One auspicious morning, I saw this beautiful desk (along with a “FREE!” sign) out on my neighbor’s curb.
I was sure someone would snag the desk before the day was done, but when I got home that evening, it was still there!
With my Mag-Lite in tow, I went to investigate. The desk was missing a slide-out tray but seemed awesome otherwise; it had plenty of storage space and was built to last. Feeling a bit like a creeper skulking around the neighborhood at midnight with my flashlight, I stealthily removed the drawers and carried them to my garage. It took six trips.
I left a note letting my neighbors know I’d take the rest of the desk home once I rounded up the troops. The next evening, Walt and Fiona and I lugged it into the backyard.
I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to just clean it and use it immediately, or repaint it. My least favorite part of furniture makeovers is sanding and priming, and I wasn’t sure if I was willing to do the prep work to repaint the desk. Then I read a Design*Sponge tutorial about Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. I learned that chalk paint (which is different from chalkboard paint—paint that you use to create a blackboard-like surface) can be applied to just about any wooden surface without having to strip, sand, or prime the wood beforehand. It leaves a velvety finish and is good for projects where you want a shabby chic/vintage/antique look.
I decided to give it a go. Even though Annie Sloan products are expensive (1 liter of paint: $38; 500 mL of wax: $28) and the brand is hard to find, I thought the money would be worth the time I’d save not sanding and priming.
In all, I worked on the desk for two days (one day to clean, one day to paint). It really could have taken just one day, but I drove to San Jose twice because the store was out of wax the first time I went. I hope this tutorial will inspire you if you’re considering a furniture makeover of your own!
DAY ONE: WASHING THE DESK
- furniture cleaner
- steel wool scouring pad (0000)
The desk was originally covered in a thick layer of grime. After vacuuming the desk, I scrubbed it with a cleaner then hosed it down and let it try in the sun. (I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that you soak your furniture in water. But since it was a very hot day, I knew the wood would dry quickly.)
DAY TWO: PAINTING THE HARDWARE
- spray paint
After removing the knobs, I spray painted the hardware in a navy blue color. Easy-peasy!
DAY TWO: PAINTING THE INTERIOR
- interior paint
At this point, I decided I wanted to compare the “prime then paint” process with the “chalk paint only” process. Since I already had some primer and paint samples from past projects (and since I didn’t want to use too much of the costlier chalk paint), I decided to prime and paint the inside of the drawers.
I painted the drawers with a coat of primer…
…then topped that off with two coats of a light aqua-colored Benjamin Moore interior paint.
Priming and painting took several hours—and the primer/paint smell was strong, even though I was working in an open garage. About mid-way through the process, I wished I’d just stuck with chalk painting the whole thing!
DAY TWO: PAINTING THE EXTERIOR
- chalk paint
- clear wax
Now on to the fun stuff!
I painted the desk’s exterior in “Coco,” a gray/brown color to complement my dresser. The paint applied thickly, dried quickly (in just half an hour), and did not smell nearly as much as the primer and traditional interior paint. It also provided great coverage, so I ended up just painting one coat (with plenty of paint left over for future projects). Overall, I think the chalk paint is definitely worth considering if you’re contemplating a furniture makeover.
After buffing the table with clear wax, my buddies and I managed to get the behemoth desk into my room. (The whole process involved a lot of guesstimating, experimenting, maneuvering, and door removal-ing.) Then we celebrated with beers, brats, and giant pretzels at a local German beer garden.
All in all, a great weekend!
What’s your favorite childhood toy?
Mine’s the Transit of Venus Care Bear.
More elusive than the furtive Yeti of the Great White North, more wanderlust-y than Nessie of the Scottish lochs, the Transit of Venus Care Bear only appears once every 105 years. But don’t look directly at him! The Care Bear Stare’s* so bright that you gotta wear shades.
Last summer, Walt taught an astronomy class. This sparked (what I think will be) a lifetime interest in star-gazing. When we’re outside, his neck cranes upwards as soon as darkness descends. He looks for familiar constellations and contemplates the wonders of the universe, as I glance upwards occasionally while also keeping an eye out for oncoming cars. This is a good metaphor for our relationship.
This Tuesday marked the transit of Venus, a once-in-a-lifetime (twice, if you’re a super ager) occurrence where Venus travels across the sun, Earth’s closest star. (It’s flabbergasting to consider that Venus is 3.5x closer to our planet than Earth is to the sun!)
People all over the world set up special equipment or donned cardboard glasses to see the spectacle, including at the Stanford Student Observatory where astro enthusiasts brought telescopes and projection solar sun spotters. (Walt on his Care Bear-ish pic: “This has got to be the best photo of a concrete floor I’ve ever taken.”)
Here are some photos Walt took during the viewing:
I wasn’t able to make it up to the observatory in time, so Walt set up his astronomical binoculars for me in the flatlands of Menlo Park during the last hours of the transit. Here he is projecting the solar image onto a lens cap he’d crafted out of a Fat Tire container. (“Hey kids! If you want to make a binocular cover, just grab the closest beer cans and…” Just kidding. )
By the way, my second favorite childhood toy is Teddy Ruxpin.
*If the Care Bear references didn’t make sense to you, you probably weren’t an American child growing up in the 80s. Here’s a writeup that might help, authored by some of the greatest literary minds in the world.
For a newbie sewer like me, the more visuals, the better!
This weekend, I used Etsuko Furuya’s “Scooter” fabric to make a small bag for a friend who’s traveling abroad this summer.
The bag’s pattern is based off of the “Velcro Pouches” chapter of Lotta Jansdotter’s Simple Sewing for Baby book. The book has a ton of cute product shots but is fairly text heavy, with few (if any) instructional diagrams for each project.
I made some adjustments to Jansdotter’s pattern and have rewritten simplified instructions. After the jump, you’ll find step-by-step pictures of how you can make a travel bag of your very own!
This large custom order was recently mailed out to a client. The client and I worked together to pick out the perfect pink, green, and yellow materials for her goodie bags:
To celebrate our first big order, we made up some business cards. A shrunken-down version of Ingo’s banner + home printer + beloved Dahle paper cutter = (voilà!) instant branding tool
Rainbow crayons are a kiddie crowd-pleaser. To make your own, all you’ll need are:
- a silicone mold
- a sheet of foil
- a cookie sheet
- an oven
- an oven mitt
- Preheat your oven to 250°.
- Let your kid peel off the crayon wrappers and break the crayons.
- Line the cookie sheet with some foil, then place the silicone mold onto the foil. (The foil will help catch any melted liquid that runs off the mold.)
- Let your kid place the broken crayons into the mold.
- Place the cookie sheet into the oven.
- Check on the crayons every five to ten minutes . Once the crayons have melted down, use your oven mitt to take out the cookie sheet. (The molds will now be about half-filled.)
- Drop more crayon pieces into the mold.
- Place the tray into the oven again for a second round of melting.
- Use your oven mitt to remove the tray from the oven, then let the crayons cool completely.
- Pop the crayons out of the mold.
Now let your kid color away!
- The labels on both Crayola and Roseart crayons are pretty easy to peel. (Every once in awhile, you might get a crayon that’s a bit “gummy.” You can set those crayons aside or else spend some time rubbing away the gumminess.) In terms of quality, Crayola crayons produce less waxy/higher quality rainbow crayons than Roseart, but both are acceptable for this project. (For Quizzical Creatures products, we only use Crayola.) I’d steer clear of super cheap crayons, like the Oriental Trading Company brand, which are hard to peel and incredibly waxy.
- Target sells inexpensive silicone molds, especially around certain holidays. (I found silicone heart molds in their $1 bin around Valentine’s Day.)
What a way to start the week! This pretty pom was hanging above my desk when I got into work Monday morning.
It turned out that my boss had made it over the weekend to celebrate the launch of a product that we’ve been collaborating on. As if that gesture wasn’t sweet enough, later that afternoon, one of my coworkers asked if I was expecting a package because something had come in for me. I wasn’t expecting anything, but she urged me to open the box. Before I knew it, there was a gaggle of girls behind her. I was confused, but I opened the box — and was so touched by what was inside! The box was filled with homemade and craft goodies — a hand-embossed card, fabric flowers, an adorable tea satchel, scrapbooking charms, and other treats. Everyone’s been working so hard to get to this product launch, and it was very unexpected to get singled out … and in such an incredibly thoughtful and heartfelt way!
BABIES! BABIES! BABIES! The world’s crawling with them! Babies and mommies-to-be have been hot topics lately, and I can’t wait to meet all the newly minted 2012 editions.
Earlier this month, Jirat and I threw a baby shower for a friend who’s expecting twins (and who has really been into the color mint).
Party favors included mugs with peppermint tea for the ladies…
…and giant heart crayons for the kiddies!
I made sherbet-y bunting…
…and Jirat made mint-colored poms. We also reused the raincloud poms that Ingo made for Heather’s shower. (Thanks, Ingo!)
To make the ark, my very wonderful/helpful boyfriend carved a trunk bark stamp (his very first linocut!) and I printed the image onto some cardstock.
Jirat was in charge of food, and she really knocked it out of the park. My favorite was the miang kum, a delicious Thai snack that’s made with about 20 different ingredients (if you include all the items you need to make the sauce). She also made a cake with edible flowers…
…and used her Thai-tanic strength and a giant cleaver to carve up some coconuts.
A pretty amazing thing happened during the “Guess Mommy’s Tummy Size” game. To play the game, each guest had me cut a piece of string that they hoped would fit around the mommy-to-be’s baby bulge. The youngest party guest (who’s only five) was one of the first people to take the spool. After thinking about it for several minutes, she finally showed me where she wanted me to make the cut. As the spool was then passed around to other attendees, the youngest guest came up to me twice to ask if she could make some adjustments to her original guess. (Both times, she had me cut off TINY increments to her string.) When it finally came time to measure around the guest of honor’s belly, it turned out that all the adults had totally overestimated—but the youngest guest’s guess was uncanny: it wrapped PERFECTLY around MTB’s stomach, end-to-end!
Beebe + BunBun = 2GETHA 4EVA! A good friend from work recently moved on to greener pastures. As a going away gift, our team gave her adoption papers for BunBun, a jack rabbit puppet that Beebe adored and kept propped up next to her desk. As part of Beebe’s gift, I made a felt carrot for BunBun. Here’s a quick craft project you can work on for the veggie-lover in your life:
- orange felt
- green felt
- pinking shears (or fabric scissors)
- polyester batting
- optional: sewing machine
- Sew squiggly lines on the orange felt. No need to be precise!
- Fold the felt in half then sew a carrot-shaped line down one side. Trim outside the line.
- Flip the fabric inside out, then stuff the carrot with batting.
- Cut leaves out of the green felt. Cut a slit through the middle of the leaves . I opted to create Sideshow Bob-like leaves with pinking shears.
- Stuff the top of the carrot through the slit in the green felt. Gather the felt then hand-stitch the leaves and carrot together.
Ta-da! You, too, can create a carrot faster than it takes to say, “What’s up, Doc?”!