Monday, June 1, 2015

Vintage Journal Pages

Spring may have arrived in New England (although today's temperature of 47 degrees makes that questionable), so I've been busy with furniture painting and gardening projects.  I haven't been doing much in the art department except following (very loosely) the 2015 Documented Life Project,  an online group all about altering your journal/planner .  Every week there is a new challenge, either using a specific  technique  or supply.   The members are doing some wildly creative art.   I mostly stalk and don't always do the weekly challenge, but it's fun and I've learned lots from some accomplished mixed media artists.

Last week's challenge was to use cheesecloth:

I tea-dyed the cheesecloth to make a skirt for the mannequin.  I have used that stamp so many times - one of my favorites.  The background is a page from an herb catalog,  along with a napkin, and pieces from an old French envelope.   I mixed some gel medium with gold powdered pigment and glitter to add stencil interest.

Another page from a few weeks ago - this challenge was to use stitching.   I used to do lots of sewing; now my sewing machine is used for minor repairs, (clothes and boat sails!),  but mostly for sewing paper, so this challenge was perfect for me.

Somehow these decorated pages make using my planner more fun.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Dining Room Table and Chairs Update Finished!

{William and his Gimps passing judgement on wine  for Thanksgiving}

Our dining room table and chairs have been well-used.   We got them  in the 80s (as if all that oak wasn't a clue!) and, as Montana Daughter would say, "it's been rode hard and put away wet "- many times!  The kids used the chairs as train cars and fort walls, and the table has seen years of homework, craft projects, nail polishing mishaps and general wear and tear from 5+ kids .  I've refinished the top a couple of times, and  it was starting to show wear  again.

This time I decided to bring the whole shebang out of the  matchy-matchy 80s and get rid of the overwhelming oak of it all.

I started with the table - stripped off the finish with Citrasolve, wiped it down with Liquid Sander and a final pass with TSP.   

Then the magic happened; I wiped down the top (and all those leaves) with Old Master White Pickling Stain.

I put on a couple of coats, letting each one dry first.   The wiping stain is easy to use - wipe on, leave for 10-15 minutes and wipe off.   I played with it - leaving on more in some areas, less in others.

Since this table still gets lots of use, I needed to protect all this white goodness.  My original plan was to use a MinWax wipe-on poly, but all the reviews said it yellows over paint or light stains, clearly a deal-breaker.  Plus, I didn't want any shine as that sort of defeats the look of whitewash.   Off to the helpful folks at Benjamin Moore who recommended this instead- a clear flat polyurethane.  Flat poly?  Who knew?

So here's where the project-induced OCD comes into play - I think I put on 6 coats!  I probably would have kept on going, but The  Captain staged an intervention.

Table top - done.  Now the chairs.  I had seen pictures of mismatched dining chairs all over Pinterest and decided to trade in my matching ones for ones that didn't match, all painted white.   Then I bought a chair at a yard sale painted in Annie Sloan Chateau Grey chalk paint and was on to NEW PLAN - paint them ALL Chateau Grey.  Chateau Grey isn't grey at all - it's a rich sage green.   But moi, painting with Annie Sloan paint ?   Yikes, I've read all the  "752 things you need to know before using AS paint" and was totally intimidated.  But the woman who sold me the inspiration chair gave me good advice:
     *  Stop reading all those scary articles
     *  Just paint with it - first coat right out of the can, second coat thinned with a little warm water
     *  First coast will look awful; keep going.

So I did.

Shopping for AS chalk paint isn't like a trip to Home Depot - got mine at Vintage Chic Boutique in Newburyport, MA.  The store is full of AS painted pieces, in addition to the paint, wax and related paraphernalia.

AS chalk paint is pricey, with a quart costing as much as a gallon of Home Depot's premium Marquee  paint (which I also love).  It is only available online or at selected retailers, like the lovely shop where I bought mine.

Here is my motley group of chairs,  thrift store finds, plus one of our original chairs for old-time's sake.  Two of them need new seats - although it was tempting to save the one covered in gold velvet and topped with heavy plastic!

One of the SERIOUS benefits to AS paint is that you don't need to sand or prime - a major concern with all these spindles and ridges.  I did wipe them down with liquid sander, mainly to clean them up from their stay at the thrift store and the garage.

First coat - yucky as predicted!  The chalk paint is pretty thick, so I was extra careful about drips.  The paint pools along ridges, so I kept going over to smooth out any ridges and  drips.

I thinned out the paint with a bit of warm water for the second coat and that went on like a dream.  I added a little bit of Aubusson Blue accent swooshes here and there.

So there is always a catch - all that luscious color and texture come with a hitch - the paint needs to be sealed, usually with Annie Sloan wax.   I was apprehensive about the wax - whether it would be enough of a finish for dining room chairs, and the application process is complicated.  My go-to expert told me she sometimes waxes, sometimes uses varnish .   So, I brought out the Benjamin Stays Clear and brushed on 2 coats, plus another 2 on the surfaces that get the most wear - backs and seats. Again, no shiny-shiny!

Now on to the two seats - The Captain cut new seat bases, then I added a layer of foam wrapped with batting and covered with a navy Ikat fabric and DONE.

And while we're talking about seats, check out the beautiful caning on this one:

Table and chairs, welcome to 2015!!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Cemetery Tour

I like pretending to be a tourist at home. Funny how we stop at all kinds of things when we're traveling, but drive right past interesting things close to home.  Take this beautiful cemetery, for instance:

I drive by it several times a week and never stopped to check it out.   I love old cemeteries, not for the creepy factor, but for the old worn stones with ornate carvings , overgrown with moss and lichens.  This local cemetery has it all.

The new, highly polished stones with perfect engraving don't hold much interest, but the old ones, much of the engraving worn away, tilted and tipsy, with dates that remind us that life was often short for out ancestors - those are the ones I like.

It helps to have friendly companions when wandering through cemeteries:

We visited a very old cemetery once that had an engraving about "eternal bliss", but written with the Colonial long S,  it read like, "eternal bliff."  Which is what we now call cemeteries, because we are easily amused by our own silliness.

Whether it's bliss or bliff, this is a serene spot:

I even managed to do a couple of recognizable rubbings.  Turns out the key is a graphite stick that makes solid contact with the stone.

Love being an at-home tourist and seeing things through that glow we usually reserve for far away spots.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Do You Know About "flow" Magazine? **UPDATED **

I just made an exciting discovery of a new magazine from the Netherlands. How could you not love a magazine that identifies itself as  "the magazine for paper lovers".  Their website explains the magazine like this:

"A magazine of unhurried time, all about doing things differently and making new choices. Small happiness, daily life and the beauty of not always managing to be perfect. That is how Flow began. Flow is all about positive psychology, mindfulness, creativity and the beauty of imperfection. We love illustrations and in each issue there is a gift made of our much-loved paper. We print the magazine itself on different types of paper."

The magazine is the inspiration of friends Astrid and Irene.  Flow is a visual feast, unlike any  magazine I've ever seen.   It is as if the women decided to make the very best magazine they could, sparing no expense by using gorgeous paper, filling it with beautiful inspiration,  insightful articles,  and spotlighting artists and their work.   All of that, and the magazine is printed on various beautiful papers and includes freebies like paper garlands, window clings, prints ready to frame - the goodies vary by issue.  There are very few ads and even those are artistic.

This isn't a magazine filled with how-to tutorials.   I think of it as an inspiration - beautiful illustrations,  thought-provoking articles and wonderful bits of knowledge.   How else would we know that the Rijks Museum in the Netherlands allows, no,  WANTS people to download images of their collections and make the works their own with drawings, collage, stamping, painting - whatever moves you, like the pieces below.  Doesn't the  little red bird stamped in the middle of the serious botanical drawing turn it into something whimsical?

The page on the right is actually a window-cling made from one of the museum's pieces.

My issue also included this sweet garland.

The magazine originally was available only in Dutch, but they have recently begun publishing an English edition, available online, and there are some issues on Amazon. All this goodness doesn't come cheaply - a one year subscription is about $85.00 for maybe 8 issues.   But how many magazines have we bought for nearly that much, then flipped through and found one or two things that interested us and not much else?  Flow is also on Facebook and Instagram, so it is possible to enjoy lots of goodies online and at no cost.  You can also sign up for their newsletter to get a heads-up on when new issues are available.

The magazine ships from the Netherlands, so don't expect immediate gratification if you order.  The ordering/payment process is a bit wonky, but the customer service is helpful.    It took mine over seven weeks to arrive, looking a bit beat up when it finally made it to my mailbox.

This is my issue; back issues are also available.

Of course pencils are dear to the heart of all paper-lovers .

This is a great article about caring for ourselves, living in the moment and being kind and positive with ourselves as well as with others.

And an article about some sweet hand-carved stamps. 

I am savoring my issue, re-reading articles, investigating online sites of museums in the Netherlands (don't tell me the internet isn't pure magic!),  studying images, and feeling inspired.  

(Off topic rant:  Why on earth isn't possible to italicize in Blogger titles?)

Update - Look what I just found at Barnes and Noble - yippeeeee!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

DIY Modeling Paste Art Play

I've been seeing all kinds of artwork using modeling paste.  Remember that I'm trying not to buy every new supply I see,  I've been resisting the urge to notify my friends at Amazon that I need some pronto.   Then I came across a recipe for making modeling paste at Creative Vintage Studio - YIPPEE.  No new supplies needed - I had the three ingredients I needed in my stash:

This is a simple recipe :

1 part Mod Podge
1 part talcum powder
1/2 part white acrylic paint

Combine the ingredients in an airtight container.  I didn't actually measure this - I just eyeballed it.  I added more talcum as the mixture seemed too runny ( maybe measuring would have been a good idea!).   The paste needs to be firm enough not to ooze under the stencil - think soft frosting or whipped cream .

Linda at Creative Vintage Studio left hers white and painted the design once it had dried.   Since the paste dries to the texture of heavy embossing, I thought painting all this would be too difficult so decided to color the paste instead.

Now the fun begins - coloring the paste.  I shave off small amounts of Gelato crayons.   Confession - I also used the much cheaper Crayola version:

I find that the Crayola ones are often smoother and blend better than Gelatos, plus they are less expensive - five crayons are $4.99 on  Amazon.  

Very thin slivers of the crayons are easier to blend into the paste - you really have to mash it around to incorporate the color.   I ended up adding a few drops of liquid acrylic  to the yellow as the crayon color was just too light.  You could obviously use colored  acrylic paint to color the paste, instead of using white paint.  Pretty sure you could color it with a few drops of ink, too.   

Spread the paste over your stencil onto your paper with a painting knife/ spatula.  I found this Bob Ross paint knife at Michael's   I was going to buy a cheapo plastic one, but this beauty on clearance was only $3.00.   Because of the moisture in the paste, a heavier paper is in order.   I used the flat side of watercolor paper.

Lift off the stencil carefully.

There are some dark spots where the Gelato didn't mix in all that well, but I like the effect.

Then I used my what was left of the paste and did more mixing of the colors over the stencil.

I like this variegated look even better.

Allow the paste to air-dry for several hours.  You could probably dry it with a heat gun, but I didn't want to risk any bubbling.

And of course I couldn't let all the paste on the stencil go to waste, so I flipped the stencil over and laid it on a new piece of paper.  Think this abstract print will make an interesting background.

Be sure to wash off your stencil and tools as soon as you are finished so the paste doesn't harden on them.

I think I'm going to cut the designs to use as journal covers.  I'm also going to see how the paste works with Perfect Pearls - or glitter (think Christmas stars) .   So many possibilities.


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