Random thoughts and bits of life of a coffee loving artist

Saturday, October 7, 2017

From Trash to Treasure - part 4

Small stars in silver & white paint
Enter a new chapter of my ongoing journey of re-purpose a set of cabinet doors. With delays, problem solving, and daily life, this part of the process took a bit longer then it should have but I will take you through this part of the adventure. 

All about the details
Where we left off on Part 3, I had just put in the main 'constellations' on the doors. I ended up going back through and started putting in the smaller stars in the Ralph Lauren metallic silver paint and slightly watered down white acrylic paint. I didn't want the star clusters to completely take over the doors so I kept my focus on the 'Milky Way' and did what I could to make it feel like organic placement. Once dried, I used a gold glaze paint to put in the lines that went through both doors along with the inner trim of the panels. Though the right color and feel that I wanted to have, I was just not fully satisfied with how the paint handled. It was too blobby and uneven for my taste. Honestly, it was a rather frustrating issue to have which caused me to step away from the project for a day or 2. I knew that I needed to figure out another solution but if I fussed with it, I knew I would screw up with the project as a whole. 

Refurbishing the original knobs
During my break from the doors, I put my focus on the knobs. Like I had mentioned in a previous blog, I had decided to reuse the original knobs that came with the doors since I wanted to have something that actually went with the color theme and feel I was aiming for. As I did with the doors, I took some sandpaper to them and took off what ever junk that was on them. I had recently purchased a 2 part apoxie called Apoxie Sculpt off of Amazon.com originally for a totally different project that I had planned but decided to use a little bit what I was aiming for. Following the directions on the containers, I went ahead and did a stylized sun design on one knob and a star on the other. With how small of an amount I used and how the environment is at my place, I only had a tiny window of opportunity to work with the apoxie before it dried. Allowing it to cure completely, I did a little sanding before spraying both knobs with the same color I did the doors, followed by a light over glaze of silver to mimic the 'Milky Way' on the doors. 

Problem Solving
Un-tapeing the doors
As I had mentioned before, I just wasn't satisfied with how the gold paint was not really doing what I was wanting to achieve. The gold glaze was lumpy, uneven and left visible brush strokes. Taking a couple of days to figure out a solution to my issue, I ended up coming up with the insane idea of gold leafing around the inner boarder of the panel. Since I had never done gold leafing before, this was going to be a bit of a learning experience for me. Following the directions on the packaging, I dived into this new material for me and started work on the doors again. With the occasional moments where I would get gold leaf glued to my fingers, I made my way around first one door then the next. I actually enjoyed the seemingly uneven/unfinished look that the spottiness of the gold leaf created. 

Now what about the gold lines on the doors? Gold leaf wasn't going to be the answer. Digging around among my supplies, I ended up rediscovering that I had metallic sharpie markers. So using the gold marker to rework the painted gold lines then the silver on some of the constellation stars. I also ended up using a bit of the gold marker on the door knobs for a little added color. 

After 2 layers of clear matte spray paint
There was another issue that was bugging the hell out of me about the doors. The base paint that I used was, well, too shiny. The color was perfect but I wanted to not have the doors shiny enough to make out a person's reflection. Solution? Strangely enough a clear matte coat. Removing the tape that I was using to mask off the wood in order not to get the other paint colors in locations I wanted, I took the doors outside to be sprayed. After one or two coats over the doors, the annoying shine actually went away much to my relief. I ended up giving the knobs a coat of the matte finish as well just so they would be at the same appearance as the doors themselves. All is left to do now is prep the doors for hanging and completely reassembling them. 

To be continued...

Thursday, September 21, 2017

From Trash to Treasure - part 3

Before & After of Sanding
Ready for a day of adventure, research and paint fumes? Well you're in luck. That's how things are going for me at the moment. Welcome back to my journey of re-purposing a set of cabinet doors. Where we left off in Part 2, I shared my process in getting the doors prepped and ready for paint. 

When in doubt, double check 
With the doors sanded, dusted, and cleaned so that they were free of any debris that might disrupt the painting process, I had another look at collection of inspirational images I had for this project. I knew that I wanted to do something celestial but thought it best to refine what I was aiming to portray. After a bit of thought and roaming the internet, I narrowed things down to doing a bit of a homage to vintage and antique star charts. Finding several images
Top center Star Chart chosen as rough map for project
that I felt fit the bill, including an image of an antique star chart originally created in Korea, I took the time to look at similarities. All of the ones that I was looking at had a common theme of having the Milky Way represented by this beautiful organic ribbon of stars that went through a section of the map with no definite shape. There was also, of course, the use of lines to suggest the path of the moon along with the suggestion of constellations. Choosing one of the maps for a basic templet,  I made sure to remind myself not to stress about having everything in exactly the same position as my reference. That was certainly going to be something that I would probably need to remind myself through most of this, or at least some sort of mantra of "Don't worry, the process is an adventure". 

Before & After base coat painted
Preparing for the next step
With my mind made up, reference selected and plan in place, I was ready to proceed. First step in this would be making sure I had the materials I needed. Low and behold, I was actually missing something. The perfect shade for the background. Though I have plenty of various paints that I have in my collection, I actually did not have the right shade of blue that I wanted to use as the base coat. So off to the local Home Depot I went and acquired a can of Rust-oleum's 2x Ultra Cover in a Satin Midnight Blue. Of course before I could start the painting process, first came masking the doors. Using my widest roll of painters tape, I worked on masking off the section of the doors I didn't want to get hit with the base coat of paint. Readjusting a few times, I eventually was able to get the doors ready for their first blast of color.

Become one with the paint
Start of the painting process
(From Left to Right) Roughing in the Milky Way,
pencil in constellation points, & painting initial
constellation points
Once the base coat was on, I returned to looking at my reference to see what I was going to be doing next. I figured that my best bet would be the gesturing in of the Milky Way. Luckily I had just the right paint for what I was going to use - a bit of Ralph Lauren metallic silver paint. It's supposed to be one of those paints that adds a subtle silver iridescence to other paints and lighten them up a bit but I decided to use it straight. Originally with a broad brush before going in with napkins and making it more organic. I knew I needed to work quickly since the paint would get to a point where it would be already nearly dried to do anything with. 

Making sure I was satisfied with how it came out, I let it dry before arming myself with a white color pencil. Looking at what I had then at the image I was referencing, I lightly marked in some of the constellations between the doors and some other lines for myself as points of reference so I could go in with my other paints.  As soon as I painted in the main points for the constellations that I put in, I couldn't help but have a feel of enjoying how the doors were coming along. 

To be continued...

Monday, September 18, 2017

From Trash to Treasure - part 2

Day 2 of the doors is here! Join me on my ongoing journey to redo a set of discarded cabinet doors into a piece of wall art. 

Doors with hardware removed

After having a cup of coffee, I worked on removing the hardware from the door. Of course my dad was nearby watching me be armed with a screwdriver. The outer hinges were easy to remove, as were the knobs themselves. The slight difficulty came from the fact that the screws themselves were stuck in the door. I have no problem with the fact that they were countersunk into the wood but I had to use the handle of the screwdriver to push the screws back out of the holes. Speaking of the knobs, I found myself pondering reusing them as well (with alterations, of course) instead of purchasing new knobs that aren't exactly what I have in mind. 

While I was getting the hardware off, I was explaining to my dad about how I've figured how to make the doors into a wall hanging. As I was falling asleep last night, there was a part of my brain trying to figure that out and I realized that though I wanted to have it wired much like you would a picture frame, a single wire across the entire thing would not work. It would be too much weight being placed on a single wire and nail. So instead, I am thinking of treating each door as a frame so both would be wired for 2 different nails. That way, the weight is distributed evenly. After explaining the idea to
Above - Some of the damage that needed to
be sanded out
Below - The original knobs to the doors
him, dad thought it over and agreed that it seemed like a logical course of action. 

Examining the doors now that the knobs and outer hinges were removed, I quickly discovered that I would indeed have to sand the entire thing. I was noticing small dents and scratches around the entire outer frame of the doors. I also made the decision that instead of just focusing on the raised middle panels which would only give me a 4 inch x 30 inch space to work with, that I would use the space up to the outer frame to give myself more room. So with that, I get to be one with sand paper and a lot of patience to get the wood prepared before I do masking. 

Just keep Sanding
Left - Door that hadn't been sanded yet
Right - Door that was at the halfway
point on sanding
Using a rough 100 grit sandpaper, I started the process of sanding the doors to  at least smooth some of the damage out while also getting the protective layer off of the wood. Sitting at my front door, I just worked on sanding. Occasionally I had to wipe the door down with a clean rag to clear off the dust layer so that I could see where I needed to do a little more work. For the 2 hours or so my life was sand, wipe down, examine, repeat. Some sections were a bit more stubborn then others when it came to removing the clear lacquer that was on the the doors. After a bit of work and getting coated in a  layer of fine baby powder consistency dust, I finally was able to get the doors the way I needed them.  Of course I asked dad and my boyfriend for a second opinion on if I needed to do a bit more sanding but both agreed that I had the wood at the perfect feel if I was going to repaint. They also gave me a suggestion on how to remove the rest of the fine layer of dust that was now on the wood as a result from the sanding process. The next step would be to do masking and map out what I'm going to be doing. 

To be continued...

From Trash to Treasure - Part 1

After the positive feedback I had received from followers on Facebook about wishing to follow along with my behind-the-scene adventures with my various projects, I asked if they would want me to do another. Without hesitation, they said yes. 

In the Beginning
Earlier in the year, my area had a junk day. Basically it's a designated day for certain areas to be able to put large items that would not normally be able to be put into the trash or recycle bins that could be picked up by the city without homeowners being charged. Ever so often the items that are put to the curb are still in relatively good condition or be re-purposed. A friend who was local ends up sending me a message that she had salvaged a wooden cabinet door that was still in good condition and was wondering if I would be interested. Though at the time I wasn't sure what I would do with it, I said sure. Eventually, when our schedules allowed it, she came by and dropped it off. For the following months, the doors would get moved around the house and each time I would look at them and be at a complete loss as to what to do with them. 

Random Inspiration
DIY Box Rehab 
With my dad still working on recovering from his knee replacement surgery and a major project that I was collaborating with author Stacy J. Garrett with done, I've been finding myself being unusually creative and productive. This is especially true in the late hours of the night. Often I find myself watching lengthy digital speed painting videos by such artists as Apterus Graphics and Celtic Botan, doll customization by Dollightful and Nicolle's Dreams, and even Adam Savage's One Day Builds from his Tested channel. I'll have their videos playing while working on random projects (such as the reclaimed box from my DIY Box Rehab post and even a small custom paint job I had done on a doll for myself). 

It was during one of these late night art inspirations where I realized what I wanted to do with the cabinet doors that had been roaming the house late at night. While looking for references for something completely different, I realized that I could possibly make the doors into a wall hanging of sorts and possibly make them either decorative a person could use them in a personal sacred space. What caused this sudden moment of inspiration? Oddly enough, after completing the box, I spent the night watching Van Helsing, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and looking at star charts. A strange way of having an EUREKA! moment, but I'm not about to complain. 

I knew that with this kind of undertaking that I would need to do a bit of brainstorming. The doors were hinged in the center so they would originally slide open in a folded manner when they were attached to the cabinet and I wanted to keep it that way. However, I would need to remove the hinges that were on the left side along with removing the knobs that were original to the doors. I have plans on replacing them with
My visual brainstorming notes that help keep things
slightly sorted out but with the flexibility for changes. 
different knobs later on in the project's completion. 

The next step was to measure the size of the raised panels. With each door having a rather deep section between the railing (surrounding trim) and the panels (middle section), I was going to treat that much like the mat and framing of a picture. So keeping that in mind, I gave myself a note to mask off what I don't want to work on and that I would need to sand the panels to get existing finish, stain and oils off of the wood in order to have a clean surface to work on. Now, for that panel measurement. I was stunned to discover that the panels measured 4 in x 30 in which meant that I have less room then I originally thought for what I want to do. Just means I need to remind myself that I need to be flexible with what I'm wanting to accomplish. The other bit of troubleshooting that I need to keep in mind as well is possibilities of how to attach wall hanging options to the back without damaging the front face of the doors. I do believe a trip to the local hardware store is in order. 

To be continued...

Saturday, September 16, 2017

DIY Box Rehab

Recently, my father had gone through knee replacement surgery so, with me living with him, it meant that I needed to come up with projects for myself that would allow me to do art but wasn't time sensitive like my usual watercolors. That way I could assist him as needed without worrying about possibly ruining what I was working on. Luckily, I have some things around the house that I've been holding on to with the purpose of making into projects that I'm finally having a chance to work on. 

Before the changes
A few months back, dad had brought home an old wooden box from a job site which was destined to be thrown out. It was in relatively good condition but did need a little work in giving it some new life. Some changes I knew that needed to happen was the handle/knob for the lid needed to be switched out to something a little larger for easier use. The second change was that the label holder on the front of the box needed to be carefully popped off and the rust cleaned off. Beyond that, I was basically going to allow myself to go with the flow and see where it was going to take me. 

Hardware rehab
The original brass knob was easy to take off of the lid, which I set aside to analyze later. The label holder, however, was a little more tricky to do. Going to my dad, I asked him for his opinion on how to approach the task. With his guidance, the label holder was carefully popped off to discover that it had 2 labels jammed into it and had laminated themselves to the metal. With a bit of a clean up with a sharp blade, the paper and glue was removed before I went about to remove the rust from the front side. He did warn me that depending on the level of rust, that there would no longer be the brass patina to salvage so I would have to repaint it. As I carefully worked and removed the rust, I found that it was indeed the case. Luckily I have plenty of different colors of spray paint on hand but that would depend on what I was going to use to replace the knob with. 

Going through some of my collection of salvaged knob handles that I save for possible uses, I settled on a beautiful cut glass knob that fit with what I wanted. It was bigger then the original so there would be ease of opening and closing the lid but it wasn't so massive that it would be out of scale with the box itself. Masking the glass for the knob so it wouldn't be hit with any over spray. I took the hardware outside and spray everything with a coat of metallic silver spray paint. I rarely use this particular color and the reason why is that unlike most colors, Restolium's Metallic Silver remains tacky to the touch past the 1 hour mark and will not be fully dry until for 24 hours. So it's certainly an exercise in patience when it comes to using this particular paint. If you end up using this paint and need to speed up the drying process, I would suggest to have the items placed out in the sun to help with it. 

Bringing in new life 
I'm not sure why but I decided on going with an insect theme with the lid of the box. Taping off the edge all of the way around, I ended up using a mix of paint, color pencils, and gel pens to create a dragonfly and a scarab beetle. So that there was no 'right way' with how the lid was placed back on the box, I did each in opposite directions. Once done, I did an initial coat of clear glaze spray paint. Having used wood glue and toothpicks, I filled in the holes that the tack nails were originally in so that during the reassembly, they would be able to hold firmly in place. Once the glue was dry, I trimmed the toothpicks as close to the box as I could. Removing the tape from the lid, I sanded the 'trim' I had artificially created and also sanded around the box before giving both a coat of the clear glaze. This causes the lid to have a very subtle texture difference without having too much added to the initial design. 

Making sure that the hardware was done with its drying process, I de-taped the knob and got it attached to the lid. Reattaching the label holder proved to be scene of frustration. I found it a bit difficult to hold the tiny tack nails in place long enough tap them into place. After a bit of a struggle and some advice from my dad on how to accomplish my goal, I was able to get the ludicrously small nails into place. Luckily the only thing I needed to fix was to do a bit of paint touch up on the nails. The end result is quite lovely to look at is a perfect holder for small items, jewelry or even random office supplies. 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

And so it begins

"Gathering Good Luck"
Watercolors on paper
By Dawn Star Wood
With the end of February quickly approaching, I would have to admit that I feel as if I've been inside a whirlwind as of late. Projects of various types have been coming along my path and I can'e help but feel a bit mesmerized. As I stated in Getting back into the groove, I had entered into a Fine Arts competition that was being hosted by the Elk Grove Fine Arts Center. With 5 categories covering water media, oil/acrylic/mixed media, pastel/drawing, photography, and three dimensional, there will be plenty of creative and vibrant pieces to see. This year's judge happens to be D. Oldham Nearth, KVIE Art Auction Curator and owner of Archival Framing and Gallery
News about that has actually been quite positive, having received word that my piece
Gathering Good Luck had been accepted into the competition. With the pending judging of the various entries I can't help but be a bit nervous, wondering if I will be placed or not. Of course the reveal of winners will not occur until the night of the Artist Reception scheduled for March 4th. 

5th Annual Open Fine Art Competition
March 4th, 2017
Reception 4-7pm 

Elk Grove Fine Arts Center
9080 Elk Grove Blvd.     Elk Grove, CA 95624

3rd District (Books 1 - 3)
by Stacy J. Garrett
Of course I am not being idle while waiting in anticipation for the night of the reception. Quite the opposite, actually. Recently my dear friend, author Stacy J. Garrett and I have joined forces to work on the creation of an art book which will be tied into her current novel series, The 3rd District. I have worked with Stacy on other projects in the past  such as the cover to her book Shadow on the Sea so when she approached me with the idea, I found myself in a place to say yes. So as her series approaches the last couple of novels, we aim to give it a bit of a fanfare ending to wrap everything up. Currently there are 3 books of the series that have been released and is available Amazon. 

Website (3rd District): StacyJGarrett.com/3rdDistrictSeries 
Amazon: S.J.Garrett

Monday, January 30, 2017

Getting back into the groove

(Left) Little Red Riding Hood
(Right) Traditional Ukrainian Beauty
Watercolors on Paper
by Dawn Star Wood
Having been pulling myself out of a 2, almost 3 year long bough of depression which affected the quality of my work and the amount of things I had produced, the Black & White show (hosted by the Allied Ceramic Arts Institute) was my first statement of "Hey, I'm still alive and I'm ready to take life by the horns". I had let so many possibilities and opportunities pass me by but I was not about to miss any more. With the reminder to myself that I need to take care of myself first, I have been striving to become healthier and also reclaim what I have lost. 

What is the plan? 

Gathering Good Luck
Watercolors on Paper
By Dawn Star Wood
- Used as entry possibility for the EGFAC Fine Arts Competition
First off, I know that even the best laid out plans may not end up going quite the way you expect. So with this in mind, I have to remind myself to be flexible. The Black & White show was to just getting my feet wet but certainly the first steps that I'm taking in the direction that I'm wanting to be in. The second step was entering into a local Fine Arts competition. The Elk Grove Fine Arts Center is currently having a Call to Artists to enter with the cut off being February 4th. After having seeking out advice from several friends who all encouraged me to do so, I entered and am now keeping my fingers crossed that I will be accepted into it. There is another Call to Artists being put on for a competition hosted by Pence Gallery in Davis, California with a cut off date of February 5th but with it requiring 10 to 25 image examples of work that you have produced within the last 5 years, I decided it best to not apply for that one. Though I would have loved the chance to try, I do not have enough work on hand that I could confidentially use as possible entries for it. 

Mind you that this does not mean that I will be giving up on entering future competitions. Not in the slightest. Actually that comes to the second goal I have made for myself which is to produce more quality work and discover more competitions that I could attempt to get into while also providing the same quality to my customers. Would also like to try to be a part of more shows in the coming months but I need to remind myself that I need to pace myself in order not to burn myself out. So I must remember to breathe, eat healthier, and take breaks instead of constantly pushing myself into exhaustion to work on things.

Yup. Taking each day at a time but it's wonderful to discover the drive and hunger to create once again.