idea of adding stones to my garden beds.
a) It looks cool.
b) Less weeding


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