Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Chair-y Chair-y Quite Contrary...Chapter One: A Paint Technique and Waxing

Photo circa 2012
About five years ago, I was given an old pink chair in need of rehab. I did my usual sand and wax on the chair, then made upholstery fabric in a chevron pattern by piecing together leftover scraps of fabric from decorating jobs.  I made a new cushioned seat for the chair and covered it in my "new" upholstery fabric and added a brush fringe.  The chair then found a new home with my friend, Marsha.

Photo circa 2007
Fast forward five years...Marsha brought me the chair after an unfortunate mishap.

The chair seemed to be missing some parts necessary to repair it to a safe condition.  I thought of replacing the missing parts from another old chair but decided, instead, to make two projects out of the broken chair.  The seat was still in perfect condition and I happen to have another old chair hanging around in my workshop (big surprise); all that was missing was a seat.  The seat from Marsha's chair fit the other old chair perfectly but I felt like the dark brown chair with the patchwork seat looked a little too old fashioned rather than "vintage chic".

Marsha had previously admired a sort of weathered-wood finish that I had done on a couple of other pieces and I thought that might look good with the seat if I made a few alterations.

Here's a step by step of the finish I came up with:

Step 1:  Sand the chair all over with a 150 or finer grit sandpaper.  I use a palm sander where I can and then hand sand the tricky parts with a sponge sander.  You don't have to sand it down to bare wood; this is a rustic finish so just sand enough for paint to stick.

Step 2:  Make any necessary repairs to the chair.  I sand the chair first because this process often reveals areas that need repair.  In this case, the chair was just a little loose in the corners.  I found that one of the corner screws had been replaced and wouldn't tighten enough so I switched it out for the appropriate type of bolt and it tightened up just fine.

Step 3:  I mix a putty color paint and water it down considerably.  The goal is to do a wash over the whole chair using a dry brush technique.  Simply dip the brush in the paint and then blot the brush on a towel before applying it to the chair.  The coverage will be very light but because the paint is watered down it will dry very fast.  

I've applied about three coats to get the even coverage I want.  You can still see some of the dark stained wood underneath as well as areas that were sanded to bare wood.

Note:  You can decide this is enough paint and skip to the sanding and waxing step but I personally feel that the more layers you add to a paint finish like this the more depth you create which gives the finished product a richer look.

Step 4:  At this point, I want to add some highlights so I grab a lighter cream color and mix a little in a separate container with my first watered down paint.  I like to use disposable plastic bowls with lids so I can use the leftovers for another project.

Brush just a little of the highlight paint  on here and there and then using a clean chip brush and a light hand, blend the highlight paint to soften the look.

 The look is subtle and that's what you want.

Step 5:  Next, I want to add some low lights.  I found a darker brown in my paint stash and added a little to the same disposable bowl that had the highlight paint in it until I get a color darker than my original watered down putty color.  I use the same technique as with the highlight paint.  Add just a little, then blend it with the clean chip brush.

Step 6:  This is one of my favorite steps because it's where I get to see the chair's unique character start to come forward.  Take a medium to fine grit sandpaper and hand sand off the edges and anywhere else you want to show wear and tear.

Note:  This is where you want to pay close attention to how evenly you sand.  The reason being that in Step 7 we will be waxing which will show everything.  The wax will take differently to paint that has been sanded versus paint that has not been sanded.  When you sand paint, you give the paint a "tooth".  This means the stain will be absorbed into the sanded areas making it look "dirtier".  The wax will stain darker in any flaws or crevices, including those made by the sandpaper.  Therefore, you want to pay close attention to where you sand.  The good news is that if you don't like something after you've waxed, you can just sand areas a little more as needed and then re-wax those spots.

Step 7:  The final finish is a stained paste wax.   I use Fiddes Supreme Wax (Rugger Brown is my favorite color).  If you can't find Fiddes, it's very much like Briwax and their Dark Brown would be close to Rugger.  Since you're working with stain, be sure to work in a well-ventilated area on a protected surface and wear gloves.

I find it best to work in small sections.  Using a chip brush, apply a small amount of wax to one piece of the chair.  Immediately, wipe all the excess wax away with a clean rag.   It is important to remove all the excess wax at this point.  If you are sloppy at this stage you will not get the result you are looking for.  It's much more difficult to try to remove the excess wax after it has started to dry. 

By the time you have finished waxing the whole chair, the wax should be dry enough to buff.  It should not feel tacky at his point.  If it does, you have not removed all the excess wax.  That's probably the biggest mistake people make; applying too much wax and not removing it right away.

Step 8: At this point, you want to buff the entire piece.  I like to use a pine brush attached to my drill.  I find using a corded power drill works better than a battery drill but both will work.  I've added a handle attachment to my drill because I do this a lot and the handle helps carry the weight of the drill.  If you don't want to use a brush, you can simply buff the whole piece with a clean cloth.  I just find it's faster and less work to use the brush on a drill; especially for larger pieces.

Step 9:  I always wipe the entire project with a clean cloth after buffing to make sure I have the finish I want.  It should feel silky smooth.  If it doesn't, keep buffing.  This just means there was too much wax applied and not removed.

It isn't pink anymore, but Marsha's done some re-decorating in the last five years so I think this new finish will look great in her home....and who could show up in my workshop again some day...., what happened to the pink chair, you ask?  Well, that will be revealed in Chapter Two....stay tuned....and Happy Junkin'...

Check out more great projects from fellow junkers at Funky Junk's Saturday Nite Special...

Saturday, August 25, 2012

How To Do A Simple Repair

I have a junkin' buddy who's carpenter husband said this little trug on legs couldn't be fixed.  Really?!#*@?  I'm on to you, mister.  You think if you tell her that she'll just bring her junk to me and you won't have to deal with it....well, you'd be right!

Are you a woman who likes to go junkin' but aren't necessarily handy with tools?   That can be a problem when you find something that needs just a little repair but your husband isn't into junkin' and doesn't really want to participate in your hobby.  If you're that woman....this post is for you.

This is the perfect piece for a lesson on the right way vs. the wrong way to fix something.  You can see from this closeup, there are a couple of holes where it looks like old nails used to be.  Then, if you look closely, you'll see lots and lots of tiny holes.  Those tiny holes are created by a pneumatic finish nailer.  Now, I have nothing against them; I happen to have one and love it.  It's the perfect tool to apply decorative trims or anything that isn't structural.  However, it is not the right tool for this job.  Shooting a bunch of finish nails into a piece that needs to be structural is not going to make it stronger.  And it's not very attractive.

From the closeup of the detached leg, you can see that the glue was squirted on and not spread all over the piece because it dried with the squirt pattern.  As bad as this looks, it's taking me longer to write this post than it did to fix the leg.

I have a lot of "favorite" tools but my nippers are close to the top.  As a junker, I'm constantly taking things apart so they come in handy on almost every project.  They are perfect for pulling finish nails.  Once all the nails are out, I need to get rid of the glue so that I will have a flat surface that will give me a good structural base for new glue.

A quick sand with a palm sander and a medium grit paper takes the old glue off in about ten seconds.

So, I got a little carried away with the sander and sanded off the stain at the end of the leg that will show.  Can't have that; so I found some red mahogany stain that's close enough for this project.  

Next, apply a little wood glue to the inside of the leg and spread it evenly (I use my finger).

 A small clamp works great at this point.  I can clamp the leg in place while I drill the holes and screw the leg down.  I personally think clamps make so many jobs much easier.  I don't know what I ever did without them.  They are right up there on my "favorites list".  If you don't have them or want to purchase any, it's probably a good idea to pre drill your holes before applying the glue.

I decided to use the holes that were already there from the old nails but wanted to make sure I predrilled for the screws I would be using.  I save old rusty screws that are still usable for just this type of project (big surprise).

Oops, one step forward, two steps back.  I decided I didn't like the first screw I used...besides I didn't have enough of them.  The hole I had made with the new screw was larger than the screws I would end up using.

Tip:  When you need to make a large hole smaller,  depending on the size difference, use a toothpick, bamboo skewer, or golf tee, and shove the pointy end into your hole.  For mine I used a bamboo skewer.  Insert the skewer and just break it off.  Then drill the correct size hole for the smaller screw.

I decided to go ahead and add screws to all the legs; otherwise, there's a good chance I'd be seeing this fix-it project again.

And there you have it...a cute little trug ready for garden duty.

So, next time you have a little repair; don't be afraid to tackle it yourself.  Just pull up this blog post and walk yourself right through it....or find a friend like me :)

Friday, August 24, 2012

I Like Your Blog; So.... How Do I Follow? How Do I Comment?

RS:  I've been reading your blog over your shoulder as you write it and I find it very creative, entertaining and informative.  I know Dana thinks she's one of your biggest fans; but I beg to differ....AND, neither one of us appears to be "following" you, so exactly how do we do that?

SS:  Ahhh, thanks, Honey.  You know, when I had lunch with the girls yesterday, they all said they're following and loving the blog and so are a few of their friends.  They all thought they were "following" because they are seeing it when I share it on Facebook, and since you don't "Facebook"...I see your dilemma...not that I mind you looking over my shoulder.  I'm new at this too, so let's see if we can figure this out together.

On my blog page, look in the right column and you'll see the heading "Followers".  Just below that is a Google icon and a blue box that says "Join this site"; click on the blue box.  A screen will pop up that says, "Sign in using an account you've already created".  Below that are choices:  Google, Twitter, and Yahoo, (I'm familiar with those) and below that AIM, Netlog, and Open ID (don't know what those are).  Since you already have a Yahoo email account, I'd go with that.  If you had gmail, you'd choose Google, or if you had a Twitter account you could use that.  Otherwise, where it says "Don't have any of these?" Click on the blue, "Create a new Google Account".

When you click on Yahoo, your email popped up because you were already signed in.  If you weren't signed in, all you have to do is sign in and then there's a box that says "You are sharing the following:" and it lists your name and email address.  Then you have to click on "agree" because you would be following my blog using that identity.  Basically, me or anyone else who wanted to know who my members are would be able to identify you that way.

If you didn't have one of the accounts listed and you had to click on "Create a new Google Account" it would just ask you for your email address and password.  Simple.

Once you've agreed, you'll be taken to a blogger screen that gives you the choice of following publicly or privately.  That's up to you.  Basically, you're following using Google Friends Connect which is like their form of Facebook.  I think you'd have to sign in to Google to see the blog I'm not really sure why you would "join" except that I like to see who my audience is.  For you, since you don't do Facebook I don't really see you signing into Google Friends Connect to see my blog either.  So, unless you want to check my blog every day to see if I've posted anything, you can sign up by email.  There's a box for that too; just below all the "share" stuff.  It's pretty straightforward.

RS:  Well, I do check my email everyday, so that's probably the best choice for me.

SS:  My sister joined so I'd see I have a friend and she also chose to follow me by email; that way she gets an email when I post something new but says she likes to go to the actual blog to look at it because it's prettier.  A few other friends said that's how they are email, which is really convenient for them but I don't get to see who my audience is.  So, I guess if you want to remain anonymous, it's better to follow by email, but if you want me or other people to know you're following, please do the "join this site."

RS: Okay, so say I want to ask a question or leave a comment?

SS:  Well, I tried this out myself because some friends said they were having a problem.  I don't know if that has to do with their browser or what but I signed out and left a comment from my Mac and all I had to do was go to the bottom of a particular blog post and there's a box to post a comment.  Type in your question or comment; then where it says "Comment as" click on the "select profile" box and choose how you want to be identified.  You can just click on "Name/URL" and type in your name and leave the URL blank and then click on "publish".  If you had a URL you wanted to list, because maybe you're another blogger or have a website you'd like people to find, then add that.  If you want to remain anonymous, that's okay too...just be nice because if you leave anything inappropriate, I can just delete it.

I also tried to leave a comment from your PC using your Firefox browser and it worked the same way.

It's good to leave comments and questions, because if something's unclear or you have additional information to share, it's helpful to everyone.  I want my blog to informative and useful to the people who read it.  I know I'm new at this and just flying by the seat of my pants so I can use all the input I can get.

Thanks, Honey, for your support and offering to be my model tonight.  I just couldn't do a post without a're awesome...and now you're famous!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Mannequin Makeover & Repair

Yesterday afternoon, I was on a mission...hunting for the finishing touches on the gear desk I'm building for my son.  I headed to the local antiques stores and a music'll have to wait for that post to see what I found....the perfect thing!  Then it was off to Lowe's for the last few supplies...  Next to junkin', one of my favorite things to do is spend time in a hardware store.  I love looking at all the parts, pieces and materials and wondering what might come in handy for a junkin' project.  I'm like a kid in a candy store...and don't get me started on the tools...that will have to be a separate post...
As I was meandering through the aisles, I started thinking of all the little unfinished projects at home and decided to see if I could find the parts I needed to take care of a few things.  I was so excited to find what I needed to fix my broken, I thought it would be a good time to share her story...

Chapter One:  "Necessity is the mother of invention."

Have you noticed that whenever you come across a really awesome mannequin it's either "For Display Only" or really over-budget?  I really needed a mannequin...for display at shows, to be my model for photos... to help me in my sewing room for alterations...all sorts of things.  I came across a new mannequin at TJ Maxx for  $70.00.  I was happy with the price but didn't really like how "new" and generic it looked.  It was covered in a gray linen for a faux vintage feel but I wanted something a little more rustic for my displays.  The other problem with new mannequins is that they aren't padded enough for me.  I want to be able to put a pin in it without bending the pin.  So, I bought the mannequin and decided to reupholster it to suit my needs.  

First, I took the mannequin off the stand then removed the top finial and all the fabric.   The mannequin appeared to be made of fiberglass so I needed lots of padding.  I buy Dacron by the roll from an upholstery supply store so I decided to use a couple of layers to give myself enough padding for pins.  

TIP:  I use a spray adhesive called Cam Tack that I purchase from the same supplier.  It's used by automotive and furniture upholsterers.  I figure if I'm going to do my own upholstery projects and want them to turn out professional-looking, then I need to use the tools and products the professionals use.  

Unfortunately, I did this project before I started this blog so I don't have photos of the actual re-upholstery.  The best advice I can give is to do this outside on a protected table because this glue is very sticky and smelly.  Gloves are also a good idea.  Be patient, dry fit and cut before spraying the glue.  I worked the front side first as far back as I could, then added the back side and worked on the side seams.  I don't want the neck or the base to be too bulked up when I'm coming around those edges with my final fabric, so I cut the Dacron even with the top and the bottom.  After the two layers of Dacron, I covered the whole thing with a layer of natural muslin so that I could pull the fabric tight and get the shape of the mannequin without having to worry about making it look pretty.  
This was a good idea since I had never done this before and it gave me sort of a practice run before the final layer.   My final layer was burlap.  I like the texture and the color looks more natural.  Leave several inches of fabric at the neck so that you can glue it to the inside of the neck for a nice clean finish.  Do the same at the bottom and trim off any excess.

The finial and stand were already black which was fine with me, but a little shiny and new so I just sanded them to get rid of the shine and exposed wood here and there.  A coat of wax gave it a finish but left it looking vintage. 
Chapter Two:  "Confession is good for the soul..."

So, the first time I took my new made-over mannequin to a show I broke it on the way home.  Note to self:  Remove the stand before transporting a mannequin.  
Yesterday morning, my husband asked me to help him repair an irrigation line and as he was gluing the PVC pipe I had a lightbulb moment....maybe his PVC glue would fix the black plastic part from my broken mannequin?  It didn't work....same with the Gorilla glue and every other glue I had in my arsenal.  I had no choice but to try to find replacement parts.

Fast forward to my afternoon trip to the hardware store.  Eureka!   I found the first part on the electrical aisle.  It was a 3/4" steel set screw connector.  I had recently done a project using 3/4" galvanized pipe from the plumbing department and had an idea, so I headed that way and was excited to find out the thread for the electrical connection was the same as plumbing parts.  Perfect!  A 3/4" galvanized floor flange was just what I needed.  

I painted the parts black to match the stand and wouldn't you know, the holes lined up perfectly with the holes already in the base.  

My made-over mannequin is back on her stand and ready for her next job....I think I'll call her Grace....
"For Display Only"