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Monthly Archives: July 2011

A Find and a Confession

OK, here’s the truth.   I don’t just work on furniture and make coasters and such.

I’m also an actor.

This may not come as a big surprise- after all, I live in Los Angles, isn’t everybody here an actor?  It often seems that way and because of that I tend to keep my acting endeavors kind of low profile which, admittedly, probably isn’t the best plan when pursuing a career in something totally based on the LOOK AT ME! principle. 

But I’ve done OK.  I’ve been acting (or acting out) since I was a kid, did off broadway stuff when I lived in NYC and now do random parts on TV (House, The Mentalist etc).

So, yesterday, I had an audition for a new TV show and this required me to drive to the wilds of downtown Los Angeles where I can never find parking and always (A.L.W.A.Y.S) get lost.

So, after the obligatory swearing “getting lost” phase I entered the obligatory cursing “quest for parking” phase and on some random, slightly seedy, side street I happened to find a spot right in front of this!

 

Isn’t it perfect?!

OK, it’s in need of some sincere attention but it’s dovetail jointed solid wood with beautiful lines and great hardware.  Perfect!  And free!

Now, the funny/sad part of this story is that whenever I see something I really like I immediately become convinced that the immediate area is crawling with other like-minded people and I’m overcome by a fear that if I don’t GRAB THIS NOW someone else will come along and snatch away my filthy, broken down dresser.

Perfectly logical I’m sure you’ll agree.

So, imagine you’re a resident of the area – you go to open your window because it’s 90 degrees outside and see a very well dressed (my role was a lawyer) man frantically stuffing a sincerely ratty old dresser into the back of his tiny Honda.  Do you think to yourself “Wow! This recession must be REALLY bad!” or, living in Los Angeles, do you think “stupid actors…they’re everywhere!”

Probably the latter.

Anyway, I got it in my car and arrived at the appointment on time if slightly more disheveled than I’d intended.  And the audition went really well!  Nice people – fun character.

 And I got the role!

…..And then they cut the part!

Awesome.

 So, bottom line:

Acting: 0

Furniture: SCORE!

Recipe Card Holder Tutorial

My mom is a terrific cook and an awesome baker.  Our house and Christmastime was THE place to be if cookies were your thing (Never having met a cookie I didn’t like I spent  my holidays in a diabetic coma.  Ah the memories!). 

And while it seems that actual 3×5 recipe cards are going the way of newspapers, bookstores and the Dodo I still have a bunch that were handwritten by my mom and I wouldn’t trade them  for anything.

So, I came up with this recipe card holder that pays honor to my mom (the paper is a collage of her recipe cards) and keeps the cards up and visible while baking.  The tutorial is the latest in my series for the Amazing Amy over at Mod Podge Rocks.

So, if you’ve got recipe cards or want to make an easy gift for someone (you could make me cookies while you’re at.  Just a suggestion) cruise on over to MPR and check it out.

Just click on the picture for the link.

The Final Stretch!

Things are getting a little nuts around here!

The big Unique LA show starts on Saturday and I’m in the final push to get everything done, dry, wrapped and ready to go.

I must confess that I’m a bit nervous.

I was kind of surprised that I was accepted into the show (it’s juried so you have to submit your work and hope the judges like it) because my impression is that it’s a place for “cool” crafts and the edgy stuff that the kids are all into these days.

I’ve never thought of myself as cool and while I don’t think of my stuff as edgy,

who am I to argue with a jury? So….Thanks!  to whoever said yes to me!

Also, although I’ve had a regular booth at the Rose Bowl Market for a year or so, this is my first, official, CRAFT FAIR. 

At the Rose Bowl (which is mostly a flea market) I stand out because my stuff is, well….clean – it doesn’t look like it was recently found it an attic somewhere and people are pleasantly surprised by this.

But at a CRAFT FAIR I will be surrounded by really skilled artists and crafters and though  my stuff will of course still be clean it won’t be unusually clean compared to what’s around it so I will have lost that competitive edge.  This will require me to fall back on the “isn’t this cool?” factor.  And, as I mentioned, cool isn’t my strong suit.

I’m contemplating wearing a leather jacket but fear I would  just look like an aging Fonzie wannabe.  I’d get a Mohawk but I’m what is known as “hair challenged” and/or bald so the effect would be very, very subtle.   Perhaps a beret….Eh, I’ts probably best to just wear my old baseball hat and lots of sunscreen.

On the bright side, I was pleasantly reminded of my mom this morning as I looked at my jammed dining room table and the new auxiliary table in the living room. 

Mom always had a million projects going on and they were, most often, spread out around the family room and dining room.  You’d have to move things to sit down or risk needle punctures (bad) or “felt pile disruption” (REALLY BAD). I now have so much more respect for my Mom and how she managed running a family AND all the her projects AND my elaborate Halloween costumes- but that’s for another blog post

I’m totally cool in following in mom’s creative footsteps.  Proud actually. 

However, if I mention in passing, that I drifted off watching a “really good episode of Murder She Wrote” please stage an intervention.

My Friend Bondo (Not the story of a boy and his faithful dog, horse or dolphin)

Seriously, what do people do to their furniture?

My furniture sits quietly minding its own business and I, for the most part, leave it alone. The furniture I acquire for my business however always appears to have participated in Furniture Thunderdome: Two End Tables Enter One End Table Leaves.

But, since my business is more string than shoe I gotta take what I can get.

I used to kind of dread these repairs. Spackle and wood putty work great for dings and scratches and minor stuff but if the piece recently won a cage fight it was always a pain – particularly if there was some corner detail or intricate doo-dad that had been, um, wounded.

And then I found Bondo.

If you’re not familiar with it Bondo it’s made for auto body repair. It’s super strong, super durable and easily molded/sanded into whatever shape is needed. And, happily, it works beautifully with wood that you plan to paint rather than stain.

Perhaps this is old news to you (the blog equivalent of shouting “hey, have you guys heard about Annie Sloan’s chalk paint?!!!!!!) but I haven’t’ seen a post on it myself so I thought I’d share.

Bondo is found in pretty much any hardware store and costs about 10-12 bucks for a can that will last a veeery long time.  

I’m going to demonstrate using the corner of this end table that I just started working on.

Bondo wont’ stick well to old paint or finish so you need to sand the area as clean as possible.

Bondo is a two part epoxy. Following the directions on the can you simple mix a lot of the grey glob with a little of the red glob until they merge to make a mauve (I learned that word from the J. Crew catalogue) blob.

Then, working quickly because this stuff dries fast, you slough it onto the damaged area. I always go a little bit overboard so that I’ll have plenty to work with when it comes to the shaping and sanding.

Let it dry thoroughly and go to town. Start with a rough grit sandpaper to get rid of the excess then switch to finer grit to refine the details. I often create my own sanding tools. A dowel wrapped in sand paper is the perfect shape for recreating a curved edge. A scrap of wood wrapped with sandpaper gives you a great tool for making sharper edges. I’ve even been known to break out the Xacto knife and kind of carve away at it.

And you will quickly get this:

After that a quick blast of primer and – good as new(ish).

So, in about 45 minutes (mostly drying time) I went from this to this

I’ll show you the final table later – I still need to do some repair work on a wobbly quality to it.

Hey, I suddenly feel much closer to you!

I think we just had a Bondo-ing moment!

(sorry, couldn’t resist….althoughI probably should have)

David

A New World

I woke up Monday morning to a whole new world.

As you may or may not know, after almost 20 years of working in Corporate Land I quit my job to do my “other work” full time.  Friday was my last official day at my desk.

I thought I would ease into my new life so I spent the weekend working on some new coaster designs:

 

These make me think of summers at the lake (not that I ever experienced that but I have a vivid vacation imagination which apparently includes vacations during time periods – like the 40s – when I wasn’t actually alive)

 But my “ease into it” phase was short lived and I couldn’t be happier.

 As I’d mentioned previously I am madly prepping for the Unique LA  show coming up at the end of this month.

And then, on Monday I met with Marci who runs a new shop here in LA called CoOp 28  –she’s terrific and the store is exactly the kind of place I would open if I did such things.  If you’re local please go and check it out.  And she wants to feature some of my coasters there!  

I came home from that meeting to find that my regular customer, Joe – he of the awesomely cool retro Barware store Bar Keeper  – had put in another large order. 

And then I got my largest single-buyer order on Etsy.

And I was contacted by another new, local shop that wants to stock my work.

So all the signs are good that I made the right decision in quitting!

Of course, my dining room table now looks like this:

And I’ve had to establish a temporary table in the living room for the overflow.

 Because my dreamed of workroom still looks like this:

 

And I don’t even want to talk about the garage.

 So, bottom line.  I’ve quit my cushy 9 hour/good pay day job to start my 14 hour/low pay day job.

AND I COULDNT BE HAPPIER

Good Friends and End Table Makeovers

LA has a bad reputation.  Pretty scenery – vapid, self involved people.

So I moved here from New York with somewhat low expectations.

But, honestly, I am surrounded by an incredible group of friends here.

Tom C and his beautiful wife Brooke (really beautiful – I don’t want to be sexist here so I’ll say Tom is quite attractive himself but Brooke… there is some serious pretty going on there) are perfect examples- great friends – generous, fun and always there for you.

And I mean THERE for you.

They were 100% supportive of my new business but I didn’t really expect this phone call from an out-of-breath Tom:

“David, our upstairs neighbors threw out, like, an entire apartments worth of furniture.  I fought off all the other people that were trying to take it and dragged it all to my parking space!”

That may sound overly dramatic to you but, in LA, the second you put something on the curb some kind of Bat Signal goes out and people descend like furniture piranha.  And Tom somehow managed to haul not just one piece but eight out of that melee.  It can’t have been easy.

And because my Honda Civic wasn’t going to cut it he hauled them all to my house in his truck.  And my house isn’t anywhere near his house.

These are the kinds of people I know here in self-involved Los Angeles.

I’m very lucky.

First up was this set of end tables.  They were painted a truly ugly, pale yellow  flecked with specs of gold – basically they looked like King Midas had peed on them. (seriously people what the hell was going on in the 70s?  Did everyone just, collectively lose their minds for 10 years?)   

Even better, they had that faux leather top.

I hate those leather tops.  Have you encountered them?

They are always beyond repair; you can’t patch them or paint them so you have to remove them and that makes a huge mess.

So after ripping, and sanding, and cursing, and ripping and sanding and more cursing I ended up with…..a really, really ugly top.  BUT there was a nice inset so I had piece of glass cut and found some attractive paper at Paper House and here is the result:

I went with a nice, crisp white and chose not to distress it.  I love all the detail lines and carvings and some easy spray-painting took care of the handles.

Thank you Tom!

Linking over to:

Make your own lamp

I have always maintained what I feel is a healthy fear of electricity.  

 This fear has served me well except for once, last year, when I dropped my guard and attempted to fix my broken dishwasher.   

 “That plug is too hard to get to” I thought and cavalierly launched in despite the pool of standing water in the bottom of the unit.   

 Later, after my body stopped twitching, I got off the floor and renewed my vow leave electricity alone.  And I have stuck by that.

 Until now.

 OK, I realize that preamble probably doesn’t scream TRUST ME but, I had no idea that it was so easy to make a lamp!

 Honestly, I’m a little annoyed that I didn’t know this before.  

 I’ve made a lamp from plumbing pipe and some vintage maps and it is my second tutorial for Amy over at Mod Podge Rocks – so head on over to MPR if you’re intrigued.  Just click on the picture below:

 Also, if you haven’t gotten hooked on Amy’s blog previously – take a look around – she is the source of a seemingly endless stream oft terrific projects and ideas.

 So, to sum it up:  Electricity: Not to be toyed with.  Lamps.  Way easy!

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