Tuesday, February 26, 2013

DIY State Typography Art

With my new chest in the entryway, and my New Year's Resolution to finally get my house the way I want it one room at a time (that counts as self improvement, right?), I need some wall art.  And being the sentimental sap I tend to be, I wanted something personal.

I was quite in love with these fabulous city sign panels from Z Gallerie.  But I've never lived in either Seattle or New Orleans (sadly).  I thought, wouldn't it be cool if I could do one for my home state, Virginia, and my husband's home state, Alabama?  I formed a plan to feature names of places and things that were truly indicative of each state but also some of the sites and things that have meant the most to us.

Armed with two wooden plaques, the amazing CitraSolv, laser jet print outs of my designs (we'll get more in depth on that in a minute), gold paint and some Tim Holtz distressing stain, I made it happen.  Read on for the step-by-step and the "whoops, that wasn't supposed to happen" lessons.

In order to make your own, here's the formula I used for each of the lines.  If you notice, each line on the Virginia sign correlates to each line on the Alabama sign.  Plus, I wanted a good mix of places, things, and sayings.

     1.  Line from a state song.  We've all got them and I would LOVE to see one from Oklahoma say "The Wind Comes Sweeping"
     2.  A neighborhood in the capital city.  I didn't specifically want the name of the city...too easy!
     3.  A landmark/place that meant a lot to us as kids and makes us think of good times with our families.
     4.  An iconic or landmark building.  Something that's a "must tour" when you visit or have visitors.
     5.  An iconic structure that is not a building.  Think statue, bridge, monument, etc.
     6.  An iconic roadway.
     7.  A good weather travel destination.  I think because both states have access to the ocean, this was           easy.  Not every state has a beach, so think of some place you would want to visit when the weather is pretty.
     8.  A body of water.
     9.  FOOD!  This was my favorite, especially because it mixed up the endless listing of places.
     10.  State flower or bird.  In my case, I chose one of each.
     11.  A state saying or tourism slogan.  Think "Don't Mess", "Show Me", "Fahgettaboutit" (someone please do a "Fahgettaboutit" and send me a picture!)
     12.  The state.

Type it up all nice-like in a program of your choice.  I used pages on my mac, but you could use publisher on a PC.  Basically, I made a text box and used one font, all capitals.  The lines all had a different amount of letters, so I played with the size until it took up the whole text box.  Hence Dexter Ave. Baptist Church is tiny and The Fan is HUGE.

Mirror the lettering and print out on a laser jet printer.  An ink jet will not work with the CitraSolv method of image transfer.  If you haven't read that post or know about that method of image transfer, take a look at that post and get the general idea.  I'll go over it again below, but this tutorial has more in depth instructions.

Alright, time to prep your surface.  I picked Folk Art craft paint in antique gold.  I wanted it to have a little bit of a sheen, but not be overly metallic.  Paint your surfaces with a foam brush.

What I learned about the CitraSolv image transfer onto painted surfaces:  it doesn't work so great if you soak the paper and rub really hard.  This will be what you get:

Yeah, so I had to repaint that one and start over.  If this happens and you want to start over, stay calm.  Just really soak another cotton pad in CitraSolv quickly and wipe down the entire surface to take off the lettering.  It won't completely come clean, but it will make it a heck of a lot easier to paint over.

Here's what DID work.  I took some sandpaper to the painted plaque.  I roughed it up on the edges and in the center where the transfer was going to go.  That seemed to create a surface the ink could stick to a bit better.  Lay, ink side down, your paper and tape into place so it won't shift around and LIGHTLY soak a cotton pad in the CitraSolv.  Spread it over, patiently, the surface of your paper until all the words show through.  This make take two or three passes with the lightly soaked cotton pad...don't get impatient.  Do not push too hard or get it too wet....the ink will go everywhere like above.  Just do it lightly.  It should look like this:

Now, when you CitraSolv transfer onto fabric, you have to burnish the bejesus out of the wet paper with the back of a spoon to get the ink to transfer from the paper to your fabric.  On this, because a painted surface isn't as absorbent and forgiving as fabric, you need to go easy.  I actually ended up using my finger and just lightly rubbing each of the letters.  That kept the ink from bleeding everywhere and gave the finished product a nice, weathered look.  Before you go ripping off the paper, gently peak under one end to make sure you got all the letters.  If not, lay it back down and go over the missed spots again.

Not it's time for stain!  I used Tim Holtz Distressing Stain in Weathered Wood.  Working on a small section at a time and with a wet cotton pad on hand (wet with water), I spread a little of it on and then wiped it down.  The stain stuck to the edges and imperfections of the plaque nicely, while not messing with the lettering.  COOL!

I'm really pleased with the finished product.  My entryway is starting to come together!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

DIY Gilded Animal Place Card Holders

After making my latest knock of Anthro lamp, I've been looking for more uses for the FABULOUS new Krylon Gold Leafing Pen.  And since I'm on a kick to get my house in order and finally finish all those little decor projects I've been dreaming up, it was time to tackle one I've had on my brain forever.

To fancy up a table, I LOVE a good place card and am forever looking for cute holders.  But they're more on the pricey side... and I definitely wanted something quirky and fun.  I was particularly inspired by these little bunnies from Williams Sonoma.

Enter my fav, the Lobby O' Hobby.  I could spend hours in there with an iced latte, just wandering and coming up with ridiculous ideas.  And this time, I definitely did that.  In the actually hobby aisle with all the stuff you need for model trains and what not, I found a great selection of plastic animals.  And there is a sleeve of these bad boys for every occasion.  Jungle, desert, sea creatures, dogs, horses, etc.  I fell a little in love with the farm animals.  You get 12 different figures for $8.99.  But with your coupon, it's 40% off.

The next part gets a little sick.  Using my dremel and a diamond cutting wheel, I made a slice in the back of each little animal.  OUCH!  I did apologize and explain to each of them that I would be quick and that they were meant for a higher purpose.  Have a small piece of cardstock handy to test out the depth of your cut.

Wear eye protection as little pieces of plastic schumtz will go everywhere.  Also, if you notice, there's a little schmutz on the corner of each slit.  Let it cool for a few minutes as all that spinning from the dremel wheel is hot.  You can pick them off with your fingers as you can see below.

With schmutz:

Without schmutz:

Now that you've done the cutting, it's time for the fun part!  Get out your totally awesome Krylon Leafing Pen in your color of choice and just like a paint pen, cover the cute little animal.  It will need a few minutes to dry, so I found it best to do half of the animal at a time so your fingers don't take off any of the paint.

Now, in the cutting process, some of the animals did get nicked.  But don't worry as the pen is going to make these so awesome, you won't even notice.

Hen with nicked tail:

Hen with nicked tail covered in shiny, distracting gold leaf:

After I painted them, I went back and made sure I had all the spots covered.  How cute!  I can't wait to set my table.

I love it!  I can't wait to put the whole set together.  Now what else can I use that pen for?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Adventures in Thrifting: Dresser Refinishing 101

While I love to do tutorials, I also like to share.  And I HAVE to tell you...if you want to know how to refinish old furniture perfectly and all the tips, tricks, and tools you need, visit Centsational Girl and read this post!

I had my doubts that I could bring this back to life.  I mean, look at that huge gash and the top is some seriously shiny laminate.

So I handed Centsational Girl's post over to my husband and we followed it to the letter.  And the result couldn't be more amazing.

So I'll give it to you again in case you aren't convinced.  I don't feel like there was anything missing to add...just follow her excellent instructions.  To refinish beat up old furniture, FOLLOW THESE DIRECTIONS ON THIS BLOG.  Amazing.

The new knobs are from Hobby Lobby...they're always 50% off so don't buy them anywhere else.  The paint color is Behr Garden Wall.

An extra special thanks to my husband who is a true perfectionist and really, really good at a lot of things even though he doesn't always believe he is.  And I wouldn't have him any other way.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Cute and Simple Fabric Cocktail Napkin Tutorial

I've seen a few tutorials on Pinterest for cocktail napkins and I just had to try some of my own.  While I love the clever paper ones you can find everywhere, I also like the idea of a reusable set just for entertaining.  And with the sweet fabric I found, I had to try!

My favorite method is illustrated really beautifully here on LoLo Craft.  But I knew I wanted to make mine fold like paper cocktail napkins.  So instead of the 6" squares of fabric which will result in no fold napkins, I made mine with 12" inch squares, so they fold into quarters.

Choose 100% cotton fabric.  As these are practical items, 100% cotton will ensure they'll absorb.  I chose muslin for the backing (so cheap!) and my super adorable puggy chair high quality quilting fabric for the front.  You could easily use the same fabric for back and front, but I thought having the option of a plain side might make them more versatile.

And because they will get dirty and need to be washed, you have to pre treat the fabric.  Machine wash with hot water and dry in the dryer on regular heat.  Shrink the holy hell out of it so you don't end up with wonky napkins after you've sewn them.  I find that the napkins I purchased from the store shrunk up on me and man, I am annoyed every time I have to iron them!

Each napkin consists of two 12" squares.  One for the front and one for the back.  If you need a good pattern to cut your squares, a piece of scrapbook paper will be the perfect size.  And as I wanted to see what pattern was going to come through on the front, I used a piece of velum scrapbook paper.  I would say that something with lines would be great to ensure those squares are perfect....I, not being the most exact of sewing enthusiasts, did the best I could

With right sides together, stitch the napkin around the outside edge leaving a hole for turning.  I used a .5" seam allowance which worked perfectly.  Clip the corners.

Time to iron!  Before flipping the napkin right side out, I ironed out the seam to help when the napkin was flipped right side out.  This seemed to make a big difference in getting that square shape just right.

Flip fabric to the right side and pay particular attention to the corners.  Iron down to set the sides.

Now it's time to top stitch!  I did one really close to the edge to make sure the hole that I left for turning was covered.  Then I did a second, closer in for a decorative touch.  I am in LOVE and will definitely be making more.

And how cute for a hostess or housewarming gift?  Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go get lost on fabric.com coming up with possibilities for these!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Reclaiming Vintage Silver Plate - A Scientific Explanation from a Hopeless Romantic

It's Valentine's Day!  And as such, a love story is in order.

But first, the background...I LOVE vintage.  I especially love the idea of a collection of mismatched vintage flatware  (Pottery Barn and Anthropologie are also loving this trend).  I specifically want my set for entertaining and therefore am looking for a lot of pieces.  The biggest issue?  Silver plate and silver gets gross.  I feel like we live in a society of people who tend to not want to put too much work into something that they can buy a new version of for not much more money.  And vintage silver plate, especially vintage silver plate mismatched sets are not too tricky to find.  A lot of people find lots and don't bother cleaning them up.  You can find them easily on Etsy or Ebay listed as "craft" lots.

So what's a budget conscious gal to do?  Silver polish is full of chemicals and it's also not so good for your silver.  And wow...I'm looking at HOURS of polishing.

Here's the love story.  When silver tarnishes the tarnish is called silver sulfide.  Silver sulfide is dark, mysterious, and not a good fit for the shine and shimmer of polished silver.  Silver and silver sulfide are just not the best match.  And that doesn't make anyone happy, does it?

But silver sulfide doesn't just have eyes for silver.  It's attracted to a lot of different metals and some metals it is uber attracted to.  One such metal is aluminum.  It loves aluminum like a fat kid loves soft serve on a hot day in July.  But how to get them together?  Well, it's time to play matchmaker.

Think of it as a dream date.  Only the perfect situation, timing, and ingredients can create the kind of magic needed to ignite that special spark.  Get a pan, and line it with aluminum foil, shiny side up.  Then place your silver sulfide ridden pieces in the pan.  Coat with baking soda.

Next, boil a kettle of water.  You're going to need enough to completely submerge your pieces and it has to be flipping hot.  Some of my other attempts with cooler water didn't work.  This dream date has to be HOT for that magic to happen.

Pour the boiling water into the pan and completely cover all your pieces.  You'll smell a faint Rotorua like smell and you will instantly see the baking soda react and fizzle.  Sounds like a million little cartoon hearts popping in the air.....ah, sweet mystery of love.

You will also IMMEDIATELY see a difference in your pieces.  But don't get too excited.  True love can't be rushed.  Cover your pan with another piece of foil, shiny side down and walk away.  Give the silver sulfide and the aluminum some time to get to know one another.  Some time to form a real connection.  Some time to truly be attracted to one another.

Do not disturb.

I left the pan for about 20 minutes.  I could still hear a little bit of fizzle, but not like before.  Things had cooled off a bit.  However, be CAREFUL.  You're dealing with still pretty hot water (aluminium really knows how to keep things steamy!) and metal that has been submerged in hot water.  So take off the covering and dump the water.  Then rinse your pieces with cooler water so they can be handled.  Dry with a soft cloth.

The result is AMAZING.  I cannot believe how fabulous these pieces look.

And check out the before and after on this butter dish.  I couldn't pass up such a unique piece and without knowing if I could clean it up, I splurged on the $15 investment.  I can't believe how fantastic it looks.  So cute!

If you want more details on this chemical romance, here is an amazing source that really gives a detailed scientific explanation of the love story of silver sulfide and aluminium.

And just in case you need a little side by side, step by step, play by play:

As for these two crazy kids....there's no stopping them.  What they have, well, it's chemical....

I would like to dedicate this blog post to my eldest and dearest sister...who is a scientist and one of the most brilliant people I know.  More than anything, I want her to walk around and explain to people, like me, why things work the way they do.  And then, a la Marshall Erickson, shout "BOOM!  SCIENCED!" and walk away.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Anthropologie Gilded Lamp Knock Off with Faux Paper Mache Technique

New year, new projects.  I'm on a kick to finally get every room in my house just the way I would like it and that means new projects!

Oh Anthropologie....how I love thee.  But a $700 lamp will never be in my budget and as I've stated before, if I'm going to spend Anthro cash on a lamp, it better come with a house elf to turn it on and off.

So my latest love, the Gilded Propagation Lamp is gorgeous.  But I thought there was a chance I could replicate on my own.

I started with a simple lamp from Target.  I had a hard time finding a lamp with that cool footed look, but I do like how mine turned out.  Gather the following:

-Stick lamp of some kind
-Faux leaf and berry stems
-Crete paper
-Modge podge
-Hot glue gun
-Paint Brushes
-Acrylic Paint....I used Plaid Folk Art craft paint in Mushroom.
-Krylon 18kt Gold Leafing Paint Pen...my new favorite toy!

First thing first...break down the leaf and berry stems.  Glue the stems to the lamp with your hot glue gun.  It will not be a perfect stick, but the faux paper mache technique will hold them into place.  So the hot glue isn't a permanent stick...just more a hold it in place step.

These are the first leaves....Ted approves.

All leaves on!

The Anthro lamp has a very cool paper mache finish.  So to replicate that I used modge podge and crete paper.  

I painted the leaves with modge podge and used small pieces of crete paper to stick to the 'podge.  No need to do another coat on top unless it doesn't stick down all the way.  Then use a bit of modge podge to help get the paper to stay down and "smooth".

See how it's got that great textured thing going?  Yay-ah.  Gonna look awesome!  Now wrap up the stem and the rest of your foliage.

 Once it's dry, it's time to paint!  Paint the whole thing in the mushroom.

Once the mushroom paint is dry, use the gold leafing pen to add the accents.  Just little scribbles here and there will do juuuuust fine.  It's also great to cover any white spots that may have been missed by the paint.

And that's it!  Taaah dahh!

I'm quite please although I am toying with the idea of switching out the shade for a clean white drum.  Once my entry way project is done, this will have a home on an upcycled old dresser I'm turning into a hall chest.  But that's an entirely different post waiting to happen!