Sunday, May 29, 2011

Before and After: Chalkboard

After remodeling our kitchen, we were left with a whole bunch of cupboard doors.  The finish was well worn but they were still in good shape so I decided to try making one into a chalkboard.  I sanded it down, sprayed primer on it, taped off the raised frame, and painted the inside panel with three coats of chalkboard paint.  Since it is so close to summer, I thought the popular turquoise color paint would be best.  I painted on two coats, let them dry thoroughly and then sanded down the edges to give the chalkboard the shabby look. 
Now the cupboard door has been repurposed and is a fresh new chalkboard ready for a student headed off for college or to use for family messages in the kitchen!   This prototype came out pretty well so I will be refinishing the other old cupboard doors as well!   This one is now for sale at Melange!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Flea Affaire

Every year about this time, a fan of Sierra College, in Rocklin, Arts Programs opens her beautiful yard to the public to host "The Flea Affaire" - a flea market in the California foothills!  Here a vintage tricycle welcomes guests with its basket filled with flowers!
As visitors drive through the gate, visitors are asked to donate one dollar to the Arts Programs, but get a raffle ticket for one of the prize baskets in return.  The site is gorgeous - a home site which includes a bass pond, barns, vegetable garden, etc.   The garden theme is repeated in all the vendor spaces as well!
Jennie and Doris, two Melange vendors, shared a space - Jennie brought her gorgeous gray upholstered chair along with lots of darling tutu's and other shabby furniture
Doris has been a regular at the Flea Affaire for years!  Here Doris displays some of her bird house creations on a shabby plant stand.
Doris filled this wonderful little cart with seasonal flowers for her display!
Karryann and Lisa, of Gracefully Vintage in Historic Folsom, brought this whole tabletop of vintage candlesticks along with shabby furniture and a space full of treasures!
My friend, Diedre, teamed up with Lisa and Karryann to display her creations in their space.  I just love these paper wreaths she made - I bought one to use at a bridal shower I am having for my niece!  The addition of the "Je t'aime" tag sold me!
The turquoise blue framed mirror in Heather's space caught my eye - it is one of my favorite colors, reminding me of my beach days growing up!

Saturday is my day to work at Melange, so I had to stop by really early, shop, and then get back on the road to the store.  I was one of the first to drive through the gates and found some wonderful treasures!  

The six Mica chandelier shades I found will be the perfect addition to my rust chandelier.
An original floral, oil painting; a funny mirror that reminds me of my age; some sheer, pink, ruched gloves for my frilly friend; a sweet vintage doll dress to put in my hope chest and the shabby paper wreath made by my friend, Diedre, were my cherished finds this day.
As I was leaving I noticed this baker's rack filled with vintage hats - it was so hard to walk by - but if I had stopped, I would have been late to open the store.  Vintage hats are so much fun and people come into the store looking for them all the time - mostly for theme or costume parties.  "Mad Men" parties seem to be really popular, the Kentucky Derby is always a big hat day, and lastly, the Royal Wedding added to the popularity of hats and fascinators this year!  I recommend the "Flea Affaire" to all shopping enthusiasts and I love that it supports the arts - something my heart will always cherish.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Aunt Peg's Gift

What birthday gift do you get for someone who can buy anything?  That was the dilemma I faced when invited to my Aunt Peg's Birthday luncheon!  So I decided a handmade gift would be best - I had just been to the Sacramento Antique Fair and found this weird looking bag and was intrigued so I asked the lady about it.
Turns out this is a Water Bag - up until even the early 1950's, travelers crossing the desert would soak these canvas bags and fill them with water and then hang on the outside of thier cars in front of the radiators.  The evaporating water would blow in towards the radiators and keep the engines cool, in order for them to make it across the hot desert.   Aunt Peg has an old 1934 Plymouth that she and Uncle Bill enter in parades and I thought, this would be a nice addition to their hobby and quite a conversation piece.  As you can see from the photo, all the original lettering on the bag was worn off so I repainted a personalized version for them on the bag.
Uncle Bill and Aunt Peg's last name is Madsen and the  "W&P Brand" stands for "William and Peg"
This bag is about 14" wide by 11" tall so it was a pretty quick project - it will be a conversation starter between the old car enthusiasts - after the cars are driven in the parade, they usually line them up and then everyone walks around a checks out all the cars so I thought Aunt Peg and Uncle Bill needed a sign to display with their car and that would complete the gift.
So I went out to the shed and found an old dresser drawer board that was a perfect size, about 32" long and about 6 inches wide.  I painted the whole board an antique white after sanding it, sketched out the lettering, grabbed some black paint and went to work.
Aunt Peg and Uncle Bill's car is a 1934 Plymouth that they call "Welfare" - kind of a joke for them!  The sign just looked too fresh compared to the old Water Bag so it was time to antique the sign.
First step was to sand it down with a foam sanding block to make it look like it had worn with age.
Next, I mixed some glazing medium with some burnt umber acrylic paint.  The glazing medium makes the paint thinner so instead of an opaque paint , it is kind of translucent, and it also makes a nice finish, sealing the paint.
Next is the scary part!  I always hold my breath when I do this!  Basically you cover the whole project with the paint/glaze - my kids used to watch me do this and would say, "Mom! You're wrecking it!"  The glaze acts as an extender so you actually have more time to work with the paint!
Next, take a wet paper towel or wet rag and rub over the sign - I try to get it to stick in imperfections in the sign and then lift some away from the lettered parts of the sign -  also try to keep it a little darker with more antiquing on the edges.  I use a paper towel because then I can just throw it away and usually only need one!  There is no right or wrong way - just stop when you like the way it looks and then let it dry.
Last step - I added hangers to the back of the sign just in case Aunt Peg and Uncle Bill would ever want to hang the sign in their house.  Remember that most houses have 16" spacing between studs in walls so if you have a long sign, like this one, try to space your hangers 16" apart.
Now the sign matched the bag, both had a "worn" look!  I wrapped the gifts up and took them to the luncheon.  Aunt Peg loved these and said she and Uncle Bill were going to drive their car in the Red Suspender's Day Parade in Gridley, California, that weekend!
The "Madsen Line" rolls in the Red Suspender's Day Parade!
Bill and Peg Madsen and their cherished 1934 Plymouth rolled down the parade route sporting the new water bag - which turned out to be quite a conversation piece!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Before and After: Shabby Beach Chair

Spring cleaning!  I've been trying to clean out one of my sheds and I am happy to say I have put a dent in the project!  I found this old chair in the back of the shed - I think it has been there about 18 years!  I've used it to stand on when painting rooms in my house so there was a little "history of our paint jobs" on it!  Not to mention, spiders, dirt, mud, and everything else that comes from living in the country!
It is extremely well made and there is not a wobble to it so it is a perfect candidate for a makeover! There are metal rods embedded into the rungs where your feet would land while you are sitting so it is extremely sturdy.  This chair was deserving of a new life! So I promptly began cleaning it up, first with just water and a brush, but then I ended up with a sander!  The years of paint splotches were not coming off with just my elbow grease so to the power tools to the rescue!
To prevent any of the stains on it to bleed through the paint, it was primed with some gray spray paint because that was all I had left in the shed and I thought to myself, "It doesn't really matter what color you put underneath if you are going to paint over it." Then I had to decide, always the hardest part, what color should I paint it?  This chair was a relic from the 50's and had been a teacher's desk chair.  Perhaps red?   It is just a simple chair, no embellishments, so it would fit into a cottage, country or coastal setting.  Tiffany blue!  The color has become much more popular lately and this chair seriously needs brightening up!
I started brushing on the paint really thick at first, wanting to get this project done and into Melange for our sidewalk sale.  The paint was wearing thin and the brush needed to be redipped in the bucket - but I liked what I saw.  The dry brush was creating a great shabby dry brush effect and texture, with the grey primer coming through underneath the tiffany color. It was beginning to be reminiscent of an old beach chair that had sat out for years so I continued with a dryer brush and covered the whole chair.
This shabby beach chair  had been freshened up and ready to be brought back to a life.  Gone are it's days sitting in the front of the classroom and in the back of the shed with the spiders and dust.  A whole new life awaits this chair to whomever cherishes it from Melange!  And you can imagine the new stories this chair will have to tell!

Monday, May 16, 2011

May Flowers

My First Spring Rose!
As the saying goes, April Showers bring May flowers, and this spring is no exception! We have had an unusually cool spring this year but my roses love it!  With the extra rain and the cool temperatures, the blooms just keep coming -
The form and rhythm of the callas are so sensual
The lilacs are showing their best bloom ever!
The snapdragons remind me of endless summer days, squeezing them and doing ventriloquists acts with my sisters!  So many make believe stories came out as they snapped and the tall stalks grew sparse with blooms!  Now I cherish those blooms and look at them and remember those times . . .
And the daisies!  How many hours went by as we plucked those petals and said "He loves me, he loves me not" - and how many times did we throw in the center when it ended with "He loves me not" just so it ended with "He loves me!"  And daisy chains - the challenge was to see how long we could make them - how I look forward to reliving these moments with grandchildren . . . someday . . .
The scent of our lavender rose is intoxicating at dusk!  I'll never forget my son picking just the right blooms and then taking them to the florist for her to make a corsage for his prom date who loved lavender roses!
And last but not least - the ceanothus!  Those freeway flowers whose first spring bloom rivals that of any flower!  The drought tolerant plant welcomes all who drive up to our property and this bush is next to our front patio under the pergola.  The blue puffy blooms burst open and I know the buzzing bees will quickly follow . . .
There's one now!  Unbelievable that my iphone can capture it's beauty so clearly!  I watch it for a while as it collects pollen and scurries from flower to flower - so busy!  Yes - Spring!  It has arrived!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Before and After: Birdcage

I found this beautiful birdcage sitting all by itself in a corner at a Hospice Thrift Store - it is quite large and had definitely been lived in by a fine feathered friend as some areas were covered with evidence!
The Evidence!
Birdcages are great for decorating and they sell like hotcakes at Melange, and I had never seen such a well crafted aviary as this before so it came home with me, despite it missing one of it's caster wheels.

  While cleaning and scrubbing it down I noticed a label on it I hadn't seen before in my haste to grab this before another customer!  
 The label said "Designer Aviaries" so I looked it up online - Turns out this the Medium Designer Oak Aviary made by Designer Aviaries out of Grants, New Mexico, original purchase price $698.00!!  They have been making beautiful aviaries since 1988!  I HAD HIT THE JACKPOT! Whoo Hooo!
Now I HAD to keep it and I had this empty corner in my living room that was longing for companionship but would it fit? 
I brought it into the house and put it in the corner and it just fit and filled in the corner nicely, but the oak wood just blended into my caramel colored walls so i decided to paint it white
All Painted!
This birdcage could easily house a bird, it was complete with perches and even a pull out tray to clean the cage but I am not wild about the idea of having to clean up after a bird, and I love the idea of having some live plants in my living room so I decided it was about to become the home to my pothos and a fern or two!
I found a gray embossed footed pot and repotted my pothos - it was just the right scale for the top of the cage

My repotted my fern in a light robin's egg blue pot and placed it inside the cage, then added a sweet footed robin's egg blue ceramic bowl with a bird perched on the lid and placed it near the cage on my hearth.
I placed the cage on the stand in the corner - now the crisp white cage stands out against the colored walls!  The extra shelf at the bottom is a great home for the extra couch pillows, and the plants love living in this corner where the sunlight streams in.  
The plants got a little more light when I took the cage off the stand and put it directly on the hearth - hmmmm . . .which way should I leave it?  I'll live with it a while!   So the birdcage came from a lonely little corner in a hospice store to a new corner in my home filled with living things -  now I have to decide - leave the cage on the stand or place it directly on the hearth?  Can you help? 

Which do you like better - post a comment below and/or scroll past comment section and cast your vote to help me decide - just check one choice or the other and then click vote!  We'll see what everyone thinks! One thing I do know is that bringing life back to discarded things is something I cherish!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Artist Spotlight : Doris Bell

Welcome to my first Artist Spotlight!  I know so many incredible artists and craftsmen who create amazing things and I'd like to introduce them to you, and show you their work. So at least once a month I will be spotlighting an artist whose creations I cherish.  I'm starting with the artists at Melange, my fellow vendors! 
Look closely into the mirror and you can see Doris's space at Melange!
Have you ever dropped a cherished piece of china and collected the broken pieces, thinking you would glue the piece back together again? Ever get around to it?  Next time, give the pieces to Doris and she will wow you with what she creates with them!  
Doris Bell creates gorgeous furniture, mirrors, planters, pots, with broken china and tile. 

This artform is known as "Pique Assiette".  Doris has been creating these wonderful, one of a kind Mosaic pieces, since 1995.  Doris told me "What draws me most to this Art is being able to take something that is old and many times discarded and giving it new life.  Bringing times past back to the present.  It is an Art form that adheres to almost any surface, and the creativity is endless and so rewarding."  
I have seen many pieces done by lots of artists, but none are more elegant than Doris' pieces.  Doris has a knack for picking just the right mosaic pieces and colors for each particular project - and like she says, no two pieces are the same.
One of a Kind Double Bed!
Detail of headboard center!
Doris offers one day workshops teaching the Art of Pique Assiette through Melange, in Historic Folsom.  The classes are smaller and more hands on,
allowing for your creativity.  Doris also teaches this wonderful Art form through the Learning Exchange off of Howe Ave in Sacramento. Doris organizes her classes by project.  For example, once she gets a group who are interested in making a birdhouse, she sets up a class!  
In each class, Doris gives tips to make your project aesthetically pleasing, and teaches how to use the proper tools and techniques.  Everyone who has taken Doris' class loves it and appreciates Doris' artwork even more, since they know all what is involved in creating a Pique Assiette piece.  Contact Doris directly for more information on her classes, 916-390-9597, or leave her a message by commenting below.  Doris' artwork can be seen and purchased at Melange, which is open Tuesday - Sunday, 11 am - 5 pm.  If you are in Historic Folsom stop by and see her beautiful work - it is something to behold and cherish!