I recently picked up a few houseplants from here and there.
This is a Blue Star Fern, which I bought at the o-so-lovely Flora Grubb. It likes shade when outside but a bright light indoors. Right now it is by a north facing window on the piano. We shall see if it gets enough light there.  

I am still so in love with that salvaged piano btw but not so much with my curtains right now. I have cleverly rolled them back for this photo. In reality, they have been absolutely destroyed by the kitten, like shredded. Not sure yet if I can salvage these with an edge or if I should start over with new fabric (and recycle the interfacing and lining). But I digress....

I hate that red lampshade. Note to self: I need to cover that in black wool. 

These randoms I picked up at Trader Joe's (the orchid) and my hardware store. The mangy Maidenhair fern was living outside and is actually much happier here in the entrance hall, all that growth is new. It is possible that this is one of these ferns from way back when. It is still too small for its pot but it'll fill in over time.

The wall piece is something I made recently. It is part of the same study of dyed, waxed canvas collaging that I've been focusing on of late, and touched on briefly in this post about Kit's room.

I'm undecided on the pot and water catch randomness here. I don't usually go for matchy matchy but this might look better with some uniformity. 



Paint Prep

The past few days and over the weekend I have been doing some paint prep.
There is a little hallway that leads to the boys' bedrooms, their bath and the laundry room where the trim and walls have been really showing some wear and tear. It's kind of nasty and it's been bugging me.

There are five doorways in this little hall each of which is pretty dinged up (mostly at the bottom), presumably from a vacuum cleaner. 

Also, the doorway to Ethan's room was very badly damaged from a hanging key that obviously got repeatedly caught in the jamb.

So I've been going at this with a razor blade and a sanding block and filling in nicks and such as much as possible. I'm sort of finding that some of the paint adherence on the jambs is as bad here as it was in the boys bath but, inexplicably other spots are much better.  

At any rate, I think I'm almost ready to prime and paint the walls and trim now. I've scraped, filled, sanded and degreased everything. I just need to tape the floor and then I can get started. I'm painting everything the same color -Benjamin Moore OC-117.




Last night I made a doodad for my son Ethan, just for fun.
I define doodad as something that is interesting to look at, hopefully holding some sentimental value because it is handmade but having no specific function or purpose. 

I used 5/8" cotton piping, which I wrapped in basic Gutermann polyester thread. After wrapping both colors, I hand sewed the two ends together with thicker button thread.

I found the fastest way to wrap this was to stabilize the thread between my fingers in one hand and to spin the cord with the other.

I might like to try this using the thicker thread for the entire object and to make a circle while still maintaining the frayed ends. I like the way this guy looks placed on a table but it could also hang from a doorknob or from a cabinet key like this pom pom I made a while back.


Kitty Ramp

About five months ago we got a kitten.

Within a month or so of living with us, he became pretty desperate to go outside. Whenever someone opened the back door to go to the yard, he made a mad dash for the door. Now that he's old enough to go out and has had all his immunizations, we built him a little ramp out of our upstairs window so he can come and go as he pleases.

It's a little plank of cedar panelling onto which we stapled some balsa wood grips. It's attached to the bougainvillea at the window and wedged into the thuja tree. He walks out to the tree and then scrambles down to the yard.

He heads out for some playtime during the day between naps and always stays inside at night and to our glee has given up his litter box entirely.



A New Bed for Kit

It's been about 6 weeks since we bought a new bed for Kit. He had inherited his old bed -a single, from Ethan. The old bed had a hardwood head and footboard, but the rails were composite and the attaching mechanism had stripped loose (an unfixable problem), so the whole bed racked back and forth. That bed only lasted 15 years, which is really lame and I guess the argument for always buying furniture made from solid materials.

Anyhoo, the new bed is a full size, platform style, solid wood frame from Urban Outfitters. I bought a new mattress for Ethan (Casper -so convenient but a tad soft IMO) and used his old one for Kit. Let me tell you, this new bed has been such a great purchase. 

You see, we still read to Kit in bed every night. I hadn't realized how uncomfortable it was for two people to squeeze into a single bed until we got this full, which feels so roomy in comparison. It is so nice to read in bed with him now.

The new bed necessitated new bedding and inspired some other changes in his room which I will post about at another time. I got the botanical bedding at Ikea (29$ for duvet cover and pillow cases!) and this weekend I finally made the euro squares that I talked about here. I banged those out in about 2 or 3 hours, they are identical to the ones I made for my bedroom -no flange and an invisible dress zipper to close.

The last and most exciting thing (for me) about this new bed scenario is the wall hanging that I made for the head of the bed. 

It's made from canvas that I first dyed and then stitched together. Obviously the color and pattern came from this painted wall, which I adore. I coated the entire thing in wax after I was done. I have been devoting a lot of my time to making several of these lately and will dedicate a separate post to my inspiration and process as soon as I feel that I have a coherent story to tell.
If you have been reading this blog for a while, you might notice that the pretty blue rug in this room is gone. This post, from just over a year ago, shows that and the old bed. How I wish we still had that rug in here but for reasons I cannot even begin to fathom and won't mention for privacy's sake (it's fun to have fun but you have to know how) that rug has gone to rug heaven in the sky (the dump). 


Knitting for Zen

I recently took up knitting. I used to be a knitter way back in the day. I'm not sure why I gave it up, but it was most likely because I was working in antique restoration and woodworking all day, which provided plenty of busy hands and silent contemplation. 

You see, for a while, I've have been thinking that I should try meditation. Not that I'm a head case or anything, but I've seen umpteen articles about the benefits of meditation for general well being and productivity, and who can't use a little of that? Problem was, I never got around to it, it just seemed like such a monumental thing to start doing.

Then I saw this article by Jane Brody in the New York Times about the benefits of knitting. Now this I could do. 
I am making myself a hat. I bought my yarn and got the pattern from Soho Purl. I'll admit that casting on 160 untwisted stitches onto a size 3 circular needle was aggravating as shit, but after that it's been pure zen. I absolutely love it and knit whenever I am feeling stressed or basically whenever I can steal a few minutes to knock off a few rounds.
Knitting has also given me a much healthier replacement to Candy Crush, which I was using as a mental distractor in the moments that I am now knitting. Not to trash the thrill that all those dropping candies and sounds can have, but Candy Crush is hardly the gateway to total consciousness (I say this with a large dose of sarcasm) and has pretty similar effects on the brain as slot machines, which kind of bums me out. 


How to Dress up Your Art with Simple Wooden Frames

I recently spent some time adding simple wooden frames to some artwork I've made. 
This ink drawing is quite old (I made this almost 20 years ago). It is made on a piece of plywood that has many layers of ground on it, which makes the surface act a lot like paper. 

It occurred to me recently, while looking at a bunch of mid-centry art, that I like the simple, natural wooden frames sometimes added around paintings of that era. I thought that this drawing, with it's white background, would look better contained within a frame. There is a really horrible picture of this drawing without the frame in this old post here, in case you're curious.

I used basic cedar lath with a nice tight grain that I bought at Discount Builders here in the city. I bought long lengths because the two pieces that needed framing were 40 and 48 inches square. I gave each section of lath a very light sanding and applied no finish at all.

The lath I used was wider than the plywood of the painting (plywood 3/4"). I attached the lath so that the front edge protruded 1/4" beyond the painting front, and the back overlapped 1/2", which added a little more dimension to the painting overall.

I used my crosscut saw to cut everything to length. I used a butt joint, so measuring and cutting were easy peesey. Cut and attach opposite sides first, and then measure and cut the remaining two. If you did not have a crosscut saw, this could also be very easily and precisely done with a Japanese hand saw which I spoke about here. Everyone and their mother should own this tool.

I just nailed them in with some brass brads, four per side.

Simple and unfussy. The wood will darken over time.

I also went ahead and framed this gaffer tape piece that I made for Kit's room recently.

This piece is bold and fun and completely inspired by Donald Robertson, whose vision of life I admire very much. Btw, Kit got a new bigger bed recently and I've made some changes in there which I will be posting about very soon.



Powder Coated Bar Stools

Finally I have some new barstools for the zinc table in the kitchen.

These are fake Harry Bertoia stools. I would love to own the real deal like these babies here, but those aren't really in my budget (although at the end of the day for sure buying vintage real ones would be a solid investment).

I bought these from the online site Instyle Modern. I got 4 for $412, but as you can see they were in a chrome finish. Some of the welds weren't the neatest, but still very passable for their cost. 

Before I bought my stools, I had seen a blogger that I really admire for her original content spray paint her faux, chrome stools in the original cream/black Bertoia style. I was completely seduced by this. I say seduced, because I kind of knew in the back of my head that you can not spray paint chrome. It just will not adhere with any usable durability. For reasons I cannot understand, I jumped anyway.

The stools arrived and I did some technical research online. I spoke with the folks at Rustoleum.  I learned that my best bet if I wanted to DIY these was to first sand the surface and then spray them with self-etch primer, but even that stuff isn't really intended for chrome. Chrome is a bitch to paint. Even with some significant prep that stuff easily scratched off.

I accepted defeat, and switched gears. The best way to achieve that two-toned awesomeness was to get them powder coated. I found this place in Oakland and they worked out great. At 120$ per chair, it essentially doubled their cost, but I think it was worth it. They look perfect and the finish is rock solid durable. 

The original knoll stools have all sorts of seat padding options. Of course mine came with a pebbled fake leather seat. I'd like to replace it with a tan cowhide like I have on my dining chairs. This sounds awful but I promise you it's subtle and lovely. 

For now I have them draped with little sheep skin hides (those little 29$ ones from IKEA). The seats are pretty comfortable without but even better with. I think they look grrreat either way.

The guy that did the powder coating removed the feet and then reattached them to preserve the raw steel foot which is a nice little detail. To save my floor, I've got little felt pads on there which will flatten down a little after some use.

If you are curious about what I had for seating around this table before, you can catch a glimpse of them from this post. They were cute, but weren't optimal for a few reasons -the lack of back made them really tough for my younger guy to sit in for any length of time and they had a tendency to tip over, which sent the cat and dog scurrying. I am amassing a bunch of stuff for a big Craigslist sale and the old set will be on the list.