Thursday, January 28, 2016

Art Studio Progress January 2016

Taking a moment to appreciate another gorgeous sunset
....while painting wood for my baseboards, of course.
And watching my kiddos play Indians. Ever since Zoe learned about our Choctaw and Black Foot heritage she has been fascinated. They are so adorable making up their own Indian names, crafting headdresses, and going on "hunting trips" through the yard. 

We've worked on so many things the past couple of weeks and it is wonderful....but being this close to the finish line is making me one antsy-pantsy-artist!

Check out these updates and special projects:

 First, we have a completely functional half-bathroom with a big utility sink.

Before we began "finishing out" the room we had to mix and pour and smooth out 6 containers of ready mix concrete in the toilet area because there was a huge jack hammered hole from the original construction phase of the building that we needed to repair.
 Jeremy brought in the toilet and utility sink to measure how big he could build the cabinet base.

And since the floor was pretty awful looking I didn't want to clear seal it like I did the rest of the studio so we went shopping for alternatives.

Fortunately, the room is only 4' x 5' so it wouldn't be too costly to cover it. We looked at tile, vinyl, and laminate options before choosing this. It is 100% waterproof luxury vinyl flooring (got ours in stock at Lowe's around $55 for a box that covers 20 sq. ft. It looks like wood planks. It has a great texture and it was so easy to install.  It just snapped together over the top of the concrete (although we did choose to add a layer of the thin foam underlayment since we had some left over from doing the bathrooms in our house). It adds a bit of cushion and sound buffering over the cold, imperfect concrete.

This is the sink base cabinet that Jeremy built with a small ledge on the right for counter top space. Big enough to set hand soap or small stuff while using the sink anyway.

 The front was pretty big and plain looking so I grabbed an old drawer facing left over from another project to add a little decorative element.

I sanded everything, then mixed a light gray color and painted everything twice.

Then I mixed a dark custom glaze with a bit of metallic shimmer in it. I applied the glaze using one brush to paint it on and another large clean brush to brush it off going in a consistent up and down pattern to give a wood grain like effect.
 After the cabinet was finished and installed we put in the flooring.

 I also found this really cool peel-and-stick back splash material at Lowe's. It looks like brushed metal and I love it. It can be cut to size with a utility knife and applied to a smooth primed wall. We added a small amount of liquid nails wen applying to make sure it didn't come loose over time. It also needed clear waterproof caulking along the seam in the corner and on the bottom edge where it meets up with the sink counter. I think it's fantastic. Easy. Inexpensive. No grouting or cutting tile. Done in less than 10 minutes!

I wanted a cool shelf above the toilet so I grabbed a good size scrap piece of 4'x4' from our wood pile, sanded it, and wiped it with some gray/charcoal wood stain. Then we used two 2.5" L-brackets to mount it to the wall. By screwing the brackets to the wall first and then setting the wood on top and screwing into it from underneath we created a sturdy floating shelf.

I already love this deep utility sink and my sprayer faucet.

Cool Projects

Never wanting anything to go to waste...and always looking for ways to make something unique.
Here are all the ways we are using my old wooden ladder:

First, the main climbing part of the ladder will be put on wheels and attached at the top to metal piping that runs along the front of the studio loft to be used as a kind of "library ladder" (more photos on that project's in progress right now)

Second, we cut off the back side of the ladder and leaned it against the wall in the bathroom next to the toilet. It is attached at the top with small L-brackets for safety. We drilled a hole in the side and threaded a pipe through and screwed on metal end caps to make a toilet paper holder. I will hang hand towels on an upper rung.

Third, we dismantled the unused top section of the ladder and pieced it together with other scrap wood to make an awesome step stool for the little ones who visit my studio so they can reach the sink. I used some of the same metallic glaze mixture from my sink base on the stool but kept it pretty transparent because I didn't want to cover up all of the gorgeous, distressed, aged wood.
My $1 basket from the Thrift Store fits perfectly on top of the stool under the sink to store extra toilet paper, soaps, etc.


The huge wrap-around deck is going to be a great place to relax and make art, stargaze at night, watch fireworks in the summer, have cook outs with family and friends...especially when the weather is nice.
Stairs lead out into the back yard. 

 Only a few more boards needed then we will have to start on the railings....

I am ready to see it all stained and painted on the exterior....anybody want to come help me with exterior painting?

No, really.

Could totally pay with monopoly money or cook/bake something really yummy to entice workers.


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Artsy Upholstery Makeover: The Painted Chair

I had wanted to do something with this particular chair for months and finally decided to be a little crazy and try painting the upholstery. But I didn't want to just paint it. I wanted it to become a piece of art. And I wanted it to still be comfortable to curl up in to sketch and read or whatever.

So, here's how I tackled it:

First, the upholstery had some annoying fabric pilling. You know those little balls of fabric that just look ugly. Well, I wanted to get rid of all of that and have a smooth "canvas". I grabbed some sandpaper and it was working well on "cleaning up" the fabric but was taking too long and too much effort. 
So I grabbed my rotary sander.
 I used a fine (220grit) sandpaper and sanded the entire chair (upholstery only). I used a fine grit because I wanted to be careful not to tear up the fabric.
I liked the wood the way it was, dark stain with a little distressed look to it so I left it alone.
 Then I mixed up my "secret ingredient".....a spray bottle with some of my favorite fabric softener and water (approximately 60/40 water to softener).

Working a section at a time I sprayed down the upholstery on the chair evenly to make it slightly damp. This did several things for me: it made the chair smell fantastic, it softened the fabric (that was already a bit softer from being sanded), and it helped the paint colors go on smoothly and evenly.
Not a big fan of the leafy pattern showing on the fabric....thankfully the abstract painting job covered it.
 I used a combination of acrylic paints (anything from little bottles of craft paint to some of my more vibrant hued artist acrylic paint tubes)
The colors showed really well on the ivory colored fabric but I did use some watered down white gesso as a primer in areas where I wanted lighter paint colors to show better.
 Notice I used a medium/large short stiff bristle brush on most of the chair. Easy to work with and helped me "scrub" colors into the fabric and into beautiful blends in the abstract design.

 I wanted the colors to flow over the chair as if it were one cohesive abstract artwork. So I lined up the cushion with the back of the chair to continue the colors onto the seat.

 I did the same over the arms of the chair, sticking with my original color palette throughout
 (the process took a few days to complete)
 I wasn't too worried about accidentally getting paint on the wood while I was working because it would easily wipe off with a damp cloth.
 When the paint colors were dry I came back with a fine grit sandpaper (this time by hand) and lightly sand over the upholstery to soften it back up. If any colors got a bit too dull from the sanding I touched them up with paint and then I sprayed a small amount of my water/softener mixture over the finished area.
*Repeat these last steps as necessary.
In the end my chair is vibrant and beautiful. It smells amazing and the fabric is soft and comfortable. I absolutely love it. And it's going in my art studio.
 *One last note: After this last picture I did go back and add an onyx metallic glaze over the wood when I was finished, and since it was a glaze the original wood color still primarily shows through.

I'm so happy I tried this and I will probably do it again at some point.

If you decide to turn an upholstered piece into a painted work of art I would love to hear about it and see the finished project.

Monday, January 4, 2016

In our Holiday Spare Time....

I love giving these updates on the studio progress! Wahoo!!!

It's been a long challenging road but we are getting so close to the "move in" date I'm really feeling antsy and excited!

Would have posted sooner but man, at the end of the day we were often so exhausted I didn't feel like blogging or posting about anything at all. And on days that we did have free time it was all about quality time with the kiddos, cuddled up on the couch with popcorn and a book or good movie to watch and enjoying our little bubble while we could.

Now the year has come to a close and an exciting brand new year has begun!
Time to take a moment to reflect, remember, and move forward.

I can't wait for all that 2016 has in store.

So now for the pictures. Here's what we did during the holidays.

In the week before school got out I worked on finishing all mudding and taping, touch ups, sanding, and covering windows and doors, lights and outlets with plastic. Then in the evenings we loaded up the texture sprayer and we textured the ceiling and all of the walls. We began as total amateurs and by the time we were finished we were totally and completely still amateurs, lol. But I think we did a pretty good job. We have a great new respect for people who do sheet rock and texuring for a living.

Then during the break we painted. Everything. Two coats. White. No fancy paint colors, just Behr #52 white semi-gloss....2 of the 5 gallon buckets.
I love that we had some nice weather so we could open up all the doors and windows.
That exposed board you see on the loft area....that is where we will add a beam going across the front with a long iron pipe that my antique wooden ladder will hook onto (not the metal ladder in the picture). The ladder will be on casters so it will slide back and forth across the room and I can store canvasses up on the loft with easy access. And it will look really cool.

This guy is what I used to scrape every inch of my concrete floor after we were all done.
  we used drop cloths for painting, but we hadn't during texturing, so it was speckled and very dirty
My mom helped me and together I bet we mopped the floor with hot water at least two dozen times to get it cleaned up! Thanks mom!

Oh, and see that fan way up there. Well, the first time it was installed we had scaffolding. But when it had to be put back up after painting was finished...oh boy, that was terrifying! I have never gripped a ladder harder, held my breath longer, or had my heart stick in my chest the way it did when I had to hold on to that old wobbly metal ladder while my insane husband climbed to the tippy top with that fan held above his head to put it back up. I just kept praying he would have good balance and I would stay calm because I was freaking out on the inside about how stupid it was that I agreed to hold the ladder and let him climb up there in the first place. Who needs a fan anyway. I just wanted him to come down safely so we could go ring in the new year at home and not in an ER somewhere. Thankfully, prayers were answered and all was well. And I have a healthy husband and a working fan, so it's all good.

Opening everything up to let the sunshine and fresh air in.

This is my fancy heating and AC unit. It has a remote control with lots of buttons. I have no idea what they all do so I guess I better find the manual and figure it out.

Here is a mirror that Jeremy's parents took out of their new house. They gave it to us and now we just need to hang it in the bathroom....I think it may cover the entire wall on one side. This thing is huge!

The wrap around deck is another thing that is going to be huge! And I love it. We can take our sketchbooks or our easels outside and draw or paint on nice days. And at night the stars out here are breathtaking. The finished deck will have a railing and stairs that lead down one side into the yard.
Our big helper was assisting with making a plumb line and taking measurements. I think Jeremy caught me taking their picture cause he's making a face at me, lol.

Little helper likes climbing through the support boards.

I'm sure our neighbors will be almost as thrilled as we are when all these piles of wood are used up and this project is done!

This is a view that gives a better idea of the size of the deck. The stairs will come out from the little landing that you see up front. We actually have several boards laid at this point but I haven't taken another picture yet.

And there you have it. We keep pushing forward. And the dream is being made real.

Blessings to you all.
 Happy New Year!

Creating a Custom Mud Room Built-In

Click on the image below to see what fun Jeremy and I had on a special Christmas Project!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Super Heroes at Work

Much progress has been made on the studio in the past few weeks. Most especially during Thanksgiving break.

Just so you know, this post is going to be one long string of photos followed by a special note of thanks.

here goes

we have electricity!
 interior door for bathroom & locks on all the doors

 Jeremy and I unloaded over 40 pieces of sheet rock. 
Have I mentioned my love/hate relationship with sheet rock yet...

Protecting my heating/AC unit with black trash bags so dust doesn't get 
in it before we even get to use it for the first time. 
 walls going up

 into some late night wall hanging

the boys discuss how they want to build the deck
 cousin Tyler helping unload supplies with little Z
 o.m.g. what a cute little helper Papa has!

 Carley pushing the wheel barrow and helping Papa.
 look how big this awesome deck is going to be!
way bigger than we originally planned. so cool.

 who reads the instructions before trying to put a scaffolding together... my husband, that's who
You go babe. You got this. 
(unlike your wife who probably would have just grabbed parts and tried to figure out how they fit)

 brothers discussing how it should be done

 Jeremy, Brent, Monte and Chris sure got a work out putting up the ceiling panels, wow!

 The scaffolding doesn't seem so high until you're up there stretching your arm out to get a spot that is just out of reach. Brenda, you are a pro.

 Look Carley, "X" marks the spot on the treasure hunt. 
Can you guess where it is now that the walls are all up?

 Wall mud. 
Oh how I loved you until you became a pain in my neck and an ache in my shoulders.
But you sure are making my walls nice and smooth.

Very BIG thanks to some real life super hero helpers who have been a part of our recent progress:

The electrician, Charlie, who fit us into his busy schedule, working on his day off with a couple of other guys to fix faulty electrical wiring, finish things that were left undone and make sure that the building is no longer a fire hazard.

Our friends Robbin and Velynda and their friend Bobby who shopped around helping us find the best possible deal on our heating and AC unit and then worked really hard to make sure it was properly installed and ready to use.

Brent, who showed up with a truck load of wood to surprise us and help build the framework of the deck around the studio! Used his day off from work to help hang sheet rock and stayed late to do as much as possible before getting on the road to head home and back to work.

Brenda and Monte who never fail to jump right in and help with whatever needs to be done. They started working alongside us the night they arrived and stayed till the last possible minute over Thanksgiving break working before having to head back home and to their own jobs.

Chris who sacrificed his day off to borrow a trailer to meet the guys at the home improvement store in order to carry all of the long pieces of wood back to our house and then stayed to work all day on the walls and ceiling of the studio.

And all of the other unnamed, equally important super heroes that have encouraged and supported and helped through each step of the way.

The difficulties we've encountered have served to make us more appreciative of each new accomplishment and every bit of progress. The people who have joined in fixing what was broken have done so much more than contribute to the mere completion of a building.