Thursday, March 31, 2016

Creating A Custom Chair: Part II, Prep

Dismantled Chair
Photo: P. MacLeod

Part II of the chair transformation focuses on prepping the bones for an update.

For the first step, I took off the upholstery. I used the following tools:
  • Box cutter
  • Flat head screw driver
  • Needle-nosed pliers
Using the box cutter, I cut into the upholstery along the piping line of the "V" on the front and back. Removing the padding was simple, but the piping was stapled into the wood, so I pried the staples, one-by-one, with a flat-head screw driver, and pulled them out with the pliers. This was slow going. 

Then I turned my attention to the seat. I removed the seat from the chair, and did the same thing as before. But this time, there were three layers of stapled material. Staples are sharp, and yeah, I got a little boo-boo and a blister. 

Right after I finished removing all of that, I took a trip to the library and checked out a couple of books about reupholstering furniture. I should have done that first. There are real tools for taking out staples that do a much better job than a screw driver and pliers. I went to Amazon for upholstery tools and made an order for:
  • Staple lifter
  • Tack lifter
  • Electric staple gun
  • Staples
Those are the basic tools for what I need now. Having the staple and tack lifters would have made the chore of removing all of those staples much easier and would have prevented this lovely blister.

I also bought a copy of "Spruce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design." Spruce is an Austin, TX, based upholstery company. I love the projects and material choices in this book. It's very fun and colorful. (When I turn my attention to recovering those fabulous antique chairs I bought at The Scrap Exchange, I will have to add some more tools and supplies. See Part 1: Creating a Custom Chair.)

After I finished taking off the upholstery, I began sanding. I need to get just enough of the finish off so that when I prime it, the coverage will be even and none of the dark color will come through.

I used an electric sander for most of the work, but there were places where the sander wouldn't fit, so I worked those areas by hand.

Sanded chair
Photo: P. MacLeod

Water-based Kilz is my go-to for primer. I like that it is odorless and clean-up can be done with water. I will prim all of the exposed wood, but not the area for the mosaic. I'll prime that with a water-based polyurethane sealer, like Minwax.

Now that the prep is complete, it's time for Fun Part I: Mosaic Inset.

May all of your scores run true!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Creating A Custom Chair: Part 1, Design Plan

Chair for Charity Auction
Photo: P. MacLeod

The Independent Animal Rescue (IAR), a non-profit, no-kill animal rescue group here in Durham, holds it's 14th annual Painted Chair and More benefit auction on July 30 this year. If you know me, you know that the IAR is a group that is close to my heart. I have participated in this event every year, and this is the chair that I am going to transform into a functional, custom piece of art for this year's auction. I'm going to chronicle the process here. Please follow along!

I found the chair at a local Goodwill for $9.99. It's very sturdy, with dark wood and the V-shaped detail on the back piece is the same on the back side. My first thought was that I can take the upholstery off of the V-shaped areas and create a mosaic in that space. The recession should make the space easy to work on and create a smooth transition to the wood with no uneven or sharp mosaic edges.

Today I went to The Scrap Exchange, an amazing reuse center here in Durham, to look for material that I can use to replace the seat upholstery. I hadn't settled on a color scheme or design direction yet, but on the drive over to the Scrap, I felt inspired by the spring blooms of daffodils, forsythias, red bud and tulip trees, and my favorite--wisteria. So when I walked into the Scrap, I went right to the cloth section looking for spring colors. Here's what I found:

Material for Chair
Photo: P. MacLeod

I plan to use the flower print material for the seat and create a hammock underneath the seat with the mauve fine-ribbed corduroy. I think the hammock would be a nice napping spot for a kitty or a small dog. It could also be used for stashing magazines or papers. 

To create the hammock, I plan to drill hangers in the upper corners of the legs and create loops with the cord for hanging. It will be removable, so if someone doesn't want it or wants to wash it, they can take it off.

I felt good about my colors and materials, and in my mind, I'm seeing the chair painted in a lighter color. So I know plenty of sanding is in my future. As I'm checking out all of the other neat things, I run across a pair of chairs that are just too good to be true.

Old Chair
Photo: P. MacLeod

One was $7.00 and the other, which has a broken leg, was $5.00. I bought both of them. I guess I'm going to be learning a lot about upholstery. Here's the underside:

Underside of Chair
Photo: P. MacLeod

They will have to wait until I get the spring chair done!

Next: Prepping the chair. Work begins!

May all of your scores run true--

About my involvement with IAR:

We adopted one of our cats from IAR, I've taught workshops as fundraisers for them, and I also volunteer on Tuesday mornings to feed and clean the cubbies for the available cats and kittens that Pet Co generously allows IAR to present to the public. I'm constantly looking for the perfect dog to adopt from IAR.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

My Painting Party Experience

In the studio at Wine and Design in Durham, NC.
Photo by Andi Linn-Dunlap

A friend invited me to join a group at a local business called Wine and Design for a painting party this week. It sounded like fun and the design selection for that night was interesting to me, so I signed up.

For $35 we had two hours in their roomy studio, all supplies included:
  • ·      paint
  • ·      brushes
  • ·      prepped canvas
  • ·      easels
  • ·      aprons

They allow wine or beer. It’s bring your own, but they do provide cap/cork openers and plastic cups.

There were six people in our group. Our comfort level with artistic painting ranged from “I’ve never done this before, and I’m really nervous” to “I finished a painting last week.” As an artist and an instructor, I honestly believe no matter what your proficiency, you can always learn something from taking a class. No shade!

We had a really nice and knowledgeable instructor, Denise, who guided us step by step through the process. She led by demonstrating each part of the process on a canvas, and then she walked around to help or consult with each paint partier. She encouraged us to customize our paintings by substituting colors or adding more or less paint as we chose.

In between instruction, while Denise was working with individuals, she turned up the music. The music was all upbeat, popular tunes that we sometimes sang along with.

Because I got into my own zone, I missed a short step and felt a little bit behind by the time we needed to be wrapping up. I didn’t panic, because I totally expect to fiddle with my canvas later.  But everyone else did finish and our newbie was thrilled with her work and wants to do it again! So if you are looking for something fun and creative to do, be sure to check them out!

Our finished paintings!
Photo by Denise

About Wine and Design

Wine and Design was started by two Raleigh locals and is now a national franchise. The business offers painting parties, such as the one I went to, as well as birthday events for all ages, team building events and more. Watch this YouTube video about Wine and Design.

May all of your scores run true!