Tag Archives: Sandpaper

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.

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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

The Age Old Question…

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When refinishing my chair, I not only had to pad and reupholster it but I had to do something with the wood itself. The chair and wood weren’t too terrible just really worn and dull. Which, if I was a 70 year old chair I would probably be dull too. Since I had everything off the chair and it was just a wood base/legs I figured now would be the time to do something about it.  So I spent two nights hand sanding the frame down to the bare wood.  It is important to note, IF one is staining wood a darker color than what it currently is, it does NOT need to be sanded perfectly down to the wood; just the top coat needs to be sanded off. Since I was unsure of the end wood color, I did a complete sand.

Once it was sanded, I stopped by Home Depot to pick out a stain.  Since it is a mid century chair, and mid century is known for dark, rich woods (especially mahogany) I decided to go with Varathane “Red Mahogany” stain.  I got home and was all ready to stain.

The Stain

The Stain

Do I stain my chair with a brush or with a rag? You ask anybody who has worked with stain and they will both tell you it depends on your comfort and the size of the project. I did my research and found that since my chair was round and had smaller work areas, I went with a rag. I dipped my rag in the stain and started slowly working in a downward motion (so I would always been wiping up drips and the drips wouldn’t ruin my work). I did the first coat alone.

My "excited to start" look

My “excited to start” look

Dan was worried that the color in the jar was too dark but after the first coat, he was shocked and impressed.  I ended with three coats of stain, to make it look like mahogany.  I then added a clear coat for protection and to give it that nice finished look.

Working hard

Working hard

 

Getting all the little spaces

Getting all the little spaces

 

I would quickly realize its better to move than to reach over wet stain

I would quickly realize its better to move than to reach over wet stain

I then added the clean brass feet, and took it to class to finish the upholstery.  Everybody kept oooohing and ahhing over it. Now Dan wants to refinish all the wood in the house mahogany……

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

My love for Nativity Scenes

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When I was a little girl I loved to help set up my family’s nativity scene. The Nativity Scene was a gift from my Dad to my Mom and every year he would give her a new piece to add to the scene, which in turn gave me another piece to play with…I mean set up.  I was so into “setting up the Nativity scene”that it changed daily and mom had to rubber band baby Jesus into the manger so he wouldn’t get lost….

Fast forward a few years its safe to say I still love the nativity scene and I still secretly love playing with it. I now have several, a hand made one from Mexico, a recycled paper one from Africa, and one that every year my Grandparents add to.

My growing set from my grandparents

My growing set from my grandparents

Each year I get just as excited as I did when I was a little girl about setting up my Nativity Scenes.  I arrange them all several times until they are perfect! And every time I see a cool set in a store, magazine, or at somebody’s house I have to stop and admire the beauty (and secretly wish I had a spot for another set).

This set was a birthday present and it was made in Africa

This set was a birthday present and it was made in Africa

The other night while I was laying in bed cruising Pintrest I came across a board with tons of pins for nativity scenes.  I instantly became wide awake as I drooled over each and every one plotting my next move! And then I found it, the cutest handmade, wood nativity people ever! So what did I do? I went to work the next day dug through the lumber rack, found me some materials and made me one (and a barn because I can’t have baby Jesus getting wet and sick).

 

The newest Nativity

The newest Nativity

What once looked like a coffin..

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A  little over a year and a half ago Dan and I had the conversation about him moving in with me.  It just made sense, I had a big enough apartment and he basically already lived with me. While I have never doubted that it was the right decision (after all we did get married) at the time, it scared me.  Having lived with a boyfriend before and it not ending well, I was nervous; scared shitless would be a better way to describe it.  Plus I had been living solo for 5 years, I’m not the easiest person to live with and now Dan was wanting to move into MY SPACE!! Every reason I could think of for keeping him out was debunked until I found the perfect reason: “but where will your clothes live? You don’t have a dresser and I don’t have room for another one. No room for clothes! No room for you!” That worked for a few weeks until “The Coffin” came into my possession.

“The Coffin” is a 1930’s art deco, wood locker that was heavily painted a DARK DARK DARK brownish purple black color.  It has the beautiful straight lines of a vintage locker and really funky deco hardware.  This amazing piece of furniture was brought into my bedroom where there was NO room and smashed against the wall.  That one piece took an open feeling room and made it wall to wall furniture. I was not happy.

check out this amazing hardware

check out this amazing hardware

Before I could begin to strip this piece (or even find a good spot for it) I had a nightmare from watching scary movies and I woke up to this HUGE DARK MASS looming over me, much like a coffin with a vampire in it would. THEN out of nowhere the door creaks opens and out pops one of the cats. Can you say scared?! Needless to say that was the moment it went from being a cool wood locker to the “coffin”.

I took the door off to make it visually lighter. Then I rearranged the bedroom so the “coffin” would fit better. I used bleach to wash the inside because it had a wonderful smell of rotting flesh….I mean mildew…in it. Once it was clean (ish) Dan put his clothes in it and that was that.

I have been slowly stripping the the paint from the coffin…I mean locker…with the idea we would repaint it, making it look clean and new again. Dan’s request was green (something manly) and I had the idea it needed to be a classic gray. Once it was stripped I realized under all the layers of paint as beautiful clear vertical grain fir.  So we thought about staining it and being done. Sadly the wood had been damaged by the paint and it needed to be repainted.
We decided seahawks green (I do live in Seattle afterall) and a mid level gray. We painted it over a long weekend, added the gray chevron shelf paper while watching a movie. Dan’s clothes went back in about 4 days after we started painting it.  I love that this once dark coffin esk piece is now a bright happy (but still kind of adultish) piece.  I guess Dan can now move in 🙂
The finished Piece....I lost the "Before" pics when the computer died

The finished Piece….I lost the “Before” pics when the computer died

look how nice his clothes look NOT on the floor

look how nice his clothes look NOT on the floor

Let’s face it I like to strip…

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Let’s face it I like to strip…Paint that is! Nothing brings me more satisfaction than to strip pain from a salvaged item.  I get sick pleasure for several reasons.  One, I like to see the history of the piece and its different lives with different owners.  Nothing says well loved like several layers of paint! The second is that I LOVE to pick and peal and scrub. Its an instant gratification, if I scrape or pick hard enough or long enough you can SEE what I’ve accomplished. There are several methods to my madness and since I’m hiding from my next project, I thought I would share my stripping methods.

A fun look at paint history

A fun look at paint history

Heat Gun: I want to love this method of paint stripping; I really do! But sadly its not my favorite.  A Heat Gun is an over sized hair dryer that with heat, patience, and scrapping tools literally peals the paint off in strips. You must be careful not to burn your wood under the paint.   Dan is much better at this method than I am, which i find ironic since I use a blow dryer daily and he, well, has no hair. But none the less using the heat gun= lots of patience which sadly I lack.

Chemicals (Methylene-chloride): works GREAT…if you have a well ventilated area and thick gloves to protect your skin from the harsh chemicals.  Chemicals like paint removers or strippers work wonders but I prefer to not kill brain cells or my cats since I am doing everything in my apartment. Its important to always wipe the chemicals off the clean product with either a paint stripper or mineral spirits.  This helps to remove all the chemicals you can’t see.

Safe Strippers (all natural strippers): This is my preferred method.  “The Orange Crap” as Dan so lovingly calls CitruStrip and Natures Strip are my favorite. It’s expensive but works great and doesn’t kill my brain cells while working in the apartment.  Apply fairly thick layer of stripper on your project and just wait.  Depending on the thickness of the old paint it will quickly start to resemble crackle paint and within hours, using a scraper, your paint comes off in giant globs. I have also found if you put the item in a plastic bag or put wax paper on your project after you apply the stripper, the moisture stays in and works faster and better. AMAZING!

High Phosphate Detergent (ie SUPER cheap laundry soap): This is a trick I learned from Earthwise. Mix the cheap Dollar Store Laundry soap with very hot water . Place your metals and glass hardware in it and wait until you can comfortably place your hands in the water. The paint comes right off. This works great for cleaning my hinges, pulls, knobs, screws, and even  art deco floor grates.

Sanding: Let’s first start by saying I HATE sanding.  This is Dan’s job, well when I convince him to help, it’s his job.  I love using the orbital hand sander and I love the instant smoothness but I hate the mess it causes. So when it comes to sanding as a form of stripping paint, this would be my least favorite.  BUT if you have patience, and lots of sand paper it works  well, just a tad slow going.

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

:)

🙂

When the going gets tough…

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This has been a less than perfect week! I have been sick, my kitchen sink is all backed up because of my neighbor yet I’m being blamed for it, it’s been slow at work. And to top it all off its COLD! We are talking the highest temp all week was 35 degrees! When you work in a salvage store with no heat that sucks! To say I feel powerless about my life is an understatement! So in order to gain some control I started a project. Not just any project but a BIG one!

My front counter at work is a beautiful quarter sawn oak bar front that was made in the late 1800s. It is very beat up and kind of embarrassing. I took a single sheet of sandpaper and started to sand the front of it. I don’t know what I was looking to get out of this besides maybe to release a small amount of aggression but next thing I know my coworker Matt has a piece of sandpaper and is next to me working hard. Neither of us are talking about why we are doing this it’s just what we are doing.

A mash up of the befores (why waste a lot of space on ugly photos)

A mash up of the befores (why waste a lot of space on ugly photos)

Before I know it we had the front sanded down from the painted, dirt stained patina to this really pretty white oak.  It was at this point, a little more than 4 hours after that first piece of sandpaper, that we just stood back and admired what we had done.

The Oh shit moment when we realized what we had started

The Oh shit moment when we realized what we had started

But why stop there?! Now the top (and the sides, and the drawers) looked 100x worse! After two days of sanding, and staining we had completely refinished the bar front to a very beautiful (while still maintaining its age) look.

The front! Sanded, stained and sealed

The front! Sanded, stained and sealed

The owner came in today and said "Where did this beauty come from?!)

The owner came in today and said “Where did this beauty come from?!)

I have to admit I was being selfish when I started this impromptu project.  I needed something to do to keep my mind off my shitty week.  And I was being selfish in the out come when I stood back and was admiring our hard work. But then a customer who happened to be in the store both days comes up to me and said “You are an inspiration to home projects. After watching you refinish this beautiful piece of furniture I now have the confidence to go home and do my own projects.”  This is what I needed.