blank'/> January 2014 | NidoBeato

Bohemian Rhapsody Pendant Light

I've been "getting around" to making this light for awhile now. I had a vague idea of what I wanted and started working on it several times, but inspiration wasn't quite there yet. While I waited, I antiqued one of the vintage cast metal bobeches I picked up at a salvage yard and embedded glass beads in the screw holes. I later spent an afternoon putting together little bead ensembles like jewelry, with crystals and filigree, bali, and rhinestone beads.

I loved the combination of amber and turquoise crystals, and I wanted to create something that looked like it could hang in a compartment on the Orient Express.The final design finally came together this past weekend. The finished result is now available in my Etsy shop, NidoBeato Creations.

Bohemian Rhapsody Pendant Light

A few more pictures...

Detail of the jewelry-like drops

Cast metal bobeche with embedded flower beads

Crystal close-ups

More crystal close-ups

Bohemian Rhapsody pendant light complete

Teal and Stain Chest of Drawers

For some reason I've been in an organizing mood the last couple of weeks. I spent a day cleaning off and backing up my computer, organized all my craft supplies, cleaned out closets and straightened up the back storage/utility room. All of this came about because I was tired of wasting time looking for things I knew I had SOMEWHERE.

Cleaning the back storage room lead me to a project I've been meaning to get to for awhile, which is repainting an old chest of drawers I've been using as a junk station. My finished project:
Re-purposed maple Colonial chest of drawers.
This thing has been kicking around the family for years. My parents bought it at a garage sale years ago and dragged it from house to house. I subsequently inherited it and threw it back in the storage room where it eventually became a junk catchall. Anything we couldn't fit in somewhere else found its way inside until I couldn't tell you what was in there.

The chest was nothing special--your typical cheap maple Colonial chest of drawers that nearly every kid beat up on at one time or another. I think I had one just like it in my bedroom growing up and had painted it about four different times over the years depending on my mood and color scheme. I wanted to pull this one out of the storage room and actually use it for something other than junk, but I had to get the ugly off it first. I forgot to take BEFORE pictures, but it looked very similar to this one I found online:

Not my chest but one very similar
This one actually looks a lot better than mine did. The sides are cheap wood and the top is wood-grained laminate, which kind of put a kink in my plan to stain it to match the drawers, but you work with what you have.

The first step was to sand the whole thing down. I waited for a nice day then dragged it outside and gave the sides and top a light sanding just to rough up the old finish so they would take the paint. The wood on the drawers was more interesting, so I sanded them down to bare wood in preparation for staining.

Next came color. I had an idea of what I was looking for, so I ran to Home Depot to pick up a couple of those little Behr paint/primer samples. I love those--perfect for little projects like this. The color I picked out was Intense Teal. It kind of looks like this (as close as I could get it in Photoshop):

Paint color

I had some leftover turquoise paint/primer from another project that I used to prime the wood since I didn't know how well that deep teal color would cover. I had decided I would use chalk paint for the finished project, even though I wouldn't be distressing the paint. Those Behr sample pots hold about a cup of paint, so I mixed 2 tbsp calcium carbonate and 1 tbsp water into it to create enough chalk paint for two coats.

After the paint had cured, I used some brown shoe polish mixed with Howard Feed-N-Wax to protect and give the piece the look of age. Like I said, I didn't want to distress it since I wanted that color contrast with the stained wood drawers, but I still wanted it to look old.

The drawers looked good after sanding, but were still too pristine for my taste, so I started beating them up. I used a heavy old chain and clobbered the wood, getting out some frustrations while creating dents and bashes that would darken when I stained it. When I was satisfied with that, I went to work with the stain.

I ended up using four coats of different colors of stains I had on hand. The first was Golden Oak, which took it back to the color it was. Not happy with that, I hit it with Bombay Mahogany. That turned out too red, so I added Dark Walnut, then layered on some English Chestnut. I then waxed them with a combination of brown shoe polish and Howard Feed-N-Wax. I like the way they turned out.

Drawer detail. Notice the distressing from my chain work?

The drawer pulls were that factory antique brass that makes me want to scream whenever I see it, so I went to work with the sandpaper on them. Once I had all the old varnish off and had them scratched up pretty well, I threw them in a large Ziploc bag with some vinegar and salt and let them soak for a couple of hours. Then I spread them on an old baking sheet and put them in a 450 degree oven for 20 minutes. That burnished  them up like old pitted copper. When I pulled them out of the oven, I tossed them back in the vinegar-salt bath for a few minutes, then spread them out to air dry.

I dabbed a little turquoise paint here and there on them to mimic verdigris. I'm kind of on the fence about how that turned out. I sprayed them with a clear varnish to protect the finish because the distressing tends to rub off if you handle them a lot.

I had thought about painting the sides of the drawers with the teal, but then I found this wrapping paper I had bought for a project several years ago. It was an exact match for the paint. Yay! I papered the sides of the drawers with that and considered doing the same on the inside, but since I use the chest for tools and heavy craft supplies, I figured I'd just leave them natural for now. If I change my mind later, I still have two rolls of the paper.

paper on drawer sides

All in all I like the way it came out. It's not a museum piece, nor even anything I would put on the market, but it dresses up an old eyesore and gives my family room a punch of color.

Angelique Pendant Light

What woman doesn't love a good gothic romance? The sprawling Victorian mansion draped with velvets, lace, and crystal? The sumptuous, candlelit boudoir? It was that spirit that spurred me to create my latest Crystal Creation, a black and amber pendant light I call Angelique, named for the seductive witch who cursed Barnabas to a life of darkness in the old Dark Shadows TV show. This Angelique would have felt just as at home in Collinwood.

Angelique Pendant Light
Like my Crystalline Lace pendant light, I made this one from a metal Ikea flower pot that I spray painted bronze then antiqued with black and antique copper waxes. The top is covered in a delectable black damask paper and rimmed with a brass-colored metallic beaded trim. I used black wire to string the 24 amber chandelier crystals around the bottom. I love the warm, sultry look of the amber glass in the light and the wall shadows from the lace pattern of the metal pot.

Angelique is available in my Etsy store, NidoBeato Creations.

Angelique Pendant Light
Angelique Pendant Light - detail

Angelique Pendant Light - detail

Angelique Pendant Light - detail

Putting Authenticity in Your Distressing

This past weekend my sister-in-law and I went to an antiques sale and naturally, as is the trend these days, there was a lot of faux distressed furniture there. Now I realize with the popularity of painted, distressed furniture these days, a lot of people are picking up cans of chalk paint and going to town on every piece of furniture they can get their hands on, both new and old. In some cases, I say knock yourself out. What bothers me, however, as I discussed in an earlier post, Listen to Your Furniture Before Painting, is when people not only paint good wood furniture, but do a really poor job of it.

As anyone who has ever painstakingly refinished fine wood furniture can tell you (and I've done my share), good wood SHOULD NEVER BE PAINTED. It's a crime against art, and make no mistake, fine wood furniture is art. There, I've said my piece on that.

Like anything else, unless you want the finished product to look like an amateur did it, study the real thing. Artists have known this for years. True faux artists can make a plaster wall look like real marble, or a piece of metal look like burled wood. They're good at it because they've studied what the real thing looks like, and then they've practiced reproducing the effect. For example, this is what real distressed wood looks like:

Real distressed wood. Notice the natural fading and curled peeling of the paint.
Slapping some chalk paint on a dresser and hitting it with the electric sander (and believe me, it is obvious) is not producing a realistically distressed piece of furniture. Take a look at these two examples (I pulled all these images from what's trending on Pinterest):

Faux distressed chest - too much work with the electric sander produces a contrived look. Paint does not naturally wear like this.

This is how the paint on a real aged chest would look
Notice how most of the aging does not come at the corners (as you see on most faux distressed furniture), but at the bottom, where moisture and wear would have aged the wood and chipped away the paint. The wear also darkens the wood there, something to keep in mind when you're distressing.

Here's another example:

Faux distressed tables. Obvious sanding. No aging, fading, or cracking of paint.

Naturally distressed table. Notice the chipping and fading of the paint and the wear of the wood.
Short of leaving a piece of painted wood furniture out in the elements for years, there's no way to absolutely reproduce this look, but you can come closer than hitting a newly painted table with a sander. Preparation is the key factor here. If you want your wood to look aged, you have to age it, and that means taking it down to bare wood first. Every true craftsman knows this. Painting over a factory finish and sanding it back is never going to get you the look you want. If you want aged wood, you have to start with bare wood.

Years ago, the only furniture that was painted was made from lower grade/grained wood. Much of it was pine or ash. The wood wasn't primed before painting, so the paint (often milk paint) sat on top of the grain without a bonding agent. Over the years, as the paint became worn and/or chipped, the piece was painted again, often without sanding or preparation. Depending on the age of the piece, this might happen several times with several different colors over the life of the piece. Oils and dirt often collected in and clung to indentations, cracks, and scars in the piece, causing them to darken and be less receptive to paint.

Real distressed cabinet
 Reproducing this look takes time, skill, and patience. The wood you expose won't look like this unless you age it. Take a look at this piece and compare:

Faux distressed cabinet
Big difference, right? If you want authentic, you have to use the same process. Strip the old finish down to the wood. Then start adding age. You might want to pound a few nail holes here and there (if it's a table top), hit it with a chain or a ballpeen hammer, sand down the corners, etc. (and by the way, this is the ONLY time you should use a sander). When you're done, sand it as smooth as possible. Naturally worn wood is like worn stone--it's as smooth as glass.

Now you're ready to age the wood. Use an aging solution -- the easiest is to soak a piece of steel wool or rusty nails in vinegar for a week. If you want to darken the wood, add some tea bags to the solution. Use the solution to paint the wood with as many coats as it takes (letting it dry between coats) to get the old, weathered wood look you want. Once you do, let the wood rest for a couple of days to allow it to dry out, then you're ready to start adding paint.

Old paint chips due to a combination of factors--climate (heat and cold, moisture and dryness), wear and tear, and oil from use (such as in your hands). Climatic factors cause the paint to pull away from the wood, expanding and contracting to create cracks and peels. To recreate chipping from oils, dab a little Vasoline or better yet, wax (such as in dark shoe polish) across the wood, paying particular attention to those indentations or wear spots you created. Don't overdo it, and please, don't just hit the corners. Furniture doesn't naturally wear that way. You can also use a heat gun after the coat of paint has dried to cause it to bubble and pull away. Use your fingers or a paint scraper to remove some of the chipped paint (no sandpaper). Study pictures of real distressed wood furniture to see where the paint would have chipped naturally. Like this:

Naturally distressed paint
In this example on a door, the wear occurs in the areas of the handle, where the oil from people's hands have penetrated the wood, as well as at the bottom where moisture would have run down the piece and pooled. Milk paint will give you the most authentic look, as that is what most furniture would have been painted with, but chalk paint will do almost as well. You can spring for the Annie Sloan stuff, or better yet, make your own. Here's a good place to start:  Best Homemade Chalk Paint Recipes. I wouldn't recommend latex or acrylic if you're going for a true distressed look. Giving some thought to what causes the distressing will help guide you on how to reproduce it, The following piece comes close, but it's still obvious it's been sanded in places, as opposed to worn by time. And again, only on the edges on the drawers. In a naturally distressed piece, the bottom drawer would have been the most distressed, almost completely worn of paint, as would the legs.

Faux distressed chest. It's getting closer, but  you can still tell the paint was sanded as opposed to worn away.
Real dimension comes from layering different colors of paint. To do this takes time, because you want each layer to cure before adding the next, which means allowing several days between coats. Otherwise, the layers tend to bond together. Treat each layer as carefully as the first, applying paint aging and wear effects to build up a finish. With the second and subsequent layers of paint, you might want to consider adding a crackle effect to your Vasoline and/or shoe polish arsenal, though be aware that any paint (meaning subsequent layers) applied over a crackle finish will also crack, so, as with the Vasoline, use it sparingly. For a great post on making your own crackle finish, check out Make the Best of Things: Crackle Finish with Elmer's Glue.

You can either use different shades of the same color (such as a lighter turquoise over a darker one, to simulate fading), or different, related colors, such as those in the image below, taking into account the fading effect that time and weather would have produced. Notice how the orange on the door is fading to a creamy gold in places? Watering down your paint to create a wash can be helpful in creating this effect.

Naturally chipped paint revealing other colors

Whatever you do, try to stick with colors that would have been authentic to the time period. The following piece misses on this mark completely.

Bad job of layering colors. Both the yellow and the turquoise are too bold for this effect.
Another example of authentic and faux paint layering:

Real aged paint
Faux aged paint. The chipping is random, though not at all where it would have naturally occurred

And while we're on the subject of painting, a word about technique. Distressing is not the same thing as sloppy. I can't tell you how many faux distressed pieces I've seen with rough, careless brushstrokes. Worn paint, as with worn wood, is smooth. Even when it's chipping, there's a smoothness to it. Take care with your painting. Like the craftsmen of old, you are attempting to produce a work of art.

A final word on finishing. Never, ever, ever apply polyurethane to a distressed piece of furniture. It wasn't around then. Likewise, the use of shellac or varnish was confined to fine, unpainted wood furniture. Wax is a good choice, as it provide protection without shine. For a nice aged look, use dark wax, taking the time to rub it into the crevices and buff it out to a fine, aged patina. There are a lot of commercially available furniture waxes out there, but for my money, I've always used brown shoe polish. It's cheap and does just as good a job as that $30 a can stuff. Depends on how you want to spend your money.

Mastering a distressing technique takes time and experience. Practice on boards or small, cheap pieces of furniture before tackling that prized hutch or dresser. Remember, the word faux means being an imitation of the genuine article.

Rust in the Wind Windchime

A while back while digging through the dusty rubble at my local salvage yard, I came across what looked like a rusty old cast iron lamp top. Part of it was broken off, and being cast iron, it was quite heavy, but I couldn't pass it up because I knew I could make something from it. And so came my latest Crystal Creation windchime, a piece I call Rust in the Wind. I can almost hear Kansas playing in the background whenever I look at it.

Rust in the Wind windchime

I had ordered some rusty wire and metal pieces from one of my new favorite craft suppliers, Factory Direct Craft a couple of weeks ago, and I had a lot of glass squares left when I made my Blue Butterfly windchime, so I started planning out the project. I picked out some clear, green, and amber glass squares and some clear glass marbles, dug out some green stone and iridescent brown ceramic beads, and went to work. I wrapped each of the glass pieces in wire, which let me tell you, tore my fingers up (my son even suggested I might need a tetanus shot after playing with all that rusted wire). I wanted to end each drop with one of the rusty bells I got from Factory Direct. They don't make a lot of noise, but I like the thought of having bells there.

The large metal star in the center makes an interesting hollow clang when it hits the glass. Rust in the Wind is available in my Etsy shop, NidoBeato CreationsSOLD

Rust in the Wind windchime - detail
Rust in the Wind windchime - detail

Rust in the Wind windchime - detail
Rust in the Wind windchime

Get Wired Suncatcher/Windchime

It's been a busy project day around Casa Church today. Cleaning up my work table by finishing some on-going projects, including this unique little beauty inspired by some awesome aged black wire I picked up from Factory Direct Craft.

Get Wired wire-wrapped suncatcher/windchime
This one is available in my Etsy shop, NidoBeato Creations. Sorry about the picture quality today. It's cold and windy outside, making it tough to find a place to photograph without blurring.
Close up, Get Wired twisted wire suncatcher/windchime

Close up, Get Wired twisted wire suncatcher/windchime

Close up, Get Wired twisted wire suncatcher/windchime

Get Wired twisted wire suncatcher/windchime

My Old House Assemblage Wire Suncatcher

Awhile back I bought a box of old shop parts at a yard sale and when I got home discovered that among the dusty artifacts inside were two great deco-styled vintage brass door lock plates. Hmm...what could I make with these?

Vintage deco-style brass door lock plate
I started out just gluing various odds and ends to one, then decided I needed something to mount it on. That's when I started playing with wire to create a wonky house shape.

The doorplate dressed up in its new home

All this resulted in my latest suncatcher, an assemblage and wire piece I call My Old House. It's available in my Etsy store, NidoBeato Creations.

My Old House Assemblage art suncatcher

My Old House suncatcher detail 
My Old House suncatcher detail

My Old House suncatcher detail

#HGTV Should Rename Themselves the Real Estate Channel

I really don't want to use this blog for ranting, but at this point I'll try anything that works. I used to LOVE HGTV. My TV stayed on that channel day and night. It was like MTV for DIYers. And then along came the DIY Network, and it was twice as good. Lots of programming about decorating, gardening, crafts, home design, etc.

HGTV should change their name to The Real Estate Channel

Now, with the exception of Rehab Addict (a bright spot in a dark universe only because of Nicole Curtis) the programming on both networks, in a word, sucks. HGTV shows nothing but rude, whiny spoiled brats buying and selling real estate. And with the exception of the afore-mentioned Rehab Addict, DIY is mainly shows about other people coming in and "crashing" your house or salvaging their own junk. What happened to shows about how you can do stuff for yourself, which is WHAT YOUR NAME IMPLIES?

And the worst part is, loyal viewers have been complaining to the network for over a year and there has been no response. Has the real estate industry bought this network, and if so, why don't they just fess up and drop the pretense that it's about Home and Garden?

Where are all the designers - David, Candace, Genevieve, Vern, Sarah, etc? Where are the crafting and thrifty design shows that used to be on during the day? Even shows like Extreme Homes, when shown, are about Architectural Digest candidates rather than average people doing eccentric things to their homes. I have old DVD recordings of shows seven to eight years ago and the programming was amazing. Days and nights filled with ideas. Now...I only tune in to watch Nicole.

Hopefully if enough people read this post and re-post the image above, the network might take notice. Then again, at the rate reality TV is ruining TV, I doubt it.