Goal of the Day: Wall sign

I really do love doing projects. My husband informs me I don't know how to relax (and I'm pretty sure he's right...sort of, I don't know how to do nothing, but luckily I find all my craft projects incredibly relaxing) you'd think I would have an enormous amount of crafty items around my house, but surprisingly I don't keep many of them. Most head out to others as gifts (which is great because I don't have the room, or the money to provide store-bought gifts at most occasions- so it's a win-win for me).

So in a secretive plot we shall call...operation incredibly thoughtful gift I wish I had thought of...my older and wiser sister (who coincidentally reads this blog every now and then... hi!) decided she wanted to surprise my parents (who are currently without internet access- so I'm not spoiling it) with a beautiful photo wall with the words from their song in a sign. She had looked at several sources for window-cling like signs and other items, but I had offered to make it as we wanted it to be exactly the words to the song- Anne Murray's Could I have this Dance. We had also discussed colors and what my sister was hoping for. Here's the process I went through and the finished project (did this in about 2 hours total).
First, I bought a sign appropriate stretched canvas (24 x 8) and broke out the rubber cement. I drew with the rubber cement a few dandelion-like poofs to make it kind of fun. Once that dried I painted the entire canvas with a coat of plain water and used water color paints to wash the background in blues, greens and burgundy (though mostly the blues and greens as I thought they looked the best).  When that dried, I rubbed off the rubber cement which left the white poofs on the colorful background.

Next, using the magic of photoshop I selected a font (Edwardian Script always looks nice if you want a fancy sign) and scaled the words to the size I wanted them to be on the sign (yay using that Graphic Design degree away from work too). Then I printed it out, taped together the sheets to cover the area that would be the sign. This is the fun part and the secret part to get a really nice clean looking sign- using a piece of carbon paper (ironically I had been given a piece with a cashier's check the day before) I traced the majority of the type onto the canvas and then free-hand the rest that didn't show up so I would have nice straight lines. It's a bit tricky to see on there...so hopefully you get the idea.
Next I got out my deep brown acrylic paint (I want this to be permanent after all) and filled in the lines (I'm a lefty so I started at the right of the sign and worked my way to the left to be sure I didn't smudge any of the text as I went along- also a little trick I've learned from experience).
Once that was dry I took a picture and Voila! A lovely sign that could pass as store bought, but is much nicer because it can EXACTLY match your decor.

Goal of the Day: The yard sign!

  So, what's more fun than doing a projects for your own house? Doing them for someone else's! So, my parents have had a sign that has been in their front yard for years. It was a metal sign that had a bird bath and several birds perched on it and it had definitely seen some better days. I took it from their house back at Easter (I know that was a heck of a long time ago) and have spent some time here and there sanding off the rust, and fixing the metal to be one whole sign again and then I hit a wall. I didn't have any paints that worked on metal (and I knew I don't do many metal projects so...I wanted something that would work on other items too). Remember when I got really excited about the Martha Stewart new craft paints - this was why. So after the structural integrity of the sign was restored I primed it with the metal primer in the above mentioned Martha Stewart line. It went on nicely (a lot like Gesso (or a really thick acrylic if you haven't used Gesso), but did a great job covering all the metal work and sanding and previous paint to make a completely white 'canvas' to work on (see above picture). Then I set about painting the sign to be a fun little colorful display. (I wanted to add some little elements that would be entertaining for the grandkids (so I put in some fish (which I know would never survive in a bird bath without a water source...but hey, it looks cute), a snail, a monarch butterfly (mom's favorite) and a lady bug) then I did birds that are local to their house (and are colorful so that it would be entertaining to look at too). Check out the finished sign.

Cute right :)

To make it a bit more weather resistant I then sprayed it with two coats of the satin finish enamel spay (also from the Martha Stewart line. I really found the paint to work well, however a word of caution- because this paint works on all surfaces it is particularly unforgiving if you get it on anything. Turns out I had some wet paint on my hand when I sat on the couch and hit one of my new pillows. I got most of it out before it dried, but because it works on fabric...once it's dry. You've got a new color. Definitely put down the newspaper and wear painting togs with this stuff!


The extra long craft project- refinishing the cabinet and some applesauce too

I hope you didn't think I was gone again. Oh no, I've been busily doing the most recent project at my house, but wanted to save all info until I was done. I think I had mentioned sometime about how I work from home and watch my daughter full-time. I have been doing this since about 2 weeks after her birth (the working...the watching started pretty much immediately after) and it makes for a busy, yet fun day now that she is 14 months old! (Where did that time go!) It really is a win-win situation for me, but the one downside (or at least the one I notice) is I rarely leave the house/yard during the week. So, I have been in the same house and practically the same 4 rooms for 14 months. This has gotten a bit old and I got stir-crazy as my 30th birthday approached at the end of September.
Well, to deal with the crazies, I determined to update my house a bit. The big piece which I was really nervous about was this larger than life china cabinet.
[backstory: I liked the overall look of this cabinet at an estate sale across the street from my house 5 years ago and had commented to my husband on it was a nice piece -not intending to purchase it because of the price and the lack of need, so you can imagine my surprise when later than evening someone from the sale knocked on my door and asked if I would take it so they wouldn't have to haul it and offered it for the wonderful price of free! (can't beat that!) So, I gained a very functional piece of furniture. However, it was pretty beat up and not quite my favorite style, but it was free, so how could I complain.] Well, I had been reading one of my favorite blogs centsationalgirl and basically everything she does is inspiring so check her out (...as soon as you finish here of course :) ) so it got me thinking, why not update this piece of furniture to be more fun and fix all those dings, scratches and wear to make this less, just there and more me. So I finally got up the courage.
First I removed all the hardware that was removable (that was pretty much the hinges and I was able to remove the glass and copper lattice work from the doors (not a fan of lattice work personally), so that made painting a lot easier. The handles and other details on the drawers were attached very well and I don't hate them so I got out my handy artist brushes to get around those. Next was the fun part...removing the railing!
before railing....without railing, but with arch....without railing and arch!

This was done using a fun the Dremel Multimax tool. This took me about 2 minutes to take off the whole railing and spot sand the area below to make sure it was flush with the bottom. (If you don't own dremel tools I highly recommend all of them- I got the original dremel for a birthday present and this one last year when I needed to remove grout from the floor when we replaced a few tiles and it has saved me hours of work already). After that, I had decided I wanted to remove the arch at the top of the railing because I wanted to put the small stereo up there that used to be on the cabinet I just painted black. That took a bit more effort...there were screws to remove and then it had tongue and groove work, but I was able to break it and get it out. I then filled those holes with a portion of the tongue (after removing the small nails which were causing trouble) and some wood putty. I then drilled three holes in the back for cords to go through. 1 in the back of the top shelf, one in the back of the bottom shelf and one down by the buffet area for cords should I want to put fondue sets or a lamp or something to prevent having to drill later (I made all holes in hidden spots so they aren't really noticeable as well).
boiled down apples
a few jars of the good stuff.
Next we primed...this was hard to do because we were pretty certain once we did it we couldn't go back. I actually did the painting right there in the sitting room while my daughter napped or was in bed for the night so we wouldn't have to try to carry this beast, but that made the project go slowly because we had to paint for an hour and then let it dry enough so she wouldn't get covered in paint when she was up (at least on the bottom portion (she can't reach the top)). And of course, all paint and primer had to dry enough for the next coat to go on well.
So while I waited, I made applesauce from a recent trip to an orchard. I had 1 peck of apples consisting (mostly Jonathons, empires and galas), which I peeled, cut up and cooked down with cinnamon and (shhh my secret ingredient) nutmeg with no added sugar, then I mashed with a potato masher and called it done. They made 6.5 pints of applesauce, so I got it into jars and put it in the freezer for safekeeping. Delicious!
Well, back to the cabinet I guess ;) I did only one coat of paint because I had had the store do tinted primer for me (this prevented bright white primer from showing through in spots that appeared more rustic), but I determined I loved the way it looked after just that first coat. So it went from plain brown to a fun green (remember my front door color...Mother Nature...well I used it here too because it matches the room).
So now I have a lovely cabinet...or at least one I can love for another 14 months or so!