Red Makes it All Better!

This week Black Betty died. Black Betty is my 2007 Trailblazer SS – a vehicle I’ve had for five years that I love. She’s pretty, fast and up until a few days ago, a completely reliable piece of machinery.

A friend and I decided to take a short trip to the mall, and as we were heading home, Black Betty lurched, whined, whirred, and made terrible grinding noises – all on a VERY BUSY highway in the dark. I admit I kind of panicked. I’ve never been in that kind of situation where my car just stopped working. I quickly turned on my hazard lights, so the speeding cars behind me wouldn’t smash into us. Even after turning off the engine and restarting, it was audibly obvious she wasn’t gonna budge. Not like there was a shoulder to pull her onto anyway. We were stuck in the turning lane for an off-ramp. So, after a quick call to hubby, we got out and stood on the side of the road and called the police to report a disabled vehicle.

The officer came and was kind enough to call a tow truck. While we waited he offered the back seat of his cruiser, where “there is air-conditioning.” (it was super hot and humid outside) We crawl into the back and all I could think was that hundreds of cars were speeding by thinking I was a common criminal about to he hauled in! And if that wasn’t bad enough, the temperature in the back seat was at least 80 degrees. I’m sorry – the man in blue might have had AC up front, but it was not drifting through the tiny glass opening in the wall that divided us from him. As soon as I got in, I wanted out. My hand instinctively reached for the door handle to get out. No handles. Of course, why would there be door handles, or windows or that matter, in the back of a cop car! We were again stuck. For what felt like a half hour. I was dying – my gut was in knots about the car, my mind was crunching numbers thinking about the cost of a hefty repair, and sweat was rolling down my back and other unmentionable places.

Finally the tow truck came and we were released. The gentleman was loading my SUV onto the flat bed, when my hero-hubby came to the rescue. He spoke with the tow guy, and then took us home. But, I could see he was not happy, obviously also seeing dollar signs go down the toilet. The next day we got the news that BB possibly needed a new transmission and could cost upwards of $3,600 to fix. We immediately hit the car dealerships, thinking it was time to trade BB in and get something new.

Fast forward to 5 hours later – we gave up the notion of new, and to my relief, decided to fix my Trailblazer.  It’s two days later, and we still are waiting for the final diagnosis. Fingers are crossed.

And with all of this car drama, I have been stressed. I knew it was time to paint or do something creative as an outlet. So, I worked on a little table that had been waiting its turn in the garage. Here’s what she looked like before the makeover…

She was black and a bit dinged-up, but otherwise in good condition. I knew I was planning to keep this table as soon as I saw it. Not to mention, the sale price was not good enough to turn a decent profit if I had tried to sell it. So, with that in mind, I immediately decided it would become red.

I had done a little red table a month ago that turned out lovely (see the photo below). I briefly considered keeping it, but knew I would again paint another table like it for myself in the same shade.

So here’s MY table in the fabulous red that made all my troubles go away, if only for a few hours!

I used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Emporer’s Silk. Then I distressed down to the black along the edges & on the turned legs, and aged it a bit with dark wax. It was finished with clear wax, as well.

I had been looking for something to distract the eye away from the unsightly AC return vent on the wall, without blocking the airflow. This isn’t perfect, but it fits the bill for now. And Lord knows, this little project took my mind off the other BILL that we’ll have to pay in a week when Black Betty is fixed up!

How to repurpose old books

I’ve always been drawn to home decor that looks like it was made from written pages. Think old book pages or script from old documents – when applied to furnishings it somehow transforms into something  modern and cool, while maintaining it’s vintage vibe. I love that!

Even nearly a decade ago I was into it. See the piece of furniture below…I decoupaged this script-style scrapbook paper onto the armoire doors. This continues to be one my most beloved home furnishings.

So, when I got this new title below, I was on the hunt for old books for my next craft project!

I am excited about this book, called The Repurposed Library, by Lisa Occhipinti, for a couple of reasons. One, I LOVE craft books! Well, I love books in general. Fiction, non-fiction, it doesn’t matter. Two, this book is a craft project book – another of my favorites. Three, it’s a craft book that utilizes repurposed old BOOKS as it’s medium – how cool is that! And four – this book is published by STC Craft, an imprint of Abrams – my new employer.

Yup, I was recently hired by STC Craft to publicize five of their Fall books. This is not one of them, however, they were kind enough to send me several of their new books for my personal library. This one spoke to me. It said, “go find some old books to play with!”

So, last weekend that’s what I did. I hit up a yard sale on my drive to Pennsylvania and found an old book gold-mine. This woman must have been saving books for a lifetime, as she has a gigantic table full of them – and the best part – she was giving them away for 50 cents a piece! I grabbed four vintage Reader’s Digest books – each with colorful hard-back covers, illustrations, and delightfully aged, although musty-smelling, interior pages.

Now, I have to decide what to do with them. Inside The Repurposed Library there’s a cool project for a wreath I am loving…

So I might make this. But, I’ll be honest, it looks like a lot of work rolling all those rosettes! And I am feeling a bit lazy right now. So, I may scour the net and see if there’s other cool projects rolling around the blogosphere that take less time, yet make a big statement.

This wall-covering is awesome, but I am not committed to making a statement quite this big!

This is more the scale of project I can undertake right now. Less gothic however, but the bird appealed to me right away!

I love the sculptural nature of this pendant light. Very cool, yet so practical!
I could totally see taking the interior pages of my books and decoupaging them to the underside of a glass-topped coffee table. Then as people sit and enjoy a glass of wine, they can look down and enjoy a few words from stories called, “The Fruit Tramp,” “The Final Diagnosis,” or “A Houseful of Love.” That last one really says it all. When you can make decor or furnishings, by repurposing items like books, it really will become a house full of things you love! And let’s face it, if these books hadn’t made it into my home, they might still be sitting in someone’s basement getting even stinkier, or worse, end up in a landfill.
I’ll keep you posted with photos on what craft project I end up choosing to give new life to my old books!

BEFORE and AFTER of the Dining Table and Chairs Project

I worked on this dining table and chairs for weeks! Honestly,  I will probably never do spindle chairs again. They are such a pain in the you-know-what to paint! Talk about time-consuming. I made a nice profit when I sold this set, but the hours that went into it, made it about minimum-wage work!

However, when it was all said and done, I was uber-proud of how it turned out. Take a look…

This was the pedestal in process. Sorry, I totally forgot to take BEFORE pics, and had started painting when I remembered! So, the blue up top is the first coat I applied of ASCP in Duck Egg Blue. It was going on so smooth and beautifully. I was loving it before it even dried! So, as you can gather from the picture, the whole base was originally black. All four chairs were black too.

Here’s a few pieces waiting to dry…

After I had them all painted and waxed, I tackled the table top refinish part of the project. Here’s the materials required to get the job done…

Liquid stripper, mineral spirits (for cleaning), gloves (lesson learned, don’t use these thin blue kind, the stripper will eat right through them!), sanding blocks, a scrapper, etc.

I painted on the liquid stripper with a paint brush, waited a few minutes, and started scraping it off. It’s a messy task! You can see it easily lifted the previous stain right off. After I had most of it scrapped off, I went to town sanding with a heavy grit block to remove the last of the stain. Once it was all sanded and smooth, I cleaned it up with mineral spirits on a rag.

Here you can see the newly stripped top, next to one of the leaves I still had to work on…

Quite a color difference! The old stain had aged over the years, like they all do. It had an orate appearance. The photo below really shows off the ugly orange!

I applied a Minwax stain that you brush on, and then wipe off…

Here it is right after I brushed it on. I love the dark color, but I chose the kind that you wipe off, to avoid brush stroke marks, and bubbles that are common with brush on stains. I like the wipe off kind for furniture. I waited about 30 minutes for it to penetrate the grain, and then wiped it all off.

After 2 applications, this is the new table top! The grain looks amazing!

To protect the table, I then applied a wipe on polyurethane from MinWax. Again, two applications. The result was an ultra-smooth, beautifully matte table top.

Here’s the finished piece…

I hope its new owners will be very happy with it!!

Sorry for the delay in posts

As many of you know, when I started this blog, it was a couple of months ago and I was working regularly for a book publisher. About 2 weeks after launching the blog and Twig and Twine Nest, my book publicity job went bye-bye. Suddenly I was scrambling to find work. Fortunately, I had my painting to keep me busy, and generate some additional income. And fortunately, I was able to land 2 new publishers to freelance for.

So with 2 new jobs to adjust to, which brings new titles to pitch, and in general, new procedures – I’ve been very busy ramping up and getting up to speed. I want to do a good job, and with that brings lots of work. Hence – my silence here. So so sorry – you know I love writing, blogging and sharing goodies here with you – and I PROMISE to bring you more of that! Just bear with me, while I try to work my day job, paint in the evenings, care for my boy Saxon and wait for my hubby to get home from his foreign duties!

But, I’d love to share some pics of my recent paint projects….I buckled down 2 weeks ago for my first-ever sale outside the virtual world! Yup, I decided to take part in my son’s school’s rummage sale. I bought a bunch of pieces of beat-up furniture and made them pretty again. I even did a whole bunch of little items, too – like picture frames.

Here’s some of those goodies…Before and After!

Cheese server BEFORE…

Now a decorative display piece! Painted in ASCP Old White, distressed and aged with dark wax.
This lovely item was quickly sold to my neighbor, Michelle.

Memo/picture board BEFORE…

So much prettier AFTER! Painted with ASCP in Old White, distressed and clear waxed. This sold at the rummage sale to one of my son’s classmates’s moms (wow, I know this is not correct use of grammar, but am too tired to figure it out right now).

Bird prints BEFORE…

AFTER! Again, Old White (doesn’t Old White just look great on everything!)

Sorry, can’t find the before shot of this little old shutter I grabbed at a thrift store. I painted it up and it became a cool picture display or memo board. This is still for sale!

Pretty peg board! In ASCP Versailles – I love this color, it’s a muted greenish color. Very neutral!

I really like how these turned out too, and since they didn’t sell at the rummage sale, I may just bring them in the house and hang them on my wall! Cool shadow box shelves that I painted in Old White and aged with dark wax.

Here’s some shots my neighbor Kristen took at the sale…

Striking a Vanna pose in front of my wares…

I needed to find a way to promote my paint business, so I created posters of BEFORE and AFTER shots of furniture I have done. Then I made a memo board from a piece of wood I got for free from Lowes in their cut-bin, and voila, instant pin board. Stuck some business cards on it and plopped it down smack dab in the middle of a table. Lots and lots of people checked it out and took my card. Hope it gets me some commission work!

Surprisingly this dining table and chairs sold at the sale! Since it was my highest price piece, I was fully expecting to take it back home with me. I really just wanted it there so people could see a large-scale transformation. A young couple who just settled on their first home bought it! So excited!

This is one of my favorite pieces to date! I used ASCP in Paloma, which is the purplish hue. Old White on the drawer fronts and interior shelf. The insides of the doors got a special treat – decoupaged paper!

More favorites…a vintage desk in Old White and French Linen with glass knobs, and my first-ever red piece! Sold to my dear friend, Kari!

Besides the dining table and chairs, most of the work that I took to the sale was completed in a week! It was a lot of late nights, and wrist pain! BUT, I loved every minute of it. Honestly, painting is such a relaxing activity for me. I love watching the pieces come to life before my eyes. Maybe that sounds corny, but its true.

And when you love it, its not really work, is it?