Sunday, April 26, 2015

Even More Homespun Goodness: Faux Woodgrained Sideboard

I wasn't kidding when I said in an earlier post that I accomplished a lot on my long break from my studio this past winter! In my last post I showed you how I fancied up a plain mirror for my dining room, and I promised to come back and share my method for applying a faux woodgrain treatment to the top of my sideboard. 

So here 'tis in all its simple glory!

Faux Wood Grain Sideboard Top (click to enlarge)

But first a little background on this lovely sideboard ('cause I know y'all are dying to know more about it aren't you?!!!) Some time ago I worked in a furniture store and this piece was part of a Broyhill line that was supposedly reproductions from some furniture that came out of an old castle in Ireland. I don't know if that's true, but it sounds pretty good to me! 

Faux Wood Grain Sideboard Top (click to enlarge)

Anyhoo, it was wood stained when I got it and over the years I've painted it black, then white, then brown with burnt umber glaze to make it look like wood again (can you tell I don't like, I mean!), and then for my current home, white again. 

Nice, but a wood grain top was in its future.

Its lovely enough with the white top, however, I have some dark stained furniture in that room and elsewhere in my home so I thought it really needed a woodgrain top. 

Now, this next part might make you really unhappy with me. The product I used as a basecoat on the top was from American Traditions called WOOD TONE BASE COAT, and it is no longer available. HOWEVER, its really just a flat paint the color of unfinished pine, which shouldn't be difficult to reproduce. You can undoubtedly use a satin or glossy paint for your basecoat, but you most certainly need to rough it up a bit in order to give it a little "tooth" because you're going to be applying a gel stain over this basecoat.

Here is what my "unfinished pine" basecoat looked like:

Wood Tone Base Coat (flat finish paint)

 After the base coat was thoroughly dry, I then applied a coat of General Finishes Gel Stain and the color I used is called Java. I had read great things about this gel stain on the Internet, and a lot of folks have used it right over the finish on their dated wood cabinets with great success. 

General Finishes Gel Stain and Gel Topcoat

I applied the gel stain using a large foam brush and then lightly wiped it back off with a soft cloth, which created a little streaking resulting in a natural wood grain look. Most importantly, I worked in small sections at a time. Gel stain is not the easiest product to work with and I wouldn't necessarily recommend this for the uninitiated or the faint of heart. You have to work quickly because it dries quickly and then gets tacky. But General Finishes brand is among the best out there and has a very yummy consistency with a lovely degree of depth. They have great videos on the Internet and I suggest you refer to them as I found them very helpful.

Here's what the sideboard top looked like after one coat of the gel stain:

Sideboard Top - Faux Wood Grain - General Finishes Java - First Coat

After the first coat thoroughly dried I added a second (and final) coat to give the faux woodgrain top more depth. It helped that my sideboard top already had some nooks and crannies which enhanced my desired faux woodgrain look.

Sideboard Top - Faux Wood Grain - General Finishes Java - Second Coat

Then, once the final gel stain coat has thoroughly dried, I highly recommend applying a coat of protective finish, and General Finishes has a few from which to choose.

Another Close Up - Faux Woodgrain Sideboard Top

I think the new faux wood grain top is a lovely improvement, don't you?

Tada! Faux Wood Grain Sideboard Top finished!

Now, if you've made it this far without falling asleep your reward is a sneak peak at my new dining room! I won't even call it a makeover because it was not ever really "made" in the first place. It was just a very bare room left undecorated while working on the kitchen and den. You can read about that rather extensive remodel here, and once I get the window treatments finished, some artwork up and some pretty pillows for those Parson's chairs, then I'll share more on the dining room. I promise!

Ok, next post is going to take us outside. After all spring is finally here so, well, you know what that means....

My screensaver!

Thanks for stopping in my friends!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

More Homespun Goodness: A Follow-up To My Last Post

I started my day today by capturing this shot for an Instagram post.
I have a confession to make, my dear blogging friends. I've been neglecting my blog in favor of a new LOVE, and that love is INSTAGRAM. So between that AND my art biz AND my other big LOVE, gardening, I've had little time for my blog. 

However, as I write, my kiln is cooling with a new load of pottery goodness so while I wait I thought I'd share a little of that Homespun Goodness I promised in my last post. (Yeah, I know it was a MONTH ago!)

So here's a little Mirror Makeover for you. I'm really happy with the ingenious way I transformed this rather plain and inexpensive mirror, so read on and I'll tell you how I did it.

A plain mirror gets some pizzaz!
My ceilings are only 8 ft high. I say "only" because my last 2 homes had 9++ ft ceilings and I loved them. I'm used to the smaller height now, but I knew there were a couple of tricks I could do to visually raise them. One was to find a mirror tall enough to rest on my sideboard and still fit nicely below the crown molding. 

Simple materials were all I needed to transform my plain inexpensive mirror.
I found one all right but it was sorely lacking in the decorative detail that I love. My solution - grab a roll of wallpaper border, trim it a little, slap on some wallpaper paste (which I had on hand for my dollhouse papering) and apply it to the mirror's frame. However, this did not go so well. Read on....

What did we ever do before Mod Podge?!!!
With the dry indoor heat of winter the border started popping right off the mirror frame. Luckily it came off intact. That's when I decided to prime the mirror frame and use Mod Podge to re-apply the border.

Cut those corners neatly!
Here's a little corner trick. To get them to meet up perfectly just overlap the strips then cut with an angle rule and a nice sharp blade.

Tada! Love how my new mirror turned out!
I spent the better part of February on decorating the Dining Room in my new home, although I'm not ready to share all the details just yet. But here's a sneak peak for you! Its a little fussy for me and not enough homespun goodness. I'm still working on it! 

**Soon I'll share how I managed to get that gorgeous faux wood look on the top of my sideboard WITHOUT stripping the previously painted finish!

Ok, time to check the kiln! 

Have you picked out your Mother's Day Gifts Yet?
Awww, yes! The kiln god was once again very good to me! Listing tomorrow (Sunday, April 19) at 2:00 pm ET in my Etsy Shop and more pottery goodness next Sunday, too!

Thanks so much for visiting! I'll try not to be away for so long next time, but you can always follow me on INSTAGRAM if you want to see more of Cynthia Crane's Art and Gardening Goodness!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone and Embracing Homespun Goodness

"Morning Bear" by Cynthia Crane
Just as Mama Bear emerges from her long winter's rest to enjoy her first cup of morning coffee, I  have emerged from my cozy habitat here at The Crane's Nest to embrace the coming of spring. In case you're wondering where I've been, well I gave myself the gift of a long winter vacation from painting, potterying and blogging and immersed myself in 3 months of homespun goodness.

There were many, many fun little projects that had been on my to-do list for a very long time and this was my opportunity to see some of them to completion. Over the next few blog posts I'll be sharing those with you. So pour yourself a cuppa your favorite beverage and cozy up in your chair while I share a few of those fun winter projects!

As many of you know, we finished a large kitchen renovation last year, and today I want to share a couple of small decorating details I added there this winter.


Something new for the wall above my range.
I'll start our little tour with this lovely green tole tray purchased from Etsy shop VintageKeepsake. This tray was just the thing I'd been wanting to hang above my range.

Close up of new green painted background.
But it wasn't quite the "right" shade of green so I re-painted the background (eeek! gasp! you didn't, says the "vintage purist"!)  This wasn't easy to do, but using my somewhat limited decorative painting skills I was able to add a little more detail to the flowers and leaves motif to integrate the newly painted area.

Speaking of my limited decorative painting skills, I also did up a French Garden Jug to place on the island in the kitchen.

Hand painted French Garden Jug.
I fell in love with a brown painted French Jug on Ebay, but it was priced very high so I thought I'd try my hand at painting my own. I found an inexpensive plain metal jug at Hobby Lobby and with my already existing supply of metal craft paint, that was that. I can't wait for my lilacs to come into bloom, they'll be so lovely in this jug!

Little details make for a warm and cozy and kitchen.


Time to step out of my comfort zone (painting and pottery) ........... and create some homespun goodness!

Now this was a fun and somewhat challenging project for this crochet newbie. Actually, I've made a few blankies - yes, "blankies" - 'cos that's what they were since I made them in the '80s - one each for my 2 babies, and then nothing else til now. But crocheting is sooooo easy, and the yarn community sooooooo generous, it was no problem to pick back up. Well, that may be stretch......

Here is a photo from blogger Hopeful Honey which shows the lovely slouchy hat I was trying to make:

Chunky Slouch Beanie Crochet Hat Pattern available from Hopeful Honey Blog
Instructions for this hat are free on her blog! Thank you Hopeful Honey!

So I got some bulky yarn, dug out my old circa 1984 crochet hooks and made a slouch hat - 2 of them actually -  one for me and one for my daughter. If I was being honest I'd tell you that the first one I made ended up way too large. I kept thinking, "Hmmmmm, this looks like that floppy hat Jared used to wear in his Grateful Dead days when he had dreadlocks." Jared is our son and in his teens he had the most beautiful long sandy blond hair, stick straight and oh so lovely. But what he did to his hair - ugh! Never mind, I don't want to go there!

So I'm thinking this but not saying it, showing the hat off to Papa Crane, and he says, "You know, that hat looks like one of those Jared used to wear." **sigh**

Of course, garden lover that I am, my hat had to have a flower!
But determined to get it right, after a good night's sleep (Papa Crane banished to the sofa so I had the whole bed to meself), I got up the next morning and re-read the directions. I had made too many rows of double crochet! Duh! No wonder, silly!

This is what comes from trying to watch episodes of "Parenthood" and learning to crochet at the same time! (OMG! I had not watched that show before and LOVE it. So hooked now!)


More homespun goodness and stitching 'til my fingers hurt!

For the longest time I've been wanting to try my hand at making fabric cuff bracelets. So after a little shout out to my lovely friend Jill from Etsy shop Fiberluscious I had everything my little heart desired to make that happen. Darling Jill gifted me with this wonderful box of bits and bobs to help me on my way to homespun goodness heaven!

A box of pretties from Jill at Fiberluscious
Jill makes the sweetest handmade pincushions and various other charming homespun creations, and her lovely blog is chock full of photos of these as well as quite a few fantastic tutorials!

Click for Pincushion Tutorial by Jill of Fiberluscious!

There will be future posts on the various things I'll be making with Jill's lovely gifts, including her charming needle felt flowers and leaves, but today I want to show the 2 cuff bracelets I made using some of her fabric scraps, ribbon and lace along with a few of my handmade porcelain buttons.

New cuff bracelets from Cynthia Crane's Pottery!
It has been a very long time since I've done any hand stitching at all and I enjoyed making these oh! so much! The lovely blue pincushion in the upper left of this photo is one of Jill's creations!

New completely handstitched fabric cuff bracelets embellished with my porcelain buttons.
I REALLY want to keep these fabric cuff bracelets, but they're headed to my Etsy shop tomorrow.

So that's only a few of the fun homespun goodies I completed this winter! I'll be sharing much more as time goes on.

But for now I've returned to my comfort zone - my pottery studio - in order to bring forth a few new designs that have been whirling in my mind with the onset of spring.

New spring designs for my Etsy shop! Listing March 21 around 1pm ET.
Of course bunnies are the order of the day, so too scenes of flowers in bloom with bees buzzing all around. These new designs will be listed tomorrow mid-day Eastern Time in my Etsy shop.

New monthly plaques, made to hang or display on a plate stand.
What better time than the coming of spring to introduce my new line of monthly wall plaques. I've only made this one, but special orders are welcome. There will be a new design created for each month of the year.

I hope you enjoyed this little window into how I spent my winter vacation! There will be much more to come as this was only just a tiny bit of what I actually accomplished.

Happy Spring everyone!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Grow Your Blog Party 2015 and a Giveaway Contest!

Hello and welcome to Cynthia Crane's Art and Gardening Goodness! If you've landed here today you may well be visiting in response to the yearly Grow Your Blog party hosted by the fun and fabulous Vicki Boster of 2 Bags Full. I want to send a GREAT BIG THANK YOU to Vicki for this generous effort - last year my blog went from under 10 followers to nearly 100 in just a few short weeks!

Thank you for visiting me and I hope you enjoy your stay! I promise to try and keep this post short and sweet because I know you have LOTS of other blogs to visit today. And because your visit means so much to me, I am having a GIVEAWAY CONTEST! But first a teeny weeny bit about me and the "skinny" on what you'll find on my blog.

My first outdoor show with my porcelain ceramics!
I have been a working artist for nearly 30 years and have recently begun working with porcelain ceramic clay. This is a photo of me at a show this past fall in nearby Berryville, VA.

Cacapon River in Morgan County, WV

I recently returned to my home state of West Virginia (east coast USA) after living in Virginia for over 30 years. It is good to be back - it is so wild and beautiful here! 

Harpers Ferry, WV
My home is very near the historically rich town of Harper's Ferry, WV.

The Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers at Harpers Ferry, WV
It is understood that this was the part of West Virginia that inspired John Denver to pen his famous song "Take Me Home Country Roads."

My new cutting garden.
When I'm not traveling the hills and valleys of this beautiful area, I can be found working on my gardens. I have lots of gardening ideas I'll be sharing here on my blog. I do a series I call "I'd Rather Be Gardening" because, well, I would probably rather be gardening than just about anything else!

Coming soon: new post on how I made this kitchen island.
I also enjoy decorating my home, which includes making over furniture. This island was made from pieces/parts I put together from here and there. I'll be blogging the details on that soon.

I collect tole painted trays.
We did a large kitchen reno right after we moved into our home. You can see and read more about that here. We "finished" about 6 mos ago and I've already made some changes to my decor. Like replacing a painting over the range with this lovely vintage tole painted tray. I found this tray at a shop on Etsy - VintageKeepsake - and I know I'll be shopping from her again. (I see she has added some new things recently, but the Vintage Shabby Chic Floral Picture is MINE so hands off ya hear?!!!) Just kidding! Actually I can't buy anything else until I get my buns back to work on my own Etsy shop and start making more pottery!

I love crafting!
I've been playing in my studio lately making everything BUT ceramics actually. I made some fabric covered balls today, something I've always wanted to do. 

Fabric covered balls.

And I had the perfect basket to display them in! Get the how-to here: The Feathered Nest. I love sharing how-to's, whether of my own creation or someone else's.

Well, I better get on with that GIVEAWAY CONTEST now! Because I adore making little sewing projects that involve buttons (and I hope you do, too!) I'm giving away this set of sweet little birdie buttons from my Etsy shop. They are hand sculpted from porcelain clay and have been hand painted and fired to stoneware temp so they are quite sturdy. I do suggest hand washing only, however!

Little birdie buttons from Cynthia Crane's Pottery
The buttons you receive are not this EXACT set, but are very similar. Here is a really sweet idea for a way to use one of these little buttons:

Fabric Wrap Bracelet by Etsy Shop AndreaCreates
I had Andrea of Etsy Shop AndreaCreates make this lovely bracelet for me, but they would be quite easy to make if you like to sew. I have a lovely pin board just for button craft ideas on my Pinterest. Take a look - lots of really pretty button projects on there!

My button GIVEAWAY CONTEST is open to anyone and everyone both near and far. All you have to do is comment on this post and be sure to leave me an email address to contact you if you win. The Contest closes on February 15 and the winner will be announced soon thereafter. 

Good luck everyone and thanks so much for visiting!

UPDATE: All entries were placed in his big old popcorn bowl and Papa Crane picked the winner - Congratulations to Andrea for winning my Buttons Giveaway! Many thanks to everyone for all of your lovely comments!


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Enchanting World of Contemporary Folk Artist Paul Gordon

Reclining Snowlady Sculpture by Paul Gordon
This adorable reclining snowlady sculpture by folk artist Paul Gordon is a pretty good representation of what I've been doing for the last several weeks. All she needs is an iPad, a Pinterest account and a stack of decorating books!

After all the hustle and bustle of managing Cynthia Crane's Pottery and Paintings biz last fall, I've given myself a nice long vacation to catch up on some projects in my home. But more on that later - this post is all about Paul Gordon and his amazing folk art, his fantastic studio, his fabulous home AND his yearly art show "Friends In Christmas".

Contemporary Folk Artist Paul Gordon
If you have been following my blog for a while you know that not long ago I moved to a very small town after residing for over 32 yrs in a large city with a huge and very diverse art community. 

I have indeed met some very talented artists here in my new area, but none quite so uniquely talented as Contemporary Folk Artist Paul Gordon. Imagine my surprise when quite by accident in early 2014 I stumbled upon a blog article on Paul and the wonderful art show he puts on each November in his local studio and antiques shop.

Paul Gordon's Studio/Shop Window

Friends in Christmas Show, November 2014
Oh, my goodness! How delighted was I to learn that an artist of such renown as Paul - who has long been well known by folk art collectors near and far - actually lives and works right here in my little town. But to have the opportunity to participate in his small but exclusive show was such a joy!

And to be in the company of Paul's hand-picked group of extremely friendly and talented artists was truly wonderful! 

Deborah Hartwick of Heartwells has been making her delightful velvet creations since the early '80s.
Heartwells - Pin Cushions and other Soft Sculptures.
Kim Stout and her lovely Ceramic and Soft Sculptures.
Kim makes the sweetest Jewelry and Strawberry Buttons, among other things.

And here is Stacey Bear with her precious artwork.
I adored Stacey's Miniature Paintings. I wanted them all!
Deanna Ellis and her incredible sculptures. These were truly amazing!
Santa Sculpture by Paul Gordon.
And of course Paul was there with his enchanting and wonderful holiday characters. Long before the show opened on that Saturday morning eager shoppers were lined up at the door, all hoping for first dibs on either the fabulous Santa sculpture in the window or any one of Paul's other amazing creations. He actually has collectors who come to his show from as far away as the west coast. His work has been licensed by major gift manufactures and can be seen in several galleries and museums nationwide, as well as at the Ghoultide Gatherings show each October in Chelsea, Michigan.

Pauls work has also been featured in magazines, as shown in this recent issues of Treasures. 

Yes, that's Paul, truly "One of a Kind".

How imaginative! You just know he's having so much fun making these!
Paul's creations clearly reflect his former career in the textile and fashion industry. After forming the head and body, he brings a character to life by drawing from his ginormous collection of vintage textiles, trims, buttons and various accoutrements, all neatly stored in his vast studio space. Room upon room (13 to be exact) are filled floor to ceiling with anything and everything he might need in order to outfit each character.

And if his studio isn't enough to make an artist and vintage-lover green with envy, his home - filled with the most amazing collections - is certainly a joy to behold!

Paul's Christmas Tree Room, which remains on display year round.
A lovely vignette in Paul's fabulous home.
Many, many collections like these can be seen throughout Paul's home.
If you'd like information on how/where to buy from Paul or any of the others artists here, just contact me by email as most of these artists currently do not sell online.

So now that I have once again flexed my blogging muscles be sure to check back again in a few days for my post in Vicki's 2 Bags Full yearly Grow Your Blog party!