Knitting Update

Just a quick update on where I’m at with knitting these days.

The sweater that I was working on out of the textured yarn is completed. The pattern itself was relativity easy to follow. The yarn was great to work with. Size wise it feels a little big, but I can’t honestly say I would want it any smaller. This is what it looks like on:

I am finishing up a sweater I started some time ago. It kind of makes me chuckle actually. When I picked up my knitting needles a few years ago, realizing that I could read and easily understand a pattern, I started browsing through the myriad of patterns for free and for sale online. It didn’t take me long to decide I wanted to make a sweater. And that is with only having a scarf under my belt!. I started it and actually was making some progress when I ran into a rough spot. I felt a little overwhelmed by it so I set the whole thing aside. A couple of weeks ago I picked it up again and am chipping away at it. It’s not all that difficult but there is a lot to it so it takes awhile. This is where I’m at with it:

I have decided though that on June 1st I will put this project aside. (well I might pick it up now and again). I need to do this because I have items to work on in order to be ready for fall shows. I look forward to that!

Oh, yes, I have also started a pair of socks. I am doing them with what is called Magic Loop. I love the concept now if I have the patience for something on a smaller scale. I did attempt this in the beginning. I completed one only to not be able to match up the second one. I have since learned a solution to that. I’ll post on that when they are complete.

Have a good day!
Doris

How To Hire A Painter

I have had my business of Decorative Artwork since 1992. Over the course of those years I have worked with many painters from different areas. The majority of the time things went well for the client. And for myself as well. But, I have run across some disasters too. Here are some tips for hiring the right painter for your project.

#1…..Get References! Don’t expect a quote over the phone. And for big projects, hopefully you could actually see some of their work. Here’s an example of what could go wrong. –
I had a client a few years back that needed their 2 story family room painted. It needed some patching and in some areas on the ceiling there needed to be drywall tape replaced. My client got the name of a painter from someone she didn’t know but she told me the guy was excited about the job and didn’t mind working on scaffolding. I finished my decorative painting before the painter and his buddy were done. But I had to go back the next day to be paid. When I went back my client was almost in tears. The painters had “finished” and they had been paid. Well, she brings me in to show me what they had done to her family room ceiling. They had used blue painters tape instead of drywall tape to fix the areas that needed it! And the tape was starting to peel off. She had called the painter to discuss it with him only to find out he had left town.
That is the worst I have seen. Most painters are reputable and trustworthy. But…..
Get References!

#2…..When you do find a painter you can trust, if they say they need a deposit, give it to them. After the economic downturn I’ve known contractors that just don’t want to run a tab at the paint store anymore. Probably holds true for many trades.

#3…..I think this may be as important as #1. Let them do their job. Don’t be underfoot and try to keep children busy with other things.

#4…..Pay promptly. Times are different now.

As I said I have worked with many different painters over the years. And now I only recommend one painter. If it doesn’t work for the client then they are on their own finding one. The painter I recommend is
Rick Wehrman….I have known him for maybe 20 years. I not only recommend him because he is a great painter, ( his son right along with him, and sometimes his daughter as well), but they are great with customers. They go in and do their job and do it well. For me, it is important to have a good rapport with the painter on the job. It makes my life a lot easier.

I finished up a portion of a large project with Rick and crew. Here is an example of how he makes my life easier.
The client wanted their foyer tray ceiling done. If I did it it would mean bringing in scaffolding, hiring someone to put it up and then take it down again. Rick has done bits of faux finishing for me before so I asked him if he would take it on and he said he would. The faux that was to be done in the tray in the foyer was the same one that I had done in the dining room tray ceiling.

Besides having good work done, the foyer tray ceiling was less costly because Rick uses an extension ladder to do them. Saves a great deal of time as well. The photos in this post show the tray ceiling in progress and then finished. Doesn’t it look great?!

I hope you consider this the next time you are looking for a painter. It could save you heartache and money.

Have a great week!
Doris

“The Chair” Reveal

Remember this chair? This is my Goodwill find. I paid $7.00 for it. Here is what is printed under the seat –

I mentioned in an earlier post about how I was put off by the “gazillion” staples in the blue velvet chair I had come across. I finally caved and decided to tackle it. I loved the process. I love the chair. Of course, there are things I wish I knew before I started. One thing I recommend …….do not try to rush it.

My original plan was to recover it and paint the wood. But seeing as it was going to involve more work anyway, I decided to strip the wood and do a finish on it that I have been wanting to try.The finish is done in layers. This is something I have always found with paint – the wonderful effects you get when you layer paint and glaze and top coats. The first detail photo is one of the wood details. I added a little Warm Silver metallic paint to accent the design.

The arms of the chair have detail too. The design works well with the type of finish I applied.

And……finally…….”the chair” completed –

What do you think? The fabric choice surprised me. I don’t ordinarily lean in this direction, design and color wise. But when I saw this one it just seemed to belong to the chair.

Would I do it again? Right now I say no. But with time passing and if I came across the right piece, who knows? It definitely gave me a new respect for upholsterers.

On another note, I went to the Kane County Flea Market yesterday. Best around in my book. This year I am looking for 2 old screen doors to turn into displays. I will be checking at the Morris Markets as well which run from May to October.

Have a good day everyone!
Doris

Knitting and A Freebie!

I mentioned knitting ……it has been a blessing during this time of recuperation. It has literally kept me going when discouragement has taken over.

Right now I just finished a sweater using a wonderful yarn. It is actually my favorite so far. It is thick and thin as you can see and has great color to it.

The sweater pattern and yarn I picked up at a yarn shop in Decorah, IA when I visited my sister who lives there. A lovely shop which I will visit again and take pictures. They have an online presence as well. The pattern is for Intermediate knitters but I think any adventurous Beginner could handle it. I adjusted the sleeve and the neckline a little.

I attempted a sweater early on and it was a bit overwhelming. I was determined to get back to it once I had more knitting under my belt.

The first sweater that I completed is actually a summer shell. It is made up of a variety of lace stitches. It was a lot easier than I expected and seemed to go quickly due to changing stitches often. It’s made of 100% cotton yarn.

Designing a winter cowl was my first pattern making venture.

The next item was fingerless gloves using a favorite cable stitch.

And the most recent design is for the warmer months. It is called Airy Denim Scarf and is made from 100% recycled blue jean yarn. Upcycling!

These patterns are for sale in my Etsy shop etsy.com/shop/dcartwork on ravelry.com and craftsy.com. By the way, the patterns were tested and approved on Ravelry

FREEBIE:
If you choose to follow my blog you can choose any one of these patterns for free. They are in pdf format. You can email me at dorisdjrdc@aol.com

Knitting will undoubtably be mentioned here again.

Have a good week!
Doris

The Best Ever Chicken and Dumplings!

CAUTION! Maybe I should put a disclaimer here. This is by no means a dieting recipe. It is a good hearty meal that goes over well all year round.

Every time I have asked my son Chuck what he would like for his birthday he always says Chicken and Dumplings. And now it is passing down to my grandson.

This is a chicken meal I came up with years ago when trying to create a different (for me anyway) way to serve chicken. It remains to be one of the more economical meals to feed a family.

It’s funny, I didn’t realize how endearing this recipe is to me. I hesitated posting on it because I wasn’t sure I wanted to share it. But here we are!

Whereas in the beginning I would buy a whole chicken and cut it up myself, now I purchase breasts, legs, and a few thighs already cut up. These are the pieces that are the main favorites.

Now, unfortunately, the chicken needs to have the skin on. I have tried using skinless and boneless and it just isn’t the same. However, if you start out using boneless and skinless chicken your family may not notice the difference. The gravy will still get you in the calorie count though.

I trim off any excess fat that I can before frying the chicken. I fry it in a little vegetable oil until it is browned. Then I drain off any grease that I can.

The pan gets put back on the stove with medium heat and I add enough water until it reaches about a half inch from the top. I’m old fashioned in that I still use boullion cubes, adding 8-10 of them to the simmering chicken. Turn down the heat and let it simmer for a good 20 minutes, checking it to make sure it isn’t sticking and that the cubes are dissolving.

Also, at this time I add dry mustard. Now I know that may sound a little odd and I don’t remember what possessed me years ago to add it, but it works. It just punches up the flavor. I use a heaping tablespoon for a 12-14 inch pan’s worth. Salt and pepper also get added to taste. I also tend to add a little garlic powder here.

After checking the chicken for doneness I remove it and place it in a bowl nearby. Using a whisk, I stir the gravy to loosen anything stuck to the pan getting it ready to thicken. I use cornstarch but you can use whatever you like to create a good thick gravy. About a heaping tablespoon of cornstarch with a little water added to it first should thicken it properly. If not, repeat.

When it is good and thick add the chicken back to the pan, letting it simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring often.

It can be served from the stove or put in a large dish for the table.

The dumplings? Well, the recipe I use is one handed down to me from my childrens’ grandmother. She played an important role in my life. I would need to ask her family if it would be okay to broadcast her recipe. Any good dumpling recipe will work. Or mashed potatoes. Also, something that I have begun to use for another dish is frozen egg noodles. When cooked they taste similar to dumplings and are very much like homemade noodles.

Enjoy!
D.

Shabby Chic Bud Vases

You may have seen these around, but did you know how easy they are to create? Simple. First of all you need to get yourself to Goodwill. They usually have a good supply and several styles of bud vases and cheap too.

At your favorite art and craft store you can pick out the colors of paint that you want to use. I used white, pastel pink, blue and green. It doesn’t have to be the kind of paint you use on glass, actually it may be better if it isn’t. I used standard craft paint for mine.
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The main thing is to make sure the vases are clean before you paint them. If they really need it rub them with alchohol to remove any residual dirt.

I put 2 coats of paint on mine using a small craft brush (a foam brush would work as well). Once they have dried thoroughly, usually overnight, they are ready for the next step which is sanding.
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A medium grit sandpaper works best. When sanding the vases you don’t have to sand too hard to get the raised surfaces clear of paint. They should look a little rough, that’s part of the charm. Once I had them sanded I took a look at them and decided I wanted to tone the color down a little and give them a little more of a distressed look. I did this by mixing a little of the white paint with a little glaze medium and brush it on. I immediately wiped the glaze down leaving it to sit in the crevices. Let dry overnight. (You don’t have to buy a whole quart of glaze for the distressing, the craft stores sell small bottles of it in the craft paint aisle.)
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You can use them as individual bud vases or you can do as I have done by putting them in a grouping with an assortment of flowers. They would make a nice addition to an Easter arrangement too!
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Have fun!
Doris
https://www.etsy.com/shop/dcartwork

Painting Kitchen Cabinets

Hello there!

Have you considered painting your kitchen cabinets and don’t know where to start? Or maybe a furniture piece? The basics are the same for both really.

I have been working on a project lately that I will be posting on over the next couple of weeks. My client wants her kitchen island changed from a manufactured dark cherry finish to an offwhite with a gray glaze over it. This is a before photo:
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The transformation is quite dramatic. They have actually been working on changing their entire kitchen including my redoing the walls from a green faux finish to one with more neutral tones. New drapery treatments are being made as well.

I can’t stress enough that prep work is essential and well worth the time and effort.

For starters, if you are going to paint cabinets make sure that they are clean and free of grease spatters. This will help the paint layers to adhere to the wood (or whatever material they are made out of).

Remove the cabinet doors and drawers if you are able. (If you can’t remove them they can still be painted it’s just a little trickier.) While you are removing them, and this is important, mark or number which piece goes where. From experience I know what a difficulty it can be if they are not labeled.

Once everything is set in place all of the surfaces can be sanded. Now, they don’t need to be sanded to bare wood, they just need to have a little tooth to them so that the primer and paint will adhere.

All set to start? Is it safe for me to assume that you have taped off and laid out dropcloths? If you need help with that then leave a comment here and I will reply.

I applied the primer with synthetic brush and a 4″ roller. It goes on easier and smoother than just brushing the whole thing.This is what it should look like when finished:
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And with that you are well on your way to having a new facelift for your kitchen!

Have a good weekend everybody!
Doris

Faux Finishing 102

Basecoating

Whether you are going to do a faux finish or if you are just planning on painting your walls, you will need a good basecoat on the surface.

For faux finishing the best type of paint that I have found for a base is latex in an eggshell finish. When I say eggshell I am not talking about the color eggshell, I am talking about the sheen of the paint. An eggshell finish is in between a flat and a satin. Satin can be good to use, but not necessary, and you can save your pennies to be used elsewhere. There are the matte finish paints out now, but they are too close to a flat finish. The reason that you need a bit of a sheen is so that the paint can move easily. However it doesn’t mean that the more sheen the better. If you try using a semigloss or more you will find your faux to be a little “slippery”.

Some painting tips that I have used over the years is, number one….have a good paintbrush. A fellow contractor had told me about the kind to use and I seldom use anything else. It is a 2 1/2″ angled brush. I believe it is also called a sash brush. Most brush companies make this size. I go with a nylon/polyester one for use with all paints. I am picky, though, about whoich 2 1/2′ brush I choose. I want one with a more slender handle. Maybe it’s just because I am a woman, but I find it to be more comfortable to use, especially if I have alot of painting to do.
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Tape is another important item. Tape sure isn’t what it once was. You go to buy a roll of tape and you may find a whole aisle of just different types of tape. Yes, the blue tape is best to use when taping off for a paint job. For me, I have found the regular blue tape to work the best. The ones that I have tried that are especially for painting just don’t stick well for me and the paint then goes under the tape and onto the moulding or cabinet or whatever. Defeats the purpose.

As far as rollers and roller covers go, I tend to go for the lighter weight. The rollers themselves have lasted me a long time. I know that when it comes to the roller covers some people use specific ones. I tend to go for the less expensive and then just throw them out after I have finished a room. They are usually only good for one coat. The more expensive ones can be washed out and reused.

Along with the rollers come the paint trays. I use the liners with the trays and discard them after each use. They will keep your trays in good shape and longer lasting. I have found that repeated washing of the trays causes them to rust.

Dropcloths are another important material item as well. Here again there is such a variety. I find the cloth ones to be way too heavy and then you have to go to a laundromat to wash them in their larger washing machines. The plastic ones are a pain if you ask me. To me they are only good for covering furniture. The dropcloths I have found to work the best for me are the paper ones that have a nonabsorbent backing. They can last a long time when treated right. They are relatively lightweight too.

If you were to ask 5 different painters/decorative painters you would probably get several different answers and solutions. To be honest I would like to suggest that if you are hiring a professional let them do their job. They most likely have found what works best for them. And this is what they do, they are going to me more knowledgeable on the subject.

So does this officially fit under the Faux Finishing category? Yes, indeed. If you aren’t doing the basecoating yourself you have to make sure that whoever does do it used the right kind of paint. And learning about the materials involved may lead you to have a new respect for the people in the trade.

Good luck to you if you have a project in the works or are thinking of one in the future!

Gold Leafing

Hello there!

I thought I would give a lesson in gold leafing. This is something that can have spectacular results, and, surprisingly, is not that difficult to do. It can be a little messy but in a good way. I’ll explain that later.

The materials that you will need are an older paint brush (you will end up throwing this one away) or purchase a small spongebrush. You will also need sizing adhesive and the gold leaf itself. This is a synthetic gold leaf, which is more common and alot less costly. I would suggest you find a piece to work on on the smaller rather than larger side. When you are comfortable with that you can move onward to something larger. Maybe you would like to practice on a foamcore board as I am showing here. Or have you been wanting to jazz up a frame? That is a good project with easy results.

You also will need paint in a color that you would like to have show through in areas. Black and red are the most common, but any color will work. Don’t go to any great expense with this for starters. A small bottle of acrylic craft paint will do just fine. I am using black.
Basecoat the piece or sample with 2 coats of the craft paint. When thoroughly dry, using your old brush, apply the sizing adhesive. it will be white in color but dries clear. I will tell you that when it dries it is quite sticky, so beware.

After your adhesive has become clear, you are ready to start the fun. The gold leafing comes in 4″x4″ sheets. Remove one and apply it to the adhesive. Here I have kept them in a straight order but you may choose to angle them or tear them into pieces. Now, this is where the little messy part starts. the sheets of gold leaaf are quite thin and fragile. When clients have asked about it I tell them to think of butterfly wings and you almost have the delicacy of gold leaf. It will tend to float around in pieces if allowed to. The sheets will invariably tear somewhat, don’t worry about that. If you notice in the one photo you can see straight lines of black showing through. In the next photo not so much. That is because I went back in with the broken pieces and filled in some of the area. I like to leave small background areas to show through. it breaks up the straight lines and also can give it more character, I think. A good thing to use to help put it down is a small brush. Here I have used a mop brush, but an inexpensive chipwood brush will work just fine. After you have applied as much gold leafing as you want you will need to burnish it. All that is is taking a rag (old tshirt is good, or soft paper towel, or even kleenex), bunch it up a little , and rub the surface, ideally in circular motions. You will be able to see the difference even though it is subtle.
Here are photos to get an idea of what the process would look like, and then I added an elaborate vestibule ceiling that I completed.
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Behold! Your own gold leafing!

In a few weeks I will be using gold leaf in another project that is for Easter. I think that you will like it!

Banana Split Cake

Did the name catch your eye?

With good reason!

This is a delicious and fun recipe to serve. My mind must be on sweets because of Valentine’s Day coming up. At any rate, I haven’t made this recipe in a long time. I was first given it by a friend when my children were young and I was a member of the West Chicago Mother’s Club. We would all exchange recipes and childrearing ideas. We also had put on a yearly Halloween parade and run a well-child clinic once a month. It was a good group and I have alot of fond memories from that time.

Enjoy the recipe! I have also found it to be a good conversation starter.

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Banana Split Cake

2C. graham cracker crumbs
1/2C. butter, melted
1/2C. chocolate syrup
……………..
2C. powdered sugar
1/2C. butter, softened
2 eggs
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3 bananas, sliced
1 can crushed pineapple, drained
1-9oz container Cool Whip
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Combine first 2 ingredients, pat into a 9x13pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Drizzle chocolate over it when cooled.
Combine next 3 ingredients and beat until fluffy. Spread this evenly over the chocolate syrup.
Arrange bananas over the butter mixture. Top with pineapple. Cover with Cool Whip.
Sprinkle with nuts, drizzle chocolate syrup over it and add maraschino cherries,
Cool and serve.

I am not very tech savvy, although, to my credit, I have come a long way since starting this blog. It is being a fun and challenging journey. If I am ever late in getting a blog out it is either because I am having technical difficulties (which is really the biggest reason) or I am sick in bed.

Have a great day and by all means, Stay Warm!