Friday, April 26, 2013

Getting Ready for Lucketts

It is a flurry of activity here in the studio. I am not quite ready for beauty pics yet, but I thought I'd give you a little taste of what I've been working on for Lucketts. (Here are pics from when I went last year as a shopper.)

As usual right before a show, there is stuff E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E.

Here's a closer look. Book Lamps in process.

These two have a similar feel, but aren't twins. They are both made of vintage technical manuals. One has casters that go through the base book. The other has casters that screw into the base book. I haven't decided if the shades will match or not yet. They will, however, be the same size and shape. I  need to recover one or both of them,so I'll keep you posted. I am totally going with Edison bulbs for both of them. Mostly because I think they are so cool.

Here is a new project I thought up in my efforts to use what I had this spring. These are pillars, platforms and coasters I made using a big branch from my oak tree that I had trimmed a year ago and kept in my shed for just such a crafty purpose. You know you've been the weird, eccentric lady in the neighborhood for too long when your neighbor sees you carrying a large oak branch up the street to your other neighbor's and doesn't even ask you what the branch is for or why you have it with you.

  These darlings are about 1/2 in thick. I thought they'd be perfect to put candlesticks on, just for that extra pop of texture or color. All the wood pieces have sealed paper on one side and sealed natural wood on the other and were grown right here in Virginia.

This is one set of pillars. They range from 2 in to 6-7in tall. I have 4 different sets in 4 different colors and varying heights. These are also two sided with paper on one and wood on the other. Both sides have 3 coast of poly-urethane, so they should hold up to a lot. I though these would be awesome on a woodland style table with candles or even tea lights sitting on them. Or you could use them on a shelf to bring some extra attention to your pretty little things.

This is one of 6 sets of coasters. Each set of 4 is double sided and ready to keep your furniture dry and add that little pop of color to your table tops.

And moving on... Sorry, I got a little carried away there.

I am pretty sure that this vintage 1960's watercolor is going to end up in this chalkboard covered frame. But I have been known to change my mind a time or two. You'll have to come to the show and see.

This is a piece I am struggling to part with. A true antique. A 1888 plate from a McCall's magazine. Que the angels singing. I still can't believe I found it.

 It's so pretty. Wanna see it up close?

I'm thinking pressed between two sheets of glass with a chalk board frame, so it looks like it's floating on the wall. Could be so amazing! Especially against a grey wall.

And who could resist a vintage Uncle Sam stacking doll?

 Love it!

This may not look like much now, but it is giving me goosebumps to think about where it's going. See the paper in the back, that looks like old wall paper? That's gonna be the mat for these vintage stamps. And the back ground will probably be muslin or linen, or something that looks like that.

Here's a closer look at those stamps.


And I was playing with my new Miss Mustard Seed milk paint the other day and ended up with this amazing frame to put with it.

Isn't is so deliciously grotty? All together I think they will absolutely sing.
And just because you all have been so patient (and I happened to have a camera in the studio), here is the finished "Wings And Paisleys". 

I don't love the color contrast here. It's a lot brighter in person. But it gives you a feeling of what the piece looks like. I promise to do a whole post about it after Lucketts. It will not be in the show as I haven't finished redoing the frame that goes with it. And I haven't decided whether it's going to live in my office or not, yet. But if I do decide to sell it, it will be in the November show, all clad in it's sassy vintage chunky gold frame.

Well, that's just a peek at what I have for you guys this show. Be sure to come. It really will be a super fun day. 200 vintage dealers. Just think how much trouble you could get in! If anyone buys a vintage real moose head, let me know and I'll find a prize for you. I have always wanted one, but just don't have the space for it.
Only 3 weeks from tomorrow! 
May 18th-19th, 10am-5pm. 
(I'll be there the 18th)
$7 at the door
42350 Lucketts Rd, 
just north of Leesburg, VA on 15.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

13 Steps to Get a Really Good Night's Sleep

1. Look at the bay window in your kitchen and notice the pitiful state of the onion starts that you bought on a whim at WalMart 2 weeks ago and promptly abandoned, still in the open, plastic WalMart bag.

2. Take onions outside to vegetable garden.

3. See weeds and volunteer strawberries all over garden and remember that the beds need to be weeded. Put onion starts down in their bag in the shade.

 4. Look at the sunny sky and feel the first 70 degree day in months and decide "there's no time like the present". Feel the "Let it Grow" song by Ester Dean from "The Lorax" movie start up in your heart. Think how much you love this song.

5. Pick up kindergartner from the bus stop and enlist her help. When the 4th grader gets home 15 minutes later, talk her into helping too.

6. Spend 15 minutes with the kids ripping the tops off the weeds and leaving the roots and suggest they go play with the water guns you bought on clearance last fall, but have never used yet. The children run off happily to go find buckets for easy water gun refilling. Hear them start laughing as soon as they get the water guns out of the packaging.

7. Weed the entire vegetable bed. Notice while weeding that your salvia made it through the winter. remember how pretty they were last fall and be truly delighted about this. Hope the peonies won't shade them too much when they leaf out.

8. Go get the big shovel from the garage. Start to turn the dirt over in one of your beds. Have kindergartner in swimsuit come up and ask to help. have her jump with all her might on the top lip of the shovel. Be amused that the shovel barely moves. Help by secretly pushing down with your hands. Tell kindergartner now standing completely on shovel to "hold on tight".  Tilt shovel slightly backwards to loosen and turn the soil. Repeat this process several times. Think it's funny that kindergartner squeals every time you tilt the shovel back. Continue until bed is all turned over and kindergartner sees the 4th grader chasing the 13 year old and bounds off to get her own bucket and water gun and sponge.

9. Feel grateful that you thought to buy top soil at Home Depot while it was on sale last week. Haul a bag to the bed you just turned over. Dump bag on turned soil. Haul and open another bag and add it to the first, being sure to spread it evenly across the bed. Kneel down on the grass and start to crush the dirt clods with your hands, so you don't hurt the worms. Hope that the rumor that a worm cut in half can heal and become two worms is true. Be sad because you doubt said rumor is true. Notice how full of life your soil is. See all kinds of insects doing their insect things. Be happy that you took the time to build these beds years ago. Remember how much work it was and and how it took a whole summer. Remember the kids' huge cabbages from last year that were pretty, but also constantly infested with cabbage moth caterpillars. Remember the zucchini vines that ambled across the lawn, much to DK's mowing displeasure. Be amused thinking of him carefully lifting and mowing around them because he knew you loved them. Be grateful that you have a place with full sun to 
grow vegetables. 

10. Start turning over the next bed. Notice that your motions are getting slower. Keep going anyway. Haul over a bunch more dirt and dump it in. Crush the clods with your hands and marvel at how the soil can go from hard and rock-like to light and fluffy in seconds. Think about what a delicious act of optimism planting seeds is. Love how the sun feels on your face and skin and back. Think about the miracle of being able to feed yourself and your family by planting and watering seeds for a while. Feel a sense of wonder that you and your kids have been able to make this little science project work over and over.

11. Notice your hands are getting tired, that it's taking more effort to crush the clods. Notice that it's getting harder to haul over the bags of soil. Move the rest of the bags near where they will be dumped. Keep working despite the growing fatigue. Think of the passage you copied into your book of favorite quotes from Dominique Browning's (former editor of House and Garden Magazine) book Slow Love:

"By the end of the day, I'm sitting on the ground. It has taken me a while to get to achieve such intimacy with the earth. In the morning, I'm bending to reach the plants, by midday, I'm squatting;by mid-afternoon, I'm on my knees, careful not to land on the razor edged holly leaves littering the ground. By late afternoon, I'm tired, my legs are cramping, and I'm happy to release myself to the gravity of the earth."
 Relate completely with this. Keep crushing clods and blending in new soil until you can barely close your hands. Find the energy to finish when you realize that you are almost done with the whole garden.

12. Somehow manage to finish prepping the garden for seeds. Feel crazy proud of yourself. Realize you can't lift your arms or close your hands without discomfort. Step back and admire you fresh new planting beds. Trip on bag of onion starts.

13. Plant onion starts in beautifully prepared bed and feel overwhelmed with gratitude that this was the day God gave you.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

How to Build a Planter out of Pressure Treated 2x4's

I love plants. They are the heart of what I create and they just make me happy. So of course I have many gardens. Or rather, I used to. You see art-ing and barn sale-ing take a long time and lots of my energy. My garden has suffered for this.

But not this year! This year, I am hoping to again have a floral utopia on my deck and a bountiful vegetable garden in my yard. I have BIG plans.

Unfortunately, I am still broke.

And this is what I am currently working with.

The bin idea was great when I started. They are light, fairly cheap and huge. But over time, the sun breaks down the plastic until it becomes brittle. These are cracking down the sides, and split if I try to move  them.

Undaunted, I put down my plant catalogs and went to my studio to see what I had there. There was exactly ....NOTHING that could help me.

This was actually a first for me. The Stash has never let me down before.

So I did something shamelessly self serving. I bribed traded my father-in-law my tickets to the second round of the NCAA basketball tournament (and a chance to hang with the grand kids during spring break) to come and help me build a new deck planter out of 2x4s. The man lives in Idaho, which, for the geographically challenged, is on the opposite side of the country from Virginia. It worked. He showed up.


1. FIND SOMEONE TO HELP YOU.  This is not a one person job. You will swear a lot and potential hurt yourself if you try to go it alone. If you don't have basketball tickets, beer and pizza might do the trick.

2. DRAW UP A SKETCH OF WHAT YOU WANT I knew I wanted the planter to be 4 ft x 2 ft, just to take advantage of the 8ft length of the planter and cut down on how many cuts I had to make. Think through everything. How you want the corners to line up, how you want to attach things, how the bottom will be attached, to mitre or blunt joint, EVERYTHING. It will save you a bunch of time and frustration and trips to the store later. It's a lot easier to redraw something than to re-cut it.

Our plan was to go with a 4ft front, 4 boards high. The sides would be 17.5 inches long to accommodate the  3.5in width of the 5 boards we were using for the bottom of the box. There were four 21.5in boards running the width of the bottom of the box for drainage, base support, and air circulation. And their were 4 interior support boards cut at 14in high to secure the side and front boards to for stability. That was the plan. We did end up changing a few things.

3. BUY YOUR WOOD AND DECK SCREWS. Be sure that you have added up all the lengths that you need and planned for overages. We bought eleven 2in x4in x8ft planks of pressure treated lumber. (Remember, this stuff is going to have wet dirt sitting against it for 15 years. If you are doing a vegetable planter, you might use cedar or something guaranteed non-toxic for your wood) We got the "B" grade, but ended up being charged for the "Prime" grade as the one tag the cashier used happened to be a stray prime board. Bummer. Just buy the prime stuff. I think
 it was  $3.99 or $3.69 ea vs $3.29 at Home Depot for the funky stuff we used.

We bought a box of Pine colored Deck screws size 9 and 2.5 inches long for $9.99. The box had one screw left when we were done. We got lucky, but I had some other deck screws at home if we needed them. If you don't know how many screws you need, buy two boxes.Then you're covered. You can always return an unopened box if you keep your receipts. Better than being mid project and having to run all the way back to the store.
These screws were star tipped. This isn't mandatory, but it makes them harder to strip out, which is a really nice feature. You need a star sharped bit to drill in a star shaped screw.

Fortunately, the box came equipped with one. You need to check what kind of head your screws have and be sure you have a bit that you can use with them. If there isn't one in the box with the screws, they sell a million and one bits in the tool department for fairly cheap. You'll be glad you have it.

4. CUT YOUR WOOD. This process is made exponentially easier with a power saw. We used my kind neighbor's compound mitre saw, which I highly recommend. If you don't have a saw, Home Depot or Lowes can cut your stuff, but there are a lot of cuts for this piece, and they might charge you by the cut.(Then again, they might not, if it's a slow night and you show a little cleavage.) You could also use a mitre box or hand saw. That would take a while, but it's a cheap option.

We started by cutting the long front sides as we were sure they would all be 4 ft (48in) long. When we had all eight pieces cut, we measured five of them laid side by side to see if our width for the box bottom really was 17.5 in. it wasn't. it was 18.25 in. So If you have a question about length, MEASURE FIRST, THEN CUT. We made sure to lay out the cut boards according to size. And once we were done cutting, we dry built the box boy stacking the boards to be sure everything was a nice, tight fit. This also gave us the opportunity to measure the interior lengths we would need, which ended up being different than we had planned.

For the base, you need to make two boards 3in shorter, to accommodate the support piers. The three middle boards are the full length of the box INSIDE the sides.

5. SAND THE BURRS OFF AND SMOOTH THE ENDS OF ALL YOUR BOARDS. You don't want to be admiring your flowers and then get a sliver. I had a sanding sponge lying around, but any bit of sandpaper should do. I'd go with 150-220 grit. But as long as  the burrs are gone and the ends aren't rough, you did it right.

6. BUILD THE BOTTOM OUTSIDE FRAME FIRST. We started here, because we had to flip the whole thing over to attach the support feet, be we wanted to be sure that the bottom pieces would still fit nicely. We drilled pilot holes through the front boards (the long ones) and into the side boards (short ones) about half inch from the lip and edge, making sure to leave a large enough gap for the screws that would be going through the sides into the supports. Then we screwed in the deck screws. We ended up using two drills, one with a drill bit for the pilot holes and one with the star screw bit. This was an awesome system, but you can just change back and forth also.

Once the frame was secure, we just laid in the base boards. There is nothing holding them in place, but pressure. (I wanted to be able to remove and swap them out easily if they rotted over time.) Fortunately, it was a very snug fit.  

Happily, we screwed the vertical support boards in place with one screw, with the intention to add another after we made adjustments once the whole structure was built.

Here you can see better. Sort of. The front stack of screws is vertical. The side stack of screws is horizontal in between the other ones, so they all fit without hitting each other.

7.CAREFULLY TURN THE PLANTER OVER AND ATTACH YOUR SUPPORT BOARDS.  The planter will already be heavier than you expect. Sorry. I forgot to shoot this step, but you can see the feet poking out there on the left.

Since our base boards fit tight, we just left them in place, If yours are a bit loose, you can take them out and just put them back in when you're done. We just screwed the supports into the frame, since they would be resting on the ground with a about 200lbs of dirt sitting on them.

8. BUILD THE NEXT LEVEL OF FRAME STARTING WITH THE SIDE BOARDS. We decided to go with this approach so it looked pretty from the front, with all the screw holes aligned. We dry lined everything up and then screwed the side into the support and then the front into the side. It worked fine, but I'm not sure there isn't a better way. We ended up putting it back down on the feet and screwing things in sideways, letting gravity help hold things in place.

This is what it looked like after 2 courses. Front into sides, sides into supports. Nice and snug.

Oh and I think this is about where the cordless drill batter ran out. Make sure you have more than one battery for your drill fully charged. We ended up borrowing a corded drill and using the cordless one once it recharged.

9. ADD THE THIRD COURSE OF BOARDS, THEN ADJUST THE SUPPORT BOARDS. One more round of Front into side, side into support boards. Once the third row was stable, we unscrewed one or both of the screws in the support boards and pulled them up straight against the sides. Then we added all the screws back, so that each side piece had two screws going into the support boards.

10. ADD THE LAST COURSE OF BOARDS. You totally need two people at this point to hold and tweak and pull things straight and together. We even ended up raising one course just a hair, to make the support board flush with, rather than taller than the top course.

11. FEEL CRAZY PROUD OF YOURSELF AND POSE WITH YOUR PLANTER. I never quite get over the rush of building something out of simple materials that just started out as an idea. It's just so stinking cool!


12. PLACE YOUR PLANTER BEFORE YOU PUT ANYTHING IN IT. These suckers are pretty heavy once they are finished, but they will be immovable with dirt in them. Do your pushing and poking before adding anything.

DK, "Man this is heavy! How many 2x4's did you use?"
Almost there.

Oh wait, just a bit more.

Just right!
13. DRILL DRAINAGE HOLES IN THE BASE. Using the largest bit that will fit in your drill, drill about 8-12 drainage holes, avoiding the base legs and thinking about what's below your planter. You want to drill when things look like this picture. I got a little excited and ran out to get drainage stone, then filled the base with said stone, then thought "Hmmm.. there are no drainage holes here. Crap!" Hence, the example of What Not To Do picture below. It worked, but it would be better and safer to drill BEFORE adding the drainage stone.

What Not To Do. But at least you can see where I put the holes and how big they are. And at least I remembered before putting in the dirt. Whew.

14. ADD YOUR DRAINAGE MATERIAL. This just gives the plant roots a bit more space from sogginess. It may help keep persnickety plants alive during a really wet summer. I bought two 50 lb bags of 1.5 inch river rock, but only ended up using one of them. If you want more than one inch of drainage or your planter is bigger than mine, you'll need more rock.
15. ADD DIRT AND PLANTS. Here is the planter all ready for dirt. I added a bunch of the dirt from my bins, plus a bag and a half of those huge bags of Miracle Grow potting soil from Costco. They're like 2 cubic feet, weigh a ton and only cost about $11. But you can add whatever miracle mix you put in all your outside pots. There are a million and one recipes for potting soil online.

16. ENJOY WATCHING YOUR PLANTS GROW. I happened to have a pair of mature clematis vines living in my vegetable patch, taking up too much space, so I moved them up to the new planter. I am completely in love. And now I have room in the garden for my snap pea trellis.
There are also tulips and blue and white hydrangea shrubs. The hydrangea will eventually move elsewhere, but I think they'll be gorgeous there while they are still small.

I may stain the planter when I redo the deck. but for now, that's how you make a planter out of 2x4's. Enjoy!