Monday, September 15, 2014

Shake-n-Bake Projects

I love big projects. All the hard work is extremely satisfying, and the final transformation is almost 99% totally worth the long process. Replanting our lawn, painting our banister, the kitchen cabinets, and any of the trim work have all been majorly long, but majorly satisfying undertakings. 
But as much as I love the gratification from those tasks, there is something to be said about big changes that come in small packages. Shake-n-Bake Projects if you will, super fast and super easy. 
I have been hording these four mini-projects in my back pocket because; A) I just completed two of them this weekend, and B) they were SO EASY it seemed silly to make a whole post about them. 

First up is this adorable blue garden lantern. I spotted this gem at Home Emporium the very beginning of Summer. 
One look, and my nerdy little head instantly went to this: 
A chance to have my own little Tardis? Yes please! 
Like the tag in the picture says, it was priced $50. Even though that's probably about half of what it would be in a department store, it was still a little steep for me, and I sadly walked away :( 
Fast forward to the END of Summer, and all garden lanterns were priced down to $29.99 which resulted in this ending up in my kitchen! 
The only other supply I needed was glass paint. I used Martha Stewart Crafts, Glass Paint, Gloss Opaque in white from Michael's. The fact that it was opaque was very important since it needed to stand out against the blue paint of the lantern. To cure the paint, I placed everything in the oven, set the temp to 350 degrees, and let it bake for 30 minutes (that way the glass/earthenware heated up gradually). After a half hour I turned off the oven and waited until everything completely cooled before removing it. 
Call the Doctor because there is now a tiny Tardis in my yard! 

Project #2 was hands down the easiest upgrade to date. For $0.50, this sweet print wrapped up in all its horrible framed glory was mine. 
A quick transfer to a simple white frame with a matte, and it was ready for it's new debut. 
What isn't to love about a group of flamingos partying in front of a bright pink sky?! 
Cute art in ugly frame - ugly frame + pretty frame = beautiful masterpiece! 
Yes, decorating does involve some math, FOIL that! 
...ok moving on. 

Anyone who visits our home realizes pretty quick that I have a fondness for pineapples. It goes back to my college days, an ongoing game of real-life "spot the pineapple", and all eight seasons of Psych. If you've never watched it, give it a go, it's like Scooby-Doo for adults. 
So when I spied this iron beast at the thrift store I had to have it. 
Downside, rustic country chic is really not my style. 
Cue spray paint! 
 This color is absolutely incredible, I. Am. OBSESSED! 
THAT is more like it! 
Never underestimate the power of spray paint. 

Last is this adorable brass tray. He was looking pretty rough, but I knew with a little TLC he could be spectacular. 
I've read before that a mixture of salt and lemon juice can work as brass polish. Since both of those were in my pantry (aka FREE), I figured I'd give that a go first before going out and buying special brass polish. I mixed the juice and salt in a bowl to create a paste, then just dipped a rag into the solution and went to town. 
After a few moments of vigorous scrubbing I could already tell a world of difference.
Just look at that shine! 
I couldn't believe all of the gorgeous that was hiding underneath that tarnish. 
 Of course I wasted no time finding it a home on our coffee table. 
How incredible is this before and after?! And all it took was a couple ingredients found in the kitchen. 
There you have it! Custom details, a new frame, a fresh bold color, or a bit of polish and elbow grease can breath new life into a tired old piece, and all you need is an afternoon worth of time. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I Seriously Nailed this Gift

Last week was Eric's Birthday. 
I know everyone always complains about how their spouse is "Soo hard to buy for!" but seriously, anytime Eric wants something, he goes on Amazon and orders it himself. Sometimes he tells me, sometime he lets it be a surprise and I just find packages sitting at our doorstep. 
Usually it's the latter. 
Lately though these impromptu arrivals have had a theme, and that theme is; Deck Out the Man Cave. 
Yes I called it the MAN CAVE 
Sigh... 
He's won. Whatever.

Luckily! I keep a running Pinterest board of ideas for gifts to give people, especially gifts for Eric. I was inspired by the nail and string art by THIS SHOP on Etsy, and it reminded me of a glorified version of an art project we used to do in elementary school. So I figured it couldn't be that hard, and thought I'd give it a try myself.  

First I picked up one of the 2''x2'' pre-cut boards they have at Menards and painted it white. 
After coming up with my Cincinnati Red's design (see above/ MAN CAVE theme), I printed it out and taped it to my board so I knew where to nail my nails. I tried to evenly space them about a half inch apart, and keep their heights consistent, 
Hammering nails is strangely therapeutic. 
Once my outline was complete, I tied some red string to one of the nails and simply started wrapping it around haphazardly. 
There really wasn't a rhyme or reason as to how I wrapped the string, I just tried to evenly cover the space and make sure I used every nail. 
And here is the final result! 
When Eric saw it he thought I'd ordered it online! Then when I told him it was handmade by his lovely wife, his next question was "wait...how?". 
Pshhs, like this woman couldn't handle some lumber and a bit of hammering. :) 

I love that this easy technique has seemingly endless possibilities how it could be applied. Below are a few examples I found online of different string art applications:
How adorable is this version of the state design! I like how the two different colors of string give more variation, and kind of blend together where the states overlap. (source)
I'm not even sure if this piece uses string at all, but it totally doesn't need it. The nails are so close together they create an incredible line for the type. This would be stunning at a wedding. (source)
This use of the negative space is fantastic. The geometric pattern the string creates is so edgy and modern. (source)
And speaking of negative space! Can you even FATHOM how long this took!!?? Makes me dizzy just thinking about it. Such an incredible statement. If you have the patience to complete this, I bow down to you. (source)

Does anyone else remember making art like this in school? I totally am going to do something else with all of the nails I still have leftover, plus I have string from my rattan chair makeover! Maybe a giant "W" somewhere in the backyard? We do have a fence that I could pound into...hmmmm.