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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Back with a Book, Baby!

I'm back! Do you even remember me?  Ha-ha, I hope so - I know it's been SO long, and I really am sorry about that gap, but I hope that my announcement excuses me just a teency bit.. So, some exciting news, it looks like.... I wrote a book?!?!  Just about a year ago, just as I was hanging up my hammer for the season, I was approached by Interweave (an awesome craft media company) with their idea of me writing a how-to book on string art.  I was so flattered, honored... and REALLY intimidated! I'd never written a book, but they reassured me they'd walk me through it, so I said yes...  And here she is, the finished product, over a years worth of many peoples hard work;  DIY String Art by Jesse Dresbach:
What do you think? It really didn't feel real until I was editing the preview of the book... and then it really hit home when I had the physical copy in my hands.  I'm really proud, I learned a TON, and I couldn't have done it without the help of so many people at Interweave, especially my fantastic editor Stefanie... she was in charge of taking my giant pile of directions & patterns and transforming them into a beautiful book that actually makes sense.  And man, she nailed it.. (pun intended, ha!)  So before I get into a few preview shots of what's been my last year, here's an amazon link to the book for those who have been asking about it:
It's also available on the Interweave website, as well as many booksellers & other fun retailers out there.  Keep an eye out! I appreciate everyone's support (and major patience!) on this journey.

So there are 24 designs in the book, and I did almost all brand new ones. I had to keep a few of the classics that people have asked about how to do (Retro Sea Snail and Retro Crescent Moon have been  MAJOR pattern requests!).  Take a look at a few faves:
The geometric fox was a new one, and instantly a favorite.. so fun to make!  This book project totally reinvigorated my string art love, allowing me to get really creative and branch out.   In the book you get all the patterns of course, and tons ( I mean TONS) of directions & support.  All nicely laid out into sections:

Here's a peak of the table of contents listing the projects:
And for wonderful book eye-candy time, here are few of my favorites from the book:

You can see some of the harder to explain-with-words projects get a little step-by-step picture action like our friend Ginkgo up here.  But once you get the hang of it, I'm confident you can tackle all these projects... and you'll be a pro in no time! :)

Well that's what's been going on in my life, hope you all have been busy with fun projects & gearing up for summer! I'm happy to get a lot of my free-time back, and I definitely look forward to posting again.  As I've mentioned before it might not be as regularly (see my gripe-fest at the end of this post) - but it will definitely be more than every 18 months! Whoah, time really flew there...

For the in-between snippets you can find my social media links below, & a huge HUGE thank you, for hanging in there with me.


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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Wheelbarrow + Rain Chain = Cute Drainage Solution

Hello! Wow, long time no hear from me, huh? Well, I can explain, sort of, but I'll tuck it away at the end of this post. Last month we got a TON of rain, and while we managed to put up rain gutters the year before... we never put downspouts, which are kind of important!  I wanted to share this idea today because when I HAD the idea, I researched the interweb to see if others had done it. I like to see if others have any tips/shortcuts before I jump into things.  Since I couldn't find any, I figured I'd better throw it out there..

See we have this one little problem area, where a lot of water hits.  Take a look:
We recently put down the rocks, to try and stop the muddy splashes. This is a weird spot, you can see the rain gutter on the left... well it's lower than a portion of roof that sticks out past it - making this, the lowest point, in the middle of the back of the house. NOT GOOD for drainage, who's idea was this? We are on a hill so this just seeps into the dirt under the house.... fun....Also, a standard downspout can't go here because this window is in the way:
See? Disclaimer: Don't make fun of our rain gutters, we put them up in a hurry and home depot only had these plastic ones that I intend to replace someday when I am covered in cash. For now it's function over fashion my friends..

Anyway - We had to think of some way to get the water out from back  here. Originally I wanted to collect the rainwater since we live in drought country, but the logistics got out of control on me and a storm was fast approaching... that's when we ran into a wheel barrow at the Re-store in Santa Cruz...
Fifteen bucks! It had a flat tire and was actually a dark blue before. We grabbed a sample of paint at Home Depot & did a sloppy paint job, because we want it to start aging ASAP.
I hung a test chain from the rain gutter so we could position the wheel barrow accordingly.  Here's the idea, we needed a raised collection system (enter wheelbarrow here!) so there would be enough water pressure (by raising) to funnel the water out from the back of the house.

I rummaged around the plumbing section at home depot and found these, which a standard garden hose can attach to:
Perfect! The piece on the left will go through the wheelbarrow, and the piece on the right would attach to it. As luck would have it, our wheel barrow had a hole in it at the lowest point, which I just stabbed at with a flat head screwdriver until it was roughly the right size to fit only the piece that needs to go through. (Small end of the left).
 Like so...
I used just some leftover clear caulking we had that I knew would be waterproof. It's OK if it leaks a little, we are just trying to get 95% of the water out of here.  Here's the under view:
And THAT is where a garden hose will attach. The garden hose will run along the back of the house, buried & hidden, to the front where our water will flow away.

To hang the rain chain, I used a simple L bracket above the rain gutter opening:
Then we hung the chain! I got this rain chain on Amazon (Click here to check it out) but accidentally got a SHORT one. Works fine for this spot, but if you are buying, double check the length!
The plan for spring is to bury a few pots in the gravel, so plants can overflow out of the wheelbarrow. They won't get flooded, since the wheelbarrow is funneling the water away faster than it can fill.
Wear and tear already! How cute..  So the rains hit before we could fill it with gravel, and we got some MAJOR clogs in the hose.  Once the storms passed, I was able to clear the clogs & we filled her up. This much gravel should act as a filter & keep those leaves out:
That's it, pretty simple with very few snags along the way.  When the rain flows down the cups you can watch from inside that little bedroom.. so neat & peaceful.

OK, so where have I been? Well, a few things happened.  Balancing normal life, the Etsy business, and the house projects - I used to get this guilt all the time that I needed to post more, or I hadn't done a post in X amount of time.  I realized I wasn't doing projects so much to enjoy them, but more to be able to post more projects, because that was the "norm" and what you were "supposed to do". Which is just adding an unnecessary amount of stress to life, and that finally felt silly (for me).  Combine that with the discovery of this major trash talking website after the whole Young House Love breakdown happened...ugh.  I was kind of blown away by this site you may have heard of called "GOMI" or, "Get Off My Internets".  Holy... Crap... it was page after page of people tearing apart popular bloggers and I felt completely discouraged. Their style, their projects, their personal life. I didn't find my own blog on there, but I found a lot of blogs I DO know & love, and it was heartbreaking. It was one of those situations where you want to look away, but you can't.

So I took a breather to see if I wanted to keep going or call it quits.  And If I did keep going, how to go forward.  I finally decided to keep going, and to adopt the "slow blogging" style, which is focused on quality not quantity.  This works on all fronts in  my opinion, while I will undoubtedly post less often, I'll post when it feels right.  When I have something to share, rather than rushing to have more posts per week. Some people can post great quality posts on the regular, and I admire them! I just have to face that I can't.  Blogging has been really fun and I've made a lot of friends along the way, and I like to think I have a good idea now & then to contribute to internet-land.  So from here on out, crock pot style blogging, I guess. And I'm happy with that.  I'll still be posting little updates & tidbits now and then on facebook, pinterest, and Instagram. Thank you all for your great support & feedback, I love seeing your projects.  Keep in touch buddies & keep creating!


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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Backyard Patio: Tree stump to Day Bed

You know what I realized as I set out to write this post? I completely skipped out on showing you how we turned the stump into a bench in the first place! So this post got twice as long, oops...If you aren't caught up on all the backyard going-ons, I've been trying to tidy up this project for a bit - you can read up in these posts.

So you've seen this picture in some of my updates:
Well as much as I wish that bench would have magically appeared on it's own, it didn't. We had to get real crafty on it, and it was no easy task. Here's what we had interrupting our deck:
Big ol' stump.  Whoever cut it down decided keeping the stump & building a deck around it was a better idea than removing it.  So we inherited it, and after brainstorming for weeks we got hooked on the idea of a large, outdoor daybed/couch type dealy.  The first hurtle was figuring out a seat.

(Now, if you like this idea but don't have your own stump, you can build this over any frame. Even two wine barrels would work. Or just four sturdy legs.Or two piles of pallets secured together to be the right height. Anything.)

After Ralph leveled out the bumps as best he could, (Sander with 80 grit paper!) it was time to devise a sturdy seat.  We played around with some spare wood, seeing what arrangement they needed to be to maximize space.  Plus we were trying to see if we needed to build some sort of frame, etc. Some boards didn't make the cut:
Well it turned out the simplest idea was the best, and building right on top of the stump seemed strongest. After cutting our boards to size and placing them on the stump, we flipped the whole thing over face down (keep the same order in mind!) & braced them with more spare wood.  I made sure to pre-drill some pilot holes so the deck screws wouldn't split the 2 x 2 braces in half.
These wood screws are the best, they come with that little star bit. I was skeptical, but they work amazingly better than a standard philips:
I used the same wood screws to screw down into the stump.  HERE IS ONE OF MY MISTAKES. When the platform we had just build was one piece, we set it on the stump. Amazingly, all was level! So I started drilling down into the stump, and as wood does, things twisted and turned creating a few uneven moments in our lives.  I suggest, if YOU are working on a stump, to look underneath and add some wood shims where needed. This would have solved everything. EVERYTHING!

But in the name of progress, I carried on, adding some custom legs until most things were level:
There was still the tiniest bit of unevenness in some areas, which is unnoticeable when you sit on it. This, helped me decide to make the chunkiest seat cushion on the planet.
Then I sealed the whole thing is the Spar Urethane from our bar project.
Now you are all caught up! It's time to get some arms on this puppy! I've said it before and said it again, sometimes you have to be flexible and let your project be your guide.  The original plan for arms & a backrest was the oh-so-popular Pipe & Flange construction. (Like these).  BUT!!! Do you know how expensive pipes can get? It's the flanges that are the worst! So the total, without lumber, for the pipes on this couch was $180.  I bought it, sat in the car in shock for a second, and then returned it. Yes, I was that horrible person in the return line with like 800 tiny pieces. If this was going to be some gorgeous shelf inside our home, OK - I'll spring for it. But this was to be armrests. Hidden by pillows. OUTSIDE. Not worth $180 in my book.

Our new plan, was to not be lazy and figure something out with the 2x4's we had on hand. This brings out cost down by like $170. Seriously down to like $10. 

I imagined & then designed this shape:
This, would be, an armrest, that also acts as a back brace. Now, it will make sense in a few photos, but it's on it's side here.  The bottom longest side matches the depth of our bench, and the height of the armrest is about 14" (front).  The top of the armrest is the same length as the bottom, minus the thickness of the backrest. The backrest is the piece that sticks up past the rest.
All pieces were cut with 45 degree angles.  I added wood glue, the corner clamp, and shot some nails in using my nail gun that I bought for our downstairs bathroom ceiling project.  Because I'm paranoid, I still shot some wood screws down into the 2x4's after. If you think yours will get heavy use, throw some "L" brackets on the interior of this puppy.
So you need two of these. Identically the same. Then you just place them on your surface, and measure the length you want the back pieces.  Start chopping your spare wood:
Once my pieces were cut, I laid the armrest / backrest on their backsides, and starting playing around with board spacing:
I used a spare 2 x 2 to evenly space the boards before I glued & nailed them in as well:
Once everything feels secure, stand it up. If things feel wobbly, lay it back down and reinforce with either more nails or some wood screws.  Everything can be painted afterwards.
Now it looks like a bench!  With this technique you can easily, and cheaply, add a back to many different surfaces. Upon closer inspection:
Since we had a mix of wood, old & new, redwood & pine, we decided paint was best. We used an exterior paint here, since this would be outdoors.  We used or paint sprayer that connects to the air compressor, but if you don't have that, consider painting your pieces before assembly, and touching up afterward.
You can see the left side is sticking up a bit, this is because one of my boards was acting squirrely and twisty, but I knew it would settle down in a bit. And it did! After lining the backrest into it's permanent spot, more deck screws went down the bottom sides of the armrests into the platform.  Then we staged for fun:
See that lovely giant cushion? Haha... well it got SUPER fluffy when I had it on it's side for the day, so we were forced to nap on it to get it back down to normal. What a pain....

No pillows:

I joke about this area looking like a Southern Mexican restaurant, because it got super colorful on us. I guess neither Ralph nor myself can say no to color. With each project we had that moment of "what do we paint this?" and the answers were almost always something bright.  I'm amazed we got as much white in there as we did, but I think it really ties things together nicely & adds a sweet trim.

Ok so NOW it's our cantina patio I think....:
Now there are still little details to this zone I'm finishing, but for the most part I think the big stuff can be considered done!


Oh, Happy first day of October!


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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Modern Stool Makeover

Hello World! Well, I'm waiting for the sun to come out so I can shoot some pretty shots of the backyard bench that we FINALLY finished! I'm so. so. SO happy to be done with that thing. It was the biggest hurtle back there, and with it out of the way I feel like I can do whatever I want. I'm free! If you want to travel back and see what I'm talking about, hop over here.

But in the meantime, let me share the easiest little makeover on the planet, whose technique can be applied to so many pieces of furniture.  It has a modern look that's easy to achieve. Piece of cake as they say. (Is cake easy?)
Start with a simple piece of furniture. Pretty much anything made of plywood is likely to have very simple edges. Here's mine:
A certain stool from IKEA called Frosta is made of flat edge plywood, and is pretty common to find in the thrift shops. Or, I guess, Ikea itself. My stool here I SWEAR is from a daycare furniture set. I worked in daycare for 1,000 years - believe me, I know this stuff. It's super glossy plywood furniture.  I found this beast in our local thrift shop, for $1. I'm guessing it was too rough to make it home with anyone else. Lucky me! Just look for something flat, with flat edges. That's the best.

In the spirit of keeping it clean & modern, I painted all the interior legs white.
White used to  be a rare color choice for me, but I've really come to appreciate it lately & I'm hooked.  I'm using a plain white gloss paint, the gloss also helps down the line when you're staining, you can quickly wipe off any drips.  While your painting the interior flat edges,  don't worry too much about getting on the main edges. If anything, you WANT to overlap a little.  Because you can do this after:
Using a fine sandpaper (#220) on my sander, I gave a quick, flat swipe down the sides to remove my overpainting issues.  See how clean that got?

Up next, Pre-Stain the areas of the stool you're going to stain:
Love this stuff. I never used to use it, and then when I finally tried it? Worth it! You only have to wait about 15 minutes before you can start  the real deal. I'm using, Dark Walnut of course:
Just make sure that the pre-stain conditioner you are using is the same type as your stain. In my case, both are oil based. If your stain is waterbased, use a water based conditioner. Makes sense.

Stain the top & the legs.  I have a pile of old T-shirts, and I just cut a good square out and I dip right into the stain. That's my favorite way to stain wood, I'm not the biggest fan of the brush method - but to each their own.  Also, the T-shirt way helps you cleanly stain the edges:
That's my lil T-shirt square. just a tiny dab, and carefully stain the edges.  If you have any drips on the white, quickly wipe it off with another square of T-shirt that DOESN'T have the stain. Faster!

Let it dry, give it a coat of your favorite clear coat (I use Minwax Polycrylic, Satin in this case)
That's it! This is the perfect addition to our wildly colored patio, and ties in the white from one of our tables, the white in the rugs, the white in the banister behind the barstools, and as you'll SOON see, the white backing on our big bench/daybed thingy.
Plus it's handy for a short person like me. Whenever a light bulb goes out on our string lights, I can hop right up all by myself.  The rest of the time, it's a cute little floater stool that offers a seat, anytime anyplace.

If yours has screws in the top like mine, and they bother you, you could always screw them down a little farther - fill them with wood putty - sand & stain. I, didn't really care about them, and left them.

OK I'm off to photoshoot the backyard, can't wait to show you! Have a great rest of your week & a wonderful weekend, get out there and enjoy the days before winter hits - yikes!


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