in love with mexican oilcloth

Monday, September 28, 2009

In the basement clean-out process, this forgotten cupboard that was full of ancient paint cans, cobwebs, and mold of course, was unearthed. 
It got the royal anti-mold scrub-down, paint, and new Mexican oilcloth to cover the old  shelves. Now it is the ultimate sewing supply cupboard. Note that everything is flood-safe, encased in plastic and off the floor. You can't be too careful!

I ordered the oilcloth from Hart's Fabric in Santa Cruz, California, one of my new favorite retail fabric sources.  My friend Patrice, in Santa Rosa, first introduced me to Mexican oilcloth's charms.  It's a California thing.  It's still made in Mexico. Something about it is so much more appealing than regular tablecloth vinyl. It has criss-crossing fibers in it that give it strength and texture, but what really sets it apart is the many vintage-style patterns it comes in, some of which are re-prints from engravings dating back to the 1930's.  I went safe with orange gingham for the cupboard (it comes in many shades in the gingham), but I'm in love with the splashier patterns. I need to think of some other projects to use then for that would really show them off... any ideas?

"Lucy, I'm home!"

beginnings of a studio

Sunday, September 27, 2009

It all started with the stairs...

The stairs to my basement had worn lead paint on them and I had been meaning to repaint them since we moved in. I just wanted to be happier on the way to the laundry.  The paint chip was in my purse for at least 4 years: Martha Stewart's "garden hose". After being painted, the stairs looked so nice, they made the sad brown beadboard on the wall look even dingier.  I kept going... two coats of oil-base primer and 2 coats of latex later, things were getting downright cheerful.

I thought I was done, then a friend pointed out how terrible the old floor looked next to the freshly painted beadboard and stairs.
I had been planning to live with it, but she was absolutely right.   Between the scars of long-gone linoleum tiles and the stubborn residue of decades of regular flooding, the floor was crying out for paint. I did a vapor test on the floor (tape a down 4 ft or larger square of clear plastic, sealing it all around the edges and wait for at least a week to see if moisture accumulates) and miraculously, there was no moisture after a month in the rainy season. I could paint!

Concrete floors are known for peeling but I didn't want that.  I scrubbed it with soap & water first and gave it a good hosing.  Then, in order to give it an even better cleaning and necessary PH change for good adhesion, I scrubbed again with an acid-based biodegradable concrete floor wash from Home Depot that fizzed up like alka seltzer.  After two days of dry time, I applied a special primer made for concrete.  Finally, I rolled on 2 coats of latex floor paint allowing it to dry well in between. Ahhhhh, that's better!

Of course, then the masonry walls didn't look so great with their mildew stains. I treated them with "mold blaster", but they didn't seem truly clean until I sprayed a on mold stain remover which basically has chlorine bleach as the active ingredient. I'm hoping the dehumidifier we have now will control future mold.  Don't kid yourself like I did when our previous dehumidifier broke- old houses need ventilation and dehumidifiers in the basement.  Mold can grow if humidity is greater than 50%.  Get a humidity gauge so you'll know for sure if it's dry enough.

With the basement empty, clean, and painted, something became apparent. The basement is actually a generously-sized space that would make a great studio!

katy & stephen's idyllic vermont wedding

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Congratulations to my cousin Stephen and his bride Katy who tied the knot this weekend near Woodstock, Vermont!
The bride was radiant and unconventional in an apricot jersey gown. The groom complemented her well in a vintage vest, sepia-colored chinos and- we may not see this again for a while- a tie! The outdoor ceremony was punctuated with the crows of wandering chickens.
The reception was held at a lovely old farmhouse belonging to Katy's family surrounded by wildflower meadows and sheltering pines.
All the couple's choices reflected their laid-back personalities and environmental consciousness. Rather than renting dishes and tablecloths, they rescued mismatched china and tablecloths from thrift stores.
The meal featured a roast pig and thoughtful selection of locally grown organic foods. Katy actually baked the cake herself. Her mother made the frosting and her friend did the decorating with poppy seeds and flowers right from the garden.
The festivities continued late into the night with live bluegrass and a bonfire. Some guests even camped on the property.

What a memorable good time! Congratulations again Katy & Stephen!

patrice's studio

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I'm always curious to see other people's studio spaces, probably because I crave to have one myself. Now that I have the sewing bug, the dining room just won't do anymore. Something will have to be done with the basement...

My friend Patrice, a textiles expert in California, has an enviable set-up. She is lucky to have use of half of an outbuilding on the same property as her residence, which makes it a pleasant destination to escape to. Her space is utilitarian and stylish at the same time
. The floor and chairs are cheerful shades of orange while the walls are a calm white and the shelving and tables are basic steel. The rest of the color comes from the array of fabrics arranged by hue in clear containers. To someone like me, it's like a candy store. I just want to open all the containers and paw the fabrics!!! I will strive for the same controlled chaos when I get going on my basement redo.

ding dong the plaid is dead!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Aaaaah, that's better. We have finished the chair! It's still a 1970's chair, but much easier on the eyes without the rustic fraying plaid and its button-tufting. It's ready to receive a bright modern pillow or throw without danger of visual overload. In case Beth feels nostalgia for the old plaid, she needs only to lift the seat cushion where the frame still has some attached. Good times, those '70's!