Friday, April 26, 2013

Milk Paint Eye Candy

Another Milk Painted masterpiece! I can't take full credit for this one. Elena, our newest knot too shabby intern picked the color for this primitive roll top secretary desk.

Even without paint, it was pretty cool looking. But, this piece was just screaming milk paint to me.

Elena picked Mustard Seed Yellow as the color of choice, which compliments the dark wood tones wonderfully.

Lots of chippiness.

We used Annie Sloan Lacquer to lock in the chippiness of the piece.

We left the inside and the drawers with the original wood finish...scratches and all.

It looks like yellow is the color of the month! It's just so cheery. 

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

An Antique Vanity and a Roadside Rescue

We had such great weather earlier this week, conditions were ideal for some relaxing, outdoor painting. I tackled two fairly substantial projects!

The first being this antique vanity that I picked up last weekend.

It came with a large round mirror and coordinating bench. 

For the framework, I mixed Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® in Duck Egg Blue with Paris Grey.

The drawers are Old White and I added new knobs because the originals were broken and/or missing.

The bench was nothing but a small piece of wood, so I had to rebuild the cushion. I added some very cushy, 2 inch foam, used an old, white curtain to round the edges and covered with some leftover rosette fabric that I had. 

I spent a fair amount of time crawling on the ground with my camera trying to get some decent pictures that didn't have my elbow, head or hands in it. I just gave up!!!

 A mix of dark wax and clear wax finishes this piece. 

The other piece was this roadside rescue that my girlfriends dad picked up and dropped off behind the store. I think my mom spent about 45 minutes cleaning it off it was caked in layers of dirt and grime. 

I took this one home with me along with a can of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® in Greek Blue and in Pure White.

I think it looks pretty remarkable considering...

I added new burlap covered knobs to the doors and hit the framework of it with dark wax here and there! 

I'm trying to get motivated to paint something today, but it's just so darn cold. Well...California 65 degree. Brrrr...hoodie and scarf weather for me. Good thing I don't live in the midwest or east coast. I'd never get anything done! 

On a side note, tomorrow starts our spring cleaning clearance sale. Some store items will be discounted and the storage unit will be opened for project lovers and pickers galore...yard sale prices!!! Stop by during the weekend.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Working from Home

I have been a bit down on myself lately due to my lack of blogging. I don't write much anymore. Believe me, it's not for a lack of fact, my family can tell you I always have something to say! It's a variety of factors, though. Like, my computer at home is sooooo slow. By today's standards, it's a dinosaur! I blog when I'm working at the shop, but on a good day, it can take over an hour to pump out a single blog post after all of the interruptions. It really takes the enjoyment out of writing and breaks up the flow.

But, tonight I decided to just deal with the cumbersome computer and write about how I've been finding an incredible balance in my life and working from home.

For the past few months, I have slowly begun working my way off of the "in-store" schedule. Don't get me wrong...I'm there almost every day, but only for a few hours rather than long stretches of time. It's been...well...I hate to say it, but a little bit liberating! I love to be in the shop, but when I was putting in full-day workdays, I had this "do-it-all-mentality." I had to do the bookkeeping, paint furniture, update the website, clean, organize, take care of customers! Since I gave so much to the store during the day, I had to give my all to my home and family when I was there. It all became very stressful and I was losing the joy of the painting furniture part of it.

Now, I only work a few hours a day, when my kids are in school, maybe one or two weekend days a month so that I don't completely lose touch, and the rest of my time I spend at home...with my kids...prepping a healthy dinner and cleaning house. The best part about it...I get to paint furniture without interruptions, outside while my youngest naps, my oldest does her homework and my dog lounges on the grass! Now, when I'm working in the shop, I can focus on the customers, update the website, post things on craigslist and etsy, package items for shipping, and so on and so forth. Since I have time to paint at home, in the evenings, I even manage to squeeze in a solid 45-60 minutes of exercise!

All that being said, I have some great pieces that I have painted at home and brought to the store in the past week or so!

A simple mid-century dresser.

Classic and simple with Old White

A very large dining room table (that I desperately needed to fill space).

Technically, I painted this at the shop. But, I snuck in the back to do it so no one knew a I was there.

It's not a great picture because of the stuff piled on it, but you get the idea. Re-stained wood top and Pure White on the legs.

It's a really nice table...and did I mention it is big?

Michelle Black gave me this antique drop leaf. It was so weathered and worn, it only took about 10 minutes to strip the entire top.

She's a beauty and the base is painted in Arles.

I just finished this beauty today!!! :) It's one of those pieces that you look at and think no amount of paint can make it look much better...but it does. It looks amazing with some Greek Blue and Pure White. You'll have to come back to see the finished piece.

Yesterday, I did this vanity with mirror and matching bench (there's my oldest doing her homework right by my side...sigh...that's contentment for me).
I used some Old White, Duck Egg and Paris Grey in a variety of combinations to finish this. It looks pretty great, too but you'll have to check out the finished pictures on facebook.

Tomorrow, I get to rummage through the storage unit and pull out another piece to bring home and paint. Plus, I get to organize all of the unfinished projects for our big Spring Cleaning Sale this weekend. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I'm opening up the storage unit and liquedating a bunch of project pieces that we haven't gotten too. Afterall, we are on the cusp of yard sale season and I know there are bigger and better things to be found so I'm planning on making room!!!

Stop by for a killer deal on a fun project!

Monday, April 22, 2013

The V.I.P.

I have been working in my daughter's kindergarten classroom every other Thursday, helping her teacher with prep work or getting projects ready...anything that needs to be done, really. Since the beginning of the school year, there has been this major eyesore. Every time I'm in there, I stare at it knowing that I could make it look better. Finally, I had the nerve to ask her if I could fix it.

"It" being the class VIP chair. 

It's an old children's chair that was being held together by duct tape. There were screws and nail heads sticking out, barely keeping it together and the finish...well, it just needed some TLC.

Finally, last Friday I asked the teacher if I could pull this out of the classroom and fix it, paint it and overall, clean it up. By a complete coincidence, my daughter is this week's VIP.

I dismantled the chair as much as I could to paint it. was screwed into a Popsicle stick.

Since this was for my daughter's classroom, I had her do most of the work. She sanded down the painted stars to a smooth finish. She did a great job.

Then, she painted it Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® in Duck Egg blue and even hit the edges with sandpaper to distress it.

My dad fixed the chair itself by re-screwing it on the sides, front and back. He did a stellar job, too. He went and bought drills with a counter sink (???) so that the wood doo-dads (technical term) could fill the holes and be painted. It looks very professional! 

I painted the top part as a chalkboard so that the chair can be personalized each week with the new VIP.

This week, it's Samantha.

That kid is a great painter! 

I hope her teacher likes it and the kids have fun personalizing it when they are the class VIP's. 

I had fun working on this project with my little one. I don't do much to help out at school, other than being in the class every other week, so if I can contribute in a way that utilizes my talents, I feel pretty good about that.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Girls

I had a brilliant idea about a year ago (in actuality, I have brilliant ideas almost everyday...only about 2% of them actually come to fruition, though). I was struggling to keep up with the demand but not in the financial position to hire a traditional staff person. In my brilliance, I thought I could find some interns...specifically, people who had a desire to learn how to paint and gain some insight into the nature of running a store. So, I posted an opening on the website and it sat there...and sat...and sat. I had an awesome girl home from college help out a bit for the summer, but it was really unstructured. 

Then, about six months after I posted the internship opening, I got some bites...and then I got more bites and as of today I've hired more than six interns who have held on to a four month internship commitment!!!

I LOVE these girls...I completely value their time and their creative spirit and when we are all here, working together, we ignite this creative fire amongst each other. It is the perfect example of finding strength in numbers and feeding off of our individual strengths for a collective gain. 

So, meet the girls:

Sabrina has been interning the longest! She pushed me into participating in the Monrovia Farmers Market a few weeks ago and has become my intern milk paint guru! She works in the store a few days a week and every so often, will pop her head in the back door and holler..."It's just me and I'm bored and feel like painting something today!" Sabrina wants to open her own store one day and more recently has been looking into spending some time picking in France...I keep pushing her to go so I can take advantage of the amazing things she would find. :)

This is Maddie. She is a local girl and we can chit chat about all things "Glendora." "You know you're from Glendora when..." Maddie is a full time student, taking various design courses and making life-changing decisions about where to finish school. Her secret talent....she is an awesome stager. She puts together the window displays and will stylize the shelves and furniture pairings. Cruise around Glendora on a Saturday morning and you might catch Maddie hosting a "boutique yard sale" where she sells her own refinished pieces of furniture.

This is Becky. We call her "chatty Becky." This girl can hold a conversation like no other! And, it's perfectly okay because she is dreamy to listen to, having just recently moved to Southern California from England. Becky is really into the urban vintage style of home decor and a master at re-purposing random objects into home decor. For instance, she made hooks out of shovels and candle holders out of old pipes. She started this internship, aspiring to teach the local folks (in LA) how to re-design their own furniture.

This is Karcy. Karcy is from Seattle and re-located to Glendora for just a short time for work. She has a great eye for color and has mad waxing skills. In just the past couple weeks of interning she has learned basic Chalk Paint® techniques, mixing and applying milk paint and antiquing wax, and most recently, dying fabric using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint®. 

We also have Elena, who just started interning last week. We are still getting to know each other!

So, why do these girls spend four hours a week at knot too shabby? Well, my hope and desire is that they learn a useful skill. When I was in college, I had internships and I was just a non-paid employee who warmed a chair and answered phones. I didn't leave my internship with any new knowledge or skill set. I structured our internship program to be educational! By the time these ladies have put in their commitment, they will have learned all of the different Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® techniques, from waxing to gilding. They will get to use Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint in all it's glory. They learn how to do simple upholstery, decopauge and Michelle Black's wood transfer method. 

Once in awhile, I get to say "thank-you" by throwing a wax brush their way, giving them a window-pane or even letting them rummage through the furniture in the storage unit to take home and paint.  And, if they just happen to all show up at the same time, on the same day, we can enjoy a lunch together next door at Frisellas!

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Ever-So-Trendy Chalkboard Wall

They are all over pinterest, blogs and magazines...entire walls turned into chalkboards. It is so trendy right now. In fact, I read in a home design magazine that among the top ten interior decorating faux-paus listed were "turning every vertical and flat surface into a chalkboard" (another one that I remember was decorating with fruit).

They're cool, though. What a great way to add a punch of color and art to a room...with the added bonus of functionality. 

Last fall, I jumped on the bandwagon and turned the wall in my (very small) laundry room into a chalkboard. I try to prevent my laundry room from being a "catch-all" room in the house. It is connected to the kitchen and the pass-through the the patio in the backyard. Basically, it gets more traffic in and out of it than the bathroom yet is one of the least stylish "rooms" of the house. 

The chalkboard wall serves as our family calendar and each month I try to do something seasonal with the calendar art. The problem is, I can not see a blank chalkboard and envision a fabulous art piece like I can see in a piece of dilapidated furniture. So, every month I pretty much copy someone's chalk art. It's not as gratifying as coming up with my own design. But, the more I do it, the more creative I am becoming.

I designed this chalkboard window pane entirely on my own. It's simple, but it's not copied from anywhere.

This month, I came up with a chalkboard design all by myself. One that I a proud of. 

I found the font style for "April" online and used that as my jumping off point.

I've learned that by smudging the chalk with my finger, the lettering looks fuller and more artistic (I'm telling you...I'm not an artist so this very basic technique took months to discover).

I've also figured out that my favorite chalk artists use lots of details...dashed lines, polka dots, double striped edges and curly-ques. 

The umbrella and raindrops is my favorite part about this particular design.

And, I leave the lower half of the wall for the girls to add their own artwork. 

If you are thinking about doing your own chalkboard wall, here are a couple of tips:

1. You will need three coats to get enough coverage so that your chalk doesn't pull the paint when you write or draw. Trust me, I've tried short cuts and it never works. Three coats does the trick. 

2. When you are finished painting your chalk wall, let it dry at least 24 hours before writing on it.

3. Before you dive straight into your chalk art, be sure to prime the whole wall with a piece of chalk. Turn the chalk on it's side and cover it from top to bottom. This prevents your first art piece from "burning" into the chalkboard.

4. Use a wet wash cloth to clean your primed area and start your artwork with a damp wall. The chalk won't show up as well, but it is easy to fix mistakes and when you are finished, just go back over it with your chalk and it will look much brighter. 

5. If you need some inspiration, check out my favorite chalk artist, Dana Tanamachi. Her chalk art is downright amazing! 

6. I used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® in Graphite for my more traditional looking wall. But, you can use any of the 30 colors to create a colored chalkboard wall. Provence and Emperor's Silk are my two go-to chalkboard colors and they look awesome with chalk art on them! 

What's your chalkboard color of choice?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Farmers Market and the Wood Thing

A couple of weeks ago, Sabrina coordinated a booth at the Monrovia Farmers Market.

She hooked up with one of our newest paint addicts, Donna who just took the Annie Sloan Paint and Play Workshop, and the two of them loaded the truck with a handful of goodies from knot too shabby, but mostly stuff of their own to sell. 

I took some paint samples with me...

...a couple of pieces of furniture that I had marked down in price...

...and my two munchkins.

Donna and Sabrina set up the booth in its entirety. I was walking around taking photos of the different vignettes.

I got to this one...the primitive trunk and spurs. I'm pretty sure I gasped out loud about the wood...bowl...thing. "I LOVE THIS!!!" Sabrina gave a knowing look to Donna and said, "I told you she would love that thing!" 

I kept touching it...feeling it....looking at it. By the end of the night, it didn't sell. Donna told me I could try it out and see how I liked it. 

I pretty much have to have it.

I have the perfect place for it on my living room coffee table/industrial railroad cart.

We don't know what this was used for.

Some of the guesses are that it was some sort of trough for feeding animals.

It appears as though it used to have long handles on both sides, so perhaps it was used to carry grains or wheat from a field.

Whatever it was used for, some of the original details and the coloring of the worn wood are too perfect for words.

And for now, it is the perfect place to stash some of my favorite pitchers.

That is, until I find some different things to put in it.

I suppose I should actually buy it from Donna. Maybe she will forget she let me try it out. ;)

What do you think it's original purpose was?
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