elevating a hankie drawer.

I was surfing around on Instagram the other day and I saw a post by @deerrunvintage of a hankie drawer that she re-purposed by adding little legs to it.  I thought it was a great idea, and I just happened to have an orphaned hankie drawer in my workshop so I decided to give it a try.

But first, what is a hankie drawer?

It’s a small drawer, or in this case more of a hinged box, that sits on the top of a dresser.  They were meant to hold handkerchiefs (hence the name) or gloves.

I often remove them from dressers when I restyle them because I feel like a flat top is more versatile than one with hankie drawers on it.  For example, you can now use the piece to hold your wide screen TV, or use it as a buffet in the dining room.  Plus, who actually uses hankies anymore?

In the case of the above dresser, they didn’t even look like they belonged on top of that piece.  So when I painted it last March I took them off.

You can just barely see it in the photo above, but this pair of hankie drawers were connected to each other by a trim board that went all the way across the dresser.  So after I removed them, I had Ken cut the trim board off …

Next I purchased some parts from my local craft store to turn into little legs for the drawer.

I glued two different pieces together to make this …

And then I glued these to the bottom of my hankie drawer.

Next I painted it inside and out with Miss Mustard Seeds milk paint in Apron Strings.  It took three coats to get good coverage over the original dark finish.  I have to say, this color always seems to lean more towards pink in other people’s photos, while for me it always looks very coral.  Once the paint was dry, I added a section of Prima Marketing’s Overflowing Love transfer to the top of the box.

Once I had that in place I decided the box needed just a little something else on the front.  So I pulled out some of Prima Marketing’s Modeling Material and the Etruscan Accents mold.

I glued the mold in place before the modeling material was set up.  Once it dries it becomes very brittle and hard.  But when it’s fresh out of the mold you can curve it to fit your piece.  In this case the front of the box is a bit curved, so I gently pressed the mold into place while it was still pliable.  This mold was much easier to work with than the little bees I used on the cake plates I shared Monday with their tiny little legs.

Once it hardened up (probably about an hour or so later), I painted it as well.

Once that was dry, I sanded the box to distress it and then added a couple of coats of The Real Milk Paint Co’s Dead Flat Finishing Cream.

I lined the inside with some pretty scrapbook paper.

As you can see I got quite a bit more chipping on the inside of the box than I did on the outside.  I suspect that’s because the original finish was more protected (ie. less worn away) on the inside than it was on the outside.  So that original finish resisted the milk paint more.

To be honest, I’m not sure whether or not the feet were worth the effort.

Not that they required a ton of effort, just an added $10 or so in expense plus some glue.

I don’t know, maybe they do elevate the box just a bit in more ways than one.  What do you think?

um, what is this stuff?

Several months ago Prima Marketing sent me a box full of goodies.  Included in the box were several jars of this stuff …

Chalk paste.

It sure does come in some pretty colors.  This pale blush pink is called Hubbard Squash.

And it has the most deliciously creamy, thick consistency, sort of makes me want to spread it on a cake.  But I’m pretty sure that’s not what it’s for.

So I wondered, what exactly is this stuff?

I’d never heard of chalk paste and had no idea what to do with it.  So I did some googling and it seems to be a sort of cross between chalk paint and a texture paste.  I found that a popular option is to use it with a stencil to create a raised design.

It was time to do some experimenting.

I happened to have this pair of oval wooden plaque thingies that my picker found at a garage sale for 25 cents each.  Perfect for experimenting.

Experiment no. 1 – I painted the oval in a pale blush color that sort of matched the Hubbard Squash chalk paste.  Then I pulled out Prima’s Lenore Corners raised stencil which is .04″ deep.  These thicker stencils are perfect for this technique.

Next I used a putty knife to smooth the Hubbard Squash chalk paste over the stencil.  I made sure that the openings in the stencil were fairly uniformly filled in with the paste and then pulled the stencil away.

I let the chalk paste dry overnight to be sure it was good and set up.  Then I sanded it lightly to smooth out any rough edges.

Next I pulled out some of Prima Marketing’s Decor Wax in a color called Diamond Dust.  The Diamond Dust is a pale, iridescent gold.  I used a q-tip to lightly apply it just to the raised sections of the stenciled chalk paste.

It accented the raised stencil just enough and I thought this might be a very pretty look on the right piece of furniture.

Experiment no. 2 – For  the 2nd oval I painted the base in a medium shade of greige and then used the off-white Vintage Lace chalk paste with Prima Marketing’s Madelia Gardens stencil.

In this case there is more of a contrast between the color of the base coat of paint and the color of the chalk paste.  As you can see, I did get some seepage from the chalk paste under my stencil.  I didn’t especially like the look of that, so after sanding the dried chalk paste to smooth it out, I painted over the entire oval with some Dixie Belle paint in Drop Cloth which improved the look.  Then I added a segment of Prima Marketing’s Endless Story transfer to the remainder of the oval.

From this experiment I concluded that chalk paste stenciled over a contrasting color of paint is probably not a good look for me.  The look of that seepage under the stencil is too messy for me.  However, I really like the subtlety of a uniform color over the entire thing.

Experiment no. 3 – I pulled out the last two wooden plates I had from Prima Marketing for a third experiment.  This time I first painted the plates using Dixie Belle’s Gravel Road.  Then I used the Iron Gate chalk paste, which is a dark charcoal grey similar to the Gravel Road.

Again, once the chalk paste had set up, I sanded it to smooth out any rough spots.  Then I painted over the whole plate with Dixie Belle’s Vintage Duck Egg.  Once that was dry I sanded it back to reveal some of the original color of the Iron Gate chalk paste.

As you can see, each of these techniques gives a slightly different look.  None of them are right are wrong, it just depends on the look you like.

I can’t really say I have a favorite, although I tend to prefer more subtle looks like the white paint over the white chalk paste.  It’s just enough to provide a hint of texture without being too much.

How about you?  Which one is your favorite?  And have you ever tried chalk paste?  If so, what did you do with it.  I’d love to know, so be sure to leave a comment.

Thank you to Prima Marketing and Dixie Belle Paint Co for providing the products used for these projects.

the blue plate special.

A while back I shared a quick and easy craft project using unfinished wooden chargers (or plates) from Prima Marketing …

You can do so many different things with these plates and they are an easy, quick project to have fun with.

Here’s how the plates look when you buy them.

They come in three sizes, 10″, 12″ and 14″ and they are basically a blank canvas for getting creative.  Once finished you could use them as chargers, display them in a china cabinet or maybe just hang them on the wall.  They are light enough that you could easily do that with some 3M Command Strips.

Prima Marketing had sent me 3 of each size, so in addition to the ones I already shared, I’ve now finished up the rest of them.

First off, I made this coordinating set of three.

I painted them with Dixie Belle paint in Dropcloth.  Then I used 4 different Prima Marketing transfers.  French Ceramics (on the top plate shown above), French Ceramics II (on the bottom plate) and Floral Lover (the gingham on the middle plate, and why this is called Floral Lover is beyond me because the set consists of the gingham pattern and a striped pattern, no florals in sight).

To dress up the gingham plate a little bit more I also added one of Prima’s French Pots IV transfers over the gingham transfer.  Yes, you can layer transfers like this.  Just be sure that your first transfer is well adhered before adding the second one by lightly burnishing it with a clean, dry cloth.

After the transfers were in place I sanded lightly to distress them a bit and then sealed the plates with The Real Milk Paint Co’s Dead Flat Finishing Cream.  I think this set would be perfect to hang on the wall.

Next, I tried something just a tad different with a couple of the plates.  I turned them into cake plates by adding some wood pedestals that I picked up at my local craft store for about $6 each (or in my case, I took my sister with me and we each had a 40% off coupon, so they were $3.60 each).

I used Elmer’s Wood Glue to attach the pedestals.  Once that was dry, I mixed up some Miss Mustard Seeds milk paint in Curio, which is a deep brown.  I don’t know that I would ever choose to paint something in this color and leave it that way, but Curio works great as a base color.  Especially over unfinished wood.  Unlike chalk paint or acrylic paint (Fusion or General Finishes), milk paint soaks into unfinished wood rather than sitting on the surface.  That makes it perfect to use as a stain too.

In my case, I just wanted a layer underneath my final color so that when I distressed these you wouldn’t see fresh new wood under the paint.

Once the Curio was dry, I sanded the plates lightly and then I added just a little beeswax to the edges to encourage my next coat of paint to distress just down to the darker layer.  Then I painted them with Miss Mustard Seeds milk paint in Linen, my favorite warm white shade.  It took several coats to get good coverage with the white over the dark brown.

In hindsight, I’m not sure it was worth taking all of this effort.  I didn’t get much chipping.  I did distress down to the Curio layer around the edges though, so maybe it added some depth.

After sanding the plates, I added the same two transfers that I used on my original pair of plates, Simplicity (which is the toile pattern) and Never Ending Story.  Once again I sealed them with The Real Milk Paint Co’s Dead Flat Finishing Cream.

But instead of stopping there I decided to have a little fun with a some new products that Prima Marketing sent my way, Modeling Material and a mold called Regal Findings.

I made a couple molds of the little bees (see them there in the middle row?) and added them to the bases of my cake stands.

I glued them on with wood glue before the molds had hardened which allowed me to form them to the curve of the base.  Once they hardened, I painted them with the Linen milk paint, allowed that to dry, topcoated it with the RMP Co’s Finishing Cream, allowed that to dry, then added a little Miss Mustard Seeds Antiquing wax to give them some definition.

I’m still practicing with the molds.  These tiny ones are a bit trickier than the larger designs.  Especially those fragile little bee legs.  As you can see, this bee lost a leg.

But after I get a little better at it, I plan to share a tutorial post on using the Modeling Material and the molds, so stay tuned for that.

Meanwhile, although I’m not a baker and never have need for a cake stand, these also work well to provide varying layers of height to a display.

Funny side bar story, I never even knew these vintage opera glasses of mine say “PARIS” on them.

It wasn’t until I was editing the photos for this post that I noticed that!  Cool, huh?

Anyway, these were just a few ideas of the ways you can use the wooden plates. I’ve got one more set of them that I’ll be sharing later in the week so be sure to check back!

Special thanks to Prima Marketing, Miss Mustard Seeds Milk Paint, Dixie Belle Paint and The Real Milk Paint Co for providing products used on these projects.

a winter garden.

Like much of the northern part of the continent, here in the Twin Cities we got slammed with snow in the month of February.  In fact, we got a record breaking 39” of snow during the month.  It was the snowiest February on record, and the 4th snowiest month EVER (well, since they’ve been keeping track anyway).

The record for the snowiest month ever is still held by November 1991, the year of the Great Halloween blizzard.  We got 46.9” that month.  I clearly remember that blizzard (how about the rest of you locals?).  The snow started falling on October 31 and didn’t stop until November 3.  Nothing like having your carved pumpkins buried under more than 2’ of snow.

The snow didn’t end in February this year, we’ve now gotten another 10+” of snow so far in March including 6″ last weekend.  Spring just might be in sight though, we’ve had temps in the 40’s and lots of melting this week.

Most people I know like to take a tropical vacation to escape the winter weather if they can swing it.  But Mr. Q and I took our Adriatic cruise in November, which now feels like a very long time ago.  So I decided to treat myself to an indoor winter garden.  It helped that my local plant nursery, Gerten’s, had a house plant sale.  Buy one, get one half off.  It seemed like it was meant to be.

So the other day my sister, niece and I popped in to see what they had.

I was surprised to find that they had a whole bunch of blooming potted plants available.  I wasn’t expecting that.  I guess I never would have thought of a begonia as a ‘house plant’.  Technically speaking though, I guess pretty much anything that is alive and growing has to be a house plant this time of year.

They also had a huge selection of gorgeous cyclamens.

So I had to get two of them.  This smaller size was only $5.99.

Some of the plants will head to my office at the day job, but others will stay at the house.

I can brighten up both places!

Having all of these flowers made for a great opportunity to share the 3rd project I did using the Iron Orchid Designs Le Petite Rosier transfer.  I purchased two of the smaller sized versions of the transfer.  I used one on the tiny cupboard and then used the bottom section of that and of the 2nd one on my ceiling fan.

And now I’ve added the top portion of the 2nd one to an old watering can.

I gotta say, I pretty much love it.  I didn’t seal it with anything, so it wouldn’t hold up to outdoor display.  But that’s OK, I’ll keep it inside in my ‘winter garden’ for now.  If I decide to put it outside in the summer I’ll add a couple of coats sealer.

How about you?  Are you coping with a winter that seems to be dragging on and on?  Didn’t get the chance for a winter getaway?  Maybe you should consider a winter garden to tide you over until spring actually gets here.

P.S.  Remember my experiment with the lavender from last fall?

Well, in case you are wondering, no, those plants did not survive the entire winter.  I finally tossed them a couple of weeks ago.  I suspect that my window ledge was just too cold for them.  But they were pretty while they lasted, which was a lot longer than cut flowers.

time flies.

I can’t believe it was over two years ago that I shared this newel post …

It seriously boggles my mind to realize it wasn’t just a few months ago, but when I went in search of that original post about the post I found it in January 2017!

That’s not at all the point of today’s blog post, but I just had to say that out loud.  Time really does fly.

So, apparently I painted this post two years ago.  It ended up with a fabulously chippy patina.  I just had it leaning in the corner of a room as a sort of architectural salvage decor piece.  Sometimes it was in the piano room, and sometimes the living room.

While I was stenciling the piano last weekend I saw it and thought it could use a stencil or two as well.

I started with this ‘antiques’ stencil at the bottom.

Then I used the same stencil that I used on the little Mariner’s chair that I painted a couple of weeks ago to do two more sides of the base.

Finally, I added a portion of another stencil to the top.

I think the post has just a little more character now and it looks great just hanging out next to the cupboard that holds the ‘good junk’.

What do you think?

ebony and ivory.

I finally got around to painting my baby grand piano this past weekend and all I can say is, ‘what was I so worried about’?

Somehow I had built this up to be a HUGE project in my mind.  Obviously I should have known better.  I mean, come on, I’ve painted a few larger pieces of furniture in my day.  The Welsh cupboard in my dining room for example.

By comparison, the piano was so. easy.

As a reminder, here is how the piano looked originally.

Not super awful, but definitely not great.  And up close the finish on this thing was totally shot …

The arrows are pointing towards areas where the veneer has chipped away.

Before we move on, I have to explain something.  I don’t actually play the piano.  Well, I did take some lessons when I was a kid and I can now play ‘chopsticks’ fairly well.  But many years ago a former co-worker of mine was moving and needed to find a new home for her baby grand piano.  I had the brilliant idea that I would find the time to take lessons one day.  Ha.  Yeah, that never happened.

However, as it turns out, this is one incredibly handy piece of furniture.  It’s got a nice large work surface at exactly the right height for me while standing.  It’s perfect for folding laundry, wrapping presents, scrapbooking, painting small items and it also makes a great buffet/bar during parties.

I honestly can’t think of any other piece of furniture that I could put in this same spot that would be as functional for me while still looking appropriate in the room.  But it was starting to look a bit rough, so as part of my magic wand decorating plan, it was scheduled for a makeover.

I started by sanding it down which took about 10 minutes.  The finish was so dry on this thing that it didn’t take much work to rough it up.  I mostly wanted to make sure to sand down the paint drips that were on it because those can come back to haunt you if you just paint over them.  Next I vacuumed away the dust with my shop vac and then wiped it all down with a damp rag.

Next I pulled out some Dixie Belle paint in Midnight Sky.  You guys know how much I love their other black, Caviar, well this one is just a tad lighter.  That probably sounds odd to call a black color ‘lighter’, but it is just not quite as deep and rich as the Caviar.  It’s also a bit warmer with less of a blue undertone.

I watered down the paint just a tad.  I find that the Dixie Belle paint is pretty thick.  You can use it straight out of the jar if you want a more textured look, but if you want a smoother finish you can water it down which has the added benefit of making it go further.  I only used about 2/3 of the 16 oz jar to paint this piano.  That’s also partially because for the most part I got away with just one coat of paint.  There were only a couple of spots that needed a touch up with a second coat.

A couple of you suggested a strategy for moving forward on this project.  Start with painting the outside of the piano first, then tackle the inside bits at another time.  So I mostly did that, except that I opened the cover that goes over the keys and painted inside there.  I figure that’s the most likely spot to get opened up on occasion.

So I taped off the keys and painted that area.  I also took this opportunity to re-glue some of the ivories that had come unglued.

Just out of curiosity I did some google research on ivory piano keys.  Prior to 1930 almost all pianos had ivory keys, and mine are indeed ivory (check out this article to learn more about that).

Anyway, I used my E6000 glue to re-attach all of the loose ivories.  Then I added a stencil to the top of the piano.

I had so many ideas swirling around in my head about what to do with this piano.  I thought about painting it white and adding a transfer, but then it would compete with the Specimens Cupboard which is in the same room.

I also thought about wrapping some sort of stencil all the way around the sides of the piano.  But stenciling those curves would have been challenging, plus I felt like it wouldn’t be all that noticeable since you really can only see one side of the piano unless you happen to be squishing yourself between the piano and the wall or window.  So not a lot of bang for my buck.

Ultimately I tend to prefer a ‘less is more’ kind of style so I went with this simple ‘European grain sack’ stencil from Maison de Stencils.

Once the stencil paint was dry, I sanded the entire piece lightly with 220 grit paper to smooth out the paint.  I gave the edges a little extra pressure to add a distressed look.

After vacuuming away the dust, I then finished the piano with Fusion’s clear wax.  You might be wondering why I chose to wax such a large piece, and especially one that is probably going to see a lot of abuse.  There are definitely more durable top coats that I could have chosen.  But in my experience wax and/or hemp oil are the easiest finishes to ‘fix’ down the road.  If I get a ring from a sweaty glass, a scratch, or a drip of random paint here and there, all I have to do is sand it down lightly to smooth it out and then add a little wax to just that spot.  So in the long run I think I’ll be better off with wax.

One last thing, I had originally planned on keeping the chair I have ‘as is’.

I don’t want to go all ‘matchy-matchy’ with it and paint it black, but I’m not totally loving it with the piano.  I’ll probably keep an eye out for another option down the road.

By the way, I have to say I found it rather challenging to photograph a black piano in a room flooded with light reflecting off our latest snow fall.

Here’s the view out those windows.

Yep, lots of white to reflect the light.

OK, so if you are keeping track of the magic wand decorating project, here’s where I’m at …

    1.  repaint the insides of the bookshelves in the living room – check!
    2.  repaint the living room walls – check!
    3.  replace the living room furniture – check!
    4.  paint the baby grand piano – check!
    5.  replace the ceiling fan over the piano – check!
    6. repaint the piano room walls

That last item on the list, repaint the piano room walls is the last item on my original to-do list.  But I’m having so much success I’ve decided to go just a bit further with that last item plus add one more.  I’m adding ‘repaint the piano room built shelves beneath the windows’ because they really need it.  As for the walls, I have a plan and I have my handyman Ken’s commitment to help me with it, so you’ll just have to stay tuned to see what we do.

In the meantime, if you have been thinking about painting a piano or some other larger piece but haven’t had the nerve to make the leap, I say go for it!  It’s definitely not as hard as it looks.

the index card art project.

I am betting that many of you also follow Marian at Miss Mustard Seed.  If so, you may have seen her recent post about an index card art project that she is doing.

In her case she has 31 index cards and she’ll be painting one per day for the month of March.

As soon as I read her post the idea of changing it up and scrapbooking on the cards instead of painting on them popped into my head.  What a great way to do just a quick bit of scrapbooking every day, and in the end have a fun keepsake.

And I just happened to have a great set of vintage index cards in my stash.

Fun fact, these old cards were from Smead Manufacturing.  I’m sure many of you are familiar with Smead office supplies.  They began manufacturing in 1906 in St. Paul and then moved to Hastings, Minnesota in 1908.  It’s kind of interesting to read their history.  Funny to note that according to them, in 1906 only 2% of the population had telephones.  Can you imagine?

Anyway, back to my index cards.  I don’t quite have the complete alphabet, but oh well.  I also don’t have 31, but that’s OK, I’m getting a late start anyway.  Also, keep in mind that I have a day job so it may not be feasible for me to work on a card every single day, but I’m going to try and keep up.  I’ll also admit that I am working ahead on some days.  So far I’ve completed 8 cards.

The photos from our Adriatic cruise are the perfect subject matter for this project, so it made sense to start with ‘A’.

‘A’ is for Adriatic.  ‘A’ is also for Atlas.  The map I used on this card is from a very old Atlas, from back when Yugoslavia was still a country that included what are now Croatia and Montenegro.

The photo I used on this card is of the Saint Domnius cathedral in Split, Croatia.

I shared my ‘A’ card on Instagram last Sunday and have been sharing a card a day since.

I made two cards for the first port of call on our trip, Genoa.  I used a couple of my favorite October Afternoon papers on this first one.  The orange totally related to the color of the building in the photo, and the background color of their map paper matches my vintage index cards perfectly.

October Afternoon has always been my favorite brand of scrapbook supplies.  They were also a local company here in the Twin Cities, but I think they have gone out of business (does anyone know?).  They haven’t posted on their Facebook page since 2016, so I’m assuming they are defunct.  Luckily I stocked up at a couple of their warehouse sales and now have a lifetime supply of their stuff.  I love that all of their papers and ephemera can be mixed and matched and they always work well together.  My favorite product line was called Travel Girl; it couldn’t have been more perfect for me.

Initially this next photo of Genoa wouldn’t have made the cut for this project.  It really wasn’t my favorite shot from that port of call.  But then I tried printing it in black & white.  Suddenly I loved it.  It now has a gritty, mysterious look which is totally appropriate for Genoa.

Next up was Eze.  If you’ll remember, we visited Eze in the morning of the day we were docked in Monaco.

Hey, guess what?  I painted those cardboard letters with Fusion paint in Inglenook.  Not only is Fusion a great paint for furniture, it’s also perfect for crafting.  Once the paint was dry I stamped over it using a rubber stamp and some grey ink.

The card I made for Monaco has a simple message.

The “Cherish each Moment” is a rub-on applied to a French book page.  I purchased this particular set of rub-on’s at Hobby Lobby but I’m not sure if they still have them.

I used one of the ticket stubs from the Museo Archeologico for the Naples card.  I’m planning to include a few more tickets stubs and other small items on future cards too.

For the Herculaneum card I simply used a rubber stamp right on the index card and then added a couple of photos.  This one was super simple and quick, but sometimes simple and quick creates the best look.  It definitely allows the photos to be the stars of the show.

I loved the look of that stamp on the card so much that I used it again for this one.

But this time I left a bit more of it showing.  The black and white photo worked perfectly with the grey ink.  You can find a less cropped, color version of that photo in my post about our Godfather Tour in Sicily.

By the way, I’m fairly sure I purchased that rubber stamp at a garage sale for around a dollar.

Working on this project has reminded me how much I miss scrapbooking.  But I’m hoping that spending a spare hour here and there to throw together a couple of index cards is going to work well for me and I’ll be able to keep it up.  At least long enough to finish this project.

  Once I finish with this set of index cards, I may go back and insert a few more cards for each port of call on our trip.  We’ll see if I stick with that plan or not.  And naturally I will be on the lookout for a recipe box to revamp to hold the cards one they are completed.  Maybe something along the lines of this one that I made for my friend Terri …

I’ll be sure to share with you when the entire project is completed, but in the meantime if you want to follow along with each card as I complete it you’ll have to follow me on Instagram!  Or if you want to follow everyone who is creating art on index cards, be sure to check out #indexcardartproject.

Are any of you guys scrapbookers?  Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say ex-scrapbookers since I haven’t work on a scrapbook for at least two years.  Maybe you should look for some index cards and try this approach too!