Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Turn, Turn, Turn...

This is the first fall in over twenty years that I didn't have to concern myself with the education of my children. No books to order, no lessons to plan, no contemplating whether we should we start school before or after Labor Day.  My last student "graduated" and is on to grown up things. It's a strange feeling. But, as both Pete Seeger and Ecclesiastes say, “To everything there is a season..."

Honestly, I'm really enjoying this season. Sometimes I almost feel guilty for enjoying it so much. Almost. :) And although I no longer have to grade papers...I still have homework. 

I've fantasized heard about the Boxwood and Berries Gatherings at Country Sampler in Spring Green, Wisconsin for years. This year, I've been saving my pennies to make my fantasy become a reality. And this year, I'm going! I can hardly believe it! Five glorious days of solitude...reading, sewing, antiquing and best of all, taking classes with two of my folk art heroes...Maggie Bonanomi  and Stacy Nash. I've been working on perfecting my curtsey, because in my book, these ladies are the royalty of primitive design. I feel like Cinderella going to the ball! Can you tell how very, very excited I am?

I got my itinerary a few days ago...the projects and other events planned for us by the artists and shop owners look incredible. In order to get so many things accomplished in the time we have, Stacy assigned some homework.

Whew! I'm very nearly finished. This is the first time I've stitched on 28 count linen... it's stitched one thread over two. It took a bright light and magnifier for me to see the threads.

This section is part of a sewing basket we'll be making with Stacy. I've long been a fan of her beautiful sewing accessories and samplers, but let me tell you, this gave me new respect for what she does! I hope you'll hop on over to her blog and see her exquisite work for yourself. She also has some photos of the finished sewing basket on her blog. It's seriously TO.DIE.FOR.

I still have a wee bit of stitching to finish. I am determined to have it finished before I go. I wonder if they'd believe me if I told them, "the dog ate my homework?"

If you've been to a Boxwood and Berries Gathering before, I'd love to hear any tips you might have, either about the workshops or must see places in the area. Any information about where to shop, thrift, eat healthy, or antique in and around Spring Green would be very much appreciated. I'll be traveling from the Chicagoland area...where do YOU recommend I stop?

And...if you happen to be one of the fortunate few who are attending the second session (I know you're out there somewhere) please do send me an email. I'd love to say "Hello" before class. :)

Until next time...Rhonda

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Painting Upholstered Furniture

We recently decided to change up our living space by swapping out several rooms. While trying to decide which furniture would work best in which rooms, I realized that I was in need of a sewing chair in my studio. I wanted something pretty, pink and comfortable. I watched Craigslist for over a month with no luck. Finally, I spotted a listing for this chair, just a short distance from my home. In the listing it looked pink, but when I went to see it in person, it was definitely a peachy orange. Still, it was a great style, clean, comfortable, and in good condition. And the price was right...$50. I convinced myself that I could make it work.

When I got home, I moved the chair upstairs next to the window and looked at it. I let it sit there for a few days, hoping it would grow on me. It didn't. It looked awful in my pale pink world. This is when I decided I'd change the color. After an extensive internet search, I determined that there was no colorfast way to dye the chair...then I came across Kristy Swain's blog, hyphen interiors. Kristy posted a tutorial that showed how to paint upholstery. I was intrigued. After reading and rereading her instructions many times, I thought, "I can do this!" 

I gathered my materials. 

1. One quart of  Behr indoor, satin latex paint.  (There's enough left over to do 30 more chairs-you could probably get away with a sample size paint)
2. A large bottle of Delta Textile Medium (I used 2/3 of the bottle)
3. Six Foam Brushes (I used one brush)

I already had a spray bottle for water, painters tape, and a pint jar. And although this project was surprisingly not messy, you'll probably want some sort of drop cloth under your project...just in case.

Getting started was the hardest part. I had to tell myself that if I ruined the chair, it wasn't the end of the I took a deep breath and jumped in.

First things first. Even though it was in great condition, the chair had a wee bit of what I like to call, "old lady smell". I am a bit of a germophobe, so I decided that before I painted it, the chair must be shampooed. This is a photo of the clean, damp chair, before. The fabric on this chair was a beautiful nubby silk with a flame stitch pattern in the weave. Because the color I envisioned was an old fashioned dark pink, I chose a bright pink paint, hoping the combination of colors would be exactly what I had in mind. 

Before getting started, be sure your piece is clean with no lint, dust or dirty spots. This will ensure that the paint goes on evenly as possible.

I used the upholstery attachment on my Bissel Rug Shampooer to clean my chair, making sure I didn't leave it too wet. While the chair was damp, you could see lines where the various types of stuffing begin & end...which was a little worrisome at first. But by that point I was already too far in to fret over it.

Next, I mixed equal parts paint, textile medium, and water in a pint jar. If your paint is really thick you might need to add more water until it's about the consistency of a glaze. I refilled my jar only once, using about 1.75 pints of my paint concoction altogether.

I began by taping off the wood with painters tape. Since I planned to replace the faded gimp trim on the chair, I left it in place and painted right up to it. The trim acted as a natural barrier between the wood and the painted areas. 

 My chair was already pretty damp from cleaning. If you are starting with dry upholstery, you will want to get it damp before beginning. As Kristy said, don't be want the fabric damp. Keep your spray bottle handy, the upholstery dries out as you are painting. 

To begin, I took the seat cushion off and painted the inside arm of the chair. I painted slowly and deliberately, blending the paint as I went.

I worked my way around the chair, spritzing with water and blending the paint. On the deep sculpted back, I used the foam brush to paint between the tufted folds of the chair. I finished the seat of the chair last, then tackled the cushion.

After I finished painting, I used a fan to dry the chair. I painted it late at night and it was completely dry by morning.

I'm sure different fabrics will react differently to the process. I found that one coat of paint was all I needed on my chair. The color is perfect and the fabric remains soft & pliable. In Kristy's tutorial she used several coat of paint to achieve a darker richer color. She also recommended sanding areas that might be too stiff. 

I finished my chair by pulling off the old gimp trim and using a hot glue gun to attach the new trim. I had a hard time finding trim to match so I did what I always do...I checked I found Peggy's Shop there...she was offering 6 yards of  (new) vintage trim in the exact shade I needed. In retrospect, I think I'd buy my trim first and match the paint to it.

I think you'll have to experiment with your own upholstered piece to see what works for you. Kristy's tutorial is a must read...and be sure to read through her tips at the bottom. It's also a great place to see more painted upholstery projects done by her readers. Some of them are really incredible.

What I Did On My Summer Vactation (OR where the heck have you been?)

Some of you might be wondering just what happened to me over the summer...I've really missed being part of the blogging community these last few months. I've missed seeing what you've been up to, your projects, your photos, your offerings...I've missed YOU. I really appreciate my faithful readers...THANK YOU for sticking with me, I hope you'll return again and again.

I can't believe it's fall! Seriously, summer flew by so quickly that I almost feel like it never happened. We were just incredibly, incredibly busy here. It seems like we went from one project to the next... 

There was a lot of painting, remodeling, and exchanging of spaces. My studio moved from a small crowded room on the main floor of the house, to two large rooms on the second floor. My old studio became a cozy little sitting room just off the master bedroom. 

This may not sound like much to some of you, but with the exception of moving the heavy furniture, I did most of the work myself.  The moving, sorting and organizing of supplies was probably the biggest part of the project. I made myself go through every button and spool and was relieved that my family didn't call the producers of "Hoarders" when they saw what was packed into my tiny studio. Mr. Kattywhompus said it reminded him of a clown car...where no matter how many clowns emerge-there's always one (or two) more. *sigh*

The changes have been a dream. I not only inherited a bigger space, but three more closets and room for an office, packaging area and permanent spot to take product photos. I was able to move most of the inventory for my vintage shop into one space, and still have a pretty and functional area to create. Of course during the move, I wasn't able to get a bit of work done...but I feel like I will be able to be much more productive now that everything is in one space and more organized.  I also have plenty of room to host gatherings with friends, which has happened a couple of times already. :)

As the mother of three sons, I've lived in a world flooded with testosterone for over twenty years. Now that the two oldest have their own place, I lost no time in creating what they refer to as "The Pink Room".

I really wanted a pretty (and comfortable) chair to sit in by the window and stitch. It's pretty now, but it certainly wasn't when I found it. I'll tell you in my next post how I PAINTED the upholstery and transformed this Craigslist find. You might be as amazed as I was at how easy it was!

In my new space, I even have room to to create vignettes with all the little pretties I've collected over the years.

Surrounding myself with things I love inspires me.

Fabric at my fingertips.

Pretty storage all in a row.

The "Hoosier" makes great storage (but was a booger going up the stairs).
Needfuls near the sewing machine.

On the tabletop, a sweet stemmed dish, a gift from my mother-in-love. Each time I made her a grandma, she brought me a pretty piece of glassware. One day I hope to gift them to my daughter-in-loves. The little kitten was a Mother's Day gift. I can still picture four year old Nash, standing by my bedside at 5 am, with a tiny gift wrapped box. :)

Favorite things...vintage rabbits, Tasha Tudor storybooks and shiny dragees unearthed at an estate sale by my friend Joan.

More Inspiration...

Everyone needs a helper...


Another corner...

A turn of the century, white cotton day dress and antique ladies pocket watch, gifts from my Momma.

I have one last project to finish in this room. I want to paint my worktable a creamy white. It's a big round claw-foot table that we've had since we were first married. Right now the finish looks like really needs a makeover.

Well...I hope you've enjoyed the tour. I look forward to sharing the rest of my summer with you...including a tutorial on how to paint upholstered furniture, a special outing with friends, my first big feature story in Mercantile Gatherings Magazine and what I am looking forward to for fall. Until next time...Rhonda

(Please forgive my crazy spacing...blogger seems to be buggy tonight.)