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Picture frame rejuvenation

Recently I bought a picture frame containing three advertising postcards for OXO, Bovril, and Bisto, mainly because my best friend and I have a running gag about Bisto but also because I like retro advertisement art.

The frame was in pretty poor condition. The backing of the frame was cardboard and was rippled and warped, causing the postcards to bow, the sealing tape was coming away, and it was all pretty grubby. But it was also only £10. I figured that worst case scenario was that I would have to re-frame it.

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Upon disassembly, I found the photo mount was actually in fairly good condition and unmarked, and likewise the postcards themselves were in pretty good condition too. This was excellent news.

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First job was to address the back. I had the backing board from an old clip frame whose glass had broken, so using the existing cardboard back as a template I marked out a new back, choosing to live with the clip holes as otherwise it would have been more sawing and less backing board left over for future use. I then cut it with a fine tenon saw and sanded smooth with a sanding block.

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Next was to thoroughly clean the glass with glass cleaner, which brought it up a treat. The glass isn’t perfect, and has some scuffs on it, but is good enough.
I also decided to attach the postcards more firmly to the mount using brown picture tape. Although this wasn’t strictly necessary as the rigid back board should squish them flat, there is no harm in over-engineering.

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Next, reassembly. I don’t have a tab gun, so instead I used panel pins. The first one I tried just hammering in, but it immediately became clear that this was putting too much stress on the frame so instead I used a jewellers hand drill to make pilot holes, which then required only minimal hammering on the pins.

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Then I finished it off with brown picture tape. I applied two overlapping layers in order to hide the slots from the clip frame back.

I also moved the hanging eyes up from their midpoint position to a little higher up, and replaced the original string with wire. Since I didn’t have any picture hanging wire to hand, I used some green garden wire instead which should be entirely adequate.

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And, at last, it was done. It looks so much better than when I started, even if it isn’t immediately clear from the pictures.

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Project Reorganise: Shelves and chair

I have been on the lookout for some shelves to go above my dressing table, and finally found something suitable on Amazon from a seller on the Marketplace. They do two versions; both the same height and the same number of shelves, but differing widths. On the photographs, at least on cursory inspection, they looked to be the same so I made the assumption that they would be the same apart from width.
These were ordered at a cost of £87.90 (£75 + £12.90 delivery) for the pair, which I thought was a little steep although they had very good reviews on Amazon.

The shelves arrived sometime in the following week. They turned out to be sturdily made, consisting of 2cm thick shelves and end boards, with the back made from 1cm tongue-and-groove planks. Although sturdy, they felt a little hastily thrown together and slightly wonky (Note: as in, not straight. They weren’t wobbly or anything), but that could well be a Shabby Chic thing I guess. They were painted in a uniform cream eggshell colour, as advertised. For some reason that I can’t quite fathom now, I decided that the supplied colour was not suitable and that they should be white, and so ordered some white chalk-based Shabby Chic paint by Rust Oleum.

Ready to paint

Ready to paint

A few weeks later, when the weather was nice and I fancied tackling the painting, I wondered how best to paint the shelves and looked around the garden for inspiration. Sat in a corner, quietly rusting away, were the steps for a rigid-framed above-ground pool that I had once owned (and which gone to the tip many years ago). They’d been squashed flat, but were good enough for what I wanted. With the addition of two opened-out wire coat hangers I was able to hang the shelving units by their mounting holes using the steps as a frame.

It was whilst painting them that I realised they were not the same. On the wider shelf unit, the bottom shelf was flush with the bottom of the back board, whilst on the narrower unit, it was not and there was some back board below the bottom shelf. This was rather annoying and, of course, since I was in the middle of painting them they could now no longer be returned. However I figured that, given I was going for a Shabby Chic style, this probably didn’t really matter. In fairness to the seller, when I went back and looked on the photos on Amazon it was very obvious that they were not the same and also the seller didn’t even claim that they were. It was just a bad assumption on my part. With hindsight, I should have contacted the seller and asked for a price of a matching pair; one wide and one narrow.

Sanding the chair

Sanding the chair

Also that day I sanded down one of the chairs using an orbital sander. Strictly speaking, this isn’t actually necessary when using chalk-based paint as it doesn’t require preparation or undercoat, but I did it anyway. It came up pretty well. I then painted it with the same chalk-based paint as I had plenty left over from the shelves.

Pew! Pew!

Pew! Pew!

The next day, when the shelves were dry, I drilled holes in the wall above the Dressing Table for them, using my laser spirit level (pew pew!) to ensure they were at the same height and also level. When screwed to the wall I considered it a job well done.

Unfortunately, the next day in daylight, I realised I had made a terrible mistake on the colour. Although there is some white in my bedroom (from the wardrobe doors, the skirting board, the door to the en-suite shower, the ceiling, and the door into the room), all my furniture is cream. The white of the shelving units clashed quite horribly with the Dressing Table and the other furniture. And, worse, with hindsight the colour the shelves had originally been supplied in might well have sufficed. *sighs*

So back onto Amazon, and I ordered ‘Clotted Cream’ chalk-based paint by Rust Oleum, and also some Rust Oleum clear furniture finishing wax.

When those arrived, I took the shelving units down and sanded them and also the chair, and repainted with the cream paint. Then the next day, gave them a light sanding with a fine sand paper to smooth out the paint brush marks a little, and then applied the wax to seal them.

Finished items

Finished items

The result is much better, and I’m happy with it. The shelves are now back up on the wall and populated with some of the trinkets and nick-nacks I have bought during my visits to Antiques and Collectors fairs, although there is room for plenty more.

I’ve stayed with the original cover on the seat of the chair for now, but I plan to source some suitable material (possibly from an old pair of curtains) at some time and re-cover the seat.

I also need to find a lamp or wall light too, as that corner is a little dingy and needs some additional lighting.

 

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Art Deco ceiling light

As I mentioned in a post about lighting for Project Reorganise, I have what has turned into a bit of a project over an Art Deco ceiling light.

Art Deco light as it was when I bought it.

Art Deco light as it was when I bought it.

To recap, I was in a charity shop in Camberley and I saw an absolutely lovely Art Deco style brass chandelier. It wasn’t in the best of condition, as it was missing its shades, lacked any kind of mounting bracket, had no electrical connector (the wire had just been cut off), the top of the hub was missing, and also the cups for the missing shades were full of dead flies. However, it was only £7.25 and I saw a lot of potential in it.

Also in the shop were a pair of rather boring 3-bulb brass pendants which, crucially, had what looked like suitable shades and also had fixings that I thought might transfer over. At £12 for the pair I thought it was worth a punt so bought those too.

When I got it all home I was delighted to find that the shades did in fact fit the Art Deco light, although only just. I also found that, as I had hoped, the fixings shared a common thread size so I was able to transfer the D-ring from the top of one of them onto the Art Deco light and also use the rose from one of them, with a link of chain to join them. I also used the existing top cover of the Art Deco light, turned upside down, to cover the top of the hub. I then used standard 5-amp chocolate block to terminate the wires. The wires proved to be only *just* long enough, even with only 1 link of chain in.

First attempt (with donor lights behind)

First attempt (with donor lights behind)

Houston, we have a problem

Houston, we have a problem

The place I chose to fit the light was in my front hallway, immediately as you enter the house. Currently there was a recessed spotlight there, and when I pulled that out it was immediately clear that there would be a big problem – the hole left behind was going to be pretty hard to cover. I came up with an elegant solution pretty quickly though – cover the hole over with a ceiling rose. A plaster rose would be unlikely to take the weight of a light fitting, so I quickly settled upon the idea of a wooden one and found a seller on eBay who makes them. I chose one that would be wide enough to completely cover the hole, and then some, with the idea being to securely attach that to the ceiling, and then attach the light fitting to it. At £12 including postage, it was duly ordered.

Whilst I was waiting for that to arrive, I offered up the light to where it was going to go and immediately found my next problem – it was going to be way too long and any guests much taller than me were going to hit their head on it. And this is where it became “a bit of a project”.

Clearly the central hollow tube would have to be shortened or replaced. Since it was threaded at both ends, I couldn’t simply cut it down unless I was to buy a tap and die to re-cut a new thread. And replacement, shorter rods, are not immediately available unless imported from the USA as I measured the thread and found it to be Imperial – 3/8″ to be precise.

By stripping the donor light down further, I was able to get a short threaded rod which was just long enough to attach the D-ring directly to the hub, although not long enough to retain the inverted cover I had covered it with so that had to go. I then was able to use chain to choose pretty much any length I needed.

Light switch

Light switch

Then I discovered the third problem – the metal rose and mounting bracket from the donor light that I was planning on using was missing its screws and these were also Imperial which meant I had nothing that would fit. After some head-scratching and looking on eBay and Amazon, I decided that I would have to abandon using that mounting and buy a new one. Fortunately these are readily available and I was able to order one for a quite reasonable £9.99 incl postage.

I also ordered a nice brass effect light switch to complement the light.

A rose by any other name

A rose by any other name

The wooden rose then arrived, and I pulled the recessed spotlight out again and offered the rose up to the hole. It was quickly evident that I would have to drill the mounting holes as close to the stepped edge as possible and that, to be on the safe side, it would probably need 4 holes. I drilled and countersunk those, and then marked and drilled through the ceiling plaster. At least one of the holes was worryingly close to the edge of the hole and looked like it could fail so I reinforced everything with Ronseal Big Hole filler and allowed it to set until the following evening. Then I fitted decent winged Rawl plugs designed for hollow plaster walls. Perhaps I over-engineered slightly, but better to over-engineer than under-engineer. Especially as this light had become a bit of a labour of love by now!

The wooden rose then attached securely to the ceiling.

The new metal rose had also arrived by now, so it was time to complete the job. Attaching the light to the rose by a bungie cord allowed me to wire up the electrical connections (fully earthed, with a separate earth wire to the metal rose of course), and then it was a case of dropping out the bungie and taking the entire weight of the light in my left hand whilst trying to screw through the rose and into the wood. This was one time I really could have done with an assistant or else devised a better way of supporting it whilst fixing. It was really touch and go at one point and I dropped both screws which left me in the comical situation of being up a ladder with a light in one hand, a drill driver in the other hand, and no way to get down to the screws again. Fortunately there was so much electrical cable that I was able to come down enough to reach the dropped bungie cord and hook it back up again. I then retrieved the screws and tried again, this time with more success.

Unfortunately I accidentally over-tightened one of the screws, and the metal rose deformed very slightly which is a real shame. It annoys me a lot and rather spoils the effect a little but it doesn’t annoy me enough to make me re-do it. Besides, it had been such a job to get to that stage that I don’t think I want to do it again! I think that I can live with it.

So, here finally, in all its glory, is the finished light.

The finished item

The finished item

Just as with the jewellery, this has been a really interesting learning experience and I would have a lot more confidence if I was to attempt a similar project again. It’s also been quite fulfilling making something that is fairly unique and has had time and love poured into it. It gives me pleasure every time I look at it.

 

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Project Reorganise: Initial progress

Just a quick update on how things are shaping up with Project Reorganise.

Earlier in the week I finally moved my memory foam mattress from the spare room and onto my new bed, thus officially moving into my “new” bedroom. I’d also that day taken delivery of a lovely rose garland that I bought on Amazon, which I wrapped around the bedstead.

New bed, in situ

New bed, in situ

Although I am concentrating on my bedroom, I’m also accessorising the downstairs cloakroom. The room already has a vague nautical theme, with a nautical mirror and nautical towel hook, but that’s about it. So I have decided to take it to another level.

I purchased a lighthouse from The Range, and boat-shaped wall shelf from White Lion Antiques.

Nautical

Nautical

I bought a similarly themed toilet roll holder from Amazon, and also whilst having a clearout I discovered a pack of 3 ceramic fishes that had been bought years ago by my partner and left, unopened, in a drawer somewhere. I used the fishes to cover up some unsightly holes.

The toilet roll holder was supplied fitted with two small triangular D-rings on the rear for mounting it, but these looked wholly unsuitable and flimsy to me. So, instead, I removed them and drilled & countersunk two holes all the way through the wood so that I could securely screw it to the wall. I’m far happier with this.

Roll call

Roll call

I also bid on a driftwood shelf on eBay, putting in a Best Offer of £45 inc postage when the seller wanted £44.99 plus £5.50 postage, which they accepted. It’s a really lovely bit of unique artwork which I totally adore. My only criticism is that I wish it were a little larger.

I haven’t yet decided on which wall I will mount this yet, nor how I will accessorise it, so for now here are the eBay product pics for it.

Driftwood Shelf - eBay pics

Driftwood Shelf – eBay pics

Finally, I bought a nice little “WC” sign from Amazon, which was ridiculously cheap but took ages to arrive – no doubt coming direct from China. This is how it looked in the advert.

WC sign - product photo

WC sign – product photo

When it arrived, some of the whimsy had fallen off and the shell had broken, but these were easily reaffixed with superglue. I then decided that it would make a lot of sense to spray it with acrylic crystal clear spray lacquer (as I had a can of it), as the acrylic would hold in the shells, gravel, pebble, and other bits of ephemera far better than glue would, because otherwise every time the door was closed then more bits might fall off.

The valve stem of the can appeared to be broken, but pressing the spray nozzle button down kind of worked. Increasingly, though, it started to leak and hiss, so I put it down and leant a little too close to it whilst I wondered what to do with it, and with that the valve seal failed and the entire can discharged upwards into my face and, more scarily, into my eyes. I immediately rushed to the cloakroom and within a matter of seconds was splashing my eyes with water from the tap. When I felt I’d done that sufficiently I grabbed a bottle of water and then leant my head back over the sink and properly irrigated my eyes. It was too late at night to see a doctor, and I didn’t fancy a 5 hour wait in A&E, so I drove to my nearest pharmacy but they were closed. Then to the next nearest, but they were closed. Eventually I ended up at one in a supermarket who were closing in 5 mins, whose pharmacy was closed but whose medicine aisle was open. So I grabbed a bottle of Optrex multi-action eyewash and then flushed my eyes with that in the car park and then several times throughout the evening. Fortunately I suffered no damage to my eyes due, I am sure, to my clear-headed quick thinking on flushing my eyes the moment it happened. But I am going to be way more diligent on eye protection in the future.

WC sign - as fitted

WC sign – as fitted

After that, I grabbed a bottle of automotive spray lacquer that I had left over from a previous project, and used that to finish off the sign with a few more coats. Whilst, of course, wearing goggles. Lesson learned. It was gloss, rather that matte, which meant that I ended up with a gloss finish, but sometimes you just have to use what you have.

This is how the plaque ended up. The quality of the item is pretty low, with really awful glue overspill (which you can just about see if you click the photo to enlarge), but I think that the spray lacquer really helps to hide it. And, for £4 including postage, you can’t really argue with the price.

And, of course, retaining my eyesight was a total bonus too.

 

Posted by on 22nd March 2015 in Arts and Crafts, Diary, Home furnishing, Photos

1 Comment

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Project Reorganise: Lighting

As mentioned in my previous post, I am in the process of reorganising my main bedroom and my spare bedroom.

In this post I want to tell you about lighting, mainly because it’s been a bit of a journey and also because of a brilliant find I made in a charity shop which I’m really pleased with.

In keeping with my “Shabby-ish Chic” look, I initially looked for an ornate chandelier-type fitting. It was quite difficult to get an accurate idea of the drop on the ones with chains as online listings would invariably only show the maximum length and not the minimum length (that could be achieved by removing all but one link of the chain), and often sellers were unwilling to provide the information.

Lighting candidates

Lighting candidates

The Orion lamp (top right) was a bit of a wild-card and not really in keeping with the style, but I liked the fact that it looks like an atom. Perhaps I will buy it for elsewhere in the house – perhaps for my dining room – although it is quite expensive at £99.

I initially bought a fixed length pendant from B&Q (top left in the photo) for £35, but when I got it home it was immediately apparent that it wasn’t really what I was looking for, as I realised that I needed something much darker to offset the bed. Also it looked rather cheap and naff, and also was rather plain being a single colour. Had I kept it, I would have had to have painted the leaves gold or something. But it just wasn’t special enough to be worth the effort of doing so.

Bronze & Gold Ashford Chandeliers by Dunelm

Bronze & Gold Ashford Chandeliers by Dunelm

In the end, I decided to go with the 3-bulb Ashford by Dunelm at £59.99, which involved a drive over to Basingstoke. However, when I got there and looked at the display items I decided to go for the 5-bulb version at £79.99 instead as it just seemed a little more balanced. Perhaps that was a bit of an extravagance at that price, but I thought it was simply the better one, aesthetically. When I got it home, it was simple enough to remove all but one link of the chain, and I had it fitted in no time.

Flicker bulbs

Flicker bulbs

Initially I have put LED candle bulbs in it, but I have ordered some really cool flickering-effect bulbs from a seller on Amazon Marketplace. I suspect they’re coming all the way from China because the delivery estimate is 10-23 days.

Folden by Dar

Folden by Dar

During my time looking for candidates, I found a 3-light fixed pendant (Folden by Dar) in a more modern brushed brass effect which I thought would be ideal for my front hall. Currently there is a recessed spot there and I very quickly realised that the hole left by it would be too large for the rose of the pendant to cover. I had a little think on this and realised that what I needed was a ceiling rose wider than the hole, which could be attached to the ceiling using holes drilled either side of the large central hole left by the spot, and then attach the pendant to the rose. However, a plaster or plastic rose would not be strong enough. A quick search online for wooden roses led me to an eBay seller who makes them and one was duly purchased.

The pendant was for sale for £78.50 from several retailers, but I managed to find an online retailer selling a factory return unit with opened packaging for £45. When it arrived there was a tiny bit of damage (one of the wire embellishments had become detached from one of the arms) but this was trivial to fix with some metal glue. Other than that it was absolutely fine and complete.

Art Deco light as it was when I bought it.

Art Deco light as it was when I bought it.

Whilst I was waiting for the wooden rose to arrive, I was in a charity shop in Camberley and I saw an absolutely lovely Art Deco style brass chandelier. It wasn’t in the best of condition, as it was missing its shades, lacked any kind of mounting bracket, had no electrical connector (the wire had just been cut off), the top of the hub was missing, and also the cups for the missing shades were full of dead flies. However, it was only £7.25 and I saw a lot of potential in it.

Also in the shop were a pair of rather boring 3-bulb brass pendants which, crucially, had suitable shades and also had fixings that I thought might transfer over. At £12 for the pair I thought it was worth a punt so bought those too.

Art Deco light with the shades and fittings from the other light (in the background)

Art Deco light with the shades and fittings from the other light (in the background)

When I got it all home I was delighted to find that the shades worked well on my Art Deco fitting. I also found that, as I had hoped, the fixings shared a common thread size so I was able to transfer the D-ring from the top of one of them onto the Art Deco light and also use the rose from one of them, with a link of chain to join them. I also used the existing top cover of the Art Deco lamp, turned upside down, to cover the top of the hub. I then used standard 5-amp chocolate block to terminate the wires. The wires proved to be only *just* long enough, even with only 1 link of chain in. If the wires had been even a centimetre shorter then I would probably have had to rewire the light.

Unfortunately, when I went to fit the light, I realised that it is simply too tall, so I am currently investigating alternatives. Since the central tube of the light is threaded at both ends, I can’t simply cut it down. One option is to replace the tube with chain, but this will involve fabricating some kind of fitting. I think I will have to go down to B&Q with the various bits and see if I can buy a threaded rod of the correct diameter and thread, and see what I can come up with.

The Folden brass chandelier that I had bought with the intention of fitting in the front hall, which I mentioned earlier, I instead fitted in the spare room where the heavy pine furniture now is, and it fits in there quite well. So all in all a success I think.

 

Posted by on 11th March 2015 in Arts and Crafts, Diary, Home furnishing

2 Comments

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