Thursday, July 28, 2011

Natural Life Article Footnotes - Furniture refinishing

The August column (my 13th!) is about refinishing old wood furniture. As I say in my article, I've done quite a lot of this over the years mostly in theater, mostly using ordinary acrylic paints and a few other methods.

Just to reiterate from the article: the recipe for furniture wax will go moldy - quickly if it is not refrigerated and eventually even in the fridge. If you are finding that it is too hard to use at room temperature, or to save time when you first get it out of the fridge, set the container in a hot water bath for a few minutes, or microwave in 15 second increments.

You can also lessen the proportion of wax in your blend. I'm considering a coconut oil/jojoba blend that would need very little wax, since coconut oil is almost solid itself - for really special furniture (but not valuable antiques! Please remember my disclaimer.) Coconut oil is not cheap, but it sure is good. Stay tuned.

Online some folks have other recipes for furniture polish that are liquid like this one at DIY Life, and this one at Care 2 which recommends some alternative oils to olive. It's wonderful how the oils that seem best for our skin also seem to work best for furniture.

My painted stool is looking a little faded now (see above). I think I should have paid more attention to sealing the finish, especially since I was using translucent methods (vinegar food coloring wash, and some translucent metallic paint). But I'm still happy with it. It was so dry and sad after having sat outside in the weather for who knows how long, that the wood just sucks up any application of polish or wax. Simple as it is, I still enjoy seeing at it in use in my living room every day.

Here's a link to the Google Image search for Gypsy Painted Caravans. Other than the unlikely picture of Ron Wood in the group, you'll get the idea at once.

Shabby Chic shows a lot of whitewashing.
Here's a blog post about using candle wax instead of petroleum jelly as a resist for creating a worn finish.

There is quite a lot on the web about distressing or antiquing furniture, but it usually starts with oil based paints and polyurethane varnishes, not the artist's paints that I was using. In looking for commercial paints please continue to consider low or no VOC brands (long list of links) such as:
Benjamin Moore
Ecos Organic Paints
Mythic Non-Toxic Paint
Also check out the ads in your issue of Natural Life for our wonderful suppliers.

If you are sanding your wood furniture, especially if it is older and has an unknown finish, please be sure to do it outside and consider a proper dust mask. Remember that fine wood dust is an irritant and a known carcinogen.

I still like using shoe polish, the "paste" kind, despite the warnings on the website. They are concerned that the wood will change color - but hey that's exactly what I want it to do! One of the reasons I like it for aging purposes is because you only need a tiny amount. One container will last for years. But there are some strong chemicals therein including naptha, lanolin and turpentine. I recommend gloves to avoid staining.

Here's a recipe for home made shoe polish - non-coloring, and rather familiar.

And don't forget the call for your materials in the article! I'm hoping for some really difficult and challenging boggles.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Time Budget Update

After about a month, I'd thought it was time for a quick report on how my time budget is working.

The short answer is very well. I have planned by budget for two months in advance, and the organization looks good.

However if I am being completely honest, and I am, I haven't stuck to it as perfectly as I wish. I have found that Jayn has been needing my attention, and she has been on a normal schedule. So we've spent some days out and about, eating in to the "professional" time. But that's a great trade-off! Also I've had doctor's appointments, and have shifted things around on the fly somewhat.

And there has a been a bit of frittering - much diminished, though.

At the moment for my business pursuit, I am working on the business plan. In the absence of software, I have downloaded and printed a blueprint for a good business plan, and I am laboriously making my way through it. The questions are tough, incisive, and it really is important to do your plan well, both for your own clarity and for the purpose of seeking funding/investors in the future. Finally one of the purposes of a thorough plan is to ascertain if it is actually a viable proposition, a good business that might actually turn a profit.

So moving forward, slowly but surely, instead of running in frenzied circles and falling on the floor in exhaustion. Better.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Aesthetic Preference Profiles - working on my style quiz.

Photo from Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic (tm) site.

I have been busy today working on my Style Quiz for Robyn Crops. I guess I had the idea that it would be pretty quick and easy. (Ha,ha). The whole point of it is A: something fun, but also B: a seriously useful tool for me to get to know what kind of scrapbook layouts and design style appeal to potential clients. So the answers have to be serious.

I realized that the first thing I should do is not think up crazy questions, but define the answers or the results to which the answers point. You know what I mean, the part where they say "if you answered mostly C you are an optimist with a disconcerting habit of climbing trees at every opportunity".

So I thought I would start by developing Aesthetic Preference Profiles (six times fast, please). I'm confirming for myself that style is a continuum and people who might love a particular style (eg Retro) will still slide back and forth into the neighboring or transitional styles too. I'll be bringing it back to scrapbooking though, and what might be overwhelming covering the largest room of your house, could be perfectly fine within a memory album, or in one small shadow box.

Today I've been researching Shabby Chic/Cottage Style - to quote Rachel Ashwell's site seeing "the beauty of imperfections...the allure of the timeworn...dilapidated elegance...faded velvet". The style has a lot of white and pastels, mismatched and mostly floral motifs, natural materials (wood, stone, brick, marble, linen and cotton), as well as the concept of  "honorable repairs adding additional character". There's lace and embroidery. At the cottage end of the continuum live Liberty Prints, but the clusters of blooms, rather than the Art Nouveau style, Laura Ashley and tea sets. Furniture is often traditional, Queen Ann's, Victorian but then whitewashed and sanded. The most practical aspect? Slipcover - white or cream but washable.

At the other end of this sliding scale is the Arts and Crafts Movement, Stickley, Mission furniture and William Morris. For William Morris to be Shabby Chic it has to go through some bleach first.

You might be a Shabby Chic enthusiast if your favorite detective is Miss Marple, one of your favorite movies is Picnic at Hanging Rock, and your favorite color is tea dyed.
Nether Wallop which doubles as St. Mary Mead, 
home of Jane Marple. Still thatched even today.

So scrapbooking with layers, lace, a whiter shade of pale, florals and silk flowers, worn text, aging and gentle distressing and natural elements. I'll rustle up a page or two in this style and post it over at Iggy Jingles soon.
Watch this space for more Aesthetic Preference Profiles. I should trademark that phrase....