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Monthly Archives: August 2012

To Blog or Not to Blog

To Blog or not to blog

That is the question.

OK, I didn’t mean to take a week off from blogging.  It’s just……I just could not come up with anything interesting to say.

The advice you always hear about blogging is that you must be consistent.

Blog regularly and often.

Which all sounds good except…..when you have nothing to say.

I spent my week working on some new, custom HOME signs including Saint Louis!And, I’d been invited to do a kind of exclusive show so it was time for my usual mad prep.  And I just felt silly announcing to the world “I made more coasters!”

So, in that circumstance is it better to keep quiet or should you come up with something/anything to talk about?  What do you think?

But I’m back and had a fun weekend.

The show was at an exclusive club called SoHo House.  There are SoHo houses in NYC and London etc etc and they are quite, quite posh.

I wanted to have a good variety of things to display so I came up with some new designs for my candle blocksYes, I can hear you thinking “New blocks!  David!  Way to really stretch your creativity!

But they are so versatile and fun to work on!

I also got some new magnets in there.My magnets are, basically, tiny versions of my coasters.  I started making them because people kept either A) thinking the coasters were magnets or B) saying “these are great but I don’t need/use coasters.”

When my niece saw these she blurted out, “did you make these?  They look so…real.”

I assured her that they were, in fact, “real” and that I wasn’t sure whether I should be complimented or offended.

She explained that what she meant was that the packaging looked like something you’d find in a “real” store and she was having trouble believing it came from me.

I explained that I still wasn’t sure whether to be complimented or offended.

The show was great though.

The club is in the Penthouse of a high rise in West Hollywood and they set us up in the roof garden with sweeping 360 degree views of the city.  It is just staggeringly beautiful and I confess I felt a little ghetto with my pegboard displays and not-ironed tablecloths.  But, happily, the beautiful people in their beautiful room didn’t seem to mind and it was a terrific afternoon.

I’d show pics but they have strict rules.  No cameras.  You can’t even use your cell phone to make a call!  There was an “official” photographer though so we’ll see what he came up with.

I have projects in mind for this week however so stay tuned for consistent blogging!

Vintage (ish) Paris Flower Box Tutorial

Well it’s time for another Super Masculine Project from Cheltenham Road……

I’ve mentioned before that sometimes I see a piece of furniture and know instantly what I want to do with it – repair, color, style everything.

That sometimes happens with little project too.  I see something in a magazine or on a blog and think “I HAVE to make that!”

Such was the case when I came across this terrific tutorial for a salvaged wood toolbox at A Diamond in the Stuff.Doesn’t that look cool!?  All made from things she had hanging around.  Her tutorial is great and she just made it seem so, I don’t know…. do-able that I had to try it myself.  And I knew exactly how I wanted to do it.

Of course, this makes no sense.  I have no need for decorative salvaged wood tool boxes, the style I have in mind has nothing to do with anything in my home nor with anything I sell.  But I had all the pieces!  It seemed so straightforward!  It seemed so cool! I had to do it!

So I dove in.

Materials You will need

  • Two fence posts ($2.35 each)
  • 1 spindle (i used a leftover you could buy one from Home Depot)
  • Paint – flat latex leftovers are perfect
  • A Candle
  • Screws
  • Spackle (optional)
  • Wax (optional)


  • Saw (or you could have the guys at Home Depot do the cutting)
  • Drill
  • Sander
  • Blender Pen (optional)

Cut List

  • Sides: 2 @ 17″
  • Bottom 1 @ 16″
  • End Caps 2 @ 10″
  • Spindle 16″

A Note on the Cut List: My fence posts were 1/2″ thick – yours may be different so measure and calculate before cutting

I was going for a two-color, chippy look so I didn’t do any sanding and got right to painting both sides of every piece with my under-color which was a leftover blue.

After that coat had dried I took my trusty candle and rubbed it, randomly, everywhere.

Then I gave everything  a quick coat of flat white (leftover ceiling paint actually) and set it aside to dry thoroughly – like overnight thoroughly.

When the paint was dry I attached a course grit sandpaper to my sander and went over everythingThis step produces the “chippy” look but it clogs up the sandpaper pretty quickly.  Since I do this method a lot for my candle blocks and letters I’ve taken to saving old sanding disks that are just about headed to the trash to use for this.

For my version of these boxes I wanted to use some old french graphics.  So I put a blender pen under my pillow when I went to bed and, as I was promised, the Graphics Fairy came and left me these – already reversed and ready to go.The Blender Pen method requires a laser printer, working quickly and elbow grease.

Print out your image on plan copy paper, immediately lay it, face down on the surface of the wood, take your blender pen and rub like you’ve never rubbed before (seriously, you have to press pretty  dang hard).Next up assembly.

I marked each piece where they would connectAnd then marked where I wanted to drill my pilot holes.  Pilot holes are key to preventing the wood from splitting. (tip: to ensure that the spindle would be level I placed the end pieces on top of each other and drilled through both of them at the same time to create the pilot holes in the exact same spot on both)

The fence wood is very soft so the screws ended up nicely recessed but I wanted to cover them up further so I just dabbed a little spackle over each one and then a little touch up paint – now you can’t see them at all.  After a light coat of past wax it was time to rummage in the yard for flowers.Shabby Chic French Flower Box TutorialVery simple, very inexpensive!

(you will have noticed there are two of them.  The two-fence-piece- method leaves you with leftover wood so I made a second, smaller version)

Now what to do with these super-manly objet d’art…….

The Great Purge

You may recall that last week began The Great Purge.

The garage which looked like thisjust had to be cleaned out.  I was losing things, getting frustrated and it just plain old wasn’t a place I wanted to  spend time.  I had to get serious about preparing for the fall.

So, the dumpster arrived and I began.

I was ruthless…..It was kind of painful……and kind of freeing.

I had to admit that some projects just weren’t ever going to happen.  The thrust of my business has changed or grown or something and some things that looked like great ideas now just look like false starts.

I started a box for donations which quickly overflowed.

Furniture I was never going to get to was placed at the curb and a Craig’s List ad posted.And progress has been made!

The garage now looks like thisI even gained an island/work table!  Now, at last I have someplace to put things down (this is HUGE step up).

There is a place to put things down next to the painting area too!Well, there will be as soon as I find the shelf pegs….I had one kinda/sorta bad kinda sorta/good idea.

As I went through the garage I kept encountering “things that have no home.”  Finding a home for the homeless things was going to slow down my blitzkrieg approach to cleaning so I created the “Box of Things that Need to Find a Home.”

Which quickly filled up (and became blurry).

The shelf pegs are in there somewhere…….

Probably at the bottom.

BUT! I can lay all that stuff out on my work table!

So, I’m far from done and it’s never going to be pretty or magazine worthy but I can find things (they’re at the bottom of the Homeless box!) and I can move!

The Purge also got me motivated to call a local shop owner to ask if she would like to have my furniture in her store.  I’d been dragging my feet about (fear of rejection I suppose) it but she was enthusiastic and now I have a new outlet and a justification for working on furniture!

So new ideas are tumbling over themselves and I feel kind of renewed.


Easy Craft Show Display Tower Tutorial and an Upsetting Personal Realization

I’ve had a few questions about my new craft show display tower thingys.  So I created a tutorial…. and had an upsetting personal revelation.

These are not complicated (or revolutionary) designs but they are versatile and I  think they could be adapted by anyone for their own needs.

If you want to be exactly like me (and, according to my mother, everyone does!) here is the first step

Step 1:

Carefully measure the cargo capacity of your Honda Fit – take note of height and depth of storage

Step 2

Totally ignore those measurements and make something that doesn’t fit.

Curse….A lot.

Step 3

Find yourself wondering if, maybe, David Bull (1st grade frenemy) wasn’t correct when he said that you were “dumb and your mother dresses you funny.”

Turn to photo archives for solace and make upsetting discovery.

Step 4

Suck it up and try again

Gather Supplies!

Gather your materials – my displays are 6’6” tall and the measurements reflect that but you could make them any size

You will need:

  • Two pieces of 2”x2” pine lumber cut to 78” each (select carefully make sure they are as straight as possible).  Sanded smooth
  • Two pieces of 2”x2” lumber cut to 21” each.  Sanded smooth.
  • 1 piece of thin backing material (luann, melamine, it could be cardboard if you liked) cut to 68” high by 24” wide
  • Shoe Molding cut down to 1.5” pieces for shelf supports
  • Carpenters Glue
  • Screws
  • Paint (green – don’t even think about another color)
  • Drill and drill bits
  • Carpenters Square (optional)
  • Clamps (optional – not pictured)

Step 1 – Mark for Cross Pieces

I chose to give my display boards legs so, laying them next to each other, I marked each side 10” up from the bottom.

I then used the cross piece as a guide and marked that and put an X where I wanted to drill my pilot holes.

I repeated the process at the top of the frame as well and then drilled my pilot holes (pilot holes are key here to keep your wood from splitting when you insert the screw).

Step 2 – Mark and attach the shelf supports

Before I assembled the frame I wanted to get the shelf support in place – that way I knew the shelves would be level.So I carefully marked where I wanted each shelf and……went and had lunch and forgot to attach them.

 Later, when I realized this screw up, I found my thoughts returning to David Bull and his cruel taunts.

I tried to reassure myself that the first photo was an anomaly

It was not

I then called David Bull and apologized for thinking poorly of him all these years.

Step 3 – Assemble the Frame

When you’re working by yourself clamps are your friend (sounds sadder than I meant it to).  If you clamp them to a carpenters square you not only get a true 90 degree angle you leave your hands free to drill the screw into place.Repeat this on all four corners and you have this!

Step 3A Painting

Here is where my tutorial gets a little goofy.  It’s, like, 103 today and painting ain’t gonna happen.  But if it were, now is the time when you would paint the frame and the backboard (green!).

Step 4 Attach the Backboard

After the paint dries just a screw every foot or so will do just fine.And, voila!  You have this!(OK I am cheating – that’s a picture of my original displays– since the new one wasn’t painted I wanted to show you these.)

My goal was to make something versatile.  So, as you see I’ve attached the two of them with a piano hinge.  This allowed me to set them up in an accordian style for my Renegade booth as you can see here:For Unique LA they were set up as four sided towers and I connected them at the top with L brackets

They could also be hinged along the top rails to create an A Frame display.

I backed two of them with peg-board so I could hang my letters and magnets


You’re probably wondering why I haven’t talked about the shelves.

What I’ve learned and what I’ll do going forward

My original shelves were simply two thin strips of wood glued together at a right angle and paintedThey worked just fine and held the coasters in place when wind would kick up or during the occasional customer jostling but I decided that I’m going to retrofit them using something like thisIt’s hard to get a good picture of it but this is simply a strip of wood with a strip of plexiglass attached to it.  This keeps the items more visable and you can create a higher “retaining wall” so-to-speak.

The shelves are just glued in place onto the toe kick brackets.

I hope this is helpful and if I’ve left any steps out or been vague don’t hesitate to ask questions.

I’m very happy with the displays  and comforted by the fact that, though I may be dumb occasionally, I was not the only one my mother dressed funny.

Love you mom!

Getting My Financial House in Order

I’m looking to August to be the catchup, clean up, organize, get ahead of the game month.

First up.  Finances!

Before I left my corporate job I saved and saved and planned and planned.  I socked money away wherever I could.  I made sure to do the high cost house maintenance jobs while I still had a reliable income etc etc.

And it worked!  I left corporate land feeling good……and that’s when I dropped the ball.

Well, not so much “dropped the ball” as “let the ball slide slowly to the floor and roll away while I thought about other things.”

I’ve always been good with money in that I’ve always saved it and been cheap frugal.  I’ve been referred to as someone with “deep pockets and short arms” which is very true.  But I’ve never had much of a plan beyond “don’t be poor.”

That is, until I came across this book (the link will take you to Amazon).

It’s a blunt title but it’s the perfect title too.

It’s truly designed for the self employed and it’s written in way that even folks like me whose eyes glaze over whenever anyone starts talking about stocks or 401K’s can read, enjoy and practice. 

The authors understand the ups and downs of the freelance world and take you through step-by-step to build that sense of security that comes from having your financial legs under you.

In the first few chapters they help you figure out what it is that you want.  I was kind of stunned to realize that, beyond the aforementioned “don’t be poor” I had no idea what I really wanted.  The revelations were eye-opening and reinvigorating.

The rest of the book deals (in a very do-able way) with how, exactly, you can meet your goals while working with an unpredictable income.

Whether, like me, you want your handcrafted business to be your full income or if it’s just your side-thing I think this book would be worth a read.

(I am not being compensated for this book plug.  In truth, frugal me got it from the library first and only after I’d read it and realized how good it was did I actually buy a copy)

So, that’s the financial side and, next up, the real world side.

I’ve been so pleased with my new workroom.  Of course, certain bugs had to be ironed  out but, overall it’s made me feel much better, more organized and productive.

The garage/workshop on the other hand……..

looks like this:My lack of organization and my hoarder I’ll-use-this-someday mentality have combined to create, well, a total mess.

I have project after project stacked precariously on top of each other and the Blair Witch Room is even worse (and not just because the things in it are blurry):I know I’ve blogged about this before but this time I mean it!  There is a dumpster coming on Monday and I’m going to be ruthless with myself.

It wont end up being magazine-worthy but it will be a huge step in the right direction!

OK.  Off to work!




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