Thursday, July 30, 2015

Miracle Journal Page

OK, so maybe this doesn't qualify as a miracle, but it is pretty darn close.   This is the third version of a page in my planner from June.  It started out with a great  idea - various bits of white and blue-green scraps,  and a bird from a napkin.   No picture, but trust me, it was a huge mess - random bits glued down that just did not work.   Brushed over some white paint to try to pull it together- still awful.

I could have just left it and moved on.  I've read all those inspiring words that every page isn't going to be fantastic, it's all a learning experience,  and just turn the page and forget it.  But I couldn't - it was just so hideous and it mocked me every time I opened my planner.

i saw this technique in Dian Wakely's book, Art Journal Courage for fixing what she calls "overwrought pages".  You draw a simple stem and leaves with black marker, right over all the goobery-ness.  Then paint around the stem and  leaves with white , then turquoise paint and voila, page rescued.  I did it - but remember all those random white bits and white paint ? I ended up with a stem of ghostly white leaves.  But I bet it would work well on more colorful pages, just not my mainly white one.

In a fit of pique, I tore off some under papers and glued them over all that mess.  Immediately things started looking up!  I sprayed on a bit of Dylusions ink and loved how some of the layers peeked through.  If I stopped right there, my page would be OK.

But I remembered this huge birdcage stamp from Inkadinkado.  Perfect !  Added some birds from the same set, a bit of text stamped in white, some text and circles.    Now this page has gone from the absolute worst to one of my favorites.   

The lesson in rescuing a god-awful mess?   Cover the dang thing and start all over.  Or, less eloquently:

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Breaking News : A New Grand Baby

I've been in Austin for a few weeks for the arrival of this sweet baby James:

He is the little brother of William, who loves to hold him and shower him with drool kisses!

While James snoozed, William and I were busy.

Being silly

Driving fast

William is an early riser - like 5 a.m. early, so we got in some digger driving before the workmen arrived.

More early morning activity - painting, with careful color selection - "now I need blue".

Making muffins with the cutest helper .

And a shirt for 4th of July parade.

Dousing Grandpa with the water gun.

And taking my turn pushing the two cuties in their new stroller.  Austin heats up early, so we head out  early before it gets too hot.

James is a mellow little guy who loves to sleep on his people. Here he is  sleeping on his mom's legs - one of his favorite sleeping spots.

Sleeping on (and with) Grandpa is another favorite.

And of course, resting with his beautiful mom is his very favorite.

While I know it is the natural progression of things, seeing your daughter with her two babies is pretty amazing.  I am so fortunate that I got to spend time with them and welcome James to the family.   There were so many special moments, but having William call me, "Sweetie Pie" is at the top of the list!    

They live far away and do their best to help us stay connected - FaceTime, photo streams and lots of call - and tickets to visit.   Lord knows I've blabbed on and on  here several times about my struggle be more gracious about dealing with grown children living far away.   It takes effort on every one's part to stay connected and I'm happy that they work hard to include us in their lives.

The Austin family, with baby James' little head barely peaking out of his wrap.

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.


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