Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The future of blogging, footwear, Ermie, and a lamp DIY

I highly recommend having paper on your nightstand.  Personally, I have an IKEA shopping list/showroom map with a lot of Swedish-chef product names written on it,  and a broken pencil.  It's what the famous authors are doing.  Anyhow, it's necessary to write down those barely-lucid thoughts that occur just as your mind is losing its grip on reality and sliding into dreamtimes.  Because ideas that are anchored to reality are pretty much useless.

This is how I came upon my brilliant idea of a blogger-to-blogger, design-oriented vacation/home exchange!  And now look!  I'm rich and famous!  If only I could design a website and do the PR work while slipping into my nightly cheese-and-Seinfeld-rerun coma.  *SIGH*

So anyhow, I was having some free association time in bed the other night.  Been thinking a lot lately about blogging and social media.  How fast things move and change.  How challenging it can be to know in which media format to invest one's energy.  How plugged in one has to be, but also disciplined and mindful about knowing when to shut it down; when to forge "real world" partnerships and networks.

It's no secret that I desperately heart Instagram.  I'm quite prolific there, friends.  My handle is modernhaus.

So my thought was this:

Instagram is the cool friend who knows the chef at the hot new restaurant.  Blogger is the friend that knows the hostess at the Olive Garden.

This is not, by any means, in reference to YOUR blogs, guys.  In the light of day I think my brain just meant to say that Instagram seems more dynamic, immediate, energetic, experimental, and fresh.

What do you think?  Are your social media habits changing?  Are you more or less interested in blogs than you were a year ago?

Last week I attended a Nutella binge/epic business discussion on the subject with Jon, Morgan, and Laure.  Consensus seemed to be that managing social media is a little like holding on to the tail of a tiger, except for Jon who controls the internet with his mind.

Unrelated, but possibly related because I saw these via social media, are Freda Salvador shoes.

Sexy-orthopedic-handmade.  Freda Salvador, you can use that on your website if you like!

I want the ones on the left, to go with my imaginary Ermie dress.

And finally, the creative bender continues.  I know.  My days are filled with paint fumes, blisters, and sunburns.  I wake up covered in bruises and miscellaneous paint colors and I do it all over again!

Yesterday's victims were a couple of antique lamps:

And then anything I could get my hands on.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

TUTORIAL: Indigo Ombre Dip-Dye Fabric and Curtains

I've been on such a creative bender lately.  It all started with the chairs, and once I started tackling projects I just couldn't stop.

There's nothing else like the satisfaction of making stuff with your own hands, especially if the results are good (but even when they're not, the process is liberating and instructive!)

I've had stacks of natural linen drapes from the thrift store laying around forever, and wanted to try an indigo dip-dye on them.  This is the perfect summertime DIY since it really should be done outdoors, and the painterly effect of dip-dyeing seems so fresh and hot weather-appropriate!

I started with a pair of clean, thickly-textured linen drapes (use natural fibers only!)  I ignored the directions when they said to start with wet fabric...since I wasn't dyeing the whole piece, I wanted the top dry so it wouldn't "pull" the dye up farther than I wanted it.

I measured about a third of the way from the bottom of the drapes and marked it with paper clips so I knew where to stop "dipping" each piece.

Outside I mixed my dye in a large Rubbermaid tub set next to a stone wall so I could hang the dry, un-dyed part over the wall and let the ends hang into the dye.  I used a "denim blue" powder dye from the craft store and followed the directions for dilution and salt, etc.  Nothing special, and I'm sure I could have gotten more intense or better/faster results by searching out a professional fabric dye.  

I let the ends soak for about an hour and then lowered the drapes in another six inches or so and let that soak for 15-20 minutes more to make a lighter, ombre-esque strip.  I checked the color and it was much too light.  The lighter strip especially was nearly pastel, so I lowered it in again and soaked the whole thing for another hour (light and dark strips together).

Remember as you're checking the progress of the color that it looks much darker wet and the colors will also fade after you rinse the dye out, so wait until it looks much darker than you want in the tub before you pull it out.

At a certain point, the fabric was as saturated as it would get and didn't seem to be darkening more, so don't worry about over dyeing.  I would have liked more intensity, but starting with a white base and using "over-the-counter" powder dye probably limited the depth of color I could achieve.

I wrung out the ends and then laid the drapes out on the grass and used a spray nozzle to rinse them.  Then I hung them over the fence and waited for them to dry.

These are early-morning shots after I impatiently brought the drapes inside and threw them over a curtain rod in the dining room to see how they looked.  I really, really love the ethereal, watercolor effect of the lighter upper layers.

But the moody, darker indigo of the lower end really speaks to me too.  

Pretty much nothing is safe from a potential dye-bath now!


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Trending: Vintage Navajo Rugs and Mid Century Furniture

The last few weeks I gave myself permission to not just "buy and sell" but to spend some time creating original pieces.  I can't tell you what a difference it's made in my attitude towards my business!  It's so hard to just have a bunch of iconic pieces and no way to express myself!  Who lives like that??  It's criminal.

I've always had an overwhelming need to MAKE things (ask my mom about my infamous butter sculptures!), and now that I've given myself permission again, I CAN'T STOP!  Hide the butter, mom!

You might have noticed and been amazed by the turn-of-the-century Thonet and Hudson's Bay blanket chairs from my last post:

I used the same fabric on an early 1900s Bell telephone operator's chair:

I love that the base is so Victorian, but it also has a certain industrial appeal.  Plus every time I look at it, I imagine a lady named Pearl punching a bunch of old-timey buttons and connecting you to the milk man or the horse taxi.

But this transformation is the one I'm most excited about:

Before you have an aneurysm over my desecration of a Mid Century chair and a vintage Navajo rug, believe me that they weren't that great on their own.  I said they weren't, and I saw them with my own two well-trained eyes.  So trust.

The chair was avocado green vinyl (you know, the color of your grandma's refrigerator in the 70s?)  The rug...well, o.k., the rug was really pretty.  But the ends were unravelling and it was oddly shaped and as great as it was, it wasn't valuable in the least.  Go on Ebay and can get 'em cheap.

And, I was really careful not to cut the rug (pun!) until I had stapled it into place and was absolutely sure it would look amazing.

I think you can see this was a case of the sum being better than the parts.

I wanted to make sure the bird symbols with the emerald green eyes made it onto the piece!

I still have the back to finish today, and then I'll work on polishing up the walnut frame.

I can't stop looking at it!  Neither can you!!

Guys, if you followed me on Instagram you would be getting the blow-by-blow of all my furniture and thrift finds, projects, new shop listings, as well as gratuitous photos of the gross food I eat!

You can also use the Twitter button up there on the right, since I upload most of my Instagrams to Twitter.

Stay tuned for the next episode of Chairs Gone Wild, when I make butterfly chair covers out of old Army blankets!

Most of these projects are intended for the shop, so check in if you're interested, or email me directly at !


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