Oct 16, 2012

Jar Jar Bling

What mysterious objects are these?A few weeks ago, I left work early on a Friday afternoon. I had been slowed down by a bad cold all week, and finally realized that staring at my computer, considering my immanent death was actually not very productive. I went home and threw myself down on the couch with the intention of reading DIY blogs until I fell asleep.

As I flipped through the blogs, catching up on Young House Love and Yellow Brick Home and some others, I wondered if Make a Wish granted wishes for people with very bad colds and if Mindy Kaling and Emily Henderson would cooperate with them to grant my wish and we could all spend the day together antiquing in LA and then become the very best of friends and I’d miraculously recover from my cold and but we’d already be best friends and promise to reunite every fall for a good ol’ girls weekend. I actually have this day dream quite often.

I opened a post from Emily Henderson. In it, she had to figure out how to fill a giant shelving unit in a cohesive, inexpensive way. (As I write this, I understand that it might not sound very exciting. I think it probably sounds that way to you because you don’t read enough interior design blogs. You should really adjust that.) To fill these shelves, she decided to paint the insides of dozens of mason jars in gradient shades of blue and spray paint the tops gold. Instant (almost) art installation. “Hey, it’s like a cross between the tomato soup guy and the guy with the gold statue things!” I thought to my sick-self. (My sick-self is even worse than my well-self with names.)

I lay on my couch in my stuffy-headed stupor. I wished that I had a giant antique shelving unit that needed to be filled with painted jars. Alas, there was no room in my tiny apartment for even a small shelving unit that needed to be filled with painted jars. I pulled my afghan over myself and started to burrow into the couch.

There is only one window in my living room. It’s tall and narrow and faces south, so the room gets direct light for only a few hours a day. At the moment I was settling in to sleep, a shaft of light hit the shelf above my couch. I had hung the thrift-store shelf back in March, but never really knew what to put on it. I had filled it with odds and ends, but was generally annoyed with the placement and that I couldn’t get anything to be the right scale, and I knew that when Emily Henderson came over to hang out, she would see it and it would put a dark mark on our friendship. When the light hit that shelf, a light went on in my addled brain. I knew that this was deeply significant. “Tomorrow,” I said to myself, “tomorrow I will feel better and paint jars.”

Lookit that unstyled shelf. Don't you feel bad for it?

The next morning, I still felt terrible. Terrible and determined. In my attic, I had a box of old lab bottles that my uncle gave me when the chemistry plant where he worked was remodeled. They were all sorts of shapes and sizes, but whenever I tried to arrange them on a shelf, they just looked blank. But never again: my muddled mind had made the connection between Emily Henderson’s jars, my uncle’s bottles, and this post from Yellow Brick Home, and my muddled mind was ready to get some work done. I collected my strength and shuffled into the attic. I found the bottles, sorted, and washed them, taking breaks to throw myself dramatically on the couch.

See, they're pretty, but bland. Not bad, but you wouldn't necessarily go out of your way to hang out with them.

This was about all I could manage on Saturday. Well, this and fevered proclamations to Roommate that I was going to gold leaf everything in the apartment. I alternated between watching episodes of Secrets from a Stylist online and imagining each individual thing in our apartment gold-leafed. It was highly therapeutic.

By the time Sunday rolled around, I was done being sick–at least psychologically. Around 4pm I dragged myself out of bed and to the craft store. This might not have been the smartest thing I’ve ever done. Have you ever been to a craft store just before Halloween when you are sort of dizzy with the flu? I felt like I was having a bad trip and I don’t even know what that means.

The actual painting process only took a few minutes. I was going for a “dipped” look, so I eyeballed different paint heights for the three identical cylindrical jars. I thought painting a straight line on the super-cool triangley flask one would be boring, so I grabbed a dry erase marker and traced a sort of cock-eyed shape onto it. (I just rubbed the dry erase mark off with my finger when I was done painting.) I just painted the little stopper of the red jar. (I propped it up in my empty box of Gypsy Cold Care Tea. Nothing makes you feel better than tea made by Gypsies.)

Bottles and Gypsy magic.

I let the jars dry and did a second coat. The paint was really fumey, so I kept them by an open window until they stopped stinking up the place. (I try not to give Roommate cancer.)

My Three Jars! This is actually a really boring show.


This was only a very small project, but the reason it felt blog-worthy was that it was the first time in ages that I felt compelled to do something with my hands. This summer I felt like I didn’t have the brainspace to keep myself fed and watered, much less make cute things. The fact that I just had to get these jars painted felt like a return to myself. It was a decided end to my stressful summer. It was nice.

So…takeaways from this blog post include:

1. Read more DIY blogs.
2. Don’t go to craft stores unless you’re feeling at 100%.
3. Make time to do the things you love to do.
4. Paint everything gold. For real. It’s so pretty.

All done. Emily Henderson might approve.

I didn't paint the one with the sticker on it because that sticker is from science and science is cool.

Once again, I have instagrammed all the photos. I’ll stop when I get all the coffee grounds out of my real camera.


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