Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Making a Wood Top for My Coffee Table

Hi, I’m back after a thirteen-month hiatus and I am just going to jump right into things. I moved to a new apartment and have quite a few projects to share.

I had a glass coffee table. When I picked it out I was keen on the fact it was glass because this meant it didn’t take up too much visual real estate in my little living room.

However, a glass coffee table does have drawbacks: No one ever really feels comfortable putting their feet up on a glass table, and I believe comfort at home is paramount. Also, it’s hard to keep a glass table looking clean – reflective surfaces like mirror and glass readily show scratches, fingerprints, and dust.

This summer, soon after I moved into an apartment with a bigger living room, I decided to replace the glass top on my coffee table with wood. Here’s what I did:

I bought a piece of ¾” 2’ x 4’ birch plywood ($22 at Home Depot) and had it cut down at the store to the length I wanted (44”).

I wrapped the edges of the plywood with an iron-on veneer edge banding. This veneer edge banding is cool stuff, and it’s easy to work with. I cut it with an x-acto knife and fused it to the edge of my plywood with an iron.

I unscrewed the metal piece that held the glass on top of coffee table, and used the screw holes to attach my newly made wood top.

Then, I stained the wood using Varathane American Walnut Wood Stain ($5 at Home Depot). This was my first foray into staining so I followed the directions exactly from the can: I lightly sanded the wood, vacuumed the dust, applied one coat of stain liberally with a sponge brush, let it soak in for three minutes, and then wiped off the excess with a rag in the direction of the wood.

When I wiped off the first coat of stain, the color wasn’t quite as dark as I wanted it to be, so I applied another coat of stain and let it soak in for about ten minutes before wiping it off.

After this I let the table dry overnight. In the morning I applied Paste Finishing Wax, again following the directions directly from the can:  I rubbed a thin even coat of wax onto the wood with a rag, let it dry for fifteen minutes, and then polished it (rubbed in little circles) with a clean cloth.

The finishing wax didn’t really change the appearance of the stained wood, but in theory it’s helping protect the surface. And, I’m inclined to think it’s working – I’ve been using my coffee table with this wood top for about two months and it still looks exactly like it did when I first finished it.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Ornament Garland

I didn't get a Christmas tree this year but I got my ornaments out anyway because I have so much fun looking through them. It feels like opening presents because I forget about all the pretty ornaments I've collected over the years.

I made and hung a garland with some favorite ornaments, fishing line, and two screw eye hooks.

I strung the ornaments on the fishing line and tied a knot around one to hold it in place. I spaced the ornaments about an inch and a half apart from one other. If you don't space your ornaments with knots they will all jumble together - your garland will look fuller but you won't really be able to see the individual ornaments.

I screwed the two screw eye hooks into my wall and draped the finished garland over them.

It was very easy.  You just have to be very gentle when you pick up and hang the garland so the ornaments don't clank together too hard.

I did a few other small things to make my apartment festive for the holidays, like put out my vintage cardboard Christmas houses.

And, I put some Christmas ornaments (ones that didn't make it on the garland) out in a bowl and I hung a santa ornament from my living room lampshade.  (Pssst....recognize that bowl? It's the rock bowl I made two summers ago.)

I tacked my single strand of vintage glass beads to the bulletin board above me desk, and then hung my chenille candy cane pipe cleaners on it.

And I saved a few of the candy canes to hang on the wall lamps on either side of my bed.

So I didn't go all out like I did two years ago, but even without a tree my one bin of Christmas decorations goes a long way to make things feel pretty festive around here.

How's your holiday so far?  I hope it's really happy and festive.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

My Lady Gaga Halloween Costume

I was Lady Gaga for Halloween last year. Here's how I pulled together the costume:

First things first, I made a meat dress.  

I ordered one yard of bacon pattern fabric. (In hindsight I should have ordered one-and-a half yards because I didn't have quite enough, so I ended up using some miscellaneous pink fabric for the back.)

I used this red dress from my closet as the pattern for my bacon dress:

I'm not going to get very technical with you here because I was kinda winging this whole dress making thing.

Essentially I traced my red dress following its seams. I added half an inch of seam allowance to the outside edges of my traced pieces.

I sewed all of the pieces together and hemmed the remaining raw edges - around the neck, arms, and bottom of the skirt.

Taadaa, my finished bacon dress:

To complete my Lady Gaga look I ordered this blonde wig from Amazon, and put some streaks in it with a blue highlighter.

I wore black fishnet tights, a black flower/poof hair clip thing (leftover from my sister's 2011 Kate Middleton costume), and a black leather jacket (also borrowed from my sister).

For the finishing touches I put on a vintage rhinestone necklace (borrowed from my mom), a fun red ring, a lot of navy eyeliner, bright red lipstick, and my tallest turquoise high heels (not pictured).

I was pretty please with how this costume came together and I had a lot of fun wearing it! If I were to do it again, I'd probably make the bottom hem of the dress jagged so it looked a little more meat-like.

How about you, got any plans to dress up for Halloween tomorrow? I roped my boyfriend into doing a couples costume this year. He's Uncle Sam and I'm the Statue of Liberty. Details and pictures to follow in a few days.

In the meantime: my sheep costume, my chicken costume, a round of up some of my favorite homemade Halloween costume ideas, and a few more.

Can you tell I like Halloween, just a little bit?

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