Friday, June 23, 2017

The Painted Chair

Today, I am escaping the workmen, the dust, and all that noise to go play in my friend Francine's studio. She lives about an hour away. I've packed three small canvasses to - possibly - paint. They're rectangles that originally I was thinking of painting in portrait perspective up until someone mentioned three in a long line. That's an interesting idea. We'll see what develops. Mostly I want a break and to visit with my friend.

Speaking of painting... I bought this chair at the thrift store quite a while ago wanting to recover it and then when I heard about painting upholstery, it seemed like the perfect practice project... that I kept putting off... and finally got to. The fabric is slightly textured like a jacquard and most likely a poly cotton blend. It was clean and smooth with only a few frays along the upper back edge.

After watching several videos, I combined the methods that I thought got the best results based on the detail images shown in the videos. I mixed chalk paint from The Fat Paint Company half and half with water and applied it in thin layers using a kitchen scrub brush. I didn't sand between layers because the scrub brush had a sanding-like effect. In the detail above, there are two layers of paint on the fabric and you can still see the original colours plus the fabric looks very chalky. At this point, I was worried it wasn't going to work out but I continued with four layers of paint. It dries very quickly - in about twenty minutes.


The upholstery has to be well dampened but not soaking wet. I bought this spray bottle when I was cutting hair. When you depress the lever, you get a continuous flow of fine mist without having to pump the lever over and over. Another friend - Barb - is coming to visit tomorrow and we plan to paint fabric. I'm interested to see how the water bottle will work with that.

In several of the videos I watched, the comment was made that you are dyeing your fabric using this method. No, you are not. You are painting it and building up fine layers. Dyeing is a completely different process. Acrylic paint, however, is quite durable especially the longer it cures although the chair is quite usable right now. None of the paint is rubbing off.

The colour I used for the fabric is Skyline. For the wood, I used Raven and then sanded the edges to expose the original surface. Both wood and fabric are finished with a coat of clear wax. Before waxing, I sanded the upholstery with 220 grit paper which turned the fabric from I'm not sure to I love this. I'm feeling confident to paint my couch now. Most of the videos say the finished fabric feels like leather. Since I don't like the feel of leather, that was one of the reasons I procrastinated so long. It feels more like polished cotton to me.

With the workmen in the house, I'm not getting anything done so it seemed the perfect time to continue with the walkway. All the edges are defined with rocks and I've found the level line from the stairs to the grass edge of the walkway and from there out to the rest of the yard where there is a huge dip. I've dug out four inches of dirt from the walkway between the driveway over to the pink peonies and am ready to begin on the next section curving around to the back yard. The dirt...

... simply switched spots and was thrown up on the lawn where it's being raked out to fill in the dip and level the yard. I also moved some decorative bricks from the back yard to the front to create a step up from the walkway to the grass. It looks funny right now because a rock is missing to the left of the stairs that I need help lifting plus everything is all the same dirt colour.

The next task is to add 2" of sand to the walkway and level it out and then use up the pile of bricks stored in the  carport to create a walkable surface that will be filled in-between with pea gravel. I'm hoping to brick from the steps to the driveway although I doubt I'll have enough bricks. They are red on the front and grey on the back so I'm using the back side which is easy and inexpensive to match. The rectangular bricks will be a nice change from all the round river rock. I may explore some larger cement blocks as well to add variety of size and shape. LOL - I see design everywhere.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - floor in the living room and - hopefully - in the kitchen/dining room by the time I get home.

Friday, June 16, 2017


Three hours into the twelve hour job of removing the flooring upstairs, I sprained the middle finger on my right hand - ouch. Continuing with the work wasn't the best choice from a healing point of view but definitely the best choice from a moving along with the renovations one. Progress is being made and it's taking longer than I hoped. One of my contractors failed to tell me he wouldn't be here Thursday or Friday so I failed to arrange for someone else to be. Sigh. That's life.

One of the great things about the Internet is finding images to illustrate what you want. It's so much clearer than trying to describe something. I've always loved a more sophisticated country look, clean not cluttered, and so even though that's trendy now when it's not it'll still be Myrna.

I've been researching how to paint upholstery for the check couch in the living room. I'm done with check but still like the shape and feel of it and it's in excellent condition. I'll practice on a thrift store chair first. Mine will be simple, nothing this complicated, but how fun is that.

When the sprained finger didn't settle down as fast as I thought it should, I went to see my doctor and she said an extra nine hours of work means a longer healing time... and to rest it... hmm. I can write so I'm still able to journal. I haven't been able to wire wrap. Things are a bit too cluttered for sewing. I have managed to figure out how to knit without hurting it too much. Next week, I'm hoping to work on the yard and escape all that's going on in the house although I'll be careful. I have a friend coming to play in the studio the week after and I definitely want to be in shape.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - dishes back in cupboards

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Opportunity To Edit

The contractor who is doing the next stage of renovation has been sick for the past few days so things are stalled at the moment. Two days lost will mess up all the dates down the line and that's just the way it is. In the end, it will all get done.

On Sunday, a friend is coming to help me pull up the hardwood floor. She's a woodworker and wants the hardwood for projects... that I'll be thrilled to see... but she doesn't want the tile so I started working on that last night. None of the tools that are supposed to do the job have worked so I've been using a hammer and a long screw driver and my skill and speed are picking up. Howard and I both hate tile so we'll be glad to see that go. I'm thankfully it's not the whole floor like one house we bought.

With all this mess, I've been taking every opportunity to eat out with a friend - for the food and the conversation. Tara gave me these flowers at dinner on Wednesday night. They're are an island of pretty in a sea of mess and brighten things up considerably.

Canadian Tire had an excellent sale on these Shaker style cabinets and my family bought them for me for my birthday. Howard intended to put them together but he not only doesn't like that type of work, it was going to be slow and painful for him so for our anniversary (the 36th) I hired someone to do it. It took Steve four hours with previous experience so I'm really glad I did that AND... it meant I could spend my birthday sorting and organizing in my studio.

Renovations and new furniture are always an opportunity to edit. Since I moved here, each time I've sifted and sorted I have less and less to sort out so I must be finding a rhythm between buying and creating. All of my fabric, knitting, surface design, and some of my books fit into the new cabinets. One more would have been just right to get everything and perhaps at some point down the line I'll do that but for now, this is perfect. I am a huge fan of closed storage. I like things behind doors and I like defined "buying" parameters based on space.

Every time I need an idea for the renovations, I check out Pinterest. It certainly is a good source although now that ads are popping up in-between the pictures that's a bit annoying. One gets tired of this constant selling invasion. I'm glad that as I get older accumulation interests me less and less and when I do buy something I want it to either fit my look, be functional, or be interesting and unusual. Clean lines, like this baseboard, are definitely a part of my look. Clutter is not. The light fixture is a great use for tea cups and would probably be fun to put together but it wouldn't work for me at all.

Also on Pinterest, I've been researching my next coaching assignment which is to make a simple t-shirt with a neckline coordinated to a jewelry piece. I don't know who made this rectangular pendant but I love the defined shape, simplicity, and texture of it. I'm debating a rectangular neckline which isn't one I'd normally wear so I'm also debating how I could wear it. AND...

... I've been knitting. The workmen have been in and out of the studio because the water shut off and the electrical panel are in here so it's been virtually impossible to do anything. Instead, I've been knitting socks and debating how wearing hand knit socks could fit into my "look". I was driving a car load of stuff down to the thrift store when it occurred to me that the nylon/acrylic, plain coloured, yarn that I was about to (snobbishly because it wasn't a natural fiber) give away was absolutely perfect for solid coloured socks with textured patterns. I didn't leave that bag - LOL.

My absolutely wonderful tenant gave notice yesterday. He's leaving in a month which means I'll need to do some touch-ups to the suite and then rent it again. One renovation will lead to another - although a smaller, quicker one. He's been here sixteen months and hopefully the next tenant will be equally easy to live with and stay as long or longer.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - slow but steady progress

Friday, June 2, 2017

Tea Towels, Grumpy Skies, and Creative Journeys

The sky grumbled all day yesterday. And it poured down rain like the heavens had completely opened. And that was okay because it was warm and dry in the studio. Right after I got back from my daughter's, I got sick and I've been mostly a lump for the past two weeks with variations on the sick theme. Right now, I have a croaky voice, a dry cough, a headache, and a sty in one eye.

After nearly two weeks, what did I sew? Tea towels... from a tablecloth... which may sound like busy work but it was slow and soothing and I ended up with exactly what I wanted. I could have bought tea towels this colour only they came in sets of four along with one red, one yellow, and one green. I didn't want those. I only wanted teal so I bought the tablecloth instead and got what I wanted for less. This is the gift of sewing - the ability to create what we want.


While I was in Calgary, I purchased unfinished, pre-assembled, oak cabinets for my kitchen. After debating the kitchen concerns from every angle for months, this was the option that gave me what I wanted at a price I was willing to pay. The L shape was $1,500 for these unfinished cabinets and $13,000 from the cabinet shop. That's a HUGE difference. For that much money, I am happy to paint and finish them myself which I'll do next week. The cabinets are all in place ready to paint. The counter-top comes today and after that the plumber to put in the sink and tap which will be perfect since I've been without water in the kitchen for ten days. Everything moves slower in a small town so it could take a month or more but I'll post pictures when the space is completely finished along with pictures of what it looked like when I bought the house.

My poor husband didn't realize he had made a mistake when he said "my" house was going to be amazing when it was fully renovated but that he didn't really like it the way it was right now. While I was thrilled he shared his opinion, I was not thrilled that he wasn't feeling completely comfortable here so - of course - I started renovating. I meant to do the kitchen but it's since seeped toward the edges. Now, I plan to finish the kitchen, dining room, living room, and down the hall to our bedroom this summer - all without spending a lot of money.

I'm thrilled that my ability to refashion and re-purpose extends past the studio and into the rest of my life. I hadn't intended to redecorate the bathroom only I found a vanity much like the one pictured above at the thrift store for only $150.00 which is substantially less - and far more interesting - than anything I could have ordered. An affordable vanity was the reason why I wasn't finishing the bathroom so it just may get done now.

The ability to see potential where I couldn't see it before is something that has developed with practice... like whoever decided to combine these watches into a necklace. How fun is that? I did not have that skill before and now I do and it came from learning how to ask my questions differently so that I am open to different answers.

I wanted small corbels to create a shelf for my coffee cups. Corbels are hard to find and typically expensive so instead of asking where can I get inexpensive corbels, I went shopping with the question what can I use to create a coffee shelf and I did find an answer that I'll show you once it's painted and in place. The way we ask the question changes the potential answers. A bucket upside down. A wooden box. A metal plant stand. A diminutive chair. A bread basket. A narrow drawer placed bottom to the wall. There are endless possibilities once we start looking. Are you asking yourself the kinds of questions that will lead you where you want to go? How could changing your questions change your creativity?

Tuesday morning was a coaching session with Diane. One of the things we talked about was what to do with the endless list of possibilities floating through my mind. Twenty years ago, I could never have imagined having this "problem" but once I started to ask different questions and to look beyond the obvious and see with new eyes, the possibilities have become endless both inside and outside the studio. Sometimes I'm not sure what to focus on or how to choose.

Tomorrow is my birthday. I first started working with Diane five years ago on my 50th birthday and I am amazed at how much has changed in my life and in the way I think and create in the past five years. I'm thankful for this tremendous opportunity and benefiting greatly in all areas of life, not just in the studio. Moving to my wonderful home in this small creative community is one outcome from asking what do I want.

Inside the house, I want to slowly work my way through the rooms I mentioned earlier, not to finish every detail because it's important that the rooms I live in evolve as I do but to finish some of the main projects that have been waiting like the quilt for my bed and refinishing the dining room table.

In the yard, I want to finish the front walkway before the winter snow. That sounds ridiculous right now when the sun is barely shining but there's a lot going on and it's a big job so hopefully it's possible. If not, I'll be that much further along next spring.

In the studio, I want to continue developing my wire wrapping skills and layering them with my design skills and I want to continue sewing increasingly creative and wearable, clothing. One of the assignments Diane gave me is to create a neck piece and then to create a simple t-shirt with a neckline shape based on the neck piece. That sounds like fun... and having fun is one of my goals. There's no point not to. As I've said so many times before, I'm warm, dry, safe, fed, clothed, and loved. I don't need another object; I need the journey.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a kitchen with drawers - as in I've had none since I moved in - and a clean, hygienic counter- as in not tile with dirty grout lines