Category Archives: Art and Making Stuff

My makeshift 4th of July decor

Personally, I am too vindictively American, too full of hate for the hateful aspects of this country, and too possessed by the things I love here to be too long away. –Ralph Ellison

No, flamboyant artificiality is one of the things I love most about this country. –Jim Knipfel

What could possibly go wrong on a holiday that’s celebrated with beer and explosives? –Homer Simpson

Is there a more American holiday than the Fourth of July? Sure, we’ve got Thanksgiving but the Fourth screams USA loudest I’d wager. I don’t consider myself wildly patriotic; I feel connected to humans and don’t automatically align myself with Americans. (For instance, if the news reports 200 people were killed in a plane crash and 13 of them were US citizens, I don’t immediately think the loss of Americans is inherently worse; the other people mattered too.)

Also, Americans give patriotism a bad name, something I thought long before the current Administration. There often seems to be an ugly tinge to American patriotism that doesn’t sit right with me. However as I’ve grown older I’ve started to reconsider this patriotism business. As in why can’t I be patriotic on my own terms? Why can’t I have my own genteel brand of patriotism that doesn’t involve bashing other countries, or redneck bravado, or bullying immigrants with “You’re not REAL Americans” propoganda? I think I can! Why, I’ve even toyed with purchasing some kind of patriotic apparel like a flag-themed bandanna or a red, white & blue tank top! It hasn’t happened yet but I’m thinking feisty thoughts.😁

These are some of the ideas that led me to want a little bit of 4th of July decor this year. A year, clearly, that has been tough here. Americans are struggling & hurting. This IS my country flaws and all. I agree with the writers of the quotes I included at the top of this post. I ain’t going anywhere. So it’s time to wave that dang flag!

Not too far back I made a 16″ square out of scrap wood that I put on top of a smaller table to use as an end table in the living room. It looked okay but when I recently found this excellent table I dismantled the makeshift one and put aside the “top” thinking I could take it apart for pieces or maybe find another use for it. When I began thinking about patriotic decor I looked at the wood square & got an idea. I had red spray paint and the wood square was already painted white but I didn’t have blue paint. However I had blue painter’s tape! Sure it’s not quite the right shade but so what?
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I made a “star” stencil out of heavy paper to use with spray paint.
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I put a small hook on the back of the wood
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First I applied strips of blue painter’s tape, then I spray painted stars. The star stencil didn’t make precise stars – the edges “bled” some – so the most time-consuming job was using a tiny brush to touch up white all around each star. I think the finished project is on par with decorations you’d find at a Ross or other mid-range store.
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Fixing up a roadside metal table

The last few weeks have been overwhelming, painful, and psychically grueling. My thoughts and heart are heavy. I have yet to form a cohesive way to approach all of it – the murders and protests and upheaval coming on the heels of a brutal pandemic which isn’t over – on the blog. I’m not sure that I will or that I need to (yet/now). But I can’t post about other things, simple, everyday things, without saying something more definitive to expose where I’m at amidst so much turmoil. I want to be hopeful about this country, its ability to adapt and evolve and right wrongs of the past, but I’m afraid. There’s so much beauty and so much ugliness. I want us to be better and I’m fearful that we won’t be.

I grab onto small pleasures and diversions. It helps me cope and it’s what brings me satisfaction. Creating is where I live. I was walking along the street, dodging other people, when I saw a rust-tinged metal table tossed out with a pile of yard debris. I examined it. My hands came away rust-shaded.😐 The metal top was wicked hot from being out in the sun. The top was too heavy for its 3 skinny legs and it wobbled or rather vibrated. I almost walked away from the castoff when I remembered how I pushed similar metal legs into the soil to steady them. That sold me; the wobbly quality wouldn’t matter if I used the table outside.
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I had cans of black and red spray paint. I figured black would get pretty hot in the sun and red would be more interesting.
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I added a coat of gloss to protect the top. I added a friend too. I love it! A simple feature with a vaguely art deco vibe that raises the spirits a bit. I can’t make life beautiful but I can make little things beautiful. From trash no less.

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Not dull as rocks

Earlier in the week I saw this sign on someone’s fence. It was set back away from a path so I went to investigate (I MUST read signs!)
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I was charmed. I’ve never painted rocks but have heard it’s a “thing” and since I have creative talents, I thought it might be fun. As suggested I took a rock and a tiny set of paints.

I was tired & working some for the next few days and didn’t feel inspired. Then yesterday I put a coat of white on the rock thinking it’d be a good base. Also, studying my rock, I decided it had fish qualities.

Today I got my rock & the little paints out only to find the latter dried up.πŸ˜• However, I did have a few bottles of acrylic paint of my own. These too were mostly dried up πŸ˜• but I added a bit of water and revived them enough for this small endeavor.

I tried using a paintbrush of mine but it broke so I just used the brush end. IF I do this again I need a better brush. A very TINY brush.
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I looked at a few fish photos online and got my idea. I assure you this isn’t a known fish so far as I am aware!πŸ˜€ Considering both my supplies and that this was my first painted rock, I am satisfied. Besides, if it looked like crud I wouldn’t post it here. (I considered whether to sign my rock in any way and opted to print “COLETTE” on the flat bottom inconspicuously.)

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I returned my rock to the place I got it. This time a small table was there with a few rocks so I added my fish. I enjoyed this – it was a nice diversion.
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Poor man’s woman ‘s breakfront

It should be apparent to anyone who reads this blog semi-regularly that I an mad for food, decidedly one of those people who lives to eat. I like the trappings of meals; dishes, presentation, etcetera, but when it comes to spending money, I prefer generally to put it toward actual food. Still, I’ve been thinking for awhile that I’d like to display some of my pretty dishes. In my fantasies I imagine having a china cabinet with glass doors and lighted shelves. Why, the linked one costs a mere $2700 πŸ˜• and would only require removing perhaps half the other furniture in this small home to make space for it. So yeah, I’m not going to be buying anything like that but my yearnings haven’t ceased.

I’ve recently posted about fixing up found shelves and found drawers. After I got the small drawers I no longer needed the open shelves in my room, which had kind of been a stop-gap measure anyway. I didn’t want to part with the shelves so soon, especially considering their secret message on the back which was there when I spotted them awaiting trash day.

I’ve also got this little wooden piece that’s in the living area that I found and fixed up in 2018. I like it a lot and it’s been great.
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I was brainstorming and had an idea but wasn’t sure it’d work till I fetched the yardstick and did a few measurements. Voila! My idea, combining two pieces into one was going to work for my poor man’s woman’s simple breakfront. I thought breakfront was the right word and once I googled it, my definition was confirmed. A breakfront is merely two pieces, hence the break.

I put the open shelves on top of the white/orange/green unit (I don’t know what you call a piece of furniture with both a cabinet and drawers). The colors already matched; I just painted the backs of the open shelves white and took the long, narrow decorative front piece off the bottom and nailed it to the top. That last effort completed it – now it looks like one (intentional) piece. Standing 57″ tall and not 3′ wide, it’s of modest size but much bigger and it would likely overwhelm the space. (Furniture is swell but I still want room to walk around!) I was so excited to put dishes on the shelves. I realize without doors, the shelves & dishes will get dusty but I think the look of this makes it worth a bit of extra cleaning.
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In the process of making this I bumped – only bumped – my beautiful, stupid icicle lights that hang from the high narrow shelf on the wall (above my new “breakfront) and they quit working.😐 I was bummed, all the more because it’s the second strand to quit. I’m wondering if I should try something else, maybe a single strand of lights.

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The lights that are no more

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Here’s ths new piece in context – I’m delighted😊

Lastly, the square table is a new-to-me piece I found this summer. I’ve really been liking it. (I still have a bigger table stored away if I need it.) My dream table for this spot is small and round. Who knows – one may just turn up some day… I doubt, however, that a china cabinet of my fancies will show up so for now, I’m satisfied with my little piece.😊

Found wood drawers get fixed up

I have professed my fondness for actual wood furniture so it’s a happy day for me when I – literally – find some, roadside that is. I have been wanting narrow wood drawers and saw these. They were “structurally sound” and I saw potential so I brought them home. They stand 30″ tall and are not quite 16″ wide and not quite 10″ deep.
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I took off and threw out the back cover which was not real wood and in bad shape, stained and warped. I can put another cover on if I want to but I’m not too worried since the back will be against the wall, limiting how much dust will potentially get inside. I also removed the small “front” at the very bottom.

I decided to effectively raise the height of the drawers by making a simple little stand out of scrap wood, which adds an open shelf at the bottom.

I removed the small wood knobs and replaced them with a quartet of fabulous metal drawer pulls (a sun, moon, leaf, and flower) that I’d put on kitchen cabinets a year ago (after having found them roadside on a ratty little set of fake wood drawers that weren’t any match for their beauty). Here they were on the cabinets.

I painted the outside of the unit light green including the little stand I made, and although the pictures aren’t showing it, the drawers themselves are painted one coat of a darker green – I let just the drawer fronts go after only a single coat because I realized the “distressed” look it created was kind of working. I liked it! Again, sorry, the picture doesn’t really show it.
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The drawers, likely being old, were somewhat “sticky” and I found the advice online to rub a bar of soap on the bottoms and also inside where the drawers touch. Very effective! Although I’d washed the whole thing before beginning the fix-up, I also put a coat of white paint on the insides of the drawers since I planned to put nice things (clothing things) inside and from the looks of it at least one drawer had held tools or something similar in its previous life. I lined the drawers with pretty wrapping paper.
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And then the fun part: putting stuff in them. I decided they’d be best for things I don’t use too often but still want to have at hand easily. (Shown here are my stash of “fuzzy socks” some oversized scarves, and a few tights.)

The drawers are very sweet, hold a decent amount of stuff and aren’t taking up much space in my small room. I’m really pleased with how they turned out for not much trouble at all.