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Monthly Archives: September 2011

Putting the High in Highboy

One of my favorite things about all this is that each piece I have seems to have a story.

I wasn’t sure what to think of this story.

I got a call from an acquaintance who said,

“My ex-husband’s cousin has died and I am in charge of cleaning out his house.  He has some furniture that I thought you might be able to use.”

She didn’t seem terribly broken up about her ex-husband’s cousin’s passing.  And although I was curious about the furniture I was A LOT more curious about why/how she ended up being responsible for the property of such a tenuous relative.  Wouldn’t the former spouse be a more logical choice?  How did her current spouse feel about this?

These questions burned in my head until I actually arrived at the house which was, I am not kidding you, an episode of Horders.

The front lawn was covered with…..lets call them “belongings” and half a boat (half?! How do you end up with half a boat?  I saw Titanic – even if your boat breaks both parts still sink and Leonardo DiCaprio dies – that’s just how the world works).

My friend and her ex-mother-in-law…. (yeah, her ex mother-in-law.  This is one incredibly new-age, super tight post-divorce relationship) had been there for a couple of days and had just managed to clear a path inside the house.

It took them two days to clear a path.

They showed me through the house (down the “path”)  to a back bedroom and a really, really nice highboy dresser which was, inexplicably, in very good shape unlike the wall it was in front of or the floor it sat on or the ceiling it was under.


They left me to examine it and that’s when I found the baggies full of a “mysterious” dry, herb-like substance in the top drawer……..

I wasn’t quite sure what to do.  What is the etiquette in this situation?

Does one just place the baggies on a nearby surface and move along?  Do you tell the clearly not grieving friend that her ex-husband’s cousin seems to have left some “stuff” behind?  And, perhaps even more importantly, do I continue to open drawers?  Might the highboy be in such good shape because it was some sort of, I don’t know, filing system?  Will the subsequent, larger, drawers yield more “supplies”?

I decided it was best to be straightforward and made my way to the kitchen.

My news was met with a sigh and I was directed to “the pile” which consisted of several similar baggies, a lot of cash aaaaaand a gun.


“The police are coming shortly” I was told.  And really, who could argue with that plan?

The rest of the drawers were, happily, empty.  I never quite got the reason why she was stuck with this task and the police did eventually come.  They were very nice and one of them helped me carry the highboy to my car which was thoughtful but made the whole experience just that much more bizarre.

So here is the highboy after being released from custody

See?  It really was in pretty good shape just some trauma along the top and some wonky (empty!) drawers.

And after some sanding and priming here is its angelic, white incarnation (Restoration Hardware Cloud White – it just seemed so appropriate).

I couldn’t even bring myself to distress it as I thought it had probably already been through enough, you know? 
Shall we link?

Today’s Post is Brought to You by the Letter J!

I love it when people commission things.  I love the idea of making something specific for someone.  I love working with people to get exactly what they want.

Well, I love the idea of it.

The reality is that I always give an enthusiastic “yes!” when someone has a custom request and then I spend the entire creation period worrying that they won’t like it.

If you’ve visited my Etsy store you may have seen my New York City HOME sign

I was recently contacted by a woman who had seen it but she wondered if I could make just a single letter “J” for her and make a collage of NYC images for it.

I, of course, eagerly said “yes!”

And then commenced my campaign to make her think I was a lunatic.

I’m sure she thought she could make the request, settle on the price and then sit back and wait.

But she had no idea who she was dealing with.

The poor thing got (almost daily) long emails discussing possible fonts, possible sizes, possible images and finally, just when she thought I was gonna pop it in the mail she got another email because I’d had a brainstorm about how to make a base for it that would allow it to stand on its own.

She responded graciously to all my missives but I could tell, after a while, that she was probably thinking I was a bit of a nutcase.

Ah well.

It’s off in the mail today and, honestly, I couldn’t be more pleased with how it came out (actually what I couldn’t be more pleased with was that I managed to cut it out correctly on the first try!  I assure you this seldom happens with me and I had assumed I was going to have a lot of failed attempts).

Its 12 inches high and 1 ½ inches thick and, despite these pictures, comes with its own, clever, base!

Halloween Block Tutorial

In my excitement about my “Good Life” yesterday and my joy at being able to transfer that French Label image I neglected to mention that my latest tutorial is up over at Mod Podge Rocks.

These blocks are a variation of the tealight candle holders I sell in my Etsy shop.  I think they will make a fun, versatile project for anyone wanting a little Halloween fun.

So check it out if you’re so inclined.


A little linking to folks who love Halloween!

Good Life!

Some of my days can only really be described as a little schizophrenic.

This was my day.

Up and to the gym at 5.

A couple of hours of mod-podging coasters and projects and answering some emails.

Shower and dress as “an intellectual archivist” and drive over to Hollywood to audition for The Office.

After the audition it’s back home to

A)     Remove the carcass of the dead rat from the garage

B)      Continue to make coasters and HOME signs

C)      Send out Etsy orders

D)     Memorize my lines for my other audition

Then shower, change clothes to be “an incredibly dull physics professor” and back over to Hollywood to audition for Parks and Recreation.

Then back home, change clothes and out to the garage for candle block drilling.

See?  A little random!

But awesome!

As I was driving back home from audition number 2 my ipod – as it often does – played the perfect song:

Good Life (by OneRepublic):

What there is to complain about

When you’re happy like a fool
Let it take you over
Oh this has gotta be the good life
This has gotta be the good life
This could really be a good life, good life

And it really is a very, very good life! (the rat’s feelings about the day may differ)

This is exactly what I wanted my life to be when I decided to leave the 9-5 world!

But enough about that, I promised an update on my French Label Table.  I’m very pleased with the results this time.

So, as a refresher it started out like this:

and my intention was to add this graphic from the Graphics Fairy collection

using a Blender Pen made by ChartPak  that I found out about via the terrific Villabarnes blog.

My first attempt at the label transfer was spotty at best and failed completely when I tried to seal it with wax and it washed the whole design away.  Ugh.

So, this time I vowed to do better – here are the steps I took:

1)      I repainted the top with a flat white ceiling paint and then gave it a light sanding.

2)      On the computer I reversed the label and upped the saturation so that the black lines were really, really black.

3)      I wanted the label to end up being larger than 8.5×11 (the maximum size I can print) so I broke it up into sections and blew each part up to the size I wanted and printed them out separately on my Laser Printer.  NOTE: This technique only works with laser prints – apparently- ink jet prints will run.

4)      I then laid each piece face down and taped it to the table so it  wouldn’t move.

5)      Then it’s just a matter of rubbing the blender pen over the paper.  I found out that you really need to rub aggressively to make the transfer really work. It may look like the ink is bleeding but that’s OK.

Then just immediately peel it away

6)      A couple of sections didn’t come out as dark as I wanted but it was easy to re-print that section of the label, line it up and do it over again.

I’m pleased with the results but I’m going to wait for it to dry very, very thoroughly before some further distressing and a sealer coat.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

I think this technique has lots of possibilities and the Blender Pen was only about $3.00 so it’s pretty affordable (and kinkos or staples can give you laser jet copies if you don’ t have a laser printer).


So all-in-all a very good day!

Hope everyone else also had a good Tuesday!

It (kinda) Worked!

I’m scrambling to get my Mod PodgeRocks tutorial turned in but I just wanted to do a teaser for that little table I tried and failed to transfer the image onto.

It worked!  Sorta….

I’m not sure what to do when something works.  How am I supposed to wittily complain about success?

I’ll find a way I’m sure.  It’s how I roll.

Anyway, here’s how it came out the second time around:

I’ll share details on what I’ve learned about Blender Pens tomorrow as well as the scoop on that acting job that I’m being so superstitious about and the two (really?  two?  that never happens)  auditions that I just found out about.  Ack!

Hope everyone had a good weekend.


My Future Life of Crime

I decided to try and get ahead of things and give myself a schedule.

Yesterday was Make Coaster Blanks day.

I measured, cut and sanded 335 blanks

Two things about that much sanding.

  1.  I either need to find clothes made with a tighter weave or just give in and do this job naked (what could go wrong!?).  I have sawdust in places sawdust should never be.
  2. My father gave me this awesome sander that speeds up the process.

Upside: much faster coaster production.

Downside:  it’s quite powerful and spins very, very fast and,  as my mind begins to drift due to the tedium of sanding that many coasters I occasionally slip and end up sanding myself.

Upside: I can now commit the perfect crime as I think I have successfully removed my thumbprints.

I’ve also begun work on a new little table  – another find from End Table Nirvana.


I painted the body using Rustoleum’s Painters Touch Nutmeg and the top is Heirloom White.

Well I say “begun” but what I really mean is “starting over.”

You see I wanted it to be ready for the Rose Bowl last weekend and I wanted to do a transfer image on the top that I pulled from The Graphics Fairy.

This would look cool, right?

I haven’t had much luck with image transfer in the past but I had  just read about using a Blender Pen on villabarnes and had to give it a shot.

I don’t have any pictures of my first attempt but it worked pretty well – there were some spots that didn’t quite transfer but I grabbed my trusty paint brush and filled them in and it looked pretty good.  I was totally pleased!  I let it dry and then sanded it to distress it a bit.  It looked great!  Then I waxed it and…….it wiped off the entire design.  Which left me thinking “really, I can SAND it with 180 grit sand paper and it’s all good but waxing it destroyed it?”

But I’m plucky and have decided to try again.

Anyone ever try this technique?  Got any tips?

My Color Blind Secretary

Ahhh I love the Monday after the Rose Bowl.

The build up is always so hectic (because I am disorganized!) and then on the day of it’s up at 4:45 to get there and get set-up by 6:30 or so and then pack it all up again, home, unpack the truck, return the truck, and collapse.

Monday always seems like a fresh, new start.

It turned out to be the best Rose Bowl yet!  The weather was perfect, I got to hang out a bit with Nicki of Nicki Huard Creations (whose husband assures me will soon blast into the 21st century and have her own web site so you can actually SEE her cool stuff – her teapot lamps are awesome!).

The little blue table I blogged about last time sold quickly.  Coasters flew away and a lovely woman who is just opening a store nearby pretty much cleaned me out of candle blocks!

I’d made a few new things as well like the Hello sign at the top of this post.

My scroll saw skills are getting better  (and by “better” I mean I made it without  cursing – so I guess that would make it a curs-less cursive) so I made another one in blue with a little more distress to it.

I’d jammed out some new letters and they seemed popular:

And I’d been working all week on my latest secretary desk and although it didn’t sell it got a lot of admirers.

Here are the before during and after shots.

She was in really good shape so all it took was some sanding

And then, as always, I got stuck on color.  My goal for this Rose Bowl was to create a kind of unified palette (I totally failed btw) – so I had some leftover Restoration Hardware Silver Sage paint and I decided that would be the color……so I painted the drawers:

And then the back seemed kind of bland so I added some paper (its what I do!)  to it.

Now, in the past I swear this paper has perfectly matched this paint color but for some reason…..not so much this time.

I like the final result but I’m concerned it may only really appeal to the color blind crowd (a distinctly underserved market don’t you think?!)

Shall we link up?

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