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11  Ugly old night tables get a new life! in Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: Reconstructed by grammardog on: August 05, 2011 08:27:02 PM
Teaser photo!

So, I'm a lady on a budget.  A tight one.  But!  I am also a resourceful lady who likes to thrift shop, likes a challenge, and likes to make ugly and neglected things beautiful.  Ain't that lucky?

For about four years, I have been using some very ugly, very damaged, unmatching particleboard end tables as bedside tables.  They don't have drawers and are too short and too wide and too wobbly, and are just altogether unpleasant!  My cat chews on my glasses and my earplugs sometimes because I don't have a drawer to put them in.  Isn't that a sad story?  And I don't need to tell you how else a bedside table with a drawer might come in handy, am I right, friends?

I have been keeping my eyes peeled in stores for a pair of matching, petite night stands, but haven't been able to find anything in my super-teensy price range.  So when I came across an ugly, 1970's plasticized laminate set at the Salvation Army, I thought, "Dare I...?  Do I have the hubris to think I can solve a problem like Maria 1970's plastic laminate?"


The Sally Ann guy tried to sell me this set for $20.  Pffft!  I beat him down to $10 for the pair, citing their extreme unattractiveness, and we were off to the races.  While very ugly, the tables actually appeared to have been well cared-for... the drawers were clean as a whistle, and at some point, some 80's dude cared enough about them to replace the legs, and the pieces were nice and sturdy.  So I handed over my ten bucks and loaded them into the car.

First I cleaned the tables all over with rubbing alcohol, to remove any dirt and grease.  I then disassembled the tables as much as I could and sanded the laminate until it wasn't shiny anymore.  Sanding down the laminate was one of the most disgusting experiences of my life, you guys.  I inhaled more of the 1970's than Bill Clinton.  Hyuk!  Anyway, not to put too fine a point on it, but I was blowing plastic laminate boogies out for a week.  Don't be a hero, Craftsters... wear a dust mask!  I was outside on my apartment deck, so I didn't think I needed one, but boy, was I wrong.  After the sanding and the boogies and the tears, I primed the tables with BIN water-based primer-sealer, which has to cure for 7 days to really adhere well.  Longest week of my life!  I have no patience, at all.  After that painful waiting process, I finally rolled on a couple of coats of latex paint, and replaced the ugly old tarnished brass drawer pulls:

with new, modern pieces that cost me $3 apiece at the hardware store (see teaser, if you've forgotten).  Then I reassembled the pieces.  Ready?  Okay, LOOK!

I love the way they turned out!  I think they're well-worth my labour, and $16 plus paint.  I'm excited to see them in my new grown-up lady bedroom.

I would like to give shout-outs to two blogs that gave me a lot of great tips, and most of all, the courage, to attack a laminate revamp.  Censational Girl's incredible project gallery (http://www.centsationalgirl.com/project-gallery/) was so inspirational to me!  And a post from Living with Lindsay (http://livingwithlindsay.com/2009/05/how-to-paint-laminate-furniture.html) also provided some sage advice.  Yay, internet!

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12  Throw Quilt for my Momz! in Quilting: Completed Projects by grammardog on: December 13, 2010 03:08:07 AM
I finished this little throw quilt today for my Mom for Christmas.  She's always chilly when sitting around in the living room, so I thought this would be the perfect thing for her to keep on the sofa.  It's a bit non-traditional for my mom's tastes, but I think she'll still really like it.

I like the uncentered stripe on the back:

I embroidered a simple little label for the back.  I should have written it out beforehand, because my letters seemed to get progressively larger.  I always do things the hard way, for some reason, like embroidering the letter A three times before it finally looks kind of like an A. 

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13  Don Draper in my living room. AT LAST! in More Art, Less Craft: Completed Works by grammardog on: November 22, 2010 08:12:05 PM
I whipped up this quick acrylic on canvas painting tonight.  I've been watching Mad Men (currently on Season 2 - no spoilers, please!) and can't get enough, especially of that beautiful title sequence (by artists Steve Fuller and Mark Gardner).  I have this ugly thermostat in the middle of a giant wall, so I bought a canvas deep enough for the thermostat to fit behind, and I can easily lift the painting off when I want to change the heat.  Hopefully this won't interfere terribly with the thermostat's functioning?

Aaaaaaaaanyway, here it is:

Where's the thermostat, you ask?  YEAH, THAT'S RIGHT.  Works like a charm.

I didn't do the best job of blending the grey background... I just had a square, unbendable sponge that was all blocky and didn't work very well for that purpose, so I kind of scrapped that plan, and may try it again if I ever run across a sea sponge or something. 

Thanks for looking in!
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14  How I killed my index finger. in Paper Crafts: Completed Projects: General by grammardog on: November 19, 2010 06:26:26 PM
I finished this paper cut-out of my brother and my sister-in-law as a Christmas gift.  I did one for my other brother a few months ago (posted somewhere on Craftster), so I'll have one for each of them.  This one seemed to take me longer even though it didn't seem as intricate.

It's framed already and I was too lazy to take the glass out of it to photograph it, so I had to take it on an angle to avoid any weird reflections.  This shot shows the details a bit more:

I used this photo I took last summer, specifically for this purpose:

What do you think?  I've been looking at it for so long and in such teeny-weeny pieces that I honestly can't tell what it looks like.  I'm pretty unhappy with the way my bro's shoulder just ends, though.  I was intending to put his shoulder in the corner wher eit would meet the frame, so I cut it straight down without bothering to try to make it look complete.  Then I accidentally cut the top layer of black paper in such a way that I had to frame it the other way, and it kind of looks like his torso got lopped off.  I had already glued down the three layers of paper at that point, so it's too late to go back and try to make it look like a shoulder.   Do you think it looks too weird like this?  I tried a smaller frame, but it looked too crowded.
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15  Double rainbow, all the way. in Stenciling: Completed Projects by grammardog on: September 08, 2010 07:09:24 PM
I stencilled this little shirt for my friend's baby girl.  Her parents loved the video so much that I knew they'd get a kick out of the shirt.

(And if somehow you've missed the video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQSNhk5ICTI)

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16  Purple and green string quilt! With bonus cat game! in Quilting: Completed Projects by grammardog on: August 26, 2010 03:47:22 PM
Here is my 31st completed quilt, made for an old camp friend.  I gave it to her last night when I went to visit camp, and she cried, which satisfies me deeply.  I'm never happy unless I'm making a good friend weep!

This is the label I sewed onto the back.  The quote is a lyric from a campfire song we used to lead together, and I felt it was very appropriate for our friendship.

And here it is laid out on my bed.  It was a big mistake to put it on there... for some reason, it didn't occur to me beforehand that this purple and green quilt would look totally rad in my purple and green bedroom.  This made it very hard to give away.

Thanks for looking in!

P.S.  As an added fun bonus, this post is a Where's Waldo game, only instead of Waldo, it's my cat Bea Arthur.  He appears twice!  Have fun, kids.
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17  I LOVE LAMP. in Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: General by grammardog on: August 04, 2010 07:45:32 PM
About 15 years ago, I bought a cheap paper lamp, kind of like http://www.brandlighting.com/images/fire_farm/1A-T1R.jpg this one. Eventually I knocked it over and ripped the paper shade, natch.  I'm a notorious penny-pincher and hate throwing useful things out, besides, so I bought some rice paper and recovered it.  But I did kind of a lazy job, plus I knocked it over within a week and ripped it again, anyway.

I've been cooking up a plan to someday make a chandelier with paper circles, so I decided to give this lamp a re-do in a similar style to see if it would work, and here is the result. I used a utility knife and sandpaper to scrape the glue from the lampshade off the metal parts.  Then I used a circular punch on vellum paper (YESSSSS THAT PACKAGE OF VELLUM I BOUGHT AT A YARD SALE TEN YEARS AGO FINALLY CAME IN HANDY!), poked holes in each circle with a pin, and strung them together with jump rings. It was kind of slow going, but I learned some tips for my future chandelier, and I knocked out half of a season of Degrassi Junior High, so.  Everyone wins!  I think it looks pretty cute.

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18  Taggie Blankets - My First Go! in Quilting: Completed Projects by grammardog on: July 03, 2010 04:04:37 PM
This afternoon, since there was a Golden Girls marathon on the tube, I whipped up a couple of taggie blankets to keep on hand as new baby gifts, since I have a few family members with buns in the oven.

Babies are often more enamoured with the little tags on stuffed animals than the animals themselves, which is the appeal of this kind of little blanket.  I wasn't sure I completely bought this theory until I saw my little nephew totally mesmerized for a solid hour by a tag.  The blankets are about 14" square, small enough for a little one to move around themselves.  The black and white cotton fabric is especially appealing to babies, as their vision isn't great and they are attracted to high contrast areas (ever notice a newborn staring at your hairline?).  I also sandwiched a layer of plastic shopping bag in the middle to give it a satisfying crinkle.  I sewed it all very securely, around the edges three times and with an X across the middle, so there's very little risk of the tags coming loose or the plastic escaping.  

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19  Red and Green ZigZag Baby Quilt! in Quilting: Completed Projects by grammardog on: July 02, 2010 02:36:50 PM
I made this quilt for my approaching niece/nephew, who will be comin' down the chute in August!  I wanted something that was high contrast and visually interesting.  I'm pretty sure it's best described as garish, actually, but it turned out better than I thought it might at the halfway point!  Hee.  I made it larger than the average baby quilt so that it could continue to be used into toddlerhood.

I hope he/she barfs and poops happily all over it for many years.
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20  Hand-Cut Paper Stencil = Numb Index Finger! in Paper Crafts: Completed Projects: General by grammardog on: June 15, 2010 09:07:59 PM
Oh, man, my fingers are so numb I can hardly type but I am really excited about what I just made:

It's a paper stencil portrait of my little brother and my sister-in-law.  I hand-cut the stencils with an Exacto knife from three pieces of Canson paper - white, grey, and black - and then layered them over each other.  I've never done a multi-layered stencil before.  It was painstaking, but I love the result!

I used http://vimeo.com/7748989this wonderful tutorial by DudeCraft as a guide, although I didn't follow it to a tee.

Here is a closer-up view before I framed it.  The white layer is on the bottom, then I cut the grey, then the black.  I was cursing my brother's penchant for striped shirts, although quite thankful he likes to wear sweaters over them.

And here is the original photo I played with to make my stencil:

I'm going to put it away until Christmas and give it to them as a gift.  There's nothing people like more than someone who foists their homemade art on them.  Hee.
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