Places to Party

Monday, February 29, 2016

The $5 Chair

I Need Some Love!

On it's own, isn't this the cutest chair? I bought this two years ago at a rummage sale. Marked $8 the owner sold it to me for $5. I just love the paint and definately was not going to repaint it.

I love good design even if it's a common object. I have a lovely necklace pendant in the shape of a ladderback chair. I used to wear it all the time (until one of the legs fell off. Once a coworker asked me if it had any personal significance. "No"  I told her, I just like the design. Maybe I'm weird.

It was the same with this chair. It fairly shouted at me, "Take me home! I need some love!"

So I did. 

And I knew exactly what I was going to do with it when I got it home.

Then it sat for two years still with the same intention.

But today was it's lucky day! Today it's getting it's moment in the sun.

It's no mystery that I love painting. Tole painting is so accessible to everyone that I love showing you how easy it really is because the end result is so impressive. With a little bit of paint you can turn a humble little garage sale chair into a work of art.

The first step in tole painting is to gather all your supplies. You'll need:

*Your Pattern
*Tracing Paper
*Transfer Paper
*Pencil or Pen

Let me start off with a common problem that I had. My pattern was well over ten years old. I could not find my paint at Joann's at all. Same with AC Moore or Michaels. You may find one or two but never seem to find all of them in a pattern. If you have a good picture, you can approximate the colors, there are books that translates one line into another line or there are converters available online such as this.

First you will need to determine what size you want your pattern to be. Rarely if ever is a painting pattern (or any other pattern you may want to paint) the same size as the piece you are painting. 

If you decide the pattern needs to be increased, measure the total pattern size. Then determine the size you want the finished piece to be. Remember to add at least 1" to the finished size to give you a little "breathing space. Once you have your two numbers, dived the larger number by the smaller number.

To reduce the size, do the same thing as above but divide the smaller number by the larger number. 

This is how you get the percentage of how much to increase or decrease your size. Take it to a copier and increase or decrease accordingly.

Once you have your pattern, take your tracing paper and trace the design. You use the tracing paper because it so much easier to see your positioning when you lay it on top of the work. Copy all the lines, etc.

Take his tracing pattern to your work and decide where you want it positioned. Once determined, take some painter's tape and take a few pieces at the top to position your tracing. 

To start transferring your image, slide some graphite paper under your pattern. Transfer only the general shapes as it's pointless to draw any details you are going to be painting over anyway.

Using painter's tape which can be found in any hardware paint section, section off the ribbon portion of your pattern and using a small sponge (I cut up a kitchen sponge) sponge two of the corners of the bottom of the chair.

Now, had I used common sense, I would have painted the ribbon first, but as I was following the pictured directions, I did the pine cones so I had to redo my pine boughs..not traumatic but irritating.

Base coat and highlight basic shapes.

Once your paint is dried, taking your graphite paper, mark in the details:

To add details that appear as highlights or low lights, you need to float your paint. What this means is, with a damp brush, load some paint to one side of your brush. Gently brush that paint out on your palette so that the paint slowly seeps across your brush on the water that is still there. 

This allows the paint to gently fade away from the edge which gives a more natural shading or highlighting effect. You are going to add both highlights and low lights to your piece to give it depth.

 Add the foreground details:

And any text:

Once I got the main piece done and it dried, I felt it looked too "new". To age it a bit, I took a sanding block and very carefully sanded away some of the painting to give it a faded look that I felt was more authentic to the chair.

To age it further, I did a technique called "Flyspecking". Using an old toothbrush, dip in in black paint and run your thumbnail across the the bristles (you can also do it with a light paint to mimic snow). It gives you random little circles of color. It's a very attractive treatment although knowing what those little dots really are in real life... well, not really sure why we would want to mimic that.... 


I painted the back of the chair and liking the dots so much, added it around the word "pinecone". 

The easiest way to make dots is simply dip the other end of your paintbrush in the paint and "dot" onto your piece.

Here is the finished piece unvarnished and still in need of a little clean up: 

Now the unavailing. All finished and varnished:

Close up of the seat:

 This is why I love painting! You can take something that is, well, nice on it's own, and with a little paint, transform it into something magical. If you can color in a color book, this is totally accessible to you. Pick up a small pattern or even a child's coloring book and a scrap of wood and try it. I guarantee it's very addicting!


Monday, February 15, 2016

A Great Idea!

Sometimes you come across a great idea you wished you thought of. This is one of those.

Anyone that keeps animals outdoors in the northern portion of the hemisphere, runs into the same problem during winter, how to keep their drinking water from freezing. It's very important but can also be very dangerous. When I was growing up, we had a barn burn down because a cow manage to pull a water heater out of a tank and onto the ground where it caught fire. So it's not something to be taken lightly.

Water heaters can be very expensive even for small animals. And, if your animals aren't the brightest, like my beloved chickens, they sometimes manage to unhook their heaters by flying down on top of them and separating the connection. I swear, sometimes I think they look for ways to off themselves, God love them, they just aren't that bright!

When this even happens, you end up with a solid block of ice that has to be thawed for several hours and you end up putting out some water that you know will be frozen in the matter of hours.

What if there was a cheap alternative that, in addition to being free, also had the benefit of being a "green" project, i.e. recycling something you already have on hand? Well, this is it and I'm going to tell you from experience it works and is very safe.

This homemade water is created out of your standard holiday tin that you probably received at Christmas. A hole is drilled in the side and a light hub is threaded through. Attach a lightbulb and plug and you are in business. Isn't this genius? Someone in my niece's 4H club makes these and sells them to profit the club. My mother had this for many years and sent it out to me when I was telling her about the silly girls cutting off their water supply.

I can tell you that at first I was concerned that it could be a fire hazard, but after using it for several weeks, I've run into no problems. Add on to that the hottest it will ever become is the temperature of the light bulb so there shouldn't be too much of a concern. It works just as good as those expensive heaters as well.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Winter Butterflies in Shades of Frost

It's been a mild winter up here in western New York and after last year's copious amount of snowfall, we couldn't be happier. This past week we had a 54 degree day in February!

While we are so grateful to have been spared (so far) a massive amount of mother nature's mantle, it's still a bit depressing to see all the wilted and dead plants everywhere. So if nature won't provide the butterflies to liven up our days, we'll just have to put our noses to the collective grindstone and make our own!

Today's mini project is from Laundry Basket Quilts and makes a quilt that is 14"x18 1/2".
I thought the quilt would be bigger when I initially bought it but found to my delight that simply because it was so small, it could easily be completed in a weekend or weekday. Additionally, because it uses such small pieces, it's the perfect project to use up all those tiny pieces of fabric that are too cute to throw away but not big enough to do any serious project.

I did this quilt with what I had on hand but if I were to do it again, I would definitely start with the paper backed fusible webbing that I used for the center of each butterfly to do the wings as well. In that way my butterflies would all look the same instead of the various different ones you see here.

Then again, all butterflies in nature are unique aren't they? Why should I think I'm any better than mother nature?

So some of my butterflies look a little moth like and some more swallowtail...
New from bad lighting theatre....

I used fusible webbing that I sewed glue side to right side and then rolled out. I used closed scissors to run across the seam on the inside to make it crisp and so I got all these weird little shapes.

I cut out the background and using the pattern for placement and an iron, ironed the pieces together to give me the wings.

Then, after I finally got smart, I bought some paperbacked fusible webbing and ironed on the center fabric, after it was fused, I drew the center and cut it out. Once adhered, you simply peel off the paper backing, position it where you want and iron it down. This is a new favorite that I just discovered and will be using in the future!


Paper backed fusible webbing  is so much easier when pieces are really small like the butterfly bodies!

Stitch everything down and join all the blocks. What I really liked about his project, other than it being absolutely adorable, is that could easily be done in a weekend or even a Saturday. The fusible webbing makes all the difference. I think the final project came out really nice, this may end up on the summer porch this year!