Sunday, August 31, 2014

Best-Laid Plans

...would be accomplished if I could just stay home and carry them out!  But I'm easily distracted. So things get done when they get done.  I'm such a damn hippie.

Anyway, so today I finally got around to putting the mosaic top on my table.  I was leery of the thinset hardening while I dinked around with the pieces, so I thought I'd be smart and lay them all out on a piece of paper the size of my table top.  Which worked ok until I actually go to putting them in place, at which point nothing lined up the way it was on the paper.  But I did get them all on there, so now all I have to do is wait 24 hours and I can grout them.  That's the fun part, I like playing with grout. 

The thing I learned about putting mosaic pieces in place is that they differ from actual tile in one important aspect; they have not much depth, so it's a fine line between using enough thinset to hold them in place, and using too much thinset and having it squeeze up between the pieces and not leaving enough room for grout.  So after I got them all on there, I had to go in with what we at our house call "the multipurpose tool" (a nut pick.  Seriously, everyone should have at least one of these hanging around within easy reach), and pick out the globs of thinset in between the pieces so the grout will have someplace to go.

I also decided I don't trust the paint on top of the "crackle medium" I used, so I'm going to give it a coat of satin polyurethane just to make sure it won't scrape off easily.

Lily and Melanie, my grandnieces!

 In other news, there was a huge family campout at our house this weekend, cousins and family from Preston's side who all live here in RI but don't get to see each other all the time.  So that was a lot of fun, and the weather was absolutely stunningly perfect. PJ and I even took a canoe ride, and I can't even remember the last time I did that, but the water is so low some parts of the river are pretty much impassable so we didn't get very far.  Plans were made to do it again one more time before it gets too cold, so I'm really looking forward to that. 

I actually remembered how to drive one of these things!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Busy Hands Are Happy Hands.

Blank canvas!
 Yes indeed.  Busy is the way to go.  Earlier this year I found this little table waiting for me at a yard sale.  Looks like someone had intended to do something with it, as there was a little evidence of sanding.  It also looked like it had been left on a porch or in a basement or something, as the finish on the legs was all but gone.  But it was a structurally sound, well-made little table, and I like the Shaker legs and the fact that it had this kind of picture-frame thing going on on the top. I don't think it's too old, but  the drawers are dovetailed and it looks like it was maybe factory-made before most factory-made furniture was crap.

The consensus here is that it's a sewing table, and who am I to argue?  It's got some sort of drawer inset in it, could be for spools of thread or could be for pencils, I have no idea.  It came to me with only one drawer pull, so the hunt was on.  But the first thing I found out was that the screw holes were too close together!  Modern drawer pulls have holes 3" apart.  So I had to plug them and drill them out again.

You can't really tell in this light, but the legs and outer edges are painted a very pale seaglass aqua.  The top frame is sandy brown, as are the side and back panels but those are going to be painted with a slightly darker aqua. The top surface is primer with a little sand mixed in, and I'll discuss that more tomorrow. I did the brown on the side panels because the plan was to use a crackle finish...and after a quick google search on how to do that without buying bottles of crackle medium, it turns out all you need is Elmer's glue!  How about that.  I guess it's all on the Elmer's page, but I found it here, in this really cool blog!
I don't think it's supposed to look like that.

So I got the glue and followed the directions--or so I thought--and the results were....well, see for yourself:

Here's what I think happened, so you can learn from my foolishness.  Combination of:
1.  Not waiting for the glue to get tacky.  The instructions clearly stated that you need to do the top coat before the glue dries, or it won't work.  I think I didn't wait quite long enough.
2.  Too thick top coat.  This was also probably due to the fact that the glue was too wet.  My brush kept disturbing the glue underneath, so i was using a lot of paint so I could just apply it on top of the glue without making a mess.
3.  Working on a vertical surface.  That was just plain stupid.  Everything just went south.
So I got a rag and a bucket and washed it all off and started again, laid the table on its side and did one panel at a time.  That worked much better. I had already done the drawer fronts, so I know the technique worked.
Also, check out those drawer pulls!  I looked all over the internet for pulls that would suit my nautical theme, but not only didn't I find anything that that seemed like it was going to match, they are bloody expensive! I would have invested a little more in the pulls seeing that I didn't pay all that much for the table, but then I found these wooden ones at the Habitat ReStore in Charlestown, brand new in the package. All I did was paint them, then get out the wood glue and wrap them in twine. 

So the painting is all done now.  What's next is going to be to apply the mosaic top.  That's why the sand in the primer, research about mosaic revealed that the surface to which you apply the Thinset should be rough.  And sealed.  So that accomplished both.  This is why I was excited to find this table, the top with it's picture frame edge just screamed mosaic, and my favorite mosaic material is seaglass.  The challenge was to find enough seaglass that was flat, because being a table top I thought the least I could do was to make it level so it could actually be used.  So that's what's on tap for tomorrow, putting on the top.

Other than the table, and trying to figure out just how many projects I already have in various stages of completion, I have been working on this baby afghan using the diamond stitch that Sue taught me.  It takes me forever to crochet stuff, whereas she can bang out 6 or 7 hats in a day AND make dinner. 

This is just one "square", I guess you call it.  The whole thing will probably consist of a dozen of these, with a border.  Don't hold your breath.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Begin Again

Over a month since my last post.  It's hard to know where to start.  First of all, my husband's cancer progressed SO quickly that I lost him on 8/4.  Thanks to all of you who have reached out to offer your sympathies and prayers.  I found myself too overwhelmed with everything to answer you each personally, but please know I truly appreciate your thoughtfulness.

I have come here several times meaning to post, but I am not a person who puts everything out there for the world to see, so I never got started.  Same thing happened when my dad died; I feel like there should be some deep meaningful tribute or wisdom or SOMEthing to relate, but I close up.  I have been thinking a lot about it though, so here's what I came up with.

Preston and I were together for 32 years.  Sounds like a long time, but no matter how long you have it's not enough  It's never enough.  However, I count myself lucky because some people search their whole lives for what we had and never find it.  So I do appreciate that.  During that time, I liked to tell everyone I married well; there was nothing Preston could not do.  Everything that broke, he could fix.  Electronics, cars, plumbing, wiring, carpentry, painting, masonry, landscaping....just everything.  And for 32 years, I was his right-hand woman.  Hold this, fetch me that,point the flashlight over here,  reach up in there cause my big hands won't fit, etc. etc.  Apparently a lot of women don't do that, which baffles me.  I've never minded getting my hands dirty, which was good because I spent a lot of time under cars.  Didn't really enjoy it a lot of the time, it was cold, it was hot, it dragged on into the night because nothing works the way it says it will in the manual, but he needed another pair of hands and how could I sit inside doing whatever while he was out there trying to fix MY car? Or his, for that matter? We were partners.  We played music together.  We volunteered in Little League and Pop Warner together. We watched football together. We tiled the bathroom together. We got a PlayStation and played Batman and Far Cry and Portal together. We tended the garden and did yard work together.

Anyway, here's what I have gained that a lot of other women haven't (and maybe they don't care).  Now that I am alone, I feel well-equipped to take care of myself.  I know how to build and repair stuff and how to use power tools. I know how to clean out the chimney.  I know how to do plumbing (and have had to use that knowledge already).  I know something about wiring.  I know how to mix cement and quickrete and what kind of wood to use for different purposes.  I know soffit, fascia, drip edge, roof vents, tar paper, and how to shingle a roof.  How to install J-channel and the basics of vinyl siding. How to install tile and how to use the wet saw. I know stuff about car repair, but that is something I don't care to do.  Let's just say I know enough about car repair to not get screwed by an unscrupulous mechanic...which fortunately for me, I don't have to worry about anyway because I have a mechanic I trust.  Does a woman need to know these things?  You betcha.  We need a new mailbox and post, and it will be done right with a cement footing and a pressure-treated post.  Mom needs a step replaced, and that will require nails shot into cement with a .22 Ramset.  I can do that.  Our old plumbing is starting to give out here and there.  I can deal with that.  My kitchen floor needs to be ripped up and replaced.  I can do that too.

I learned not to buy the cheapest thing, because it won't last. Wait until you can afford a better thing. I learned to measure twice, cut once (the gospel according to Norm Abram).  That any job worth doing is worth doing right even if it means it takes you twice as long.  That you should do it well enough to be proud to put your name on it, even if nobody is ever going to see it.  Because if you try to cut corners, it will always, eventually, come back to bite you in the ass.  Always.

These are things I learned from my husband, and I wonder if he had any idea that he was teaching me to fend for myself all that time.  Probably not, I didn't realize it myself until recently.  Of course there are other things in my mind; how close we were, how perfectly suited for each other, inside jokes by the mile, I could go on and on but all that stuff is too personal.  It's for me. 

What's next for me is to take my business in a different direction.  Having been a tailor for the last 6 years, and having decided even before all this happened that that wasn't really making me happy, I am getting back into doing art/craft shows with my work.  Because if all this ugliness has taught me anything, its that life is too damn short to spend it doing something that doesn't make you happy.  That will also allow me to spend more time with Sparky, as I won't have to be anywhere away from home all day every day.  I have already booked some shows, and am working on some new projects.  Went to Mystic Village the other day and scoped out some shops I might seek to do business with.  Trying hard to focus on the new and not spend too much time thinking.  So tomorrow I will begin more regular posts here, beginning with the current woodworking project.  Stay tuned!