Yesterday was an exciting day as I picked up the finished versions of a selection of basic fabrics I have been working on for the past six months. Textile design has always interested me, as has pattern design from my It's A Date days.
I designed the patterns for each fabric digitally in Illustrator, as "tiles" that would seamlessly repeat each pattern across metres or yards. They were printed locally and I'm rapt with the results. I think the designs will most suit cushions and upholstery, and that's where I'm planning on using this one, on a nice chair or some cushions for our couch. Eventually, they will be for sale through Frankie Jean. Fun!
Sometimes A Trip to the Rubbish Tip smells like Victory
Thursday, January 24, 2013
I rarely leave Bendigo without a visit to one (or both) of the two recycling yards adjacent to the rubbish tips. These yards save the items that are in good condition and have been "thrown away" and then sell them - not as a huge money-making scheme, but as a way to recycle unwanted items and make enough to cover the cost of the yard. I have found many treasures there in the past that have come back to Melbourne with me, usually something in pretty good nick that can be restyled or repainted and given a new lease on life. The price of second-hand quality furniture, just in need of some love, can't be beaten either, particularly if you can ignore the dirt and dust.
I had bookmarked this photo for a year or two on my "wishlist" - things to buy or purchase if the time/price is right. I have been looking for an interesting chair for my seldom-sat-at desk for quite some time, and I love the look of a faux "Chippendale bamboo chair" on most sites I've seen it.
Jonathan Adler sells his own version for a cool $US550 (or add $50 for each arm). The adorable Australian store Ada and Darcy offers a custom service to make your own for $AU695 which is pretty sweet. The thing is, I was starting to think about saving up for one. Either would be massively more expensive than anything else I've bought for our house ... but the heart wants what it wants. Those crossed lines at the back! The cute faux bamboo joins! The upholstered seat! Love.
I never expected, in a million years, to find a chair like this at the tip, in Bendigo of all places. Who would be crazy* enough to throw one away?! Lucky for me, someone was... even luckier, it was there when I wandered in on Tuesday... even luckier still, it was sitting not far away from its twin, ready and waiting for me to throw myself on them, crying and squealing with glee calmly purchase for ... wait for it... $10!
That's right, I own two of these babies and they were a bargain!
(Even the dogs are kind of impressed).
Of course, I know my chairs aren't "genuine", nor are they exactly like the JA chairs, or even the chair in my inspiration pic. But they're fantastic all the same, and I haven't stopped smiling just thinking about them. Often I go into the yards with an open mind and no "plan" - I see something with potential and the project goes from there. I never expect to find something I actual want, but maybe that's just the magic of it all.
* Clearly, these chairs aren't for everyone, and fair enough that someone may not like it or know that the style is a favourite of Pinterest or Nate Berkus. At this juncture, I would like to offer a quiet thankyou to the previous owners of these chairs. Thankyou for recycling them and not putting them in a compactor or under a mound of vegie scraps or letting your nephew use them as part of his BMX jump. Thanks for not using them as chinoiserie-inspired firewood or to build some kind of ridiculously good looking fort. Thankyou for making it so they would come into my life and my house, where they will be treasured forever. It's not crazy when it's furniture fate.
So after dreaming about these chairs all night, we took the seats off, treated them to a sugar soap bath, a light sand and a coat of primer, ready for a repaint and reupholster. I bet you can't guess what colour/fabric I'm going to go with...
Hopefully the next chapter in this story will be the finished chairs, happily nestled under my turquoise desk. I'll be sure to share a picture when we get there!
I haven't had a lot of time off over the Christmas holidays, so I decided to make the most of my day at home today and do a mini-revamp of our back deck. It isn't much to look at, but a splash of colour seems to have made all the difference.
Sources (if you are interested!): The chairs are from Freedom, plants from Bunnings (cheap potted colour goes a long way!), herbs and cute glasses are from Ikea, vintage gin/vodka bottles are from my Mum and Dad's place (as is the white table, come to think of it...), placemats are from Spotlight, paper lanterns were a $5 buy from Typo and I made the cushion with some fabric I had at home. The print was also made by me, I wish I could take credit for the saying, but alas, someone else was more inventively hilarious than I.
I am looking forward to a G&T with James and Oscar over the summer in our "new" area.
It seems silly to put up instructions, these were so ridiculously easy. We have dinosaurs on our Christmas tree and I couldn't be more excited. Dinosaurs are the best! If you want to add a touch of silliness or whimsy to your tree, you can't go past this easy project.
Here's a brief run down of the very brief process:
1. I purchased a handful of dinosaurs from a kids' toy store. You can find these at most variety stores or somewhere like K-Mart, Big W, etc. Any small, light toy could be used for this - toy trucks or cars, animals, army guys... I chose dinosaurs. One carnivore, four herbivores, to be exact.
2. Grab some small eye screws (I used brass plated ones, from any good hardware store in the picture hanging section) and carefully screw into the top or backs of your decorations-to-be so they will be able to be hung. It might help to drill a pilot hole to get you started, I found with careful concentration the screws went into the plastic quite easily.
3. Spray paint in any colour you choose. I chose gold because I had a can handy. I was really excited at how cool the dinos looked once painted. The texture in the plastic skin gave the dinosaurs lots of interest and depth despite being all one colour.
Then, once dry, simply thread some ribbon or twine through the screws and hang! We were sure to keep the raptor away from the other guys to avoid any shenanigans.
Have fun! I'm super excited about our tree this year. The paper decorations are colour-themed around my beautiful Cozamia print that hangs behind the tree - I plan to make more but I'm pretty happy with how it's looking already. With the lights on = magical. Exactly how you should feel this time of year.
Last year, I stumbled upon this image on Apartment Therapy and promptly fell in love. The feature of the photo was credited "Menu Board with Letters" by Pottery Barn, since discontinued, and I know very little about it except that it is super cool. I filed it away and pondered if I could make something similar down the track.
Well, I did, with help from my Dad, and I finally finished the letters today. This is the brief story of making my own message board like Amy's, more of a journal than a tutorial but I hope you may also be able to make your own!
I decided I'd like mine to be entirely made of wood, but you could make the frame out of wood, and your letters out of plastic like I suspect the PB version is.
The first step was to work out some rough measurements. It gets rather maths-y but assuming the board would have 10 "shelves" to place the letter "blocks" on (like Amy's board), we also needed to work out how high/wide each letter would be in order to work out how big the finished result would be. This is (roughly) what we came up with:
And in pictures, the steps:
1. My first task was to cut the blocks. I decided a size of roughly 50mm x 80mm for each letter block. We cut these out of a sheet of thin MDF, first into long 50mm strips, and then at each 80mm measurement. I had one block from the start which I used as a template for the rest.
2. We then built the backing board out of more MDF, and the first of two frames along the edges. We glued/nailed the board and frame together and clamped overnight.
3. We then made the "shelves" - designed as strips of wood that had a slight lip that each letter block would rest behind. The lip would prevent the letters falling out/off. We used a plunge router to make these shelves. From the side, each finished shelf looked to be in the shape of an "L".
4. Once all the shelves were cut to size, we spaced them evenly, accounting for enough space in between each shelf to place a letter block, plus a couple of mm of extra space. There needed to be a gap in between the top of the block sitting on each shelf, and the shelf above it, to get the block in and out over the lip of each shelf easily.
5. We glued and screwed each shelf into place, and then made another frame (the "top" frame) which was wider than the previous frame and layered over the top to cover all our joins: neatening up the finished board. I loved this step because it was thrilling to make mitered corners for the first time that fitted together perfectly! The top frame was glued and screwed again to make everything secure, clamped and left overnight for the glue to dry.
The board was only half of the design of course. I painted the finished board a gloss black, lived with it for about a week, and decided a matte black would be more suitable (don't ask, I'm fussy like that!). The poor board got primed, painted, sanded back, vacuumed, primed and painted again. I am glad I did this though, I much prefer the end result!
Then it was time for the letters! We worked out the alphabet based on research my Dad found on the internet by the guy who invented the Morse code, which analysed the frequency of vowels and consonants used in a dictionary in order to assign the shortest codes to the most frequently used letters. It was a great help in deciding how many "E" blocks to make, etc. I had cut 142 blocks before I ran out of wood, so if I planned to use each side, I could have 284 characters in total. If you are making this yourself, remember to also include symbols if you want to use them.
1 & 2. Step one and two were interchangeable - I cut letters whilst paint dried, and painted when I was tired of cutting out letters! I painted the letter blocks by pushing them together and using a foam roller - I highly recommend doing this for an even coat. For the white letters, I printed each character on a sticker sheet (backwards, or mirrored), stuck each printed sheet to the back of a sheet of white vinyl, and then trimmed. I ended up with back-to-front letters, but that was perfect because once the backing sheet was removed from the vinyl, each letter was the right way around. There are easier ways to do this, I am sure, but this worked for me. I used detail scissors and a scalpel for any fiddly bits.
3. I separated each letter set into a bag (I had 14 "A" cut outs, so I kept them all together, etc) in the left bowl. This helped me work out what had been done, and what was still do be done. The right bowl was all my painted blocks. This was the fun bit!
4. Assembly was as easy as peeling the backing sheet carefully off each letter, and sticking it in the middle of a block. I could have measured, but I did this mostly by eye. I am not too worried that some of the letters are crooked as a result, I think this adds to the charm of the finished piece.
Now, you can seal each letter after this step, but I did not. I liked the matte black and sealing the letters to the blocks meant that I lost the colour of the black I liked so much! I learned this after sealing half my letters, so it was back to the drawing board roller for me.
The end result is a fun piece of artwork that will change as we see fit. James and I can write messages to each other, quote songs, let each other know what's for dinner or what film we're watching that night. I look forward to many years with this board in my life.
A special thanks to my Dad, who patiently figured out all the steps of this project, and taught me how to use the tools to make it. I hope he feels as proud as I do of the end result!
If you make one yourself, I'd love to see a photo!
This morning I visited adorable store Hut 13 (13 Morey Street, Armadale) to view the current exhibition of works by Geoffrey Carran, including the stunningly painted graphic imagery above. What appeals to me most is the bold use of block colour behind some of Australia's most iconic bird life, bright and fun. These were a few of my favourites:
The exhibition runs for another week or so, it's worth the trip to check it out in person! I also had a lovely time viewing some of the great items on display for purchase in the store including gorgeous homewares by Castle, and I was quite taken by some cute little neon succulent baskets in the window. I'll definitely be back.