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My Own Hollywood Backlot in the Backyard

I’ve been ramping up the factory this past week getting prepped for two, big, new shows.

First up is Rendezvous MarketRendezvous Market Santa Monica

This is a new one (for me and them – first time!) and I’m looking forward to it.

After that comes the Jakalope Festival in lovely Pasadena.3f6dde38-e134-4175-903d-746c5a8520f8

I’ve heard great things about this show and Pasadena is one of my favorite places.

So, of course, this means that my life of late (and going forward) is all about building up inventory so there are….

coasters  coasters everywhereCoasters Coasters Everywhere

Not my favorite look for the dining room but such is life.

In the meantime (because endlessly detailing the fact that I’m making coasters somehow does not make for compelling blog reading) I wanted to share photo set-up that I put together.

So photography is…not my favorite aspect of all of this.  I’m just not very good at it.

I bought a fancy new camera a while ago and a tome of an instruction book that just sits here on my desk….mocking me.

I mean, I’m improving but it’s all a bit beyond me – so many buttons!!!! So many math-like things to adjust!  So many considerations about where the sun is at that particular moment.

Anyway, I was trying to get a picture of that little chair I did for my last Mod Podge Rocks projectIkea chair makeover by Cheltenham Road but I was having a terrible time.

I couldn’t find a good spot in the house, I couldn’t get a good angle on it.  But I was so pleased with the project and I wanted a good shot.

I decided to go outside but then all I got were horrible shadows and more frustration until I noticed a spot up against the back of the house  that was shaded and I had

AN IDEA!

I wanted to make the chair look like it was sitting in a room so I grabbed one of my work tables, some old boards I had that were painted white and a chunk of beadboard leftover from a show display.

I pushed the table up against the back of my house to hold up the beadboard and just laid the wood pieces down like a floor.

And then got fancy adding another piece of wood as a “baseboard” and clamped another across the top as a “chair rail”.

Easy Photo Shoot set up

Once you crop it down to “edit” out the edges it looks sorta like an actual room.Easy chair makeover idea by Cheltenham Road

It’s a bit bright and still a little flat but so much better than what I was getting and so easy to set up.

I even could swap out the back wall by just using any other random piece of board that was large enough

How about white!DSC_4526

Perhaps blue!Decoupage Kids Chair with bok covers by Cheltenham RoadI settled on green.  I always choose green (Kermit is my spirit animal).

I’m so happy because this could be just the ticket for solving a lot of my photo-taking-problems going forward (there is kind of a list).

I just need to create some fake-but-interesting walls to hang HOME signs and Subway signs on!

It’s like my own little Hollywood backlot!

OK, gotta go make more coasters.

And HOME signs

And Magnets

And Knobs

And Candle Blocks

And Subway Signs

And Patent Signs

And coasters

Or perhaps a nap……..

Life is all about options.

 

 

Easy to Make Soda Pop Coasters with Plant Saucers

Easy DIY Coaster IdeaAs you’ve witnessed I’ve been having a good time for the last few weeks playing around with new ideas.

My goal, of course, is to come up with new products. And, hopefully, new products that don’t require me to fabricate

Every. Single. Part

Don’t get me wrong – power tools are awesome. I truly enjoy wood working, sanding and painting but sometimes a guy wants to do something a bit less…..involved.

Also, I’ve been wanting to make round coasters.

Actually, when I first started out I made round ones

The sold well but they were tough to make and wasted a fair amount of wood.Vintage Dairy Label CoastersBut I think I’ve found a work around that has possibilities

So, after last week’s earth shattering reveal that my super clever super secret tool was water this week I ask you to bear with me as I proffer the amazing idea to use terra cotta plant saucers as coaster bases.

I KNOW!!!!!

Pick your jaw up off the floor people ’cause it’s just gonna get crazier from here as I use Mod Podge and Envirotex!!!!!

(remember my goal is to come up with new ideas but not reinvent the wheel)

OK, so I’m not the first person to come up with this (and I haven’t Googled it for fear of confronting my lack of uniqueness) but it turned out to be fun, insanely easy and, I think filled with possibilities.

I grabbed some saucers from Micheals and some gloss white spray paint.Easy DIY Coasters Tutorial(Note: I first did this with bases from Lowes but apparently those are much more porous. They sucked up paint like a vacuum. The ones from Michaels worked beautifully and cost the same).

After a good coating with the paint and some drying time I moved onto the graphics.

I figured everyone here is probably crazy super tired of me and dairy labels (I could hear you all muttering “yes, David, we get it. They’re cool. Buy a cow and move on with your life”) so I thought I’d go with something similar but different (it’s a theme!!)

I had purchased soda pop bottle top graphics from Digital Alice on Etsy a while ago (to use on the knob project) and thought they’d be fun as coasters.

After resizing the graphics I mod Podged them into place and when they were dry sealed them with another good coat of Mod Podge.Easy to make coasters by Cheltenham RoadOnce dry I added some Envirotex and I had myself some fun, round coasters!Soda Pop Label Coasters by Cheltenham RoadI’m thinking I could use these graphics or make up a few of my own.Simple DIY drink coasters

I was also contemplating ones that look like old postage marks.

Record labels would also work!

And, of course, they don’t have to be coasters. Maybe little dishes for keys and such.

Or since these come in all sizes maybe big dishes?

Lots of possibilities I think.  And I didn’t have to sand anything!

My Secret for Easy, Wrinkle Free Mod Podge Projects

Easy Wrinkle Free Mod PodgeI am not one to pronounce that I have the BEST way of doing anything.

You could call it nice, Midwestern humility or you could (more accurately) call it lack of confidence.

I just feel like the second you say “I have the best way” of doing something the natural next step is for someone to say “there is a better way.”

But despite that,  when Christopher asked me how I avoid wrinkles in my Mod Podge projects I thought to myself “I have the BEST way!”

I didn’t invent this and it’s not really earth-shattering or anything but I don’t see it mentioned very often.  (Also when, long ago, I included it in the steps of a tutorial people kinda freaked on me so I thought perhaps I was just making things more difficult.)  But I’ve been doing this for years and years and it works really well for me every time.

For the purposes of this tutorial I’m just going to make one of my 6×9 patent signs.

Here are the basics of what I usedPerfect Wrinkle Free Mod Podge Technique

  • Wood
  • Matte Mod Podge (in a squeeze bottle – explanation below)
  • Laser Print Out of my graphic
  • Roller tool (totally optional)
  • Foam Brush
  • Paper towels

and what is my big secret!?The secret to wrinkle free Mod Podge projects

a bowl of water.

Yeah, I wish it was a more exciting reveal too but what can I say?  It works!

OK to lay some basics out.

Printing: For this to work you must have a laser (or toner based) print. Ink jet prints wont work. I have a laser printer at home and for larger print jobs I go to Staples or Kinkos.

Paper: For most of my work I use Staples Brand Laser Paper, bright white 28lb. But I have also used just plain copy/print paper and all kinds of commercially printed paper like scrap book paper, wrapping paper etc without any problems.

The only paper that hasn’t worked? Tissue paper (too thin) and cardstock (too thick).

Matte Mod Podge: This is the formula I use to stick things down.  There are a lot of different Mod Podge formulas and I use may of them but I almost always start with Matte

Squeeze Bottle. I do a lot of Mod Podging. I mean A LOT. Every day a lot. So, I find it’s easier to just pour the Mod Podge into a squeeze bottle. It’s quick, simple, neat and I can control how much Mod Podge I use and I waste a lot less. (side note, I lost the cap to the squeeze bottle several years ago and it doesn’t seem to make any difference!)

Water: Soaking the paper in a shallow bowl of water for just a few seconds lets the fibers of the paper relax a bit which makes it much easier to smooth into place.

So, here what I do and the order I do it in for all my Mod Podge Projects.

1) Squeeze out the Mod Podge onto the surface of the woodEasy Wrinkle Free Mod Podge Projects

2) Drop the image into the water.avoid wrinkles in Mod Podge Projects

3) Spread the Mod Podge around in an even layer.Easy way to avoid wrinkles with Mod Podge

4) I pull the paper out of the water and (sorry I couldn’t take a picture of this) holding the paper in my left hand I use my right index and middle finger to gently remove any excess water. Just a couple of swipes.

5) I then lay the paper down on the wood and smooth out with my fingers. There is also plenty of slide-ability at this point so I can move the image around until I get it where I want it.

6) Once the paper is in place I use the roller to get rid of any air pockets.avoiding wrinkles in Mod Podge

The roller is a very recent addition to my arsenal and I only use it for larger items like this. For years I just used my fingers and that’s all I use on things like my coasters.

7) I then use a small section of a paper towel to lightly wipe away any excess water or Mod Podge.

8) Once the whole thing is thoroughly dry I go back in and trim away any excess paper and apply whatever sealing coat I’m using (Hard Coat Mod Podge, Gloss Mod Podge etc).

Soaking Time: I let the paper soak just as long as it takes me to spread the Mod Podge around – so maybe 10-20 seconds depending on the size of what I’m doing.

I’ve seen advice to let the paper soak long enough that it curls up and then uncurls. I find that makes it more prone to tearing – esp if you’re working with basic printer paper.

Sometimes my paper does curl up a bit but it I just smooth it out when I apply it to the wood.

THE ONLY DOWNSIDE

The only downside that I’ve found with this method is that as the paper relaxes it sometimes expands a little bit. That’s only a problem if I’m working on an inner surface (like a tray or the inside bottom of a box) and I have to be super precise.

Aaaaand……. that is my big secret!  Soak the paper in water for a few seconds.  It may take a few trys before you get the method down but I would say it works and works beautifully for me about 99% of the time.

I hope that’s helpful to you when next you Mod Podge.  If you have any questions fire away and I’ll do my best to answer.

 

DIY Tray Using Scrap Wood and Dollar Store Napkins

DIY Wood Tray

I had a few folks ask for a tutorial on the napkin/mod podge technique I showed in the last post.

Your wish is my command.

It really is very, very easy and when I’m done explaining you will shout:

“Honey!  Come quick!  David has found yet another way to glue stuff to wood!!!!!”

It’s a gift.

The supplies are simple. Here is what I used:DIY Tray with Dollare Store Napkins, Scrap Wood and Mod Podge

 

  • Scrap Wood
  • Napkins from the Dollar Store
  • Matte Mod Podge (the pic shows Furniture Matte but the original MP Matte formula is just fine)
  • Hard Coat Mod Podge
  • Wood Stain

Not Pictured

  • Wood Glue (needed only if you’re making this particular tray)
  • Clamps (see above parenthetical thought)
  • Orbital Sander with 220 grit sandpaper (you could do it by hand if you don’t have the orbital)

First up I just stained the top edges and sides of my scrap wood and, once dry, gave them a light sanding to smooth things out just a bit.  A certain amount of roughness is fine – even preferable – so don’t get too aggressive with the sanding.

While the stain was drying I separated the napkin layers (mine were 2-ply) – you want the thinnest possible version of your napkin.Mod Podge with NapkinsAfter trimming the napkin to fit the width of the board I laid down some Mod Podge and smoothed the napkin into place. Wrinkles are inevitable here and that’s fine – they just add to the final look in my opinion.Dollar Store Napkins and Mod PodgeOnce the Mod Podge had really, thoroughly dried I went back in with my sander set at a fairly low speed.

I went over the edges, using the sander to cut away any overhanging napkinDistressed Trayand then, using very little pressure went over the whole thing sanding until I got the look I liked.

The sanding will take away the edges and sand off a bit of the top of any wrinkle which gives a nice texture.  It also allows just a bit of the wood grain to show through.

For this tray project I then used wood glue and clamps to connect the boards together*DIY simple tray with scrap wood and dollar store napkins

Once the glue had dried I went over the surface with a couple of coats of Hard Coat Mod Podge for durability and with the addition of some handles I was done.DIY Tray Tutorial

*Since there is no structure supporting the boards this is what you would call a “light duty” tray. For a sturdier version I would some kind of support on the bottom – either a backer made out of some thin sheet wood or perhaps just strips of wood screwed in place to give it a bit more strength.

You can see in this close up how a lot of the underlying stain gets sanded away but what remains leaves a cool looking, sorta burned edge where the napkin meets the wood.  You can also see how any wrinkles get sanded down a bit and add to the texture.Mod Podge Napkins onto wood

Further Thoughts:

In looking at the pics I think it might look good to extend the napkins over the sides of the outer edges just for a more completed look.

The only downside of this iteration is that while the wood strips are long and rectangular the napkins are square so there is some overlapping of the graphic.  I either need to make smaller trays or find really huge napkins.

Using tissue paper rather than napkins would be a good work-around for the above issue.

And there you have it!  Stuff!  Glued to Wood!

 

 

 

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.

Wait! Where Am I? What’s Happening?

I’m changing the name of f my entire operation to:Crafting With Rip Van WinkcleYou see, it feels like I just posted the other day….but looking at the records it’s been five weeks.

FIVE WEEKS!

I realize no one’s world has been shattered due to this gap but it goes against all I had planned for this holiday season. I was going to conquer the blogosphere with clever projects and holiday insights! I was going to blow you all away with my holiday season togetherness.

But clearly that didn’t happen for reasons good and not-so-good.

Stay tuned for my, now sadly, annual, “Christmas Kicked My Butt” blog post. (2013 edition, 2011 edition)

In the meantime, if you’re a last minuter like myself my latest tutorial is up over on Mod Podge Rocks.Last Minute Holiday Decor TutorialIt’s a very simple (too simple?) little project that uses some on-hand stuff and an inexpensive plastic tray.Quick Christmas Decor TutorialThis one is Christmas themed but, really, you could do this for any occasion and with any kind of inexpensive tray, plate or whatever.

I’ll be back soon (stop laughing!) with my post Christmas wrap up! In the meantime I wish you all a safe and very, very Happy Holiday!

My New Assistant. Or, Talking to Myself and Getting a Response.

I am not a Luddite.

My friend Karla would disagree. Of course, Karla owns about 4 phones, multiple ipads and possibly the cryogenically preserved head of Steve Jobs (the latter is just a theory but she won’t let any of us see her guest bedroom so it’s the only logical conclusion).

Anyway, I am not a Luddite but I am also not quick to adopt new technology nor adept at using new technology.

Part of this is because I feel like if I sold a product and then proceeded send out “updates” and “fixes” every other day people might correctly suspect that maybe it wasn’t quite ready for prime time. Also, because I often find myself frustrated trying learn the “new” way to jot down a note, make a list or just remember a password that I take the idea of these being time saving devices with large grain of salt (preferably sea salt and sprinkled over chocolate. But I digress).

But. BUT! I have bought a new tech toy and I’m loving it!

On Karla’s  recommendation (the upside of being friends with an almost-Borg: really good, personal reviews of products) I got the Amazon Echo.   Do you know about it? It’s a lot like Siri except that it is a free-standing unit that can sit on your desk.Echo Image from CNETUnlike Siri though, Echo is kind of always on and waiting to help. She does the basic things, – she can answer random questions, tell you the weather etc. She can play music, the radio, podcasts and audio books.  You can also set timers (useful for me) and reminder alarms.  And, best of all it’s all done via voice command.Wall Street Journal CartoonBut why she is particularly great for me (and I think other makers of things) is….

I’m always getting random ideas about stuff I need, things to add to a to-do list or just creative ideas. Unfortunately, I only seem to have these thoughts when my hands a covered in glue or I’m in the midst of doing something else and I don’t want to stop, clean myself up and write or type something.

But since Echo works on voice commands I can just shout out the idea and she adds it to my shopping or to do list.  Even better, those lists are automatically transferred to my phone so they are pretty much always with me. It honestly has made life soooo much more organized and efficient.Echo Business Insider Review imageOf course the voice command thing also means she’s listening all the time which would alarm my more paranoid side if I ever said anything other than “ow!” and “damn it!” while working. OK, I guess nosy folks at Amazon might hear me sing if I’m in a particularly peppy mood but that’s really their cross to bear.

And also, as a personal bonus, because my name is actually Dave I do enjoy occasionally asking her to “open the pod bay doors.”

She politely refuses of course.

Typical.

Just to be clear I’m not being compensated in any way for this testimonial – just sharing a useful toy.  Also the pics above will link you to various reviews of the product.  If you want to investigate you can purchase an Echo via Amazon.

 

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