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Upholstery class #3

September 1st, 2011

I’ve fallen behind again. How does that happen so quickly? Life just gets in the way sometimes. We’ll be skipping this week’s upholstery class due to some travel for the long holiday weekend. Last class was fun, though.

I got to break out some heavy duty tools! Frederick let me use his staple gun; but this isn’t your run-of-the-mill staple gun that you might keep in your toolbox. This thing is what the pros use. It’s connected to an air compressor and I was a little intimidated at first. But, I learned quickly, didn’t staple myself to anything, and my chair seat is complete! Woo Hoo!

The florescent lighting in the classroom makes the colors much brighter than they truly are…I thought about retaking some shots, but I figure I’ll just let y’all wait until I can show off the finished product.

I want one of these. Big time.

Showing it who's boss...

Tackling the corners. Sorry it's blurry...action shot!

It's not nearly as neon in real life, promise.

Hope everyone has a safe and festive holiday weekend. More to come next week!

Upholstery class #2

August 17th, 2011

Well, our second upholstery class was a big success. I stripped all the old fabric from the pieces of my chair and finally decided on a new fabric. Choosing fabric is always such a challenge for me….there are just too many possibilities. I’m really happy with my selection. It’s patterned without being too busy and it has a good mix of deep and bright colors. I really think it will allow the chair to compliment any room in the house. In fact, I bought a little extra fabric because I’m going to make some throw pillows for our sofa…more on that later. 

Frederick gave us a big lesson on how to measure and plan for the fabric purchase. Depending on the shape of the piece, or where you want the pattern to sit, or how you want patterns to line up, you’ve got to cut accordingly. While it’s generally best to have a little more than you need, you also don’t want to waste fabric (or money).  Honestly, I was surprised to learn how technical the planning and purchasing part of the process is,  


Old fabric stripped?

chair parts

removing all the staples

ready to be rid of that nasty old fabric

naked chair parts


New fabric measured, purchased and cut?


ready to cut...and a sneak preview of the new fabric


All the while, Kathy was tackling the staples on her monstrous wingback. I decided to make it a team effort so she could move on to the next steps. While staple pulling is a great stress reliever, it can get a bit mundane. However, I will say that I am discovering one of the things that I really enjoy about the reupholstery process is the labor-intensive aspect of all of it. You really have to work to deconstruct a piece of furniture.  This is truly a craft.

Kathy building some serious muscle

showing no mercy

Side note: It is both fascinating and totally gross the things you find when you take apart an old armchair… in addition to all sorts of random lint and dust; we also found what appeared to be a fossilized cookie. This prompted Kathy to ask Frederick, “What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever found while taking furniture apart?” His response, “a pair of men’s underwear…” Ew. 

We’ll be back in class on Sunday and I’m really eager to get guided through the next steps. Will keep you posted for sure!

Upholstery class #1

August 9th, 2011

So, construction on the art studio is well under way and I can barely contain my excitement. I really underestimated the scale of this project…it’s a BIG job. I’ve decided to wait to post photos until I can reveal it completed in all it’s glory. Already, though…it is totally rad.

As I eagerly await its completion, I am busting at the seams with inspiration. There are so many projects that I can’t wait to begin. Case in point, my good friend, Kathy, and I have talked about taking an upholstery class for a long time. We are both such salvage artists that any time we drive by a piece of furniture tossed to the curb it’s all we can do to not stop and rescue it.  (That’s not to say that we haven’t rescued a few things over the years…and thank goodness for her garage.) Now it’s time to actually learn how to turn that trash into treasure!

Initially, I had a hard time finding a formal class or even someone willing to teach us, but we finally found an instructor who taught lessons at a local Joanne Fabrics, so we signed up. Over the weekend, we scoured thrift stores and Craig’s List for a few chairs in need of a makeover.

I chose a small chair that I think would work well in the studio…and Kathy chose a monstrosity of a wingback!

Clearly, Kathy is an overachiever...

On Sunday, we loaded up our soon-to-be-fabulous chairs and went to our first class. Our instructor, Frederick, is a true upholstery craftsman. He’s built a family business around upholstery and along with taking individual clients also does work for local restaurants, hotels, and offices. He teaches on the side as a way to keep the appreciation for the trade alive.

Needless to say, we’re in good hands.

He started the lesson by going over everything (and I mean everything) we needed to know about upholstery; supplies, tools, fabrics, glues, what we needed and where to buy it. Then, we got started on the initial step in the reupholstery process: deconstruction. You’ve got to destroy the old to create the new, right? I really enjoyed learning how my chair had been assembled and learning the proper technique to take it apart.

Here are some images from Sunday.

starting the 'creative destruction' process

the seat was a snap

Frederick showing me how to manhandle the back section

I got it!

disassembled and ready to be remade

So, she’s disassembled and ready for a makeover. I’ve already started shopping for new fabric and I have a few ideas on how to update her arm rests. Will keep you posted, for sure.

The class runs for 5 weeks. I already can’t wait to go back….and it’s going to be REAL hard to not scoop up every-single-thing I see tossed to the curb between now and Sunday.

A proper art studio

July 21st, 2011

I mentioned recently that with the new house came a long list of projects. Those at the top of the list are pretty significant, so we’ve been mapping out the best plan of attack. Well, we made some progress this week and I can easily say that I am more excited about what’s in store than I have been in a long time!

What are we up to, exactly?

We’re building an art studio and work shed in the back yard! I am beyond thrilled. It took us a while to figure out the basics; overall size, location, permit requirements, etc. Then we did some research to choose the materials we wanted to use. Finally, Eric drew up some design plans (proving, yet again, there’s nothing he can’t do…) We’re enlisting the help of our good buddy, Hoke Howard, who you might remember helped us with the directional signs for the wedding. He’s a real craftsman and I’m happy to have his help on such a sizable project.

We break ground next week! I couldn’t be more excited. I’m also very grateful. When we moved into the new house, most of my art supplies and craft tools went into storage. The plan was always to build a studio, but it faced strict competition in the hierarchy of to-dos. Not having my supplies readily on hand had left me feeling a bit uninspired. Eric took notice and since he understands how important all this silly crafty stuff is to me, we decided to make the art studio a priority.

I’m a very lucky girl.

I’ll update everyone on the progress. Here’s what we plan on constructing!

design and dimensions

inspiration for materials we gathered online

DIY: magnets made from old calendars

July 14th, 2011

Last year, my sister gave the cutest little desk calendar. Each page offered an inspired quote on friendship, family and the joys of sisterhood. It was such a cute little thing and I really enjoyed reading each day’s quote. Along the way, I started saving some of the more memorable ones, mostly because I just couldn’t bear to throw them in the trash.

Recently, while trying to organize my art supplies and find a place for them in the new house, I came across all of the tiny calendar pages with the quotes that I loved so much. It had been a while since I indulged in a random act of craftiness so I sat down and decided to do something with them.

Eric mentioned that they were the perfect size to be magnets, so I ran by the craft store to check out my options for magnets and some sort of backing to use. I found some foam board that I thought would be perfect since it was so lightweight. And I bought two different kinds of magnets; individual magnets and some on a roll. Pretty sure both would work equally well.

Here are some photos of my crafty indulgence. It turned out to be really cute! I’ll probably make a bunch of them and give them as random little love gifts…the first one going to my sister, of course!

starting supplies

I had to sacrifice a few so I could have extra flowers to use.

cut the foam board and glue it to the back

using ModPodge glue the flowers around the edges

brush a light coat of ModPodge evenly on the top and on the undersides of the flowers that hang off the edge

ta da! Cute as a button!

Sunburst Mirror by Denise

June 24th, 2011

Recently, while browsing good ol’ Facebook, I spotted a neat craft project by my friend, Denise. Actually, she is my sister-in-law’s sister-in-law…I know that technically doesn’t make us family, but we clicked the minute we met and I’m happy to be “related” to her even if only thru marriage.

This project shows that she’s not only creative, but one resourceful lady! Using some pretty basic supplies, she created a really cute mirror for her bedroom.

Check it out!

Here’s what you’ll need:
Round mirror (could be fancy one from Target or Home Goods or you could pick one up at Michael’s for $5)
Gorilla glue
Spray paint (high gloss is best)
A piece of cardboard (larger than your mirror)
Flat thumbtacks
Masking tape

Bamboo skewers ($1.50ish at any grocery store)

Paint stir sticks (check your local hardware or paint store)

Here’s how she did it:

Step one: tape off back of mirror using 16 pieces of tape

Step two: glue paint stir sticks onto the mirror lining up the stick with the tape.

Step three: glue bamboo skewers (she used five between each stick) at varying lengths from the center.

Step four: after about 15 minutes check the position of the sticks…they might have shifted. At this point the glue is tacky enough to hold the sticks in place, but flexible enough that you can reposition any sticks that have shifted. Wait approx. 1 hr 30 min for glue to dry.

Step five:  cover the mirror with tape and break out the spray paint! (a few light coats so the paint doesn’t get too thick)

Step six: After the paint has dried, cut a piece of cardboard to cover the back of the mirror. Use flat thumbtacks to fasten cardboard to the paint stir sticks. Attach a simple hanging bracket from an old picture frame. The mirror is lightweight so you don’t need to find a stud or use heavy hardware.

Hang on the wall and enjoy!

Nice work, Denise!

I’d love to feature a project that you are proud of! Email me at

Getting crafty in the name of One Love!

June 16th, 2011

Last night, some friends & I participated in a really cool service project for a local charity that’s making a difference in the lives of Atlanta’s teens. One Love Generation is a non-profit organization that empowers Atlanta’s youth to create positive change in the community through service projects and social awareness. The program partners local teens with professional artists to collaborate on art projects centered on environmental and philanthropic issues facing our world.

It’s an incredible group…and needless to say, it’s right up my alley. So, I was really excited to be invited to participate.

For this service project, they partnered up with Sole Plus, yet another totally awesome organization that uses art as a tool for social entrepreneurship by giving young artists a chance to create shoe designs and then giving the shoes to those in need.

We sat around tables piled high with Converse sneakers, brushes and paint pallettes and decorated shoes that were designed by and will be gifted to the homeless, teen mothers and patients at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

It was so much fun. We made new friends and collaborated on colors and designs. I even got to meet one of the One Love Generation students, Trevor…a soon-to-be 8th grader so cool he has his own theme song:  “Everything’s better with Trevorrrr!” When asked what his favorite art medium was he replied, “All of it. I just love to create.” Right on, Trevor. Me too.

Here are some photos I snapped along the way.

soon-to-be masterpieces

as intimidating as a blank canvas...luckily, the girls who will be receiving the shoes gave us some tips on what they like, favorite colors, etc.

gotta love a girl after my own heart, she wanted pink & purple!

getting started...

the finished product!

with our friend (and one of One Love's leading ladies) Kelley Hagen

Encouraging youth to discover and cultivate their artistic talents is such a noble effort. It builds self-confidence, improves social skills and helps with academic performance. I encourage everyone to learn more about One Love Generation. Check out their website. Like them on Facebook. Follow them on Twitter. If you’re in Atlanta, watch for upcoming events. Get involved by volunteering or making a donation.  They’re making a difference in the lives of Atlanta’s youth. You can make a difference, too!

A field trip to the antique market!

May 27th, 2011

Remember my mention of the to-do list that keeps growing? Well, one of the items at the top of that list is a dining room table. We really want to find a rustic farmhouse style table. There certainly are a lot to choose from at places like Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn, etc and they are all lovely, but we want to find something with a little bit of individuality. Perhaps an actual antique.

Not too long ago, I took a trip to Scott Antique Market and was blown away. It was my first trip and while I had heard stories of how cool it was, I really wasn’t expecting to be so charmed by the place. It is the world’s largest indoor antique show. It comes to Atlanta once a month and is a mecca for anything and everything you could imagine; antiques, art, pottery, silver, rugs, vintage clothing, collectibles, accessories, jewelry, etc. You could easily wander around the place all day long. I did. And I plan on going back next month. Perhaps I’ll find our dining room table there. I’ll keep you posted for sure.

Here are some random images from my recent trip:

I'm still kicking myself for not buying the orange one...

...proof that you really can find anything and everything!

I loved these refurbished tables!

more along the lines of what we're looking for...

I love these antique desks!

I really liked these free standing cabinets, too. Perfect for a kitchen island!

coolest floor lamps, ever.

 Take a look at all the neat uses for old coffeebean bags!

messenger bag

bar stools

ottoman - how cute?

Market dates are the second weekend of every month. I’m going in June to continue the hunt for our dining room table. Maybe I’ll see you there!

My newest “creation”

May 17th, 2011

Oh how times flies!

Life has been really fun and exciting lately, not that any of you would know since I have been completely M.I.A.  So sorry about that!

Here’s an update:
Last month, Eric & I bought a new house! I didn’t really talk much about it because in this real estate market, it’s not a sure thing until you’re sitting at the closing table. I just didn’t want to jinx anything! It’s a newly renovated 1940’s ranch in one of our favorite intown neighborhoods of  Atlanta. When the original owner had decided to move out, an local designer bought it and transformed it entirely. He must be the last “flipper” in the real estate world. He took down walls, totally renovated the bathrooms and kitchen…and basically turned it into a new house.

We took one look at it in photos and immediately knew that it was meant to be our house. We went to look at it on a Saturday and made an offer the following Monday. In all, it was on the market for three days. Throughout the entire period of negotiations, I was a nervous wreck  that someone would try to buy it out from under us. Thank goodness we had a very patient and reassuring realtor…more on her in a bit.

We moved in a few weekends ago and have been incredibly busy turning this house into our home. We are fortunate that everything on the inside of the house is top-of-the line, ready-to-go. (In fact, it took us a while to figure out how to operate the microwave…and I still think it’s smarter than me) But, there is just SO MUCH to do…order window treatments, buy a washer and dryer, install shelves, hang artwork, etc. Our to-do list somehow gets longer each day….and I simply couldn’t be happier.

The outside of the house has required a little more sweat equity. While in negotiations, the inspector recommended we get an arborist to examine the red oak tree in the front yard. Sadly, what he thought were just a few dead limbs actually turned out to be much worse…the tree was very sick and would be coming down; either by a tree service or by a strong storm. The slope of the lot positioned the tree to fall away from the house. We knew as tragic as it would be to take down this magnificent 100+ year old tree, it would be far more tragic to see it come down and hit a car, neighbor’s house, or worse. So, the tree who we named “Big Red” came down…and left us with a HUGE pile of mulch.  We’re tackling it, one wheelbarrow at a time, spreading the mulch in beds around the yard. It’s a slow-going process but I’m realizing how much I enjoy yardwork…even the manual labor part of it!

So, needless to say, my tools lately have been rakes and shovels instead of glue guns and knitting needles. The scope of my “creations” will be changing for sure.  This new stage in life has inspired me to take upholstery classes, start a vegetable garden, and I think we’re even going to design and build a work shed/art studio in the back yard. I’ll keep you all posted, for sure!

In the meantime, here are some photos of the work-in-progress. We are simply in love with our new home.

pansies & a church pew

main living area (dining room table coming soon)

our favorite room in the house

Um, yea...that's a wet bar. Totally ridiculous.

our little patio

lower backyard

upper backyard (I've got one word for you: POOL)

Finally, I do not possess enough positive words in my vocabulary to describe our realtor, Kate Burke. She should teach a course on how to be a powerful negotiator. She’s that good. What’s even more impressive was her complete objectivity. Regardless of the price of the house we looked at (and we looked at a LOT of them) she remained driven to find the best house for US. She would be the first one to point out possible ‘cons’ on the higher priced homes as easily as she shared excitement in the lower priced homes. There was never a doubt that she was sincerely looking out for our best interest. She’s totally fabulous, and someone I now consider a friend.

So, if you are looking to buy or sell a home in Atlanta, you gotta call her.

Kate Schneider Burke
Dorsey Alston, REALTORS

DIY: my jewelry making debut

April 8th, 2011

Plato is credited with saying, “necessity is the mother of invention.” And, ain’t it the truth!

Case in point, in the weeks leading up to my sister’s wedding, I was on a desperate search for a necklace to wear with my dress. I found one on Etsy that I immediately fell in love with. It was gorgeous and seemed like it was made for my dress. I absolutely loved everything about it…except for the price. I just couldn’t justify it. So…I figured I’d try to make one. Not that I have any experience whatsoever in making jewelry, but it’s not like I had anything to lose, so I gave it a shot.

A few years ago, my sister gave me her jewelry-making toolkit. For a few years, she made the cutest earrings and bracelets and had an impressive tackle box that housed all of her beads and wire and tools. I was happy to inherit it but I had never even cracked it open.  I think it’s pretty awesome that her wedding gave me the chance to dust off all her old supplies and see if the jewelry-making talent ran in the family.

I took a trip to AmericasMart in downtown Atlanta. It’s the largest wholesale marketplace in the country with (literally) thousands of showrooms that sell clothing, accessories, shoes, housewares, and fine jewelry at wholesale prices. It’s a heavenly place!

I invested in about $40 worth of beads and spent a Saturday morning armed with needle nose pliers and heavyweight fishing line. I certainly won’t say it was easy, but once I got into the swing of it, it was actually kind of  fun.

Here are some photos of the process and a shot of the finished product taken at my sister’s wedding.  

necklace-making nirvana

not your dad's tacklebox...

I'll be honest, I had no idea where to start...

so I started in the center and worked my way out

making some progress...

I actually liked the way it was turning out!

The finished product! (Not as lovely as my friend, Laura...but I was pretty happy with it!)

I really like the necklace and I even got a few compliments on it…but the hours that it took to make it gave me an appreciation for why the price tag was so high on the one that I found on Etsy!