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Go small

So, last week was all about big and this week is all about smaller.

The good thing about this slightly slower time of year is that I have time to play around and experiment (look for Positive Thinking: The Upside of Making No Money by Cheltenham Road – coming to your local Barnes and Noble store)

The Muse came up with a smart idea (for newer readers “The Muse” is an actual person, not a voice in my head or some imaginary conversation I’m having with Olivia Newton John so don’t be alarmed).

She suggested that perhaps I could make smaller HOME signs that would work as key holders.

I really like the idea because I’m a big fan of making practical stuff.  I mean I’m all about decoration but if it can be useful decoration that’s even better.

So I started playing around.

I made 4.5″ HOME lettersHome Sign Keyholder by Cheltenham Road

Attached them to a base boardWood Sign Key Holder by Cheltenham RoadAdded little hooks (there would be more hooks of course – these were the only two I had on hand).Vintage Los Angeles HOME sign keyholder by cheltenham roadI like it!

Well, I sort of like it.  This is where the playing around comes in.

I think perhaps the base board doesn’t need to be as thick. Maybe two strips of wood rather than a big solid backer wold be better?

Some magnets along with the hooks?

I will re-consult with The Muse.

What do you all think?

Happy Super Bowl Sunday to all!

go BIG

It has been a week of big.

I did (and am still doing, honestly) a big clean out of the garage workshop.

It had gotten bad. Real bad.

It’s much better now. I wouldn’t call it clean or showplace but I can move around freely have places to set things down which is a definite step up.

And I’ve made a vow to NEVER have to do this again. Yes, I know I will have to clean regularly and do tidying and such but I never want to reach the point where I just look at the mess and feel like it’s insurmountable. That was how I was feeling. I’d just look at it and think “but I don’t know what to DO with that pile of things/scraps/pieces that’s why it’s a pile!”

The goal here is to get the factory part of Cheltenham Road running smoothly so I have more time for the creative part – ie the fun part.

And speaking of big and fun.

A customer at the CoOp wanted a subway sign but he wanted a BIG subway sign. 6 feet tall big!

I had to borrow a car to get the lumber.

The slats alone took up my entire dining room table.Super Large Custom Subway Graphic Sign by Cheltenham RoadEach slat is 33″ long.
I’ve made large ones but this was the biggest.Extra Large Custom Subway Art Sign by Cheltenham RoadThe customer was pleased and I learned a lot of stuff along the way.*

And then there was the BIG change of pace.

I hope the following wont’ offend anyone and I do apologize if it does.

I don’t swear a lot myself but I do think well chosen swear words can be very, very funny.

So when an Etsy customer asked if I could make her a custom coaster set and then described what she wanted I had to say yes

Because it made me laugh really hard.Coaster SetA bit “off-brand” I will admit and I’m not totally sure I would put them in my house but I appreciate the directness of the command.

And now it’s on to other big things.

New ideas!

New ideas that I can finally get to because I can FIND stuff!

Oh!  And the timer idea is really working.  It’s keeping me much more focused and really helping me make (much needed) separation between work-time and living-time.  When you work from home those things kind of tend to mush up against each other and I think both suffer for it – I wasn’t working as much as I thought I should nor was I relaxing and enjoying myself as much as I needed to.  I’m still working on it but it it definitely moving in the right direction.

*If you wanted to make your own, similar subway artwork I did a tutorial on it a long time ago over at Mod Podge Rocks.

Vintage Dairy Label Coasters Tutorial

Vintage Dairy Label Coaster Set Tutorial  by Cheltenham RoadI make coasters (it’s possible you already know this).

What I don’t make is round coasters. I’ve tried in the past but never quite got it worked out to where the effort matched the reward.

While poking around the Dollar Store for my Halloween Candle Project I stumbled across a ton of plain, round, plastic coaster blanks.

It seemed like they had possibilities!

I was excited and full of ideas!

I snapped up a set and rushed home!

……And put them in a box and didn’t think about them for months.

It’s how I roll.

But I finally came up with a plan and, because Wylie E Coyote is my spirit animalwylie e coyote business card

I thought “why not show everyone how to make coasters so they don’t have to go to the hassle of buying them from me!”

So, you can check out the full tutorial over on Mod Podge Rocks (and then buy coasters from me. It’s just the right thing to do).

They proved to be pleasantly simple to make using stuff I (mostly) had on hand.DIY Dairy Label Coasters from the Dollar Store TutorialAnd I love that they came out looking sorta like over sized milk bottle caps Easy DIY coasters from the Dollar Store


Working Hard or Hardly Working? Becoming More Efficient in 2016

I’m not a New Year’s Resolution kinda guy. But I do believe in goal setting.

Cheltenham Road has been going well, but for 2016 I’m at a key point. I need to take the business to “the next level.”

I have lots of plans but first up is setting up life in such a way that I can get more done and done more efficiently.

To that end I have begun “clocking in.”

The danger of working from home is that it’s easy to get distracted. I get to work and then, without really noticing it, I discover that I’m doing the laundry or cleaning the kitchen.

The timer keeps me brutally honest about just how many hours I’ve worked which also keeps me focused. I discover I get A LOT more done when the timer is set than I do when I’m just guestimating how long I’ve worked.

So I’ve spent my last week brutally cleaning (the house, garage and work room had become a SuperFund site) , discarding “stuff” and re-organizing.

I’ve used the fact that I’m slow to de-decorate to get Christmas projects done for the next holiday season.  I was toying around with making a vintagy Christmas tool tote and I thought it would be fun to make the ends look like Christmas trees.DIY Vintage Christmas Tree Tote by Cheltenham RoadI found little, light up trees in a remainder bin and thought I’d try my hand at the apothecary thing.Apothocary Jar Christmas Tree Project by Cheltenham Road

I’ve worked up a new HOME sign for a customer in ArkansasArkansas Little Rock Wooden HOME sign by Cheltenham Road
and made new coasters featuring vintage railroad graphicsClassic Railroad Train Coaster Set by Cheltenham Road on EtsyAnd, finally, reworked some of my standard items with new graphics and new pics (just to change things up a bit)Vintage Paris Map Wood Candle Block Tealight Holder by Cheltenham Road on EtsyAnd I’ve tried to adopt the “touch it once” rule.

The thinking is that you try to touch things as few times as possible. So, rather than letting stuff pile up (my constant habit) and then having touch it again to put it away you attempt to only touch stuff once.

Some of you may recall that I tried this sort of thing before only that time is was a scheme where every time I set something down I was supposed to ask myself “is that where that goes?”

It worked for a while but that little voice got very annoying very fast. And soon I was hearing a nagging voice ask “is that where that goes?” and then a louder, angrier voice would shout “IT IS NOW!”

And I realized I was spending a lot of time alone and the voices in my head were yelling at each other and that just seemed like a slippery slope.

But I like the Touch It Once rule because it feels a bit like a game. How do I touch this thing as few times as possible?

I (or quite possibly my psychiatrist) will keep you posted on it goes.

In the meantime, I’m putting the final touches on my next Mod Podge Rocks project (coming up mid-week) and I’ve got tons of other ideas to execute in my newly disciplined workshop.

But, for now it’s back to cleaning and organizing.

Christmas in January: Classy and Organized

I wasn’t totally sure what to blog about this week.

I’m a bit in-between on projects and spending time attempting to clean out and clean up my horribly messy work-spaces.

Not very interesting blog material.

But  my parents have rescued me!

A package arrived just yesterday from my folks.  Christmas! a bit late but perfectly timed.

For those of you who are new here my parents are the engine of all my creativity.  Mom and Dad are in their 90s and going strong. Mom does amazing embroidery and other needlework and spends a fair amount of time (year round) hand-making charming Christmas ornaments for the Church BazaarMom's Santa Ornament Of late, she is focusing a bit more on her passion for miniatures (she and my dad are building a doll house).

My father is and Engineer and a life-long craftsman who still works in his wood shop – fixing furniture and planning projects like his lazy susans.ES Cheaney Lazy Susan DesignsHis creations are always beautiful and very precise.  His workshop is always clean and well organized (I may be adopted)

So – back to presents.

Mom decided to give us all pieces of her mother’s fairly extensive antique silver collection.

I am now the owner of a silver toast holder.Antique Hester Bateman Silver Toast HolderBut it’s no ordinary silver toast holder.  It was made by Hester Bateman one of the only, if not the only, female silversmiths. She lived and produced her work in the 1700s taking over the business after her husband died. Her work is beautiful and you can find samples of it in the Smithsonian.

It’s kind of amazing and I’m proud to have it.

I’m not quite sure where to display it (near the bread?) but it does make me feel like I should dress better and perhaps be a bit more imperious with the staff.

Up next was my father’s handmade gift. Kracker Holder

You may be thinking, as I was when I opened it, “lovely!  What exactly is it?”

Fortunately, it came with an official User Manual – that made everything very, very clear.KrackerRack User Manual(OK, maybe I’m not adopted)

So now I’m all set.

I have something to eat toast from while watching Downton Abbey and my snacks will always be perfectly organized (as long as I don’t go wild and purchase off-brand crackers or indulge in the notoriously asymmetric and dreaded tortilla chip.)

Back to cleaning and organizing.


Mini Dresser Vintage Camera Project

Vintage Camera Bureau by Cheltenham RoadRecently a blogger, describing a project that was giving her some difficulty, used the phrase “I enjoy a good challenge.”

That sounded good – character building even – encountering problems and through patience and skill rising above them.

And I suddenly realized something.

I do not, in fact, “enjoy a good challenge.”

No, I prefer to get an idea, know exactly how to do it, execute it quickly and then sit back, eat ice cream and bask in my own cleverness.

(The fact that this never happens is completely beside the point.  It also does not stop me from eating ice cream.)

So, a while ago my sister sent me a picture of a dresser made up to look like an old camera and I was intrigued.

I know what you’re thinking, “old cameras?! David! We never saw this coming! Who knew you liked old cameras?! You have so many layers! You’re just an endlessly mysterious onion of a person”

Any you are correct but you really might have had a just few hints…Vintage Camera CollectionRecycle Pallet Wood Display Shelf Cheltenham Road TutorialVintage Camera Coaster Setvintage camera print gallery wal Cheltenham Roadl

Anyway, the creator of the awesome bureau is very talented (you really should check out her blog) and quite an artist.  She hand-painted the camera graphic which is super cool.

But sounds kinda challenging.

So I had to figure out the easy, cheaty way to make my own version.

I wasn’t totally sure my plan would work so I was pretty happy when I found that Michaels sells little, tiny “starter bureaus.”  Perfect!

I grabbed a vintage camera and got to work.Vintage Camera Dresser Project Cheltenham RoadI snapped a high resolution picture of my camera, resized it to the dimensions of the bureau and printed it out.

I then I cut the little knobs off the bureau.

(I also then lost the little knobs and later had to dig through the trash to find them.  Challenging!)

The only problem was that the drawers had spacers between them and if i just painted them black it would break up the camera graphic too much. So I tried it this way:

I removed the drawers, ran a bead of Mod Podge around all the edges and adhered the photo in place.Michaels mini-burea made into a vintage cameraOnce it had really dried I carefully ran my knife around all the openings so that I had sections that were the size of the drawers. DIY Make a Jewelry Box look like a vintage cameraThen I mod podged those sections into place on the drawer fronts and trimmed away any excess.

Once it was dry I sealed it with more Mod Podge.

After recovering the wayward knobs (and feeling my character build in the process) I “painted” them with a sharpie and stuck them on with some E-6000 glue.

I also painted the sides and back of the bureau black and gave it a light sanding for a slightly distressed look.Little vintage dresser camera projectAnd there you have it.  Not too challenging.  My character remains relatively shallow and I feel that ice-cream is within my grasp!

Bonus:  I have a tiny, little dresser that looks like a camera!Michaels Store Craft - Mini Dresser Vintage Camera Project by Cheltenham Road

So, since that worked now the quest is on for a real-sized piece of furniture to work on.  I don’t know that I want an entire dresser (I also don’t need a new dresser) but perhaps I could replace my sofa end tables?  That would look kinda cool I think.

UPDATE:  I’ve been asked if I could include my picture of the Brownie so that others can make this project.  If you right click on the link below it should give you a high resolution PDF of the front of the camera.  Brownie Camera Graphic


Christmas Kicked my Butt 2015! Now with Extra Butt Kickiness!

It’s that time of year when most blogs are doing their “Top 10 Posts of 2015!”

Here at Cheltenham Road the tradition is to review how Christmas kicked my butt.

I think that pretty much sums it up.

In truth, this year I had a pretty great holiday season (sorry).

I didn’t even injure myself in any serious way!

There were juuuuust a few hiccups however, and the major one wasn’t really my fault!

I’ll start with the minor hiccups.

I arrived at the Long Beach Patchwork show without……tables! I had managed to remember everything else, down to tiny slips of paper but forgot the tables that everything was supposed to go on.

OK, fine.  Got through that.

All looked good for the Santa Ana Patchwork show Thanksgiving weekend.

I had a new booth set up that opened on both ends.

So one side could attract customers with Christmas stuff and coastersPatchwork Santa Ana Booth 2015

and the other had Patent signs, Wine Charms and knobs.Santa Ana Patchwork 2015 Patent Sign Display

In the middle there were trays!

Isn’t that kind of a fun way to display them?  Tied to that grid?Patchwork Santa Ana Tray Display 2015

You know what would have been more fun?

If I had remembered to bring the metal shelves that hook onto that grid.senility

The very next weekend was Unique LA. I had big plans! A whole new booth set up. New products! And, of course, four days to make all the restock of things that had sold in Santa Ana along with filling various store orders.

No prob!!!!

One prob!!!!

You see, in an attempt to be professional and relieve some stress I had hired someone to make the blanks for my HOME signs and candle blocks.

I was very grown-up about it. I did interviews and had the candidates make samples so I could check out their work.

One gentleman stood out. He was into the idea, his work was really good AND he looked a bit like Santa Claus. Awesome!

My first sort of “sample” order with him went really well. So I reordered and explained this was for the big holiday rush – my busiest time. He said he understood, took my deposit and all was good!

I took orders, planned and launched on new ideas and generally felt like the Crafting Magnate that I knew I could be.

On delivery day (shortly before Thanksgiving) he texted to ask if he could deliver the next day. I said “fine.”

The next day, around 11AM I texted to see when he was coming.

He texted: “the blocks are all done.”

I said “and the 24 HOME signs?” (that were due in stores in the next couple of days)…..

…..and that was the last I heard from him. He never again responded to texts, emails or phone calls and never delivered anything.

This created a bit of Dominos of Disaster effect. Suddenly, rather than doing what I’d planned to do I was scrambling to make 100 blocks and HOME signs.

Some of the stores got shorted on their orders.

New things that I wanted to roll out for Christmas just plain didn’t get made.

My new and improved booth plan for Unique LA got a bit watered down and I began a very long journey of three straight weeks of 18 hour days (and also a running inner monologue of yelling at my faux Santa Claus) .


The store owners were awesome (I really am lucky to be working with these people).

Unique LA went well and my booth, although not quite what I’d imagined, looked pretty good.

I created a center table and a little cash desk and a new display wall across the back.  Sales were solid and people seemed happy.Unique LA booth Xmas 2015Craft Show Display Cheltenham Road Unique LA 2015

I got all my Etsy orders out in time!Christmas Delivery

And collapsed on Christmas Eve.

And what have I learned?checklist

I do want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of you for hanging in there with me on my sporadic blogging journey and for all the awesome notes, comments and suggestions. Unless you blog you have no idea just how much all that means to a guy and I am so very appreciative.

Happy New Year to all of you!



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