Sunday, February 12, 2017

Coffee Bean Serving Tray

I bought my husband an espresso machine for Christmas and the flavor was sooo amazing that we all enjoy drinking coffee now. Once we got it set up and each acquired our own flavorings, we quickly ran out of room on the bookcase-turned-coffee bar.

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It was obvious we needed more surface space as well as additional storage. I put a call out to Facebook looking for a cheap or free dresser and a friend of mine came through in the free department. She had exactly what I was looking for and I was happy to take it off her hands.

Within days, I set to work converting it to a buffet/coffee bar. I'm painting it white and staining the top with General Finishes Java Gel Stain.  I'll detail that project in a separate post, but here's a sneak peek

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A few days after acquiring the dresser, I was digging in my storage shed and found a couple of wooden trays that I had started to work on years ago, but were abandoned. I immediately knew that one of them needed a home on the new coffee bar. And...I wanted it to be different. I had some Parks Super Glaze that I had purchased, but never used. I thought it would be so cool to create a serving tray with a bottom of coffee beans embedded in resin. And here we are!

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The trays were filthy from years of being in the shed so I cleaned one up and sanded it really well. The inside was painted in Rustoleum Metallic Bright Gold - my favorite gold spray paint. I painted the outside of it in Rustoleum Eden Green Satin then sprayed Satin Black on top of that. Did some distressing. Didn't like it, so I sprayed the whole thing gold. I might distress it a bit so some of the black shows through. I'll think about it...

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When I saw these photos, I decided I wasn't in love
with the black so I painted the entire tray gold.
Next, I poured whole coffee beans in the tray to determine how many I needed to cover the bottom, but not completely. Then I mixed a batch of the resin according to the directions, poured it into a larger container and added in the beans. I mixed the beans and resin really well so that they were coated with the resin, then spread the mixture in the tray and evened it out, making sure some of the gold bottom showed through. I didn't mind the bubbles so I didn't bother trying to get rid of them.I covered it with a cookie sheet to make sure no dust or pet hair settled on it. I let it sit overnight.

The next day, I mixed another batch of resin and poured it on top of the previous layer so that the beans were 99.9% covered. A few beans still sit slightly above the surface, but that's OK. Again, I didn't bother with the bubbles. The pictures don't do it justice, but you get the idea.

I can't wait to finish the coffee bar so this tray can take its place of distinction. I'm thinking it will hold the containers of sugar, sprinkles, spoons, etc.

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Thanks for visiting,


Saturday, September 3, 2016

DIY Litter Box Curtain from Skirt

We recently acquired our first indoor cat, Yuki. I decided to locate his litter box in the laundry room. It's the most logical place for it.

It was a quick and easy project - quicker than creating this post!


Litter box
Kitty litter
Fabric for curtain
Tension rod
Screw driver

  1. I measured the opening, adding an inch for the hidden tension rod. 
  2. I removed the door from the sink cabinet by unscrewing the hinges. I taped the screws to the door for future use.
  3. I dug through my thrift-shop stash of clothing purchased for the fabric, not because they fit. I chose a cheerful, floral linen, gourd skirt. It was 25" long, the exact length I needed.
  4. I sewed the top edges of the waistband together to close the opening. If you don't sew, you can use staples, safety pins, or hot glue.
  5. I cut a slit on the inside of the waistband on each side, which formed a rod pocket, which I slid the rod through.
  6. I slid the rod into the cabinet and unscrewed it enough to create tension.
  7. I arranged the "curtain" and I was done.
Yuki liked it so much I didn't think he'd ever come out.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Closet Makeover and DIY Custom Foam Core Board Tray Organizer

I'm eliminating clutter from our home using the KonMari method. I learned about it in the book, "The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo. It may sound cliche, but it really is life-changing.

Recently, my BFF and I ripped out all of the built-in shelving from my master closet. The spacing was impractical and they weren't adjustable. We got a little aggressive with the hammer, so last weekend  I patched, sanded and repainted the closet walls.

Emptying the closet
Shelves ripped out. Walls full of dents.

Walls patched and painted

Then, my husband hung ClosetMaid Shelftrack tracks, screwing them into the wall headers. The standards hang from the track. You can reconfigure  them as your needs change over time with no unsightly holes to patch. The SuperSlide brackets let you slide hangers continuously along the rod.

I have two armoires that I bought second hand. They are solid wood, Bassett pieces that I got for $150 total. No particle board or cardboard backing here. The style is a bit dated, but they provide dust-free storage.

Since my husband is 6' 2", I decided it would be more convenient for him to reach into an armoire than bend over to retrieve clothes from dresser drawers. So I decided to move the armoires into the closet.

Before I could move his clothes in, I needed a way to contain them on the  shelves. One of Marie's methods is to fold most clothing, rather than hanging it. And, by folding it so that each piece stands on its own, you can store more items in a smaller space. Standing the items up like fabric soldiers also means nothing is hidden from view.

I searched online for storage solutions that were both practical and affordable. When I found nothing, I turned to Pinterest for some DIY inspiration. Basically, what I needed was a really big organizer tray. So, I picked up a few supplies to add to what I already had on hand and got to work.

foam core board (I bought a tri-fold project board)
Elmers Glue All or other PVA glue
craft knife with a fresh blade
cutting mat
pencil (I used a chalk pencil on the black board)
straight edge
tape for trimming the edges

  1. Determine the measurements for your finished product then deduct 1/2 inch from the length and width to allow for the thickness of the foam core board. Cut a piece of foam core board to these dimensions. This will be the base.  
  2. Cut two pieces to the exact length of the short sides by 3" tall. 
  3. Add 1/2" to the measurement of the long sides and cut two pieces this length by 3" tall.

  4. Run a thin bead of glue along one short side and butt a short piece to it. Secure it in place with straight pins. Then do the same to the other short side.
  5. Add a long side, which should cover the raw edges of the short sides because you added the extra length. Secure with pins. Do the same to the other side.

  6. If you want to add dividers, measure inside the assembled tray and cut to fit. glue in place. If you want to add decorative fabric or paper to the inside base, do it before adding the dividers.

  7. Once the glue has dried a about 20 minutes or so, you can remove the pins and begin trimming with tape.
  8. Cut a strip of tape to length and center it over the raw edge of one end. Trim the ends of the tape as needed then smooth it down onto the board, making sure not to press too hard, which will leave indentations in the board.

  9. Do this for the top edges, the bottom edges, then the corners. Or you may want to do the corners first, it's up to you.

  10. Add additional decorative trim if you wish.
And this is how it looks in the armoire. Pretty cool, huh?

I used black board and black tape to keep it simple. I could add a wide ribbon trim to the front or decorative knobs, even. There are lots of different decorative tapes that you can use to make your tray fun and functional. You could cover the inside with decorative paper or leave the tape off and use spray adhesive to cover the entire tray with fabric.

Scale the tray down a bit and it becomes a drawer organizer. Scale it down even more, and it's a jewelry or make-up organizer. The uses are endless.

I hope you find this DIY helpful. Please leave comments and photos if you make one for yourself.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Meet Edwina

My wallet-making was at a standstill. My sewing machine skipped stitches when I attempted to sew through the thickest areas, which consist of several layers of fabric and interfacing. I was so frustrated. I was losing my mojo. I needed a machine that could sew through several thick layers. I needed a machine that could even sew through leather. I needed a workhorse. I needed a good old fashioned Singer. And I knew where to get one!

So last night I went to my mother's house and opened up the cabinet to my Grandmommy's 1940 Singer 66-16. I oiled it, installed a denim needle and plugged it in. I threaded it and it sewed through eight layers of denim like butter!

My mother brought it to me today and I made this wallet with no problems. The stitching is even and beautiful. This will be my main machine from this day forward for making wallets and handbags. I have named her Edwina after my grandmother. I know Grandmommy is smiling down on me.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Product Photography Light Box Tutorial

Many artisans are selling their goods online. In fact, there is so much competition that you may find yourself spending as much time on your computer promoting your creations as you spend actually creating things.

Since buyers often rely on a computer screen or smartphone to do their shopping, it's important that your creations be visually represented as accurately as possible.

Many artisans rely on a digital camera or their smartphone for photographing their products. They often point and click. The result is often photos that are poorly lit, out of focus, or shot against a messy background, which is distracting and detracts from the beauty and the perceived value of the item.

Here are some common scenarios.
Flash causes overexposure in some areas and shadows in
others. Background is distracting. Product is too far away.
You can't appreciate the details.

No flash. Scene is poorly lit causing a lot of "noise",
the little colored dots that cover the photo.
Product is out of focus.
Here's a quick and easy way to improve your photos and give the attention to your creations that they deserve. And, hopefully, help you close more sales. This tutorial shows you how to build a quick and easy light box to photograph smaller items, but the same principles will apply to larger items. This works for both DSLRs, point and shoot cameras, and smart phones. I am not a professional photographer. I'm sure that even my photos could be improved upon. But, I think they are better than average and I like to share what I've learned with others.

List of Materials:
1 cardboard box big enough to fit your product with room to spare
2 sheets of tissue paper or parchment paper or any kind of thin white material that will diffuse light
2 really really bright lights. I prefer halogen shop lights.
1 white poster board
1 box cutter or serrated steak knife or anything that will cut the cardboard

  1. Decide which side of the box is going to become the "floor".
  2. Remove the flaps from the other three sides. 
  3. Cut large openings in the other three sides.
  4. Use tape and tissue paper to cover the openings.
  5. Lay the box down so that the uncut side is now the "floor" and its flap extends the floor.
  6. Place a white poster board in the box so that it curves up the back "wall" from the floor. This creates the "infinity edge" that is so desirable in product photography.
  7. Position a bright light on either side of the box so that it shines through the diffusing material (tissue paper, etc.) If you don't have shop lights, take the shades off of a couple of lamps and move them close to the diffusers. Just remember, the whiter the light, the better. 
  8. If available, shine another bright light through the top panel.
  9. Place your object on the floor and position it to your liking.

Now you're ready to make photographs.

Depending on what type of camera you are using, you may need to make a few adjustments. For this photo, I used my Samsung Galaxy Note 2 smart phone. I selected the "macro" focus mode setting and set the white balance to "incandescent" light to remove the yellow tint.

Don't be afraid to experiment. Take a photo. Make adjustments. Take another photo. Make adjustments. Adjust the different settings until you are happy with your pictures.

Now that you have your photos, you can use them as is or use software or a phone app to further enhance them. You'll probably always need to crop your photo into a pleasing composition, then,  perhaps adjust the white balance further and increase the saturation, if necessary. Basically, you should adjust the photo until you think it accurately represents your product to potential buyers.

For this image, I brought my photo in Adobe Lightroom for the basic adjustments then I brought it into Adobe Photoshop CS4 to add the banner and text. Again, a lot of this can also be done using phone apps.

Now, as I mentioned earlier, some items may be too large for a box, but the same principles apply. Use a light or non-distracting background and shine diffused light on your object from every angle to reduce shadows. If shooting outdoors, choose a bright overcast day. The clouds are nature's diffuser!

I hope you've found this quick and dirty tutorial helpful Feel free to ask questions and I'll do my best to answer. And there are no dumb questions. And if you have some tried and true methods that work for you, feel free to speak up. We're all learning here.