Monday, October 24, 2011

Mission Complete: Planner Modification

First off, I apologize for my absence last week, and I feel I should warn you that November is likely to be a rather quiet month.  I'll be participating in NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month.  The challenge?  To write an entire 50,000-word novel in thirty days.  I was successful last year, and I'm feeling even better about this year.

That's why I didn't post anything last week.  I was busy outlining and planning and writing up character sketches and so on.  I literally could not tear myself away.  I've got everything under control now, though, and I'm trying to relax until November 1st, when all hell is going to break loose.

Of course, I have been doing some crafting.  When I needed a break from outlining, I turned my attention to a simple but fun - and quite useful - little project.

It all started with this nice but somewhat boring planner I had lying around - your typical faux leather binder-type thing.  I  used it off and on for its intended purpose until I ran out of pages.  I  had always intended to print my own refills, but it has since langoured, unused.

Meanwhile, something I've been meaning to put together for some time is some sort of repository for all of my writing ideas.  I wanted something shuffle around and reorganize as necessary, something with pockets for stashing clippings perhaps, something small enough to be easily portable... In short, I wanted a small binder.  Like my planner.  Like the planner that was sitting unused.


There was just one problem.  In it's original state, the binder was rather uninspiring...

It didn't even have those pretty gold corners to start with - I just forgot to take a picture before I started experimenting.  The first thing I tried was plain ol' acrylic craft paint.  That's the gold you see here.  I had already decided I wanted to go for a sort of steampunk look, so I painted the main portion a nice, dark brown.  Which looked nice, but dried with a somewhat unpleasant texture.

So I whipped out the Rub-n-Buff - which I'd have used from the start had it occurred to me.  If you're not familiar with this magical substance, you really should be.  It's a metallic wax finish, which comes in a little tube, and works just as the name proclaims.  You squeeze a bit out and rub it onto the surface you want to cover.  Then you can buff it to a nice, muted sheen.  I used Spanish Copper on the bulk of the binder and Antique Gold  for the details.

I gave the inside a similar treatment, though I skipped the initial painting and used the Rub-n-Buff alone.  There isn't much of a visible difference, but I suppose we'll see how things wear.

All in all, I'm quite happy.  I may add a few embellishments, but I think it's already quite an improvement.  Now I just need to work on innards.  I've got some new stamps to play with, so I think I'm going to put them to use on decorating some dividers.  But of course, there'll be more on that later.

In the meantime, I'm off to try and get some housework done before November arrives...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Humpday Home Decor: Decoupaged Bookcases [WIP]

If you follow us on Twitter or Facebook, you may have heard that we've been working on decorating bookcases.  We spent the better part of a day painting and decoupaging, and they already look pretty great.  They just need a few finishing touches (and to be moved to their permanent homes where I can get some good pictures of them that do not feature stacks of boxes in the background).  So they're still a work-in-progress.  But here's a preview!

Bookcase #1 got a light coat of matte brown spray paint.  We didn't worry too much about coverage, so the wood grain shows through a bit in places, as you can see here.  Also, we didn't sand or prime this one at all - just painted.  And aside from some funky texture on the edges - which was probably caused by the furniture polish we used to clean it before hand - it worked out just fine.  And we thought the texture was pretty cool.  If you're making a major color change, though, or you just want to make damn sure things turn out right, sanding and priming certainly never hurts.

The medallions here are cut from sheets of scrapbook paper.  If you're going to be cutting out little detailed things like this, do yourself a favor and get a pair of nice, small, pointy-ended scissors.  They are a life-saver!  Or at least, a hand-saver.

And of course, we used Mod Podge to decoupage the cut-outs onto the top and sides.  If you have never worked with Mod Podge, you are missing out.  Go get some now.  Get the big bottle.  Trust me, you'll want it.  This was Anna's first decoupaging venture, and now she wants to cover everything with paper.  I expect to wake up one morning and find her decoupaging the toaster.

But I digress.  Bookcase #2 received a similar treatment. This time we did sand and prime it, and I do think the primer made the painting easier.  Since the sides were black, I imagine it would have taken more coats to cover without the primer.

We decided to go with a steampunk theme for this one, as it's going in my soon-to-be-steampunk'd craft room.  So we painted it with that awesome hammered metal stuff that Rustoleum makes, in copper, of course.  Then we decoupaged it with cutouts of clock faces and gauges.

Yesterday I painted all of the front edges a nice antique gold, just for a little extra contrast.  Now I'm trying to decide what I want to paint on the sides to fill in those extra spaces.  I'm debating between random numbers - in keeping with the clock/gauge theme - and stenciling some fancy little swirly things.

I'm also experimenting with an edging for the cutouts that will hopefully make them look more "welded metal" than "glued paper."  And finally, once I pick up the necessary materials, I'll be making a stencil to add text to the top.  I was going to freehand it, but I'm too chicken.

So.  You'll be seeing these babies again once they're all finished.  And they are not the last of their kind.  We intend to do this with all of our bookcases.  So we should be experts by the time we're done.

In the meantime, we'd love to hear from you.  Have you tried anything like this before?  Revamped some boring old furniture?  Decoupaged anything interesting?  Leave us a comment!

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Monday, October 3, 2011

Giveaway Winner


All right, folks.  We've chosen a winner - by random number - for our My Memories Suite giveaway!  Congratulations to Eli Carver of Penny Minding Mom!  Keep an eye on your inbox.  I'll be emailing you soon with the download code for your free copy of the software.

Those of you who didn't win, fret not.  You can still get $10 off if you purchase the software with this coupon code:  STMMMS66141

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