DIY

A Craft Table of Her Own

06.18.13

I like to make things. But making things takes space. Space where I can leave shit lie around for a few days while I get busy with real life or procrastinate said making. Space which does not interfere with other important functions of my apartment, like housing Alan’s bar cart and fancy tv or our books or the litter boxes.

And as in most cities, space in Somerville/Boston is expensive. Which means if I want a dedicated space to make things, I have to, err, make it.

So I did!

Well, almost. DIY takes time, you know.

You may remember my fabulously ambitious plan for a drop-leaf craft table which does double duty as a bookshelf. After much research and more trips to the hardware store than I care to recall, I found some amazing pieces of hardware and updated my plan:

Bookshelf Craft Table Sketch || Jade and Fern

I can’t draw straight lines. Deal with it.

The bookshelf portion, known in covert DIY circles as Phase 1, is complete. And I love it.

DIY Industrial Bookshelf || Jade and Fern

DIY Industrial Bookshelf || Jade and Fern

Bask in the industrial plumbing pipe glory!

Now all that’s left is for me to get that crafty (pun absolutely intended) leaf assembled. Based on my current DIY speed and the abysmal painting/working weather we’ve been having, it should only take me a few weeks. So, umm, stay tuned, but don’t hold your breath.

**Update!

It’s been over a year (yikes) since I made this bookshelf, and I’ve decided to “shelve” the project. It was perhaps a little TOO fabulously ambitious. I’m a little embarrassed to give up in public, as it were, but there’s no shame in knowing one’s limits, right? RIGHT?

Inspiration

Make it Friday: Difficult (to shop for) Dads

06.14.13

DIY Father's Day Gifts Roundup || via Jade and Fern

One || Two || Three || Four || Five

My dad is notoriously tricky to shop for.

Besides having very specific hobbies and tastes (he builds radio-controlled, functional model submarines from scratch—how am I supposed to shop for that??), he also has a terrible habit of buying HIMSELF what he wants and then saying, “Oh, I’m fine,” when we try to get clues for gift occasions.

So this year I am going to outsmart him by making him something. Muahaha!

Here’s to a great weekend and a happy Father’s Day!

P.S. That’s really my dad with those model submarines. And yes, I have driven around with one on the roof of the car. It’s just as hilariously embarrassing as it sounds.

DIY

DIY Refinished Copper Light Fixture

06.05.13

You know those apartments that have lots of wacky “improvements” that were obviously perpetrated by people devoid of skills, taste, and common sense?

We have one of those apartments.

In our three years of living in our charming Somerville rental, we’ve dealt with a bathtub that drains onto the floor, hideously painted tile that turned out to be sheets of MDF molded to look like tile, and rogue so-called weather-stripping which was actually just strips of worn felt stapled to the inside of the front door. And don’t get me started on the thermostat that is hard-wired with SPEAKER WIRE.

But my favorite misplaced attempt at fixing something in this apartment was uncovered on the light fixture in the kitchen. It’s a lovely vintage schoolhouse style fixture, but with a terrible, chippy paint job on the base.

When I started scraping away the loose paint, thinking I could snazz it up with a new coat, I discovered….COPPER. As in, real, beautiful, timeless COPPER.

Restoring a Copper Light Fixture || Jade and Fern

Seriously, people, how these long-past tenants ever got this brilliant idea into their heads is a mystery. You’re killing me, Smalls.

Thankfully we live in the internet age and solutions to such horrors are only a few searches away. Well, a few searches and several hours of elbow grease away. Afterwards I was left with this:

Restoring a Copper Light Fixture || Jade and Fern

Not too shabby, eh?

The worst part was getting off the non-flaked paint. That required boiling the fixture for several hours, and scraping off what I could with fine grade steel wool. I had to do that twice and it stank up the house with the smell of hot paint. Fun.

Once the biggest areas of paint were off, I loosened the remaining bits by soaking them in boiled water again and carefully scraping them away with a utility knife.

Then all that was left was polishing the piece until my arm fell off. It was very satisfying, though, check out the difference it made:

Restoring a Copper Light Fixture || Jade and Fern

To polish, I dipped the cut half of a lemon in table salt and rubbed off the tarnish. Much oompfh was necessary and I now need a sling to support my exhausted wrist. And finally I rinsed all the goop off, dried the fixture with a paper towel, and buffed it to a shine with a clean rag.

No, it’s not perfect, and yes, there’s some silvery spots where the zinc that was apparently in the piece reacted to the vinegar I used during boiling (lesson learned: use PLAIN WATER, not water and vinegar!).

But it’s mine all mine while I live here and I love it!

Restoring a Copper Light Fixture || Jade and Fern

Never changed a hard-wired fixture before? Neither had I! I used this video to learn. I skipped the volt tester because I live dangerously, but please do as THEY said and not as I did.

What do you think? Have I become the DIY-challenged monster I loathe? Will future tenants love or hate this restoration?

Inspiration

Make It Friday: Timber!

05.24.13

Make It Friday: Tree Slice Tables || DIY Roundup via Jade and Fern

One || Two || Three || Four || Five

Yesterday I off-handedly mentioned that I acquired some tree slices. Well don’t be fooled by the casual tone from that post; I am actually SUPER AMAZINGLY EXCITED. Like, OMG.

Ever since I passed a gorgeous, enormous tree slice sitting all alone and neglected in a nearby driveway, I’ve been fervently scheming to get one of my own. (I did attempt to snag that very one by leaving a note offering to buy it, but I’m assuming my over-use of exclamation points creeped them out).

If you’ve ever looked into buying your own bits of tree, or a finished tree table, you will know that they are stupidly expensive. This is one of those cases where the question, “Buy or DIY?” has a very clear answer. Finding the tree is really the hardest part!

How did I get so lucky with these babies?

Tree Slices || Jade and Fern

I literally called local tree removal companies until I found one that would allow me to come to a removal site. Because I am a crazy person whose tree slice obsession knows no bounds.

The crew was wonderful, and they refused to let me pay—all they wanted in exchange was coffee and bagels. The lesson here, kids, is to not let potentially awkward conversations stop you from making crazy requests.

My favorite bit about the whole scheme is that this tree was scheduled for removal anyways, so I am essentially recycling a few pieces of it. Now my only problem is that I’m working on too many things at once. So until I manage to finish my own tree tables, enjoy the pretty DIYs from this roundup.

Here’s to a weekend of woodworking!