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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.

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.

(S)Knob Appeal Handmade Knobs and Forgetting Things

As those of you who have patiently followed along for a while know – I keep trying to make knobs.Cheltenham Road

Custom Knobs Tutorial by Cheltenham RoadFinished Knobs Up CloseAnd I’ve succeeded. I just haven’t succeeded in a way that either:

  1.  made me totally happy
  2.  proved to be not a kind of  messy, pain in the neck.oops

But, through patience (OK, not patience exactly, I just got excited, bought a lot of knobs, got frustrated and then ignored the whole thing for a very long time until I finally found a more workable idea.  It’s a genius business strategy that will surely take me straight to the top!), trial and error, and a fair amount of wasted supplies I think I’ve made a product that I’m satisfied with.

There are round ones and square ones – up first – square.

I thought I’d do a little tribute to the mad skills of  my mom and sisters and make some using vintage measuring tape graphics.  Fun for a sewing room perhaps?measuring tape knobsI grabbed some of the vintage postcard graphics I use on my trays and that dresserVintage Postcard Handmade Knobs by Cheltenham Road

And finally, just for a bit of fun, some vintage romance comic book graphicsVintage Romance Comic Handmade Knobs by Cheltenham RoadI rolled them out at the Long Beach Patchwork Show last weekend.

People liked them!

People bought them!

I have to make more!

I’m very tired!

My full wine charm collection also debuted at Patchwork and sold out!….well, sort of debuted……and sorta sold out.Wine Charm Display

I got to the show and realized that I had totally, somehow, not packed the table everything was supposed to go on.  Bit of a stumbling block. Book Club Wine Charm Collection by Cheltenham RoadI was saved by the very kind people who put on Patchwork who gave me a loaner table. French ABC Wine Charm Set by Cheltenham RoadAfter overcoming that hiccup I discovered that, though I had a few Wine Charm Sets with me – I’d set the rest of them on the kitchen counter when I made a last minute dive for much needed coffee.Art Opening Wine Charm Set by Cheltenham RoadSo “sold out” is a little less impressive when one acknowledges that there were only six to begin with.

But, it was good to know that folks responded to them!

All of them will be available on Etsy shortly.

Now I just have to actually  bring them (and a table) with me to the next big show: Patchwork Santa Ana!

 

Fall Projects, Great Inventors and the Beauty of Ohio

As those of you who are following me on Instagram know I spent the last couple of weeks in Ohio visiting family and enjoying PERFECT fall weather. Fall in OhioI was totally nostalgic for my Ohio roots….. until I volunteered to help rake leaves and then I was, almost immediately, nostalgic for never-fall Los Angeles (and my gardener).

I had a great time and, as always, after hanging around with my family, my creative mind felt totally recharged (possibly overcharged?) and I came back eager to get going on new stuff.

First up I, the king of “really? now? already?…. crap!” put together a super quick last-minute Halloween Decor project for fellow sufferers. It’s my latest tutorial for Mod Podge Rocks.Easy DIY Halloween Centerpiece with free Printables Tutorial

(you may feel they bear a certain resemblance to other, not-so-last-minute candle holders I might have done in the past but these are TOTALLY DIFFERENT!)

Quick and easy with some free printables included.

I’m also trying to get new coaster designs rolling along for the holidays (my goal is one new set a week. Stop laughing) and up first is my tribute to the great inventors.  Ready to go on Etsy.Great Inventors Coasters Set by Cheltenham Road

My brother-in-law, Rich actually suggested this a while ago. I thought it was a great idea and immediately…. waited several months to make it happen…….

All the inventors here – TeslaInventor Coaster Set Nicola Tesla Patent Art by Cheltenham Road Edison, Wright, Bell –Patent Art Coaster Set Great Inventors Edison by Cheltenham Road

And I capped off a busy week by visiting with my good, creative friend Nicki at the Topanga Canyon Vintage Market.

Nicki had some truly terrific, one-of-a-kind things she made.Nicki Huard Creations Rustic Country Christmas TreesI really love these and wanted to steal buy them all!(it took her, honestly, all year to collect enough funnels to make all her rustic Christmas trees)

I mean, they are kind of amazing, all are totally unique and would look so cool as a collection.

Her creativity (and willingness to work her butt off every day) astounds me.Nicki Huard Creations Rustic Decor(If you thought I was a Luddite then Nicki is our queen. She has pretty much zero online presence. If you are desperate – as you should be – to get your hands on some of her stuff drop me a line and I’ll put you in touch with her.)

While there I snapped up stuff for about a dozen different new project myself that I’m itching to get to.Flea Market Finds and big ideas

Finally, in advance, please allow me, The Great Pumpkin, to wish you all a very Happy Halloween!The Great Pumpkin!

 

 

 

 

Juggling and a Couple of Favors

I suppose it’s a good sign.

When I worked at the job I hated I’d wake up in the morning and stay in bed until I absolutely had to get up or I’d be late.

Now, when I wake up at some weird hyper-early hour (it’s 3:43AM as I type this) I think “oh, I can get a jump on the day!”

That means I’m happy, right? Eager to get going! I mean, I fall asleep unexpectedly at noon on occasion but I’m happy!

It has been bustling here of late and I have had a bit of trouble keeping all the balls in the air (hence the blog silence) – does that happen to you?

If I get super busy with Etsy and store orders the blog gets back-burnered. I finally got rolling on Instagram and Pinterest fell off the table. New products designs get created but new tutorial ideas and supplies are stacked up in the corners.

….and I really need to go grocery shopping…….I think those fuzzy pom poms in the fridge used to be strawberries……

But lots got done and launched. Here’s the catch-up.  And the first favor.

If you are an Instagram kinda person will you please add me to your roster?  There is a new link over in the sidebar to my Instagram account (I think).  I’m slowly getting the hang of it and I hope to provide fun, interesting content as my skills grow.

I have a new(ish) Mod Podge Rocks project tutorial up for review.

My good friend Karla is a TCM addict who needed a spot for grab-and-go jewelry.Mod Podge Jewelry Holder tutorialIt’s very easy to make and totally adaptable – you can see the whole tutorial at Mod Podge Rocks if you are jewelry wearer in need of a place to stash the every day stuff.

I vended at the big Abbott Kinney Festival last Sunday and came up with a few new coaster designs, among them Vintage Cameras.Vintage Camera Coaster SetI think we’re all well aware of my weakness for vintage cameras and I saw some very cool camera themed wrapping paper at a local store and thought “I could do something like that!” Vintage Cameras Coaster Set by Cheltenham RoadSo I  got busy making my own take on the idea.  It was a lot of fun and I hope fellow vintage camera enthusiasts will like them.

I also continued to tinker a bit with the wrapper (and THANK YOU! to all of you who gave feedback on the last wrapper redesign – I truly appreciated it).Vintage Camera Coaster SetBut there are two big Behind-the-Scenes things going on at the moment.

1) I was accepted to sell on Amazon Handmade which is yet another step in Amazon’s attempt global domination.   They appear to be creating a very cool marketplace and they are VERY intent about making sure handmade means HANDMADE. I had to send them pictures of my workspace and process with very detailed descriptions of everything I do.   TIP: Don’t try to run your table saw and take pictures of you running your table saw at the same time.  Don’t ask me how I know.  I just know.

2) I’m finally  (it’s long overdue) getting a full-fledged Cheltenham Road website up and running. The blog will live there along with (eventually) an online store as well as all the other bells and whistles of a grown up web site. I’m not very adept with web stuff (or phones, or really anything much beyond pen and paper) but I think it’s starting to come together.   I’ll do a big post about it when it’s really ready to go but you can get a little preview if you’d like by clicking here.  And, as my second favor request, if you have any thoughts on things you’d like to see on the new site let me know

So, I hope you’ll bear with me as I learn new juggling skills and, hopefully, in the near future, I’ll be able to keep all the balls in the air at once.

After a nap.

 

Done!…. Done?…. Sorta Done?…. Done-ish? How Do You Know?

Do you ever find that it’s hard to know when you’re actually done with a project?

Is it “done” because the deadline arrived (often the case with me)? Is it done because your totally satisfied (never the case with me)?

The minute I finish something my mind instantly starts coming up with ways that it should be changed or improved.

And I really, really, sincerely, want to change or improve it but there are always other shiny new projects to start (and, I guess, finish and then want to improve) and it’s hard to make the time for the do-over.

But sometimes it bugs me juuuust enough that I must do it! And such was the case with my LA Subway art.

You’ve seen these before.

I’d done the design initially for the knobs of the LA version of my NY Subway Coat Rack and I really the look.Vintage New York Subway Art Wall Shelf

So I’d tried them as candle blocksRetro Subway Art Candle Holders

And coastersSubway Art Coaster Set by Cheltenham RoadThey sold acceptably well at the local stores

(I mean, I do realize this is the nichiest of niche products – people who actually LIVE in Los Angeles have no idea we have a subway system so the number of citizens who want commemorative home decor based on it is…..limited).

But the design needed something more done to it and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until it dawned on me (at 3AM – thanks creative brain- do you think you could, I don’t know, function during normal, waking hours occasionally!?)

Red!Subway Art Coaster Set

That particular subway is called the Red Line and, for me, it always conjures up images of the famed Red Car trolley lines that used to criss-cross LA.  So red seems perfect!Subway Art Coaster Set by Cheltenham Road

And I think I’m done!Vintage Subway Art Style Coaster Set

Done Done

Yay!

But now – it’s on to a loooong time coming re-think.

Coaster packaging.

I get a lot of compliments (or at least no complaints) on the wrappers I designed for my coasters:Book Club Coaster Set by Cheltenham Road

Clean.  Simple.  But there are some, um, flaws….like, perhaps, the packaging doesn’t say with the product is!?!?  Or who made it?  Or how it was made?

So I’m toying around with this design.Vintage Coaster Set by Cheltenham Road

I think I like it (for now.  I’m sure I’ll think of better options later – perhaps 2:30AM or maybe a late-blooming idea at 5?)

Have a great holiday weekend everyone!

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