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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!

 

What To Do With All That Scrap Wood?

I have a lot of stuff.

Scrap wood (tons!), bits and pieces from Great Ideas! that never quite came to fruition.

Bits and pieces from Great Ideas! that did come to fruition but, perhaps, shouldn’t have….

You get the picture.

And now I have a lot of stuff and I have a goal.

The Blair Witch room must be  torn down and rebuilt soon and the not-in-great-shape-itself garage workshop needs to be shored up as well.

Since the bids for that project are coming in at 80K and up that means two things need to happen:

  1. I need to sell A LOT of coasters and
  2. I need to get rid of all that stuff – preferably not by renting a dumpster

So, with numerous spring shows coming up I wanted to create some quick, easy projects that use up supplies.

Now, because my dad was a precise, thoughtful, craftsman/engineer all of his projects began with carefully considered and fully rendered blueprints and layouts.

Since I am not any of those things all my projects start with me randomly grabbing things and making it up as I go along (dad’s way was better).

I gave myself 45 minutes to put together each prototype.

This one isn’t anything ground breaking- you can find similar things at Michaels 

but it uses up leftover coaster-wood.  It is just strips of 1/4 inch mdf pin nailed onto 1/2″ mdf end caps.

I painted it out, sanded the edges  a bit and “aged” it using antiquing wax.  

And that’s nice but I figure in order to make it a bit more than “something you can buy at Michaels” I needed to do my own thing with it so I covered up a lot of that careful “antiquing” with images pulled from my stock of vintage postcard graphics (and a little image transfer on the end caps)

I think it has possibilites.

Up next, I was making the best apple pie I’ve ever made or eaten and realized what I needed in my kitchen was a thing to hold up magazines or my ipad.

Again, I used leftover coaster wood scraps cut to 2×12 with a little shelf at the bottom.

After staining the edges I waxed over them, painted it white and sanded the paint away to reveal the stain (similar to how did this project).

Again, not particularly earth shatteringly creative but I added a graphic (using my polycrylic image transfer technique) and I like how it looks.  

Again, it needs some refining – like,  I love that graphic (which is courtesy of the awesome Angie at Knick of Time – you can find the download for the graphic here) but it’s a bit overwhelming – I think I need something a bit less “graphicy” for the next round.

And finally, I have a bunch of mason jars and saw this great tutorial for painting them which lead to another quickie box/tote/centerpiece made with leftover plywood, paint and….wait for it…….image transfer!!!!!

Although I clearly have a limited flower budget you get the idea and I think it too has possibilities.

So I’ll be working on these and a few other ideas over the next little while.

Once I figure out the “best” way to do one of them I’ll do a full-fledged tutorial if you’re interested.

But for now I need to go make a lot of coasters.

 

 

What I Didn’t Do On My Summer Vacation

I seem to have accidentally taken a mini summer vacation.

It wasn’t a plan I assure you.

But do you ever pick up a crafting magazine or watch a craft-oriented TV show and, as the host is talking, think to yourself “OK, why would anyone make that!!!?” or “yes, you can make that but, really…..should you?”

I’ve had that response numerous times and I think I know the answer.

DESPERATION!

Ever since Midsummer Scream I’ve just making coasters, filling store orders and desperately thinking:

“Any minute now, I will do something really interesting ……”

…..but I haven’t.

I mean, I’ve made stuff – but it’s the stuff you’ve all seen before (or variations thereof)

A customer had me make up a bunch more of my Airport Code Coaster designs (which I really do love to do)

The Mystic Museum requested a set of Fortune Teller Coasters for their shop

I had some new Halloween trays for Midsummer Scream

I did get some new displays made for my local stores.  Hopefully these will help with sales:

But nothing really splashy, new or tutorial-worthy.

I do have at least one very good excuse for my lack of forward momentum

Every time I sit down to have lunch this happens:

(he’s snoring by the way)

I mean, yes, I could sit somewhere else but, seriously, how could one resist this?

But this blog post is my commitment!  NEW (or new-ish let’s not go crazy) is coming!  Interesting is coming!

…..as soon as I wake up the dog…..

A Week Spent “Fixing” Things

Well I thought the last week was going to be a week of EXCITING!!!! and NEW!!!!

But the reality of deadlines, and my own endless desire to “fix” things made it a week of “REVISE!  REJIGGER”  and “FUTZ!!!!!” (coincidentally, Revise, Rejigger and Futz is  also the name of the law firm I’m starting geared specifically toward deadline challenged creatives)

I love designing things but I always  underestimate just how long it takes me to put a graphic together.

I sit down and suddenly it’s 5 hours later; I haven’t moved away from the computer and I’ve only produced one minor design.

This week I wanted to work on my Victorian Gothic Coaster Set

So, years ago, sitting at my corporate job desk,  Geralyn and I, via emails, came up with a bunch of silly, funny Halloween coasters.

They’ve been quite successful (nothing makes me happier than when people pick them up and laugh) and each year I try to add to the collection.

This year produced bandages from The Mummy

And Bloody Mary Mix from Dracula’s ancestor

These go along with some of my stalwarts: here’s the whole current collection:

I need to narrow it down a bit but can’t decide…….

And I turned my attention to my Horror Novel Halloween Coasters as well.

The designs are my own (to avoid copyright infringement) and I’d liked them but was never totally satisfied.


The Frankenstein design in particular seemed very “one of these things is not like the others.”

Not bad but not quite right.

An easy change of color made, I think, the Sleepy Hollow more on-target.

And a total makeover of Frankenstein made me much happier

Here’s the revised set

The change isn’t overwhelming but I think it’s for the better.

And I took a moment to redo the package photograph as well.

And now, with about three days to go it’s time for all the NEW!!!!

Maybe not……

I’ll keep you posted.

 

Ikea Lazy Susan Becomes a Versatile Chalkboard Serving Tray and I Eat a lot of Cheese!

Penmanship is not my forte.

At all.

I was once told by a friend that I had “the handwriting of a serial killer.”

It could make a guy self-conscious.

I include a handwritten notes with every Etsy order I send and I always picture the customer opening the package and exclaiming: “oh look honey!  Jeffrey Dahlmer sent us some coasters.  How thoughtful!

So, while I have admired all the cool chalkboard art and lettering that you see all over the place it seemed pretty thoroughly out of reach for someone with my, um, limitations.

But the folks at Folk Art have come to my rescue!

As part of my Plaid Ambassadorship they sent me Chalkboard Paint, their new, smudge-proof, erasable, liquid chalk as well as line of stencils that let you create that cool, handwritten text. 

I was eager to try them out but not sure what to make.

A while back, on a whim, I’d picked up a $10 lazy susan from Ikea and I thought it would be cool to make a versatile, chalkboard, lazy susan for parties and such.

The chalkboard paint was easy to apply – two coasts with a light sanding in-between and then a 24 hour cure time.

I liked this product (I’ve used chalkboard spray paint in the past).  It went on smoothly and dried quickly.

Once cured, as directed,  I tempered the surface by rubbing some actual chalk over it and then wiping it away.

Now it was stencil time! …….. And learning curve time!

The stencil set is by Lily and Val and it’s actually a two-parter. 

To create the hand-lettered effect you lay down the first stencil and apply the liquid chalk. 

After a few minutes of drying time you lay the other stencil over it and complete the letter.

It took me a few tries to get the results I wanted (more on that in a sec) but I’m happy with the final look.  And  I like that the set also includes versatile shapes  – like the banner around the “enjoy” text.

It does, however, take a while to lay out a word (no Gorgonzola at this party!).  To speed things along I ended up mixing an matching with some other Folk Art stencils I had on hand.  And, of course, it’s just paint – you don’t have to use a stencil at all if,unlike me, your free-hand skills are solid.

I am not a very practiced stenclier and while the bottle of liquid chalk comes with a spouncer attached I could never, for the life of me, get it to work satisfactorily so I switched over to a standard stencil brush.

The main  learning curve for me was the amount of paint needed.  Even after I thought I’d removed a lot of paint from the brush I still ended up with paint bleeding under the stencil (Bright side!  it was easy to wash away the paint and try again).  Once I took almost all the paint off the results were much better.

And then came the test!

The claim is that the paint won’t smudge or fade but that you can easily wipe it off and do a new design.

My idea was that this would be a versatile piece.  It could be a cheese tray at one party and then a dessert tray, or condiment tray at another.  This, of course, wouldn’t work if the paint “ghosted” when you tried to remove it.

So, I let everything dry (sitting in a sunny window actually) for a couple of days.

I couldn’t rub the paint away with my fingers no matter how hard I tried.

But, a quick wipe with a damp towel and it was gone.  No ghosting.

The chalkboard doesn’t look used and grey – just back to good-as-new.  Perfect!

So, I have a multi-use serving tray AND I got to eat a lot of cheese!  BEST. PROJECT. EVER!!!!!

NOTE:  The Chalkboard paint is dishwasher safe and non-toxic.  It is not, however, labeled at “food safe” hence all the cheese is on wax paper and the crackers in containers.

The liquid chalk paint and stencils are available at JoAnn and A.C. Moore stores (Michaels carries the stencils but not the liquid chalk for some reason)

Disclaimer:  The folk at Plaid have provided me with the chalkboard paint, stencils and liquid chalk for this project as part of my Plaid Ambassadorship.  There was no other financial remuneration.  The idea for the project and the opinions expressed are 100% my own.

Vintage Signs! Trays! A Jackalope Report and How the Dog is Gaslighting Me

I think Pi is trying to gaslight me.

Friends come to meet him and he’s the ultimate tail-waggy, cute, well behaved dream dog. When I describe his Cujo like other side they all look at me like “really David?”

“But it’s true!!!!!”  I cry.  “I’ll show you” and I leave the room.  And he wags his tail, curls up and takes a nap.

But once the friends leave, if I even look like I’m going to, oh I don’t know, go to the bathroom alone, it’s Stephen King time.

This has led to a sort of Dog Supervised House-Arrest situation which has yielded both good and bad results

Upside of Being Under Dog House Arrest:

  • I’m getting lots of filing done
  • I have time to do the research for new designs
  • When I do make it “over the wall” so-to-speak and get to the garage I execute my chores with a breath taking, military-like precision and efficiency that would make my father proud
  • Facing an upsetting lack of tortilla chips and a glorious abundance of pretzels I invented Pretzel Nachos!

Downside:

  • I invented Pretzel Nachos. I was not actually in need of yet ANOTHER salt/fat delivery system…but they are delicious.
  • Getting ready for the big Jackalope show last weekend was challenging.

I couldn’t really plan out my booth the way I usually do so I just chucked a lot of stuff in the car and hoped for the best.

It came out OK

I did forgot my banner that says “Cheltenham Road” and I neglected to bring my business cards but other than that I was, you know, “Captain of Industry” all the way baby!

Product-wise I had to focus on things that I could (mostly) make indoors.

This restriction somehow, to all my Spite Crafting signs morphing into something a bit less spiteful and a lot of fun.

So, in addition to my Camera Shop Sign (click here for a tutorial on the image transfer technique I used)

there was a vintage bicycle sign (graphic courtesy of the The Old Design Shop):and my favorite one that I made with an old typewriter advertisement

They were fun, easy to make and, best of all, sold!

I also worked on some more trays and gave my Bathing Beauties another go

And worked out a new subway sign featuring our great National Parks

Now, of course, I had to bring Pi with me or face the consequences.

I was nervous about how he’d do in public but he did great (gaslighting!)….with a tiny exception.

I gave him one job.  ONE JOB!

He was to sit up, look adorably puppy-like and lure unsuspecting customers into my booth.  They would squeal over the cuteness of my pet and then feel compelled to purchase coasters (it’s a well known cause-effect pattern).

Pi, instead, did this:

 

All day!

Both days!!!!

He just laid there behind or under a table.

Useless.

His pay will be docked accordingly.

So my job now is to continue to try to train him to chill-out (he’s actually been doing better the last couple of days) while I make a bunch of pretzel nachos coasters that are due at the stores.

Wish me luck!

New Coasters! New Store! and a tiny moral dilemma…..

It’s been a fun, creative, sorta hectic week!

My friend Bernie Shine (he of the matchbook cover tray and endless collection of amazing vintage goods) put me in touch with the folks who run SWEET! the  huge, Willie Wonka-ish candy store smack the heart of Hollywood.

If you’re ever in LA you have to visit this place – it’s amazing!  Handmade chocolate, all kinds of candy, themed rooms, clothing, vintage goods, it’s clever and fun and pretty wonderful.

(they also have given me big chocolate bars every time I’ve visited so they are definitively my new favorite people!)

They wanted to carry all my vintage Los Angeles themed coasters and they were about to host the folks from Turner Classic Movies during the TCM Festival this weekend.  So when I delivered my coasters on Tuesday I also had worked up some TCM fan friendly sets.

I put one together for the great comedians

And a set for some featuring some classic titles:

Embarrassing Side Note: This was actually supposed to be a set called “The Silents.”  Geralyn even came up with a great tag line for the package – “The coasters ARE big!  It’s the coffee table that got small!”  

But I goofed.  

I assumed the Garbo movie was a silent and I didn’t even know Clara Bow had made talkies but, after making up the coasters I did my research (I think I see where I might have gone wrong now….) and discovered that both were talkies.   Oops!

And who doesn’t love the classic monsters!

There were also sets for San Francisco, some general California coasters and this set for the great California National Parks.

 

 

And that’s where I hit my tiny moral dilemma.

I try to use only authentic vintage graphics.  But occasionally I get stuck -I can find three but not four images for a coaster set or there are copyright issues or what I can find isn’t quite right etc.  So sometimes I need to fake it.  It’s rare but it happened twice this week.

So, you know that set of National Park coasters above?

I made up the Yosemite one.

I started with a public domain pic and then via the magic of Photoshop (and a lot of trial and error) made my own WPA style poster

And I have to do something similar with a commission I received to make a “vintage” Hollywood Bowl matchbook cover coaster.

I took black and white picture and  manipulated it to look like, I think, a pretty authentic old cover.

They are really fun to work on but I’m not a big fan of “fake vintage” and I worry it’s a slippery slope.  Am I tricking people?  Does anyone really care other than me?   If I use the  phrase “vintage inspired” or “inspired by” does that absolve me?  What do you think?

 

 

 

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