Sunday, September 29, 2013

Perilous Paint Mixing

Painting a kitchen is best done by someone who has never tackled the task before. Only a person who has never painted a kitchen full of woodwork, all needing semi-gloss paint,  not satin finish, can approach this without wanting to run away from home.

It helps if you are not too picky about color. If you want something similar to  the color currently in the kitchen and pry off a piece of wood to match visually to an existing paint chip, you will be accosted on your way to the paint department by a flimflam man who has never used the colormatch computer and is just dying to try it. I lost 40 minutes to one of these guys, only to be advised by his manager to go match the painted wood to a sample chip. Sample chips have the recipes on the back. That's what I had planned to do before I allowed myself to be dazzled by the prospect of a quick match.

Fuming, I returned home and tried to revive a can of paint that had spent years in the garage and may have frozen at least once. I got pale lumps for my trouble, and had to pour kitty litter into the can and leave it open. When (if) it solidifies, the garbage men will take it.

This was so much fun (not) that I looked at two other cans of paint that had sat around way too long. A gallon country white was in fine shape. A quart of dark green was fine. The devil  told me to drip the green into the white and blend, blend, blend. The results were scrumptious, but not semi-gloss.

It took awhile to find a paint applicator that was fast and smooth. The flat pad method seemed likely, but was marred by the pad's habit of sliding off the applicator. The fleecy roller (why are all rollers covered with long fur?) left bumps. Bumps! In a kitchen, these will collect grease.

A supersmooth foam roller seemed to offer an alternative. It is fast. It leaves teensy bumps. I thought I could live with somewhat smooth and not semi-gloss,  but another devil told me to coat the painted wood with polyurethane. This process is specifically advised against. Paint websites point out it is easier and cheaper to get the kind of paint you need in the first place. I brushed the super smelly  non yellowing polyurethane on. It promptly yellowed, but I loved the result so that's just fine. What is less fine is that I did it late at night when I was tired, and left uncovered bits, and had to go back and redo some of it.

Thrilled that I had not completely failed, I tempted fate.

I added more green to the paint, to use in a lavatory,  and ran the paint mixer for 30 minutes, twice. The result, in wet paint, is only slightly more intense than the wishy washy kitchen color. What does not show is tiny grains of dark green that show up only as the paint pad hits the wall, leaving a line. Rubbing the pad in a circular motion over the line removes it, until the next time.  The shock came when the paint dried.  It was intense, as intense as bottom of the swimming pool blue.  

Home trends tells me that the intense robin's egg blue is desirable. It is growing on me. It is the smallest room in the house. I am not going to spend my life painting it. Anyone who is truly bothered by it can buy a quart of paint and change it.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Lamp Shades and Spiders and Plastic Beads, Oh My

On the theory that you can find instructions for anything online, I researched how to make a lamp shade. Too many instructions start with "Take any old lamp shade and recover it with fancy paper." Or paint it.

There's a sexy pendant lamp made from rings of plywood and cardboard. (Thank you, Instructables)  You need a jigsaw. This would be dandy, except for my fear of jigsaws. I can order one  -- a lamp, that is-- on Etsy for about $50, including postage. This is more than my budget for 4 lamp shades.

Papier mache is a favorite in the crafty crowd. There are pages of Google entries that I will spare you.
Another set of instructions advises me to deconstruct 10 to 15 wire hangers, form 2 rings, and cut 10 vertical struts to be hotglued in place and wound with fabric strips.  Only when that is done do you begin to construct the shade covering, which, based on the precision of the prior instructions, is undoubtedly lined and silk. I'm not using hot glue with anything that I hope will last, such as silk.

I can start with a bare frame from the Lamp Shade Company, which has more listings for youtube videos than for a website. I'm sure this is a mere oversight. The bare frames cost more than I want to spend. And then there are the coverings. The result is a lamp shade that could be sold for $75. But I want lamp shades to disguise my compact fluorescents. That's all.

Perhaps I should take out my handy dandy soldering iron and solder some hanger wire to a metal washer, creating what is known as a spider. The metal washer could fit on to the shade harp, the wire spokes will reach to a ring which can be made of cardboard. And then find parchment paper and glue it to...over budget again.

Perhaps I've been too literal in my definition of lampshade. Perhaps what I really want is a lampshade made of plastic beads heated in an oven until they fuse into a multicolor form.

  Or a screening and wire basket. Or kitchen utensils.

Or I can go back to the 2nd hand stores and keep looking.