Just because it is physically possible to turn something into something else, doesn't mean it should be done. A beautiful object does not always need to be a lamp or a curio shelf or a napkin ring. Everyone seems to be turning everything into everything else at this point. And sometimes, a cigar box is just a cigar box... So, I was pumped to literally stumble upon a creative reuse concept that pulled me out of my craft indifference while walking one of my favorite places on earth - the beaches of Lopez Island, WA.
I'm not reinventing the wheel with this one but rather putting a fresh spin on a seventies trend. Driftwood. Don't worry, I'm not imposing it randomly into a macrame wall hanging or creating a clunky mobile or sand candle. I've put together something more substantial and more, dare I say, functional - a headboard. And once I pictured it, I found the three perfect pieces of wood to build it with within eight feet of where I stood.
It was conceived to be a contribution to the beautiful simple beach house our good friends have welcomed us to every summer for many summers. Navigating the tastes and feelings of our hosts was trickier than designing and building the piece. But decor is a personal thing and a bed is a very personal thing.
Okay, so I've made their bed. And, apparently, they are happy to lie in it. And drift...
I never quite believe what I'm seeing with African block print fabric. My eyes ask my brain to explore a little further to verify that the electric colors and psychotropic patterns are for real. But my brain brushes them off distractedly with, "Not now - can't you see I'm experiencing a blissful sensory overload?" And all for under $5 per yard (www.ashantifabrics.com). There are a bazillion different colors/patterns, many with gold or silver metallic ink detail. Be prepared to buy all you need of a specific print as it's not guaranteed to be there long. It is sold in 12 yard lengths, often traditionally used in a single piece as a wrap dress. But the possibilities are endless (though a little can go a long way in shaking up a space). I was recently inspired to wrap a good friend's wedding gift with it using carpet tape for a blind seal on the ends (below).
I used the block print fabric (below) as privacy curtains in the built-in bunk beds I designed and made for my kids (above). I think my next venture may be upholstering the inside of vintage luggage. Or perhaps a jump suit for the new puppy.
You might think this simple idea works only if you happen to be as gifted as the guy who did this mural, Los Angeles based artist Matt Sharack. Well, you might be right - but I feel like chalk is a primitive, organic medium suited to imperfection. There, you now have license to scribble and come up with something beautiful. What I responded to about this concept was not so much the undeniable brilliance of the art but it's shape and scale. It plays with the old school placement of living room art as our folks might have hung it. It would be funny and beautiful to do a random grouping of smaller "pieces" (maybe one hangs slightly crooked). I think abstract would be equally as cool.
The entire wall has been painted with chalkboard paint and "seasoned " with chalk to mottle the surface and give it a patina.
Build a better mouse trap... curtain rods and brackets have historically been a design quandary (for me, at any rate). Extendable rods have an ugly impractical transition between the two halves. Finials are not pretty - almost without exception. Brackets tend to sag and can have a tough time holding onto or letting go of a rod. And just throwing money at a problem does not assure better options.
My solution is a fairly simple woodworking project that incorporates graceful, beautiful materials: 1 x 3 poplar (or maple) - actual measurement .75" x 2.5" (stocked at The Home Depot, if you must) cut into 4" lengths and pre finished hardwood broom handles cut to length. Tools include a drill with a 1" paddle bit and a 1/8" bit, a hammer and 1 1/4" finish nails, 2" #8 wood screws, wood glue, a tape measure, 120 grit sandpaper, a wire hanger and wire snips. If you have the wherewithal to cut your own blocks safely out of reclaimed wood - fantastic.
Mark a point 1 1/4" from three sides on the face of a wood block. Drill a 1" hole cleanly through the block at the mark. Sand this piece and attach it perpendicularly to the center of a second block with wood glue and finish nails (see above). The rods are not generally long enough to extend across windows over 42" so a center bracket is necessary where the two poles meet. I like to cut them leaving the rounded end of the rod with about a 1 1/2" overhang (NO finial). To keep them in place, mark the pole at the inside of the lefthand and righthand brackets drilling a 1/8" hole through the rod at these points. Install the rods and curtains. Thread a 2" piece of hanger wire through the holes bending each end slightly to keep the wire in place.
I find that attaching the brackets to the wall works well by pre drilling a 1/8" hole center top (angled down) and at the bottom (angled up) through the block - yes, I did it differently in the pic above (I have a brad nail gun, okay?). Attach with standard 2" wood screws. If your drapes are heavy you may need wall anchors.
I like finishing the brackets with linseed oil (prior to mounting). But it can be decoupaged, lacquered...