Thursday, 13 June 2019

Progress report.....

Today started off really quite well.  I completed the first coat of paint on the cabinet and although it looks a bit patchy I'm reasonably confident that the second coat will pull it all together.

While I was waiting for the paint to dry, and unable to get any actual work done, I decided to make the storage boxes to go in the empty cubby holes in the desk.

I thought I had it nailed, but I'd failed to take into account that I didn't have any sheets of card big enough, so I had to go back to the drawing board and radically rethink the whole thing.

Several failed prototypes later (not to mention some fairly colourful language) I think I've finally designed boxes which will fit, although they'll need some strengthening on the inside.  I'll print out some floral papers tomorrow to decorate the fronts, which will be visible inside the desk.

The chaos seems to have overflowed from the workroom, spreading like a miasma throughout the ground floor and I've had to annexe the dining room table for my sewing and cutting machines.  If all goes well I'll be making some  bunting over the weekend which should help soothe my frazzled nerves.

The new chair, which Small Dog declares she fully intends to appropriate, arrives tomorrow so I will be under pressure to dismantle my big desk unit to make room for it.  It will be a shock to the system not having it to work on, but if I'm brutally honest, it's ALWAYS covered in piles of stuff and I generally only have a few square inches of clear acutal workspace.  The working area of the cabinet is really quite generous but I will have to work tidily and clear up after every session.

We'll see how that goes......

Full steam ahead.....

Over the past few days, the lovely paper and the paint have arrived, so I've cracked on and got the first coat of paint on the cabinet, having first masked off the glass on the doors.

Which. Was. NOT. Fun.

Using this....


To transform this....

To this....


I didn't have enough tape to do the insides, but painting the interior glazing bars will be much easier *she says optimistically*  as they are a different shape/profile.

So managed to complete the first colour coat on most of the cabinet exterior yesterday, before I ran out of time.  Hoping to finish the drawers and the insides of the top section and inside the desk today... then planning to do a complete second coat tomorrow.

That will leave the weekend to do the drawer fronts and the inside of the top section which I know will present problems I haven't even thought of yet.

Finally, the new handles will be fitted and I can get on with filling the entire cabinet with my boxes of fabrics, ribbons and trimmings.

I'm cautiously optimistic that I can get it finished by Monday, which would be good because I really, REALLY need to get back to work proper, as orders are piling up!

Better go and get on then.....

Monday, 10 June 2019

Decisions, decisions.....

Following much perusing, umming and ahhhing, I'm pleased to report more progress on the cabinet.

I'd been dilly-dallying over the colour of paint to use on the exterior but have finally taken the plunge and made a decision....



The paper I'm using to decorate the drawer fronts is a lovely vintage floral design with a pale blue background.  In certain lights it looks cornflower blue... in others a pale aqua blue.
So I ordered two tester pots to see which would look best.


In the end it was a no-brainer.  The aqua paint was just too vibrant, but the pale blue was perfect, so I've gone ahead and ordered a pot.

I'd been intending to use the same paper on the inside of the glazed door, but I think that instead I might go for a patchwork effect, bringing in some different floral papers with background colours as close as possible to some of the colours in the main paper.... perhaps pink, yellow and a paler aqua.  I'll have to play around with some designs to see what works and what doesn't.  However, I've made templates of the glazing bars patterns by taping sheets of paper over them and rubbing with a wax crayon.


Each individual pane on each of the doors now has its own (hopefully) accurate template.  I'm going to make a small scale mock-up of the doors so that I can experiment with different colours.

Once the paint and paper arrives it will be full steam ahead.  Although I'm looking forward to the fun bits, I'm keen to get it finished so that I can tidy up and get on with some proper work, as I have orders piling up.  Thank goodness I have extremely patient,  lovely customers!!!

Sunday, 9 June 2019

SD ... interior designer....

Chaos reigns in the workroom.  The top part of the cabinet is on my desk, which is also littered with all the detritus of preparation and priming.



Both sections have now had two coats of primer, and I've finally cleaned off the glass on the glazed doors, which was a nightmare.

I've also been measuring up a storm, trying to work out how I can shuffle the storage cabinets in order to lose the huge desk and free up floor space.

It was while I was measuring and taking frantic notes that Small Dog wandered in and took up residence on the only 6 square inches of clear space on the carpet.

SD: *incredulously* Mummm..... whott AR yue doen?
Me: *distractedly* I'm measuring.  Trying to work out how much space I can make if I get rid of this desk.
SD: *sceptically*   Hmmm.... butt thers kwite a lott of stuf undur the desck.  Whare ar yue goen to poot it oll?
Me: *irascibly* Well yes.... it will all have to go.  I'm having a clear out.
SD: *astonished* Yueve bean haven a kleerowt for YEERS!!!  
Me: *deflated* Yes, I know.  You're right of course.  I don't know where it all comes from.  There's just so much stuff....  I keep thinking I'm making progress but no sooner do I clear one area than more stuff accumulates in another... mocking me.
SD: *helpfully* Hav yue konsiddurd a sckipp?  And a larj shuvell?
       *sniffing* And whott is thatt terribul smel?  Its dreddfool.
Me: *apologetically*  Sorry about that SD.  It's the primer I'm using on the cabinet.  
SD: *bluntly*  Itt stincks.
Me: *nodding* Yes.  Yes it does.  

SD watches me as I tap numbers into my calculator

SD: *mildly* Ar yue doen summs?
Me: *distractedly* Hmmmm?  I'm working out if this cabinet will fit in that gap over there.  Then whether I'll have room for a comfy chair by the window.
SD: *perkily*  Kumphy chare?  Bie the windoh?
Me: *warily* Umm.... yes.  If I can use the new cabinet as my workstation, I won't need this huge desk, so I was thinking... maybe.... I could have a small armchair in the space.... and a rug.... *trails off at the look in SD's eyes*
SD: *wistfully*  And KOOSHUNS?  
Me: *carefully*  Errrm... yes, probably.  Just one or two....
SD: *dreamily*  So... when yure wurken, at the kabinett... ai kude keap yue kumpnie. 
Me: *cautiously* I suppose so.....
SD:*warming to her theme* And the kumphy chare wude be kwite loe... so ai kude eesillie jumpp up on itt.  With two kooshuns... kwite sofft and snugglie.  And a sofft rug... so iff ai gett feddup sitten on the chare, ai kude poosh the kooshuns off and liy on the rug.
Me:*interrupting* Yes but the chair is really for me...
SD: *oblivious* And ai kude see owt of the windoh..... keap wotsch fore skwirruls and neckst doars katt.  
Me: *panicking* But it will be WEEKS before I'm at that stage SD.  I mean.... just look at the state of this room!  A calm, creative sanctuary it is not.
SD: *soothingly* Doant wurrie Mumm.... itt wil oll be fyne.  Jusst karrie on.... ai doant wont to distrackt yue.  Lett me kno iff yue need eni hellp choosen sopht phurnishens....
Me: *sigh*


Thursday, 6 June 2019

Number crunching.....

I've been doing a lot of arithmetic today and now my brain really hurts.

But Sandra (I hear you say).... aren't you supposed to be working on your cabinet?

Yes.

Yes I am.

But it seems to be involving an awful lot of sums.... adding, subtracting, multiplying and derision... not to mention the thing with the tens and units.

It's all to do with the number of shelves, divided by the number of shelf supports.... the number of boxes I need, subtracted by the number I actually have..... the amount of 24" wide paper I need, to cover the front of the drawers, given that three of the drawers are 27" wide so will therefore require a 1.5" strip at each side and to complicate matters the paper has a 3" repeat.....both ways.

Who would have thought that upcycling a cabinet would entail so many calculations?

Then there's the internal cubby section in the desk.... it already has two little drawers, but I want to make some additional boxes to fit in the compartments, to hold scissors, tools, glues etc.  Which has involved geometry....in the form of nets.  A net is a flattened out three-dimensional shape, like a cube or a prism.  When cut out, folded and glued, it will make the 3-D shape.  Well that's the theory.   

I need three different sized boxes like this.... but higher at the front.


This has involved a lot of measuring, scrabbling around in the back of the desk, which is relatively inaccessible and involved a fair amount of frustrated 'language'.  I'll make the boxes from thick card and cover the fronts with offcuts of the same paper I'm using for the drawer fronts.

Aside from all the sums, I've now applied two coats of the shellac-based primer, which incidentally smells absolutely vile and has a been a complete bugger to use.  It becomes thick and gloopy very quickly, so I've had to thin it down with methylated spirit, the only solvent which works to both thin it and to clean brushes.

Painting the glazed doors on the top section was a breeze... not so easy was scraping the paint off the glass after it had dried.  One side was relatively straightforward, but the other side was a nightmare.... no idea why.  It was such a pain that I've decided to mask the glass before applying the colour coats of paint, which in itself will be time-consuming and tedious and involve cutting a plethora of different angles.... more geometry *sigh*

I've found a pretty wallpaper to cover the back of the inside of the top section.  Of course it's not wide enough, so I'll have to centre it, then cut two strips for each side.  More measuring and dividing...  I'll also use that to line the drawers and I'm going to make up an essential oil spray mist to scent them.

I've ordered 10 pretty little knobs for the drawers in the base and in the desk section, which worked out at a princely 89p each.  In a wonderful piece of serendipity,  they'll fit perfectly in one of the pairs of holes left by the original handles so that will save having to drill more.

I'm still not decided on the paint colour for the cabinet as I'm awaiting the tester pots but it's between two pastel shades of duck egg or cornflower blue.  It depends which goes best with the paper I'm using on the drawers/inside the glazed doors.

So.... so far so good.  I'm cautiously optimistic that I'll have it finished in the next 10-14 days then I'll be able to restore some order to the current chaos in the workroom.

I've also been thinking more about reorganising the furniture... hopefully to lose another base storage unit and possibly get rid of the huge desk unit which currently dominates the centre of the room.  However, until I've got my new workstation up and running I don't know how well it's going to cope.  

I'm also champing at the bit to make some new bunting to go across the curtain rail.... so looking for suitable fabrics.  It's impossible to be uncheered by bunting... and making it makes me really happy so it's a win-win.

Happy days...... apart from all the sums.




Thursday, 30 May 2019

Cabinet reshuffle.....

You know that thing when you start on a project with great enthusiasm, determined to enjoy every creative moment.... then a few days in, you end up hating it with a brightly burning passion.

That's me that is.

I have fallen dramatically out of love with the bureau cabinet and no amount of pictures on Pinterest of beautifully executed upcycled cabinets have been able to reignite it.

Admittedly, there have been a series of unfortunate events, which have added to my malaise, not least the fact that I haven't been able to take a proper run at it.  Then there's all the advice I've garnered on painting dark mahogany furniture, which basically boils down to "DON'T"!!!! 

I've used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint on all of my previous upcycling projects, which have been various shades of organgey pine, and despite applying several coats, I did experience some 'bleed through', either from the varnish, or sap in the wood.  According to knowledgeable sources, experienced in such things, dark mahogany is an absolute bugger, with almost inevitable pink stains appearing after painting.  This rather invalidates the 'negligible prep' feature of chalk paint, so I'm resigned to doing some rather unedifying work, prior to getting to the fun bits.

If there are ever going to be any actual fun bits.
Which I'm beginning to seriously doubt.

Anyway..... choice of paint aside, I have come to the conclusion that irrespective of claims of 'maximum coverage' they are all going to struggle with mahogany.  Also taking into account the complicated nature of the painting, I really want to avoid having to apply multiple top coats.

So I've bought a pot of this....




.... which according to upcycling aficionados is the 'gold standard' so hopefully it will do what it says on the tin.
Which is that it's a 'high performance, white pigmented,  shellac based primer/sealer/stain killer/bond coat that combines the convenience of lightning-fast drying time with outstanding adhesion and the best stain killing power available'.
Bold claims indeed......

However, before I can take the plunge and start priming, I first have to strip the cabinet of decades of grime.  It's not just a bit dusty... it's positively filthy!

I found a slip of paper down the back of one of the drawers with a name and address, which I looked up online, to find that its previous home was a pub in north Kent.  Looking at the photos, I'm assuming that my cabinet may have been in the 'olde worlde' area of the bar, neglected and unloved, with only a passing acquaintance with a duster.

I've had a go at it, using a wood cleaning sugar soap solution, which rapidly turned to a sludge coloured greeny-brown soup as I washed away years of dirt and grease.  I had to attack the dentil moulding along the top with a screwdriver, to prise out an accumulation of some sort of hardened paste, which might have been furniture wax but probably wasn't.
The glazed doors were a nightmare.  I was tempted to leave them till after I'd painted but they were almost opaque and I didn't want to smear the dirt over newly painted glazing bars so I tackled them with a glass cleaning solution and they've come up not too bad.
However, I'll need to go over all the wooden surfaces again, just to make sure it's thoroughly clean.

Then there was the leather inset in the drop-down desk flap.

*sigh*



Scuffed, scratched and dented, it had to come off.....


*sigh*


It took me FOUR hours, during which time I invented a whole new lexicon of swear words, as the ones I already knew just weren't sweary enough.
I wasn't naive enough to think that it would come off all in one piece but I was unprepared for its stubborn resistance and dogged refusal to yield to any number of scraping/scribing/stripping tools so I eventually gave up and attacked it with a small screwdriver which proved marginally more effective.  When I eventually got the top layer off, I viewed the bottom layer with suspicion.  No amount of scraping or poking seemed to affect it so I decided to try a range of solvents, which I hoped would soak through and dissolve the glue underneath.

*sigh*

White spirit/turpentine had no effect at all, and neither did Isopropyl Alcohol, although they did join forces to create interestingly potent fumes.
Eventually, having run through my entire arsenal of solutions, in desperation I tried nail varnish remover.  While it didn't miraculously loosen the remaining leather, it did dissolve it just enough that I could finally scrape and scrub it off.  The resulting surface is still, over a week later, slightly tacky, so it will need more cleaning.  

No surprise there then.....



Back to the subject of which paint to use.....



I've heard good things about Fusion Mineral Paint, which apparently is superior to chalk paint as it doesn't scuff and doesn't require a wax finish.  It claims to be easy to apply and self-levelling (so hopefully no brush strokes!)  It's also available in small tester pots, which means I can use several different colours inside the desk area without having to buy a whole litre.  It's also the only one with all the colours I want.  Still not fully decided but I'm a week or so away from being able to do the colourful stuff so there's no rush to purchase.

However.... remember I said I'd found a wonderful paper to decorate the drawer fronts and inside the glazed doors?  
Sadly, no.  
It arrived last week, and it is lovely, but the design is much bigger than I'd anticipated, and just won't work for the cabinet.

Buggrit.

So I've been trawling the internet, looking for something in the right colours/pattern and drawing a complete blank.  You would think, wouldn't you, that with the papers of the entire world at my fingertips I could find something perfect?
I've tried looking at wallpapers, wrapping papers, decoupage papers, scrapbooking papers and many more, but nothing is quite right.
I've even toyed with the idea of designing my own and having it printed, but can't face the many hours entailed in making sure it was suitable.  Not to mention the cost.

However, I'm exploring a possible alternative and am waiting to hear if what I want is cost effective.  *fingers crossed*   I'm mindful of the fact that although the cabinet itself only cost £25, I'm in danger of spending an unconscionable amount on upcycling it!

However, until I've settled on the paint and paper I can't decide on the replacement handles for the drawers, but I have found the website I'll be buying them from.... the amazing Knobbles & Bobbles.  

And..... d'you know what?  Writing all this down has revealed that far from being stalled, the project IS progressing, and ideas are coalescing.  I might even have fallen just a little bit in love with it again.....  *sigh*


Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Battle of the Bulge.....

I've had another dalliance with 'Shapewear' today, in advance of attending a wedding at the weekend.

This month has been a bit of a bugger in terms of waistline management, with a string of social events, a family wedding a few weeks ago and the last six days were spent on a mini-break in our little caravan, during which all dietary/calorie restrictions were suspended.

As a result, a few pounds have sneaked on and taken up residence around what I laughingly call 'my middle' meaning that my spring wedding outfit, which fitted just fine a few weeks ago, is now definitely on the 'snug' side.

My existing shapewear is black, which will be no good under white trousers, so I reluctantly concluded that I would need to spring for white underpinnings, and set off in search of same this morning.

Predictably, it didn't quite go according to plan.

For a start, there seems to be no such thing as white shapewear.  The only choice, other than black, is a sort of flesh colour, although it's not a flesh tone I've ever seen on a living person.
Alternatively, the same pinky/beige shade is also called 'nude', although again, it's not a colour I would ever associate with any unclothed human body.

While I completely understand that making  'one flesh colour suits all'  would be a challenge, it is one which the designers of shapewear have spectacularly failed to meet.

Anyway, like it or lump it, 'flesh' it had to be.

Then there was the choice of which problem area I wanted to address.  Apparently, shapewear is incapable of dealing with more than one...or perhaps the designers think that women only ever suffer from one 'out of control' body area at any one time.

This is blatantly bollocks.

As a pear-shaped woman, while I do have a discernible waist, I also have a stomach, hips, thighs and buttocks, all of which will require considerable restraint in order to fit into my figure-skimming trousers.

However, it is clearly beyond the wit of man (I'm making a wild guess that shapewear designers are probably men) to construct a garment which will slim and shape the whole torso from waist to thighs.

As such I was faced with the following choices.....

1.  A rather flimsy-looking garment which claimed to eliminate VPL.  To be brutally honest, visible panty line is the LEAST of my worries.

2. Medium control thigh slimmer.  No mention of tum or bum.... but I'll wager that any woman who needs dramatically slimmer thighs, might also have some problem areas slightly higher up, in which case gazelle-like thighs might draw further attention to those. 

3. Firm control waist cincher.  Fairly hefty support round the middle but very flimsy around the nether regions.

4. Shape & Sculpt.... basically a buttock lifter, but with precious little support infrastructure round the front.

5. Firm control tummy tamer.  Highly structured deep waistband, extending down to the top of the hips where it appeared to give up the ghost and revert to being simply stretchy.

By this time I was seriously considering buying all five in order to adequately cover all bases but thankfully I realised that trying to disentangle myself for toileting purposes would be flirting with disaster.  So in the end I plumped (no pun intended) for the tummy tamer, on the basis that whatever's happening round the back can look after itself.

I haven't tried it on yet as I don't want to give myself a hernia before the big day but it's currently lying fleshily on the bed, taunting me with its tautness.

As I have said before, on countless occasions.... what could possibly go wrong?