Crafty Tale #4: The Silhouette Project

Inspired by my silhouette fabric in the fireplace room, as well as a framed silhouette we have of Chris when he was little (it’s so cute!!), I’ve decided to embark on a silhouette collection mission.  I want to find various silhouettes and eventually hang them in a collage on the wall in the fireplace room.  I’ve been keeping an eye open at flea markets, but haven’t had time to hit too many flea markets lately.  Last night, I was not in the mood to strip paint (as Chris will testify, one REALLY has to be in the right head space to scrape and sand and chip away or it gets real sisyphean real fast) and honestly, my hands felt too crampy to sew.  I thought of my silhouette rub-on transfers (gifted to me in a box of cast-off crafts by the divine Julie Fei-Fan Balzer) and some cheap frames i had in the attic and decided to do SOMETHING while I watched (yes I know I’m late to the game, but it’s my new favorite show) “Mob Wives.”

I dug out some craft supplies and got to work.


Using my new paper, an inexpensive frame from Ikea, a $1 wooden frame from Michael’s, some paint and a paint scraper for the transfers, I made my own silhouettes!

These are not “officially”framed, and I will probably paint over the yellow/ gray stenciled frame so it it all one color– the stencil looks ok in the photo, but up close it looks more like a left-handed first grader was forced to paint it right-handed.  (btw, anyone have any stenciling tips?  Mine go all blobby and smeary and out of shape.  I think I need better brushes but I can’t find “stencil” brushes at the local craft shop.  Is there such a thing?  How does one get good at stenciling?!?)

But all in all, I think they’re not bad for a little Tuesday night project, and I can’t wait to have more so I can get the collection on the wall…


Something pretty for a change…


I’m tired of all the gloppy paint talk.  Let’s take a moment to admire this beautiful owl candle and tray I won at my office party’s Yankee swap (thanks, Frances!  Sorry, Emily!).  Isn’t it cute?  And going with my yellow/silver/ gray theme I have going on in that room, I found this beautiful paper at a craft store in New Paltz.  I’m not sure what to do with it yet– it will either be a mat or a decoupage for my silhouette project (more on that later) unless anyone has a better idea?

NOW what have I done?


I am a baseboard!

That’s a baseboard in the dining room.  The baseboards are all about 7 inches tall, in nearly every room of the house, and all (of course) covered in old paint.  Some of the quarter-round was exposed in places, and it is not very good wood– seems like a late addition and not great quality.  We weren’t really sure about the baseboards, so out of curiosity, and because the radiator was ON last night, which made it hard to scrape, (In case you are wondering, the advice to “wait for summer” to do that kind of work is probably pretty solid…) I hit a piece with the heat gun and found…. gorgeous wood underneath.  Damn!  Do we have to strip all the baseboards now?  Will I be able to look at the paint-covered ones knowing what loveliness lies beneath?  Le sigh.  Luckily, I don’t have a lot of social plans for the next few months.

Today we are trying out a new method — Smart Strip!

We (and by “we” I mean “Chris”) put some on the baseboard in question this morning before we left for work.  It should be doing its magic, eating through layers of paint, and we will scrape tonight when we get home.  We are figuring it will take a few times/ coats/ days.  If it works, though, it will be a real time-and-wrist-saver.  It’s also way less toxic than Zip Strip and doesn’t seem to create fumes like the heat gun.

Meet my current nemesis


How could something be so beautiful and so horrible at the same time, you ask?  BEIGE PAINT, I answer!!!

Now, I LOVE this radiator.  It stopped me in my tracks the first time I saw the house– I’d never seen anything like it.  It sits on the wall in the little stairway that comes out of the kitchen and goes into the main room/ or upstairs to the second floor.  The heat it throw is heavenly and the design is stunning, if you ask me.  However, it has been covered (like most of the interior of the house) in many layers of paint, the top layer of which is (as Chris calls it) wet-cardboard brown.  I decided a couple weeks ago that the green in the entryway will extend through this little hallway — right now it’s a dim and dirty pass-through into the kitchen and I want it to be a bright, fun, pretty space.  Besides figuring out the lighting, painting the walls and fixing the step, this monstrosity is desperate for a stripping.

Um, of course, I decided to just jump in and start at the top.  When will I learn to “test a small spot in a discrete area” of whatever I’m doing?!  Never, apparently.  Nope.  Just jump right in and make a mess in the most noticeable part of whatever you’re working on!  Great!

So I don’t have a photo of the radiator before I started, but this one is pretty close.  I’m sure this project will take me all of January, at least.  Under the beige is white, then yellow, then green paint.  (Yes, in another weird instance of this house telling us what it wants, the front room and hallway were apparently green at one point)  Under all that is gorgeous metal with nice details.  I may or may not be able to get all the paint off– we will see.  I may or may not repaint it– we will see.  It depends on if it looks industrial-cool or just sloppy when it’s all stripped.  Which, as I said, will probably take until the end of forever.  But don’t worry– I’ll keep you posted!

What does one use to tackle such a project, you ask?  Why, that’s easy — EVERYTHING!

IMG_0023A mask for the fumes and lead paint protection, Zip Strip in a cup with a paint brush, 3 different scrapers, a wire brush, sandpaper, a headlamp, a rag and pink work gloves (‘natch!).  And last night, while trying to fall asleep and thinking of my radiator, I suddenly thought… BUTTER KNIFE!  So I’m going to take an old butter knife and see if I can get into some of those round thingees (technical term) and continue the project known as BANISH THE BEIGE ….

If anyone has any experience with this kind of paint stripping, please….. any advice is welcome!

Happy new year!

Here’s wishing you a great 2013!

Along with my many other new year’s resolutions, I am going to work on updating this blog more regularly.  Time really gets away from me, and before I know it, a month has gone by with no posts.  We have not had too much going on at the old homestead…. took some time off of major projects for the holidays.  We are currently stripping/ sanding the wood around the windows in the entryway.

front room woodwork 1.7The entry way and hallway will be painted green!  I’m excited to get to the painting part, but there’s a ways to go before we get there. While Chris is working on the window frames, I’m starting on this weird old radiator that is so glopped in beige paint it’s hard to make out any detail.  But there is detail under there, and I’m going to find it!  Stay tuned for the exciting gloppy beige paint photos– I promise, they won’t disappoint.  I forgot to photograph the thing before I started, but I’m sure you will get the idea ….  I think most of my January free time will be taken up by this radiator, so I will try to find some other things to talk about …  Not that radiators aren’t exciting– especially OLD radiators, but I like to mix it up.

We are also working on the trim around the dining room entrance and stripping and refinishing the pocket doors between the front entryway and the dining room.  To that end, Chris took the pocket doors off their runner-things (technical term) and we learned that pocket doors must have made a great place to display holiday cards!  Stuck back in the wall we found these cards — any guess on a year?  An era?

found xmas cards