Paint Update

A couple of weeks ago I posted about the prep I was doing to the trim in the small hallway that leads to the boys' rooms. I finished that job and just wanted to post a few "after" pictures of that project, even though it's surely not all that exciting to anyone but me. 

Everything is all white and crisp. I ended up painting the walls in addition to the trim. I'm not sure if I want to hang anything in here again, I'm liking how unbusy it feels this way.

Maybe you noticed when I was prepping the hallway trim, that there was a big white patch on Kit's door. That was a half finished repair job which had been like that for at least a year. Calvin sometimes scratches at the door to get into Kit's room and I had filled it and primed it but never gotten around to the top coat.

I removed the hardware and mostly used a small foam roller brush. 

Of course once I got started on Kit's door, I couldn't help myself and touched up a few others.



The Garden

My yard is super scruffy right now. It is super bad for a multitude of reasons but I shall focus on just two things right now -the lawn and the apple trees. (I say "lawn" but it really is just a patch because I have a typical San Francisco lot, leaving my back yard at 25 by about 60 feet).

After complete and undeniable failure, I have abandoned my hopes and dreams of having a luscious molate lawn. For a long time I just couldn't quit molate, as evidenced hereNow, finally, I have accepted the agony of defeat and am contemplating a new, far-fetched plan. I'd love to have a meadow of grasses and wild flowers. 

I feel this might be possible because whereas the "grass" area of the yard is covered in weeds and crappy weed grass that I can't seem to exterminate (I only pull it out compulsively, I don't resort to round-up or other pesticide/poisons), there has been a good deal of self-propagation by the Mexican feather grass and Santa Barbara daisies. I'd honestly be happy with an entire yard that looked like that. I could pretty easily and economically plant more feather grass and just let that take over (while at the same time continue to pull the crap grass and weeds) and figure out other grasses and flowers to mix in.

Secondly, the apple espaliers are overgrown and covered in white powdery mildew.

Try as I might, I still have not completely figured out how to prune these things. I understand the budding pattern of the tree on the left (lateral), but the one on the right still mystifies me. Is it a lateral or a terminal or friggin both?

Not knowing makes pruning this sucker somewhat nerve-racking. Additionally, flowering was very stretched out this year. I have pretty well formed apples on some branches and still new flowers emerging on others. Btw, last year I got a double flower season on one of my other apple trees presumably because of the very warm winter we had. 

Obviously, anything that had an apple or a flower bud, I kept. I pruned back the really long growths that were destroying the shape of the tree.

On the mystery tree on the right, I tied down the leader to make a lateral branch of it. There is another guy there that I think will become the new leader. 

As for the mildew, I found this source for solutions. 

I took a two pronged approach. First, early in the day, I hosed the leaves down with a strong spray of water. Later, I used a solution of this vinegar heavily diluted in water. 

We shall see.


Oh Mein Gott

Omg. Can you believe this shit show? How is this even possible, you may ask?

Behold the culprit, Otis. Cute, but super naughty when it came to these curtains. He climbed them, sharpened his claws on them, I even saw him shred them with his teeth in the end. Bad kitty, bad, bad kitty. I don't mean to sound so cavalier, because these were beautiful when they were made. That was almost 9 years ago, though, and they were badly sun damaged where he shredded them. The fabric had already drastically faded and really broken down.

I was very fond of these curtains which hang at the front windows of our main floor. The color was awesome and they hung beautifully. My plan is to replace them with wool in the same color. Wool will make them a bit less fragile to use and sun. Of course, I'm going to do it myself (although these were beautifully made by someone else). I feel pretty confident I can make these look as good as the originals because I did a pretty job on these in the master bedroom. I am planning to reuse the interfacing and the lining as they are both still in excellent shape.  

I have 10 foot ceilings and each panel here is about 100" wide finished. There are four of them. That amounts to about 24 yards of fabric, more of less, with a bolt width in the 50 plus inch range. With so much fabric, the cost of these can add up pretty quickly, even with the reuse of the liners. 

I have been trawling the wool section at Discount Fabrics here in the city with no luck. I've just begun my online search. So far Mood has not had anything suitable. If anyone has any suggestions for a good wool source please let me know. I'm trying to keep my per yard cost to 25$ or less. 



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.