Nov 252014
 

I love dabbling in Photoshop Elements to create unique DIY gifts.   Recently our family was blessed with another baby boy. For me, he is my SEVENTH great nephew and they named him Wesley.  I love it when parents come up with names that are nice and not too common.  As a “welcome to the family” gift, I decided to create a baby  name piece artwork as I had done for his older brother, Liam.

For, Liam, I found a really GREAT Flickr site where the owner has created a collection of pictures for each letter.  (NOTE:  These photos are for NON-commercial use only).    I had an odd shaped rectangular frame, 8″ x 16″,  on hand that was perfect.  Using the letter photos, I created a unique photo alphabet print of his name to fit the frame.    The parents loved it.

Baby name artwork photoshop elements

I love the industrial letter in this print.

For Wesley, I did not have a long narrow frame so decided to be more conventional and create something 8×10.   And rather than a birth announcement, I would just create a cute name graphic.

I tried to find a cute whale image (as in W is for Whale) but I failed.  However, I did find this  cute train graphic via Google and I loved the colours.  Once loaded it into Photoshop Elements, I played around with different fonts and came up with this.

Baby name artwork photoshop elements

W is for WESLEY

After selecting the graphic, the process took me about 30 minutes to complete.  The best part is now that I have the layered Photoshop file which can be easily modified for any new babies who come along… 

I have had a love of photography for decades and I once worked at IBM in a technical and software support role.  So it seemed natural for me to feel comfortable dabbling in Photoshop.  My Photoshop skills have been self taught over the past 10 to 12 years.  The “self taught” part is evident by the dozen or so Photoshop Elements books I own and the number of great online tutorials I have bookmarked. 

Once I get an idea I like (that part takes forever!), I love diving in and experimenting.  For me, these two baby name projects were extremely simple.  Someday I will post some of the tougher stuff I have worked on when my Miss Nice was in competitive dance.    I was a very popular mom at the studio because the dancers and dance moms loved that I could extract the dancer and add a new background and song lyrics, fog or whatever they wanted.  Those projects took time but I loved it.  Here’s an example of one of my favourite lyrical dances Miss Nice performed in 2010.  I loved the song, the costume the dance … the whole package. 

photoshop elements dabbling

Isn’t Miss Nice beautifu? If I do say so myslef!

The original photo was a stage shot with a black floor, stage curtains and banners hanging in the background.  To create this picture, there were 13 layers and various techniques, many of which I ‘ve probably forgotten.  This photo is one of  many on our gallery wall .  Every time I pass it, it brings back great memories of her years of dancing.

Have you ever or do you dabble in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements?

I know PicMonkey is easy and does many of the same functions but I can’t be bothered learning a new program.

I would love to hear from other Photoshop dabblers and pros!
Feel free to  leave a comment or email me!

Joan

Nov 032014
 

Just before I delivered a few pieces to my client she had someone drop off a super cute  vintage magazine rack made of dark wood with brass pulls and brass casters.  The client simply said…”Get rid of the dark wood and have some fun!”.  This is the same client for whom I transformed her old toy box to a very cool Union Jack coffee table.  She liked the blue and this magazine rack was for another room so it did not need to match.

This magazine rack was cute but a bit fiddly and spraying it would be faster and easier.  I happened to have some dark blue spray paint on hand.  However it was Rustoleum Tremclad Rust Paint. Although the piece was wood,from experience, I knew this paint would cover and adhere well.

I removed the brass pulls from each end as well as the cute little caster wheels from each of the legs.  I updated these brass coloured pieces with some brass spray paint I had on hand.

BTW–NO affiliate links — Just facts!

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Brass caster covers updated with paint.

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The pulls at each end were also renewed with brass paint. A lovely contrast to the royal blue.

I  then primed the piece with a spray can of primer I also had on hand because  I did not want the dark wood to bleed through.

Once dried,  I applied two to three very light coats of Rustoleum Tremclad in Glossy Dark Blue.

I love any dark blue with brass and this application did not disappoint.  The client just loved the finished product and so did I!

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Royal Blue and brass is such a winning combo!

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Such a cute piece! Any colour would be nice!

I have a couple of pieces of  campaign style bedside tables in my garage and I am thinking royal blue, like the Union Jack chest, will be perfect with the brass embellishments. Cannot wait to start them.  The only problem is they are the heaviest night stands I have ever encountered.  I will need Mr. Nice to help me get them into the basement workshop!

Stay tuned for more BLUE and BRASS!

Such a simple project and it looks so pretty and updated now.

Have you ever used Rust Paint on Wood?
What was the outcome?
I would love to hear from you!

Joan

 

 Posted by at 2:31 pm
Oct 272014
 

Last week, I shared the Vintage Secretary Desk I completed for a client.  I love the way it turned out with the grey paint and the contrasting walnut stained top.  It looked so fresh.

Updated Vintage Secretary Desk

Updated Vintage Secretary Desk Before and After

This desk also came to me with a chair.  A very dark chair with gold velour upholstery.  I love the shape of it and the lovely caned back but it too needed an update.

Chair

Desk and Chair

I primed and painted the chair the same SW West Highland White I used for the cubbyholes on the desk.  Then I covered the chair is a lovely peacock fabric, picking up the grey of the desk.

reupholster desk chair

A lighter, fresher look.

Steps to reupholster a basic chair:

Re-upholstering a chair like this is relatively simple.  I considered doing a tutorial but there are a plethora of similar tutorials out in Blogland so I will just give you the key points. (NO affiliate links)

  • Unscrew the seat from the base
  • Remove the existing cover and foam by removing all the staples. 
  • Using the wood seat base as a guide, cut 3 or 4 inch foam at least one inch bigger all around.
    • This excess with ensure you cover the wood edges when you add the new fabric.
    • I have a basic electric knife I use specifically to cut foam
  • Using the wood seat base with the foam on top of it as a guide to cut the fabric.  Be sure to make it large enough to wrap both and be able to staple underneath,
  • Optional:  Add a layer of quitting batting over the foam / under the fabric.
  • Center the fabric over the seat and begin to staple.
    • I like to begin with a few staples on one side then go to the opposite side and pull tight and staple a few there. And continue until you are finished.
    • I have used a regular wood staple gun but often they are not powerful enough.  I purchased a stronger stapler requiring a compressor and it makes all the difference.  I am fortunate to have a neighbour with a compressor who lets me “store” it for him.

The upholstering part of the chair took about an hour. The basic tools I used really help, especially the pneumatic stapler.

Reupholster desk chair

Basic Upholstery Tools ~ source ~ source ~ source ~ source ~      

Here is how the desk and chair look now. 

What a transformation! 

I just love these pieces and kind of wish I could have kept them 😉

 

reupholster desk chair

Vintage Secretary Desk and Chair before and After

What do you think?

Have you upholstered a basic chair? 

How did it go?

I have a few bigger and more complex pieces I want to try and upholster soon.  Stay tuned.

Be sure to follow me by email or Bloglovin to keep up to date.

Joan

Oct 202014
 

I have realized have not posted the finished vintage secretary desk my client wanted  updated with paint a few months ago. 

She initially told me I could to do whatever I wanted to it!  ” I trust you!”  Yikes! 

Many of you reading this might think this would be fun and a time to be super creative and step out of the box but I didn’t feel that way.  Then when it was dropped off, I saw it was a super cute and unique piece and had to double check if she really wanted me to paint it.

Updated Vintage Secretary desk

Super cute desk with windows and cubbies.

This vintage desk was in excellent shape and the top had cubbyholes  covered with cute little doors with windows.  I loved the hardware too.

Updated Vintage Secretary desk details

Such a unique desk

Being a chicken and not wanting to go mad with this piece, I used Photoshop, to create some crude mock ups of various colours. Here is the post.  In the end, she chose grey but a paler shade.  Whew …  knowing the colour was a relief. 

Updated Vintage Secretary desk mock up

Photoshop mock up in Grey

She also said she did not want a distressed look.  With all the detail on the piece I would have been inclined to go that route.

I used my favourite go to paint Sherwin Williams Pro Classic.  (NO affiliation)  I selected Essential Grey which is supposed to be similar to one of the Annie Sloan colours

I wanted to leave the top wood with a dark stain.  I like the look of wood and paint together.  I had planned on using a stain and poly combo to do the top so I proceeded to paint the body of the desk first.  WRONG!  When I started on the top, I realized my plan was flawed and I really needed to strip it down.  The top being veneer meant I did not want to do too much sanding. 

Updated Vintage Secretary desk

My plan to do the top last was not a good idea. LIVE AND LEARN.

Stripping the top was a bit problematic as some of the solution got on the paint and … well you know.  I had to do some repairs to the paint.  SO ANNOYING but totally my fault.  After the top was stripped of its original finish, a nice grain was was revealed.

Updated Vintage Secretary desk

Stripping the top revealed a nice grain.

I cleaned up the hardware and used a COPPER coloured spray paint.  Something a little different but it tied into the final stained colour of the top.

Although I loved the dark wood, the final updated version is so much more fresh and bright.

Updated Vintage Secretary desk

Fresh and bright

I love the copper coloured hardware and the walnut stained top.  Even without distressing or glazing, the details still pop.

Updated Vintage Secretary desk

Copper coloured hardware ties into the walnut stained top.

To keep it bright, I painted the cubbyholes a creamy white.  With the white interior, you can now see the pattern on the glass doors.

Updated Vintage Secretary desk

I love the patterned glass on the doors.

Updated Vintage Secretary desk

So much brighter

Updated Vintage Secretary desk

Before

Updated Vintage Secretary desk

After

 

 

In the end, I think both the client and I are happy we collaborated on this.  You see, I was considering  painting it RED or ROYAL BLUE with a dark glaze and some distressing.  Regardless, I LOVE this final outcome.

Stay tuned to see how I transformed the chair the client uses with this desk!

Has a client ever given you a blank canvas and told you to go to town on a piece?

Did you?

Were they happy? 

I would love to hear from you.
Comments make my day!


Joan

Oct 142014
 
Toy box to Union Jack

Before and After

When a client dropped off an old toy box her son had outgrown and asked me to “do something” with it, I was a bit apprehensive to say the least!  It was the cutest toy chest with Nursery Rhyme scenes painted on each panel. But like my client, I know there is a time when the nursery rhyme stuff is OVER.  I was pleased with her confidence in my creative ability but I really wasn’t sure what to do with it!

Luckily, she later sent me pictures of the rooms where the box might become a coffee table.

After looking at them, I knew EXACTLY what I wanted to try.  

living room copy

Client’s living room

For ages, I have wanted to try my hand at a Union Jack.  I loved what Alison  over at ReFunk My Junk did to an old trunk and I used her design as my inspiration.

calc

I printed out Alison’s photos and did the math

The toy chest needed quite a bit of preparation. The client had added texture on her vignettes: clouds and wool on sheep etc.  And may I say again …SO CUTE!

I stripped off the textured paint with a paint stripper then I proceeded to sand down the rest of the piece to a smooth finish.  I primed it using my new Home-right Paint sprayer (NO affliation).  It was one of the first projects where I used the paint sprayer and it literally took a couple of minutes!  After the primer dried, I sprayed the chest with an off white, Navajo White from BM.  (All my trim and ceilings are this colour).  I allowed it to dry a day or two and then I taped it up as per Alison’s design.

To ensure a tight seal, I brushed a coat of the off white over all the tape edges. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT FOR A CRISP LINE!

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It is so important to paint over tape with backgound colour!

Starting with a  sample pot of a bright red, I mixed it with some burgundy paint, both of which I had on hand. This created a lovely deep red to work with.   I purchased a litre of SW Seaworthy.  (I have plans for the leftover paint. . Using the printed photo as a guide, I applied two coats of the colors.

When I removed the tape, I cannot tell you how excited I was!  I just loved it!

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I LOVE it!

I also added a couple of coats of Water Soluble, non- yellowing Diamond finish by Varathane.  (No affiliate)

Finally, to make it moveable and more “industrial”, I added 4 small caster wheels.

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New casters make it portable!

A mutual friend picked up the chest and dropped it off at the client’s home for me.  I seriously believe I could hear the client’s squeals of delight all the way across the city!

Union Jack toy box

Makes me want to visit the UK soon!

Don’t you love when some an attempt at a new design turns out perfectly!

chester and chest

Chester theLabradoodle pup is forever by my side!

box2

Mr Nice is a “City Fan”. Do you follow “football”?

Toy box to Union Jack

I just love this transformation and I so want to do something like this for our home

Mr. Nice is from the UK and perhaps I should do something for our home …. or maybe a Canadian Maple Leaf Flag version!

What do you think of this transformation?

Do you love Union Jack decor?

Do you have any in your home?

(NOTE:  I was rather happy the Scots lost the referendum… I would have had to change the design!  LOL!)

I love comments.  They make my day!

Joan

Sep 182014
 

This afternoon, I was taking pictures of my front garden and I thought I would share it with you.  I take pictures every fall so when spring comes, I know which plants need dividing.  All the plants in this garden are either perennial or shrubs or evergreen. 

I am far from a green thumb type of gardener.  It has been trial and error and a lot of research along the way.  Our front yard faces north and it is difficult to find great annuals that do not need much attention.  So I turned my interest to perennials.  When our kids were toddlers, two of my neighbourds and I would talk about our gardens and share perennials and ideas.

Now, many years later, I do “diddly squat” in the garden thanks to the perennials I have chosen.

Front garden

Right now, my favourite perennial is at its best.  You may find my favourite to be unusual.  It is a sedum called Autumn Joy and I just love it.

s_joy close

I love it for it’s diverse offerings of colour and contrast which changes with the seasons.

In the spring, the foliage grows quickly.  It is a succulent and it’s foliage has a blue hue which I love as a contrast to the true green foliage of the other plants.  Then it produces some flowers that start out green, change to white, then in the fall, change to  the wonderful rose colour you see above.  Lastly, it is a hardy plant that sticks around in our Canadian winters.  In the winter, the flowers turn a dark brown.  Sounds rather ugly but against the snow and the evergreens, it looks like a true “survivor” when everything else is dead and wilted.

black_eyed1

long view

ful view

 

Do you have Autumn Joys in your garden?

Do you have a favourite perennial or shrub?
I’d love to hear what it is!

Joan

Sep 112014
 

About 12 years ago, when my daughter first began dancing competitively, I made her a ribboned memory board for her room.  It was perfect for displaying ribbons, pins, photos etc from the competitions.  Over the past decade, the board has collected so much memorabilia, I am surprised it can stay on the wall.

Here is the state it is in now. 

mere_board

There are YEARS of memories on this board!

After I made this one, she and I made several more to give to her friends as Christmas gifts.  Instead of cork, which is expensive, I used a product called Homasote.  It comes in 4 ft x 8 ft sheets from a building centre.  Builders use it to sound proof walls.  It’s relatively light and soft enough to allow the use of pushpins. 

Here is the one in my office:

My Board

Oh my! I need to add more recent pictures!

It is 48″ x 36″ and I love it!  ( I won’t be sharing the state of the desk below this any time soon!  It looks like my office was ransacked by burglars!

At the end of August, my lovely daughter moved to Kingston, Ontario to begin her new adventures at Queen’s University.  Miss Nice is not overly sentimental so I was surprised when she asked me if I would make her another memory board.  And two of her friends wanted one too.  They do have bulletin boards over their desks but they wanted something “pretty”.

I realized I had a problem and could not make them the way I normally did.  You see, the walls in her residence / dorm room are cinder block so no nails can be added.  Although the Homasote is light, it would most likely be too heavy for a Command Strip.  So I needed to put on my thinking cap.

Michaels just happened to be having a sale on canvases in a 2 pack.  So I picked up four 18″ x 24″  Then, I dropped by Dollarama, where I knew I could get two 12″ cork tiles for $2.00.  I had the rest of the supplies already.  I have so much fabric stashed away as well as quilting batting, ribbon and boxes of the nice upholstery tacks.  I picked up the stash of ribbon 12 years ago when a large Canadian craft store chain went out of business.  Why I bought so much is beyond me.  Perhaps another sign of OCD 😉

pinnable

Instructions below

Here are most of my supplies. (Note:  there are NO affiliation links in this post.  Just links to products I used).

Supplies

Gather supplies

ribbon

Cork and ribbon

tacks

Upholstery tacks

Here is the process I used:

  1. I glued the cork to the front of the stretched canvas using a general purpose white wood glue.  I had to cut some of the cork pieces to make it fit. I needed three squares of cork for each board
  2. Using spray adhesive, I attached a layer of quilting batting to the cork.  This will make the board look more tufted.
  3. After cutting and ironing the cream on cream damask table cloth fabric I had, I covered each of the boards by stapling the fabric to the back of the wooden frame  with my power staple gun.
  4. Then I measured out where the ribbons would go on each edge and marked the spot with a straight pin.  I had the ribbon meet at FOUR spots on each side.    I attached the ends of the ribbon to the back with the staple gun.
  5. Finally, where each ribbon crossed, I added an upholstery tack as well as tacks along the outside edges.

Voila!  Three very light-weight memory boards.  It took me about 3 hours.   

boards2

I love the colours!

boards1

The tack on the outside edge is a great touch

side

I used brass tacks for the navy ribbon and silver for the others.

Cost:

Canvases: 2 for $16  x 2 = $32 — I still have one canvas leftover so the real cost is $24
Cork: 2 for $2 x 5 +=$10 (I have one cork square left)
Fabric, Ribbon, Tacks, Glue and Staples = $0

Each board cost less than $12.  Bargain!

However, the Command Strips were $6 each!!

Regardless the girls were thrilled and Miss Nice’s board looked pretty in her room. Howeverm it did look small on her long empty wall.

What I would do differently is:

  • use a far bigger canvas
  • make the diamonds larger

Other than that, I loved the way they turned out.  Homasote does warp a bit but these frames are  nice and square.

Have you ever made a memory board?
What materials did you use?

Joan

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