RSS Feed

Category Archives: New Products

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…..

Advertisements

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?

 

 

 

Finding My Purpose

I’m happy to announce I am no longer road kill!

I’ve had a slow-to-dawn  realization.

Very slow.

Sloth slow.

Now, were you sitting with me as I shared this amazing  insight you would pat me on the head in a slightly patronizing manner and say: “yes, David, thank you for catching up”  and wonder how someone so dim-witted has made it this far in life.

OK, here we go.

 I’ve been stuck for quite a while on one very important question:

“What is your goal?  What is the purpose of all this?*”

OK…. two very important questions (focus may have been an issue as well -I see that now.)

This dilemma trips me up whenever I try to deal with Branding or Marketing.  It stymies me on Pinterest and even with this blog.

What’s the goal?  Who am I trying to reach?

I mean, this isn’t a lifestyle blog (unless your lifestyle aspirations involve repeatedly smacking your head into things and being semi-permanently dusty.  In which case, welcome home!).

And it’s certainly not a “how to run a small business” blog because I just realized I totally forgot to actually bill a customer for $100s of dollars of merchandise last year….. so “captain of industry” I am not.**

But I couldn’t make up my mind.  What was I going for?  Heaven knows the “Random Ideas with a vintage flair” category was WAY over-saturated.

I needed a focus.

They say that, to be truly successful, a product must solve a problem. What problem could I possibly be solving?

It  (finally) dawned on me when I made these new coasters

and thought “my dad will love these”

and I realized

I’M THE GIFT GUY!

(OK, stop patting my head!!!!!!!)

So, while it’s embarrassing to realize this just now (particularly since everything I make is sold in…..what’s the word?…oh yeah…..GIFT SHOPS!!!) – it’s a new way for me to think about and focus on the entire Cheltenham Road Empire.

So I’ve made a decision.

I want people to come to my Etsy shop to find the perfect, unique gift for someone.

Do you have a wedding coming up?

Is your boss a fan of Tiki bars?

Do you and your friends have a drinking problem?I’m your guy!

I want to help people find the perfect gift idea by coming to my Pinterest boards.

And I want people to come to the blog to find out about how to make or find a great gift for that person or occasion.

Simple Father's Day Project Tutorial Cheltenham RoadI feel simultaneously totally excited and insanely stupid

But I made it!

I have a purpose!!!!  And a focus!

I am no longer an indecisive squirrel!

(Seriously, stop patting my head!)

 

*it should be noted that by “all this” I mean Cheltenham Road not LIFE.  That one I totally have the answer to.  But I’m sworn to secrecy.  Sorry

**The vendor in question is being very, very cool about it.  I am INSANELY lucky with the the folks I work with.  All of them are amazing.

Custom Made Tray, New Coasters and Vintage Graphic Heaven!

Today was supposed to be another chapter in Spite Crafting with Cheltenham Road.

But, my sisters were visiting this week and it felt like it would kill the vibe (we laugh A LOT when we’re together)…….and also, spite crafting sometimes takes longer than anticipated….

So, emotionally questionable making is postponed – custom crafting to the front of the line!

My friend Bernie Shine of Shine Gallery wanted a vintage matchbook tray.

(and now a momentary plug).

 If you’ve never visited the Shine Gallery site and you’re a lover of all things vintagy you owe it to yourself.  Bernie is a terrific guy and has been collecting for decades.  He has, no exaggeration, thousands of postcards, stickers, matchbooks, posters, patches, signs…. and on and on.  For me it’s vintage graphic heaven and for anyone even marginally interested just touring the site it is a feast of fun images and glimpses of the past!

OK, back to the tray.

Bernie wanted to use actual, old matchbooks from his collection.  I’d never done that before and was a bit worried if it would work but it came out great.

I simply glued the matchbooks in place on a thrift store tray, trimming some and allowing others to overlap – no plan in mind just kinda winging it.

With everything in place I sealed them with three coats of Mod Podge and poured the Envirotex-Lite

It’s hard to see in the pic but the varying levels give it a really nice depth and texture.

It was easy, and I think Bernie was pleased.

Up next a customer who liked my Jet Set Vintage Luggage Tag Drink Coasters asked me to do a few custom ones for her.

I had a blast coming up with the new designs.

And now I have many more to offer customers…

As soon as I do more official pics.

OK, the sisters have returned home and it’s time to return to my true self – petty and spiteful!

Stay tuned!

%d bloggers like this: