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Monthly Archives: February 2012

Pay no attention to the man behind the garage door!

Part 1

First off I apologize for being a total tease and I am now happy to report that the awesome Amy of Mod Podge Rocks has completed her cross-country trek and has posted my tutorial for the Subway signs! So, if you’re at all interested in learning how to make theseOut of some bits and pieces then by all means head on over to Mod Podge Rocks  to get the full tutorial.

They are easy to make and, of course, totally customizable to whatever city inspires you.  For a local store I’ve since made ones for London and Chicago!

Part 2

I arrived home yesterday afternoon and discovered this in front of my garage door. Just patiently sitting there, waiting for me.

Now, I think I’ve chronicled my exploits of furniture acquisitions:

  • Beg: “you gonna take that with you when you move”,
  • Borrow:  “Does taking things left on the street count as borrow?” and of course
  • Steal: It wasn’t my fault!

Bottom line: I’m all about getting furniture wherever I can.

However, I’ve never had a piece of furniture just walk to my front door of its own volition.

Logic tells me, of course, that a friend, knowing of my sickness, dropped it off.  However, there was no note or subsequent email.

So, I’m choosing to believe that word has gotten out among the cast off, discarded and dilapidated furniture subculture that “there’s this guy in LA who can help you out.”   And, even as I type, pieces of furniture are making their way carefully down the yellow brick road to my door.  There’s no place like home…the garage.  There’s no place like the garage…..!



Vintage Postage Tray Tutorial

When I come across a good, affordable tray I always pick it up.  They are a great canvas for my graphic obsession and pretty easy to make.  I created a bunch for the recent Unique LA and they were a hit.and I thought I’d share how I made my Vintage Postage tray that I made using images from the invaluable Graphic’s Fairy.

I say they are “easy to make” and it’s true – however it does take a few days as they require a lot of drying time between steps.


  • Tray (was that too obvious?)
  • TSP (Tri Sodium Phosphate)
  • Sandpaper
  • Spray Primer, Paint and Sealer
  • Wood filler or spackle
  • Painters Tape
  • Graphics Fairy images!
  • Envirotex
  • Foam Brush
  • Plastic mixing cup (not pictured)
  • Mod Podge (not pictured – I use the matte finish)
  • Toothpick (too small to be pictured)
  • Wooden Coffee Stirrer (not pictured – used the last one in my coffee without thinking…sorry)

I gave the tray a light sanding and cleaned it with some TSP.  A  quick coat of primer ensures good, even paint coverage.  (The primer will also reveal any spots that need a little touch up with spackle or wood filler.  If you do have some spots just fill and sand and then do some spot priming to even everything out.)

NOTE:  You don’t need to prime or paint the actual bottom the tray where your images will be.

I wanted a stripe on the tray so I painted the sides of the tray the color of the stripe.

After that paint dried VERY THOROUGHLY I used painters tape to tape off the stripe (I measured but I’ve eye-balled it too and been OK)

and then top coated the whole thing with a couple of coats of Heirloom White.After 20 minutes or so I carefully removed the tape and gave the whole thing a coat of satin sealer

Now it was time for the best part – the graphics!

As I mentioned the majority of my images come from the oh-so-generous Graphics Fairy.  She has, literally, thousands to choose from and you can create your own “theme” so easily.  Or if you’re not into that sort of thing a commercially produced paper will work too (in the picture of my Unique LA trays up top the Paris tray is actually a commercial paper).

I design my collage on the computer and then print it out.  I use Photoshop now but I used to do these in MS Word so that’s a very doable option.

I save each image as a JPEG and then start playing around until I’m satisfied with the design.This particular tray is larger than the largest size paper I can print so I broke the design down into print-size chunksI printed out several “chunks” and then some individual pieces that would fill in the gaps.

I then layed (laid? Lay?) them in the tray for a dry fit.

Then I removed each piece, marking on the tray, if possible, where it went.   I also stacked them in reverse order – the bottom-most pieces were on the top of my pile – so I could remember what order to lay/lie them down (OK, I’m just giving up on proper English) in.

I then got busy with the Mod Podge.

Since I was working in layers I Mod Podged just the area I wanted to stick down and then layed/laid/lay that image on the tray.  Then I moved onto the next section and did the same until I had covered the entire tray.After giving it a few hours to dry I top-coated the whole thing with a layer of Mod Podge.  This step is very important.  The Envirotex will discolor any paper it comes in contact with so the sealing layer of Mod Podge needs to be thorough – go into all the corners and along all the edges.  It doesn’t need to be a super-thick layer but it does need to cover thoroughly.

After that I set it aside to dry overnight – I wanted it to be thoroughly cured.  The next morning I mixed and poured the Envirotex.

Envirotex is a great product and the only time I’ve had any trouble with it was when I didn’t follow the directions to the letter.

There are no pictures of me pouring the Envirotex as I’m not that coordinated.

However, here are my Envirotex tips.

  1. Follow the mixing directions.  Measure carefully, mix thoroughly.
  2. Humidity and heat do play a factor.  Warm up the fluids, if necessary, as directed.
  3.  I use a wooden coffee stirrer to spread out the Envirotex and gently nudge it into corners and such.
  4. I always have a toothpick handy to pop any stubborn bubbles or to fish out little bits of “stuff” that always manage to fall into the mix (or bugs…stupid bugs that manage THAT VERY MOMENT to decide to commit suicide by tray…stupid bugs….)
  5. Give it plenty of time to dry in a dust free(ish – lets be honest, outside a lab there is no such thing as “dust free”) environment.

Once it dried thoroughly I was ready to go.

If you have any questions or if something seems unclear please don’t hesitate to ask or point it out.  I realize I said it was “easy” and then provided a loooong tutorial but I assure you that once you do it you’ll realize just how straightforward it is.

Some other, random thoughts.

  1.  I have a laser printer and I’ve found that, during the Mod Podging stage, if I dip the images in water for just a few seconds it allows them to lay down more quickly and more smoothly.  I almost never have bubbling issues.  However, this won’t work with ink-jet printers as the ink will run.  Also, if you’re using a commercial paper test a little section first to make sure it will hold up.
  2. Make sure there are no gaps in your tray (like at the corners).  The Envirotex is a liquid and it will find any decent sized crack and pour out if given the chance and it’s a huge mess….trust me…I learned the hard way.
  3. Mod Podge drying time is also affected by humidity – make sure to check that your final seal coat has dried before you pour the Envirotex

Hope that was informative.


Linking up here:

When Life Gives you Lemons

Well, I’m happy to say that life certainly hasn’t given me lemons.  (My backyard did though – I have a lemon tree bush that is like something from that episode of Gilligan’s Island  – it just produces tons of lemons year round.   It’s wonderful!  But I digress)

No, no lemons from life.  However, I do feel like I’ve fallen in an Etsy hole.  It seems to happen every few months.  Things are cruising along fine – sales are great, views are good, lots of activity and then WHAM!  Darkness falls and suddenly it all gets very, very quiet.

I’m getting used to the cycle however and trying to use the time wisely.    So, in this lull I’m trying to come up with new products and new ideas.

And here is where it all ties back into lemons (see what I did there?).

I love the graphics on these old, French lemon syrup labels (if you click on the pic it will take you to the Etsy listing).  In a rare moment of…something… I actually kind of like these pictures I took too.

However, I do not like that every time I need to take a picture it somehow requires me to tear apart my entire house.  I mean, seriously, we’re talking about a 3.5×3.5 inch coaster and I managed to trash the bedroom, the living room and the kitchen trying to snap a pic as I ran from room to room muttering “I’m loosing the light!!!!! I’m loosing the light!!!!!”

Subway Art Signs

First off, thank you all who weighed in on what I should call myself!

From the funny to the sincere they were all great and now I, at the very least, feel prepared with all sorts of answers for all sorts of occasions!

I spent a good hunk of my weekend working on a new project/tutorial for the Mod Podge Rocks blog.  I had thought Amy was going to post it today but I guess I was wrong (she’s in the midst of moving so I can totally understand).  So, I’m afraid all I can offer is a little teaser.

I was pretty happy with it and am eager to share.

My goal was to create something cool but use mostly leftover bits (my continuing quest to clean up and clean out).  So with this diverse group of leftoversI made these subway art signs celebrating my two cities (NY and LA)

I will let you know as soon as the full tutorial gets posted.  They are pretty easy!

Also coming down the pike – new coaster designs, new HOME sign designs, a tray tutorial and who knows what else I can think up!

Hope everyone had a great long weekend.

So…what do you do?

I had a totally fun, “play in the sandbox” day today.  I’ve started about five projects all at once (typical) and my brain was exploding with more.   Pictures will be forthcoming tomorrow.

In the meantime I want to ask a question of you all.

I keep getting flummoxed when people ask me the simple question:

What do you do?

Someone asked me that a few days ago and what came out of my mouth was:

I make stuff

And that pretty much does sum it up (coasters, furniture, HOME signs, letters etc etc) but it doesn’t sound very professional.

To be honest this has always been a difficult question for me because I think my most consistent emotional state is Embarrassed.

I’ve always  been kind of embarrassed by whatever I was doing – be it going to acting school, acting, working a day job…..what I’m wearing.  It just always seems somewhat silly.  Honestly, I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember.  I’m quite sure I arrived in the delivery room thinking “oh my god everyone is looking at me.  This is so embarrassing.  I’m sorry about the mess – I’ll clean it up I promise.” And then the doctor probably spanked me which just, you know, reinforced my feelings.

Anyway, you get the picture.

So what do you all say?

I’ve contemplated:

I’m a home based craft entrepreneur (pretentious)

I’m a craftepeneur (very hard to say)

I create tchotchkes for all occasions

I steal ideas from others

I just can’t say “I’m a craftsman” as that just sounds too….something….it makes me picture Norm Abrams – which isn’t a bad thing… I just don’t think I’m at that level.

I can’t say “I’m an artist” – it’s just waaaay to pretentious and if the person said “ohhh what kind of art?” and I replied “coasters!”  I think we’d both feel a bit let down.

What do you say?

Unique LA Report and…I may be going crazy

Whew, I’m still a little wiped out from this weekend.

It was a crush to get everything all set for Unique LA but it turned out to be a good show.

My table was, as it often seems to be, a kind of a color and design overload as you can see: The picture came out a little muted (frightening statement I realize) but trust me – there was a lot of color in a very small space…seizure inducing color…..really gotta work on that.

The crowd was great and Sonja who is in charge of all things Unique did an amazing job.  Free food, free drinks and a great party vibe!

I even had a few people who remembered me from the Holiday Show and came back because I was sold out of whatever it was they wanted at the time.  How cool it that?!

I also acquired what I think are my favorite ever booth neighbors.  Amy (and her husband) of  Lemonbird Handmade Jams

A)     They were incredibly nice – getting me drinks etc as I was alone for this time around.  And, even more importantly:

B)      They make truly, sinfully, delicious jams and such.  Trust me, her Salted Carmel Jam is insanely good!

So, the Unique LA hurdle has been cleared and now it’s time to get back to work and get seriously organized.  You may recall a post a while ago about how I was going to get seriously organized.

It didn’t happen.

But this time it will!

Oh.  And I may be going crazy.

You see, I spend a lot of time at home alone now and I read a tip about how to get and stay organized.

The suggestion was that every time you put something down you should ask yourself “is that where that goes?”

I’m not usually a big believer in ideas like that but this one appealed and I found myself doing it.

At first it was great but after a while you realize that you’ve basically released your inner nag.

So now every time I set anything down this kind of obnoxious voice in my head says:

“Is that where that goes?”

And, of late, another, angry/annoyed voice has taken to shouting in response:

“IT IS NOW!!!!!!”

So, I’m all alone and hearing voices.

I mean, I guess as long as they don’t start saying things like “kill” or “my precious” or “it will put the lotion in the basket” I’m OK but I think I need to get some books on tape or something.

I need some minions

First off, thank you all so much for your feedback about the wooden sign.  I really appreciate it.  I’ll be making a bunch more in the next couple of days and will be following your suggestions (thanks too to whoever posted it on Pinterest – I think it’s up to 30 something repins).

And welcome to the new folks – thank you for signing up!

We are now up to 102 residents here on Cheltenham Road and I’m so appreciative!

And that’s  great because I am in serious need of some minions!  You know, folks who will do stuff for me (and of course, gladly sacrifice themselves when James Bond breaks into my garage secret lair!)……or at least let me know if they like the stuff I’m working on.  Applications are currently being accepted*


You see I’ve been going a little nuts trying to get ready for: This is Unique LA’s first Valentine’s show and, rather than being juried, they have just picked a few vendors that they like to participate and I was quite honored to be included.

So, if you’re in LA (or nearby) do put it on your schedule.  The Unique folks run a great show complete with free food and drinks and a truly festive vibe that just makes for a totally fun afternoon.

And at the same time as I’m gearing up for Unique a new retail store on the West Side asked me to sell my wares through them.

Oh, and it’s also Rose Bowl this weekend too (I’m working on figuring out how to be in two places at once).

So, while that is great for me it’s not that great for blogging since my blog posts would consist mostly of

Monday:  Made Coasters

Tuesday: Made Coasters

Wednesday:  Made coasters and candle blocks

Lather Rinse Repeat

But it’s only for this “crush” week and then I’ll be free to dive into some new projects like this great little dresser I just picked up.

And it’s top is so attractive I think I’ll just leave it “as is” cause who wouldn’t want that?!

I’m seeing kids dresser using chalkboard paint on the drawers…whaddya think?


*Minion Position Benefits Package:  Uniform and weapon provided.  No Health Care.  All the pie you can eat.


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