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Evolution of a Design

It’s still crazy-hot here (and probably where you are too) which disinclined me to go outside and saw, sand and paint.

But that has given me time to focus on new designs for Halloween and Midsummer Scream.

My funny (ok, I think they’re funny – your mileage may vary) Halloween coasters have, apparently, acquired a following.

I was, pleasantly, thrown last year when several people came by the booth looking “this year’s” coaster to add to their collection.

I didn’t know that was a thing.

I’m a collectible!!!!!  Step aside Beanie Babies!

OK, so these designs have always been a fun collaboration between Geralyn and I (me? myself?).  We brainstorm, kick around ideas and then I work out the designs and there is more kibitzing.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  You get the idea.

And I thought maybe you might find seeing the evolution of an idea interesting.

(Or not.  I could see “not” too so if your first thought was “no I won’t” this probably isn’t the post for you.)

Also, I feel compelled to say, up front, that I am not a graphic designer.  I have zero training and this is not a tutorial.  If any of you ARE graphic designers and I’m giving you hives with my font and layout choices I apologize.

So…….

FRANKENSTEIN!

I’ve never been fully satisfied with any of the previous Frankenstein designs.  This year I started off trying to do a new one until we veered off into ideas that seemed a bit more Bride of Frankenstein and that kinda clicked!

I wanted it to look like an old add and I needed a “bride” image.

The hunt for Public Domain images lead me down some internet rabbit holes but I ended up narrowing in on Antique Brassiere Advertisements.

(which must have really messed with those Google tracking bots that are supposed to match you up with advertisements you might respond to).

Google Bot 1: OK, he’s into women’s antique underwear……

Google Bot 2: Got it!  I’ll alert the police  and you send him ads for Queen Victoria’s Secret to keep him distracted.

Anyway, I found these:

I liked how the woman’s hair in the Debevoise and Reduso ads kind of looked like the Bride of Frankenstein and I liked the layout of the “pretty girls” ad.

So I isolated the figure and matched the background color.

and laid in some of the phrases Geralyn and I had played with

Please do not copy or distribute

Fine.

A little boring.

….More brainstorming with Geralyn.

Needed a bit more space and some balance at the bottom.  Move the “try” to gain some space and add a black bar.

Please do not copy or distribute

Better.

But still not right.  It needed more bells and whistles.

I went on over to The Graphics Fairy -an AMAZING resource if you don’t know about it – and grabbed a few banners to try out and changed the text a bit.

Oh, and maybe it would be better if she looked a different way?  So I flipped the bride (sounds like a euphemism) – seemed like it made her more involved or something.

Please do not copy or distribute

Cool.  Better.  The “friends” text wasn’t really doing it for me and it was all a bit squished.

Also, she needed a little more hair (I can sympathize)

And it needed something more dynamic up top.

Please do not copy or distribute

 

Pretty good!  The blacks give some dimension and moving the text at the bottom around allowed me to make it a bit larger.

Almost there……juuuuust need to correct the spelling of “Elixir” (thanks Julie!)

A border, some antiquing texture and “dirt” (hard to see – sorry) it’s looking pretty good!

Please do not copy or distribute

It needs a few more tweaks but what do you think?  Do I have “this year’s” coaster or should I work up something else?

We’d toyed around with Frankenstein’s Salvage Yard or Igor’s Yoga and Pilates Studio (the latter mostly because I wanted to use the phrase “NamaSlay”)

Tomorrow I really do have to go outside.  Wish me luck!

 

 

Make Over-Sized, Vintage, Game Pieces

A brief detour on the way to Halloween.

I’ve come up with another (potential) Use-Up-That-Scrap-Wood project!

Of course, you may be thinking that the first step in reducing scrap wood might be, perhaps, to create less scrap wood to begin with?

Reasonable.

But that would involve the dreaded accurate measuring and the even more terrifying planning ahead!

Actually , you’ll be proud to know I did that recently.  For the last round of coaster-blank cutting I measured!  I optimized!  I planned!

And I’m happy to report that after jumping through all the hoops I ended up almost zero scrap!  Genius!  Perfect!

And after I did the third most dreaded thing: Math I discovered that I had saved exactly .005 cents per piece.

#motivating!  #planthatParisvacation

Anyway….

As you know I kinda have a thing for letters.

I’ve been making letters of various sizes and styles since I started Cheltenham Road.

Distressed letters

Distressed Wood Letters Tutorial

HOME signs (click pic for link to Etsy)Los Angeles Wooden Letter HOME sign

Letters with vintage wallpaper

Giant Santa Monica Signs (each letter is 16″ tall)Vintage Santa Monica Sign

Big New York letters11 inch high wood letters vintage New York City collage by Cheltenham Road

I could go on……

As you may not know The Borrowers was one of my favorite books as a child and I think it messed up my sense of scale.  I always seem to think “wouldn’t it be cool if I made a giant version of X?”

Recently I saw a magazine that used old game tiles to spell out the titles of each article.   You know, scrabble tiles, anagram tiles…stuff like that.

And I thought “wouldn’t it be cool to make an oversized game piece letter alphabet?”

To make them all different this became an “every tool you got” project: stencils, image transfer, mod podge – you get the idea

I started with:

  • Scrap wood cut to varied sizes: 4.5 squares, rectangles, a few circles
  • Folk Art Home Decor Chalk Paints – various colors
  • Folk Art Stencils and poncing brushes
  • Polycrylic (not pictured)
  • Small Wood letters (on sale at Michaels)
  • Matte Mod Podge (not pictured)
  • A scanned print of a Scrabble tile
  • Sanpaper (not pictured)
  • E6000 glue (not pictured)

I painted all the wood blank tiles different colors using Folk Art’s Home Decor Chalk Paint.  They come in a great range of colors, go on beautifully and dry quickly (key for Mr. Crafting-in-a-Hurry).  When everything was dry I sanded them for a distressed look.For some of the letters I used Folk Art Stencils for letters and numbers.Folk Art Stencils

For others I used my polycrylic image transfer technique (details here)

I made one to look like a children’s block using a bit more scrap wood, cut, painted and distressed and a small wood letter from Michaels.  I used the E6000 glue to attach all the elements.

For the scrabble tile I simply scanned a tile and blew it up to 6×6 (my wood blank is 4.5×4.5)*

* I used Matte Mod Podge for this but only had a bottle of Gloss Lustre when I went to take photos – either will work.

To make the “image” wrap around the blank I marked where each corner would be

Then cut away the corner

After covering the front and sides with Mod Podge I just attached the print and folded the sides down and let it dry

I like them!  They’re fun!  Easy to make and you could do a lot of variations and spell pretty much anything you want.DIY Wood Letter Tiles

But…..

I discovered as I did my research that there aren’t many super-identifiable vintage game pieces.  Once you get past Scrabble tiles they are pretty much just, well….. letters.

Image courtesy of SplendidSundries on Etsy – click on picture to be taken to Etsy

So my question is – would you know they are game pieces?  Does it matter?

My thinking was to make all the letters in the alphabet and have a nice display box where people could pick out what they wanted.  They would be fun and easy to make. They would use up all those leftover supplies and bits and parts etc.

But do you think it would appeal? (not rhetorical – I’m honestly asking for your opinion).

OK, back to Halloween planning…..

 

Disclaimer: I am a member of the Plaid Ambassador program.  Most of the materials used in this project were provided to me by Plaid – makers of Mod Podge, Folk Art Paints, brushes and stencils.  Other than the supplies I receive no other compensation.  Links are provided just for convenience and the opinions expressed are totally my own.

 

Craft Booth Set Up Part II: What About Me?!

Next up in my craft booth journey:

The Sales Table!

(I know!  Exciting!)

In my booth I always mean to carve out a nice space for me.  A place where I can stand attentively, check people out (I mean transactions, not judging their outfits….though, lets be honest, I’m gonna do that too) and have some space to store bags and tape and all the other stuff that I need.

But it never happens.

I always end up stuck in the back, sometimes only able to converse with people over the top of some display.

But not anymore! (this is the exciting part alluded to earlier – brace yourselves).

For the Jackalope Pasadena show I was determined to come up with a better option.

Looking around the garage for a solution a lightbulb went off.

I had been gifted these two folding bookshelves but had never found a place for them in the house.

(*having lost all my good pics please forgive this photographic tour of my back patio)

But I realized that if I set them next to each other

Wrapped them in a drop cloth (using binder clips to keep it in place) and topped them with a length of board stained to match my other shelving

I had a great sales table that had a narrow, space-saving profile, a little room for some “impulse purchase” products and, best of all?

TONS of storage in the back!

It worked perfectly!  I didn’t even need to attach the top – the weight of the wood kept it in place.  And it folds up super-compactly (probably not actually a word) for easy transport.

I think I’m going to paint the CR logo on the front for the fall shows.

So I was good, right?  Problem solved and I never have to think about it again!

Nope!

Lets be real I’m still (relentlessly) me!

I re-arranged things for the Long Beach Patchwork show and it was better for customers but I was back to not-much-space-for-me.

So I reduced myself to one bookshelf.

OK, that’s fine….but I have waaaayyyy to much drop cloth for that (and I’m trying not to buy more stuff)

However, I do have these panels that I made a while ago that have appeared, in various combinations at other shows.

It turns out one of them fit perfectly on the single bookcase.   The only problem was that it was just a few inches too short.  So I trimmed the “top” out with a strip of scrap wood.

Perfect little podium!

From it’s previous incarnation it has places to hang signs and such – like I did here:

But I’m wondering if I might make a round CR logo sign to hang on the front though (although it will then look like I’m playing in some 40s style swing band).

But I like it.  Equally compact for packing – still a good amount of storage.

I just need to build some little side pieces just to really finish it off.

So, I think I have my permanent solution to the no-space-for-me problem.Craft Show Sales Table Set Up ideas. Versatile, portable and with plenty of storage space.

I think I’m done, for now, with my booth layout (stop laughing, it’s rude)

Up next?!

Halloween!

Seriously?!

Yes, seriously.  I have that big Halloween convention Midsummer Scream” at the end of July and I ton of ideas to try out.

Photo Display Board Tutorial

Last weekend’s Patchwork Festival in Santa Ana went really well!  Beautiful weather, great crowds,  good sales and I may possibly have figured out a good, final, booth set up….more on that in another post.

This Sunday is Patchwork Long Beach!

Patchwork Show Long Beach. Sunday June 10th

I have no idea why I thought “cool! Two shows almost back to back” sounded good but apparently, in the darkness of January, I did.

So here I am – madly restocking!

However, my Photo Display Boards have gotten good response at all the recent shows so I thought it might be fun to share how I make them.  Also, Geralyn came up with a great suggestion for a new one!

Disclaimer: While I’ve labeled this a tutorial it’s really more of “here’s-what-I-did-you-can-do-something-similar-but-I’m-not-saying-you-should-do-exactly-this.  However, that seemed like an unwieldy title so rest assured I’ll be offering up other options for each step as we go.

These signs fall into my Use Up Your Scrap-wood mission in life.

So I started with:

  • Scrap plywood 30” long by 7” tall.
  • 3 eyehole screws
  • Ikea RikTig clips
  • 36” threaded rod (from the hardware store) cut down to 30″
  • Decorative Threaded End caps (from the same hardware store)
  • Folk Art Aniquing Wax

(not pictured but strongly implied)

  • White paint
  • Drill
  • Minwax Polycrylic
  • Sandpaper
  • hacksaw (for cutting the threaded rod down to size)

My board was already painted white but had it not been I would have done it –  regular latex paint works (Milk paint would be fine too) – just make sure its thoroughly dry.  I then sanded off just the edges for a slightly worn look.

Geralyn’s (brilliant I think) idea was that I should make one that could be used to show off children’s artwork so I created a graphic that fit with my “vintagy” style – an old Crayon Box.

Alternate: I also toyed with the idea of just using simple text that said “Look what I made!” or the Picasso quote “all children are artists.”  Any text or graphic would work.

I did my usual image transfer technique (detailed instructions here).

It’s quite simple – I print graphics out in reverse on a laser printer and adhere them, face-down, onto the plywood using Minwax Polycrylic.

For a  sign this long I had to create three, separate, sections printed on regular legal-sized paper which had to be lined up.

After letting the polycrylic dry overnight I took my very wet rag (no need to be delicate) and rubbed away the paper to reveal the graphic.

It takes a couple of rounds of rubbing to get all the paper off and if, like me, you’re going for a vintagy look, you can be fairly aggressive since any image that rubs away just adds to the aged look.

I then used Folk Art Antiquing Was and a pouncing bush to add a bit more distress to the fairly pristine wood.

(In truth I think I may have over-distressed this one.  There is a fine line between “look an old sign!” and “you need to clean that” and I think I may have crossed it.)

After the wax had dried and I’d buffed it a bit I added the eye-hole screws (pre-drilling the holes)….

….ran the threaded rod through them and capped each end with the decorative caps.

I had stumbled on these Ikea RikTig hangers the other day and they work perfectly (as well as being quite inexpensive).Alternate: If you didn’t want to use a rod a tautly stretched wire, a wood dowel or string would work perfectly.  If you’re not near an Ikea then small clothespins would work or, even possibly, be better!

I don’t have any kids so, after stealing some artwork from innocent children passing by, I was all set to go!

As I mentioned any sort of graphic would work.

My initial sign was just black and white for a made-up camera shop

I got a bit more colorful for a mid-century version.

These are fun to make and I think the idea is easily adaptable.

If image transfer isn’t your thing stencils would work great as would more straightforward decoupage.  Lots of options!

And, as always, if you make something similar, I’d love to see the photos.

Back next time with Adventures in Booth Design!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simple Farmhouse Style Tray Tutorial

Got a bit distracted over the past few weeks but I’m……”back on track?” …. well, that kind of implies there was a track to begin with which might be overstating things….. let’s just go with “I’m continuing to continue.”

So the next couple of weeks will be all about preparations for the upcoming, April 28-29th Jackalope Pasadena Art Fair.

It’s a great show.  I’m excited about it  and determined to

  1. come up with some new coaster designs,
  2. have enough coasters on hand, and
  3. really make use of all that scrap wood for some one-of-a-kind projects.

I have a million ideas – I just need to do the “hard” work of turning them from ideas into actual, physical things.

Oh, and I also need a new booth set up.

Bottom line – it’s going to be a super relaxing couple of weeks filled with bon-bon consumption and channel surfing……

Up first is a tray for the proud citizens of South Pasadena.

It’s pretty easy to do but I thought I’d outline the steps in case anyone out there might like to give it a go.

Here is what I used

  • Tray
  • Wood stain
  • Some thin strips of scrap wood cut to size
  • Wood stain/antiquing glaze
  • Paint (Folk Art Milk Paint in my case)
  • E6000 glue
  • Polycrylic
  • Roller
  • Rag

After staining the tray I cut my scrap wood to size (2.5″ by 16″) and went to my Plaid supply box and pulled out Folk Art Milk Paint (Petticoat color) and Folk Art Antique Wax. After painting the slats with Petticoat I went back in and “aged” the edges with the antiquing wax.

I glued the strips in place using the trusty E6000 glue and left it to dry overnight.

After working out the South Pasadena design I reversed it and printed it on my laser printer using plain old, Staples brand, legal paper

I used my Polycrylic transfer technique (you can see details here) and, after letting it dry overnight, rubbed away the paper with a wet rag (you can be pretty aggressive).

*I have found one refinement for this process.

The technique works perfectly but you do sometimes end up being able to see a slight demarcation where edge of the paper was.  I found that if I spread the poly carefully so as to avoid sealing down the very edges it minimizes this effect.

I seal all my trays with Envirotex Lite.

It’s easy to use (as long as you follow the directions to the letter) but you do have to prep the surface.  I seal everything with a coat or two of Matte Mod Podge taking particular care to run a bead of MP around the inside of the tray to seal up any gaps. 

What could happen if one skips this step?

Hypothetically …… One might return to check on one’s project and think “Gee, it seems like there is a lot less Envirotex in that tray than before.”

One then might find the missing Envirotex all over the kitchen table and dripping onto floor.

One might then panic and instinctively touch the insanely sticky, spilled Envorotex WITH BOTH HANDS.

One then (finally using one’s brain) might go to get paper towels and discover one is out of paper towels.

One might then try to open the pantry door with insanely sticky hands and then attempt to tear open the plastic wrapper with one’s insanely sticky hands and then return to the now even bigger mess on the kitchen table with one’s hands covered in plastic and paper towel bits.

Hypothetically……

Once it was all dry the tray was ready to go.

One down!  So many more ideas to work on!

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.

 

 

Quick and Easy Desk Organizer Makeover

I seem to have accumulated (through no fault of my own I assure you) a lot of….stuff.  Bits and pieces – parts of grandiose plans that somehow, before they were fully grandios-ed, got supplanted by a different, even better, grandiose plan.

For instance,  a while ago, I got all excited and purchased a bunch of inexpensive desk/organizers that I thought would make great display pieces.

They didn’t.

I’ve just been shuffling them around and thinking “I need to do something with those….someday…….”

And that day has come!

Well…their day came because this was my thought process on Saturday:

(My inner-monologue can be a bit dramatic.)

Anyway, while I was overjoyed to realize I’d already painted one the fact that it was painted flat black threw me until I remembered this dresser that I’d seen a while ago:

I thought that was such a cool effect.

So I grabbed my Waverly Gloss Black paint and a Folk Art Stencil and got to work:


I still have some kind of a weird block about using stencils.  I never want to do it which makes no sense because it’s pretty simple to do and always seems to work just fine.  This was particularly easy and super-quick.  I just taped the stencil in place and tapped away.

(No, I Totally meant to leave the bottom bright yellow and only half-assed paint that front edge.  Why do you ask?)

Sigh.

The stencil worked perfectly and, I am quite sincere when I tell you the whole thing took about 10 minutes.

And now I have this super-cool desk organizer.

……With a totally intentional bright yellow bottom.

And while I probably should have cleaned up the room a bit more before I snapped the photo.  Other aspects of the picture are pretty good!

And, better yet, my friend Karla came over last night, saw the organizer and said “you could totally give that to me and it would be nice.” So I am!

 

OK, now what to do with the other ones?

Eh, I have a week.  I’ll wait till next Saturday to figure it out.

Disclaimer: The good folks at Plaid provided me with the stencils and paint used on this project but all opinions are my own and was not compensated in any other way.  The links provided are to the Plaid site and are for informational purposes (ie, I don’t get any money if click on them).

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