Monday, March 24, 2014

Chalk It Up To Experience

Chalk paint is a product that's made quite a splash recently.  I first heard of it on Facebook and Pinterest, and then saw first hand some items that my friend Suzanne had painted.  She used Annie Sloan's Chalk Paint to brighten up a dresser, table and a picture frame.  I believe that she's added more to her painted collection since I've seen these.  Her finished products were so pretty and she was so enthusiastic about the paint's ease of use that I decided to try my hand at it.

I will tell you that the only thing I can paint well are walls, and I do a very good job at it.  But that's it.  I've tried painting furniture before with not much success.  I spent one entire summer stripping layers of paint off of a very old plant stand, and when it came to putting a new finish on it, I handed it over to Mark.  But I thought that chalk paint would be just the ticket for me to get into a little furniture painting.  After all, there was no sanding involved!  Yay!  With just the project in mind, I purchased a can of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and a can of finishing wax.

I bought a funny little table for $15 at an auction and had been using it in my craft room.  It had flip-up leaves (I think that's what you call them), and when these are flipped up, it turns into a round table.  Cute, you say?  Well, yes, but totally impractical.  Just put a heavy object on one of the leaves and the whole thing falls over. 
What a perfect candidate for some experimental painting!  It is cute and it makes a nice side table by my chair, but quite beat-up looking.  So I started by cleaning the table with TSP and let that dry well.  Then on went the first coat of paint.
Okaaaay, not bad.  I realized quickly that this might not have been the best project for my first-time chalk paint experience.  Too many curvy surfaces on the legs and too many moving parts!  But I forged ahead, applying another coat or two.  Or three.  I talked to Suzanne, who told me not to expect it to be perfect and her words stayed with me.  I then accepted the reality that this table might be considered "shabby-chic" at its completion. 

A strange thing happened when I flipped the table over and started to paint the top.  One portion resisted the paint. 
I sanded (Darn!  I ended up sanding anyway!), and then re-applied paint to that area.  It happened again.  I sanded and re-applied again.  More bubbling.  Ok, let's try that one more time.  Nope, still bubbling and chipping.  Obviously this table had something spilled on it at some point in its history that kept resisting the paint.  Shabby-chic it is!!
Now it was time for the wax, which is necessary for a nice finish and to seal the paint.  (The dried paint surface actually does feel like chalk.)  This step was very easy -- just apply the wax with a brush, remove the excess and buff it the next day.  Even with the chippy looking tabletop, I really like the way this project turned out. 
To sum up, here's what I learned:  1.  Annie Sloan Chalk Paint goes a long way.  I have a LOT left.  2.  Amateur painters should start with a simple project.  For example, a table with straight lines.  3.  The wax gives your project a beautiful finish.  Don't be tempted to skip this step!

Would I use it again?  Yes.  In fact, I have a divided wood frame that I will be painting.  I'm looking forward to this much smaller project!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Full Mailbox

My mailbox was a happy place one day last week when I received two Grow Your Blog giveaway wins!  Two in one day! 

First, I received this lovely pin from Asri at Asri's Beadwork.  Asri's blog is a wonderful, colorful place to visit and I'm glad I found it during the Grow Your Blog party. 
Just look at the beautiful work she does!  Please check out her blog to see more of her creations.

The next package I opened came all the way from Australia.  Kerrie sent me a pretty cross stitch chart, some floss and a package of needles.  Kerrie's blog, Channelbank Creations, contains a fascinating collection of sewing, gardening and cooking. 
I love both of these wins and thank Asri and Kerrie for offering these giveaways.  Once again, the Grow Your Blog event allowed me to visit new-to-me blogs and for other bloggers and non-bloggers to visit my blog and become followers.

Speaking of followers, my follower total is slowly climbing and getting nearer to that 200 mark.  Welcome to my new followers!  I will be having a 200 follower giveaway and have a nice prize planned.  Check back once in a while to see what the count is.  When it reaches 200, I'll announce the giveaway details.  Can't wait!

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Giving Spirit

Last year I was a participant in a Facebook group project called Xstitch For Those Impacted By The Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting.  The project started in December of 2012, shortly after the tragic event.  The idea was to give the families of each child a quilt.  We were asked to simply cross stitch a quilt square or two.  There were size limits, but that was it.  We could choose any pattern that we thought was fitting.   Soon there were over 400 members of this group.  The group was spearheaded by a very generous woman named Kyla, who had the ultimate task of organizing all of the squares and finding quilters to donate their time and talent to put them together.  Last month, each family received a quilt and small pillows.  In addition, the school, emergency room, police department, and town hall (and others) were recipients of handmade quilts.  This was a project meant to give comfort and support to the families.  All of the following photos are courtesy of the "Xstitch For Those Impacted By The Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting" Facebook page.
Kyla surrounded by all of the quilts.

The quilts and pillows all packed up and ready to go.
Just one of the beautiful quilts.

It was an honor to be a part of this worthwhile project.   I am so grateful for all of the stitchers and quilters, and for Kyla for organizing this cause from the beginning to the delivery.

I recently took part in the Grow Your Blog event for this year.  I happily sponsored a giveaway on my blog, and also entered a few giveaways on other blogs.  Well, can you believe it, I won three giveaways!  I never win anything!  I'm not just saying that.  I don't.  So I feel like it hit the jackpot here.  All three of my wins were from other lands, and I have received the first one from Bonnie at Jasper's Gems.
Not only did I receive her beautiful handmade Tree of Life pendant, the package also included some notecards and a pair of snowman socks.  How fun to receive such cute things!

OK, so now I'm in the giving mood.  I see that my follower count is now 192.  Who would have thought that would happen way back four and a half years ago when I started my blog?  So here's the plan:  When I reach the 200 mark, I'm going to have a 200 follower celebration giveaway!  Come and visit often to watch the follower count and to hear the details about the giveaway.  Thank you to ALL of my followers!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Tooth Fairy Pillow

Last year I found a freebie chart from Kreinik for a Holographic Star Bookmark.  I liked this chart a lot but was kind of overwhelmed at the thought of using all metallic threads.  And as soon as I saw it, an idea popped into my head for this cute star:  a tooth fairy pillow.  One for a sweet little boy I know.

Right away I knew that I wanted a pretty deep blue fabric and after a lot of looking I found just that at Under The Sea Fabrics.  Leslie worked with me and suggested her "Witching Hour" fabric, which is a beautiful mottled dark blue.  Then I decided that the star needed to be a bright yellow and that the chart would have some metallic accents.  This was accomplished with DMC variegated yellow and some gold and silver metallic braid. 
As I used the metallic braid, I found that I had nothing to fear!  A Facebook cross stitch friend suggested that I tie a knot in the eye of the needle to prevent the braid from slipping and weakening.  I also resisted the temptation to use a really long length of thread.  Because that's what I do with floss.  All of this knowledge makes me want to stitch this star exactly as it's shown on the Kreinik website!

Now comes the back.  I chose a bright yellow patterned fabric and then some blue felt to make the all-important pocket.  I surprised myself again while attaching the pocket to the back.  I had originally intended to blanket stitch around the pocket with the variegated floss.  But as I sat at my sewing machine, some of the "fancy stitches" caught my eye.  Had I ever used these?  No.  And just why not?  It was time to break out of my straight stitch and zig-zag stitch comfort zone!  My sewing thread stash yielded a spool in a nice yellow color for this contrasting stitching.
And there you have it - a nice big pocket for a teeny-tiny tooth!  Also, plenty of room for the tooth fairy to add some dollars.  Or cents?  Just how much is a little tooth going for these days?