Category: Crafty Projects

These posts deal with crafty projects I do. I like to make gifts as often as possible and I have come up with a lot of easy, cheap ways to create personalized items. I also love to decorate, and often make things for my house such as wall hangings, furniture, and re purposed items.

Adventures in Cabinet Refinishing a.k.a Making it Work is Cheaper than Moving


Over the past 7 and a half years since we moved into our historic Atlanta bungalow our family has expanded, but the walls of our house have not. With each passing year, and addition of more stuff and tiny humans, I feel our 1400 square foot house getting smaller and smaller. Now with baby number two on the way, we are having to get creative with our storage.

Over the summer I finally hit a wall with our kitchen. I realized that I needed space for Cooper’s toddler food items as well as baby girl’s (coming end of November, yikes!) baby feeding items. You would think such tiny humans wouldn’t require much space, but it took a great deal of reorganizing and purging just to clear a single shelf to accommodate Cooper. Plus I was sick of dishes, pots and pans spilling out of my cabinets every time I opened a door. In addition to the cabinet space issue, the overflow from our pantry to the top of our refrigerator had also found it’s way to the top of our cabinets making our kitchen look like a complete mess even at it’s most picked up.

I was over it. Something needed to change and Nick and I decided moving was too much. This kitchen is my reality for the foreseeable future, it was time to make it work.

So my wheels started turning. There was enough space at the top of our current cabinets to fit another row of cabinets to give us more storage space. I began researching our brand of cabinets and my options. I quickly discovered that even cheap, laminate cabinets are pricey and they didn’t make the size I was looking for. I started on plan B, what creative way could I add space? I thought about building something custom, with stain glass window doors, and all kinds of fancy things. But the reality was all the fancy things came with fancy thing price tags and it was going to be difficult to match the stain of our cabinets, which I was not a fan of anyway.

Plan C: I began researching all styles and finishes of cabinets. If I could find something cheap, I could bite the bullet and commit to fully repainting our cabinets. This plan started to develop into reality when I discovered the perfect height and unfinished cabinets, for a cheap price tag, at Home Depot (check out what I found here). The width of the cabinets was limited to two sizes, which meant they wouldn’t perfectly line up with our current cabinets, but I thought I could make it work regardless.

Next, I began researching how to refinish laminate cabinets and realized it was a lot less overwhelming than I thought. I knew it would be a time consuming project, but it was summer vacation, and I was ready. I used Bob Villa’s tips on cabinet refinishing as my guide, check it out here.

As soon as I had my strategy worked out, I was ready to immediately get supplies and get started. For this project I needed:

  • A screwdriver, to remove the cabinet doors and all hardware from the cabinets
  • Rags, gloves, and a product called TSP to heavy duty clean the sticky, kitchen dust and grim that had accumulated on my cabinets. Gloves with TSP is a must, it’s a not very environmentally or human friendly product, but I tried to be very responsible while I used it and it seriously got the job done. I purchased heavy duty gloves for this.
  • A power sander and 120 grit sandpaper to rough up the surface of the cabinets. I pity the person who attempts to do this project without a power sander, my arms don’t need to see that kind of action. Bob Villa recommended 120 grit to rough up the surface without damaging the laminate surface.
  • An angled paintbrush plus foam cabinet rollers. The cabinet rollers were cheap, cheap, cheap. I went through 1 and 1/2 packages (each packaged had 4 rollers) for my project, they tore up very quickly, but they were so worth it. The rounded end allows you to press paint into all the nooks and crannies and the finished surface was very smooth. My hubs, who is full of constructive criticism, even commented on how nice the finish looked.
  • The paint department employee told me to purchase a primer that specifically said “bonding” on the front to ensure the paint stuck to the laminate surface. I doubled down and bought a primer/paint combo for my top coat, although I still had to paint 4-5 coats to get a solid look. I went with a bright white for my cabinets.

I hit a moment very early on when I felt overwhelmed and questioned what I was doing. Simply seeing the amount of junk we have in our cabinets piled all over our kitchen, with a 2 year old trying to get into everything, was enough to make me want to quit. But, the mess is worth it, I promise. I moved all my drawers and cabinet doors to our deck to clean, sand, and paint them. For everything else, I had to leave windows and doors open, to ensure I had good airflow, and clean, sand, and paint in my kitchen. The TSP did the trick, but it did discolor the wood as soon as it touched it. That was the point of no return.

After cleaning everything with TSP and allowing it to dry, I sanded everything down. I went over it enough to feel a slight texture when I ran my hand across the wood. I then wiped everything down with a damp rag to make sure no sawdust was left behind. Over the course of the next two days I felt like I was in a constant loop. I would put a coat on the front of all drawers and doors, move inside and put a coat of paint on all the hanging cabinets. By the time I made it back outside, the paint was dry to the touch, I flipped everything over, and painted the backs and interiors of the doors and drawers. I went back inside and continued the cycle.

I was wishfully hoping for a single coat of primer and a single coat of paint to complete the job. In reality it took a layer of primer, two layers of paint, and two more quick layers of paint. Once everything was dry and re-installed, I continued to touch up any spots I could see.

Once all the cabinets were painted, I had hubby help me place the new cabinets on top of the original ones. We removed the molding from the top of the original cabinets, and calked the seam. We then reinstalled the molding along the top of the new cabinets. The cabinets were secured by screwing the backs into studs in the wall.

This process also allowed me to clean the inside of my cabinets, put liners on every shelf, and reorganize everything. It felt great to move back in and donate a 1/3 of the items we were previously storing in our tiny space.

Although the lighting is terrible in this picture, I felt it really showed the additional storage space we were able to achieve. We may not have a brand new, top of the line, modern kitchen, but it aligns much better with my aesthetic and storage needs.

It’s amazing how much brighter our kitchen feels with the white cabinets. We already get a lot of light in there, especially in the morning, but something about the white makes it feel more airy and larger.

I no longer have to stare at piles of dry food and Costco size oil, plastic wrap, and dog treats on top of my refrigerator and cabinets. I love the clean look.

In addition to refinishing the cabinets, I also decided to ditch my old stainless steel knobs for something a little more artsy. I cleaned out Anthropologie’s sale knobs during one of their additional 30% of sale item deals, and ended up with an assortment of knobs. While they are all different, there is some reasoning to it. All the cabinet doors have clear glass knobs, some with hints of white, silver, and different shapes. All of the drawer knobs are a round, ceramic design with gold, silver, and white patterns. I love that not everything matches.

It didn’t take long for my perfectly clean and organized kitchen to start resembling it’s old self with stains, drying dishes, and clutter. But, overall we have maintained the organization and nothing has found it’s way back to the top of the fridge or cabinets. At this point, we are back to full capacity in our kitchen, it’s organized, but there is no extra space. And of course, as it is with all projects, as soon as you fix one thing another issue becomes apparent. Now I realize how much I hate our kitchen tile, not only because of all the cracks and holes that have developed over the years, but also because hardwood would look so much nicer next to my white cabinets.

Perhaps the next step will be the home expansion I have been dreaming about for the last couple of years.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help me spread the word about DIY, craft projects, and all things art by sharing on your social media site of choice. Help me fundraise for my home renovation by checking out my TPT store here and my Etsy shop here.


 

DIY Craft Project: Dining Room Table Repaint

I have always wanted a bench, farmhouse style table, and years back I got my wish. My Uncle’s Mom had one they needed to find a new home for while prepping their house to sell. I immediately jumped on it, and brought it home to complete our dining room. Although the finish was darker than what I planned, it worked well in our small, and very bright dining room. However, once little man Cooper came in the picture, things began to change.

As Cooper hit his milestones, smiling, laughing, sitting up, crawling, and walking, our house felt smaller and smaller. His toys began taking over our small living room and I began brainstorming some alternatives. I eventually decided it was time to say goodbye to our sweet dining room. We rarely ate in there, only when we entertained guests, and it wasn’t the best use of the space. It has since been transformed into Cooper’s playroom. It was the perfect solution. It’s situated right off our living room, and we can easily gate the doorway, to keep him in and dogs out. It was tight as a dining room, it was converted form a porch to a room years before we purchased the house, but it’s the perfect size for an almost two year old and his things.

The loss of the dining room meant I had to move around and store some of my beloved furniture. If you read my blog, you know I collect pieces of furniture like people collect jewelry. Each piece is special, important, and carefully selected. My beautiful, white, round kitchen table is now living in our attic. Hopefully that is a temporary spot, once I have a studio space or larger kitchen it will come back out to the light of day. Our farmhouse table was moved to take the spot my kitchen table used to occupy. I decided this was the better choice, since this offered more seating. The dining table is slightly large for the space, it must be pulled out if we ever have enough people to seat around it. But, it gives us a place to entertain and eventually have family dinners.

The dark wood that once worked in the dining room suddenly felt very outdated and heavy in our little kitchen nook. I decided I needed to take a risk and try painting it, shockingly something I have never done on a larger piece of furniture. I did some research, collected my supplies, and got to work.

SUPPLIES:

  • Furniture to refinish
  • Heavy duty cleaner like Trisodium Phosphate (or decent cleaner)
  • Chalk paint, for this size project I used 2 quarts of paint.
  • Paint brushes
  • Rollers
  • Paint tray
  • A lot of paper towels or rags
  • Drop cloth
  • Sandpaper

HOW TO:

Step one: I live with hairy animals, so I knew this was a project that couldn’t be completed in my house. I moved the table and benches down to our garage. I laid out a big drop cloth, set everything on top and got to work cleaning.

Step two: Thoroughly clean the furniture. I recently refinished my kitchen cabinets and used the cleaner, Trisodium Phosphate. It’s a harsh chemical that is not environmentally friendly or health friendly, but it does the trick. I decided it’s better to use it for these types of projects since I am doing it on such a small scale and so infrequently. I didn’t use it for my table, and I wish I had. Instead I used my standard cleaners and did my best cleaning the dust, etc. It worked well enough, but there are spots I think the paint would have stuck better if I was more thorough at this stage.

Step three: Start painting! With chalkboard paint there is no sanding or stripping required, which is why I chose to go that route. Paint a solid coat, let it dry for 24 hours, and add coat number two. This project took awhile because I was covering such a dark piece it took 3 coats of paint. I also had to rotate the piece so I could get underneath and between all the decorative sections.

Step four: Once you have the coverage and look you want, you are done! Move it back into the space and enjoy. For this, my step four was adding a clear coat. I wanted a smoother, slicker finish, which the chalkboard paint doesn’t offer. However, the clear coat I used ended up turning a yellowish color so I do not recommend doing this.

Optional step five: I opted to go back in with sandpaper to rough up some of the edges. I didn’t go crazy with sanding, since the wood beneath is so dark I was worried it would compete with the white if I let too much show through. I hit the edges in a few spots with the sandpaper, just enough to show a little dark through the white paint. I also had to sand down the many drips I ended up with.

I am very happy with my finished product. The fact that the table really is too large for the space is downplayed now that the table is a lighter color. I also love the way my beautiful, blue Crate and Barrel chairs look with the white finish. Please excuse the missing chair, it also has to serve the purpose of high chair holder for Cooper when we don’t have guests over, and I didn’t even realize it wasn’t there for my final picture.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help me spread the word about crafting, DIY, art making, etc. by sharing on your social media site of choice. Thanks for stopping by!


 

Joining the Art and Craft Fair Circuit

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After a two years of collecting parts I finally have my outdoor booth set up ready to go. It’s officially June, and I have two outdoor fests under my belt with one more before the month closes out.

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Atlanta is not shy when it comes to hosting festivals, the latest addition is the Mac n’ Cheese fest, often with multiple festivals per weekend come spring and fall. This makes weekend planning difficult, but it allows me to have a variety of options when choosing which festivals to apply to and participate in.

Chastain Park Arts Festival was my introduction into the outdoor festival circuit. The weekend couldn’t have brought more perfect weather. It was low eighties, a light breeze, and a good continuous crowd. I was pleased with my profit earnings and the connections I made in the Atlanta art community.

Joining the festival circuit doesn’t just mean I have another venue to sell my art. It also means I get plugged into the art community. I have a much greater opportunity to meet likeminded and goal oriented people. I have the chance to build relationships, learn more about my craft, and be inspired by others. I love feeling like I am finally part of the community I have observed from the outside in for so many years.

Virginia Highlands Summerfest came next with an even better weekend, better foot traffic, much hotter days and a lesson in rain. I learned to place my oil paintings at the front of my booth, to save my encaustics from the direct sunlight (and potential melting) that inevitably pours in. I learned that if there is a chance of rain everything that sits on the ground should be placed on a raised surface. The later was a difficult lesson to learn when I opened my tent the next morning to deep puddles and a bag of ruined mats and prints.

Next up is Old Fourth Ward Park Arts Festival in just a week and a half. In between spending time with my family on Hilton Head Island, I am ordering new mats and prints, gluing paper to panels, and painting a new batch of fruit and veggies. I can’t wait to see what comes from this next festival and the break afterwards until my schedule fills up for the fall. Check out more about my new oil paintings below!

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When I first set up my booth to take pictures I realized my encaustics could melt if it was warm enough outside and they were in direct sunlight. I began to panic. After all I had just invested a lot of money for my set up. What would I do if I couldn’t display my product outside?

Version 2While teaching an idea hit me. My students had just started oil paint studies of food. I was itching to paint with oils on canvas again and started my own so I could work along with my kids. I loved getting back to the basics of just paint and I was pleased with the way my bell pepper and pomegranate turned out. I wanted to do more.

After thinking about it I decided these would be the perfect solution to my encaustic melting problem. If I moved around my artwork based on where the sun was hitting I could keep my encaustic out of the sun by displaying my oils in the sun.

Since my bell pepper and pomegranate studies I have completed blueberries, eggs, a cabbage, orange, cauliflower, garlic, mussel, oyster, and I am finishing up a kiwi, tomato, onion, and papaya. Each of these food studies are 6″x6.” I start with an underpainting, typically choosing the complementary color of the food I am painting for the background.

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After allowing the underpainting to dry I mark out the shape of the food and add some detail before applying my first layer of white to the background.

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I like to leave hints of the underpainting peeking through. Whether it’s along the edge of a bowl or in between eggs, I think it adds another interesting detail to the piece.

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I also pushed myself to loosen up my painting style by trying out palette knife painting. I started with portraits of my chickens Rachel, Thackary Binx, Sir Sylvia, and Linda. I loved the texture and the sense of movement the palette knife marks made.

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I decided to go even bigger than the 12×12 chicken portraits and I completed a 32″x32″ positive/negative space painting of the Crescent City Connection bridge in New Orleans.

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I will post additional information about my upcoming festival, Old Fourth Ward Park Arts Festival, next week.

With sweet Cooper, my 13 new chicks, finishing up teaching for the year, and prepping for four festivals, I have had little time to update my blog. I hope to get back to posting weekly this summer. I look forward to keeping in touch. Thanks for stopping by!


 

 

Craft Project: Baby Monthly Update Sign DIY

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Time goes by faster and faster the older I get. Now that I have a little boy it seems like time has hit warp speed.

Cooper is literally growing up before my eyes. By the time I wrap my brain around the fact that he is making a new cooing noise he is suddenly laughing, smiling, and wiggling more than ever. I can’t believe in a few short months he will be sitting up, crawling, and on the verge of walking and talking.

The time warp of motherhood has also overlapped into my projects. My spare time has greatly decreased and my productivity has gone down with it. I had no idea the amount of time this little guy would need. His unpredictable nap schedule was the only chance I had to work on my crafts, which is why this particular one is three months late. Better late than never, right? This is my new mantra.

While I was pregnant I began looking for the monthly stickers to use when photographing Cooper for his monthly pictures and update. Over the years I saw these stickers increase in popularity, and eventually they were clogging my Facebook wall and Instagram account. When it came time for me to select my own, I was over it. I had seen it too many times, I wanted something different. In my hormonal fog, pregnant state of mind I decided I would have plenty of time to put together a handmade sign to use for the photographs after Cooper made his entrance into the world.

Oscar

Once Coop arrived my time was gone. If I wasn’t feeding him or rocking him to sleep, I was half asleep trying to guess when he would wake up next and whether or not I had the energy to pick myself off the sofa and feed myself. This sequence would end with me ultimately deciding it was too much work to stand, I was more tired than hungry and the sofa was too comfortable to move. If I was too tired to eat, there was no way I was going to put time or effort into a craft project.

Once things began to settle down, and Cooper began to fall into a more predictable schedule, I started to feel like myself again. I was ready to do something other than binge watch TV. I started planning out his sign.

I had no idea what I wanted to create for his monthly updates. Everything I came up with I had seen before. I kept putting it off and putting it off out of lack of inspiration and time. One day while perusing Facebook I saw one of my friend’s post a one month picture of her sweet son, Oscar. Next to him was a beautiful sign with his name on it, made out of a tree trunk round. On the back she put chalkboard paint to allow her to change information about him has he grows. I was immediately inspired, and highly motivated. Coop’s three month birthday was on the horizon, and I was dead set on at least getting pictures for his 3, 6, 9, and 12 month birthdays.

Supplies

For this project you will need a wood round, sander, paint (the colors are up to you!), chalkboard paint, paintbrushes, chalk, and a sharpie (not listed and optional).  At the time my husband just happened to have three trees taken down on our property and he was hard at work chopping them up. I had him cut me a few rounds, approximately 1 inch thick. It took another week to start my project once I had my rounds cut, and when I finally set up to start I realized the rounds had cracked. I assume this happened because it was fresh wood. I chose the least damaged one and get to work.

Step 1 and 2

The surface of my round was pretty rough because of the way it was cut, so my step 1 was taking a power sander to it. I never got it as smooth as I would have liked, the chalk goes down a little rough, but I made it work.

Next, I painted the chalkboard paint on one side. I used the natural pattern of the rings as a guide for the edge of my shape, and I chose to leave a natural wood border around the edge. I applied two coats of the chalkboard paint, allowing it to dry in between layers.

Step 3

After the chalkboard paint dried I flipped the wood round over, and painted the back with a turquoise color. I wanted it to match his room, so I used leftover wall paint from painting the walls. Again, I used the natural ring pattern to create the edge of the shape and left a natural wood border.

Step 4

Using a pencil I lightly wrote out his name in cursive. If you are not confident in your lettering ability, all you have to do is print out typed letters and trace them onto the surface.

Step 5

I used a thin paintbrush and white acrylic paint to paint his name and outline the turquoise shape. It took a few coats to get the white solid enough to pop out against the background color.

Step 6

Initially I planned to outline everything in black acrylic paint, but the details were too small to easily add them using a paintbrush. I instead opted for a black sharpie, and it worked perfectly. Because I was able to control the application of the sharpie more than paint, I was able to clean up the edges of his name and add small details to the border.

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I used chalk to write “3 months” on the chalkboard for his first monthly photo shoot. I set up a white blanket over an arm chair and placed it near our backdoor where sunlight was coming in. I frantically shot picture after picture in between sticking a pacifier in his mouth, dancing around like a crazy person, and making odd sounds to keep him entertained.

Cooper 3 Months

I laid the blanket on the floor for a few of the pictures to allow him to move around more. I love that as he grows he will be able to start holding the sign by himself. I can’t wait to look at how the pictures transition with him growing and the wood sign staying the same size.

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Of course not every picture will be perfect, but I love this one just as much as the rest.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Keep checking back for more Cooper updates and hopefully more craft project how tos, as long as Coop and time allows. Help me spread the word about my blog by sharing on your social network site of choice. Thanks for stopping by!


 

Christmas Craft: Baby’s First Ornament

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November 12th, 2015 my sweet baby boy was born. Between the visitors, nurses, doctors, and mentally processing my new baby and title as mom, I barely remember our hospital stay. I do remember the excitement of packing up our things, trying to figure out how to put Cooper in his carseat the first time, and the mounting anxiety as we got closer to home. I walked in the door, sat down, looked at Nick and my creation, and felt terrified. We had a tiny human to look after.

Four and a half weeks later I still feel moments of terror thinking about the responsibility we took on. However, the fear is now mixed in with laughter, excitement for each new day and new thing he does, and unconditional love for this little man.

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Once things began settling down Nick and I realized Christmas was just around the corner. Coop’s first big outing was to our local Lowe’s to pick out our Christmas tree. The next few days were spent unpacking Christmas boxes and transforming our house into our own Christmas wonderland.

As I set out the stockings I came to the sudden realization that this was Cooper’s first Christmas and he needed Christmas things. He needed presents, a stocking, and of course, baby’s first ornament. I immediately went to my favorite shopping website, Etsy, to see what I could find.

After much research I fell in love with a polar bear stocking, handmade in Ireland, from Santa’s Sock Central. Despite being December already, the stocking was shipped out quickly and arrived in plenty of time. My first item was checked off the list.

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Next, I began the hunt for the perfect ornament. I searched through page after page on Etsy and found nothing that peaked my interest. I felt the majority of the ornaments aired on the side of cheesy. I wanted something sentimental, traditional, and interesting. I wanted an ornament Cooper would gladly take and put on his own tree one day.

After coming up empty handed I decided it was time for another craft project. I would find a way to personalize an ornament for him. I ended up finding a beautiful hand blown glass ornament from Grow Gallery, and knew it would make the perfect base. I decided to use glass paint to put Cooper’s handprint and his birth date on the ornament. It would be quick, easy, and exactly what I was looking for.

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To personalize the ornament all I needed was the ornament, glass paint (non-toxic), a paint brush, and paper towels for clean up.

We waited until Cooper was good and tired until Nick and I attempted the first hand print. We quickly painted his hand and tried to immediately press it to the ornament. However, as soon as the paint hit his hand, his little fingers curl into a fist that was difficult to uncurl. By the time we had his hand flat the paint was smeared on everything. By the time his hand made contact with the ornament half the paint had dried. It was a complete failure.

Three attempts later I decided the hand was too much, a footprint would have to do. Once again I waited until he was fast asleep and carefully pulled his foot from his onsie footie.

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At every stretch, groan, and deep breath I froze for a moment, hoping he wouldn’t wake up. Next, I applied the paint, and held my breath as I waited for him to wake from his slumber.

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Surprisingly, he stayed fast asleep through the foot painting, and didn’t wake up until his foot made contact with the ornament. The first try I got a clean print that only needed light cleaning up around the edges. I used a thinner paintbrush to add his birth date under this heel.

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After air drying for four days I baked the ornament in the oven for 20 minutes at 325 degrees to set the paint. I love the end product and how personal it is. Once I gave up on the hand print and opted for the “mistletoes” print, the printing process only took a few minutes from start to finish.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help me spread the word about my arts and crafts by sharing with others. I couldn’t do it without you! Merry Christmas, happy holidays!