Monday, November 24, 2014

Update on The Chair

Crappy pictures in bad lighting ... but the faux Windsor chair got a couple of coats of "Salem Red" milk paint over the stain, the was lightly sanded and coated in polyurethane.

It's not something I ever would have started out to do on purpose, but I'm happy with how it turned out. The milk paint just looks right, and there is some nice depth of color.

This is the milk paint. It's very flat and chalky looking.
This is with a little sanding to smooth out the paint and expose a little stain, and with a coat of poly on top.
There is some nice depth of color now. A little sanding, and another layer or two of poly and we should be good to go.

I never would have planned to refinish this chair in this manner, but it suits the style, and I'm happy with it. Sometimes (rarely ...) the mistakes have happy endings.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Getting there ...

Sweet Daughter's cloak is now about 95% finished. I just need to find the right ribbon for covering the neck seam so it doesn't rub.

The table is also done. Or, done enough for now. I'd like to get a smoother surface on it, but I need to find the right brush, or applicator.

Not a great picture, but I'm happy with the table.
I switched out two light fixtures -- the downstairs one more than once as I think the first replacement had a short in it. Replacement #2 went in easy-peasy. In part, because I figured out that one of those lights that clip onto the bill of your ball cap would help. Much better lighting that the floor lamp snaked in on an extension cord from the other end of the house.
I also decided the holly "bush" needed to be trimmed back. I couldn't get the hedge trimmer through it anymore.

It was so thick, I had to cut it down to see what was in it, so to speak. Arms are still like jelly ...

Any ideas what to replace it with? Southeast corner of the house, Zone 7.

This morning, I woke up and decided that compared to the refinished table, all my chairs looked like crap. So I decided to refinish one.

A 1940s Windsor-style chair with a faux mahogany wood-grain finish that was chipping off  gets covered in stripper ...

And it was ugly. Clear -- not a knot to be found, but ugly and blotchy. The turned pieces looked like birch. The seat is several sections of pine. I was brought up to believe that painting wood would send one directly to the fiery pits of hell ... so I tried staining it and hoping the pieces would sort of blend together.

Nope. Now it was dark and blotchy. So ... I decided to use milk paint on it. It's currently in process and I'm cautiously optimistic. And that is a post for another day ...

Now it's time for an adult beverage, some analgesic and a book.

Monday, November 17, 2014

In the middle

I'm still juggling three different projects. Nothing is done yet, but all are creeping closer.

I played Tetris with all the red wool scraps and pieced out a hood. I've got it lined, and I'm now trying to gather it to fit the neckline on the cloak which also needs to be gathered to fit. Then, I just have to decide if I want to bind the edges or not. It shouldn't be necessary, but this cloak is cobbled together from so many pieces, I think it would add some structural stability.

This brown linen project got test-pleated to make sure my math was correct for what size to make said pleats.

It seemed to work, so now I take all of them out, sew the two pieces together and start over, measuring very carefully this time.

Finally, the maple table is starting to look like I'm doing something right. I might even get it done this weekend. It's too cold and wet to work outside, or even in the garage, so I just decided that I'll have to clean and dust the first floor really well when I'm done.

And of course, all the regular housework is piling up. I'm keeping up with the essentials like laundry and groceries. but the clutter is piling up and driving me crazy. It's my own fault, but I'm hoping I can get caught up this weekend.


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Breakfast of Champions

I hate spending time cooking and cleaning up a decent breakfast, especially when I'm busy. My new favorite it peanut butter and bacon on graham crackers with a cup or two of coffee when I've got stuff to do. Like today.

I have three projects going at once. There's the relatively easy red cloak (unless I just jinxed it), another sewing project (more on that later if it works) ...

... and a table I'm refinishing.  My current dining room table is just too big for the space, and I picked up a smaller oval table on Craigslist for a song. It turned out to be a post WWII maple table, and for some insane reason, I decided to refinish it. The legs had mellowed to a lovely golden color, but the top had a slightly greenish cast to it that was so popular at the time. I've gone from the "!#$&^#!! WHAT have I gotten myself into?" stage to the cautiously realistic stage.

Once it warms up a bit, I'll be hauling all of this back outside to work on, but until then, I've got plenty to do inside, including drinking that second cup of coffee.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Bits and pieces

Sweet Daughter picked up a pocket while in Williamsburg last year and asked that I make her another so she'd have a pair. Since, near as I can tell, 18th century pockets had their edges bound in tape so as to keep loose threads from getting tangled up with the stuff in your pockets, that's how I made her new red one. I reworked the CW one as well.

Tonight, I decided to see if the math part of my brain was working ... a dear friend had given me a cloak which had come from one of her very best friends. She was a tiny woman, and my friend thought SD might like it. She mentioned that I'd probably have to do something with the hood ....

I wish I'd taken a picture of it as I pulled it to pieces. It was the absolute epitome of cutting your coat to fit your cloth. Or making lemons out of lemonade ... or something. It was made of four vaguely trapezoidal pieces of glorious scarlet broadcloth, stitched together to make a wide rectangle, and then roughly pleated onto a collar of epic proportions. The hood was shaped like the mouth of a frog. I have no idea if it was remotely functional. This was clearly bodged together out of leftovers from another project. Nothing had been trimmed down, or squared off or anything, but it was warm, and functional and of lovely wool.

So, I pulled it to pieces and washed it, hoping it would full up a little more. Tonight, I started squaring up the pieces. I probably lost a good 4" of width on each one. This made me nervous. When I was done, I sat down with every 18th century cloak pattern I could find, and settled on the one from "Costume Close Up". It had and illustration of the pattern laid out to scale. I ended up pulling out my architects rule I've been hauling around for 30 years and used it to scale the pattern to fit the panel I'd assembled. It's probably 10% smaller than the original, and should fit SD well.

I'll let it hang for the weekend and let it finish stretching before I cut the hem even. If all goes according to plan, I should have enough to piece together for a hood. Keep your fingers crossed ...

Thursday, November 6, 2014

More catching up

After the frenzy of getting two new outfits ready for the Renaissance Fair, we decided to pull some old stuff out of the closet for "Charter Day" in Port Royal. Of course there was a pirate theme, and everyone was encouraged to dress up.

They hired somebody as a Jack Sparrow impersonator who pretty much just walked around in blue jeans, motorcycle boots, a wig and eyeliner. No, I didn't laugh. At least not out loud.
If you ignore the "sexy pirate" Halloween costumes, I was the only adult dressed as a pirate who wasn't on the payroll. I did enjoy showing the local law enforcement my cutlass and boarding axe. One offered to trade me his asp for the axe. I declined. We didn't stay long as there wasn't a lot to do, but I got to try Stout-flavored ice cream.
The next day we decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and the fact I'd finished up a new, larger jade-color gown for Sweet Daughter and we headed to Williamsburg for the day. I didn't really get any good pictures of it, as it's still a little large. Hopefully it will still fit her in the spring. She's going to need a new shift, though.

 There were a lot of visitors that day and they all wanted our picture. When we still hadn't made it into town after an hour, we gave up and rode the bus. We had a lovely day, and as we were waiting to take the bus back to the Visitor's Center, an orange sports car drove past, came to a stop, screeched into reverse and stopped in front of us. Yes, this was on a regular street. The driver jumped out (car still running), explained he was from Mexico and asked to take his picture with me.

I don't know why ... I probably looked like I wanted to chew his head off. I was feeling mighty done in by that point.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Getting caught up

I finally have a functioning laptop. After mine going Tango Uniform 17 months ago, and the one my IT guy loaned me no longer able to get updates (Vista), I finally bit the bullet and picked up an inexpensive refurbished one. Sweet Daughter was very generously sharing hers with me, but was putting in lots of hours on homework, and I just didn't have much access to it. Also, hers is getting along in years, and I cringed at the thought of it dying the night before an important report was due. Now we've got back-up.

Anyhow ... SD wore her "Lucy" gown to the MD Renaissance Fair. This was back in September.

Here she is doing her best River Tam impression at the May Pole.
She asked that I go in costume, too, so I made a stab at an Italian Renaissance gown.

Blessings upon the woman who showed me how to properly tuck up the skirts so I could walk without breaking my neck.
We watched jousting and weapons demos and musical performances.

These four guys are Cu Dubh. Percussion and bagpipes and volume. What's not to like?
Towards the end of the day I came across Dagger Dan's. I wish I'd found him earlier when I had more disposable income.

He has all manner of knives and swords.

I did find this lovely little piece, and decided that it might be the first in a collection of kriss blades. Because reasons.

All in all, it was a great girls day out, and I hope we'll do it again next year.