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Monthly Archives: November 2011

The End of an Era

The End of an Era

Wow!  That was a long pause in my blogging life.

I’ve been experiencing technical difficulties.

And by “technical difficulties” I mean that for the life of me I couldn’t come up with anything to say.  I’ve spent the last week pretty much in the garage making coasters getting ready for Unique LA.   And a daily blog post of “I made more coasters today” seemed to lack a certain edgy excitement.

However, I do need to mark the end of an era for my family.

My folks have always been active in the church.  Dad is in the choir and mom is on a million committees and taught Sunday school etc.  But her primary thing was the Handcraft Group.  A collection of women who worked year round to produce totally charming Christmas Ornaments that were sold at  a big Holiday Bazaar with the entire proceeds going to the church.

From elves to mice to Santa, nativity scenes and even Harry Potter characters the ladies work year round every year.

I used to go to Handcraft Meetings when I was too little to go to school and make no mistake they put me to work!  I glued felt dots on sheep and googly eyes on elves.   My mom even continued her commitment when we moved to California (the church is in Ohio!).

And I was totally happy when the circle was completed and, over the last couple of years, they allowed me to add some of my Cheltenham Road Christmas items to their table.

Well, sadly, the once vibrant group has dwindled down to  a few stalwarts.  And so, two Sunday’s ago my mom sold her last lot of Christmas ornaments and according to all reports it was a huge sell out!

I will miss getting new ornaments every year but my sisters and I (and now their grown children) have Christmas trees festooned with my mom’s mad skills!  No ordinary glass balls for our clan!

I must confess that at times in my life I have thought “does a grown man really hang sequined felt, stuffed mice on his tree?”

And the answer is, “of course he does!” because these represent my mom and all her hard work and her joy at the holidays.  I know just how much went into each one of these.  I know how carefully they were planned and executed and they will be with me and proudly displayed forever.

So the era ends for the Handcraft Group and I want to say thank you to all of them (past and present) for years and years of past and future Christmas happiness!

(and in a post to come later in the week my favorite  sister Phebe* will share her ingenious solution to displaying all my mom’s handiwork)

*other assorted sisters put out by this designation can contact me at this address to discuss voluntarily creating guest blog posts and thus elevating their status.


Distressed Wooden Letter Tutorial

This week has been crazy!

So many orders to fill!  I’ve been going like sixty from 5AM till 11PM (I think, technically, I may be running a sweat shop.  I should probably report myself to someone.  Or just keep humming “It’s a Hard Knock Life.”)

Thanks for all the good thoughts about Rose Bowl!  It was a hit this time!

The weather was perfect and although the crowd was slow to show up, once they got there they purchased.  So coasters flew away, my French Label Tables sold as did the secretary along with a few other miscellaneous smalls.

I also had the pleasure of meeting one of my blog followers – the totally charming Suzanne and her magician husband (no really, he’s a real, honest-to-god, working magician – he turned some of my one dollar bills into one hundred dollar bills!  It was amazing!  And then he changed them back which was…..less awesome.)

I also got to hang out for a fraction of a minute with Niki Huard from Nicki Huard Creations (who STILL doesn’t have a website even though her husband promised she would….  just wanted to point that out publically).  Her booth, as always, looked terrific and she asked me to share my technique for making my distressed letters.

I’m totally on board with this plan.  My only hesitation is that it’s so easy it’s a little embarrassing.

You will need:

A wooden letter – I make mine cause I don’t like the fonts they use for the ones from craft stores

Paint – I used spray paint cause I was in a hurry but it works great with flat latex

A Candle – any old candle will do

Sander – I use my power one but you could do it by hand.  I also use old sanding discs and I’ll explain why in a sec.

Step One

Paint the letter in the base color of your choosing and let dry.  Don’t worry about sanding the letter beforehand or priming it – the rougher the better actually.  And set your candle in the sun or a warm place just to soften it a little (makes life easier)

Step Two

After the first layer has thoroughly dried rub your candle along the edges and anywhere else you want the first layer of paint to show through.  Rub hard in some places and more gently in others.  Now top coat with your second color of paint and set it aside to dry very thoroughly.  The wax will slow down the drying process so overnight is great if you can spare the time.

Step Three

After the top coat has dried you’re ready to sand.  There may be a couple of sticky spots where the wax is still soft but that’s ok.

Now, just sand, gently at first, using your power sander.  I use old sanding discs because the wax will, fairly quickly, gum them up.  Start off gently to gauge how much you want to take off – depending on the power of your sander and the coarseness of your disk you may end up doing a lot of sanding or just a tiny bit.

And you’re done!

I think I have overdone it a bit with this J – because I was in a bit of a rush (I also clearly forgot to sand the sides before I snapped the pic) – I think these came out better but it’s the same technique I swear!

I’ve found that often the sanding tends to spread a thin layer of wax around so I end up with a nice seal coat.  If this isn’t the case for you then you could seal them with a spray sealer just to make things nice and tidy.

Hope that was helpful.

If you have any questions or if I’ve left some key step out please don’t hesitate to ask.  I read every comment (and totally look forward to getting them) and will answer there.

Have a great weekend everyone!


The Missing Links!

I Lettered in Letters

The truck is packed and I am Rose Bowl Ready!

It’s been raining  all day but tomorrow is supposed to be sunny and chilly which is perfect!

Since I didn’t have to work on new pieces of furniture I focused on some new odds and ends and totally indulged in my love of typography and letters.  There are some new HOME sings including Columbus Ohio:

as well as one for Pasadena (since I think Columbus Ohio might be a kind of a hard sell in SoCal).

And then I got it in my head that what I wanted were some painted, distressed letters.  So I got to work with my scroll saw, some paint and and a little candle wax.

OK, I know when you put letters together for photographs you’re supposed to spell out words like “HOPE” or “BELIEVE” or something.


What can I say?  I was thirsty.

I just really dig all the chippyness (is that a word?  spellcheck says no but I’m going with it!)

Also, when I was a kid my dad made a script NOEL that would hang on our front porch every holiday season.  I loved that sign and it dawned on me I could make my own (my dad still has the original and hangs it every year).  So I rooted around for some scrap wood and came up with my version (and I’m clearly playing with my new Action tools in Photoshop….bear with me).

OK, I have a few odds and ends left to do before tomorrow.

Have a great Sunday everyone!

Make a Cocktail Table

Well, Rose Bowl Madness has once again descended upon me.

You would think that, since almost nothing sold last time I’d be laying back and resting but apparently that’s not how I roll.  I’m running around restocking supplies and finishing up projects in hopes that this time will be better.

And while my blog is a bit young to be waxing nostalgic I thought it would be nice to revisit my very first Mod Podge Rocks project which was a tutorial for making this little cocktail table with a vintage Baseball theme.

I used to get frustrated with those people who were always doing projects made with “this old piece of wallpaper/wood/farbric/etc I had lying around.”

I never had an old piece of anything lying around but now I have become one of those people – Some would call it a late developing Hording Syndrome I prefer to think of it as being committed recycler.

Anyway, my buddy wanted some baseball themed tables for his man-cave and I thought this would be a fun, affordable project to do and share.

It’s made from bits I had sort of lurking in the corners of my garage (with the spiders – seriously, it’s like a science fiction movie in there) but I assure you can do it with some very affordable parts from any big box hardware store.

You will need:

 1) One table leg – mine was from the Habitat for Humanity ReSale Store (a great resource) but they come in all shapes and sizes at big box retailers.

2) Four (4) 7 inch wooden shelf brackets

3) A shadow box frame – you could also use a wooden tray or anything else that appealed

4) Five feet of shoe molding

5) 1 piece of ¼ inch wood cut square and just a little smaller than your picture frame

6) 1 piece of ½ or ¾ inch wood cut square and 2-3 inches smaller than your picture frame

7) Glue (I used Gorilla Glue)

8) Brad Nails (optional)

9) 1 wood screw

10) Sand paper

11) Spray paint

12) Mod Podge

13) Envirotex or any good Epoxy coating


Drill, saw (hand saw, miter saw, whatever you’ve got), hammer, foam brush

First off I cut the Table Leg to the height I needed

(they will do this for you at the hardware store if you ask nicely.  It probably helps if you are prettier than I am.  I cut mine at home.  Alone.)

Next I cut the shoe molding into eight (8) seven-inch strips and took the flimsy back out of the picture frame.

Now I was ready to attach the shoe molding to the Table Leg.

I centered a Shelf Bracket on base of the Table Leg and drew a line on either side.

Then I attached shoe molding on either side of the line creating a groove.  I repeated that on all four sides.

(I nailed my shoe molding in place after gluing but if you just wanted to glue them simply wrap rubber bands around the top and bottom to hold them in place while they dry.)

Next I just glued the shelf brackets into the slots I’d created and wiped away and glue that squeezed out and set the whole thing aside to dry.

After it dried I painted everything (leg, the edge and one side of both pieces of wood and the picture frame).  A quick coat of spray primer followed by the top coat made quick work of it and then it was time to get Mod Podging.

I placed the frame on the ¼ inch board and traced the inside edge so I’d know how much of the board to cover with my images and got busy.

Once the decoupage dried I attached my Mod-Podged board to the picture frame with some glue and nails.  My ¼ inch board had warped a little so I rested a heavy can on it to counter the warp and set it aside for a while. Now I wanted to assemble the table.  To find the exact center of my ½ inch board I drew lines from corner to corner.  After that all I had to do was drill a pilot hole and attach my the board to the leg assembly.    Make sure the wood screw is flat with the surface of the board or countesunk  just a little below it.

Attaching the leg to the picture frame was easy.  I just flipped everything upside down and glued the top of the ½ board to the bottom of the picture frame (I brought back my handy paint can to hold it in place and seal the deal)

After that I flipped everything back over and applied the Envirotex as per the instructions on the box.  It’s easy to use as long as you follow the instructions to the letter – but keep in mind it takes several days to fully cure.  It’s well worth the wait though – you get a  strong,  solid glass-like surface that’s  heat resistant and water proof.

Hope you enjoyed it.

Shall we link?

Create a Versatile Tray End Table

I hope everyone had a great Halloween!

My house is in a neighborhood that lacks street lights and sidewalks so, quite understandably, it just doesn’t draw the kids.

But every year hope springs eternal and I load up on candy!

OK thats a total lie.

Every year I know that there won’t be many kids but I stock up on candy so that when, as anticipated, the kids don’t show up I can totally justify saying “well, rats!  I guess I have to eat all of this myself.”

My only concern this year is that I have new insurance and I’m not sure it covers “sugar coma.”

Ah well.  Between scarfing handfuls of  mini Hershey bars I did manage to knock out another tutorial for Mod Podge Rocks.

I’m always trying to figure out ways to make versatile furniture – you know either things that serve multiple functions or things that can be easily stored when not in use.  And, to that end, I’ve come up with an easy way to make a little end table with a removable tray for a top.

So, if you’d like to see how to take this fairly random collection of objects.

And turn it into this little table with a removable tray top- head on over to MPR and check out the full tutorial.

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