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Evolution of a Design

It’s still crazy-hot here (and probably where you are too) which disinclined me to go outside and saw, sand and paint.

But that has given me time to focus on new designs for Halloween and Midsummer Scream.

My funny (ok, I think they’re funny – your mileage may vary) Halloween coasters have, apparently, acquired a following.

I was, pleasantly, thrown last year when several people came by the booth looking “this year’s” coaster to add to their collection.

I didn’t know that was a thing.

I’m a collectible!!!!!  Step aside Beanie Babies!

OK, so these designs have always been a fun collaboration between Geralyn and I (me? myself?).  We brainstorm, kick around ideas and then I work out the designs and there is more kibitzing.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  You get the idea.

And I thought maybe you might find seeing the evolution of an idea interesting.

(Or not.  I could see “not” too so if your first thought was “no I won’t” this probably isn’t the post for you.)

Also, I feel compelled to say, up front, that I am not a graphic designer.  I have zero training and this is not a tutorial.  If any of you ARE graphic designers and I’m giving you hives with my font and layout choices I apologize.

So…….

FRANKENSTEIN!

I’ve never been fully satisfied with any of the previous Frankenstein designs.  This year I started off trying to do a new one until we veered off into ideas that seemed a bit more Bride of Frankenstein and that kinda clicked!

I wanted it to look like an old add and I needed a “bride” image.

The hunt for Public Domain images lead me down some internet rabbit holes but I ended up narrowing in on Antique Brassiere Advertisements.

(which must have really messed with those Google tracking bots that are supposed to match you up with advertisements you might respond to).

Google Bot 1: OK, he’s into women’s antique underwear……

Google Bot 2: Got it!  I’ll alert the police  and you send him ads for Queen Victoria’s Secret to keep him distracted.

Anyway, I found these:

I liked how the woman’s hair in the Debevoise and Reduso ads kind of looked like the Bride of Frankenstein and I liked the layout of the “pretty girls” ad.

So I isolated the figure and matched the background color.

and laid in some of the phrases Geralyn and I had played with

Please do not copy or distribute

Fine.

A little boring.

….More brainstorming with Geralyn.

Needed a bit more space and some balance at the bottom.  Move the “try” to gain some space and add a black bar.

Please do not copy or distribute

Better.

But still not right.  It needed more bells and whistles.

I went on over to The Graphics Fairy -an AMAZING resource if you don’t know about it – and grabbed a few banners to try out and changed the text a bit.

Oh, and maybe it would be better if she looked a different way?  So I flipped the bride (sounds like a euphemism) – seemed like it made her more involved or something.

Please do not copy or distribute

Cool.  Better.  The “friends” text wasn’t really doing it for me and it was all a bit squished.

Also, she needed a little more hair (I can sympathize)

And it needed something more dynamic up top.

Please do not copy or distribute

 

Pretty good!  The blacks give some dimension and moving the text at the bottom around allowed me to make it a bit larger.

Almost there……juuuuust need to correct the spelling of “Elixir” (thanks Julie!)

A border, some antiquing texture and “dirt” (hard to see – sorry) it’s looking pretty good!

Please do not copy or distribute

It needs a few more tweaks but what do you think?  Do I have “this year’s” coaster or should I work up something else?

We’d toyed around with Frankenstein’s Salvage Yard or Igor’s Yoga and Pilates Studio (the latter mostly because I wanted to use the phrase “NamaSlay”)

Tomorrow I really do have to go outside.  Wish me luck!

 

 

The Upside of Crafting in Hell!

Date: Saturday July 7.

Time: 8AM

Temp: 94 degrees headed to 112

Personal Status: Do not have project for blog even started.  Am hot.


Date: Saturday July 7

Time: 4PM

Temp: 114

Personal Status: Still hot. Project totally done!

How did I do it?!!

Crafting in hell means that everything dries super fast!!!!

So, there you go.  Upside!


I’m trying to get myself geared up for Midsummer Scream the big Halloween Convention at the end of the month.  I’m busy making my yearly best sellers (clicking on the pics will bring you to my Etsy Shop):vintage Ouija Board Coaster Set by Cheltenham Road

But want to come up with some new signs.

I grabbed some scrap MDF that was already cut to 2” wide strips and cut them to 20 inches.

I stained them and waited for them to dry.

and……5 minutes later they were dry!

I rubbed some candlewax along the edges and painted them (sloppily) with white latex paint – and waited for them to dry.

5 minutes later they….

were not dry! (let’s keep it real)

10 minutes later – totally dry!

I sanded away at the edges (the paint won’t stick where the candlewax was rubbed so it pulls away revealing the stained wood beneath) to create an old, peeling paint, look.

And I used my rotary sander to gouge up the ends for an even rougher look (pics of that in minute).

I laid them out -staggering the top/bottom edges – and used my pin nailer and a couple more pieces of scrap to bind them all together.

Being in a bit of a hurry, I adapted my design from my Victorian Gothic Coasters.

My sign is 12.5″ wide by 22″ tall and I set up my design so that I could print it out in three sections (shown here in different colors just to make it easier to see – ie it doesn’t print that way) on legal sized paper.

My apologies for the watermarks and small size – people keep taking this design (and my other coaster designs) and claiming it’s their own work…

Using my polycrylic image transfer method (details here) I laid the image on the slats and then set it outside to dry for the standard overnight dry time.

But after 2 hours it was dry!

I laid a very damp towel over it

and rubbed away the paper and……done!  4PM!

Here is a closer pic so you can see those roughed-up edges:

Halloween sign #1 all finished.

Thanks Satan!

Also…and not to equate the two “thanks”….thank you all for your feedback last wee about the Game Tile project idea.  You all are the best! I so appreciated all the points you made, the careful consideration you gave it and the ideas you came up with.  I’m actually even more excited about them – although a bit more tempered/grounded  ( which is good) – and I’ll keep you posted on how they come out.  Thanks again so much!

Make Over-Sized, Vintage, Game Pieces

A brief detour on the way to Halloween.

I’ve come up with another (potential) Use-Up-That-Scrap-Wood project!

Of course, you may be thinking that the first step in reducing scrap wood might be, perhaps, to create less scrap wood to begin with?

Reasonable.

But that would involve the dreaded accurate measuring and the even more terrifying planning ahead!

Actually , you’ll be proud to know I did that recently.  For the last round of coaster-blank cutting I measured!  I optimized!  I planned!

And I’m happy to report that after jumping through all the hoops I ended up almost zero scrap!  Genius!  Perfect!

And after I did the third most dreaded thing: Math I discovered that I had saved exactly .005 cents per piece.

#motivating!  #planthatParisvacation

Anyway….

As you know I kinda have a thing for letters.

I’ve been making letters of various sizes and styles since I started Cheltenham Road.

Distressed letters

Distressed Wood Letters Tutorial

HOME signs (click pic for link to Etsy)Los Angeles Wooden Letter HOME sign

Letters with vintage wallpaper

Giant Santa Monica Signs (each letter is 16″ tall)Vintage Santa Monica Sign

Big New York letters11 inch high wood letters vintage New York City collage by Cheltenham Road

I could go on……

As you may not know The Borrowers was one of my favorite books as a child and I think it messed up my sense of scale.  I always seem to think “wouldn’t it be cool if I made a giant version of X?”

Recently I saw a magazine that used old game tiles to spell out the titles of each article.   You know, scrabble tiles, anagram tiles…stuff like that.

And I thought “wouldn’t it be cool to make an oversized game piece letter alphabet?”

To make them all different this became an “every tool you got” project: stencils, image transfer, mod podge – you get the idea

I started with:

  • Scrap wood cut to varied sizes: 4.5 squares, rectangles, a few circles
  • Folk Art Home Decor Chalk Paints – various colors
  • Folk Art Stencils and poncing brushes
  • Polycrylic (not pictured)
  • Small Wood letters (on sale at Michaels)
  • Matte Mod Podge (not pictured)
  • A scanned print of a Scrabble tile
  • Sanpaper (not pictured)
  • E6000 glue (not pictured)

I painted all the wood blank tiles different colors using Folk Art’s Home Decor Chalk Paint.  They come in a great range of colors, go on beautifully and dry quickly (key for Mr. Crafting-in-a-Hurry).  When everything was dry I sanded them for a distressed look.For some of the letters I used Folk Art Stencils for letters and numbers.Folk Art Stencils

For others I used my polycrylic image transfer technique (details here)

I made one to look like a children’s block using a bit more scrap wood, cut, painted and distressed and a small wood letter from Michaels.  I used the E6000 glue to attach all the elements.

For the scrabble tile I simply scanned a tile and blew it up to 6×6 (my wood blank is 4.5×4.5)*

* I used Matte Mod Podge for this but only had a bottle of Gloss Lustre when I went to take photos – either will work.

To make the “image” wrap around the blank I marked where each corner would be

Then cut away the corner

After covering the front and sides with Mod Podge I just attached the print and folded the sides down and let it dry

I like them!  They’re fun!  Easy to make and you could do a lot of variations and spell pretty much anything you want.DIY Wood Letter Tiles

But…..

I discovered as I did my research that there aren’t many super-identifiable vintage game pieces.  Once you get past Scrabble tiles they are pretty much just, well….. letters.

Image courtesy of SplendidSundries on Etsy – click on picture to be taken to Etsy

So my question is – would you know they are game pieces?  Does it matter?

My thinking was to make all the letters in the alphabet and have a nice display box where people could pick out what they wanted.  They would be fun and easy to make. They would use up all those leftover supplies and bits and parts etc.

But do you think it would appeal? (not rhetorical – I’m honestly asking for your opinion).

OK, back to Halloween planning…..

 

Disclaimer: I am a member of the Plaid Ambassador program.  Most of the materials used in this project were provided to me by Plaid – makers of Mod Podge, Folk Art Paints, brushes and stencils.  Other than the supplies I receive no other compensation.  Links are provided just for convenience and the opinions expressed are totally my own.

 

Craft Booth Set Up Part II: What About Me?!

Next up in my craft booth journey:

The Sales Table!

(I know!  Exciting!)

In my booth I always mean to carve out a nice space for me.  A place where I can stand attentively, check people out (I mean transactions, not judging their outfits….though, lets be honest, I’m gonna do that too) and have some space to store bags and tape and all the other stuff that I need.

But it never happens.

I always end up stuck in the back, sometimes only able to converse with people over the top of some display.

But not anymore! (this is the exciting part alluded to earlier – brace yourselves).

For the Jackalope Pasadena show I was determined to come up with a better option.

Looking around the garage for a solution a lightbulb went off.

I had been gifted these two folding bookshelves but had never found a place for them in the house.

(*having lost all my good pics please forgive this photographic tour of my back patio)

But I realized that if I set them next to each other

Wrapped them in a drop cloth (using binder clips to keep it in place) and topped them with a length of board stained to match my other shelving

I had a great sales table that had a narrow, space-saving profile, a little room for some “impulse purchase” products and, best of all?

TONS of storage in the back!

It worked perfectly!  I didn’t even need to attach the top – the weight of the wood kept it in place.  And it folds up super-compactly (probably not actually a word) for easy transport.

I think I’m going to paint the CR logo on the front for the fall shows.

So I was good, right?  Problem solved and I never have to think about it again!

Nope!

Lets be real I’m still (relentlessly) me!

I re-arranged things for the Long Beach Patchwork show and it was better for customers but I was back to not-much-space-for-me.

So I reduced myself to one bookshelf.

OK, that’s fine….but I have waaaayyyy to much drop cloth for that (and I’m trying not to buy more stuff)

However, I do have these panels that I made a while ago that have appeared, in various combinations at other shows.

It turns out one of them fit perfectly on the single bookcase.   The only problem was that it was just a few inches too short.  So I trimmed the “top” out with a strip of scrap wood.

Perfect little podium!

From it’s previous incarnation it has places to hang signs and such – like I did here:

But I’m wondering if I might make a round CR logo sign to hang on the front though (although it will then look like I’m playing in some 40s style swing band).

But I like it.  Equally compact for packing – still a good amount of storage.

I just need to build some little side pieces just to really finish it off.

So, I think I have my permanent solution to the no-space-for-me problem.Craft Show Sales Table Set Up ideas. Versatile, portable and with plenty of storage space.

I think I’m done, for now, with my booth layout (stop laughing, it’s rude)

Up next?!

Halloween!

Seriously?!

Yes, seriously.  I have that big Halloween convention Midsummer Scream” at the end of July and I ton of ideas to try out.

Craft Fair Booth Set Up Part 1

Photo Courtesy Nik V Phototgraphy

Rats!

Today’s post was supposed to be all about how I had finally triumphed in my craft booth set up for last Sunday’s Patchwork show.

However, I encountered a teeny-tiny glitch with that plan:

  • None of the pictures I took seem to exist*
  • “Triumph” is sort of a stronger word than can be applied to my achievement

I know!

Upsetting!

Pi (who featured prominently in several pics) threw himself to the ground in his disappointment and was almost inconsolable.

But I did improve my set up (I think) so perhaps I can share the journey and, hopefully be of some help to others.

Here’s the deal.

Of the many things I struggle with (fighting my all ice-cream diet instinct, remembering sunscreen, not banging my head into solid objects) booth set-up is one of my biggest conundrums.

You’d think that by now I’d have it down.

You’d be wrong.

You see, I’m convinced that if I could just create the perfect booth, the perfect displays then THEN everyone would buy everything!

Which is a perfectly reasonable thing to focus on…..if your goal is to go insane.Craft booth set up for Cheltenham Road

I basically have two, three, a lot of main problems:

  1. I’m too eclectic. Soap sellers sell soap, the tshirt vendors sell t-shirts etc.  Me?   I make  coasters….and trays……and signs…..and wine charms…..and magnets…..and candle blocks…..and wood letters…..and flower holders….
  2. Because, as a customer, I often go into booths I’m convinced that everything needs to be as close to the front as possible
  3. Everything needs to fit in a somewhat small car and be easy to set up/break down
  4. I need a place for me
  5. I need to be able to get out of the booth and not trap myself behind the table)
  6. I need accessible storage
  7. I need to find a place for Pi to feature predominately so as to lure people in

Today I’m gonna focus just on number 1 –Eclectic and Flexible (sounds like a disorganized yoga class I took once)

Of course, you may be thinking, “David, perhaps you should, um, calm down, focus and sell coasters like your friends the candle makers, tshirt makers and such?

And you’d be right.

But I’d be bored.

The fun part is making.  Coming up with new ideas.

And I pretty much have the Coaster Display down.  As you can see above, the towers have been with me in some form or another since my first show.

It’s the “everything else” that comes and goes that needs to be worked out.

But I think I’ve got that down to a science or at least a solid theory.

I’ve started using various combinations of inexpensive, stained 1×12 boards, wood crates, drop cloths and tables.

This gives me plenty of flexible display space while not taking up much room in transport.

For Patchwork Santa Ana I laid everything out across the front:

With the Coaster Display lined up flat along the wall

Here is a sort of schematic I put together to give you an idea

It worked great – sort of.

Everything packed in the car nicely.

Everything was up front except magnets and their sales were way down.

Pi was kinda hidden behind the display and the tables.

I got lucky because the space next to me was wide open but if it hadn’t been there would have been a very bad bottleneck at the sales table with customers not being able to get back out of the booth without jostling through a crowd.

So for Patchwork Long Beach I changed things up a bit (and sorry, here is where the pictures magically disappeared so you’ll need to make due with my never-meant-to-be-published phone pics of the set up in my driveway).

I swapped in a 6′ table and set up the shelves in an L formation

Here’s another schematic:

I moved the magnets up to the other corner and put the Coaster Display in it’s three-sided tower layout.

Pi was more prominent.  Perhaps too prominent.

He literally stole a toy from a baby!

The child toddled into the booth carrying a yellow, fluffy, stuffed something.

Pi wagged his tail, sidled over, said “I’ll just take that, thank-you,” and retreated under a table.

He was totally gentle, the kid hardly noticed, the parents laughed (which doesn’t bode well for the child’s future) and I was mortified.

But other than that the layout worked!

The shelves are flexible, easy to pack and any random thing I make can be displayed without coming up with a whole new system.

The crates double as storage for transport and, with some care, everything fits in or on the car!

I have some other refinements in mind for the next round but, hopefully, I’m done overhauling the set up for every show.

I’m sure I’ve confused some folks or there are questions so don’t hesitate to fire away if I’ve been unclear about something that would be helpful.

I’m planning posts on my Sales Table and an update on that hanging wall.  Stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

Photo Display Board Tutorial

Last weekend’s Patchwork Festival in Santa Ana went really well!  Beautiful weather, great crowds,  good sales and I may possibly have figured out a good, final, booth set up….more on that in another post.

This Sunday is Patchwork Long Beach!

Patchwork Show Long Beach. Sunday June 10th

I have no idea why I thought “cool! Two shows almost back to back” sounded good but apparently, in the darkness of January, I did.

So here I am – madly restocking!

However, my Photo Display Boards have gotten good response at all the recent shows so I thought it might be fun to share how I make them.  Also, Geralyn came up with a great suggestion for a new one!

Disclaimer: While I’ve labeled this a tutorial it’s really more of “here’s-what-I-did-you-can-do-something-similar-but-I’m-not-saying-you-should-do-exactly-this.  However, that seemed like an unwieldy title so rest assured I’ll be offering up other options for each step as we go.

These signs fall into my Use Up Your Scrap-wood mission in life.

So I started with:

  • Scrap plywood 30” long by 7” tall.
  • 3 eyehole screws
  • Ikea RikTig clips
  • 36” threaded rod (from the hardware store) cut down to 30″
  • Decorative Threaded End caps (from the same hardware store)
  • Folk Art Aniquing Wax

(not pictured but strongly implied)

  • White paint
  • Drill
  • Minwax Polycrylic
  • Sandpaper
  • hacksaw (for cutting the threaded rod down to size)

My board was already painted white but had it not been I would have done it –  regular latex paint works (Milk paint would be fine too) – just make sure its thoroughly dry.  I then sanded off just the edges for a slightly worn look.

Geralyn’s (brilliant I think) idea was that I should make one that could be used to show off children’s artwork so I created a graphic that fit with my “vintagy” style – an old Crayon Box.

Alternate: I also toyed with the idea of just using simple text that said “Look what I made!” or the Picasso quote “all children are artists.”  Any text or graphic would work.

I did my usual image transfer technique (detailed instructions here).

It’s quite simple – I print graphics out in reverse on a laser printer and adhere them, face-down, onto the plywood using Minwax Polycrylic.

For a  sign this long I had to create three, separate, sections printed on regular legal-sized paper which had to be lined up.

After letting the polycrylic dry overnight I took my very wet rag (no need to be delicate) and rubbed away the paper to reveal the graphic.

It takes a couple of rounds of rubbing to get all the paper off and if, like me, you’re going for a vintagy look, you can be fairly aggressive since any image that rubs away just adds to the aged look.

I then used Folk Art Antiquing Was and a pouncing bush to add a bit more distress to the fairly pristine wood.

(In truth I think I may have over-distressed this one.  There is a fine line between “look an old sign!” and “you need to clean that” and I think I may have crossed it.)

After the wax had dried and I’d buffed it a bit I added the eye-hole screws (pre-drilling the holes)….

….ran the threaded rod through them and capped each end with the decorative caps.

I had stumbled on these Ikea RikTig hangers the other day and they work perfectly (as well as being quite inexpensive).Alternate: If you didn’t want to use a rod a tautly stretched wire, a wood dowel or string would work perfectly.  If you’re not near an Ikea then small clothespins would work or, even possibly, be better!

I don’t have any kids so, after stealing some artwork from innocent children passing by, I was all set to go!

As I mentioned any sort of graphic would work.

My initial sign was just black and white for a made-up camera shop

I got a bit more colorful for a mid-century version.

These are fun to make and I think the idea is easily adaptable.

If image transfer isn’t your thing stencils would work great as would more straightforward decoupage.  Lots of options!

And, as always, if you make something similar, I’d love to see the photos.

Back next time with Adventures in Booth Design!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slow Progress and and Update!

I interrupt this update for a quick PSA:

The folks at Plaid are having an awesome sale on all Mod Podge branded products on their site (so, Mod Podge, tools, brushes, melts etc – lots of stuff)! 

Photo courtesy of Plaid Enterprises.

It’s 40% off your order and free shipping if you spend $60 or more.  So, if you need to, now is the time to stock up.  I bought 6 gallons (#holysmoke) of Mod Podge and saved a ton of money.

BUT!!! It ends tonight.

Just go to their site and use the code MPDAY18

We now return you to your regular programming:

I’m baaaack….sort of

OK, so my To Do List for the last three weeks has looked like this:

As you can see my priorities are solid!

But I finally did #1 today.

It took 30 seconds.

May I present my card:

Actually, there is a lot more to do (full-fledged site redesign, shopping widget etc) but I do at least have the space now to do a post.

And you’d think, “David, with all that free time, what with not accomplishing your goals, you must have done lots of stuff!

And you would be wrong….and possibly new here?

Actually, that’s not true. I did a lot.  Just not necessarily in an organized, well thought-out, photographed sort of way.

I had my first in-person show of the season in Pasadena and finally FINALLY! Put together a booth set up that I liked!

I had a nice, corner spot and this arrangement gave me plenty of space for display and for everyone (including me) to move around!

It looks a bit dark in the photos but I actually thought it was welcoming and cheery in real life.

I worked out some new ideas too.

Sticking with my “use your scrap wood theme” I came up with these vintage sign photo holder boards.  Which combine my love of vintage graphics and a certain amount of practicality.

I made a few more for the show:

Pi also finally pulled his weight by looking really cute and luring unsuspecting future customers into the booth:

A long-time “I have an idea but I haven’t gotten around to it yet” project came to fruition with some coaster holders to sell along with the actual coasters.

First up- little Library Drawers to go with my Vintage Library Card Drink Coasters (again, made from scrap wood)

They got a lot of attention at the show:

and I kept working on those scrap wood flower holder crates which are fun to make.

So I guess I was busy, just not particularly focused.

I have my next big show this coming Sunday in downtown Santa Ana and will report back with details, designs and new ideas shortly.

Thanks for bearing with me!

 

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