Thursday, September 20, 2012

Everything Old Is New Again

Halfway through stripping
Exposed bare wood under old paint
In my last post I mentioned the radiator enclosure that my husband asked me to strip and paint, conveniently ignoring the fact that I was already in the middle of stripping another piece of furniture and had a bedroom door waiting in line to be stripped also. Anyway, this enclosure had been sitting in my bathroom since before we purchased our home nearly 22 years ago and it had never been painted or retouched in all that time. You can only imagine the sorry state of that thing and in retrospect I'm sorry I didn't photograph it before I started working on it. It was a mess. The paint was peeling and chipping, bare wood was exposed in some places and the definition in the moldings was lost under multiple layers of paint. It was a an ugly mess and the job necessary to rid it of all that paint was another ugly mess. Fortunately I specialize in ugly messes.
Layers and layers of paint

After preliminary paint removal
Here you can see what the frame and it's perforated metal screen looked like after I had spent a day or so removing some of the paint. That's right, I said AFTER. The metal grate had been so painted over that some of the openings were clogged. Stripping it was harder than I thought because as I scraped the stripper off with a spatula, it would ooze through the openings to the other side. Scrape that side, it would ooze back. Not fun. The swan cutout was another challenge. It was backed by two small pieces of perfed metal butted together and boasted so much paint in its recesses that the beak was truncated. I won't even mention the frame corners. These pictures should tell you the whole story.

Almost done stripping
After painting
After stripping and scraping off several layers of old paint and cleaning with steel wool, I gave the frame a quick sanding with a palm sander. I used my Dremel rotary tool with a drum sander head to sand some details back into the swan. I removed the sawdust with a tack cloth and gave it three coats of mildew resistant paint with a built in primer made for high humidity environments. I also used the palm sander on the metal grate with excellent results. It cleaned down to the bare metal. A few quick sprays with Rustoleum Bright Coat silver finish and the grate looked better than new.
Back in the bathroom

One week, a half gallon of paint stripper, untold amounts of steel wool, a bunch of wooden shish kebob skewers (for digging out paint from the crevices) and several sanding pads later, I am proud to say that I reduced that ugly mess of a radiator cover into something that I actually like looking at. In total it took four days to completely strip the frame and grate down to the point where I could even think about refinishing it plus another three days to paint it, allow it to dry very well, then replace the grate and return to the bathroom. It's far from perfect but it sure is a darn sight easier on the eyes than in its former state and it makes my time on the porcelain throne just a little bit more pleasant. I've still go to get back to that small chest of drawers I was working on when my husband tossed this project at me as well as the door to my daughter's room that also needs to be stripped down and repainted.

Never thought I'd be stripping at my age.

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Sunday, September 16, 2012

I've been busy...

(Click on any photo to view a larger image.)

It seems as though I was looking forward to summer barbecues just weeks ago and now it's the middle of September. Where has the time gone? I've been so busy this summer that time has flown by and I've barely posted anything on this blog. Where to begin?

My son and daughter each graduated from their respective community colleges this year and are deep in the throes of job hunting. They have a couple of prospects lined up so fingers and toes are crossed. My daughter came back home after graduation so we're all getting adjusted to having a full house again. My husband and I enjoyed a great second honeymoon in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in August and I was thrilled to return home to find that my children had not let my garden die of thirst in my absence nor had they trashed the house. Obviously they have either been well trained or feared for their lives upon my return. Either way, I liked the results.

As in every summer, I spent a lot of time in my garden but this year it was a mixed bag of results. Some things did very well, others did poorly. I tried my hand at growing some new things this year and was rewarded with some potatoes, one huge zucchini, broccoli, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes that are still coming in, carrots and peppers. I'm torn about planting next year. I'm thinking perhaps I should amend the garden and allow it to rest at least one year. At least it sounds good but I know I will miss the thrill of eating my own vegetables. Maybe I'll limit myself to containers next year so the garden can rest and rejuvenate. Perhaps.

I've also been doing some small home improvements and am still in the midst of them. During my week in Mexico my son painted his bedroom and did a pretty fair job considering he really didn't much experience at it. My daughter has also finally finished painting her room.  I foolishly suggested we try a gradient technique I saw on Pinterest. Silly me. Needless to say it was a lot more difficult than in appeared in the online tutorials. It took two weeks and enough paint to cover the Brooklyn Bridge to paint this tiny little room but I suppose that was due more in part to the fact that neither she nor her boyfriend really know what they were doing and because they spent as much time goofing around with each other as they did slapping paint on the walls.

I started stripping a small chest of drawers that a friend of mine gave me when she bought herself some new furniture. I got as far as taking off the old finish when my husband suggested that as long as I was stripping one thing, I might as well strip something else as well, whereupon he promptly brought me the bathroom radiator enclosure. Oh no! I'll leave the details of this project for another post. Still more stripping, painting and fixing up to be done around here. I haven't had much time to be creative but I'm hoping to take care of that very soon when I get around to refinishing the chest of drawers. I'm looking forward to it.

Oh, I almost forgot. My daughter decided to paint over her radiator to match the gradient wall. It's one of the prettiest parts of the room.
<----Looks pretty good, don'tcha think?

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva  

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Bella Luna

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The moon has been a recurring theme for me this summer and  I wanted to share two beautiful moon images I shot in my own backyard...literally. The first is that of the beautiful blue moon that appeared in the sky on August 31 this year. This photograph was shot with my old Canon PowerShot and its awesome zoom lens. As far as I'm concerned it may as well be an official NASA image. I LOVE the details in this picture.

My second "moon" image is one that I had been waiting for all summer. I came across a set of seedlings at my local nursery called Moon Flower Vine during a shopping trip for garden supplies so I picked it up because the picture on the tag looked like a petunia and I love petunias. I planted it around an old tree stump in the garden and trained the vines to wrap around the tree. After months of patiently waiting it finally bloomed...just in time for the blue moon at the end of August. As you can see by the size of my daughter's hand in proportion to the flower, this is no petunia-sized blossom. The creamy white flowers were as large as saucers. They open only at night and last only for one night, closing forever before dawn. The size and color of the blooms gives them the appearance of little moons floating above their leaves. I have been treated to an endless show of pearly white moon blossoms every night since the end of August and I hope it continues for a few weeks more. I'm in no hurry for summer to say farewell.

ADDENDUM 09-16-12:
Last night the new moon occurred. Tonight my moon flowers were in a blooming riot. Take a look at the photo to the right. The vines are wound around the trunk of a dead tree that is about five to five and a half feet tall. That should give you an idea of the scale. These flowers are big.

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva