Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ballard Designs Medallion Wall Plaque Knockoff

I was looking through a Ballard Designs catalog several months ago and fell in love with these medallion wall plaques.

But at $199 for the 3, I knew I would have to recreate it on my own.  I decided to make just one and chose the middle plaque because I love how it looks like a flower.  Now, before I really get into this post, I have to say this was very challenging for me - not because it's a super complicated design or that the color combiniation is hard - but because I usually do refined, polished paintings, which these are *so* not!

Here is an upclose picture I blew up on my computer to use as inspiration. You can really see how unrefined it is.

So, the first step was to figure out dimensions. I decided on an 11x17 inch piece of pine. Instead of painting the decorative part at the bottom, I chose to buy a wood applique to make it a little easier.  The applique was 8" long so I knew that the 'flower' would need to be 8" wide.  After priming the pieces, I placed the applique on the wood to make sure it was what I wanted.

Now, the tricky part is to get the shape of the flower. I used the picture I printed as inspiration and adjusted my drawing as needed to get the right dimensions.  Since it's a symmetrical shape, you could probably even fold a piece of paper several times and draw 1 petal and then cut it out to get a uniform look.

I chose to use a beautiful blue as a basecoat and a dark chocolate brown for the flower.

I also painted the applique brown with the intention of painting the blue on top then sanding some off so that the brown would show through...buuuut, it didn't quite end up that way!

On to the flower. Like I said, this was *very* difficult for me since it's not my usual type of painting. I had to keep reminding myself of something an art teacher told me once which is to not see the object for what it is (a flower), but to see it as a shape (not quite the exact wording, but something like that!). So if you are reading this, Patricia Wood from American River College, thank you because that's what got me through this project!  I have to admit that my heart was racing as I painted this because it looked so horrible and I kept wondering to myself how on earth I could ruin such a good idea.  Sounds dramatic, but you'll see why when you look at the picture below.

Um yeah, quite a far cry from the Ballard Designs plaque!  Fortunately, I am not usually one to give up when I have an idea, so next I decided to use a lighter shade of brown to highlight certain areas. The paint was called Trail Tan, but it was anything but tan! It looked more peach and that's when I *really* started freaking out! I kinda sorta forgot to take a picture of what it looked like at that point. Ok, not really. I didn't *want* to take a picture of it because it was so horrible! But once again, I couldn't just give up, so I decided I would paint over the peach and use white as a highlight instead. And while I was at it, I also used some dark brown, almost black, paint to do some lowlights, and this is what I ended up with.

I honestly wasn't sold on it at this point. I just kept thinking it looked so sloppy, but then reminded myself yet again that it isn't my usual style, and that to grow, I need to venture outside my comfort zone. And I also kept singing a song in my head from The Frog and the Princess...the part where Tiana checks out the place where her future restaurant will be and she sings the song, "Almost There".  I didn't even realize for a while that I was humming that song in my head, but I think it was my subconscious way of pushing myself. That, and my son watches that movie EV.ERY.DAY! He loves the 'fwoggies' and 'algator' =).

Anyway, throughout the time I spent painting the flower, I was also working on the applique. It went from brown to this. (As I'm typing this, my son is looking at the picture and saying 'weird painting', so I guess he doesn't like this look either!).

When I had sanded it, it went straight to the primer even though I did a very light sanding. Plus, it blended in with the blue of the background a little too much. Next, I thought I would paint it mostly brown and just leave the cracks blue.

Hmmm, not liking that either. I finally took a cue from the flower and decided to highlight it with white and it turned out like this.

That's a little bit better, but I wanted more depth so I added just a smidgeon of brown paint and lightly sanded it again.

Much better! Next, I set it on the plaque to make sure it looked good, and I was pretty happy with it.

Then it came time to paint the dashed line and the random numbers, like on the original plaque (do this *before* attaching the applique so it doesn't get in the way).  I used painter's tape to make a horizontal line and 2 vertical lines.

This step is *not* neccessary at all, but the perfectionist in me wanted to have the lines the same thickness. To keep it from being too 'perfect' looking, I varied the length of the lines and the spacing between them. I used a stencil that I already had to write '314' at the top and '0.100' between the dashed lines.

The next part kinda stunk because I didn't have a super small paintbrush so I used the other end of a paintbrush (the rounded plastic part) and a paintbrush on the bigger areas. It was far from perfect, but I was actually glad that it was kind of sloppy to match the look of the flower.
Once that was finished and dry, I painted some cardboard (aka a frozen pizza box that I cut open) with the colors of the plaque and tested out some wood stains to give it an aged look.

On the left is Minwax Early American and on the right is Minwax Dark Walnut.  I thought the Dark Walnut was too dark for this project, but I honestly wasn't sure the Early American made a difference, so I held the plaque up to the samples.
Oh yeah, there's a difference! And just the right amount.  So after I applied the applique with epoxy, I stained the whole thing with Early American then attached a picture hanger on the back when it was dry.

Here's the final product.

And the inspiration picture again.

I am happy to report that it has finally grown on me. In fact, I'm really diggin' it! Oh yeah, and the total cost of the project (the wood applique and 2 bottles of paint were all I had to buy) was a total of around $6!!! Although you have to buy the Ballard Designs version as a set for $199, *if* you could buy an individual plaque, it would cost $66! I'll take $6 over $66 anyday!

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Candlestick Pedestal

So, this project is all over blogland and is definitely not original, but here is my take. I got a silver tray and a candlestick for $1 each at the thrift store.

I have to admit there was quite a struggle going on in my brain about the candlestick because I LOVED the patina. It's kind of hard to see in the picture, but it had a tinge of red which made it look kind of rusty. I *seriously* took several days to decide if I should paint it or not, but in the end the candlestick lost the battle.  I loved the shape and knew it would be perfect for my project.

So I took a deep breath and primed it then painted it a glossy white. No turning back!

After waiting for the paint to dry and giving the tray a nice little scrub, I attached the two with some epoxy and voila!

Project total: $2!!!!

Funky Junk's Saturday Nite Special

Window Frame Revamp

Several years ago I bought 2 window frames from a local swapmeet for $15. The paint was completely peeling so I sanded it (I don't think I even used a mask! Tisk tisk!), and painted it, and aged it with stain then I stapled a pink floral fabric on the back and added some silver knobs to hang goodies.

But like I said, that was *years* ago and my taste has since changed from super duper uber girly to more natural and rustic. I know some people would kill me for changing this, but it was just time. Time for *almost* everyone's fave fabric of the moment: burlap. But of course changing the fabric required pulling out all those staples - blah. Some were so stuck that I had to pull out my pallet knife and finagle them so there was enough room for the hammer to free them.

The first go around I had to use a manual staple gun, but this time I got to use a pnuematic staple gun - so much better!!

Loving it already with the burlap! But of course I had to replace the silver knobs. I got these 3 beauties at Lowe's for just under $10 total.

It took under a half hour to do this project (from taking off the old fabric to hanging it back up) and cost around $15 total, yet it looks so different!!

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Chalkboard Tray

So, my sister and I were checking out the bargain section at Target a few weeks ago (which we seem to do several times a week to make ourselves feel like we have lives) and I saw this plastic tray.

I'm sure you guys have seen it too if you frequent Target.  Cute, right? I love love love the shape of it and although I love pink, it just wasn't gonna work with my decor.  I didn't buy it, even though I was totally drawn to it, because I wasn't quite sure what to do with it. Then wouldn't you know that an idea hit me right as I pulled into my driveway? So I went back to get it and there was only one left. Score!! Now, before I start going over the process of what I did, let me just say that I pretty much did everything wrong.  I knew I wanted the outer edge to be painted white with chalkboard paint in the middle, but I figured I would save money by using the chalkboard spray paint that I already had, which was mistake #1. I *highly* recommend using the kind you paint on!

Since the tray is plastic, I used some steel wool to lightly scratch the surface.  I'm sure a fine grit sandpaper would work as well, but I didn't wanna take my chances with scratching the surface too much.

Everything was still going well at that point. Next I sprayed primer on the tray. Then came time to decide how I was going to use spray paint to paint the edges and chalkboard spray paint for the middle...and this is where things got tricky.

I decided for some very odd reason that I would spray paint the edges first (please don't ask me about my thought process because it doesn't even make sense to me somtimes). So I spray painted the back and edges and all was well til it came time to spray paint the middle with chalkboard paint. I tried taping the edges off with painter's tape, but it just doesn't hug the curves too well. Onto Plan B: finding flexible painter's tape.  I've heard it existed, but neither Home Depot nor Lowe's carries it and really, I didn't want to spend any more money than I had to. So, I got a genius idea that I would trace the back part of the tray onto some newsprint paper and cut the center out and then I could apply it to the edge with spray adhesive so that I could paint the center. Are ya still with me? 'Cause I'm confusing myself as I write this =)

To make a long story short: it didn't work too well. Then I decided I would just paint the whole thing with chalkborad paint and test the very back with regular latex paint to see how it did. Ahh, finally something that worked! But let me just say that it was quite a pain in the butt to paint the edge where the paint meets the chalkboard paint. I did several coats and had to use a tiny little brush, but it was worth it and I ended up with this.

It looks pretty cute as is, but I like all things old and thought it needed a little aging. Enter Dark Walnut stain. I also added some little doohickeys to the back so that I could hang it with some twine.

I chose to hang it vertically because I just thought it looked more pleasing that way, but it's really up to personal preference. And now for the final product. Drumroll please..........I hope the suspense isn't driving you mad! Ta-da!!

This would work great hanging by the front door with a little note for your loved ones or you could prop it up against the wall. You could even hang it in the kitchen to let your family know what's on the menu for dinner. So many possibilities!

Please excuse the lack of 'props' in my pictures, but most of my stuff is packed away for the big cross-country move =) Anyway, I hope you enjoyed and can find some inspiration to make your own. Considering I only had to buy the tray for this project, I would say it's not too shabby for $2.50!

Funky Junk's Saturday Nite Special

Stepladder Turned Side Table

Since I am on quite a small, no, tiny budget, I had to be creative when trying to figure out what I would do for a table between my 2 wicker chairs. I had been racking my brain for quite a while when all of the sudden a lightbulb went off.  I realized that a 2' stepladder with a piece of wood on top would be the perfect height so I got to doing research on the internet to see much it would set me back.  The cheapest I could find was around $25, so onto Plan B: Craigslist. I looked for a few weeks with no luck and I finally decided to post an ad in the 'wanted' section and got a response that same day.  I ended up spending $10 on the ladder, which I think was a little pricey considering it stunk like cigarette smoke and one of the legs is bent, but since I hadn't had much luck, I jumped on the offer.  I took a picture of the before, but it seems to have magically dissapeared into thin air which means I will probably find it the second I publish this post =)
Anyway, here is a photo of a much nicer version of my ladder:

I had my dad cut a piece of pine that measured 15x12 (it's actually 11.25 inches and I've never understood why they round it up to 12!).

Then I primed and painted the ladder and piece of wood Lucky Bamboo by Behr. Sorry for the lack of pics, but sometimes I get so into a project that I forget to snap away.

Then I used some Minwax Early American to give it an aged look.

I have to admit that I only got a coat of poly on the ladder and not the top yet, but I am impatient and took pics anyway. I haven't even screwed the top on yet! But this will give you an idea as to what it will look like.

FYI My wicker chairs (I have 2) used to be the typical white and had a country feel, but I sprayed them with Rustoleum's Satin Espresso spray paint to better fit my style. It took at least 2 cans of primer and 6, yes SIX, cans of spray paint, but considering the chairs were hand-me-downs $20 in spray paint aint too shabby! I just need to do some touch ups and do a protective coat before my cross-country move.

Funky Junk's Saturday Nite Special

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