Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Tale of Jasper

I have been feverishly preparing for the Branches spring show this week. I had the luxury of having 2 days of extended "child free" time on Thursday and Friday last week to finish things. There is just such freedom in done. (You can read a great post about this, along with a shamefully kind promo of yours truly, written by my friend Erica here on her blog, the Shady Elm) Sadly, while many things for the show are done, everything is not. So today I am shooting pictures and sending emails and rearranging furniture. But in honor of all the things that are finished, this post is all about a little friend of mine named Jasper.

Jasper has been with us since my sister moved back to AZ about 10 years ago. She loved him, but he just couldn't fit in her car with all the other stuff she was taking. And we have loved him. He's a trusty little modern lined side table with a cherry finish. My dearly beloved resin frog, King Rupert, the Fat and Happy, has called Jasper home for about 5 years.

Things for Jasper really started to change this January, when I got on a "I'm going to finish this, if it's the last thing I do" kick. I decided to finish stripping a side table that had been sitting in my studio for about 2 years under a shower curtain. And I actually succeeded. I know. Shock, right? Poor Jasper though. He lost his home and was relegated to the dining room, where he was really just kind of in the way.

So he sat there for a few months in the shadows, until I started to chalk paint. My sister is one of my better sounding boards and she and I had been talking Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. One thing she kept bringing up as we talked about color and technique was what the Antibes Green and Barcelona Orange would look like layered. Now, this is a girl who lives in Portland, Oregon and never met a green she didn't love. Seriously. I have never met anyone with more green striped t-shirts than my sister. I think she must have one for every day of the month. So it would follow suit that she would fantasize about green and orange tables. Plus the Portland aesthetic can totally take a green and orange table. That would be a much harder sell here in Northern Virginia. But I digress..... anyway, I was driving somewhere one day, thinking about painting stuff and it hit me! I could redo Jasper in the orange and green she had been talking about and ship it to her for her birthday in May!

So I set to work. Here is a picture approximating what Jasper looked like before I started. Please disregard the poor lighting. I forgot to take a before pic, so I just used the back lighting to give you guys a feel for where our story starts, with the dark cherry finish. Lame, I know, but I just get so excited to transform this understand, right?

So I wanted a green table with orange showing through the paint. So in the beginning, Jasper was orange with green accents. I purposely broke up the strokes and built a grain, so that when I sanded, I would get a lot of texture, preferably in a kind of fire stich pattern.

Here's what he looked like with the second coat of orange:

Coat number three is the actual look, with the green on the top and legs and a few coats of orange on the neck.

And I thought I'd add a few hits of Emperor's Silk, a flaming hot Chinese red, just for a

At this point, Jasper was looking a little "party in Tijuana". Thank heavens for wax.

Wax. It really IS the secret ingredient to ASCP (Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, for those of you just tuning in). It just makes everything look so much chic-er. Less country. More expensive. Love that!

Ok, enough dilly-dally-ing. You all want to see the "after" pics? Here you go:

Major transformation, right? That last one kills me. I had wanted a more industrial look, and I just walked into my studio to see the light just right. Love it when that happens.

So for those of you that thought that ASCP couldn't go modern, here's Jasper, on his way to Portland, land of the industrial look. I hope he enjoys his new, green home.

BTW, the @ in the above photo is part of the Branches spring show. Come see it in person, along with a bunch more stuff including all this moss

the Barn Sale Without a Barn

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Spring Preview

Ok this is just the shortest little post, but I have been shooting pictures all morning. And things are getting way too exciting not to give you guys just the teensiest of sneak peeks. So here you go:

Are you excited yet? I can't wait. See you there. May 5th

Thursday, April 12, 2012

More March Madness

March Madness is a big deal in my husband's family. With four brothers and basketball loving parents to boot, you can imagine the ferocious competition that ensues over Tyrell, the traveling trophy (bought at a garage sale along the way somewhere because he was sporting shorty 80's shorts). We all play, even the kids and babies, and the method of children's choices has to be documented so that no one has more than one bracket. It's kind of hilarious actually. And while I like a few weeks of college ball mayhem as well as the next brother,  my own March Madness involved chalk paint, a field trip, and one crazy-ambitious idea.

The day after my parents left, I packed up "A Shift in the Season" and took it to it's new home in Leesburg with my friend Erica. This little day trip had been planned for weeks, as I found out there was an Annie Sloan stockist within 10 minutes of Erica's house. What could be better than delivering my first completed paper collage, buying more paint (the Leesburg stockist carries sample sizes) in all the "crazy" colors, and spending a day shopping in Lucketts, VA with a friend I hardly ever get to see ?

The first stop was Erica's house. This is relevant for two reasons: first, Erica is the proud owner of "A Shift in the Season" and has been waiting for this piece to show up for about a year. So it was an exciting moment for both of us when she tore open the paper covering the long awaited picture. I think we both got a little misty. She loved it. I was completely relieved.

The second reason is that Erica is an artist. In fact, she's the artist that designed my logo for Branches, my barn sale without a barn.

Isn't it the classiest? This is a paper cutting, folks! I love it. I drew her a pencil sketch and this is the beauty she created. Talk about exceeding expectations.

Anyway, I was walking around her house, all blissed out about the picture, and I stumbled on this pretty little thing:

Don't you just love it? The grey band on the bottom is actually a kind of  brushed silver paper. I think the trees were all cut/carved with an exacto knife from the same sheet of black paper. It is completely luminous. You can feel the winter air just brushing your face as you stare at it. I seriously wanted to slip it inside my shirt and smuggle it into my car to sell in the November barn sale. Sadly, I was wearing a fitted t-shirt and would never have gotten past the family room.

Erica has been holding out on me apparently. She has several pieces in the works. I want them all, but she assures me that "my" piece is coming. Actually, paper cutting works like therapy for her. She's a budding novelist and when writing and home schooling and momming and wifing and life all become too much, she heads for her exacto knife. In a good way, of course.

And don't worry, I am ALWAYS asking her to let me sell her stuff. Eventually, I know she will cave. She loved getting paid for the logo. And you can't blame her. There is nothing quite as validating as being paid for something you created.

Anyway, back to our field trip. We left the kids with a sitter and headed for stop #1, On a Whim, a cute little shop made out of an old barn and grain silo painted pink with black polka dots. (Click here for their web site.) I have never seen such an amazing selection of refinished vintage furniture. It was like I had died and gone to heaven. White chalk paint everywhere. Dressers like clouds. Such pretty lines, just the right amount of crackle and distress. Celeste and her other artists are quite the gifted group. And the prices were so reasonable, I thought about buying something refinished, rather than going to the trouble myself. (Which if you know how crafty/cheap I am, is a true testimony of how reasonable these prices were.) Here's a peek of one of the rooms: (see their website for more pics)

I still have no idea why I only took one picture of this amazing store. This is a small room to the right of the main store. The entire interior perimeter is covered with vintage prom dresses in chromatic order. And just as an example of reasonable prices, this solid wood full sized bed frame was $350. No, that is not a typo.

Here's the only other picture I took of this marvelous shop:

I love the finish here. Can't you see this on some chunky wood side table?

Anyway, I left On A Whim with less cash, but with hands full of a happy pair of bags full of Annie Sloan chalk paint and a collection of funny vintage lidded glass bottles that I have big plans for.

Our next destination was a short drive through Leesburg, to the Old Lucketts Store. (see their website here) It's one of Erica's very favorite haunts of  all time. I had come here with her one other time, but we had the kids with us, so it was a bit more distracting.

I really love this place. You just can't believe it's real, if you are a natural born "picker" like me. Ironwork and shutters in the yard.

 A side house full of everything rhinestone. A porch full of bargain priced antiques and vintage pieces.

The main store is in an old house:

See all those windows? They are chock full'o goodies that delight and cause you wallet-based angst. There are 3 floors of glorious shopping. This is the stuff Pottery Barn copies and sells, but it's the real thing here.

Sadly, I had to leave them all there, as I had blown my wad at On A Whim. But there really are some great finds. I yearned over a 60 inch round dark wood table for $69 in the sheds outside and another medium wood table with a carved apron for $88 in one of the upstairs rooms. Oh, and the big carved wood mirror for $135. I almost forgot about that one. I was aching over that one. Great. Stuff. Here.

And if you need design ideas, this is the place. Here is a ceiling treatment from one of the upper rooms. It's painter's cloth:

And displaying things on cake stands and stacked trays. I love it!

Our field trip held one more stop. At the shop across the street, Really Great Finds (Their website is here). I was standing there when I took the picture of the Lucketts Store. I was in front of this staircase to the porch. Now tell me, who could resist a weathered blue metal warthog?

The store was closed, but we couldn't help taking a look around. It was kinda like estate sale meets flea market meets Mexican or Chinese marketplace.

Killer right? Someday I will go in this one. Maybe in May when I hit the Lucketts Store Fair. (Here is the event website. There are even pictures.) I can't wait!!! That's what I am wanting for Mother's Day, the next Saturday off to go play with my girls and meet a few of my favorite bloggers.

As all good things must come to an end, my time with Erica had come to it's close. The school bus was coming and I had a 45 minute drive back to the city ahead of me. But not before I got one last picture of Erica and a chicken in all it's glory:

Why else do we have friends, but to publish pictures of them standing near giant metal chickens?

I almost forgot the most important part! The crazy-ambitious idea. As I was driving home from this lovely outing, I thought about a conversation with another friend who had suggested I do a spring show. I had told her she was nuts....that there was no way I could generate enough stuff by myself to do a spring show. But as I drove away from Erica's, I thought...."hmmm...a spring show....I might be able to swing it...."

So come see what I've whipped up. I actually did it. I'll be ready with plenty of really great stuff.

Branches: the Barn Sale Without a Barn Spring Show - One Day Only!
May 5th from 11am-5pm

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Siren Song of a Colorful Spring

Spring has come early here this year. March is usually dark and depressing and grey. This year, it's been sunny and flowery and warm. So instead of wishing I was somewhere else while staring at my sky blue kitchen ceiling, (which is how I usually get through March,) I decided to do a little something. I invited my mother to come out and take an art class with me.

It was a class in using color in soft pastel taught by Lou Gagnon of Lynn Vale Farms (Here's their site: ) in Gainesville, VA. I met him by chance through his wife, Andrea, who makes the most glorious flower bouquets at the Burke Farmer's market.  They had their own barn sale in December, and you know I am a sucker for a day trip, so Alynne and I went out to check it out. This what greeted us:

Pretty place, right? Well it IS a flower farm. How ugly could it be? (You gotta love hydrangeas. They are always lovely)

Here are a few of Lou's pieces, just to give you a feel for what this guy knows about color:

They are completely luminous in person. I was stunned. Here are a few more:

I wanted to add this last one, just to give you some idea how beautiful these pieces are in context. It nevet hurts to have a fabulous, original barn door as a backdrop.

So back to our class. I went with my mom and my friend Sharon. Lou taught us some really useful stuff about color theory and light theory, about blending with colors instead of just black and white. We even got to wear 3D glassed for an exercise on temperature. It was kind of like being at pastel color boot camp. I loved it! Plus he let us use all his pricey European pastels. Gotta love that.

And I got to see my mom as a fellow student and artist. She's much more concerned with doing it "right" than I am. It was fun to have a chance to tease her just a little bit about being a "front row seat" kind of girl. Sharon and I are definately the back row types. But once she relaxed and got into it, Mom impressed me with her sophisticated color combinations and thoughtful comments. Way to go Mom!

Here we all are in that amazing studio:

The same weekend brought other adventures with it. Originally, my mom had planned on coming out alone, but about 3 days before she left, my dad decided he wanted to come too! It was just what the doctor ordered. (No pun intended, Dad.) I had got myself into a situation that could use a little oversight and he was just the man to do it.

I have been refinishing and repairing this beautiful chest of drawers, but it has quite the laundry list of things that need doing. When I got it, it was really musty and needed to be bleached and aired out. The drawers were creaky and the base panels slid in and out at random. The top had old advesive from a mirror that was no longer with us and needed to be stripped. But the biggest problem was the bottom drawer. There was no bottom panel at all. Here's what it looked like the day I got it home.

Pretty, but daunting, right? I did a bunch of it, but with cutting the replacement piece of wood I was stuck.

So my dad helped out. Fortunately, I know a guy with a scroll saw and had the perfect piece of wood already in my shop. My dad made a template, recut the base of the drawer for me, and then helped me reglue the dovetails to strengthen each drawer base. Horrah for dads who know their way around a workshop!

He also helped me frame "A Shift in the Season", which was huge for me. It was a complicated install with very little margin for error. I got nauseous every time I thought about it. He wasn't even nervous. I suppose being a doctor where you are making decisions that affect whether people live or die might thicken your skin a bit. There really is something to working with someone that has complete and total confidence, both in you and themselves. In any case, it turned out beautifully. I would consider it my master work so far, both the piece and the framing job. (If you are so inclined, here's the entry I wrote about the developement and process of this piece)

Here it is in its new home:

And how could I claim "Daddy's Girl" status, if he didn't take me shopping for a bunch of stuff? I have to say, going thrift shopping with your dad is a blast. He found golf shoes and a putter for himself. I found my entire spring line of stuff to refinish for myself. (I promise before and after pics are coming, but that's another post)

In any case, I owe my dad a huge Thank you!!! You are the best!!!