Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Works in progress: Lilyfield Life

Hi, I'm down in Melbourne for a few days to stay with my sister in law before she gives up her beautiful corporate apartment right on Southbank and heads back to Sydney. I really wanted to see the Monet exhibition as he is one of my favourite artists (probably everybody's) and so Phil suggested I fly down for a little mid week getaway. Initially I said I had too much work on but managed to juggle everything including working 12 hours last Sunday to get my work done and so here I am - husband free, kid free and loving it! For a few days anyway.

Photos from our last trip as I haven't downloaded any yet from this trip.

I completely sold out of all my painted furniture last weekend. Thank you to all my lovely customers. It's such a joy that people like my painting and that I actually sell stuff! (and what's best about that is I can keep on doing more). I love seeing photos of my furniture in your homes.

I have a few new pieces under way but I didn't get to finish them before I left. I thought you might like to see what's in the works.

A stunning cabinet that started out in Mount Kosciuszko - probably in a lodge somewhere - it had a weird hutch one the top that I will do something with and it was badly sun damaged and a bit of a weird construction.  I have fixed the construction and painted it white. I will probably leave it undistressed as I love the clean lines. I will finish and take proper photos of it when I'm home again.

I also am working on a beautiful vintage French single bed. It has been a bit of a challenge as it was a little damaged and filthy dirty - including lots of chewing gum on the bedpost. Can you believe it? I had that old song in my head for a whole afternoon. The photo below against the blue wall is after I'm already scrubbed it for half an hour. I didn't get a complete "before" photo as you would have vomited.

This is the bedpost at the foot complete with gum. I think it is going to be beautiful all freshly painted and made up with frilly white linen.

I am painting it a mixture of greys and white. Cleaning off the gunk also helped in the beauty stakes.

I am also working on this mirror. I need to find some wood to finish off the base. It's such a beautiful shape.

Anything you like the look of?

And have you been to the Monet exhibition?
I'm so excited!

Fiona x

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

DIY: Replacing a Centre Drawer Slide

I was caught unaware a few weeks ago which was actually quite embarrassing. A lovely couple came to view (and buy and take home) the serpentine chest of drawers that I painted in ASCP Graphite. 

They spent sometime discussing if they'd buy it so I left them alone while they decided. I could hear them opening and shutting the drawers - and then it went on and on - slide, slide, slide. I could tell by their muted conversation (although I couldn't hear exactly) that something was up so I went back into the room and asked what they thought. They pointed out to me that the bottom centre drawer runner/slide was completely missing.

I had completely not noticed which is actually unusual for me. I must have been distracted when I put the drawers back in. Anyway I promised I would fix it within a few days and they said they'd definitely buy it and would come back later that week to pick it up. 

This is the piece that was missing. A very specifically shaped piece of timber.

And this is the hard plastic glide that sits on the back of the drawer and slide along the wood. It not only makes the drawer slide straight but it stops the drawer from tipping downwards as it's opened.

So I thought it would be a relatively easy thing to go buy a new drawer slide and insert it.  I sat down that night on my iPad and spent sometime with my old friend Mr Google. If you are American you could just buy this for around $10. But of course living in Australia, there is such a lack of hardware! I dream of American hardware shops. LOL.
The next day I went to three hardware shops including a timber specialist. No one could help me and when I made some suggestions I was hoo hoo (what's that term? boo hooed? how hawed? you know what I mean anyway)

Anyway I was at the timber specialists and I was asking the guy about routing a piece of timber for it and he quoted me around $140 for a piece of wood around 35 cm long. Umm... no thanks, mate. Anyway as he was busy telling me that a simple solution just wasn't possible, I picked up a bit of wood trim and was fiddling with it when realised that it fitted perfectly into the top of the plastic glide. My brain started ticking over and I bought a metre of the trim for $3.50. I almost ran the whole way home, full of hope and ideas.

As soon as I got home I cut the trim into lengths of 35cm and grabbed my orbital sander and started planing down the trim so it had a flat edge at the top instead of the raised curve.  I did this for both pieces and held them together and kept measuring the height against the existing drawers glides. When they were the same height I glued the pieces together to create a T shape using the trusty old Liquid Nails. I then used the Liquid Nails to insert it into the chest of drawers.

et voilĂ 
the drawer slides perfectly

Thank you engineering degree for teaching me problem solving and that there is usually a cost effective way of fixing something. 
(the trusty old workaround)

So if you are Australian, this is how you can make your own drawer slides if you buy an old piece of furniture and they are missing or broken.

you Yanks don't know how good you have it with all your DIY and craft shops!

Fiona xx

Monday, August 26, 2013

Sweet side table

The afternoon I bought the gramophone cabinet at auction I also picked up a cute little side table stool thing. I am not sure which it is meant to be but if you had little kids I think it would be fantastic as a stool as it's nice and stable and a good height for standing on.  If you don't have small kids it's great for a glass of wine of coffee while you are sitting in a chair! (actually if you have small kids perhaps you need the glass of wine!). It sold already and was being picked up on the weekend.

I filled in a few deep dings with wood putty, gave it a coat of primer then painted it in ASCP Country Grey with Pure White on the details. I then gave it a coat of clear wax and used dark wax on the details. I lightly distressed it but feel that I would have preferred the distressing if I hadn't primed it as I don't really like the white peaking through underneath the Country grey paint but it's a small thing and a personal preference. I only primed it as I was in the middle of priming another piece and initially thought I'd paint this Pure White.

To be honest I'm not smitten with ASCP Country Grey - it's not grey but a very countrified beige.  I know it probably has its place but I doubt I would do a large piece in this colour. What do you think? Have you used it? If so can you link up the post in the comments below as I'd love to check it out. I think I would prefer it mixed with some Paris Grey to tone down the beige-ness of it.

Your opinions on this paint colour please!
Fiona xx

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Home on a Saturday

It's a stunning day here in Sydney. Sasha and Phil are currently baking a triple sized chocolate cake that I will decorate for Sasha's party later today. Well the cake is now in the oven and Phil in the kids are lying in the garden, reading in the sunshine. Sasha's having 10 friends over for dinner, a spa and a movie. I am looking forward to seeing her and her friends together. These girls are really growing up.

It's been a while since I've posted some photos of our house. A few changes in furniture as you can imagine as things come and go. I have finally sold the driftwood effect gramophone cabinet (actually to the first person who enquired about it weeks and weeks ago) and I'm sure Phil will be happy to see it out of our bedroom. I really thought this piece would sell quicker and I had a lot of interest in it but at 60cm deep it was too large for most people. I'll keep that in mind when I'm buying furniture in the future.

I bought some ranunculus this morning at the markets. I have some growing in the garden but they haven't bloomed yet. I am looking forward to spring and getting out to enjoy our garden more, although it already feels like Spring doesn't it.

Is it possible to have too much curvey scrolly furniture in one house? 

a new to me coffee table that I adore - possible will be painted as it's quite orange but wow it's a lovely shape. I found it on eBay and paid more than I usually do for a second hand piece but it was worth it and a fraction of the price you would pay new.

May the sun be shining where you are also.
Have a lovely weekend. Fiona xx

Friday, August 23, 2013

French desk surgery

Warning - terrible photos because I just couldn't be bothered. I feel like I've performed major surgery on this piece! It's a bit like Michael Jackson - tighter and whiter.

My childhood friend Kari who lives in my hometown on the Far South Coast is redecorating her daughter's room in a French provincial style and recently bought the Vintage sideboard turned TV cabinet.  She also was looking for a big French provincial desk with loads of storage. I told her that French style desks with loads of storage are very difficult to come by. But the very next day I came across one. I initially saw it on the internet and said to Kari I would go check it out. Well it was in worse shape than I could ever imagine and I said to Kari that we should pass it up. But Kari said oh no please I really love it so I bought it on her behalf and got to work.

It had been chemically treated for insect damage and had been painted terribly at some stage.  It originally had been a really beautiful timber parquetry desk but was now covered in disgusting paint and it really smelt and was sticky and not quite solid.  So my first step was to wash it all down and strip off the paint.  I sanded it with 80grit sandpaper on my ROS and ripped that disgusting paint right off. Can you believe it took about 6 hours. I had a terrible headache for a whole day afterwards and my hands vibrated!  I was worried I'd poisoned myself to be honest. I also cleaned the inside of the desk with wood cleaner then oiled it with orange furniture polish and that left the desk and drawers airing in the sunshine for days on end.

At this stage I got quite sad as the desk was gorgeous (minus the holes and scratches and peeling veneer). But you could tell it had been beautiful. The photos don't tell you the full story - The top had huge patches on veneer missing but I forgot to take a photo of that and you can't see the borer damage. I painted a coat of zinsser primer (shellac based) and all the damage pops up against the white so I mixed up a huge amount of wood putty and got busy with it.  I then painted another coat of primer. The white paint is Dulux Limed White in quarter strength mixed with Websters Chalk Paint Powder that was sent to me to trial by Monique of Dandelion Wood. I will do a separate blog post about my thoughts on the chalk paint powder soon.  I painted the top to look like old leather using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in graphite. I then waxed and antiqued the desk. It took me around 4 hours to wax this beast beauty.Does it take everyone hours and hours to wax and dark wax? I also replaced the handles by drilling new holes. 

Anyway after a week of sanding, puttying, priming, painting, waxing etc I could not be bothered moving it and taking photos. I just snapped a couple on my iphone. poor ones at that. I nearly didn't even blog about it. But here it is in all it's glory now.  Actually I took these photos while the wax was still wet and not buffed so it is less patchy now and looks like aged leather.

I'm going to pick a few easier pieces to paint for a while!  I hope Kari loves her desk - it's really lovely now after it's operation!

Dr Fiona x

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

My Grandad and his Orchids

My maternal grandfather, Harold, was a quiet, gentle man who had fought in Gallipoli and the Western Front in World War 1. He was too young to fight and actually too young to even go to war in an ancillary role but his family were French and they wanted him to go and help their old country so they allowed him to lie about his age and join the Army's Field Ambulance Corps.

Grandad's 21st birthday was the original VE day - 11th of November. What a celebration that must have been. When he came home at the end of the war, injured by shrapnel in his leg, he worked as an engineer up in the open cut tin mines at Tully, QLD. 

Grandad came to live with us in Eden when I was about eight. I loved him so much and would spend hours with him probably annoying the hell out of him with my non-stop chatter. He would tell me about the war and the tough conditions that the men lived through in the trenches in France and about his training in Gallipoli doing similar work as Simpson and his famous Donkey. I used to always think of my grandads as "WW1 Grandad" my maternal grandfather Harold and "WW11 Grandad" my paternal grandfather Frank, who was imprisoned in Changi. Years later I mentioned to mum about some of the things he'd told me and that I used to put my hand in the flesh pocket that the shrapnel had made in his thigh and rub cream on it (it sounds revolting but I loved being trusted to do this for my Grandad) and my mum was astounded as Grandad never talked about the war with her and never let her touch his scar. I think it's lovely how grandparents can find it sometimes easier to open up to their young interested grandchildren about things that can't bring themselves to mention to their own kids. I also loved hearing his stories of working in the mines and looking through his tin specimen collection. I think those talks and my love for technical lego, sparked my initial interest in studying engineering.

When Grandad lived with us he had a large orchid house at the bottom of our garden. He would spend hours there tending to his beloved plants and doing the crossword from the paper. I'm sure he probably was also hiding out from annoying little children  His orchids were so special to him and he took beautiful care of them. A tea cup of water a day for each plant was his motto.

Since Grandad's death in 1982, the orchids have been at my mum's and now the majority of them are with my sister and with me. We gave a lot of them to mum's friends as living reminders of her. I have mine lined up against our back fence but I certainly don't take care of them like Grandad did, they are too straggly and covered in cobwebs, but they have rewarded me all the same.

There are so many blooms and more to come over the next few weeks . I love looking out and seeing their pretty colours against our blue fence. I can't bring myself to cut them off the plants and bring them inside. But that's ok, they probably live longer out in the garden anyway.

A nice reminder of my gentle Grandad and of my mum. What a beautiful living legacy from them both.  These plants are over 50 years old now. Hopefully I can keep them alive for many more years but I think orchids are pretty hardy...right??(please say yes)

Do you love orchids? Can you bring yourself to cut them and put them in a vase? or do you leave them in the garden?

Today I am hopefully finishing a beautiful French desk that's been a major restoration project and starting on the French wicker bed for my daughter. 

have a good day
Fiona x