Monday, 29 September 2014

The Map Dresser Makeover

I have to give a huge shout out to the lovely lady that emailed me about this dresser being put on her curb! It was exactly the piece I was looking for!!!  Thank you thank you!

Now, at first glance this dresser seems perfect! However, once we got looking a little closer, there were quite a few things ...... not so perfect.

1. The top pulls were smaller than their holes and played a disappearing act into the drawer each time you tried to grab them to open them.
2. Not one single drawer bottom was in one piece or attached to the actual drawer. There were holes in some and other had a lovely patchwork of pieces to make one single bottom piece.
3. There splotches of random coloured paints here and there.
4. The finish was destroyed
5. The drawers would not open whatsoever

Which was the exact sort of problems I needed to makeover a piece with the vision I had!

I wanted to experiment with recreating drawer fronts that swung open. Here was my chance!

You can see there was little hope for this without a ridiculous amount of time, money and energy.
Those factors make my life so much happier! I'm not destroying a perfectly good piece. I'm expanding on her potential.

Now this had a few steps involved with the prepping.
First things first I removed the drawer fronts of the 2 middle drawers and knocked out their runner bars and cut the middle divider strip off the piece. ( the piece that the drawer fronts generally sit on)
I then attached all three faces together and did a rough strip on the new "swing door" to get me down to some of the natural wood again.

You can see here that there are 2 small holes on the left where the old hardware used to be. (sidenote, the original piece as is, was missing a set of pulls. For the first time, I wasn't concerned in the least about that) I simply wood filled the holes and sanded them down smooth.  I positioned the door back into the place it is going be and it was a perfect fit, however to make the opening and closing a bit smoother, I sanded all of the edges down a wee bit.

After this step, I took the door fronts and began my "map addition steps"

This was a messy stage that looked WRETCHED! There were quite a few times I had to take a break as I thought for sure I was screwing it up. I had no tutorial for this. Total trial and error and I honestly though.... "Good grief girl. You Did Done Screw this up now didn't ya?" HAHA

However remembering the stages of art.
1 I have a beautiful idea!
2. Begin the beautiful idea
3. It looks horrible. Ugly. What have I done
4. Finished - I LOVE IT!

There is always an ugly stage! Keep that in mind always and don't give up.

Here are some great photos from that particular stage!
Now, I knew I was going for a vintage map look. I knew I was going to do an ink transfer following the suggested methods found on the Graphics Fairy "How To" page.

What I didn't know was how to achieve that dingy, vintage aging properly. I sat for a while before the tea stain idea went off like the biggest light bulb know to humanity! I think I may have even heard a ding!

 Step one. Make Tea. EASY! I let it steep for ... well.. hours! I wanted it as dark and potent as possible. While it was steeping I mixed up some white paint with some brown paint additives. A tiny bit at a time until it was the beige colour I was going for for a base coat. I opted to not paint the decorative piece that was in the middle of the drawer. I liked that pop of au natural and thought once it was down it would pull the refinished top in nicely with over all look.

Here is the step I thought maybe, I for sure may have messed it all up. The stain wasn't taking too well....... or so I thought. Waiting for tea blobs to dry is even worse than watching paint dry. So I took a hair dryer to it. THEN I thought - let's try numerous layers. I sat online at this point Googling images of old maps and noticed that generally speaking, the maps were lighter in the centres and darker around the edges, so I choose to apply the tea heavier and with more layers around the edges.

Waiting game.

FINALLY, once all the tea was dried and ready to go, I did the ink transfer. This is not an ideal method to try if you value your fingertips, fingerprints or over all need for sensation in your fingers.
Also not an ideal method for those that don't LOVE carpal tunnel or tennis elbow. This method can be done following the Graphics Fairy image transfers tutorials either with Mod Podge or Gesso.
Print your image, apply your medium, wait a few minutes, remove paper and cross all fingers and toes the ink transfers. Let it dry, then begin wetting the image and rubbing until all paper pulp is removed.
Messy messy messy messy stage! Just a warning. Also, at this point, I should mention that no matter how perfect your tea stain is, the medium you choose to apply over top of it WILL redesign it into blobs and not so lovely looking designs. It works out in your favor in the end actually, so don't get frazzled! A definite more "organic" look to it over all.

 And rub. Rub and rub and rub until you want to cry then rub some more! I did this step over the course of 6 hours with numerous breaks to try and regain some sort of feeling in my fingers. I tried using a sponge and cloth but found it was taking off way too much ink. So back to fingers it went.

Once it was done, I clear coated it using a great poly and let it dry.

The next step was fixing up the new inner cubby hole.

Once you remove drawers, you generally have a gaping hole in there that doesn't look all too pleasant. So cutting a piece of ply wood to be the new cubby bottom is needed. Measure once. Mark your piece of plywood. Measure again before you cut it. Then measure a third time just to satisfy that OCD.  Then, cut it, stain it, glue it in place and add a few finishing nails.

At this point, I opted to stain the entire cubby hole to match as generally there are quite a few mismatched, unfinished surfaces in there.

Next step. Hinging the new map drawer into the new cubby. A step that threw me into a tizzy. I had to use new hinges that I have never used before. when you have a drawer that sinks inside of a piece, the route to go is European Hinges.  Not a fan. What a pain in the patooty those things are! Everything has to be so precise!!!! AND you need to purchase a specific $14 drill bit to do it. I suppose that bit may come in use somewhere else in the future but still. Pain in the rump.

If you have questions about those hinges and their use, may I suggest asking the hardware sales associates that sell them to you. I am for sure not even close to knowing enough about them to teach you. Watch a few YouTube videos on it too. There are a couple - what NOT to do videos that you may want to drill into your head before making those holes and such.

These are the hinges I am referring to.

Once that was all complete, I then painted the dresser black, refinished the top, clear coated everything and took it to the store to which I was selling it. We had fun doing photoshoots with it, climbing on everything in site to get that perfect shot, staging it over and over and more climbing and bending still looking for that shot. 75 images later, I had the "THERE IT IS" shot, and headed home to edit, upload and blog.

A fair amount of work to be done just to fix an old piece and sell for less than the amount of labour involved with it from start to finish. BUT, it is what I love doing and I wouldn't have it any other way.

That's a lie. I would totally love to just sit back and have a team of workers do everything that is in my head for me. Would I find any satisfaction from it once it was done? Likely not as much as having done it all myself. I'm sure I would get a lot more out of my head and into the world though haha.
* some day * dreamy eyes.

Here she is. DONE. I love it! It came out totally the way I pictured in my head and I couldn't be  happier!

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

The Red Door Desk

Oops. I did it again! I created something I fell in love with and then shed a small tear
 when it sold 2 days later :(
It went to a FABULOUS customer though! I  know she will give it all the love she deserves.
Wow. I really do talk about my pieces as if they are humans. Haha. I should work on that!

Without further ado - the Red Door Desk!

Now, how do we get this look?
Allow  me to walk you through it!

 I started with this most wonderful door that I just happened to be driving past as her owners stuck her on the curb! A wee bit of damage from old hardware and maybe a dog or cat scratching the base. Nothing we can't overcome. No reason for this great solid piece of wood with so much character to head to the dump! A coat or three of some great red paint I mixed up and she was starting to take shape in my mind!

Then I had to sit and think about how I wanted to use this door. The desk image appeared in my head and I got to sorting out pieces to use in its creation. I had a few crates that had seen better days, but I knew I would eventually find a way to incorporate them into something. Just so happens, this was their day to shine!  I pressure washed them, fixed up their breaks and reinforced the lower crate with strips of hardwood flooring. There would be a bit of weight resting on top of it, so I wanted to ensure it wasn't going to "crack under pressure" literally.

The next step was figuring out a nice  top for the desktop area. A wonderful contractor had recently dropped off a load of wood scraps instead of taking it all to the dump. his wonderful wife told him I may have use for his leftovers and boy was she right! In the load of leftovers there were quite a few pieces of damaged hardwood flooring. I pieced a few together, trimmed it to fit the size of the door and then it was refinishing time. Now, I'll be honest. The main reason I chose these colours was because I would like to refinish my floors in our house and this is pretty much what I had in mind. So I totally used this project to my advantage here! I stripped the old finish off the boards, stained them darker and then added a thin wash of black paint. Before it cured completely, I took a sponge and soaked the dried paint, left it for a minute then vigorously rubbed off quite a bit. Then I added a few layers of an oil based urethane.

Level. Level. Level.
Before attaching anything, make sure to level your door.
It needs to be standing perfectly upright.
Of course, if your floors aren't level, then put it where it is going to be homed and level it there before attaching the permanent base of crates.

After it is all leveled, add your crate base. Glue and screw them right into the door exactly where you want them to be.
After this step was done, I cut a thin piece of wood for the hardwood top to rest on and secure to.
I chose to stain the side of the wood that would be seen from underneath the table top. Completely unnecessary step for DIY'ers, however, I know that if for some strange reason its future owner was laying on the floor and looking up at it ....
(maybe they threw out their back and can't move... their spouse doesn't get home for an hour and now  leaving them to stare up at the piece for hours wondering why this piece was so different.......?
It's possible!)   So keeping this completely plausible scenario in mind,  I stained it and flipped it and the unfinished side then had the flooring strips - desk top - attached.

 How it looks completed.

 The top shelf was done with a urethaned barn board as well.
After that - it was staged, photoshot and posted on the site and FB for sale with an immediate sale!
I love this piece. It hurt to let it go.
BUT she shall be loved for years and now, that little damaged door heading to the dump shall live a new life for many more years to come!

Mission Complete.

White Kitchen Pantry Piece

I had a very large number of emails asking how I did this particular piece. 
Let's see it from start to finish and the trials and errors along the way!

 Here is the before shot of this piece. Quite a few people were talking about how they prefer the before. To each there own, however with this large number of holes in the sides, gouges and scratches and warps, I prefer to fill, sand and paint.
Notice the top drawer is  missing hardware to be able to open it whatsoever. Is this a new thing? Am I missing a design trend here?

Skipping the ugly stages.... I chose to not take time to photograph it covered in woodfill, primer and paint. There is always that ugly stage before the beauty turns out right?

I also chose to swap the top molding for something I liked a bit more.

Now the fun begins.

The cupboard doors.

People were suggesting it was a stencil, or it was a chalkboard.
What I chose for this piece was actually an ink transfer.

I used a graphic from the Graphics Fairy.
She has many fabulous free images to browse and after a lot of decision making,
I chose this particular design.

She also has a page dedicated solely to image transfer How-To's

You can find those tutorials here:
12 Easy Image Transfer Processes

It is a lot of trial and error with these. A lot depends on what types of artwork or printers you have access to i.e inkjet, toner, laser, 4 colour process etc.
Also what mediums you choose to use or have access to.
She covers methods such as mod podge, acetone, heat transfers etc.
I chose the gesso route.

As you will see in the following photos, I also chose to experiment with a homemade gesso recipe following a few Youtube tutorials from some artisans. NOTE that these homemade recipes do NOT work for this type of project haha. In fact it was a huge disaster. I pouted for about a minute before moving on and taking the loss with chuckle as I saw how much of a mess I was.
Coated in this semi sticky goo and paper shreds. ICK.

Step one. Measure the space you need to get the measurements for the printout. 
 Step 2: After you have your reverse image print out, cut it to size. Apply a nice healthy coat of Gesso to the surface.
 Step 3: Immediately lay your image face down in the gesso

Step 3 cont'd : I chose to begin at the top of the image and slowly lay it down using the angle and pressure method. I used an old credit card and as the image touched the gesso surface, i ran the credit card across the paper to immediately remove any air bubbles and ensure the image was saturated via pressure.

This is the Gesso I chose to use.

Below is the result when I tried using the homemade gesso.
Soooo........... yaaaaaa......... Fail.

What you want to do now is wait a minute or two after your image has been applied to the gesso. Start from any corner and lift the paper off the surface and if you did it right, the ink should remain on your piece.
There will be places where the ink did not adhere, and that is ok. You will end up with a nice vintage, or distressed look. If you see any paper particles on the piece still, wait until the gesso has completely dried, then lightly dampen your fingers or a cloth and rub those particles off using very gentle pressure. This takes a lot of trial and error. Do not be shocked if you rub off ink.
Either go with the extreme aged look and continue with that pressure or apply less pressure and cross fingers no more ink is removed.
For this piece, I wanted a well loved look.
I chose to apply pretty moderate pressure and remove a fair bit of ink.
Wait 24 hours before clear coating. I chose to clear coat the door images with a polyurethane.
*Only the image area. The rest of the doors surfaces were done in a wax.* 
I'll get to that step next.

Moving Forward
We now have the piece painted and the doors are ready.
Before reattaching the doors, I chose to clear coat. The look I wanted here was more of a primitive well loved look. I wanted it to look like it came straight from a fabulous shabby country kitchen.
For this look, I opted to use a mixture of clear and dark brown waxes.
I first clear waxed the piece, then went over in areas with a dark wax. I only work in small 1 foot by 1 foot spaces at a time. The was dries fairly quickly and you don't want to be rubbing it back off for hours on end.

 Wax on, Wax off.

There are a lot of youtube tutorials from some amazing refinishers that will teach you how to use dark waxes in this manner. It would take a fair chunk of time for me to explain, and if you are like me, you would likely rather see it being done to better understand the process.

Now the piece is waxed and images transferred, it's time to re attach your cupboard doors.
Add the hardware you chose to match and if you are like me at this point and needing hardware on a blank drawer front, here is what you do.

Now this is geared towards someone that has no clue how to read drill bits or 
measure depths and so on.

First things first, your hardware should have the machine screws to attach. If not, measure the thickness of the drawer it is going through and add a little extra so it can properly poke through the holes you drill and find it's way into the hardware.

Here is a good way to look at the screws and drill bits.

1 - the top drill bit is the same size as or a smidge larger than the screw you plan to use to attach your hardware.
2 -if your screws aren't long enough to get through the hole you drill and sink into the hardware to attach, then you may need to bore the hole out a little so the screw sinks into the hole to reach the pull. If this is the case, or you simply want the screw head sunk in as opposed to sticking out, then find a drill bit that is slightly larger than the top of the screw as seen in the bottom example.
Actually, I do believe I had to go up a drill bit size for that one.

Here are the looks you will achieve when deciding on leaving them out or sinking them in.
Personal preference really. It's inside your drawer where no one is going to see.

The next step is marking where you are going to  add your hardware. You will want a level, tape measure and a chalk line, or simply a piece of chalk. Pencil will be harder to remove once you have your marks.

To mark the exact place for the holes to be drilled, I tend to add a small dab of paint to the hardware and press it in place leaving behind the exact marker holes as to the location of the drill holes to be made.

You are also going to want a drill bit that matches the hardwares stems that are going to sink into the drawer front so that it lies flat. You will be drilling from the front into the piece. If you drill from the back out to make your initial holes, the wood may split where the drill bit pops through, such as it has in the image below.


Now that all of your holes are done, attach your new hardware and you should have yourself a beautiful new piece for your home!