Second Helpings

Second Helpings: Painted Cigar Boxes

These may really qualify as “one man’s trash” as opposed to secondhand castoffs finding new life as objet d’art, but either way they start out ordinary, end up special, and that’s enough for me.

I’m talking about painted cigar boxes:

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You should have no problem finding a variety of boxes at smoke shops, or if you have a grandpa or an uncle, or even an interesting aunt who relishes a fragrant Cuban now and then (well who wouldn’t?) you may be lucky enough to find these boxes closer to home.

Once you’ve got the box then all you need is paint. I use that same acrylic paint I’ve been painting everything else in creation with…

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and when I paint I let little bits of the original cigar brand artwork peek through. I like to pick out words or phrases like “ART” or “CAN DO.”

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My patterns lean toward the geometric and often look like quilts. Not much of a stretch for me I guess.

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Sometimes I play with the original images on the box and add more of my own to create a little story.

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So if your recycling is more likely to end up in your studio than in the blue bin out back, and you would never refer to a raw material as trash — consider the humble cigar box.

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And if you run across any fragrant Cubans let me know. I’m working on my Interesting Aunt credential.

Second Helpings: Painted Christmas Dishes

Painted dishes are a bit of a repeat for my Second Helpings posts, but then knowing “I paint everything!” you can figure I’ve painted quite a few dishes, and these are definitely in keeping with the season.

I painted an entire set of black glazed dishes including dinner plates, bowls, cups and saucers with winter evergreens, holly berries, ivy and acorns.

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I had fun with the cups and saucers, assigning 1, 2, 3 or 4 holly berries to each set. Just in cases.

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We needed more than four dinner plates however, and being out of the black glazed plates, I decided to paint four white ones, and I used another Pebeo product for added oomph.

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The new Pebeo product is the Pebeo Cloisonne Outliner. It comes in a bunch of colors — I’ve gotten it in black, white, red, and turquoise — and my favorites, the metallics: Copper, Vermeil and Gold.

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It’s a dimensional outliner, so after you paint with the Pebeo Porcelaine 150 then you apply this last. Make sure it sticks to the surface — don’t leave gaps between it and the plate, but don’t be too gloppy or it will fall off or get knocked off later when you are using the dishes.

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Have fun with it. It’s a little like icing a holiday cookie — only you bake it after you ice it, and I don’t recommend you take a bite (though I have certainly bitten into some Christmas cookies that were as hard and tasteless as I’d guess these plates would be) — Ok, ok I’m done.

Remember, you may not be able to play with your food, but you can always play with your dishes!

Second Helpings: Christmas Lantern

Any excuse to paint a cast off works for me, but Christmas definitely brings out my inner Santa’s little helper. Plus, I think you’ve gathered by now that I’m a sucker for the misfits.

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This little number was far from the typical shiny, eye-catching item destined for centerpiece glory we’ve come to expect. It had misfit written all over it. Dusty, and rusty, I knew it would be perfect for a Second Helping.

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It is made out of metal. Some kind of metal that rusts. Not very heavy, it can’t be pure anything — I guess it’s what my mom would call “pot metal.” But being metal you can’t paint it with regular acrylic because that would just peel off.

Luckily for us there is an Acrylic craft paint that is made specifically for painting on metal, and any art supply or craft store should stock it, or be able to get it for you.

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Don’t confuse it with metallic acrylic paint! Make sure it says right on it “no prep metal paint for painting metal surfaces.”

Besides being made for painting on metal it behaves exactly like any other acrylic paint, so just go ahead and use it in the same way. Mix your colors, paint your piece, clean up with water.

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Sometimes all it takes is the right materials, and a second look. Polka dot snow fall, swirls on reindeer, a balsam scented candle, and this misfit can be my centerpiece anytime.

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Second Helpings: Etched and Painted Wine Bottles

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This Second Helpings project is a combination of two mediums I’ve talked about in past posts — acid etch for glass, and porcelaine paint for use on dishes.

There is a Pebeo paint which is made especially for glass and it does not need to be fired in the oven, however if you are planning to use it on glassware you intend to drink out of and wash and use again I would recommend you take the extra step to ensure its permanence.

The Pebeo paint for glass is called Pebeo Vitrea 160 and it is also water based and comes in both opaque and transparent colors.

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For this project I etched the glass first. On the lighter green bottle with the round ornaments I just painted the acid etch in swooshes leaving lots of untouched bottle for painting the ornaments later.

On the darker green bottle I cut out squares of plastic contact paper in the shapes of presents and stuck them to the bottle. I then covered the entire bottle with the acid etch cream and let it do its work. When I rinsed it off there were present shaped “windows” where the contact paper had been and I painted presents in some, but not all, of those spaces.

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There are lots of cool things to do with the finished bottles. You can simply admire your handiwork with the sun coming through them. You can put in various spouts and use them for oil and vinegar, or dishwashing liquid. You can turn them into oil lamps with kits available at craft or candle stores. Or you can add little candelabra inserts like this one, which was a gift to me.

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Now if only Hans Christian Anderson had had a little more imagination he might have introduced the Little Match Girl to a nice Wino and together they might have come up with something more festive, like this….

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Cheers!

Second Helpings: Gee’s Bend Jewelry Box

Jewelry boxes and chests in all variations of delicacy and heft can be found crammed in with the mismatched sets of salad bowls and oddly shaped cutting boards from well intentioned children’s shop class Christmas projects at your favorite secondhand store. My personal favorites are the jewelry boxes which never saw the mass market. Like this one.

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This is a wooden box with metal hardware, which I painted with acrylic paint. The kind of acrylic paint you can buy at any art supply or craft store for less than a dollar, in a hundred different colors with names like Tuscan Red or Bluegrass Green.

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When the box was completely painted I sealed it with Minwax Polycrylic water based acrylic sealer. I go through gallons of this stuff. It comes in satin and gloss finishes, washes up with water, and forms a clear, hard, protective surface that you can literally walk on — it’s the same sealer I use on the rugs I paint on the floor, like the one I just finished in my dining room.

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What made this project special was my inspiration. Ever since I saw a traveling exhibition of the Quilts of Gee’s Bend at the Art Museum in Milwaukee, WI in 2004 I have been over the moon for their patterns. I have a book of 30 postcards from that show which I refer to over and over.

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I referred to at least six of the quilts for this jewelry box like this one called “Medallion” by Loretta Pettway for the top:

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and “Strips” by Annie Mae Young for the inside front:

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The inside of the doors was inspired by “Pig in a Pen” by Minnie Sue Coleman:

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“Housetop” four-block “Half Log Cabin” variation by Lottie Mooney inspired the right side of the jewelry box:

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A quilt by Martha Jane Pettway described as only a center medallion with multiple borders and cornerstones is on the left side:

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And on the back, one of my absolute favorites, “Bars and String-pieced Columns” by Jessie T. Pettway:

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So much of my surface pattern design is inspired or informed by patterns from other cultures, or as I’ve mentioned before from the traditional or domestic arts. My intention is never to copy exactly — though the element of “flattery” in this piece is obvious — rather to use the patterns together to form something new. The inspiration for this piece came from quilts but the end result would barely cover your lap, much less look good spread on your bed. The end result in my opinion is, nevertheless, a treasure.

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Second Helpings: Etched Glass Votives

Secondhand and Dollar stores are the place to find clear glass vases and votives in all sizes. Sometimes you can find the blue ones which are extra special, but my project today was better with clear so the etched part would give it the wintery feel I wanted.

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I use a glass etching cream called Armour Etch. Don’t let the word “cream” fool you. It is acid in a sort of cream-like delivery system the consistency of gritty pancake batter.

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I also use an X-Acto blade, and contact paper (the adhesive plastic “paper” the tenant with bad taste before you used to line her kitchen drawers which you will waste many hours and four letter words over removing in skinny, sticky strips).

Because it involves acid, knives, incredibly clingy plastic, and bad language (potentially), you had better be mature and in full control of your physical and mental faculties before you take on this baby! It’ll be worth it though. See how pretty…!

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So, this is what I did. I took a clean, dry glass votive and wrapped it with the contact paper (I use the clear contact paper so I’m not distracted by images. You could use a solid colored one too if you can’t find clear, but it needs to be PLASTIC adhesive “paper”.) Then I cut away the plastic exposing the glass below using the X-Acto like I would a pen and “drawing” the outline of the image I plan to etch.

Wherever you expose the glass is where the acid will etch it and make it opaque. Once you’ve cut away all the plastic you plan to, and before you apply the acid etch, you basically have the “negative” of your ultimate piece.

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When you are happy with your “negative” then you brush on the acid etch. Don’t use your good brushes for this. Grab one of the crappy ones that is always losing its bristles, and “paint” the acid on the exposed glass. I usually put on a couple of coats. You want it pretty thick so it etches evenly. If you don’t put on enough you get a sort of vague, cloudy day look which you can’t redo because the plastic will come off when you wash off the acid.

Don’t waste the acid on the plastic parts, just generously cover the exposed glass parts, and let it sit for 10 or 15 minutes. The instructions say 5 minutes, but they are worrywarts and you will get the “cloudy day” result and invent new four letter words if you follow their advice. So don’t.

When you can’t stand waiting any more, rinse it off in warm running water in the kitchen sink. Use one of those drain catcher things in the drain to catch the little pieces of contact paper that will wash off along with the acid so you don’t clog up the plumbing. Once all the acid and plastic is rinsed off then give it another gentle washing with dishwashing detergent so it’s sparkling clean. Then rinse and dry. For a final touch I use those iridescent half marbles in the bottom of each votive to support the tiny tea lights that bring these votives to life.

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As with other Second Helpings projects, one is nice, but more is better. Go crazy! Imagine a winter forest, a snowy night, the warmth of candlelight. It’s a scene you too can create with a little imagination, a few potentially life endangering tools, and a reminder that cozy is also a four letter word.

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Second Helpings: Black Glazed Dishes with Quilt Motif

This week’s Second Helpings is another set of painted dishes, and in keeping with the theme which has popped up more than once in the last few days, their motif is quilts.

Hey, it’s that home + art + functional + decorative = Domestic Arts thang again. Somebody kiss me quick!

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A few years ago black glazed dishes were very popular, and then suddenly they weren’t, and you could find them for a dime a dozen in the second hand stores.
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I personally love black as a background for color and so I bought pieces whenever I found them and put together a few different sets of dishes. Some cups and saucers, the odd tea pot, a few bowls, but mostly dinner plates.

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For this project I used the same paint as for last week’s Second Helpings: the “pebeo PORCELAINE 150 water based colour for porcelain.”

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With the black glaze you need to be tricky and do an undercoat of white, or Ivory in my case, BEFORE you paint your colors on top of that. Otherwise they are completely swallowed by the black.

Paint one coat of white, then one coat of the colors you want to see on top of the white after the white is completely dry. Let that second layer of paint dry and then fire the piece once. I have fired pieces more than once, but they get a little over baked and weird looking so I don’t recommend it.

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Part of the fun of a project like this is its ongoing nature. Any time you find a little misfit black dish you can bring it home, paint it with your chosen motif and add it to your growing collection.

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Soon you too will need a whole room dedicated to your addiction!
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And now, it’s time to paint.
XOXO, Action Girl

Second Helpings

It’s a sunny Sunday morning and for the first time in days I’m taking a break. I don’t even feel compelled to go move a huge pile of stuff from one room to another! So to celebrate, I am introducing a new blog feature. One I am calling “Second Helpings” which I will share with you every Sunday. (I guess I could have called it “Good Gaudy”, but that might have been pushing it.)

As you know, I am a second hand object addict AND I paint everything, the end result of which is a houseful of painted second hand objects. Obvs. I even have one room in my house which is dedicated to the storage of said objects. We call it the Butler’s Pantry, or The Monument to Materialism. This is the door I painted that opens into that room:

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I’ll give you a tour another time, but today I want to show you my very first venture into “Second Helpings”.

I bought a set of oversized cups and saucers at a friend’s moving sale and because I appreciate both the decorative and the functional I wanted to be able to actually drink my mochalottachocolattes from the cups when I was done with their transformation.
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The product I use for this kind of project is a water based paint for porcelain and earthenware which have already been glazed and fired. In other words it’s perfect for the second hand dishes you can pick up for pennies. You paint your design, “fire” in your oven at 300 degrees, and when it’s done it is safe to eat and drink from and to wash and use over and over. Score!
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The color stays true, it mixes and blends fairly well but comes in such a wide array of shades there’s really no reason not to invest in the premixed colors which suit your palette.

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I’ll dish up a new visual treat for you every Sunday and share the products or techniques I use beyond the obvious “slap some paint on the sucker and call it good” method (which I have been known to use on occasion). Every post will involve a second hand find and my transformation of it, shall we say from the profane to the sacred? Ok, let’s not.
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Take a break, it’s Sunday. Even God would stop for a mochalottachocolatte in a hand painted cup this pretty!