Browsing articles in "Craftiness"
Sep 10, 2014
Jesse

A Sunny Place to Sit

It’s not that I had anything special planned for this summer. I guess like most years, I wanted nice, big, comfortable events: restful vacations for people I love. Good news. Days filled with small, manageable adventures. Long walks and heat waves and thunderstorms.

Instead, it was a pretty cold summer.

Sometimes, when things are difficult or I am in a funk, I try to shock myself out of a haze with activity. I clean out my closet. I paint something. I organize some cabinets. I find some distraction in driving to every Target in existence, buying up every roll of the shelf liners, as though lining my shelves in the right color mats will make the difference between chaos and order in more than just my cabinets.

Sometimes, this works.

This summer, finding momentum was harder. Instead, I have moved in uneven steps, not able to hit my usual frenzied getting-things-done mode.

On a day I received terrible news, news I had to relay to each of my family members, one after the other, changing tactics each time and adding to my team of People who Know Now and Who Must Tell Now, I spent part of the afternoon on Craigslist, shopping for a bistro table for my porch. My brain needed somewhere to go. You reach for the dullest distractions on the worst days.

I found a table. It was ridiculously low-priced. I contacted the seller. She didn’t respond. I spent the next few weeks distracting myself by shopping for bistro sets: Target (too expensive), Walmart (surprisingly cute), Ikea (their various tables were either out of my price range or not what I wanted). World Market had a few adorable and vintage-looking sets (I am a sucker for anything that looks like it belongs on Doris Day’s back patio), but they were all about 20% larger than would allow me to open my door.

I trolled Craigslist some more. The table, the original one, appeared again. The price had gone up. Someone had tipped this lady off. That was fine with me. The table wasn’t exactly what I had in my head, it was more ice cream parlor than Doris Day, but the price was still good, it would fit on my porch, and it needed a paint job and I needed a project.

The woman responded to my email with “Okay! There is a lot of interest in this table! Whoever shows up first gets it!” She did not leave any contact information. This made if very difficult for me to show up first. I made room in my car, got cash, googled her information. When she finally wrote back with her home address, I had already found her house on the internet. After a few trips back and forth, I had the table. As we loaded it into my trunk, she saw the Moody Bible Institute sticker on my Mini. This led, though I don’t remember how, to a conversation about people we have lost and our hope in Heaven. All of my annoyance at her evaporated. Everybody’s hurting, even people who don’t respond to emails quickly.

My enthusiasm fizzled out. The table sat on my porch unpainted for months. I told myself that this was because I was too busy, but really, it was because I couldn’t bring myself to do anything useful, much less a vanity project. Instead, I buried myself under a blanket of fantasy: I’d watch or read anything with magic, anything where good beat evil and the laws of physics would warp to fix things beyond fixing.

And then summer was nearly over. I couldn’t face that poor beige table all winter. I couldn’t put it away when I promised it that it would be new again. So I bought some paint: Rustoleum Painter’s Touch 2X Ultra Cover Paint and Primer in Sun Yellow. The name had a comforting lot of promises in it. It took a few weeks, but I finally made myself clear part of a Saturday to start washing the table down.

Repainting a Bistro Set

1) Spray the table and chairs down with the “jet” setting on your garden hose nozzle. Pretend it’s a pressure washer. Rinse all spider webs and spider eggs and grime off the table. Regret not doing this on a hotter day. Regret wearing jeans. Regret a lot of things.

2) Scrub the table and chairs with a wire brush. This will rough up the surface to make it hold paint better, knock off any loose chips of paint, and show you all the spider eggs you missed. Consider sanding the table when you see that the chipped old paint probably won’t look smooth under the new paint. Resist the urge, because this is an exercise in completing something, and not necessarily in completing something well.

3) Refuse to think about anything. Refuse to have any emotions which aren’t directly related to your audiobook, and be wary of those. When a certain young wizard is given a photo of his parents laughing and waving, scrub harder. It is probably okay if you are a little bit angry.

4) Think about how DIY bloggers usually use something called a “liquid deglazer” at this point. Think about how that sounds sort of sci-fi and would probably be interesting to try, but it would mean spending more money and taking another trip to the hardware store. Use vinegar instead. You can use vinegar for everything. Think about pickles, briefly.

5) Wash the dust from the wire brush away with a rag and a bucket full of vinegar and water and let everything dry. It will dry faster than you think and you do not have time to go inside and do something other than work on this table and chairs, don’t even consider it, okay, fine, go have some chips and salsa and look at the Internet. Just make sure you come back out again. You were doing so well.

6) Prepare your painting area by taping up some sheets of plastic in your garage. Put your phone in a sandwich baggie, because you can still use the touchscreen through the plastic, but now it won’t be covered in a haze of overspray paint like last time. Congratulate yourself on your cleverness. It is nice to solve problems.

7) Paint. Move the paint can in smooth, even strokes, like you read on that blog. Concentrate very hard on painting, covering the rusty beige with yellow. Regret not sanding. Sand a little. You will use more paint than you expect. The promises on the paint can do not mean that you don’t have to do a few coats. Buy more paint. The whole process will take you a few days longer than you thought.

8) When the paint has had a few days to dry, carry the table and chairs up to your porch. Put everything back together. If you do not feel the same level of satisfaction which you normally do upon completing a project, that is okay.

Sometimes, you just have to take tiny, tentative steps forward. Sometimes you have hope not because you want to, but because you must. Sometimes you have to make a sunny place to sit.

sunny place to sit

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Mar 22, 2013
Jesse

Fox & Squid

I recently faced a major shortcoming in my life. “Major” might be the wrong word. Also maybe not “shortcoming.” The word I’m looking for is whatever you call it when you realize that you really want to hang art on your walls, but you don’t want to/can’t pay more money for it. That word. It’s probably German, like most good words about frugality and desire.

All of this to say, I made some stuff. I wanted some things to hang on my wall, so I went to my old standbys: an X-acto knife and some pretty paper.

What I like about making pictures this way is that I can’t exactly draw, but I really like looking at things and breaking them down into their most basic shapes, and then making a sort of puzzle, except I’m both making the pieces and then putting them together.

I made the first thing around the time I read The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. The book wasn’t everything I wanted it to be, but I loved the cover and the image of the orange fox in the white snow (and it reminded me a bit of this that I made a few Christmases ago). Also, we had a few foxes in our yard and on our street growing up, and they’re such pretty, graceful animals. (Sometimes we mistook them for stray cats. Hilarity ensued.)

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I was tempted to make Blue Boy and Pinkie foxes, but then they released the first ever footage of the giant squid, and I had cephalopods on the brain even more than I usually do. So, now it’s more like Fox Boy and Squidy, but let’s never call them that.

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I hung them in these gold frames that I found at a thrift store. I’m pretty sure I made a solemn oath to not hang the frames without painting something less gaudy, but I’m also pretty sure oaths made via text message while in the throes of thrifting aren’t admissible in a court of law. Or my apartment.

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I thought that how I made this last thing was sort of interesting, so I’d write it like a tutorial, because I have a deep and true love of DIY blogs. I hold that I have loved ampersands since before it was cool to love ampersands. My proof is that I searched the entire internet for ampersand-themed jewelry back in 2008 and found not a thing. Now you can buy ampersand earrings at every hipster craft fair (and believe me, I do), but I still love them and put them everywhere in my house. I considered trying to free-hand an ampersand to frame, but I had a feeling that that would be disastrous. I was going to print a template, but that would have involved a lot of wires and ink and seemed vaguely bad-retro, so I did this instead.

Using Your iPad as a Lightbox to Make a Pretty Thing

What You’ll Need:
an iPad
scotch tape
tissue paper
X-acto knife
pretty paper in two colors
rubber cement

Decide what letter or punctuation mark you’d like to make. I recommend ampersands because they are prettiest, but you can have opinions, too. Type that character into the iPad word processor of your choice in the font of your choice and in the largest possible font size. (I used Pages so I could use Apple’s default fonts, and the font I used was Didot.)

Take a screenshot of that character by pressing the on/off switch and the home button on your iPad at the same time. This gives an image to manipulate, and is much easier to deal with than an iPad word document.

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Open the image in Photos. This is where the tracing and the tissue paper comes in. My tissue paper was purple and wrinkled, but this probably isn’t necessary. You could even use real tracing paper if you’re that kind of fancy. Cut a piece of tissue paper to be a little larger than the screen of your iPad, and wrap it around, taping on the back of the device. At this point, I laid my frame on the screen and adjusted the size of the ampersand. (The touchscreen still works through the tissue paper. Magic.)

Trace the image with a pencil, but be careful to keep your hand off the screen, or you’ll move the image around. If you do move the image, just move it back using what you’ve already traced as a guideline. It’s kind of like a really easy puzzle from a Nancy Drew game. You know, if you’re into that kinda thing.

Untape the tissue paper from the iPad, being careful not to rip it. Trim the tissue paper down, and tape it to your pretty paper. I like using scrapbook paper because it’s nice and thick and acid free, and you can find every color, texture, and pattern known to man if you go to one of the scrapbooker’s holy places, like Archivers.

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Cut out the character with your X-acto knife. What I love about using X-acto knives is that you’re practically drawing with a knife. (But if you make a mistake, you can’t erase. Work slowly.) Be careful around corners; it’s easy to overshoot. I usually work out from inside corners, which keeps the overshooting at bay.

Glue your cut-out down with rubber cement. I use Q-tips for the small details. Trim your paper to the size of your frame, hang it, and feel proud of yourself. Text a picture of it to your mom.

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With all the weirdness that’s been going on with Google Reader and Feedburner and RSS and all those things lately, I thought I’d throw this out there: If you like this blog and want to keep up with it, why don’t you subscribe by email? Enter your email below:


 


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Oct 16, 2012
Jesse

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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Mar 28, 2012
Jesse

Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream Cabinet

I think I can finally write about this.

My injuries have healed–the physical ones, at least–and the smell has gone away. It was a long road to recovery, but it was worth it.

Decorating my apartment is my favorite hobby. My only real goal is to make it as adorable as possible. (There was a point a few months ago when I thought I had made my apartment as cute as it could be, and I sank into a deep depression. Then I realized that absolute adorability can never be reached, so I righted myself and bought some curtains.)

This leads me to my biggest project to date. The project that inspired this post. The project that nearly ended my DIYing life.

It began with this cabinet. Doesn’t she look innocent? A little white thing with legs akimbo. She all but bats her eyelashes. I found her at my favorite furniture thrift store.

Cabinet before, all akimbo.

The cabinet was just exactly the size I needed, and it was a reasonable price. I knocked on it, and it sounded like wood. I figured I could spend a weekend repainting it and have just exactly the cabinet I wanted.

I was so young.

My plan was to combine paint and stain to get something two-toned like this. It was going to be so fancy. I bought my paint and can of Zip Strip and got to work on a Friday night after work.

I polled Twitter with my paint swatches. Mostly I just like to say "swatches".

I figured I could strip the cabinet on Friday, paint a coat on Saturday, and finish up on Sunday. I opened the can of Zip Strip. Or, I attempted to. I tried pushing the lid down. The lid made a clicking noise. It was like it was telling me that it could open, it just didn’t want to. I tried pulling the lid up. That didn’t work either. I banged on it with my screw driver. I stood on it, balancing my heel on the lid and imagining what would happen if I burst the can and sprayed caustic chemicals everywhere.

I called my dad. He said that my choices were to wait until he got up there or go back to the hardware store. I drove back to Ace, ashamed. When I explained the situation, the woman at the desk announced over the PA that I needed assistance. She called “Big Tom” to the front. Big Tom was about 6’2 and twelve years old. It took him four seconds to open the can of Zip Strip. Big Tom was one of those smirky tweens.

So began my DIY troubles. I hurried home, trying to get a start on the cabinet before dark. I opened the doors and started to peel up the shelf paper that covered the inside. I wouldn’t peel. It wasn’t shelf paper.

It was wallpaper.

Who wallpapers furniture? Unrepentant sinners with limited vision and a complete lack of foresight, that’s who.

Wallpaper. Inside the cabinet.

Not to be deterred, I looked up wallpaper removal. Everyone recommended some fancy wallpaper eating tool, but I didn’t need no stinking tools. I got out my Xacto knife and started cutting scores in the wall paper to let the Zip Strip seep through. I did not swear.

I couldn’t remove paint until the next day. This way, I had fresh and hopeful new light shining to reveal the next horror.

My cabinet, my friendly little wooden cabinet, the cabinet that I was going to stain and also paint, was not wood. It was laminate. I was nearly defeated. My plans were ruined. I pressed on.

Poor naked cabinet.

The paint fumes started to get to me. I used four cans of Zip Strip. I used it wrongly. Somewhere around Saturday evening, my cozy mystery audiobook ended and I switched to Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. The wrinkled paint started to develop pretty patterns.

Sunday night, I hit my groove. I figured out the Zip Strip. (Reading instructions helps. Who knew?) I had five hours of daylight left, and I was going to remove the paint from that rebellious cabinet. When I smashed my finger during a particularly zealous sanding maneuver, I shook off the dizziness and nausea, but decided to take a break when my finger threatened to bleed on my nearly stripped cabinet.

When I returned to work on Monday, I had trouble focusing. I wasn’t sure if it all those hours spent with noxious gasses or just my utter need complete my project, but even my waiting-for-files-to-load doodles were cabinet-themed.

Doodles at work.

The actual painting of the cabinet was uneventful. I went with a vintage olive green. The legs of the cabinet did turn out to be solid wood, so I finished them in a walnutty color. The cabinet took me three weeks of weekends and weeknights to finish. The cost of the materials would easily have covered a new cabinet, so when I finally finished, I took stock of what I learned: I gained a little experience, a little humility. And I gained a little green cabinet whose paint chipped when I moved it into place.

In my little living room.

 


Title taken from this movie. If you don’t like it, we can’t be friends.

Photos were all sent through Instagram to try to hide the fact that they are, in fact, iPhone photos. In case you were wondering, it is unwise to pour your coffee into your purse when your purse contains your nice camera.

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Dec 30, 2011
Jesse

Paper Christmas

It started, as so many things in my life do, with something I found on Twitter. A man I follow decided to organize a Secret Santa with his Internet friends. To keep it simple, he limited it to handmade gifts.

This was going to be great. I was going to get extra presents! I love extra presents! All I had to do was figure out what to make

So began several days of fretting. I tried googling my recipient, but she didn’t have any sort of web presence that I could find. Not even on Facebook. So, instead of being able to look for clues as to what she would like, I had protracted text brainstorming sessions with friends before I finally sort of settled on a sort of winter diorama. I wanted to give my Secret Santaee a box of winter. I thought it would be a fairly cheap, simple project.

I can be so silly sometimes.

After many trips to my local paper purveyor, a few lost Xacto knives, and lots and lots of glittter, I ended up with something close to my original idea.

I didn’t want this post to be just photo overload, so I condensed the making-of process into one photo. Oh, and I dumped an entire cup of coffee onto my real camera, so this is my attempt at gussying up my iPhone photos.
Box of winter

What I wanted to do was send my recipient a box of winter. I, as I’ve said before, have really missed the cold and the snow this year, so I was trying to send my Secret Santa person something of that feeling. So, they got this box:
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And when they opened it, it looked like this:
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The best part of this whole Secret Santa thing, though, was what I got in return. Uh-this:

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If you don’t recognize this, you’re obviously not spending enough time reading the archives of this fine blog. Seriously, what are you doing between my posts? Anyway, that right there is a drawing of my desk, copied from a photo I posted here about a year back. I squealed. I’m going to frame it. And also sleep with it under my pillow. This is the perfect personal but not too personal Secret Santa gift. And it makes me wish that my Secret Santaee was easier to Google. Oh well. I love it. Oh, there’s also a drawing of the Hancock Building on the second notebook (which I also love, since I used to go to school within sight of it and also worked in the building for a few months), but I forgot to take a photo of that one because I was squealing and calling my mom.

So. That’s the first part of my Paper Christmas. The second part came from a desire to find something really custom and interesting for my sisters for Christmas. I wanted to do some Etsy shopping, but we exchanged gifts two weeks early and I ran out of time. It occurred to me about two days before Christmas (Observed) that if I can make gifts for strangers, than I can make gifts for sisters. And so I did.

Melissa really loves Alice in Wonderland (and is a lot like Alice in all sorts of good ways) so I made her a paper Alice with her classic blue dress and some tiny mushrooms. And beefy arms. I’m sorry about that, Alice dear.
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This last one is what I believe to be my greatest achievement in things I have cut out of paper. It’s my favorite thing I’ve made in a long time. Elizabeth and I have both (separately) been watching Doctor Who this year. It really is a wonderful show. I will evangelize you if you stand still long enough. Anyways. The Doctor flies through space and time in his little blue box of a spaceship. It looks like a 1940s* police call box, but do not be decieved, his ship, the TARDIS, is bigger on the inside.

I made Elizabeth a paper TARDIS. Behold:

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I considered stealing it but I did not. It looked really cute in my living room, though.

Did you make any of your gifts this year? Tell me about ’em!

I wish you a very happy new year, and I’m going to leave you with this, because in an Internet that contains sleeping kittens and sneezing pandas and babies who recite poetry, this is the cutest thing that exists right now:

 

 


*Edit: I am ashamed. It’s actually a 1963 police box. Thanks Marc, for pointing that out to me.

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Aug 17, 2011
Jesse

I Did It Myself

Photo from coldpants' flicker stream.

It’s not my fault.

Not really.

I had plenty of time this week to figure out where to lay the blame. I traced back to my grandma, who converted her cozy lake house in to a three-story, four-sitting-room retirement dreamhouse. I’ve considered my mother, who knew, just knew, when my dad had finished framing and installing the French doors, that they would work so much better if he just moved them six inches to the right.

Surely there must be something in my genes that inspired all this.

I considered my dear friend Kate. Kate made slipcovers for her couches out of canvas drop cloths. Kate made herself Christmas stocking out of thrift-store sweaters. Kate reupholstered a wingback chair. You can read about it on her blog.

Her blog.

That’s it.

Katy dear, she’s the one who introduced me to all those do-it-yourself blogs. It’s those blogs that are to blame.

Those blogs with their shiny custom blog layouts. With their perfectly candid family photos and the wide array of tools. They have everything they need, really. Power sanders, paint brushes (the expensive ones), and the kind of can-do attitude that can only come when you’ve hand-crafted your own bootstraps out of upcycled trunk handles. (Cute idea, right?)

Their homes are perfect. Oh, they write, apologetically, welcome to our work-in-progress. This ol’ thing? they say, displaying a photo of the chandelier they constructed out of bicycle tires and fishnet stockings. I just whipped this up between re-tiling the bathroom and weaving a rug on our homemade loom!

These people, these bloggers, they’re forever productive. They find some ugly old chair, say, caked with mud and upholstered with palm-tree-embroidered velour, and they haul it away to their backyard. This thing’s got great bones, they’ll explain. You just wait.

And I do. I wait. I tap my phone, refreshing my RSS reader until I see that little number pop up telling me I have one new post to read. I shake my phone, cursing my wireless company for the slowness of my 3G connection. Finally, the photos load. I scroll past the clever title and post teaser. This isn’t the time for your words, blog lady. Tell me what happened to that chair.

I’m never disappointed. They were right. The chair did have great bones. In about 20 minutes, that bony chair when from a trash-pile relic to a magazine-shoot ready, Eames-inspired, Martha-Stewart-can-only-dream, room-making Chair!

I never would have put those colors together, but it so works for them.

It only takes a few weeks of feverish blog-reading before I realize that I can do this. I can Do It Myself. What do these people got that I don’t got? A table saw? Bah! I don’t need a table saw! I held the flashlight for my dad for 20 years! I know how to do stuff! I bet when those bloggers started, they didn’t know a Phillips from a flat-head screwdriver. I’m already ahead.

I start small. Spray paint some picture frames. So I never actually hang them. It’s experience, right? Next I make some pillows. Well. I watch my mom make some pillows. I’m getting very good at threading needles. I decide to learn how to embroider. Just think what cute curtains I can watch my mom make after I’ve embroidered Shakespeare’s sonnets around the border.

Hang on. Embroidery’s really boring.

What Would Younghouselove Do?

I head to the thrift store. I find it: my Next Project. I’ll refinish that cabinet. It’ll take a day, probably. Maybe a weekend. A little paint stripper, a little elbow grease, I’ll have a vintage-nouveau cabinet to hold my hand-me-down lamps.

The cabinet’s in the kitchen now, drying. It took me three days just to get the original paint off, and I don’t want to talk about what I found underneath. (Hint: not wood.) I smashed my finger in one of the doors during an intense sanding session. I’ve spent every spare moment of the last five days on this thing, and I have an alarm set for 6am so I can put a third coat on before work.

I chose an olive green paint. I thought it would be a good color-used-as-a-neutral. The first coat went on like…well…it sort of reminded me of what happens when you feed a baby too much pureed spinach. I still have high hopes, though. They say paint always dries less poopy.

I’m going to finish this project, even if it means I have to prime sand it down and prime it all over again. I’m going to stain the cabinet legs to match my side chairs. Someday I’ll just happen upon grimy-but-just-right brass hardware that I’ll polish and screw on.

I know I’m going to start a new project in a few weeks, once my finger heals and the paint fumes clear out of my apartment. I also know I can’t really blame genetics or even those DIY blogs.

I did this myself.

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