May 032014
 

Have you ever had a client who knew they wanted a piece painted but was just not sure of the colour?  Read on and find out how you can use a photo editor to help them….

For decades, I have dabbled in Photography. Back in the day, I even took a course on developing my own black and white film. Sadly at the time, I was in an apartment and did not really have room for a little lab. Other than that, most of what I know is self taught. You see, I am the kind of person who, when they take up an interest, gets every book I can get my hands on. This is true about PhotoShop Elements too.

As I have previously revealed, my daughter danced competitively from an early age. Competitive dance is darn pricey so when the studio photos came back looking crappy, and you had to pay in advance before you saw them, I decided it was time to do my own thing. Besides, I preferred the “live” shots we could get from the photographers at the dance competitions. Often, several moms would approach them and strike a deal, combining many entries for a lower price. With these digital photos, I would work my “magic” in Photoshop Elements. It was a labour of love because I not only loved the dancers, I loved playing and learning new techniques. As time went on, I learned more and more while Photoshop Elements improved with each version, making it easier.

I must admit my early work was a bit simple but the studio photographer was doing what I was doing and charging a small fortune. Fast forward a couple years and soon, my stuff was pretty nice and unique. Soon parents wanted me to work on their photos. And I did. But I knew I would not want to do it as a long term business, knowing we would leave the dance world in a few years. My daughter and I even dabbled in dance performance photography. She was very good because she can anticipate the moves. For example, she would know when a jump might be happening and catch it perfectly. However we both knew our love dance did not entail photographing dancers for hours on end.

Regardless, we and many of the other dance families now have amazing photos of our dancers. Here are a couple examples…

I did this one for a dance mom and daughter.  I took 4 live performance photos from a contemporary dance number (taken by the competition photographer) and created a collage with a new background.  The bottom photo lets the real floor show through, thereby not losing the lighting and shadows.

room with three frames

One of my favourites “creations” is when I  extracted my daughter from a ballet group.  Once extracted, the resolution was poor so I used a variety of techniques to make it look like a painting. I then had it printed on a  large canvas.  It is not only beautiful, it could become an heirloom (if such things still exist!)

The first photo is the live stage shot we purchased.  My daughter loved her perfect arabesque. (Note our studio was not strong in ballet so ignore the rest!)

ballet group

Group shot

 This is want I did with it.  It may not be evident but in reality, it looks like a painting.
Definitely my favourite Photoshop project!

ballet painting

Extracted and stylized as a painting

Okay, so brag time is over.  What does all this have to do with “ENVISIONING” and painting furniture??

Well, for me, it is a snap to help a client decide on a colour.  I simply upload a picture into Photoshop Elements and “colourize” the piece.

This was certainly true with a desk a client dropped off.  When I saw it, I fell in love with it.  It is very unique and I asked if she was sure she wanted to paint it.  (There will be paint haters out there who will be upset with us… but I DID ask!)  She just wants a brighter look in the room…

Here is the gorgeous piece before:

andrea before

Is this not the cutest desk?? Inside the doors are cubbies!

She had some colour ideas but could not decide.  So being a diplomatic person, I decided to help her. 

  1. I uploaded the file in Photoshop Elements
  2. Using the Quick Selection tool, I selected the desk and de-selected the windows in the doors and the desk top which will remain wood.
  3. I added a layer, reduced the opacity to 70% or so and then filled the selection with colour.

I sent her the following renditions based on her ideas:

blue

Blue

fushia

Fushia

grey

Grey

red

Red

As you can see it is very crude but it only took me 10 minutes!  She loved that she could visualize how it would look after. 

Which one do you like? 
There is a chair and its upholstery in the equation too.

Have you used a photo editor to help you or you client visualize? 

Leave me a comment and tell me about it.  I LOVE COMMENTS!!

Stay tuned and come back to see the result!

Joan

Apr 302014
 

I cannot believe I have not posted in 20 days!  What’s up with that?  Well lots….

I began this blog to share my love for updating vintage furniture with paint and upholstery.  But I do so many other thingsMy mind is always whirling.  I try to post at least 2 times a week with something concrete, like a finished project.  However, recently my projects have been in the realm of areas, I did not plan to blog about.  I recently spent HOURS creating a photo collage in PhotoShop for a dancer mom, whose daughter (like mine soon to be) was turning 18.  it involved scanning, editing, and creating.  I had created a collage for the older sister so, well, a mom must be consistent.  It took me hours but it is a labour of love because her daughter and my baby were dance partners, in a competitive dance program  from age 5 to age 15.  They both became a couple of the most amazing tappers in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area).  Just how adorable are they?

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I am also the President of the Board of Directors of a charitable foundation, established to raise funds for the arts based school my daughter attends.  We are a small board who have taken on the challenge of re-inventing our mandate.  As such, I struggle with the apathy of parents who believe “someone else will do it”, be it to donate or volunteer.  I have put in hours upon hours creating a website and other social media outlets as well as design mailers and other deliverables.  My mantra for this work is “baby steps”.  Things will not happen overnight but they will happen!  Last week good karma was on my side.  An amazing alumni couple came forward with a willingness to volunteer and get involved.  My heart soared!  But there is so much more to do. 

Back to blogging.  I have a garage full of “projects”  and a mind full of ideas but a heart full of fatigue. 

Is this blogger’s block or just a BLIP? Tell me!!

I have trouble getting myself organized!  There are SO MANY THINGS TO DO!

And of course, like all moms… I worry!  It is also a time of university selection decisions and my darling daughter has so many options.  Besides being beautiful, talented and very hard working she is incredibly bright.  She has been accepted at ALL her university choices.  I know, woe is us! (sarcasm!)  This is not something to complain about but it is difficult … this decision decides the direction of her life… AND it is not OUR decision, it is hers.

Back to my blogging dilemma, I did paint some kittens! Not real ones of course!  Vintage bookends!   Even though my high school grad daughter is most likely beyond kitten bookends,   I still love them!  They were cute in gold but I gave them a clean update in a silvery white.

kittens6

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Silvery white kittens

 

Having moaned on about my lack of creativity and output.  I do have the cutest desk waiting to be painted along with a chair needing paint and upholstery. I want it done in a week!  I also have a rattan patio set of my nephew and his wife and  so many other things!!   Can I get out our my “funk”?  I sure hope so! 

Life just seems to be moving fast and I seem to be on “pause” for the moment. 

I will catch up.  I promise!  There is more to me than kittens!

Stay tuned!

Joan

 Posted by at 2:54 pm
Apr 102014
 

I have replaced damaged caning in both wicker and wood furniture and thought I would share my not so sophisticated method with you.

In all cases, the cane I replaced was a seat, surrounded by a wood frame.   Many people, seeing damaged cane like the photo below will cut a piece of wood and simple cover the seat.  I suppose if it always has a cushion hiding it, it doesn’t matter.  Personally, I love cane and  replacing it is far easier than you may think.

IMG_0408

Original Damaged Seat.

The first step is to remove the old caning.  Depending on the age of the piece, this can be easy or very difficult.  In the case of a wicker chair I refinished, it was easy.  With some coaxing (chiseling) at the spline, which holds the cane in the groove, I was able to pull out the old caning relatively easily.  In the case of the antique rocker above, the glue used in days gone by was like titanium!   I needed to resort to nail polish remover and a drill.  I even broke a couple of bits in the process!  I am sorry I have no pictures of this task.  It was a frustrating adventure where photos were not foremost on my mind 🙂 

Once you remove the old cane, be sure the channel / groove is clean so the cane and new spline can be inserted. 

I purchased both the sheet of pre-woven cane material and the spline at Lee Valley Tools, which, luckily for me is a 10 minute drive from my home.  You can also order it online here.  (Note:  I have no affiliation with Lee Valley Tools.  They are just a great store!)

Before you begin,  the caning and the spline both need to soak in water for a few hours or in my case,  if you get busy, a day or two!  Regardless, it needs to be soft and pliable.

I began by testing that the spline will easily go into the groove and cut the spline to size with an additional 1/2 inch.  In my first attempt at replacing a cane seat, I cut the spline about 1/4 inch too short and I was very annoyed to see the tiny gap.

IMG_0083

Measuring the spline. Add a bit extra and cut the excess once inserted

Once you are ready to work, cut the caned sheet roughly the size of the opening with a good 1.5 t0 2 inch border all around.

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Lay the caning sheet in place, centered.  Begin on the straight sections of the groove and insert the caning into the groove.

THIS IS WHERE WE CAN GET CREATIVE!   There are tools for this.  But I used what I could find at home.  For one project, I used a metal spatula to push the cane into the groove.

For this chair, I happened to have a pack of SHIMS on hand and they definitely fit the bill.  I simply cut the thin ends off to the appropriate width and tapped them in with a hammer.

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Cut the shims to an appropriate with and tapped them into the groove.

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I worked around the opening, making sure the cane was taunt

(BTW:  that hammer was my dad’s and it’s over 70 years old!)

Once you have pushed the cane material securely into the groove, you need to cut away the excess, just below the top of the groove.  This is a daunting step.  You need a VERY SHARP exacto blade or box cutter.  The caning can begin to unravel a bit so it is important to get a nice clean cut.  Try very hard to make sure the cut is just below the top.  The few stragglers still sticking up can be trimmed later.

IMG_0097

Cut the excess cane away, just below the outer lip of the groove.

Now it is time to insert the spline.  Use a wood or all purpose glue, one that dries clear and run a generous bead inside the groove, on top of the cane.

Then begin to insert the spline.  Start at the centre of the back and work your way around.

IMG_0098

Insert the spline, starting at the centre of the back of the opening.

I wrapped a rag around the hammer so I would not damage the wood when I tapped in the spline.

Once you reach the beginning, cut the spline to the correct size.   Be sure to tap all around to ensure the spline is well inserted and then let the glue dry!

That’s it!

IMG_0102

Not counting the terrible time I had removing the old cane seat, I think this job took me just over an hour to complete!

From what I have read, cane is meant be left natural and colour with age.  However, it can be stained but only on the top.  It needs to breathe.  I am thinking of staining this seat since the chair is so dark. 

What do you think:  stain or leave au natural?

Have you ever replaced a cane seat?

If you try it, let me know how it goes for you. 

Why cover the damaged seat with wood when replacing the caning is so easy!

I think this chair is definitely Nicer Than New!

Joan

 

Apr 062014
 

Some pieces are just not meant to be painted.  Or are they?  There are occasions when I  paint a piece of furniture and post it on this blog and someone will comment that I “ruined” the piece.   I too am guilty of this thought.  Just recently, I saw a very unique mid century console on Craigslist where the shop had “ruined” the piece with an ugly shade of brown paint and was still asking an very high, typical MCM price.  Regardless, HEY! it’s furniture and the owner can do as they please.  Life’s too short to worry about someone else’s furniture.

Back in October, before winter hit us hard, I shared with you a lovely rocking chair I had acquired.  It came to me with a damaged cane seat but everything else was in amazing original condition.  There was evidence of a repair on one leg and it was obviously old but very well made and still VERY sturdy.  Not a wobble to be found.  Upon examination, I found a very faded label indicating the chair was manufactured by Heywood Brothers, a prestigious, prominent furniture manufacturer in the US.  A bit of internet research indicated the Baltimore plant operated  from 1897 to 1921 so I believe this chair is a true 100 year old “antique”.

However, it was really dark and dated.  I really like to paint things to bring them to life.  I started out really wanting to paint it but I just could not.  Somehow, it seemed like an easy way out! 

I posted a blog post asking  readers what to do and it was pretty unanimous that I should leave it in original state and get an estimate.  So I did.  The assessment said, if I kept it in an original condition, with a new cane seat, it should sell for $200 to $400 in a good market!  WOW!

I have replaced  cane seats before so that did not faze me.  I began removing the old cane and it was not easy!  I had to resort to nail polish remover to break up the glue which sadly disfigured the wood around the opening. 

Last week, I FINALLY got around to finishing it up.  Before tackling the cane seat, I did some light sanding and stained areas that were worn and needed to be stained.  Then coated the piece with varathane.  In the end, the transformation was way easier than I anticipated and the result is beautiful…

BEFORE
Heywood03

Isn't she beautiful?

Isn’t she beautiful?

Heywood06

AFTER

IMG_0104

I love the richness of the wood finish.

IMG_0103

The pressback design is gorgeous!

IMG_0102

New cane seat

IMG_0099

I feel as if this is how it looked 100 years ago!

I would like to stain the caning but most articles suggest leaving it natural. 
I will let the new owner decide… IF I sell it LOL!

Do you love it! 

What was I thinking when I wanted to paint it!??! 

Yes it may not be to many people’s taste but there is beauty in keeping it original!

 

I still love to paint furniture giving it NEW LIFE  but perhaps sometimes we should consider giving it its OLD LIFE back again!

 

Have you ever changed your mind after being determined to paint something?
Or have you regretted painting something and wished you have restored it instead? 
I’d love to hear from you!

 

This piece gives me goosebumps, as if I “SAVED” it somehow
so it can continue to live a long life! 

 

Is this piece NICER THAN NEW? 
DEFINITELY!

 

Joan

Mar 242014
 

Okay.  I love this table.  It is in my living room. I have had it listed FOREVER! on Furnishly, Kijiji and Craigslist.  But no takers!  It is listed for $65 .  It is the most solidest table ever.  Did I say I love it?  BUT it has NOT SOLD!!! 

Paris step table

Paris step table

Tres Belle table!

Tres Belle table!

Paris step table

Distressing on top shelf

STEP TABLE

So I ask myself:

  1. Is Toronto not interested in “Shabby Chic”  ” Midcentury” or what???
  2. Is the price not good?  PPPPLLLLEEEEEASE!  No Chinese made table even comes close to this baby!
  3. Is it my workmanship???  I truly hope not!
  4. Is it just meant to stay with me!  Adorn my living room with it’s loveliness and it’s tribute to my love of Paris?
  5. Ohhhhh… Maybe Toronto buyers HATE Paris?  It could be!  We often have an issue with anything French! LOL

Talk to me!  I need to know.  Was my refinish choice POOR?  No feelings will be hurt. 

OR was the timing wrong or my design sense out to lunch??

I really thought it was

Nicer Than New

HELP ME!

Mar 202014
 

Monday, while walking my big doofus of a dog, I saw this table curbside.  It had an interesting top but was in BAD shape!  The base was broken and it was really beat up with nicks and gouges.  Tuesday is trash day so I walked home figuring it would be gone by tomorrow.

IMG_0021

Nice top but beat up and damaged.

All day Tuesday, I thought about that table.  However, my daughter had taken my truck to a school function and I could not go and pick it up  even if it was still there! 

Along comes Wednesday morning and my time to walk the dog.  Lo and behold, it is still there.   Toronto garbage pick-up is very particular (read: “union”) and this table was not “tagged” nor was it at a true garbage pickup spot.  Regardless,  I took a closer look….

“Hmmmm… Big round table top and 4 nice legs…..” 

“Hmmm FREE.”  Shall I repeat “FREE!!” 

My DIY persona got the best of me!

Yes of course I took it home and dismantled it! 
The drawers were also there but rather useless without a solid frame.

Dismantling took about 20 minutes

IMG_0024

Thank goodness for my drill, allen keys and crow bar!

This is want I am keeping.

IMG_0026

The top and the legs. I am sure the curved bits could be useful but I just have TOO much stuff!

I do have a plan for the top and I am thinking the legs could be used to build an upholstered bench!

Stay tuned!  It may take me a while but these lovelies will make an appearance in the near (or far) future and I am sure they will be

Nicer Than New!

Would you pass by this broken, cruddy table?  Or are you a true “curbside rescuer”
or “dumpster diva” like me??

I would LOVE to hear from you and your tales of random finds on the side of the street!!

Joan

Mar 162014
 

Earlier this week, I shared my “Clamping Adventure” where I used elastic bands to clamp the legs for a tri-legged pedestal table.  As silly as it sounds, it worked! IMG_1593   IMG_1604

I didn’t really have a plan for the tables until last week. While drooling over items on the Joss and Main website, I spotted this cute table and thought AHA!

Jessa+Side+Table

Jessa Side Table Regular Price $152
source

My little pedestal tables would look amazing in ALUMINUM!

I also found this steel table at Overstock

Bailey from Overstock 72

Bailey Table
$110
source

If you follow me, you may recall last December, I experimented with brush on metallic paint on a mirror frame.  I used a rust inhibitor paint in an aluminum  shade and I still had 3/4 of a can left.

Rust Paint in Aluminum

Rust Paint in Aluminum

One coat was all that was needed!

One coat was all that was needed!

I have been waiting for a project to come along so I could try this paint again!

To prepare the tables, the tops needed to be smoothed out.  The finish was bubbling and peeling so I used a stripper on the tops and then gave the tops a good sanding.  For the base, I did some light sanding and applied a de-glosser.

This paint is very thin compared to latex and a little bit of this paint goes a long way!  For the mirror, it went on so smooth, covered well and left no brush strokes but that piece was carved.

However, unlike the mirror frame, the surfaces of the table are smooth.  I found the paint ran easily on the vertical surfaces so I applied a very light coat.  Surprising it still covered well.

After First Coat
IMG_1621    IMG_1622

For the next coat, I developed a technique where I brushed the paint on with one sponge brush and then dry brushed over the paint with another sponge brush.  This really helped to smooth the finish and pick up any extra paint before it dripped.  I ended up doing 3 coats.

The final result was gorgeous!  However, I did note the pieces needed a topcoat because the finish was easily scuffed. 

IMG_0010

This was taken before the topcoat and shows the light scuffs.

The final results are AMAZING!!!

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IMG_0006

Soft and subtle finish

IMG_0014

The wood grain is still slightly visible.

IMG_0012

IMG_0009

The pedestal detail pops

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IMG_1593

BEFORE

IMG_0007

AFTER

Have you used metallic paint on wood?  Was it successful? 

I’d love to hear about your experience or your feedback on my little project.

To recap,  I had the glue, paint and topcoat products and the tables were $20 each! 

Lovely and unique tables for $40!

And So Much Nicer Than New

 Joan

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