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Getting the Halloween Party Started

OK, as we know, I’m in Halloween mode and several of you, according to your much appreciated comments, are down with Halloween in August too so -let the games begin!

My tutorial for the Halloween luminaries is coming along.Glowing Eyes Candle Holders for Halloween by Cheltenham Road

Actually, it worked out perfectly. They had pretty much sold out at Scare LA and while I’d snapped a few pics as I made them I didn’t have full-fledged-tutorial-worthy versions.

But after my last post my sister Sally immediately requested a set!Glowing Eyes Candle Holders for Halloween by Cheltenham Road

I hadn’t realized Sal was a “glowing eyes of the damned” kind of decorator but, apparently, she has depths of which I was not aware.

Perfect reason to do another round, refine the process and take some better photos (and vandalize some more poor, innocent-but-creepy-looking, Victorians). Win-Win!

Also your feedback lit the fire under me to get my new Halloween Coaster Sets up and rolling on Etsy (clicking on the pics below will take you to the listings in my Etsy shop)

My comical takes on classic literature coasters  and the tea light holders have been good sellers right alongHalloween Decor Coasters by Cheltenham Road

Halloween Tealight Holders by Cheltenham RoadBut it was time to get some new stuff out there.

The Ouija boards were a hit at Scare LA (as many of you suggested I went with full Ouija Boards on each coaster)vintage Ouija Board Coaster Set by Cheltenham Road

Had to do some Photoshop re-jiggering to make the boards square but it worked out just fine.Classic Ouija Board Coaster Set by Cheltenham Road

Valerie made me very happy (and she’s good at that cause she, literally, wrote the book on Happiness!) when she came up with an idea that address both full and partial boards.  She suggested  doing a whole board spread across four coasters. Which is all sorts of genius and is totally on my to-do list.

Keeping with the theme I worked up some poison labels.Vintage Poison Labels Halloween Coaster Set

I’ve dug the graphics on these for a long timeHalloween Poison Label Coaster Set

Don’t know why it took me so long to connect with the idea of making them into coasters.

So Halloween in August is truly underway!

Now I have a very, very macabre idea for a centerpiece but I need very inexpensive doll heads (add that to the list of “phrases I never thought I’d utter”). Medium size. Anyone have a clue where to hunt?

Make a Rustic Wood Sign that Doubles as a Coat Rack. UWUG Project #6

DIY Coat Rack Tutorial Cheltenham RoadI know that none of you will believe me if I say that old dresser is still yielding scrap wood for projects….BUT IT IS! So welcome to Use What Ya Got Project #6.

I’d became fixated on the idea of making a vintage looking sign that would say “Cabins for Rent.” Do you ever do that? Just get an idea in your mind and you must make it? I have no real use for a coat rack but, nevertheless – I have one now and it says “Cabin’s for Rent” so…..check that off my bucket list.

This project proved to be fun not just from a graphic design standpoint but as another step on the “David tries to make his own knobs” journey.

I started out with the side of the dresser which had that great green color along with a lot of chippiness. Trash To Treasure Dresser Project Cheltenham RoadI sanded it as smooth as possible and came up with a graphic in Photoshop.DIY Sign Tutorial Cheltenham RoadI printed it out (backwards) and grabbed the Lenk tool (you can see more detailed Lenk tutorials here). I’m getting better with the Lenk – it’s fussy but it can do a lot.

I’ve taken to peeling away the paper just a bit at a time to make sure enough color transferred but even doing that, as you can see in the pics below, some paper just stays resolutely stuck in place. But a damp cloth and some gentle rubbing and it cleans away quite nicely.Rustic Sign Tutorial Cheltenham Road

On rough wood like this the transfer is going to be equally rough which, in this case is just what I wanted.  It’s super-chippy and the heat of the Lenk actually melted through in spots to an older color which was OK with me.

So, with my image chippily transferred I turned my attention to the knobs. I wanted them large enough that you could hang something off them and I also wanted them to stick out far enough that they were useful so regular cabinet knobs wouldn’t do.

Looking around the shop I found two dowels that I had bought for……..well, really who knows – but there they were!

I sliced off a 1/2 thick piece of the larger dowel with my chop saw and a 3″ long piece of the smaller dowel. I wanted a really solid connection between the two pieces so I used my drill with a Forstner bit to drill 3/4 of the way through the disc and then glued them together. DIY Knobs by Cheltenham RoadI’d made appropriately sized images for the knobs (the pic shows an earlier version – I had to go back in and make them a bit more distressed) so now I just painted the wood black and Mod Podged the design into place.Custom Knobs Tutorial by Cheltenham RoadI wanted a shiny, finished look to the knobs so I sealed the end with a coat of Envirotex Lite.  It really only takes a few drops.  You could also use Hard Coat Mod Podge or Dimensional Magic (also by Plaid)

When it came time to assemble I used the same Forstner bit to drill almost all the way through the sign and then glued the knob into the hole. Make a rustic sign that doubles as a coat hanger.  Cheltenham RoadI’d previously sealed the sign with a polycrylic spray so now it was just a matter of hanging it up.

(OK, I’ll admit it’s actually hanging on my back yard fence which is not remotely where one needs a towel/coat rack.  But the fence has excellent light and an appropriately rustic look!….unlike most of the rooms in my house.)Tutorial for making a vintage sign.  Cheltenham RoadI may have gone a bit overboard with the distress on the knobsMake custom wood knobs.  Cheltenham Roadand for some reason, in the pics they look like they are a very different color than the “Cabin” text but it’s closer in real life.DIY Rustic Wood Sign Coat Rack by Cheltenham RoadNow I just need a place to hang it, you know……. inside the house.YTTSMain5hostsKnick of Time Inspiration Party

Happy Mother’s Day!

As you know, my mom and I have always been a team!just hanging out and blending in

And while I never learned to sew or embroider I owe my mom pretty much everything about my creative nature (and of course the part I don’t owe my mom I owe my dad but his day is coming – let’s not get ahead of ourselves).

If you were home sick from school you didn’t just sit and watch tv (OK, sometimes you did) but there was always a paint-by-number kit or shrinky dinks or a Popsicle stick project to take on and distract you from feeling lousy.

Got a school project? She was in the trenches with you helping you build, say, an entire Aztec village or a Hardy Boys shoe box diorama.

Wanna have a pie fight birthday party? She made it happen (everyone in swimming suits in the backyard chucking tin foil pans of whipped cream at each other.  AWESOME!!!!).

Need a Patrick Henry costume for the Bicentennial Celebration?Spirit of 1776

DONE!

Suffering from delusions of grandeur and want to be the Great Pumpkin for Halloween?The Great Pumpkin!

Done!

Need a Charlie Brown shirt to go with your handmade 4th of July float?  Charlie BrownDone! (my patriotic shoes are a nice touch, although she could have perhaps invested in some looser fitting shorts, no?)

I also owe her something for my work ethic.

When I called today to wish her a happy Mother’s day I interrupted her work on a felt Christmas ornament.Mom's Santa Ornament

(Ok, her work ethic is still better than mine since I haven’t even thought about Christmas yet)

And she is still going strong! Her handmade felt books keep selling out before she can finish the last order. Moms Felt Alphabet BooksNew embroidery projects roll out all the time (even teeny tiny ones – note the quarter).Mom's Stocking Perspective She takes classes goes to seminars (with the assistance of my wonderful sister’s who are also totally awesome moms!)

So Happy Mother’s Day mom!  You continue to amaze me.

And Happy Mother’s day to all you other hard-working moms out there!

Comic Book Superhero Coaster Tutorial

DIY Comic Book Coaster SetIt’s not quite Thursday but it’s time for a flash-back.

A project I did a loooong time ago for Mod Podge Rocks has been getting some attention and I wanted to do a little updating.

As you know my Etsy shop is all about coasters.  I also love comic book graphics but can’t make comic book coasters (pesky copyright law) and I thought it would be fun to share a way to make a set of that’s easy and doesn’t break the bank.

In the electrical/lighting section of Home Depot, I came across these metal blanks that are made to cover up unused outlets ($1.40 each).DIY Comic Coasters Cheltenham RoadYou can, of course,  buy round chip-board blanks for coasters and they are fine but a bit too light weight maybe.   A lot of people use ceramic tiles which are great (and could certainly be used here) but seem a bit large and heavy to me.  So I liked these outlet covers – sturdy, thin, moderately heavy and inexpensive!

For this project I usedSupplies for DIY Superhero Coaster Set

  1. The blanks – they come with a rubber gasket that will come in handy
  2. Outdoor Mod Podge (update! Mod Podge now comes in a dishwasher safe version which would be great!)
  3. Foam Brush
  4. Copies of comic book pages made with a laser printer
  5. Glue (not pictured – I used E6000)
  6. Spray paint (optional)
  7. 220 grit Sand paper

Step 1 Painting.

I wanted a white coaster so after lightly sanding the blank with some 220 Grit sandpaper (just to rough up the surface and give the paint something to stick to) I just popped them on top of some plastic cups and used Heirloom White spray paint.Geek Gifts Comic Book Coaster Tutorial Cheltenham RoadStep 2 Images

For my images I used cut-outs from a book about comics (I found it on a remainder table) but you can scan any comic books that you like and just print them (or have them printed out) on a laser printer/copier.  Do not destroy actual comic books!  It makes the nerds very angry.

Sometimes I find it hard to visualize what a section will look like when it’s cut out so I used my Fiskars Circle guide to get a sense of where on the page I wanted to cut. You could do the same by just cutting an appropriate sized hole in a piece of paper.Comic Book Coaster Set Cheltenham Road Tutorial

There are two screw holes in the blank and your paper will need to cover them. I chose to leave a little edge showing but it would also work to cover the entire surface with paper. If you go that route cut a circle a little larger than the blank and after applying it and allowing it to dry cut away the excess paper with a craft knife

STEP 3 MOD PODGING

After checking to make sure that my images were the right size and would cover the screw holes it was time to Mod Podge.

I like to dampen my images before attaching them as it reduces the bubbles and wrinkles that plagued me in my early Mod Podge attempts.

I fill a container with water and drop the image in to soak while I spread the Mod Podge on the outlet covers.

Super Hero Comic Book Coaster DIY Tutorial Cheltenham RoadWhen I pull the image out of the bath I run my fingers along either side of it to remove any excess water. After that I lay it on the surface and gently smooth it out pushing out any air that gets trapped or any excess Mod Podge (having a paper towel handy is helpful) and allow it to dry.

STEP 4 TOP COAT

After about 20 minutes I top coated the coasters with a layer of Mod Podge and allowed it to dry. I like to use a fairly thick coat as it minimized the brush marks – but, be warned, that method is a little messy.DIY Coasters with Vintage Comic Books a Cheltenham Road Tutorial

After that top coat had dried I  gave it a light sanding and applied another coat of Mod Podge.

STEP 5: GLUE ON THE BACK

I glued the foam rubber gaskets that come with the blanks onto the back using E-6000 glue. The gaskets are just a tiny, tiny bit bigger than the blanks so if you don’t like that look just use cork, some felt or some self-adhesive furniture pads.

And that’s all there is to it.

Vintage Comic Book Graphic Coasters Cheltenham Road Tutorial Just make sure you give the coasters plenty of time to cure before using them – several days to a week is best especially if you live in a humid climate.

If you use the diswasher safe Mod Podge they will be even sturdier – just don’t, you know, put them in the dishwasher.Superhero Coasters a DIY Tutorial Cheltenham RoadIf you wanted a truly hard surface on the coaster that would be more heat resistant you could use  Envirotex Lite – you can find it at Michaels.  It’s easy to work with just be sure to follow the package directions precisely.

I hope you found this useful and if you do make some coasters please make sure let me know

 

 

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.

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!

Lather, Rinse REPEAT. Staying Focused

The Zen version of me knows that:Life is a JourneyBut Actual-Me is hopelessly focused on:are we there So I’m not really a process-person.  I want to jump right to the finish- the finished product, the end of the book, I want to make the purchase not do the research.  You get the idea.

But my I want it NOW attitude (an approach which lead to the ill-advised Oompa Loompa acquisition of ’72) has not been serving me very well of late. There are lots of steps involved in running this business and I’ve been having trouble really keeping myself disciplined, on task and getting stuff done.

So I’ve adopted some strategies.

It’s so easy to let time slip away when part of your job is to look at other blog posts or scan Pinterest (or answer emails etc). I sit down fully intending to just to a couple of quick things and then BAM two hours have passed and I’m behind for the day.

So I’ve become very friendly with an old (and dusty) egg timer.egg timerI’ll confess I feel a bit like one of Pavlov’s dogs but this simple tool has had an wonderful effect.  If I set the timer for an hour. I’m going to work for a solid hour – no breaks, no wandering away -“just focus but only for an hour I tell myself.” It is AMAZING what I can accomplish in that hour and how energizing it is to “race against the clock.” Not “race” as in madly scurrying around stressing out but “race” as in move efficiently.

My second trick is podcasts.

My business is challenging and quite creative but there is A LOT of tedium – repetitive tasks that always seem daunting and certainly aren’t a lot of fun.

Coaster Back CuttingCutting Coaster BacksSealing Coasterstop coating coastersPainting Blockspainting tea light holdersBecause I have to actually look at what I’m doing having the TV on wont work. Listening to newscasts got a bit grim and music can only take me so far.

Podcasts to the Rescue!!!!

Free! Fascinating! Covering every aspect of life!

My current go-to’s are:

Pop Culture Happy Hour. It’s like hanging out with a group of smart, funny and perceptive friends who are all totally into the things that you are totally into. Books, movies, TV, music.

Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me (on itunes) – Always funny and (somewhat) educational.

This American Life Radio Archive – Fascinating stories

Crash Course: Really intense, short lessons in history, science and all kinds of stuff.  The teachers are waaaay over-caffeinated (and funny). They are excellent and often so over-packed with fast flying information that I have to listen to them twice.

School of Greatness – Lewis Howes is sort of a motivational speaker and his podcast has interviews with folks from all walks of life talking about success and their philosophies.  It can be very inspiring.

I find myself actually looking forward to the tedious tasks because I get to listen to the podcasts.

Do you have favorite podcasts? Tips for keeping yourself on task? If so please share them.

On a different note:

I’ve said before how very, very much I appreciate all your comments. I truly do.

I don’t’ often call out comments but I felt compelled to bring this one to the attention of a certain subset of my readers.

The lovely and incredibly insightful Tracey commented recently writing:

Wish……. that I was one of your sisters. You’re fun!

So you see it is as I have been saying for years to a certain subset of my readers: People are lining up to have me as their brother!

Please note that nowhere does the lovely and insightful Tracey use (nor seem to be contemplating using) phrases such as: “Obnoxious twerp,” “you were adopted” or “the mistake from the 60s”

I just wanted to point that out….to a certain subset of my readers.

OK, my timer just went off. It’s time for coasters and podcasts!

 

 

 

 

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