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A Week Spent “Fixing” Things

Well I thought the last week was going to be a week of EXCITING!!!! and NEW!!!!

But the reality of deadlines, and my own endless desire to “fix” things made it a week of “REVISE!  REJIGGER”  and “FUTZ!!!!!” (coincidentally, Revise, Rejigger and Futz is  also the name of the law firm I’m starting geared specifically toward deadline challenged creatives)

I love designing things but I always  underestimate just how long it takes me to put a graphic together.

I sit down and suddenly it’s 5 hours later; I haven’t moved away from the computer and I’ve only produced one minor design.

This week I wanted to work on my Victorian Gothic Coaster Set

So, years ago, sitting at my corporate job desk,  Geralyn and I, via emails, came up with a bunch of silly, funny Halloween coasters.

They’ve been quite successful (nothing makes me happier than when people pick them up and laugh) and each year I try to add to the collection.

This year produced bandages from The Mummy

And Bloody Mary Mix from Dracula’s ancestor

These go along with some of my stalwarts: here’s the whole current collection:

I need to narrow it down a bit but can’t decide…….

And I turned my attention to my Horror Novel Halloween Coasters as well.

The designs are my own (to avoid copyright infringement) and I’d liked them but was never totally satisfied.


The Frankenstein design in particular seemed very “one of these things is not like the others.”

Not bad but not quite right.

An easy change of color made, I think, the Sleepy Hollow more on-target.

And a total makeover of Frankenstein made me much happier

Here’s the revised set

The change isn’t overwhelming but I think it’s for the better.

And I took a moment to redo the package photograph as well.

And now, with about three days to go it’s time for all the NEW!!!!

Maybe not……

I’ll keep you posted.

 

July, when everyone’s thoughts turn to…..Halloween?

July is always an interesting month.

I’ve been working on a lot of custom orders for stores.

Just finished up some fun subway art products for a great little shop called The Red Stable in the German Village section of downtown Columbus

But I always feel like “it’s summer!  I should chill!”

In reality, however, July and August have to be the staging ground for all things fall.

Year after year I find this hard to get my head around – particularly when it’s over 100 degrees outside.

But facts are facts so won’t you join me in getting ready for Halloween,,,,, in July.

Particualrly motivating is my participation in the upcoming Mid-Summer Scream Festival in Long Beach.

It’s a huge, two-day show at the convention center and a great motivator for getting my act together.

I’m trying to come up with some new stuff (ideas have been percolating for a year so, by all means, wait until two weeks before the show David…sigh….)

I’ve been re-thinking, re-designing and rephotographing my vintage Halloween coastersVintage Halloween Drink Coaster Set by Cheltenham Road

They are currently on Etsy as a set of six but I’m thinking of changing them to my more standard set of four.  But which four?! It’s always hard to choose.

And my Dollar Store Glowing Eye Candle Holders (click the link for a tutorial) were a hit last year so I plan to make more Glowing Eyes Candle Holders for Halloween by Cheltenham Road

But I don’t want to offer exactly the same thing so I’m looking for ways to change them up a bit

WARNING: EVIL CLOWNS AHEAD

I’m experimenting with painting the inside of the holder itself – to add brightness and make the eyes even more disturbingly glowy

And I enjoyed the results last Halloween when I used the Folk Art Painted Finishes to create the mossy effect on a dollar store skull. so I thought I’d see what I thought of it here

I like that it gives it all a greenish glow.  And you can see a bit more of the detail of the “moss” effect in this picture

But my jury is a bit out actually.

The product works great I’m just not sure it’s quite what I’m going for.

Or maybe it just doesn’t go with clowns but will look awesome with creepy, old Victorians?Glowing Eyes Candle Holders for Halloween by Cheltenham Road

I was also thinking about wrapping the top in some sort of funereal black ribbon or cloth.

What do you think?

All I know for sure is that I really need to crank the AC cause there is nothing Halloweeny about sweating……unless you’re wearing a Wookie costume I guess……

 

 

 

 

Rustic, Distressed Paint Finish with the Folk Art Coastal Paints

Rustic Utensil Caddy image transfer

The good folks at Plaid sent me some more paint: Folk Art Coastal

The paints are super-thick and you can use them to create a textured, weathered effect. I was eager to try them out.

I just needed a project and that’s when things got….complicated.

So I ask you to bear with me as this project goes in a lot of directions.

I landed on the idea for a little silverwear caddy but since I always want to do everything RIGHT NOW and stores were closed (4th of July) I decided to make my own.

I’m not actually recommending you make your own – there are plenty of them available to purchase – but just to be thorough – here is how I made mine.

I cut some 3/8″ scrap wood down to size:

  • 2 front panels 4″ high by 10″ long
  • 2 side panels 4″ high by 6″ long
  • Center divider 10″ long, 7″ high with a handle I cut out with a jigsaw
  • Divider panels 4″ high by 2.5 wide.
  • bottom panel cut to size (not shown….I may have forgotten about that little detail until the last minute…..)

To make things easier I pre-painted the interior after marking where the joints would glue together.

I used my pin-nailer to attach the interior dividers first

Then added the end panels

Then the middle divider and the back side.

Ok, NOW it’s time to talk painting (which you may recall was the actual point of this whole endeavor)

The paint is thick, fun to work with and easy to use.  I wanted to use two colors to create that, aged, layered, crumbly effect and I started off with the blue

I laid down a base layer – fairly smooth – just for coverage then, while it was still wet, loaded up my brush and splotched/smushed more paint on to create some texture.

Once that had a couple of hours to dry I went back in with the white.

Again, I just kind of played around with it, smooshing and splotching until I got a look I liked.

THEN I decided I wanted to see how all that fun texture would work if I tried to add some graphics.

I put together a quick BBQ Restauant image

and headed into my go-to image transfer technique using polycrilic.

DISCLAIMER:  I had to photograph all this early in the morning which led to a lot of artsy shadows so please forgive the “film noir” effect.…..Although it does add a certain drama to the whole thing and I came to think of it as Patsy’s BBQ! – you know, where the murders happened!”

After reversing the image I printed it out using my laser printer.

(I seem to be having some serious problems with the whole backwards thing lately.  So, while one does want to PRINT the image in reverse one does not actually have to photograph said image upside down to add to the confusion.  My apologies.)

I laid down a good coat of polycryic

put my paper in place and used a brayer to make sure I had good contact (cleaning up any poly that I squeezed out).

After giving it a few hours in the sun to dry I rubbed away the paper using a damp rag.

This technique works so well – a bit too well actually – I actually wanted a bit more distress so when I moved over to do the other images I added some cracks to the actual graphic, used a bit less poly and rubbed a bit less aggressively.  That gave me the perfect look.

I liked it.  Loved the texture but it looked a bit too clean so I used some Folk Art Home Decor Antiquing wax.

Easy to use – just add a tiny amount to the brush and rub it in in a circular motion.

Suitably rustic.

I really like the textured layers the paint provides (especially keeping in mind that I used MDF wood which has no grain or texture of its own)

The only downside?

Now I’m hungry for BBQ and, of course, I can’t go to Patsy’s…..partly due to the fact that it doesn’t exist but more importantly because they never managed to get the blood stains off the floor.  So unappetizing.

Disclaimer: Plaid Enterprises provided me with the paint and brushes for this project as part of their Plaid Ambassador program.  The idea for the project and all opinions are totally my own.  I received no other compensation.

Library Card Book Ends

It has been a great couple of weeks for commerce – tons of Etsy orders, custom jobs and new stores carrying my work.

I’ve been plugging away in factory-mode but a little bit short on the “new ideas!” side of things.

Happily,  The Muse (Geralyn) has her head in the game and came up with a really fun idea for some very easy-to-make, inexpensive bookends.

And I came up with a good way to mess it up! (more on that later).

Here is what I used:

 

  • Metal Bookends (from Staples $7)
  • 2 pieces of 1/2″ MDF cut to 4.75″ by 7″
  • 2 library card prints done on a toner based printer
  • Waverly Super Premium black acrylic paint
  • Matte Mod Podge
  • Foam Brush
  • Lock-Tite glue
  • Painters tape (not pictured)
  • Craft knife (not pictured)

I started off by marking where the metal bookends would connect with the MDF panels.

After painting the back and sides with the Waverly Paint I set them aside to dry.

After they’ dried I used Matte Mod Podge to attach the vintage library card graphics to the MDF smoothing out any wrinkles or bumps with my fingers.

Once that dried I trimmed away any excess paper using a sharp craft knife.

So far so good!  Everything was going swimmingly and I could sense the wave of praise that would come my way when it was all done.

All I had to do was glue the wood part to the metal part.

Child’s play!

……..I think we know where this is going don’t we……

Now, I’m sure your thinking, “David it’s just some industrial strength glue that allows almost no-margin-for-error.  What could go wrong?”

To which I say: “you must be a new here.  Welcome to Cheltenham Road!”

OK, so I applied the glue to both the metal bookend and the unpainted back of the MDF and then stuck them together.

I used some painter’s tape to hold them in place tightly as they dried

Can you spot the minor problem?

Yeah – they’re backwards.

I glued them together backwards.

The long sticky-out part of the bookend supposed to go UNDER the books…..

Upside?I did’t glue myself to anything and I can testify now that that glue works really well!  They are super attached!

Downside: they are super attached backwards.

Ah well.

But they still work and you still get the idea.

And, of course, Geralyn’s concept could be adapted to suit any interest:

You could use copies of actual book covers, tickets, photographs, favorite quotes, copies of children’s drawings – the sky is the limit!

But, if you wanted to make these exact ones then here are my library card designs Hardy Boys Nancy Drew Bookend Print Sheet

Just, um…. glue them together the right way and you will be golden!

 

Ikea Lazy Susan Becomes a Versatile Chalkboard Serving Tray and I Eat a lot of Cheese!

Penmanship is not my forte.

At all.

I was once told by a friend that I had “the handwriting of a serial killer.”

It could make a guy self-conscious.

I include a handwritten notes with every Etsy order I send and I always picture the customer opening the package and exclaiming: “oh look honey!  Jeffrey Dahlmer sent us some coasters.  How thoughtful!

So, while I have admired all the cool chalkboard art and lettering that you see all over the place it seemed pretty thoroughly out of reach for someone with my, um, limitations.

But the folks at Folk Art have come to my rescue!

As part of my Plaid Ambassadorship they sent me Chalkboard Paint, their new, smudge-proof, erasable, liquid chalk as well as line of stencils that let you create that cool, handwritten text. 

I was eager to try them out but not sure what to make.

A while back, on a whim, I’d picked up a $10 lazy susan from Ikea and I thought it would be cool to make a versatile, chalkboard, lazy susan for parties and such.

The chalkboard paint was easy to apply – two coasts with a light sanding in-between and then a 24 hour cure time.

I liked this product (I’ve used chalkboard spray paint in the past).  It went on smoothly and dried quickly.

Once cured, as directed,  I tempered the surface by rubbing some actual chalk over it and then wiping it away.

Now it was stencil time! …….. And learning curve time!

The stencil set is by Lily and Val and it’s actually a two-parter. 

To create the hand-lettered effect you lay down the first stencil and apply the liquid chalk. 

After a few minutes of drying time you lay the other stencil over it and complete the letter.

It took me a few tries to get the results I wanted (more on that in a sec) but I’m happy with the final look.  And  I like that the set also includes versatile shapes  – like the banner around the “enjoy” text.

It does, however, take a while to lay out a word (no Gorgonzola at this party!).  To speed things along I ended up mixing an matching with some other Folk Art stencils I had on hand.  And, of course, it’s just paint – you don’t have to use a stencil at all if,unlike me, your free-hand skills are solid.

I am not a very practiced stenclier and while the bottle of liquid chalk comes with a spouncer attached I could never, for the life of me, get it to work satisfactorily so I switched over to a standard stencil brush.

The main  learning curve for me was the amount of paint needed.  Even after I thought I’d removed a lot of paint from the brush I still ended up with paint bleeding under the stencil (Bright side!  it was easy to wash away the paint and try again).  Once I took almost all the paint off the results were much better.

And then came the test!

The claim is that the paint won’t smudge or fade but that you can easily wipe it off and do a new design.

My idea was that this would be a versatile piece.  It could be a cheese tray at one party and then a dessert tray, or condiment tray at another.  This, of course, wouldn’t work if the paint “ghosted” when you tried to remove it.

So, I let everything dry (sitting in a sunny window actually) for a couple of days.

I couldn’t rub the paint away with my fingers no matter how hard I tried.

But, a quick wipe with a damp towel and it was gone.  No ghosting.

The chalkboard doesn’t look used and grey – just back to good-as-new.  Perfect!

So, I have a multi-use serving tray AND I got to eat a lot of cheese!  BEST. PROJECT. EVER!!!!!

NOTE:  The Chalkboard paint is dishwasher safe and non-toxic.  It is not, however, labeled at “food safe” hence all the cheese is on wax paper and the crackers in containers.

The liquid chalk paint and stencils are available at JoAnn and A.C. Moore stores (Michaels carries the stencils but not the liquid chalk for some reason)

Disclaimer:  The folk at Plaid have provided me with the chalkboard paint, stencils and liquid chalk for this project as part of my Plaid Ambassadorship.  There was no other financial remuneration.  The idea for the project and the opinions expressed are 100% my own.

DIY Father’s Day Ideas and an All Ice Cream Diet

Well, for a while there I was rocking that Every-Sunday-Blog-Post thing.  It felt good!  I felt like a responsible grown up blogger…. and then….I hit the creativity wall.  Has that ever happened to you?  I just drew a blank.

Now, the standard good advice about times like this is that you should go outside, talk to friends, peruse Pinterest , re-energize and get inspired!

I chose to sit quietly, talk to no one and focus on how many different things I could find in my pantry to put on top of ice cream (my current favorite is pretzels, caramel sauce and chocolate chunks).

Sooooo…..not  much new to share at the moment.  And I thought if I presented another tray or “vintage” sign you all might rise up in (understandable) craft-mutiny.

However, the fog seems to have cleared  because I’m excited about a new project and I hope to post about it on Wednesday (I’m out of pretzels  I have to do something!)

Sneak peek – it involves an Ikea lazy Susan, chalkboard paint and a new product from the folks at Folk Art.

In the meantime Father’s Day upon us!

During my…. let’s call it a sugar-coma lull…. I did keep busy with custom projects.  I worked with a customer on a fun variation on my baseball field Subway Coasters for her dad who is a big LA Dodger fan.  So, Dodger Blue rather than black and his favorite players.  I hope he likes them!

And I realized I’ve done several Fathers Day themed projects over the years so I thought I’d do a quick review in case anyone is stuck for ideas.

I did this project for Mod Podge Rocks last year and I’ve made a few more since.  They are fun, pretty straighforward and inexpensive – click the picture for the link to the full Mod Podge Rocks tutorial.


Father's Day Gift Idea

This little pen holder is  easily customized and simple to create with inexpensive odds and ends.Simple Father's Day Project Tutorial Cheltenham Road

And finally, this photo display is made from affordable metal switch plates and plumbing fittings for a kind of industrial/rustic vibe.

OK, back on Wednesday….unless I make it to the grocery store…..

The Best One Year Anniversary Gift Idea

I’ve talked a lot about my family’s creativity.  Dad, mom, sisters – all do terrific work.

Happily, the gene doesn’t skip generations.

You may recall, a few years ago, my niece, Maggie did a guest blog post here detailing her makeover of her office.  It was wonderful!

Well, it was wonderful until she got more comments on her post than any post I had ever done and then Maggie was, of course,  DEAD TO ME.

So, while that was unfortunate and we all miss Maggie I’m happy to report that my sisters were thoughtful enough to produce several other offspring and up to bat today is the wild-card.  The only nephew.  Jordan!

Jordan is sort of the quiet one who comes up with unexpectedly great suggestions that immediately make me think “that’s brilliant!  I will totally pretend it was my idea!!!”

However, this time there is photographic proof.  And a wife. So…….

Welcome Jordan!

Jordan got married last year to the truly wonderful Kate and they have spent the year living, at least according to Instagram, the life I want to live – great meals, travel, theatre, movies, sports and extremely on-point (finger)nail art (Kate not Jordan on that last one but if he wanted to I’m sure he’d be able to pull it off).

They hit the one year mark recently and since that is traditionally the Paper anniversary Jordan had a pretty terrific idea.

He collected all the paper memorabilia from their first year together – tickets, playbills etc

He picked up a frame from Michaels.  And a matte that had a fairly small opening and a lot of surface space.

Using the paper that came with the frame as a template he laid out collage design and used a sharp craft knife to cut out the details around the matte opening.

After adhering all the pieces using double sided mounting squares (again from Michaels)

He let the the cardboard backing and the glass sort of smoosh them together into a smooth layer.

And voila!  A pretty awesome one-year Paper Anniversary gift!

Cotton is Year 2 traditionally and I’m keen to see what he comes up with (the bar is pretty high here Jordan – you might want to purchase the sheep now just to get a jump start.  Oh wait, that’s wool…..ok, I’m out of ideas – you’re on your own dude).

 

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