All posts by Mary Elizabeth O'Toole

New Life – Small Scale

Our woodworking challenge for November was to work on a small scale.  I decided this would be the perfect time for a refinishing project that I have had on my list.

My find after general and basic repairs to drawer fronts.
My find after cleaning and basic repairs to drawer fronts.

The Original Find

This was one of my ‘street finds’ that someone had thrown in the garbage.  When I found it, there was no top and the drawers were stacked beside the carcass.  It had been exposed to some rain so there was slight water damage.  The carcass was strong and needed only minor repairs. There were four small drawers that were in generally good shape but required some touch up and cleaning.  Two of the drawer fronts had to be repaired or replaced.

One drawer was lined with felt and had clearly been home to a mouse family at some point.   Not too appealing but the felt could be fairly easily removed and the drawer completely cleaned.

The Refinishing Process

The first step was to remove the extra large base.   My plan was to make the finish project look more like a small scale chest of drawers and the base didn’t seem to fit that design style.  I wanted to see if I needed to replace the bottom and thought about perhaps making small feet.  Once I took off the bottom, I decided that the piece was sturdy enough and  did not require a new smaller bottom added.  I did not add feet but might still do that.  If I do go that way, I will first add a plywood base for stability and weight distribution.

It turned out that the base was solid at about 1 1/4 inches thick with a decorative edging.  I would like to know what was on the top as it would likely have been solid as well.  I wonder if this might have been part of a larger piece.   I chose to trim down the bottom and make use of the decorative edging as a top.  By trimming, the decorative edge on the side was lost.  Fortunately, we had a router bit that duplicated the edge quite closely.  The other alternative would have been a straight side with a rounded edge.

The bottom had been screwed in place so there were existing screw holes that fit the top dimensions.   Typically, the top would be screwed in from the bottom so the holes would not show on the top but since I  didn’t want to take the carcass apart unnecessarily, I decided to live with the holes and cover them with plugs later.  This also results in the option of removing the top later.

With all the touch-ups and repairs completed, I sanded everything through several phases down to 400 grit sand paper.  I chose to finish with shellac because Stephen had just picked some up for another project.  I haven’t worked with shellac have been wanting to try it.  I applied three coats using a foam brush and sanding with fine grit between coats.

Top drawer after felt removed and top sanded.
Top drawer after felt removed and top sanded.

While the outside pieces were drying,   I removed the old felt and cleaned the drawer then made sure top and bottom were level.  The belt sander came in handing for smoothing and removing last bits of the felt from the top surface.

The Results

Here is my finished scale model set of drawers.  Actually, it is not technically an official scale of a larger project  – at least not a specific one that I had in mind – but at 21″ h x 12 “d x 9″w, it is a small version of a full size dresser, perfect for jewellery, art supplies or other small treasures.  The top currently has plugs that are slightly proud (not flush). Stephen calls that a ‘feature’ but I have not decided whether to leave them like that or cut them flat.  Either way, I might put a piece of glass on top, which could be used to hold favourite images.

 

Progress Not Perfection

Finished is better than perfect

We have had another gap in our blog posting.  That is partly because we have been crazy busy with business and reorganizing our living and work space.  As a result, we have made progress in those areas but  haven’t had much time for playing with our art so, when we have had some time, we have been in the shop or studio making something or on the computer creating.

The absence of new posts is also partly a result of both of us having a tendency to seek a ‘perfect’ topic or inspirational idea or unique slant.  And then, the moment has passed.  We’re doing much better with that in our woodworking and fabric art but haven’t quite translated it to keeping current on our blog posting.

Today, I’m keeping it short, making it quick.   I’m again making the case for imperfection.

I have spent the better part of the morning installing and, of course, exploring Adobe Creative Cloud components and updates.  It has been inspiring and lots of fun but also rather a distraction from some other stuff that I have to get done.  It isn’t strictly procrastination but admittedly on the verge.   I am moving on to other things now.  Really.   But not before sharing this appropriate quote in an image card that I just made in minutes on Adobe Spark. Well, the actual work just took minutes. The fun of discovery took me off on a few adventures first.

Have no fear of perfection, you'll never make it

Get out to explore, discover and create.  Enjoy the process.  What will you achieve if you make your own case for imperfection today.

We’ll be back soon with more posts.   They won’t be perfcet.

Playing for inspiration

Breaking a Creative Block

Last week I was working on a challenge quilt that was giving me trouble because I was way over thinking. I can almost hear some of you saying “Wow, that is not at all like you”. To which I reply, that there is no need for sarcasm.   So back to my point.  I started several times but rejected idea after idea for a variety of reasons – too complex, too simple, too uninspired (or uninspiring), too cliché (I know, what does that even mean?). Continue reading Playing for inspiration

2×4 and Tech Challenges

 

The 2×4 Challenge

This week, I have been finishing a 2×4 Challenge through  Taylor Timber Mart in Musquodobit Harbour.   If you are a woodworker, you might be familiar with the 2×4 challenge idea, which is popular with guilds and online woodworking groups.   The challenge is to create a unique project from a single 2×4, usually construction-grade wood.  This is not the best wood to work with but its availability and low cost making this contest great for woodworkers of all levels.  Rules can vary.  For this contest, rules are simple– you pick up a free 8’ 2×4 and create anything you like as long as it is comprised of 90% wood from the supplied 2×4 and no more than 10% of any other elements (adhesive, fasteners, decorative features…), determined by weight.
Continue reading 2×4 and Tech Challenges

Patchwork Stories

My Patchwork Story

I have mixed feelings towards making patchwork quilts.  I enjoy the history and tradition of the art and it does appeal to my perfectionist tendencies.  Ironically, these are the same things that can contribute to my more ambivalent feelings toward this type of work.  Sometimes the number of traditional patterns generated makes it feel harder to do something new or unique.  This, of course, is not true as talented designers are constantly created new approaches and new variations. Continue reading Patchwork Stories

Tech Tuesday – Longarm Quilting

Introducing Songbird Quilter

The Eastern Shore has a great new service for quilters.  Wendy Pehrsson has opened Songbird Quilter in Lawrencetown. Songbird offers longarm instruction and rental services to help people finish their quilts without the expense of purchasing a longarm.   After a short orientation session, quilters can rent Wendy’s machine by the hour  to complete projects at a very reasonable rates.

Continue reading Tech Tuesday – Longarm Quilting

WIP – Improv Quilting

Improvisation and Quilting

I don’t know if it is a new trend or just something that I have recently become aware of in magazines and online articles but I have been seeing more discussions describing ‘improv quilting’ as a style.  It seems to me that that it is more accurately described as a process than a style.  To me, it makes more sense to think of it as a way to create, try new approaches – and mix things up a little.

Continue reading WIP – Improv Quilting

Sustainable Art

I have been thinking a lot about sustainability and responsibility in making art.   Since this is Earth Day weekend, it is a perfect time to reflect and write about these issues.  Being responsible in material purchase and use is important to both me and Stephen so we frequently discuss ways that we can better reduce, reuse, recycle, or repurpose.  That applies in our processes as well as our products.

Continue reading Sustainable Art

Tech Talk: Traditional Technology

This weekend when we were puttering in the shop, Stephen and I chatted about some ongoing projects.  It is a rare occasion that we are both in the woodshop at the same time because of the size and layout,  combined with the fact that about 1/3 of our area is currently being used for storage and work-in-progress.   In addition, when we are both in there creating, usually there are power tools that preclude much conversation.  Continue reading Tech Talk: Traditional Technology