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My New Must-Have Craft Room Tool

I confess to being a bit of slob when working and one of my vows for this year is to spend a lot less time cleaning up.

So, while I solemnly swear to put things away when I’m done with them and not drag new things out before I’m done with old things – I can’t do all that much about the mess I make when I’m making.

I’ve tried putting various things on the work table to help keep it neat – towels, inexpensive place mats, drop cloths etc. All of them worked fine up to a point but became unusable after a few rounds of Mod Podge drips and glue splots and such.

Then, while poking around at Rockler Woodworking I came across this Silicone Project Mat:

(don’t worry, this isn’t a paid commercial – no one at Rockler slipped me cash to talk about this – I just happened to buy one and think it’s tops).

Now, they aren’t exactly giving them away but the price is OK for something that will last.

It’s generously sized and the perfect solution to my problem.

So, it starts out like this:

And then, after a round of coaster making it looks like this:

But, here is the beauty part.

Once it all dries:

You can just peel off the big chunks:

And rinse away the smaller ones.

I did a quickie rinse for this pic and the results are great:

It rolls up for easy storage and rolls out totally flat again the next time you use it.


I kinda want to cover every surface in my home with one.

Actually, I should probably put one under me when I eat…..

And I have another confession.

It’s still Christmas at my house.

You see I’ve  vowed to NEVER have another holiday season as stressful  as 2017.    I had so many projects and ideas I wanted to get to but didn’t have the time.  So I’m doing them now and stockpiling for December.

This will be great in two ways.  I’ll be much more pleasant to know AND when I post the pictures in December you will no doubt say:

“David, the projects are great and you look YEAR younger!  What’s your secret?”

And I will smile and  lie and tell you it’s all about good genes, an excellent diet and staying hydrated.

Here’s  small preview.

I’ve been working on a hot cocoa sign for next years hot chocolate bar

and Christmas tray that uses some leftover holiday napkins

And a bunch of others  that are coming along nicely.

So you see I HAD to leave my decorations up so that I would be able to photograph the projects.  It has nothing to do with laziness despite what you may have heard!





Vintage Disneyland E Ticket Wall Art Tutorial

Before I get rolling here I just wanted to say thank you all for your wonderful, kind and supportive words about my dad.  It meant the world to my sisters and myself to read what you wrote.  We love sharing out dad’s story and it means so much that it resonates with you (we also showed them with mom who doesn’t do computers or blogs and she loved it!).  Thank you all so much!

OK, there is no smooth segue from that but here we go! – onto Disney and our E Ticket Ride.
Living in Southern California I’m surrounded by folks who are crazy about Disney and its various Lands and Worlds.

I do not actually share this obsession.

In truth I’m a bit bitter toward Disney.

You see, when I was 11 my parent told me we were moving from Ohio to California for my dad’s job.

I was overjoyed!   It was clear this was the first step in my life-long Master Plan!

  • Step 1: move to California.
  • Step 2: Become a Mousketeer!
  • Step 3: Enjoy everlasting fame and unlimited Disneyland access.

My parents had played right into my hand!!!!

The fact that the show was no longer in production and that we were moving to Northern California, several hundred miles from Disney was not made clear to me.

I acknowledge blaming Disney for this is not exactly fair. However, the only other option is to blame my lack of research and questionable grasp of geography and I think we all know that that won’t be happening.

So.  Everlasting bitterness!

Despite my (justified!) feelings I do like to make other people happy and I thought this fun, super easy project would be perfect for the die-hard Disney fan.

If you went to Disneyland prior to 1982 you bought a ticket book to get on the rides.

You can find these vintage books on ebay and I thought it would look cool to have some over-sized versions as wall-art.

It’s pretty straighforward.

I used:

  • Matte Mod Podge (shocking!)
  • 1/2″ MDF panels
  • black paint
  • aaaaand…that’s about it.

After doing a high resolution scan of the tickets I blew them up to 10.5×16.5 and had Staples print them out for me on plain 11×17 paper for about $2 a print (Staples can also do the scanning and blowing up for you if that’s not your scene).

I cut my 1/2″ MDF into 11×17 panels and painted them black.  The painting isn’t strictly necessary – I just wanted to have a nice border around the tickets.

After spreading a good amount of Mod Podge onto the MDF panel

I laid my graphic down smoothing out wrinkles and guaranteeing a good adhesion by using a combo of my hands and a brayer.

A little drying time, a couple of coats of Matte Mod Podge so seal them and they were ready to go.

They can be hung with picture wire and hooks or you can use 3M Command Strips.  With the Command Strips so you don’t have to put a hole in the wall and they are easy to reposition if needed.  Four strips on each panel should to the trick.

I did this with Disney tickets but it would work with pretty much any image you wanted to use: Concert tickets, family letters, etc etc.

As always, let me know if you have any questions and please if you take this idea and run with it send pics!  I love to see what people do!

Disclaimer: The tickets are Trademarked and Copyright protected material which is why I’m not providing downloads of the graphics.  This project is shared for personal use and inspiration only.    


The New Year

Hi and Happy New Year everyone!

I hope the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018 has treated you well.

My apologies again for the looooong pause in blogging.  This Fall was not quite what I had expected.

I’m very sorry to report that, at the very end of October my dad passed away.

Now, when speaking of a 95 year old one can never, with a straight face, say that this was a “total surprise” but it did catch me a bit off guard.  When both of your parents, like energizer bunnies, just keep going and going one can get a bit complacent I suppose.

In any case, we, as a family, had the best possible version of this scenario that anyone can hope for.

We all got to be with him for many days.  He was, although weak, very, very present – making his own decisions (and jokes) the entire time.  We laughed a lot.  He got to say very nice things to us and we, in turn got to truly express how much we loved and appreciated him.

But somehow, despite all the positives, it stopped me cold in my blog-tracks.  Dad really enjoyed the blog – and especially reading all of your comments – and I somehow couldn’t quite figure out what to say…..but I think I have now.

As you all know my dad was an excellent craftsman.  All the pictures I’m sharing here today are of his work.

Handmade Lazy Susan’s by Edgar Cheaney

When my folks moved to their retirement community he immediately established a woodworking shop on the premises.

Dad’s workshop. Yes it was always this clean.

He did projects for himself, took on repair work for other residents and built things for the community.  So all of what you are seeing is work done by a man in his 80s and 90s.

Display case by Edgar Cheaney

And that seems to me to be the ongoing lesson my dad was quietly teaching all of us.

Lectern made from reclaimed wood by Edgar Cheaney

Dad was the definition of a life-long learner-the kid who took the radio apart to see how it worked, built model airplanes and, later in life took apart his computer and put it back together again.

Model Airplane Display by Edger Cheaney

He (and my mom) enrolled in Life-Long-Learner classes on everything from The History of Film to Biblical Studies.  He was a voracious reader and the only male member of the local book club.  When he took on the role of Community Accountant for the retirement community he taught himself, in his 80s, how to use Quickbooks.

Cherry Wood Display Cabinet by Edgar Cheaney

Conversations with him were always fascinating and the subjects wide-ranging.  He listened just as well as he talked, was open to new ideas and even when his views differed greatly he treated everyone with respect.

Shadow Boxes made to go outside the rooms of the Assisted Living patients in the hospital wing

As is often the case in these situations, you learn a lot from the stories other people tell.

At his memorial service the minister related how she’d visited him in hospice and, in the course of their conversation she had asked him how he felt about this coming transition.

My dad paused, thinking for a moment, and then simply said:


I think that one answer sums up him and the many valuable lessons he taught all of us over the years.  Be curious.  Keep trying.  Have an active mind.  Always be engaged.

I’m going to try my best to live up to his example.

Edgar S Cheaney


Happy Holidays!


So….it’s been a while.

Sorry for the pause.

I just wanted to pop in (up?) and wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

I hope you all have had a wonderful Holiday Season!

I’ll be back with projects (and explanations) in 2018.

Haunted Halloween Lamp

I know, I know.  Halloween is OVER and we’re all supposed to have moved on to Christmas.

But, as I’ve shown on several other occasions, I am nothing if not seasonally out of synch.

And I had this idea for a quickie Halloween decoration idea and just didn’t want to wait another year.

It came together fast (it had to, the sun was setting and I had about an hour to get it made, staged and photographed).

So, apparently, Halloween, to means “things that light up” and, more specifically Victorian people with glowing eyes (Cheltenham Road – We have one idea and we’re sticking with it!!!!)

For this I used:

  • Thrift Store Lamp
  • Pictures printed on my laser printer
  • Mod Podge
  • Foam Brush
  • Flat black spray paint
  • Craft knife

I’d picked up this lamp from a thrift store for $6

I removed the shade and did a quickly spray paint job on the base (flat black)

I had all my gloomy Victorians from my Glowing Eyes Candle Jar project so I put together a couple of quick collages and printed them out on my laser printer (you can find links to get some of the pictures in the Glowing Eye Candle Jar tutorial)

I use Photoshop for this sort of thing just to be able to move quickly but the same could be done with individual print outs of the pictures

The shade was 10” high so I just worked in sections and printed out on legal sized paper.

After cutting out their eyes (it’s what I do!),

I spread Mod Podge on the shade and smoothed the paper into place – continuing around until the shade was covered.

It happened to be 102 degrees in LA so everything dried alarmingly quickly.  If you live in a part of the country with non hell-like temperatures in October your drying times may vary.

I added a little bit of ribbon trim around the top and bottom of the shade to finish it up.*

After putting it all back together (and crossing my fingers that the thrift store lamp actually worked….something I had neglected to check)  I was done.

Glowing eyes 2017!

OK!  On to Flag Day!  I have some awesome ideas for glowing flags…..

*just to be honest, the ribbon is just taped in place.  A glue gun would be perfect for this task but I may or may not have thrown mine away after one too many unfortunate encounters with really hot glue.

Seasonally Challenged

Remember back in July when I was all about Halloween?

And we laughed about how it was way too early for Halloween?

Welcome to October!  Now we can finally talk about surfing.


I know.

I am seriously seasonally challenged.

But here’s the deal.

I had the big Abott Kinney Festival (in Venice Beach) a weekend or so ago and I had to change gears radically to get stuff ready for the beach crowd.

Coasters are always my biggest sellers and I wanted some new ones.  So I upped my “beach game” by playing with some new colors for my Subway Art coasters:

And worked up some new vintage surf shop coasters as well

So far so good.

I wanted to add some other stuff to the mix and, as you may recall, I bought a bunch of metal trays a while ago and have been trying out various designs on them.

I liked one of my Surfing Coaster images a lot and had an idea about how to transfer it to one of the metal trays but wasn’t sure if it would work.

Spoiler: It did!

I painted the bottom of the tray using Waverly Inspirations Chalk Paint – Ivory, blew up my graphic and printed it out in reverse on my laser printer.

I used my favorite transfer technique.

I simply lay down a decent coat of Minwax Polycrylic, place the image face down on the Poly, smooth it into place using my hands and a roller and let it dry for several hours in the sun (or overnight if you don’t live in hot, dry southern California).

Tip:  I’m always trying to improve a bit.  The only downside of this method is that you can end up with a faint outline of the edges of the paper.  I found that if you only put the Poly where you image is and only smooth down that area it cuts down on the “edge” problem a bit.  You can see in the picture above that the edges of the paper are not stuck down.

Once it’s dry I soak a rag in water, lay it over the image and let get good and damp

and begin rubbing away the paper.

until the image is totally revealed.

My concern was that the process would rub off the paint but it wasn’t a problem at all.

I actually had to go back in with some sandpaper and “distress” the letter a bit more (I kinda overdid it with “A” in California)

I really liked how it came out and the tray sold almost before I opened shop.

I plan to try it with a few fall-like designs as well.  Or, what the heck, it’s October, let’s talk Easter decor!!!!

(you may wonder what I’ve been up to since the Festival and now…..well, my faithful computer Blue-Screen-of-Deathed me just afterwards and I’ve been dealing with the hassle of buying a new one and getting up and rolling again.  Fortunately, most of my work was backed up but between passwords, fonts, bookmarks etc it’s been a slow slog to get my act back together)



Spooky Halloween Lantern

Spooky Halloween Lantern

I really shouldn’t be allowed to go to Michaels with a great coupon but no plan.

So, having said that, let’s all agree to pretend that this project is EXACTLY the project I had in mind when I started and that everything went swimmingly.

Are we all on board?


Welcome to a tutorial about exactly the thing I planned to make.

It all started when I saw some lanterns at a ridiculously low price and scooped them up (knowing, as you’ll recall,  EXACTLY what I was going to do with them!).  I also grabbed a bag-o-skulls (fun to say) at a great discount.  After getting everything home I gathered some other supplies got to work.SUPPLIES

  • Lantern
  • Skulls
  • Tealights (the kind that change color – available at Michaels)
  • Painters tape
  • (because this is EXACTLY the project I had in mind I ended up using a bunch of different paints and other supplies after I took that picture)

  • Folk Art Coastal Creations
  • Waverly Super Premium Craft paint
  • Flat black spray paint
  • Gold paint
  • Texture Paint
  • Dowels cut to length
  • Velcro tape

All my paints – with the exception of the black Spray Paint and Frosted Glass Paint – were supplied to me by Plaid as part of their Ambassador program (although I sort of fear I’m not using things the way they had in mind – sorry!)

The lanterns were a great shape but not very Halloweeny.

After removing the glass panes and hardware I painted the interior black.

On the exterior I wanted a decrepit, textured look so I grabbed my new favorite paint – Folk Art Coastal Creations – and dabbed on some white

After letting it dry I went back in with Waverly Black and darkened things up by dabbing and rubbing it into the textured white paint until I got the look I wanted.

I then worked on the metal tops, first painting them with Folk Art Brushed Antique Gold.

And then going back in with Folk Art Painted Finishes Rust to, again, add texture and decay.

Then it was onto the skulls.

Being me, and somewhat overly dedicated to things lighting up, I wanted them to…..light up!

The skulls are hollow but had a hole in the bottom that was just big enough to insert a tealight.  However, the white tealight base looked like exactly like what it was and the light tended to shine through the white plastic.  So after taping off the “candle” part

I gave them a quick coat of flat black spray paint.  

This helped focus the light and also made the candle base “disappear”.

For a bit more “glow” I then drilled out the eye holes.

(PLEASE NOTE:  if you do this you would be wise to brace the skull in some way rather than just holding it with your hand…..or so I’m told…. I mean it’s not like I had a bad experience with the drill slipping….why would you think that?! who told you that?!  Also, unlike this picture implies, you do not want to drill a hole in the eye socket with the tealight already inserted… that would be stupid and neither I nor any of you are stupid.)

I created different levels for the skull by just painting out some random bits of dowel and, because I wanted them to be stable but still be able to access the on/off switch on the lights,  attaching the tealight/skull to the dowel using some velcro tape.

I then did a quick, light coat of Frosted Glass spray on the glass panels  – just to dirty them up a bit really – and re-assembled the lanterns.

After some careful arranging I was done!  Spooky, light up skulls

As I mentioned some of the tealights change color so still pictures don’t quite capture the shifting, glowing effect.

I think they’d make a fun centerpiece 

or perhaps some mantle decor.

OK, I’m ready for my next project.  And I know EXACTLY what I’m going to do!!!!  Trust me!




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