Tag Archives: American Craftsman

Upholstery Summer

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Upholstery Summer

Over the past few weeks it went from 90 degree summer weather (Seattle had a HOT summer) to nice fall days.  With this weather change I’m ready to clean the dead plants off my porch, put away the grill (even though Dan is not), start cooking with the oven and crock pot again, dig out the jeans and boots, maybe even a coat, and of course, blog. Its not that I don’t want to blog during the summer or even that I don’t do projects in the summer, I just get busy with, well, summer things. And this summer has been no exception! While we didn’t go on vacation we did travel to Eastern WA several times to visit my family .  At work I was busy helping customers with their projects. I helped customers with everything from how to use salvaged material for small craft type items to giving advice on a bathroom remodel.  But don’t think for one moment I did not take my work home with me, because I would be a liar if I told you otherwise.

When not at work, spending time with family and friends, or enjoying my patio with Dan and cats I spent my days (and nights) learning everything I could about upholstery. With every book I read and every free (or nearly free) project I acquired, the more obsessed I became.

I started the summer with learning how to redo simple dinning chair seats, and gradually progressed to a paying customer and 4 evil box cushions for her amazing mid century chairs. Before I continue, I must say box cushions are not easy as YouTube videos make it out to be! It was at this moment I realized how lucky I was have a have a weekly class to attend for help and a great group of ladies from my class to support me! Otherwise those cushions would never have been finished and I would have given up forever.
The finished "dreaded" box cushions

The finished “dreaded” box cushions

But after that I treated myself to a shopping trip.  While most ladies love to go to the mall for clothes, shoes, and purses, Dan and celebrated the completion of the mid-century chairs with a trip to Harbor Freight.  For those who are unaware of Harbor Freight, its heaven on earth.  Ok maybe not heaven but pretty close! It’s a mid-range priced tool store, which is perfect for a beginner like me! I bought myself my very own upholstery gun, staples, air hoses for the air compressor I scored for a good deal a year ago, and all the fittings.  We ended up with a few more items but everything was about getting me set up!
At the end of July I scored big! A neighbor moved out and left the cutest vintage metal bistro set.  The “flip” of this set became my shinning moment, the moment where I realized that no matter how hard some things can be (I’m talking about you, you stupid box cushion) that this is truly one of my passions. Don’t worry I will be talking more about this set soon!
The score of the summer PRE me working on it

The score of the summer PRE me working on it

I’ve ended my upholstery filled summer with a storage unit. Lame right? But this unit now provides me with the space I need to store finished projects waiting for a good home, and a place for my to keep my unfinished projects! Now they are all cleared out of the living room…dinning room…office…bedroom…and my car. And once again I have the motivation and room to craft, upholster, create, cook, and live happily! Welcome Fall.
We were in the process of moving into the unit and out of my living room

We were in the process of moving into the unit and out of my living room

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Let a little light in

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Let a little light in

As every body knows I kind of have a thing for up cycling and re-purposing.  I also have a thing for decorating my apartment. Recently, while changing my decorations to early spring (pinks in February and greens in March) I needed an easy to change centerpiece for my table.  So I was constantly keeping my eyes out for the “perfect” item.  At work I love the light fixtures known as “bare bulb” lights.  They were  used in the early 1900’s and these beautiful fixtures (also known as pan lights) had decoration in the sides and in the fixtures but no glass shades over the bulbs.  The idea was that if you were lucky enough to have these fixtures in your house you were also lucky enough to have these fancy new things called a light bulb.  And by showing off the light bulb you were showing off your luck. But what strikes me about these light fixtures if how detailed they can be and how most look like flowers.

The bare bulb light mid way through paint removal

The bare bulb light mid way through paint removal

As I was putting away a new stack of these fixtures (all badly broken, heavily painted, and less than perfect) it struck me.  The single light fixtures could be used as candle holders! I grabbed three of my favorite ones and started to strip the paint. I then swapped out the fairly nice light sockets for ones that no longer worked with my lighting lady at work.  Because why do I need to have working sockets hold candles on my table? Once all the paint was removed and sockets placed inside I became kind of sad, the metals of the fixtures weren’t very pretty.  So i bought a very pretty purple can of spray paint (Krylon Rich Plum) and spray painted a nice solid color on the three fixtures.

Just something about "rich plum"that says it all

Just something about “rich plum”that says it all

They were still missing something.  That’s when I took them to work and showed my coworkers.  My lighting lady pointed it out almost immediately flowers aren’t one solid color, they are several colors. So with a lighter lavender and a pink we spray painted the tops at an angel as the paint just glazed the fixtures.  Adding depth and color to my new flower candle holders.

A close up of my candle holder

A close up of my candle holder

My candle holder with Easter decor

My candle holder with Easter decor.

Mid Century Glory

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Around the apartment there are items we date with the letters BD (Before Dan).  I started doing this because I honestly can’t remember when I got an item/project . I can remember when I got it based on my relationship with Dan.  Right around the the time I met Dan, I acquired an amazing mid century teal chair. It was perfect! This sexy little chair had its original teal vinyl upholstery, dark stained legs, and brass feet. The moment I saw it I knew I had to have it! I had no room in the apartment for it, and my Mom who was with me when I fell in love, only encouraged me in to needing it. So the chair came home with me.

As it would be pointed out by Mr. Practical Dan I was wearing rose tinted glasses (seeing a pattern with me?). The chair wasn’t perfect. The upholstery had two giant tears in it, the legs were in desperate need of refinishing and the brass fee…to the untrained eye would have thought them to be rusty steel. But it was “perfect” and found its way into my living room where a blanket would cover the tears. Fast forward 2 plus years to December of 2014 when I discovered a new passion…Reupholstering.

My "dead" chair moments after class began

My “dead” chair moments after class began

This is something I have wanted to do for a while but never got around to.  So as a Birthday/Christmas present to myself I paid for an upholstery class.  I walked into class that first Monday of December with my coffee and chair and was ready to get down to business.

We started by removing all the staples, tacks, and nails in the original upholstery.  For my chair it went quickly (others were not so lucky) and within an hour I was on to the next step, buying fabric!!

I was panicked! I had no idea what fabric I wanted. I was worried the fabric would only look good on a small scale but over a whole chair, it would be tooo much. I was stressing and finally narrowed it down to two fabrics. Good old inny-minny decided the chair’s fate and I began cutting out the pieces needed to put my chair together. I left the first day of class in LOVE!! I was enjoying it soo much that I couldn’t wait for the next class.

The first of the two fabrics I considered for the chair

The first of the two fabrics I considered for the chair

The second and BEST option of fabric

The second and BEST option of fabric

Weeks two and three flew by in a blurr of stapling, laying out fabric, cotton stuffing, and sewing chair welting.

My chair without its teal

My chair without its teal

Here's the chair in the process of being reborn. I mean rebuilt

Here’s the chair in the process of being reborn. I mean rebuilt

My chair was coming together nicely until it came time to repair the chair itself.  Over the years, one of the wood joints had popped out of its socket and needed to be pushed back together. Sounds simple enough..WRONG!!! I bought a bar clamp to squeeze it together and used Dan’s muscles to tighten the clamp to apply even pressure to pop it back into place. Within moments, the bar clamp was bowing and creaking while the chair wasn’t moving at all.  Then, the clamp handle snaps off because we were cranking it too hard. Quickly, we grabbed a wrench added it to what was left of the handle and tightened the clamp and chair together. Add some wood glue and let it sit for several days (neither of us wanted to pull the clamp off) and it was ready to be finished.

 

Almost finished

Almost finished

 

Check out those legs

Check out those legs

As I walked into class for week four I was both sad and excited.  I didn’t want my class to end, yet I couldn’t wait to see my chair finished. Within 3 hours it was complete! It even has a dust cover on the bottom! You know the piece isn’t from Ikea when you have a dust cover! I have to say, I’m pretty proud of myself and my chair! And I can’t wait for spring when I can take another upholstery class!!

oooh lala

oooh lala

Cat tested! and Approved

Cat tested! and Approved

Ketchup Isn’t Just for Fries

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The brass, vintage feet from a mid century chair, was in desperate need of polishing. Now I’m sure everybody is thinking, ummm she is going to write a whole blog post about how to use brasso?! And my response is simply no. Brasso is great, don’t get me wrong.  It will polish brass quickly and remove the grime, the patina….and the look of 70 year old brass.  So I used my own advise I give customers…polish them with Ketchup.

What I started with

What I started with

Sounds gross I know, but the acid in Ketchup works wonders on cleaning the tarnish off brass (and silver).  Having never used the ketchup method on anything but faceplates (and didnt want to stain my carpet) I went about it a little differently.  Poor Dan watched in both awe and horror.

Step 1: Using warm soapy water, gently clean the brass.  It might be that you like the look of the piece once the dirt layer is removed.

Step 2: Lay the dry brass on a rag (I would use a dark colored one since the ketchup will stain) and goop on the ketchup.

Step 3: Practice the P-word (patience) and let the brass and ketchup sit and “marinate”.  The longer it sits, the more the acid will break down the patina (my feet which probably had never been cleaned/polished/loved took over being soaked over night, but I’ve seen it work in as little as 10 minutes)

Step 4: After the ketchup has sat on the brass and helped break down the dirty, tarnished patina,  rinse it. Grab a clean lint free rag and start polishing.

Polishing took a while; even if i’d used Brasso, polishing would have taken awhile.  They were REALLY bad!! But the end result was great!

Check out those legs

Check out those legs

Partially Complete, Totally Happy

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When it comes to projects, I like to only brag about the finished ones. This is because if I bragged about EVERY partially finished project, I would spend my years bragging and not finishing. There is nothing like the rush I get when that project is complete and I get to cross it off my list. But every now and then a project is so massive, that, well bragging rights are deserved at the mid point.

The point I realized it was the cabinet or my sanity

The point I realized it was the cabinet or my sanity

The Craftsman Cabinet  has been a massive undertaking. I have stripped and stripped and stripped some more! I removed literally a 1/2 inch of paint from some places! It was fun to see all the colors my 100 year old cabinet had been. I then needed new hinges because I may have broken the not so original ones.

This WAS what it looked like for several months

This WAS what it looked like for several months

This was an epic adventure all of its own because I couldn’t replace the hinges with matching ones because I could not find them! So Dan had the great idea of doing different hinges. The ones I fell in love with were high end reproductions and were perfect…but not for $125. So I went to my work, grabbed a handful of the same style hinges and stripped the paint off, only to discover I had half brass and have steel hinges. I swapped out the brass and repeated the process. Because the hinges were different than the original Dan had to make the hinge grooves larger. I reattached the hardware (and added a few extra knobs).

Then replaced the top with premium old growth lumber from work. I sanded the whole thing several times and its partially complete!! In my mind, its no longer the eye sore of the corner (because I can close the doors and it’s clean again), paint will come eventually (I have the colors picked out in my mind). But for once, I’m trying to be happy with partially complete.

A rare view of the cabinet without the cat on it

A rare view of the cabinet without the cat on it

Overly Optimistic

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As January came to an end so did the month of finishing.  I had (and still do) great plans for the month of blah.  I technically only finished one project, my little orange sewing table.  BUT I was very busy this past month!

Let’s start with the big one: I jump started wedding planning!! I now have a dress, photographer, caterer, venue, and have several small wedding crafts completed. Of course my wedding would have crafts. Poor Dan is probably tired of wedding talk; but Honey, we still have several months to go!

Don't let that face fool you he is SUPER excited!

Don’t let that face fool you he is SUPER excited!

Typically January is my slow month both in the salvage and design worlds.  Not this year! In salvage we have been CRAZY BUSY! Not only have I been selling everything that comes in, its been that time of the month that ALL of the displays needed to be changed. Three of my four were done and during Super Bowl game I finished my fourth! In the design world I have been doing floor plan after floor plan after floor plan! Its crazy but amazing!

Just SOME of the stuff I'm doing at work

Just SOME of the stuff I’m doing at work

The projects: After finishing the sewing table, I moved onto Dan’s 1920’s wood locker dresser (look for the finished post SOON). It was  half finished since I had been working on it prior to January. I’ve got it completely stripped, paint colors picked out, supplies bought. But it started to rain so I couldn’t do the sanding or painting.  I then, trying not to loose momentum, went back to stripping the BIG craftsman cabinet.  Before I could get too far into it I needed to clean out the corner of clutter that it sat in.  I borrowed the work truck for a Goodwill run and spent the rest of the night moving furniture around to make room the big closet.  Now that corner looks great! Well it does in my mind 😉

Pardon the mess but EVERYBODY is working hard ;)

Pardon the mess but EVERYBODY is working hard 😉

Throw in a few heart placemats for Dan and I, a new valentine wreath for my door, salvaged wood heart wreaths, and writing blogs that haven’t been posted BUT only need photos and I would say the month of finishing, which didn’t go as planned, still ended great! Plus it gives me something to do in February…

My funky new set up including a lamp base vase and a skeleton key valentine

My funky new wall set-up including a lamp base vase, a skeleton key valentine, and my salvaged floor grate

Instant Happiness

Instant Happiness

Orange you glad I finished a project?

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I have to be honest I suffered from post holiday blues! As soon as I was feeling a tad bit better, the January Blues hit. Now for those unaware of the January Blues its something the Seattleites get in January and early February. By this time you have endured several months of dark, gray, drizzly weather and are starting to think you will NEVER see the sun again. I know I shouldn’t complain about the Seattle weather when my sister on the East Coast is suffering from blizzards and freezing temperatures but I am 😉
I’m feeling down in the dumps and have started my first project for the month of finishing. I followed my mom’s wise advice and picked the easiest one to finish first. This happened to be in Dan’s words “The Biggest Eyesore of the Apartment” aka my 1930’s sewing table. This table has been needing LOTS of love since it came to me. It was missing drawer rails and one of the side buckets was held on and together with duct tape; it was just sad.

Here She sat for months

Here She sat for months

So I did my favorite thing in the whole world; I stripped it!! For the first time in several weeks I was motivated! I went crazy!! In the same afternoon, I sanded and prepped it for painting. I was on a role! The next thing I know, I’m at the paint store buying paint. At this point the process slowed. It had been discussed that She (yes my sewing table is a she) would be gray to match the rest of the apartment. Yet for some reason I just couldn’t bare to paint her a drab color. So I walked out with a secret surprise!

Next stop was my work because she needed new hardware. I had 6 different sets picked out when I saw THEM!! The most perfect 1930’s flower shaped crystal pulls! Yes, I spend more money on the hardware than I did on the table, but every girl needs bling! 😉

This is just PART of what I went through

This is just PART of what I went through

The ones I ended up with

The ones I ended up with

She needed to be painted or at least started before Dan got home so he could not talk me out of the color…

Four days from the start of my first project here is my “little ray of sunshine”!

tada

tada

:)

🙂

All it needs is a little love…

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“All it needs is a little love!” This was the phrase my 30 year old parents said when they bought their first house.  The house that I grew up in was small and was constantly needing a little love and a lot of money.  It was referred to as a “fixer-upper”.

This phrase is one I found myself using just this afternoon when I was trying to convince myself that I NEEDED this beautiful craftsman pantry hutch.  In my mind all I could see is a beautiful old growth fir cabinet with classic straight lines of the craftsman style.  This amazing piece of history, as I would tell my boyfriend, is just what I need for my sewing stuff! It would work later in life too when we buy our home and it can be used ANYWHERE!!

To pull at his heart strings just a little more I threw in the idea that with a fresh coat of paint it would look great in our future baby’s room. My boyfriend, not being a stupid man, asked to see a picture of this “amazing, beautiful, too good to be true cabinet”. And all he saw was yet ANOTHER project that would sit around the apartment half stripped, half sanded, a constant reminded that I may have bit off more than I could chew.  Mr. Practical also saw another $50 worth of all natural paint stripper and a weekend of stripping paint and sanding ahead of him.

Here is the cabinet as it sat in the store.  This picture that I took several times would be the one I would use to lure the boyfriend in.

Here is the cabinet as it sat in the store. This picture that I took several times would be the one I would use to lure the boyfriend in.

At this point I found myself becoming super attached to this cabinet and feeling like only I could love this piece of furniture and restore it to the amazing idea I had in my mind. The more I thought about it the more this piece needed me!! I had asked the universe for this piece (granted, when I asked the universe to present the piece to store my fabric I may have envisioned something a little less project-y). None the less I had asked for it and the universe had, once again, filled my need.  I had decided; it WOULD go home with me!

The boyfriend shows up after work to collect the cabinet, since my car obviously wouldn’t carry it. He starts to point out its few flaws that I may have “forgotten” to mention.  There is water damage from being mistreated, one of the drawers is cracked and needs a few set nails and wood glue, it had been painted AT LEAST 10 times, oh and did I forget to mention its slightly uneven and unbalanced? None of this has deterred me, in fact its part of a challenge. And without thinking I uttered the phrase that will one day be the death of me because after all “all it needs is a little love”.

The cabinet in its temporary spot has already had its doors removed so I can start right away

The cabinet in its temporary spot has already had its doors removed so I can start right away