Thursday, December 8, 2011

The End of the Year Draws Near

  Things have gone well at the Rustic Sparrow.  Mid-month the first space on the east side of the shop, including the window display area, became available.  After some brief soul-searching, wondering if we can justify the additional rent, Doug and I decided to go for it; we moved from the very last space to the very first one!  This was a different-shaped space and the pressure was on to create a display that would entice customers to come into the store, but we were up to the challenge and I think we did a fine job.

  Thanks to a couple of events - a wine/beer/cheese tasting event sponsored by the Downtown Business Association and the national Small Business Saturday, we had a successful November and December - meaning that, at the least, we were able to pay the rent.

  This week I finally made a sign to identify our space and today we hung it up.  What a great feeling that was!  Here's how it looks.

  Things are piling up in my dining room that need paint and some assembly.  Today I worked on 3 birdhouses I've gathered along the way and I really enjoyed pulling items together from the basement and sewing basket to make them a little different.  I look forward to sharing photos of them, although I know I still need to post some photos of my re-designed dining room.  Then again, since the last post,  I needed the barrister bookcase that held my supplies to use in the shop to display merchandise, so it's gone and an interesting art deco armoire from the garage replaced it.  Unfortunately, it's not working as well as I'd hoped and the place is not nearly as organized as I'd like, but that's okay - I'll paint it (the wood finish has been damaged) and off to the shop it will go, to be replaced by something else I'll come up with.

  In other words, I'm still greatly enjoying these opportunities to be creative.  I find myself getting grumpy if I have to put aside my paints for a day or two to take care of other priorities.  And another benefit has been meeting some wonderful other "furniture painters" through Facebook and their blogs.  I had no idea how many women (and some men) like me are enjoying the same artistic outlet I am - all over the world - and they have precious stories of their own to share!

Friday, November 4, 2011

And now it's November?

Time has flown since my last post as October was starting.  At the time, I was beginning a new venture - a sales space at the new cooperative market place downtown, the Rustic Sparrow.  Well, now the space is up and running, and full of items for sale.  

I've also gained a partner in the endeavor.  My neighbor and long-time friend, Doug Eagleson is displaying quite a number of items and doing reasonably well.  I'm forever grateful that he's willing to help me move large pieces into place and even help spruce up some items now and then.  He also did some of the painting for me when I first set up.

Many of the pieces I'm selling are former "projects" that were sitting in my house, garage, or basement and never completed.  To have a tiny bungalow with so much stuff has not been a good thing so being able to finish things and put them up for sale for others to enjoy has been very practical.  What I've discovered is that painting and renewing items is a source of great joy - a truly creative opportunity.  A cabinet that was in my bedroom but relegated to the basement had a satisfactory coat of paint on it but I was able to add more paint, distress it, add a reproduction of a vintage print, and now it's an especially charming piece ready to find a home.  

Even though I didn't need to, I purchased some items at garage sales a couple of weeks ago, including a 2-drawer nightstand that had been a dark wood in a heavy Spanish style typical of the 70s, later painted white to look shabby chic but still not quite working.  I painted it in my favorite new shade of blue with touches of green and yellow, decoupaged some birds and flowers on it, and I love it; I can imagine a little girl enjoying it in her bedroom.

The new challenge has been finding a place where I can paint and create my furniture transformations.  My home office/TV room just doesn't have enough room; the garage and basement will be too cold (and uninspiring) this winter, and that left me smack dab in the middle of my dining room.  It actually felt pretty good to get rid of furniture with minor function that had been in the dining room; in its place I brought in a barrister's book case that had been sitting in the garage.  On top of it sit an old silver pitcher and a crystal biscuit container for all my brushes and inside the book case are my paints, brushes, tools, sandpaper, and miscellaneous other items I need while I work - and it's absolutely great!  I can enjoy the view out of my French doors or the front living room windows, and watch TV while having everything at hand.  A large cardboard moving box, flattened, covers and protects my dining room table.  I've even replaced the chandelier mentioned in a previous post with something that creates more light and casts fewer shadows.   It's a different look - but definitely one I'm enjoying.   I'll take some photos and provide a tour in a future blog, hopefully very soon.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Is it really almost October?

  I can't believe how time has flown by.  I thought I was getting my house ready for our Old Escondido Mothers Day Home Tour last May but my attention was diverted to working on our city's entry in the America in Bloom competition and numerous other distractions.  Luckily another house became available to include in the tour so I was off the hook for 2011.  Looks like my bungalow will be on the 2012 tour instead, though I'm not sure.  Whether or not it is, I still need to paint the kitchen - which still has sample splotches of colors I'm considering from last year.  And the kitchen in the guest house needs to be finished.  So many projects, so little time!

  In the meantime, I've taken a leap of faith and opened a space in an adorable boutique in Downtown Escondido; the Rustic Sparrow.  I'd placed my name on the waiting list when they opened and learned that a spot was available in a new area to the rear of the store just last Wednesday.  On Thursday I gathered some items together to display and started painting the walls around my space.  Yesterday, I finished the faux paint job on the rear wall that was inspired by the funky electrical boxes on the side wall -  I'm calling it factory chic.  Here's a photo, just as I was finishing painting.

I was able to stage a few big items and smaller ones before last night's start of the next-to-last Cruisin' Grand event of the season.  I hope to add quite a few more over the next week and then I get to continue maintaining and adding to it.  Looks like I'll be even busier than ever, but I guess that's what my retirement looks like!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Ring-aling-aling - it's for you!

  My 1931 bungalow has a little shelf in the corner of the hallway for a telephone.  Directly underneath is a small vented cabinet that used to hold the telephone workings.  I've never done anything special to it and the jack for a phone had been removed before I moved in.  A few years ago, I picked up a cute vintage reproduction phone and recently plopped it on the shelf, just for looks.  When some friends came by for lunch a couple of weeks ago, one asked if the old phone actually worked and I had to say no.   Giving it some thought, I picked up a double connector at Home Depot and headed down to the basement where I was able to connect it into the existing line and voila!  I now have a working phone in the hallway again.

The oil paintings hanging above the phone shelf are of my parents, painted by my mother's cousin many years ago.

Friday, January 14, 2011

New Old Chandelier

  In the transition from shabby chic to country French, my living/dining room had one item that seriously needed to be changed out; the chandelier over the dining room table.  It was still the white I had painted it a few years ago with white lamp shades and a pear-shaped crystal tied with very thin pink ribbon to each arm.  One long slender crystal Christmas ornament hung from the middle and miniature silk ivy softened the lines, intertwined through the chain and encircling the arms.  It looked sweet before but, against the more sophisticated black accents and tan walls, it just stuck out like a sore thumb.

I searched on line and at a couple of thrift stores for something to replace it at a price I can afford right now ($25 or less!) but didn't find anything.  One morning, while waiting for a friend to get ready so that we could go somewhere, it occurred to me that paint had transformed this simple chandelier once before and maybe it could one more time.  Bingo, out came the craft paints and a paint brush and it was quickly painted black.  Back from my outing, I remembered something I'd seen on the Internet, an "electric" candle decorated by wrapping old music around it, so I dug out a cookbook I'd accidentally left outdoors with the recipes interestingly hand-printed, and began cutting it up.  I wrapped each candle in part of a recipe.  

Now the lampshades were too bright white, so I really thinned down some brown craft paint with water and brushed it on for a tea-stain effect.  It took two "coats" but did the trick.  The crystals didn't look quite right with it now so I did a lot of thinking, went to a local shop specializing in wonderful country French decor items (the Urban Barn) and thought some more.  I wound up cutting hearts out of the recipe book and tying one to each arm with a lovely hemp string.  While I was buying the hemp string at Michaels, I found a lovely inch-wide tan satin ribbon that could be laced through the weathered brass chain I brought up from the basement.  A leftover piece was just the right size for a bow to hang down from the center.  I'm very pleased with the finished product, which wound up costing less than $7!  Well, then again, I think I'll pick up some thin wooden hearts and apply a recipe to each side because the paper tends to hang askew.

  I still have some work to do before the living room and dining room are finished, but the overall look is definitely much closer to what I'm shooting for!  Which is a good thing, because I hope to tackle re-painting the kitchen soon - and with my home on the Home Tour this coming Mothers Day, the clock is ticking!