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There is Always A Day Job And Proper Blog Usage

The Use What You’ve Got scrap wood project has really got my mind exploding with ideas.  I’m having a great time coming up with things but I’m having trouble getting to them because I have orders to fill.  And it is kind of slowly dawning on me that “Oh!  coasters and signs are my day job.  I guess there is always going to be a day job.”

What is kind of awesome is that, for the first time in my life, I really enjoy my day job.

And what is making it even more enjoyable of late is a run of customers coming to me with ideas that make me think outside the David box.

Lindsay wanted a HOME sign but asked if I could find some vintage cherry labels and do a collage that would go with the style of her kitchen.Wood Letters HOME sign with Vintage Cherry Label collage Cheltenham Road

Vintage Kitchen HOME SignIt was such a fun idea and I wouldn’t have thought of it on my own I’m pretty sure.

Next Susan wanted a Subway Sign but with some rules for her family.  Not a new idea really but I’ve never done one before and I like her rules a lot.Custom Family Rules Subway Sign by Cheltenham Road

Custom Family Rules Subway Graphic Sign by Cheltenham RoadAnd finally, Kevin got on a baseball kick after buying some Cardinals Coasters from me and, between us, we came up with these baseball themed coasters as gifts for his friends.  We made a few using the classic subway graphics that I’m so fond ofClass Baseball Field Coaster Set by Cheltenham Road

Subway Graphic Baseball Field Coaster Set by Cheltenham RoadAnd a few using vintage postcard graphics from classic ball fields.Vintage Baseball Stadium Coaster Set Cheltenham RoadEbbets Field.  Classic Baseball Stadium Coaster Set Cheltenham RoadI do feel very, very lucky to have a business where, not only do I get to stretch my imagination on my own but the customers pitch in!

And now a little business to take care of before we part.

I’ve become aware that some of you may be reading this blog with the wrong intentions. Approaching it, perhaps, as others might view the Indy 500. Sure, you say you’re there for the fun of the race but really, in your heart, you’re hoping for a crash.

I became aware of this fact when my friend Nicki told me that she thought of me when she burned her hand on a glue gun and was reminded of my experience with the heat gun.

My friend Nicki then told me that around her house a bozo, injury causing move was referred to as “pulling a David.”

Well, we laughed and laughed and then I said to my former friend Nicki: “former friend Nicki I don’t think you are taking the correct message from this blog” and I asked her to please return her Cheltenham Road membership card and decoder ring.

Admittedly I was perhaps feeling a bit sensitive having just (I’m not kidding) smacked my head into the underside of the giant hinge that holds my garage door open.

Again.

No stitches. But hats will be a major player in my Spring wardrobe.

Anyway. I just wanted to bring to your attention that this blog is not intended to be the America’s Funniest Home Videos of the cyber world.

Thank you.

The Third Wine’s the Charm

Book Club Wine Charm Set Cheltenham RoadSo I thought, “wine charms! piece of cake! Easy! I’ll whip these bad boys out just as soon I finish this pie and fall off this log!”

******************************2 weeks later ***************************

“Stupid wine charms! Whose dumb idea was this?!………….. Taking forever…………”

*****************************4 weeks later ******************************

1 sets down! 10 more to go!!!!!!!!

I have to confess I often start off this way. The idea seems so straight-forward. So within my grasp. What could go wrong?!

And then reality hits.

You’ve gotta actually design the things because although Jane Eyre is in the public domain the actual book covers are…..not so much.Jane Eyre Wine Charm Book Club Wine Charm Collection by Cheltenham Road on Etsy

Then you have to figure out how. exactly to create them.Book Club Wine Charm Set by Cheltenham Road

Then you’ve got to round up (affordable!) resources so you can (hopefully) make them again and again.

(and I did thanks to my awesome sister and her husband who can make pretty much anything and run a little company called  PRPromotions)

And then, just when you think “done!” you are reminded that you’re a one-man-show and the packaging isn’t going to design itself!Wine Charms made from Classic Books by Cheltenham Road on EtsyBut then, happy and feeling like you’ve figured it all out you move on to design idea number two  and are confronted with the cold truth:  You don’t remember your High School French as well as you’d hoped.French Language Wine Charm SetAnd you can’t think of what to put on the “F” which will be for the designated driver:Designated Driver Wine Charm French ABCsAnd then you buy an new camera and become……focus challenged. Not that you can’t focus on what you’re doing but rather you can’t focus the camera on what you’ve done!what the

And you took 5 bazillion pictures that way…….

And then you think “clearly it’s time for a drink…….wait!, where’s my glass?……………Dammit!!!!!!!.  Oh the irony!”

PS: the Book Club set is up and ready on Etsy.

PPS: so much for my protestations of how my blog posts should always be helpful or educational….unless you count this as a cautionary tale I guess.

UWYG Scrap Wood Project #2

Los Angeles Wood Letters Vintage Postcard Collage by Cheltenham RoadI have never taken a selfie.

I can never think of anything to post on Facebook.

I don’t throw birthday parties for myself.

In truth, I’m just not comfortable being the center of attention or calling attention to myself (you may be thinking to yourself “acting is an odd career choice for such a person” and you’d be right).

Anyway, blogging is kind of a challenge for me as well because it never feels right to just make a post that essentially shouts “hey, look at me!!! Look what i did!”

I mean, obviously, I get over that but my intention is always to share useful ideas.

My plan with the Use What You’ve Got Project was to present the stuff as tutorials or at least semi-tutorials.

But I was under a slightly self-imposed deadline to get new things to the CoOp 28 store.

So, welcome to a second LOOK AT ME!!! post.

Sorry!

The Mindful Nest store requested one of my super large Beach SignsWood Letter Beach sign by Cheltenham Road

which left me with some oddly shaped scraps.

I thought “why not stick with what you know for the first project:” Letter cutting and gluing stuff to wood.

I’d previously made that smaller (meaning 12″ tall) version of my LA collage sign.

And I had all these postcards for my Etsy HOME signs.

So I expanded to Chicago:Vintage Chicago Wood Letter Collage by Cheltenham Road

Vintage Chicago postcard collageSan FranciscoHand-cut wood letters by Cheltenham Road.  San Francisco vintage postcard collage

and finally New York.11 inch high wood letters vintage New York City collage by Cheltenham Road

Each letter is 11″ tall and the bases are made of scrap as well. The letters are attached with (leftover) dowels so they can be left on their base or removed and hung on the wall.

Now that particular wood pile is pretty depleted. Perhaps I should make smaller letters for smaller towns?

I promise that further entries in this series will be more useful.

The Use What You’ve Got Project….and a plunge

As I mentioned before Feb/March are kinda slow months for me.  Etsy is quiet and the stores have done a post-Xmas restock but aren’t putting in big orders.

So, I have vowed to use the down time wisely – or at least productively.

On a very practical front I’ve started a Use What You’ve Got project.  The goal is to use up all the random bits of stuff I have lying around (like this embarrassing scrap wood pile)The Scrap Wood Pile Project - Cheltenham Roadwithout incurring extra expense. Projects must be made using only what is here already.  And there seems to be a lot that’s here already.

So far it has been a blast.  My brain is in over-drive with project ideas – so much over-drive that I keep shorting out – too overwhelmed by all the things I COULD do to know which one I SHOULD do – you know what I mean?

So I started with something simple, something in my wheelhouse – lettersHand cut wood letters

Letters are the perfect scrap project for me. Easy to cut, use a lot of wood and, as a bonus, painting them lets me use up the inexplicably huge store of random paint I have gathered.Vintage Style Wood Letters Cheltenham Road

So I made those and then –

I took a plunge!

Hopefully the beginning of a lot of plunge taking. Many things about Cheltenham Road need to move forward and first up – the quality of my photographs.

I struggle a lot with the photography side. Trust me, you’ve never seen someone go from zero to cranky as fast as I do the minute I pull out my camera. And I’ve been spending and insane amount of time Photoshopping my mediocre pictures to make them presentable.

So the first step on the make it better chart was to buy a better camera.  I breathed deeply, got over my sticker shock and I am now the proud owner of a Nikon D7100.nikon d7100It’s intimidating. There is a ton to learn.

But, in truth, my pictures came out better just pointing it at something and knowing nothing.

For instance here is the same shot of some letters with my old camera and my new one.Camera Test ComparisonI’ve done nothing to the set up or the lighting – just swapped them on the tripod.  Both cameras were on “auto.”

It’s not a great picture or anything but imagine what I can do  if when I read the manual!

And then I started playing around with shots of some new coasters and I think they came out looking a bit more polished too. Union Station Vintage Subway Art Graphic Coaster Set by Cheltenham Road

Retro Style Los Angeles Subway Art Coaster Set by Cheltenham RoadSo cool! Steep learning curve but cool! And I’ve got about 10 scrap wood projects going.  And a blog upgrade underway and….and….AND!

More to come!

A Minor Set “Back”

So, I’m gearing up for the holidays (yes, I should have already geared but I don’t seem to be very good at pre-gearing).  I’m filled with ideas about what I want to do and I’m in full-factory mode churning out tons of coasters (one store ordered 500 and now speculates that they may have underestimated their need).

So all is good!

And then, foolishly, I got out of my car last Sunday.

And that was all it took for  the herniated disc in my lower spine to decide that, after years of dormancy, NOW was the perfect time to totally freak out.

What followed was an entire week of moving veeeery slowly and sleeping veeeery badly and being veeeery whiny.  It was fun!  You should have come over!

Thoughtful friends offered to share their Vicodin supplies which was sweet but made me really wonder why everyone but me seems to have so many drugs at hand.  However, I’d tried Vicodin years ago and it didn’t seem to have much of an effect.  Actually all it seemed to do was make me care a little less about the pain….. which was interesting if not particularly helpful.  So I muddled through with Naproxin.

So, since lifting things (like the garage door!)  was out of the picture I thought I’d catch up on trying some new designs and playing with my camera.

I’m just not a good photographer but I’m trying to improve.  I can’t decide if I need a new camera or a new me but I usually spend about an hour taking pictures and then three hours working in Photoshop to make them not suck.  I am only occasionally successful.

My pics on Etsy of my New York HOME sign left a lot to be desired – I’m kind of amazed (and grateful) that people took the leap and purchased it.New York HOME sign by Cheltenham Road on Etsy

I think these are a bit of an improvement.New York City HOME wood sign by Cheltenham RoadNYC HOME sign Wooden Sign by Cheltenham Road on Etsy`

I wanted to find some new, vintage nightclub graphics for Bar Keeper (the store that ordered 500 coasters).Vintage Los Angeles Hollywood Cocktail Lounge Coaster Set by Cheltenham Road on EtsyThere is just something about these old matchbook coversVintage Cocktail Lounge Coaster Set Cheltenham Road

I have no idea if some of these places were greatLos Angeles Vintage Cocktail Lounge Coasters by Cheltenham Road

Or just dive barsVintage Hollywood Coasters by Cheltenham Road

(OK The Hangover Room was probably a dive bar)

But somehow the covers make them all seem fun and exotic.Retro Los Angeles Coaster Set Cheltenham Road

But I now have to make a choice.  ballyhooI have five new images but only need four.  Which should I drop? (I’m honestly asking)

I’m happy to report that my back is much better today – so I’m” back” on track.  Which is great as being waylaid there really did get my mind racing with ideas.  Now lets see if I can turn them into reality!

A New Way To Transfer Images to Wood

A New Way to Transfer Graphics to WoodAs you know I’m always looking for good ways to transfer images.

I ‘ve used Mod Podge Transfer

I’ve experimented with Blender Pens

I’ve used Liquitex Gel.

I have to say all the results were satisfactory but each had drawbacks either due to expense, time or versatility.

So, when I read about the Wall Lenk Transfer Tool that transfers images to wood I thought it sounded awesome!Wall Lenk Transfer Tool I read about it, researched it and, quick as a flash, plunged right in and bought it online.

It arrived!

I was so intrigued and excited I immediately set it aside!

For a year!

(honestly I had no idea it had been a whole year until I checked my Amazon order history.  I thought, maybe, 6 months ago……time flies when you are running a sweatshop having fun!)

But, I have now opened it, tested it out and am here to make my report.

First off, you get what you pay for ($17)…..it’s veeeery basic.  So basic and so potentially hazardous that it makes you wonder how this is allowed to be sold.  Or, more specifically,  given my history, how it is allowed to be sold to someone like me.

It works via heat transfer and, to put it simply, the metal end just gets super hot and then you rub it on your image and that transfers the ink to the wood (or fabric or whatever).

There is no “on/off” switch.  It’s either plugged in and on its way to being insanely hot or it’s unplugged and just lurking around being a little bit less insanely hot.  I didn’t have any moments like I did with the heat gun but the potential for disaster seems to be there.

So, onto the test.

While I was home in Ohio my sister Paula and I, intrigued by all the cool yardstick projects around but dismayed by the insanely high cost of “vintage” yardsticks began to toy around with the idea of making big, faux, versions.  I thought “This is the perfect project to try out my  brand new year old tool!”

I got right to work!

And just three short months later I did it!!! When I get excited about an idea nothing gets in my way!

So, I started out with some poplar wood cut down to size, painted, sanded smooth and a bit distressed.  I wanted it to look like two different rulers so one side was light blue and the other white.Faux Vintage Yardstick Cheltenham RoadTip Number One  – to optimize the transfer the wood must be very, very smooth and the paint (if there is paint) must be given lots of time to dry.

I came up with a couple of ruler designs in PhotoshopFaux Yardstick Design By Cheltenham Road

 

Faux Vintage Yardstick Pattern by Cheltenham RoadI reversed them and printed them out.

Tip Number Two: the prints need to be laser copies or prints – ink jet prints won’t work.

I plugged in the Lenk and, following the directions  gave it about 8 minutes to heat up.

I had read in the Amazon reviews that you needed to “burn off” some of the heat unless you were actually trying to start a small fire.  I burned off the heat by just touching the tool to a piece of scrap wood.  As you can see by the photo it took quite a few touches before it stopped burning the wood -Image Transfer with Wall Lenk Tool Cheltenham Road

But it didn’t take too long.

After that it was just a matter of rubbing it slowly over the image.   You can see where, even though I’d burned off some of the heat, it still scorched the paper a bit.Transfer an Image to Wood Cheltenham Road Tutorial I found that applying a light pressure worked well and going back over the image a few times was also key.

There is no real way to tell if you’ve succeeded or not until you peel away the paper.Transfer an Image Tutorial Cheltenham RoadOn the plus side though, if you peel away the paper slowly you can see if you’ve missed a spot and it’s very easy to just lay the paper back down and give it a few more rubs.  I did this in a couple of spots and it worked out just fine.

In a few places, where I guess I pressed to hard or let it heat too much, the paper stuck to the wood.Image Transfer Tutorial Cheltenham Road

But it was very easy to just dampen a cloth a bit and rub it away.

My box was 24″ long so I couldn’t print out the full ruler on one sheet of paper so I did it in sections and just lined them up.  Once again it was pretty easy.Make a Giant Vintage Yardstick Cheltenham RoadAfter that, I gave my “rulers” a quick coat of wax and assembled the box using a pin nailer (screws or regular nails would work just as well).Easy image transfer tool Cheltenham Road TutorialTransfer Images to Wood - Tutorial Cheltenham RoadThe images transferred very nicely – I like the level of distress and you do have some control over just how distressed you want it to be

Image Transfer Vintage Yardstick TutorialI think, other than the possible risk of burning your house down, this tool offers a lot of advantages.  The transfer takes place quickly (no waiting overnight) and once you buy the tool there is nothing else to purchase.Vintage Ruler Image Transfer Project Cheltenham Road

Also, it’s a true transfer – you don’t end up leaving a thin film of paper so that frees you up as far as background color(s) etc.

Now that I’ve tested it out I’m already thinking of tons of other possible projects (which you will be subjected to I assure you).

 

Please check out these link-parties for more great ideas:link-party-palooza-banner

Knick of Time Inspiration Party

 

Travel! The Abbot Kinney Festival and New Stuff!

I just recently returned from a trip to Ohio to visit the family and recharge a bit.  Not only does my family’s creativity always get me revved up but, in general, central Ohio is overflowing with terrific ideas and resources.  It was also much cooler (weatherwise I mean) that hot, hot, hot LA so I got to get a taste of what fall is actually like!

I returned with just a few days to get ready for the big Abbot Kinney Festival (yes, I continue to be just awesome at planning!).  This was my second year (and their 30th!) at this huge one-day festival.  They close down a mile long stretch of Abbot Kinney Blvd in the famed Venice Beach area of LA.  It looks like thisAbbot Kinney BlvdI was actually kind of concerned about leaving the booth in case I would just get swept away and never make my way back.

I had come up with some new designs and I was eager to see how they would go over.

I’ve been hording pictures of vintage luggage tags and working on a set of my own vintage-inspired graphics.  I put them together package of coasters I’m referring to as The Jet SetThe Jet Set Vintage Luggage Tag coaster set Cheltenham Road

Paris Vintage Luggage Tag Coaster Cheltenham RoadNew York Vintage Luggage Tag Coaster Cheltenham RoadOf course there was a candle block to go along with it.Vintage Luggage Tag Candle Block Cheltenham RoadI’ve also been digging vintage bicycle ads.  So with the help of the always invaluable Graphics Fairy I put a set together as well (along with a tray).Vintage Bicycle Tray and Coaster Set Cheltenham Raod

vintage Bicycle Candle Tealight Holder Cheltenham RoadAnd finally I set up a section of the booth and named it “Local Love” and featured some new coasters and blocks that use vintage maps of the LA area (of course I found the maps in Ohio.  Classic!)Local Love Los Angeles Map Coaster Set Cheltenham Road

Local Love Candle Block Map Cheltenham RoadAll the new stuff went over well and I’m happy to have (most of) it up in the Etsy store now too.

And now it’s on to Halloween!   I’m doing the window for the CoOp and I actually have a bunch of Halloween ideas for projects.  Wish me luck on getting them all done…..this is going to require a lot of coffee.

Happy Fall everyone……it’s supposed to be 100 degrees here today…..I’ll take my pumpkin spice latte iced please.

 

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