Second Helpings

Second Helpings: Painted Chairs

I don’t know what makes people think matched sets of things are so special. Personally, I prefer the intentionally mismatched. The sets where everything is the same, but different, like in SET, the game.

GOOD……………………………BETTER……………………..BEST:

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So when I set up our new cosy dining room and we needed two more chairs to round up our seating capability to four I looked for a couple of “Windsors” to go with the two we already had. I found two which were similar — same rounded back, but smaller — giving me the kind of mismatched set I like the best.

Then I decided to paint them in entirely different ways.

The first, I painted black. You may have noticed by now, I love black as a background.

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I painted glazed donuts with sprinkles as the motif. Better I should sit on them than the reverse, if you know what I mean!

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I used acrylic paint and sealed with Minwax Polycrylic Sealer.

For the second chair I looked to my traffic box painting “Good Luck Sweet Cookie” for inspiration and cobbled together a variety of Chinese mofifs.

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I used three shades of blue, and metallic copper acrylic paint and sealed it the same as the first chair.

I’m pretty sure the characters translate to “Do not sit on the Donuts.”

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Second Helpings? Yes! The same but different? Yes!
Intentionally Mismatched? Yes!

SET!

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Second Helpings: Crab-Walker

Every once in a while my art actually gets to serve a purpose beyond just looking good. I do decoratively paint things I use — boxes, spoons, chairs, doors, floors even — but this item has turned out to be useful in a way I didn’t anticipate when I painted it a couple of years ago.

Ladies and Germs, the Crab-Walker…

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Yep. That’s a walker. A pretty cool one actually. It has wheels and brakes, and a cushy seat which hides a removable wire basket for carrying your picnic or art supplies.

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Marilyn Cosho gave it to me on the off chance I might want to paint it for a show we both participated in called “Helpers” which was sponsored by IPUL as the opening exhibit at the CAAC.

Evidently it’s not the sort of thing art collectors collect however, so after the show, and a stint hanging around IPUL, it came back to my house where it provided alternative patio seating for the most adventurous of my guests.

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Now it turns out this unintended Second Helping is really, truly “helpful” and even more serendipitously, “zodiacalogically appropriately” helpful because it now belongs to a Cancer!

So if you see the Crab-Walker and its new owner while you’re out and about in Boise give them a shout out, but don’t distract the walker. Service Second Helpings need to stay focused!

And to its new owner let me just add — Swift Recovery! I hope this makes it easier for you to “Walk-n-Roll” until your broken wing has mended!

Second Helpings: Tourist Tapestry Pillows

I think of these “Tourist Travesties”…er, “Tapestries” as being the equivalent of paintings on black velvet for your floor. Not that anybody actually ever uses them as rugs. Come to think of it, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen them truly “used” at all. At least not the kinds that depict scenes of nature or far off exotic places.

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When I was in college I had several mini “oriental rugs” in my dorm room, and I did use those on my floor. I wish I could find some of them now, they would make great pillows.

Anyway, what makes these “tapestries” Second Helpings is that I cut them into sections and paint and sequin designs onto those sections, and then turn them into pillows. Uno, dos, tres chic!

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This is a set of four I made from a lovely sky, mountain, forest and water vista. Mother Nature would be so proud.

I first painted (using acrylic paint mixed with textile medium so the paint would remain flexible and not crack), and then sequined, the symbols for Earth:

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Air:

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Water:

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and Yin/Yang, which represents the whole catastrophe:

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I have also made a set from a technicolor Indian tapestry including a Taj Mahal-esque edifice and a peacock:

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You can get quite a few pillows out of one “tapestry.” I buy inserts at a fabric store like JoAnn’s and personally prefer square, but you can buy your inserts first and tailor your tapestry’s image to fit your sensibility.

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Now that I know what to do with these “Tourist Tapestries” do you think I can find even one with dogs playing poker? Or a sword wielding bullfighter? Or swooning Mayan virgin?

I know, the hunt is half the fun, but if you’ve got ’em and don’t want ’em, now you know who does!

Second Helpings: Sewing Birds

Sewing birds have got to be my favorite Second Helpings objects to paint. I had no idea they even existed until a couple of years ago when my friend Marilyn brought me one she had for me to fancy up.

This is that first bird:

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Your scissors make the beak and topknot, there are padded wings to use as pin cushions, places to put your spools of thread, and a little drawer for your thimbles or the odd button.

They’re so sweet they make your teeth hurt just to look at them!

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I don’t find sewing birds very often but now I always buy them when I stumble upon one. I found these two at my favorite secondhand store soon after finishing Marilyn’s bird. Makes me wonder how many I missed before I knew to look for them.

Dagnabit.

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You may remember my finding this tweetheart a few months ago when you see this BEFORE picture:

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And here are the AFTER photos in sequence as I painted the entire bird with acrylic paint — including the felt wings which were painted with acrylic paint mixed with Textile Medium so the paint won’t crack.

When I was finished with all the colors and detail I wanted to add I sealed it with a coat of Minwax Polycrylic Sealer.

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I even got a brand new pair of pink sewing scissors to complete the look! Who’s a fancy bird now!

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So keep your eyes peeled for the odd objects, the misfit toys, the ugly ducklings — they make for the most spectacular transformations. And if you honestly don’t know what to do with them, just pass them on to me. I paint everything!

Second Helpings: Painted Lady, Woodstock, IL

Today for Second Helpings, it’s Deja vu all over again!

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I mentioned a few posts back that we lived in Woodstock, IL and that I had had the pleasure of transforming a humdrum Victorian into a standout Painted Lady. That house is today’s secondhand transformation.

This is what the house looked like from the side before we made the dramatic changes to the color scheme:

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And here’s a view of the same side after I boldly chose to go where no one had gone for one hundred years!

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So you’re thinking OK, you’ll allow as how an old house can be considered secondhand (I think we were actually it’s third owners) and since I do “paint everything” it qualifies as one of my art projects. But even taking into account my love of word play and visual puns — February second, secondhand, second hand on the clock…. What the heck does my Painted Lady have to do with Groundhog Day?

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Well here’s the thing. The movie starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell, which actually happened to be one of Mike’s and my favorites long before we ever moved there, was made in Woodstock, IL. True story.

And even cooler than that, the street that the “Bed & Breakfast” that Bill Murray stays in was three houses down from our house:

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The movie filmed in 1993 and we didn’t move there until 10 years later, but there were still annual tours on February 2nd through town and once I looked out my window to see Stephen Tobolowsky (“Needle-nose Ned”) leading a small group past our house to the “B & B” at the end of the block.

Here’s a picture taken probably sometime in February. See icicles, and the snow on the hedge?

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I think the groundhog must have seen his shadow every February 2nd because winter always lasted a very long time in Woodstock, IL.

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In spite of the cold, Woodstock was a wonderful village to live in. Our house was only four blocks from the town square and I made many friends in the too short time we called it home. They’ve probably forgiven me by now for shaking up tradition with my more colorful approach!

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So for February 2nd, my Second Helpings how-to advice is Shake it Up, and Make it Colorful, and do it TODAY. Because as Bill Murray says in the the movie: “Well what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn’t one today.”

Happy Groundhog Day everybody!

Second Helpings: Wooden Animal Puzzle

The first stop I make at my favorite secondhand store is the aisle with all the wooden objects. I’m usually hunting with a list in hand, which is never a good idea.

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(Never shop secondhand with a list. Always buy BEFORE you need it. That way you have it when you do need it, and like me, you can create your own monument to materialism.)

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I found this wooden animal puzzle when I was looking for something else — which I may, or may not, have found on some later day with a completely different, equally unrequited wish-list in hand. Such is secondhand serendipity.

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Like the crocheted blankets I collect and pom pow, wooden hobby-kit orphans are a dime a dozen at these stores. They are all made by a kindly grandpa caught in a 1968 workshop time-warp endlessly carving small pieces of wood into shapes which are vaguely reminiscent of animals or furniture or farming implements and which fit together in cunning jigsaw arrangements. Get jiggy with grandpa!

Too far?

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This puzzle is wood. Pine I believe. I paint right on the wood with the acrylic paint because the acrylic paint serves as its own primer. Some colors are absorbed more by the wood than others. Pure hues without the addition of white tend to be more translucent and require more coats. So red might take 3 or 4 coats, but pink only 1.

Once I’m happy with the surface pattern and the paint is dry then I seal it with the Minwax Polycrylic Sealer.

And…Bric-a-brac-er fire cracker sis Boom bah! There’s another Second Helpings for you…Rah Rah Rah!!

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Second Helpings: Cowgirl Boot Reboot

For this installment of Second Helpings I shopped my own closet. I have been buying “garments with history” since I cut my sartorial teeth as a teenager in New Orleans shopping at Yesterday’s Clothes and Matilda’s in the French Quarter. However I draw the line at footwear. Shoes, slippers, boots, I buy new.

These boots were new about 20 years ago. They have been resoled and reheeled twice, so I figured they qualified as a Second Helping when I painted them a year ago. I’ve worn them a lot as you can see…

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It was time for a Cowgirl Boot Reboot!

I polished the unpainted leather first being careful not to touch the painted parts. The polish would resist the paint and I didn’t want that.

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Then I retouched the paint where it was starting to flake or fade.

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Finally I gave all the painted parts a coat of sealer with my trusty Minwax Polycrylic Sealer, and these boots are ready to get down, turn around Cowgirl boot scoot’n boogie!

Second Helpings: Pom Pow Blankets

Besides the XL men’s plaid flannel shirt, the item most likely to be overstocked in every secondhand store I’ve ever been in is the crocheted blanket.

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For somewhere between $1.99 and $6.99 you can find a dizzying array of lap blankets, throws and even twin sized blankets in palettes which I can only assume were dreamed up by cartoon characters passing as perfectly ordinary grandmothers. At least those are my favorites.

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Never satisfied leaving well enough alone, I decided to add pom poms. All over. I never have warmed to the “less is more” way of thinking. Don’t ever plan to.

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To make this many pom poms and have them all be consistent it is very helpful to have a tool, and my tool of choice is the Clover pom pom maker. It comes in 3 sizes and you can order it from their site, Amazon, or find it at your local craft store.

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I can make one small pom pom in 5 minutes, 12 in an hour, and cover a good sized blanket in a Lilyhammer marathon.

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Just think, you can justify your next Netflix marathon with not only keeping art out of the landfill but also bringing a smile to the hearts of obsessive crocheters everywhere. Olek excepted.

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* Pom Pow blankets are Lula approved.

Second Helpings: Kantha Stitched Quilts

In addition to finding quilts hugely inspiring for surface pattern design on cigar boxes, dishes, jewelry boxes, and doors, I’m also rather fond of the actual thing.

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And guess what? You can find handmade comforters which have not yet been quilted at just about any secondhand store. My hand to God.

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Personally I like the weird ones. The thoughtless fabric combinations. Though once in a blue moon I do find some real gems like this sweet little polyester number. (Somebody had great color sense and absolutely no tactile sensibility whatsoever!)

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Once you have your un-quilted comforter then mend it if it needs it, wash and dry it, and baste its layers in a big grid or parallel columns just to help keep it square. Then you can begin quilting.

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I do the Kantha stitch which is pretty much just straight stitching in straight lines. I use embroidery floss in colors which contrast with the fabric so they stand out, and I follow the shape of the piece of fabric I’m stitching within.

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One of my favorite stores carries quilts just like this for beaucoup bucks and every time I see them I do the math and figure I’ve got around two grand worth of quilts for about the cost of a year’s worth of streaming Netflix.
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In fact I think I might just hotten my cup, pile on the Kantha quilts and watch a couple or five episodes of Orange is the New Black.
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Nothing wrong with my color sense!