Thursday, May 22, 2008

My Fair Lady: Turning a Plain-Jane Country Table Into a Stunning French Beauty

(Click on Photos to Enlarge)I thought it might be fun to walk through the steps that turning a found piece into treasure involve for me.

Country Cottage French is one of my favorite "Shades of Shabby". I have a lot of fun transforming ugly ducklings into, as-pretty-as I can make them, items offering more versatility for use than in their original as/found state.

I started with a nice, sturdy antique/vintage half-moon table with good lines. I was immediately taken with the details on the legs - and the curvy, feminine shape. Still it wasn't a table that worked everywhere or that lended itself to many uses.

After basecoating it with a very neutral sage, it looked like the above photo. Ok, but lacking strong eye-appeal. Truth: This table was a wall flower. My husband notched the back of the table in order to create a great backsplash to the table. (He's soooo handy!) Instantly the table has more significance and possibilities for it's use began to expand.

The backsplash is painted in a matching sage green
and I think you might agree, it's much better, but...

Alas, although the sage green is nice, all of the wonderful details of the intricate carving just fade away. These details scream for antiquing. Antiquing glazes are available for retail, but I mix my own because I can't tell what colors are in those cans. For this piece, I mix a tapioca brown with a grey blue and I lavish it on, wipe it away, leaving much of the glaze in the recessed areas and softly shading the rest of the surfaces.
What a difference! Now those details show! But still....
I add a handpainted floral spray on the backdrop, and two matching floral motifs on the apron. The designs are lovely and practical because they don't interfere with using the surfaces. Not quite satisfied because the design stands out as new against the antiqued background, I first antique the designs, then as a finishing touch, I thin and darken my antiquing glaze, dip an old tooth brush in it and add delicate splattering over the entire table, designs, legs, surfaces, all of it.

Note: If you don't click on any of the other photos to enlarge, DO click on the above ones to see the details of the spattering. It is this spattering that brings all of it together.

Not quite finished, I distress the paint by lightly sanding to allow the wood to peek through. Then I seal it all with a matte sealer. The LAST STEP, I delicately accent all of the edges with 18 K gold. I'm sorry the gold doesn't show so well, but it really does add elegance.

Now I feel the table offers so much more potential for decor and versatile use than before. It could serve as a small vanity in a bath, as a credenza for a small entrance or as an accent table anywhere. After it cured, I thought it was ready to list on eBay - and so I did! Y'all x your fingers for it. You can peek at the rest of the photos here.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Faux Chocolate Valentine Log Gift Basket: For the Man in Your Life

This was such a fun project, it looks like a burning chocolate log. I made it full of the anticipation that comes from hoping it will please your loved one. It is for my husband for Valentine's Day.

It was made out of things on hand and you may already have these items or something that will work equally well.

Do it now; fill it later. My son suggested his and his Dad's be filled with chocolate covered almonds, chocolate pretzels, lots of beef jerky (the expensive kind, Mom) , lots of good cheese, and a bottle of wine. (Not! Son will receive grape juice )

Supply List: You will need fluted cardboard; two large jar lids, silver bubble wrap for insulation (optional); red cellophane; crumpled brown paper; masking tape, brown liquid shoe polish or brown paint; Optional: spray adhesive or glue, a Valentine tag with ties, and clear spray sealer of your choice.

Tools: Scissors, hole punch

Your jar lids will be the end pieces and will determine how wide your cardboard fluting needs to be. You will want to fit it around the lids (ends) leaving a little over a 1/3 of it open to fill. Just remember to make it longer than it is wide so that it will look like a log.
Optional: I used a quick spray of adhesive to secure the silver insulation to the flat side of the fluted cardboard. I thought the insulation might help keep the the food products fresh; however, I don't think it was really necessary. The insulation did add strength. You might want to double the fluting for strength instead.

With the masking tape, tape the cardboard fluting to the end pieces, fluted side out. Really crumple the masking tape as you do this, going right over the top of the lid. You want it to be really lumpy like icing. Then finish off the cut edges that are open by crumpling masking tape over the edges. It should now look like this.

Once it is taped, stain tape and cardboard with dark brown liquid shoe polish or craft paint. It should look like a chocolate frosted log. Let it dry and seal it with a quick spray of clear sealer. Once dry, use the hole punch and ties to attach your tag to the center front I backed my heart tag with a heart I cut out of fluted cardboard. It looks like a cookie. Line the log with a fluff of crumpled brown paper and red cellophane . Done!

Click on any photo to enlarge.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Magnetic Doll Theatre DIY Instructions

See Original Article and More Photos of this Theatre at
Many Shades of Shabby by Devonia

When designing this theatre, I kept in mind that it must meet the criteria for a child's room - it must be interesting, fun, it would be nice if it could offer learning experiences and it must be practical (as in child-proof and safe).

I wanted something that would encourage creativity in children. An assortment of paper dolls is fun to display but real play might include putting on a show. How about a magnetized doll presentation of Camelot or Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs? A theatre lends itself to more variety than a doll house and I'm excited about the possibilities. If one opted for a neutral background, scenes could include magnetized landscape details, trees, clouds, birds,butterflys, etc. With a theatre, imagination is the only limit.

My plan below will include the supplies I used (all in bold) that I hope you might find helpful.

Magnetic Stage: Temporarily hang the pediment and the shutters. Open the shutter doors and mark the area left on the wall with a pencil. This is the area that will need to be painted with magnetic primer.

Use masking tape to mask over the pencil marks (
remove the pediment and the shutters) and use either Krylon Spray On or Rust-o-leum Specialty Magnetic Primer to magnetize this area.

You will need to apply several light coats, with throw-away applicators, testing as the coats dry for magnetic pull. I used a full sheet of
magnetic paper (for later printing of the dolls) to test the pull, knowing this primer is made with non-toxic particles of iron, the surface would not be smooth, and according to my spread - the magnetized areas would be skip and miss. I used three coats and followed manufacturer's directions for drying time.

Once it was dry, I painted medium pink and white vertical stripes, masked off with masking tape, with acrylic craft paint. I added a wider horizontal stripe across the bottom and painted this stripe in deep rose acrylic craft paint. Then for a touch of real pzazz, I secured a row of footlights ( large round acrylic rhinestones) across this bottom stripe with hot glue.

Shutters: On hand, I already had a couple of small, vintage, interior shutters, already white, in very good condition. I was most lucky because these shutters, with the kind of blinds that may be flipped back and forth, still had little bars of wood on each side with hardware, meant to attach the shutters to the either side inside the window. I knew the little bars would come in handy allowing easy attachment to the wall while also allowing me a little over an inch of clearance from the wall when closed. I cleaned the shutters carefully. No sanding was necessary. Then I painted the shutters with the palest pink acrylic craft paint I could find with a paint sponge - both sides.

Pediment - Header: I also had a rather nice pediment that I hoped would work for the header of the theatre. To decide if it would, indeed, work - I placed the two shutters together, as they would appear both when closed and opened - and simply looked to see if it appeared balanced. It did. The pediment was rather old, with chippy paint , so with sand paper, I sanded (taking particular care to smooth out the area where the lettering would be) and sprayed the header with a couple of layers of Krylon Clear Matte Sealer. I allowed the sealer to dry. I painted the header with the same paint I used for the shutters. Once dry, it was ready to be personalized.

Lettering: There are so many ways to accomplish nice lettering; but, in the interest of time and so I wouldn't have to measure and draw lines with a pencil and fret over text styles - I decided to create a quick rub-on transfer. With small strips of scotch tape, I taped a clear half of a large zip-lock bag to a sheet of typewriting paper. I selected a print and size for the text on my computer and printed it mirror-image with my inkjet printer in a deep rose . You might prefer to print the lettering in black, and that's fine, because you can paint over it in the color of your choice.

I allowed the ink to set up for about ten minutes, and then trimmed the section of lettering I wanted to trace with scissors. Because the zip-lock bag is clear, I was able to flip it and see exactly where I was placing the lettering by holding it slightly above the pediment - not allowing it to touch because I didn't want to smear it. Once centered and straight, I secured the lettering to the pediment (printing down) with a touch of tape, and rubbed it with a credit card to transfer it. I checked, lifting one corner as I rubbed to make sure my rubbing was producing a faint transfer.

I removed the hand-made transfer and allowed the ink to dry, then sprayed with a light coat of Krylon clear matte sealer. Once dry, I went over the lettering with two coats of acrylic craft paint in a deep rose. Dry and a final spray with Krylon clear matte sealer. Last, I attached three heavy-duty hangers with screws because this time when it was hung, it would be permanently, and I wanted it to be very secure and safe.

Fabric Covered Doll Holder: Measure and cut foamcore board to fit just inside the inner framework of the shutters. Cover with fabric ( I used hot glue). Criss cross ribbons ( more hot glue) Attach to inside edges of frame with glue.

Stage Curtains: Though I used fabric curtains and ribbon tie-backs ( one split, tiny rose print, pillowcase gathered on elastic and secured with hot glue) the curtains could have been created with paint. I decided bows might end up crushed so I didn't make bow tiebacks (though I wanted to!) .

Magnetic Dolls: Your child may find participating in selection of dolls fun. There are many, many free printable dolls available online. Use these, and print out the ones that are suitable on the magnetic paper, or create your own. Drawings may be attached to magnetic sheets with spray adhesive.

Our free, printable, dolls were found at the United States Historical Doll House.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Rhinestone Wreath DIY Instructions by Debbie Del Rosario

See Original Article and Larger Photos of this Wreath at
Many Shades of Shabby by Devonia

One of the most exciting details I learned from Debbie about her gorgeous rhinestone wreath was:

"Not one piece has been ruined in any way. Some of those pieces belonged to my mother and I would never do anything to hurt them. Each piece still has its original pin, clasp or clip and was put on a plain styrofoam donut covered with silver ribbon and sprinkled with silver dust. They were applied with E6000 glue, which I have used numerous times; and, they can be popped off at any time with no damage to the piece. I have actually removed some of them and worn them and put it back when I was done."

What better means to display a collection of antique or vintage or heirloom jewelry? I can't imagine anything more treasured than a wreath covered with heirloom pieces suspended over the edge of a vanity mirror. This is truly a special way to keep memories alive. Thank you for sharing, Debbie.