Sunday, September 25, 2011

Red, Bloody Red

Oh, the horror! Every unworn item in my closet is red. All my "new" clothing is second hand,  but why am I giving house room to things I don't wear?  

Sometimes I am seduced by fabric. Oh hey, that's linen! Linen is comfortable! Color didn't matter. It was linen, glorious breathable linen, and the sun outside was brutal. 

Sometimes intricate seaming  persuades me that living without the skirt is not to be borne. The only way to make it work for a short person is to eliminate a good many of those delicious seams. Feh!

 And sometimes, I think an alien being was practicing mind control on me in the store, because I'll never wear red linen pants with a striped and embroidered top. Too costumey! Bring on the swansdown mules and cat's-eye glasses, and we'll have loungewear circa 1956.

A Guatemalan jacket in roughly woven, riotously striped cotton is something I might actually wear. It sat in the closet until I took it apart, cut it down, and put it back together.

Sadly, you can't see the seams.
What about the skirt with multiple godets and fascinating seamwork? Once upon a time things were only 6 inches too long. This skirt is a foot too long. It will lose all its flare, not to mention flair, if I cut that much from the bottom. I must remove the zipper, cut a foot from the top, put the zipper back in, and, I hope, decrease the waist. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Desk Failure

This was meant to be a success story. It is instead a story of the triumph of hope over reality. I found a 3 legged desk with pigeon holes in the alley a few years ago, but before I could do more than disassemble it for refinishing, I moved. At one point I had leg #4 made for it, and bought hardware to attach it. I sanded the legs, primed them, hunted for the other pieces ... and discovered that one of the original 3 legs was missing.

The project went on the back burner. I found a set of 4 top mounting table legs and thought the matter was resolved. But this summer when I attached the legs, not only did they look spindly, they wobbled. I couldn't use one of the new legs with 3 others, because they were longer. To complicate matters, the corner bracket for the missing leg was also missing and a chunk of wood was gone.

A sane person would have put the table back in the alley, but I went in search of a second corner bracket. Of course I had forgotten who made them, and had misplaced the first one. I tried to duplicate the pieces at Ace, where I found the right size nuts but no bolts or brackets. Home Depot, as usual, had brand new clerks who were willing to help me look but were clueless.  My last stop was Lowe's, a place I try to avoid because its ventilation is not good. There they were, beside a display of table legs and an assortment of leg mounts. (Waddell makes them, Lowe's sells them, and they are so simple that I can install them). They had even gone down in price since I first bought one.

Meantime back at home, the pieces to the table had decided to scatter. The baggie containing the perfect nuts vanished. The original corner bracket, still shrink wrapped to its cardboard, was no longer in the basket where I stash all my nuts, bolts, screws and nails. The backboard that would support the tiny pigeon holes that make this table/desk so cute was nowhere to be found. 

Slightly daunted, I found a piece of wood from a deconstructed pallet and, using a circular saw for the first and possibly ONLY time, cut it down for leg #4. After sanding, spackling and resanding, I had 4 legs, two with bolts. Marking the new bolt holes was simple. Finding the size drill bit called for by the manufacturer meant another trip to Lowe's. I found 5/32 drill bits, and 17/32 drill bits. A salesperson found the 9/32 bit, for under $4. I was on my way again. 

Have you ever tried to drill a hole on a protruding corner? Not easy. I carved away a small bit of the corners, drilled with a smaller bit, then with the larger one. The table was primed and had its first coat of spray paint. It had the original two legs. And ... the bolts on the new legs were too high. I turned the legs, filled the holes and started over. I filled in the missing chunk of wood with wood filler and attached the corner brackets.

pigeon hole pieces
The backboard reappeared. It was in the garage approximately where it had been dumped by movers years ago. In other words, I had to move a lot of stuff and climb over boxes to get to it. The drawer has lost its back, but all the pigeon hole pieces and the pencil tray are in the same 10 x 10 foot room with the desk. I'm learning. I have no idea where the original screws that held the pigeonholes cubbies to the backboard are. I also have no idea whether I will use the  pigeon holes and backboard, but they get painted anyway. I'll laminate layers of cardboard for the back of the drawer. It couldn't be any more horrible than my bathroom storage furniture, and the backs of shallow desk drawers are rarely wet.

It is still a 3-legged desk. Wood filler is not strong enough to hold a screw in place. Laminated cardboard is next. The bolt is fine. It is the screw holding one side of the corner bracket that is the problem. I really should abandon this project entirely, but instead it goes back to the garage while I attack less demanding projects, such as dinner.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Don't Believe Everything You Read

One would assume that anything sold as bathroom storage furniture would be okay in a humid environment, such as a bathroom or the entire state of Ohio. One would be wrong.
Bathroom furniture bought at big box stores, the kind you put together yourself, is really cardboard. Why it is sold as bathroom furniture when it is not waterproof or even water resistant, I don't know. It should have come with a warning label that says DON'T USE NEAR WATER. Sooner or later the edges will blister.

Top edges buckled up, bottom edges  buckled outward.

You have to refinish the thing immediately, or down the road, say in a month or two, it will look scruffy. After 2 years, you either fix it or replace it. I could spend $4 and fix both cabinets, or I could spend a whole lot more to replace the things. As luck would have it, I had $4.

The fix: white glue and water will seal the edges. Nylon glides on the bottom will keep bottom edges off the floor and away from damp tile. Once you've sealed the edges, blow $3 on a can of spray paint and paint the thing inside and out. Give two or three coats to the top. High gloss spray paint is the best choice to waterproof this junk. I used Rustoleum spray paint.

Once the edges have blistered, you may have to remove a few layers to get the surface flat.  Sealing the new surface with white glue and water is not enough. You need a thin layer of wood filler or spackle before you try to paint it. Alternately, you can put on new adhesive-backed paper and pray that the new stuff works better than whatever they put on to begin with. If you wisely do not trust it, spray paint the adhesive paper once you've got it stuck down.

All this work does not give you a wonderful piece of furniture. It just gives you a less annoyingly ugly one. The moral of the story: if the furniture isn't wood or metal, you must seal all the edges before putting it in a bathroom. Or using it in Ohio.

Moral #2: if you have to refinish it before you use it, buy 2nd hand furniture to begin with.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Color Me Surprised

Lichen green.  It was a compromise color because I could not get the grayed purple I longed for, and it was the only neutral without oodles of yellow. Once it was on the nightstand, I went back and bought more of it because it goes on so well, covers so nicely, and I really like the color. I thought it would be on a nightstand, folding chair, and bathroom storage. That's enough, eh?

Today I brought up from the basement some shelves from  bookcases I've lived with more 30 years or more.  I had thought they were a whispery turquoise, but side by side with other storage, I found the color almost indistinguishable from lichen green.

The one on the left is the original color. The one on the right is the Rustoleum color.
Part of me said, Gee, I'm consistent/predictable. Another part said, of COURSE a double Pisces likes watery colors. While I'm irked to be so predictable, it will be simple to touch up nicks on the bookshelves, or even to completely refinish them.

Five years ago I found a charming child's desk that had pigeon holes on the top. I took it apart to refinish it, and bought  the hardware to put on a fourth leg. Before anything at all happened, I moved.  After the move, I had fourth leg cut and  then could only find two of the original three. The project went on hold for a few years. I bought and installed a set of four legs. They wobbled. I left one of the four with its top mount hardware on, because the desk was damaged in that corner. But I will be using corner mount hardware for the others. The braces are already there. How hard can it be to drill a hole in the side of a table leg? We'll see. However, the pigeonholes that originally delighted me will not be used, because a flat table will be more useful. And yes, this too will be painted lichen green.

While I was attempting to use up 3/4 of a gallon of country white paint because the rim of the can had disintegrated, it occurred to me that paint now comes in plastic, and that Glad plastic food storage containers could hold paint. Now, about a quart is in  food storage container, suitably marked. Whew.