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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!

Vintage Cameras, Galvanized Metal Trays and Not Getting a Tan

After being  grey, cold and rainy it has been absolutely beautiful in Los Angles.  Sunny, mid 70s -the kind of weather that makes you call your relatives back East and gloat.

On the rainy days I worked outside – damp and freezing (OK, California freezing – meaning I had to wear pants…  you know, true suffering*).

And during these sunny days?

Never left the house.

So I don’t have much of a tan but I did get a lot done!

I’ve been working on a new set of Vintage Typewriter Coasters.green-typewriter-coaster-by-cheltenham-road

While I struggle to comprehend Snapchat and Instagram I’m pretty much 100% down with any sort of vintage technology -typewriters, cameras, old phones….

Plus I thought they  would make the perfect gift for writers.

And you may recall the image transfer project I did on that metal tray I got from Michaels diy-michaels-crafts-tray-transformation

Well, I liked it so much and it was so easy to do that I went back and snapped up all the ones they had left in stock and played with some more designs.

I pulled a free camera graphic from The Old Design Shop (a terrific graphics resource) and combined it with the text of an actual old advertisement:industrial-style-metal-tray-image-transfer-by-cheltenham-road

And I thought I’d see how it came out if I added a fair amount of color so I used a vintage 20th Century Limited train graphic:

diy-metal-tray-image-transfer-by-cheltenham-roadAnd finally I was curious about if the details on an old photo would make the transfer so I resurrected my favorte Balboa Bathing Girl Parade image.  And it came out just how I wanted it.  I actually had to add some distressing as it looked a bit too new.balboa-beach-girls-tray

I think I’m gonna have a lot of fun with these!

If you wanted to do your own, it’s pretty simple and you can find my tutorial for it here.

And finally, back to  coasters.

My brother-in-law, Rich, collects vintage Tom Swift books and asked for a coaster set for his office.

Do you know about Tom Swift?  He’s sort of along the lines of The Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew only it’s science not mysteries.

ts-and-airline

They were published from the early teens through, I believe the 50s or 60s.  The early covers are great!  I mean, how could you not be fascinated by Tom Swift and his Giant Magnet or Television Detector!!  It’s a Thrilling Read!!!!!ts-coaster-set

Rich actually did all the photoshop work to fix up the old covers and I think he did an amazing job.   I hope he likes the final result.

Well, it’s supposed to be another beautiful day today!

I plan to hide in the bathroom.

Hope everyone has had a good weekend.

*just to be clear – I don’t mean to imply that I usually work naked.  I just mean that more often than not I wear shorts rather than pants.

annual christmas butt kicking

Hi!

I just popped in to say:argh

Yes, welcome to the annual Christmas is Kicking My Butt post.

Now, as you may recall I rocked Halloween.

OK, admittedly the bar was set pretty low so by “rocked” what I mean is I had some new products ready to go in advance, I felt moderately prepared and I didn’t smack my head into any solid objects like doors, car trunks or the chandelier in the dining room.  So, you know…ROCKED IT!!!!!

And then, as I was basking in the glow of Halloween-rocking suddenly everyone was all “Halloween is so last month.  I’m all about Christmas now!” and I, having over-basked, was left behind.

So it has been my usual holiday scramble of coaster making mania of late.  Etsy, Amazon and the retail stores that so kindly carry my work have put my little factory in overdrive.

I did manage to come up with a few new coaster designs that seem to be going over well.

A quick revision of my vintage Coffee Label setvintage-coffee-label-coasters-by-cheltenham-road

vintage-coffee-label-coasters-by-cheltenham-road-etsy-shopAnd a new set that features the great WPA art done for the National Parks.national-park-coaster-set

And did a quick update of one of my favorite (but slow selling) sets that feature old Dance Card tickets.vintage-dance-tickets-coaster-set-by-cheltenham-road

dance-ticket-coaster-set-by-cheltenham-roadAnd then there were the shows.  They ended up being almost back to back.  Jackalope went well but it was crazy hot one day, then it rained on the Patchwork show (but shoppers turned out!) and last weekend was my last one – the big Unique LA show.

It all went well with one small hiccup.

So, I set up my little area and all was good.cheltenham-road-table-unique-la

I was positioned on a corner spot and next to me they were giving away Luna Bars (awesome)20161204_142316 and they had set up a little lounge (super awesome – people chatting, snacking – all good).20161204_114113

Catty-corner to me was a booth that was selling, very cool, playing cards (their sign fell down – it says Art of Play).20161204_102709

That’s fine.  They were cool cards and they seemed like nice people.

However, mid-day on Saturday I suddenly realized the lounge area was occupied not by happy, Luna Bar munching, target-demo shoppers, but by a gang of teenage, card-playing hooligans who appeared to have set up a high stakes poker game.

Now, as we all know, Craft Show Hooligans are the very worst strain of hooligan so I was, naturally, hesitant to approach them.  But they were kinda blocking by products….

But, just as I was about to either shoo them away or perhaps call their moms, apparently one of them had the “most awesome hand ever” cleaned out the pot and they dispersed of their own accord.

I breathed a sigh of relief and went back to peddling my nostalgic wares.

And now, tonight (because, really, who wants a break?) is my big annual Holiday Dessert Party!

I’ve been working on new recipes (Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars, Chocolate Cookie Dough Shooters, Molasses Spice Cookies with Egg Nog Buttercream etc) and upping the presentation.  I think these black and white cheesecakes will go over well.black-and-white-mini-cheesecakes

And now I must get back to basking (rats!) baking  and cleaning, and….. mailing coasters

 

 

 

Be Prepared! And, if at first……

So, I was ready for Halloween.  Designs done well in advance!

And I basked in the glory of my preparedness and patted myself on the back for finally getting on top of this moving bullet train of a business.

And then, suddenly, Halloween was over.  And apparently it was already Christmas?!!

Did I mention that I was totally ready for Halloween?

Yeah, apparently being ready for Halloween in July is awesome but only means that you needed to be ready for Christmas in May.

In short.  Life has been a bit of a scramble.

And part of that scramble was my first Christmas project, while not actually going down in flames, went down in a cascade of failed glue joints and ill-considered engineering (and some vintage wrapping paper).

Ah well, you know what they say: If at first you don’t succeed swear a lot, curse the heavens, vow to quit, chuck it all and eat ice cream try, try again!

And I will!  But first I had some new, custom, customer orders and a show to get ready for.

Presenting my latest HOME sign: Buffalo!buffalo-new-york-home-sign-by-cheltenham-road

I got to work, re-working my vintage Circus poster coaster (which I enjoy saying) setantique-circus-coaster-set-by-cheltenham-road

circus-posters-coasters-by-cheltenham-roadAnd continued my love of all things old Hollywood with a new coaster setold-hollywood-postcard-vintage-coaster-set-by-cheltenham-road

glamorous-vintage-hollywood-coasters-by-cheltenham-roadAfter that it was time for this weekend’s Jackalope Arts Fair in Pasadena so, of course they got their own HOME signs, coasters and Subway signs.pasadena-california-home-sign-by-cheltenham-road

pasadena-california-vintage-coaster-set-by-cheltenham-roadSubway Art Sign Pasadena CA by Cheltenham RoadI’m back there today from 10-5 so please do stop by if that’s your part of town!

I’ll be back shortly with my stupid Christmas idea.

And did I mention I was totally ready for Halloween!?

Folk Art Painted Finishes and Mossy Skulls

Disclaimer: The products used in this post were provided to me free of charge by Plaid Enterprises.  I have not been compensated in any other way and all opinions are my own.

As I’ve whined about noted previously, the challenge for me of late is to find time to step away from being a little factory, to get to just play and make things that aren’t “potential products.”

One of the great things about being a Plaid Ambassador is that, when I find that time, I am surrounded by potential projects that they have generously provided.

They have given me a great selection of their Folk Art Painted Finishes line of paints including:   Barnwood (my previous project), concrete and….moss.folk-art-painted-finishes

Now, I must admit that when I opened the box  and saw “moss” my first thought was “and why would I want to do that?”  I have enough trouble with actual moss cropping up – fake moss seemed like an unnecessary addition.

But then Halloween season happened and I discovered that I was brimming with sort of odd, creepy Halloween ideas and that one of those ideas required fake moss!!! Huzzah!

So, you may recall my ugly, 1970s porch light had conked out recentlyporch-light

and rather than throw it away I thought I might be able to do something with it.  Blog-reader (and genuinely very cool lady) Denise came up with a fun suggestion that sparked an idea.  I didn’t use the broccoli but I did keep it green!

The Painted Finishes come in two colors:  Light Moss and Dark Moss and applying them is quick and very, very easy (I say this as a person who is deeply unskilled at faux painting techniques)folk-art-painted-finishes-technique-moss

After removing the glass and cleaning the porch light I went over it, as directed, with, well…. lets just call them splotches…..of the Dark Green Finish using the Painted Finishes Shortie Brushes.8b62e23f0ba81b7b9dfc8274c86f5e02

folk-art-painted-finishes-halloween-decoration-projectThen, while the paint was still wet I went back in with the light green color.folk-art-painted-finish-moss-halloween-decor-idea

The paint has some texture to it and when you combine them it really does have depth and realistic, mossy, look.

I did the same technique on the decorative crown and on a little round – I-don’t-know-what-it-is-nor-why-I-have-it decorative piece of metal that I wanted to use for the base and as a holder for a tealight.create-faux-moss-look-with-folk-art-painted-finishes

With the addition of a small, plastic skull from the .99 Store I had a suitably unnerving centerpiece/diorama

The moss technique looks good in broad daylight (I think I did a better job on the sides than I did on the crown thingy but i can always go back in and touch up)faux-moss-technique-with-folk-art-painted-finishes-tutorial

But when darkness comes and the candles get lit ……halloween-decoration-easy-skull-centerpiece

(although I may have freaked out my neighbors since I photographed this on the driveway and it looked  like I had invested in some random, disturbing shrine.)

I don’t think the plastic skull was actually made to be a illuminated  and doing so revealed a very odd/bad/splotchy paint job that really like!

halloween-skull-project-by-cheltenham-road

But, in conclusion, I have to say I’m a fan of the faux moss! halloween-decor-by-cheltenham-road It took, literally, 5 minutes to apply, dried quickly and looked great. It would be easy to apply to a terra cotta pot that you wanted to give a bit of age to.  Or maybe a faux brick wall.  I’m now kind of flooded with ideas for things that NEED to be mossy.

Happy Halloween Season everyone!

 

 

Abbot Kinney Festival and a Rapacious Grab for Coaster Dominance

Tomorrow is the big, annual Abbot Kinney Festival in Venice.Abbot Kinney Festival 2016

I’ve been looking forward to this – its’ one of my favorite shows each year.

Unfortunately “looking forward” doesn’t always translate into “getting ready for” as much as it should so the last few weeks I’ve been in Mad-Maker Mode because the crowds  look like this:image

You know, just a couple people milling around……no biggie

I’ve put together some new beachy  themed itemsVenice Beach Collage Sign by Cheltenham Road

I hope people get that “VB” means Venice Beach and don’t think I’m advertising some new strain of social disease.  I’ll keep you posted.

And my plethora of beach and beach-centric images have translated themselves to coaster setsSanta Monica Drink Coaster Set by Cheltenham Road

and candle holders.Venice California Candle Holders by Cheltenham Road

So, while I’ve been working on getting ready I’ve also had an influx of order because something kind of exciting happened.

A very kind (and remarkably patient) woman named Caryn is now repping me and my “line”

(OK, I have to confess that every time she says “your line” I kind of laugh.  Target has  a “line” of products.”  Calvin Klein has a new “fall line” hitting stores.  I have “stuff that I made in the garage.”  But I can understand why Caryn probably doesn’t choose to present it that way)

She’s been doing an amazing job and I’m so happy to report that several new stores are carrying my coasters.

First up is the Big Sugar Bake Shop

big-sugar-bakeshop--studio-cityTotally charming place with amazingly good cupcakes, muffins and cakes.  It’s nearby and I’ve been a customer for several years.  Now if I can just figure out how to barter coasters for cupcakes I’ll be all set.

Then there is Trinkets and Treasures – a great gift shop in Studio CityTrinkets and Treasures Studio City

The Brentwood General Store caters to a classy crowd – and I’m honored to be there.Brentwood General Store

And there are several more shops coming soon!

Add those to my long time local supporters like Bar Keeper, Mindful Nest and CoOp 28 and a few new ones in Ohio, Arizona, Seattle and New York and I think we can say:city silhouette sunset

We can also say that it’s been a coaster making frenzy around here.

I must confess, I’m very happy but I do gaze wistfully at all the craft supplies and jotted down “project” ideas that I. Just. Can’t. Seem. To. Get To.

Soon, soon.

In the meanwhile, on to the beach!

If you are local please swing on by the booth at Abbott Kinney!

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