Monday, August 17, 2009

I Finally Finished This Painting

I started this in January. I love the look of palette knife painting, big gobs of paint applied sloppily to a canvas, but I'd never tried it before. I bought this huge 30x40" canvas on sale after Christmas, and fully intended to paint it right away.

Life intervened. I got as far as this wash.

Since the canvas was really large, the best place to store it seemed to be to just hang it on the wall where I intended to put it. But life kept getting in the way, so this wash has been hanging on my wall for seven months. My husband and friends got used to the wash, sort of fell in love with the wash, and tried to convince me not to finish the painting. The nerve. But now I'm unemployed, so there.

I bought a nice metal easel at Michaels with a coupon ($40 off!) and went to work. Before this I was using a display easel from Ikea which was not adequate to the vigorous nature of palette knife painting.

Palette knives are so messy and raw, I love them.

I also used a glaze for the first time. I wanted to mute the colors. The glaze is a little too glossy for me, but I love how it pulls everything together. I also love the big gobs of paint.

I got the frame from Ebay. I did not realize when I bought a giant 30x40" canvas that you cannot buy prefab 30x40" frames, and I did not want to spend hundreds of dollars getting this piece custom framed.

I discovered that frame shops sell unclaimed frames on Ebay for excellent prices, although shipping for this was very expensive, it was still cheaper than custom framing. I attached the canvas to the frame using pipe clamps -- forty cents each at Osh -- and hung it with some simple picture wire.

Here it is hanging on my wall:

Ah... it's done.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Short Box Lids into Bulletin Board

Here is a craft that is secretly g33ky. What is geeky about a bulletin board you ask? Apart from being organized and stuff, this board has secret geek parts.

Inspired by this popular Martha craft, I wanted to make a bulletin board, but I didn't want to track down "Homasote," whatever that is. Instead, I used the lids of comic book short boxes.

Geoff and I have... a lot of comic books. It's a little sad. Short boxes are the traditional storage for comic books, but since we have so many of them, I buy "short box houses" which are sturdy cardboard sleeves for the short boxes that turn them into handy drawers. This leaves me with a lot of extra box lids.


I cut the sides off the lids, and sewed together some scraps to cover my box lids -- I didn't have a scrap I liked that was big enough, and I like the pieced look.

I stapled the fabric to the short box lids (I used 3 lids to make it thick enough). My stapling is not as neat as Martha's, that's OK as long as it is nice and tight.

I bought this weird... whatever, at a thrift store for $2, to use for a frame. Poor sampler thingy, you have been rejected twice.

Here it is empty, a state it will never be in again. The fabric is "charmingly" crooked, but that's OK with me because it will always look chaotic.

You may not have a whole bunch of short box lids lying around, but any thick cardboard will do.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Vertical Blind Hack, Part 2

As I was saying... I hate vertical blinds!

In my bedroom, I hacked my vertical blinds into curtains by attaching the curtains with tabs fastened with buttons. It worked well, but I wanted to try something different for the curtains in my nursery. Here's what I did.

Again, I removed the blind blades and stored them neatly under the bed, on top of the other set. They come out and go back in very easily, so don't be afraid to remove them.

Here, instead of making two separate curtains, I sewed my fabric into one continuous sheet. The nice thing about these is that they use the existing vertical blind hardware. The fabric is held in the clips with large grommets.***

If you would like to see a useful tutorial on attaching these eyelets, consult Sew Mama Sew. Especially if you do not have a one step button-holing sewing machine, these are much less work than making tabs with buttons.

These open up like vertical blinds, using the hanging cord. They are very easy to use and install.

The fabric for these is from the Ikea Barnslig collection, which is super cute. These are also fully lined, with drapery lining from Joann Fabrics (coupon!) as I wanted to be able to get this room dark.

Now you have two options for curtain-izing vertical blinds.

*** EDITED 4/10/2012: This post has become fairly popular, so I wanted to give an update on this solution. These grommets went in and out easily at the time, but after a few years the plastic was not so pliant as it once was, and when I took these curtains down to move, half of the clips broke!

Now I recommend using curtain clips (like these beautiful cheap ones from Ikea) instead of grommets. They won't break anything and they are easier to install, too... no holes necessary.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Vertical Blinds Hack, Part 1

For some reason, apartment designers in Los Angeles have a love affair with wall-to-wall carpet (yuck!) and vertical blinds (yuck!). Most apartments I have rented have both. I can't do much about the carpets, but I went on a mission to figure out some way to hack the hated vertical blinds.

Why do I hate vertical blinds? They are bland. They are sharp. They always get twisted up, so you have to straighten them all every time you want to open them. They are harsh in the manner they block light. They don't really guarantee privacy, especially when the cats are sitting in them, as cats do. Ugh! I hate them!

I had a conversation with my manager one day about getting rid of the vertical blinds. He basically told me that I was wrong, that curtains were inferior to vertical blinds, and I must keep them.

But I love curtains. So, compromise.

For these curtains in my bedroom, I very carefully removed each of the evil vertical blind slats, and stored them under my bed. I then sewed these curtains around the vertical blind hardware.

Apart from having the strangest curtain rod ever, they open and close just like regular cafe curtains. I love them!

The tabs are closed by big buttons, so I can take them down to wash them occasionally. You can see here how the curtains are, indeed, hung around the vertical blind hardware.

Making the buttonholes was incredible fun. I highly recommend a one step button-holer over a four step button-holer. You can seriously, like, read a book while it goes to work.

So easy, and such perfect buttonholes.

The fabric for these curtains is by Premier Prints, and it is intended for nurseries, but I really like it in my bedroom, which I've done in sea glass colors.

If you are like me, and also hate vertical blinds, but are also cursed with them, here's one way to deal with them. I will post my second way soon.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Henry 2.0

I can't believe I never blogged about Hank! I just found these pictures from January and just realized I never posted them. So, meet Hank.

Hank is a sideboard, a console, an entry table, what Apartment Therapy likes to call a "landing strip." There are too many names to describe this piece of furniture, so we just call it Hank.

As in, "Jessica, where are the scissors?"

"The scissors are in Hank, Geoff."

Before there was Hank, there was Henry.

Henry was a hideous, stained, beat up dresser we used to keep by the door. It needed replacement. I found a small sideboard at an antique shop in Hollywood for forty-five dollars. It was the wrong color. I have become obsessed with making everything in the living room the same red-gold chestnut color, and this color is not in fashion right now. So I began my first refinishing project ever.

You can tell this is January, and not right now, because look at how skinny and flexible I am. Stripping is hard work, but it was worth it.

The color it came in was surprisingly similar to the color of Henry the dresser, which is a terrible gray-beige. Why was this color ever popular?

I stained it in a 50/50 mix of Minwax "Red Chestnut" and "Gunstock" (what is Gunstock? I do not know). Stripping it was somewhat difficult, but getting the stain perfect took several tries and made me a bit dizzy and I will probably never do it again. Also in the process I think I also messed up the concrete on our patio and relinquished our deposit. Eh, the cats were going to destroy the rug anyway... right?

The color did come out perfectly. I love the wood grain and the hardware.

Also, I have a question.

Since I'd never done this before, I forgot to deal with the inside, which is kind of a mess. I'm not doing any more staining! What should I do? Should I paint a picture in there? Decoupage something g33ky? What do you think?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Bats and Sups, Watching Over Me

Check it out, a g33ky craft! Sorry it's been a while.

I bought these frames with prefab prints on Ebay. They were nice, I guess, but too pedestrian for my taste.

I painted them with the same warm white paint as the shadowbox, then I cut the silhouettes out of black card stock and glue sticked them over a piece of blue card stock and cut them to fit the frames. Easy and cool!

I used these iconic Jim Lee covers for reference.

Well... for tracing, actually. I bought a Light Tracer back when I was an animation student, and it has been my best friend for line drawing ever since. I use it to clean up original art in addition to stealing other people's.

This is all part of my "saloon wall" collage, which is now above my chest of drawers in the bedroom.

I think I'm going to replace the gold prints at the bottom with more photos, since I'm not feeling the gold. But I am loving the symmetrical randomness.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


Due to not having pictures, and also not really posting much, I haven't gotten around to announcing I'm pregnant here yet. It's gotten a bit late, but for those who don't know.. surprise!

I'm due October 5th. That's only two months away! My mother-in-law sent me a package of things recently, including this fabulous quilt. She made it for my husband when he was a baby. She takes really good care of things, it's amazing how old it is. I love the lace around the lamb.