Monday, October 5, 2015

The big wall

by Kathleen

This a rather picture heavy post, and my first attempt at video...

The most controversial (among our friends) redecorating choice we planned to make in our house was to remove the living room wall mural. (photo from the listing)

A lovely (seriously, not sarcastic) example of the 60's chinoiserie style of specialty focal wallpaper. On a textured background a "Chinese" scene was "brushed" in gold...  tall craggy mountains in the background, pagoda buildings with bridges and pine trees in front, complete with a little lady with a parasol standing on a bridge.
Nice... but so not us.
Some of our friends felt that it was so iconic that it had to stay. But they didn't have to live with it. We decided it would go and go quickly. And so it did.

We were lucky... it was pretty easy to remove. And this is a photo essay of the process.

The first step is to pierce the paper with a tool made expressly for the purpose. There are many versions about, but what we used is called the Zinsser Paper Tiger. Its spiky wheels roll about and leave these trails of poked holes so you can see where you've been. Don't skimp on this step.

Because after piercing you soak the paper in something to dissolve the glue backing. The more holes you've poked the easier the solution gets behind the paper. There are a lot of different wallpaper glue removers, but we made our own with water, vinegar and liquid fabric softener. If I had to do it again I might skip the softener... I think it was there mostly to thicken the spray so it wouldn't drip, but it left a slick feel to the walls. And didn't really thicken it enough to justify its inclusion.
Spray it on heavy and let it soak in... about 5 minutes. But not too long or it'll dry and you'll just have to respray. Once it's saturated the wallpaper should scrape off smoothly... if you're lucky. Which we were... video as proof:

Notice, by the way, how I'm holding the scraper at a low angle... the lower angle you hold the less you'll dig into your wall, and the smoother the paper will slide off.

Some process shots (and yes, that green is the original underneath color)...


Yay! No wall paper!

The next step (after giving the walls a good damp wiping down to remove any leftover glue or fabric softener) is to fix any damage, dings, or dents. We had a lot of mudding and sanding, and mudding and sanding to do. But the clean flat wall afterwards was worth it.

Last step, and anything but least...

We went for a light, bright green. We covered the full wall (the dining section had been painted white previously). I'll be honest, I don't remember if we primed it. But obviously if we'd wanted white walls we would have had to prime over that original green. I think this color covered, as it was, with two coats.
We're still choosing artworks for the wall. We have a different option up now... more long and rectangular with darker colors. That's the great thing about having artist in the house... I never have to go without art!!!

Here there be socks

by kathleen

My usual sock model was unavailable

So Simon kindly filled in.

Boring variation of knits and purls in a wonderful sock yarn bought on vacation in the OBX (vacation yarn is souvenir yarn so it doesn't count as stash... right?)... the Black Pelican colorway.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Dyeing again

Last Weekend we had a little Dye party at my house.
I belong to a local fiber guild and as we looked for classes we could offer each other I thought of the silk culottes I'd dyed a couple years ago... a-short-disucssion-on-shorts-dyeing
and I offered to teach the (extremely simple) method. So we ordered silk scarves and acid dyes from dharma trading and, following the tutorials from their site mixed with my own implementations, the 6 of us had a blast!
Four of my final five scarves...
It was pointed out to me, as these lay drying on the lawn that I'd gone for purples and greens. Again. And I felt I had to break out, so I forced myself to do something a little different and here are the final five, with an orange and pink friend.

The two to the right are burnout (first and last in the upper photo), which means that the background is silk, which dyed, and the satin pattern is rayon, which did not dye. It's really a gorgeous effect in person.
The other three are habotai and crepe de chine... more plain surfaced, but still light weight. 

But the boldest dyed of all were... my hands.

Do as I say, not as I do... wear gloves. 
Although this stuff washes of skin pretty quickly
 )this is next day)...

my fingernails are still purple.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

strip a little, paint a little, strip a little...

Strip a LOT!
One drawback to our house from the very beginning were the many walls covered with wall paper of... well, let's just say not our taste. We knew there would be wallpaper stripping in our future, but we put it off for a long time out of, I admit it, fear. I heard such horror stories! One of my colleagues told me that before she had to remove wallpaper again she would move houses!
But moving wasn't an option. And the wallpaper just had to go. Had. To. Go.
So it did.
The hallway first...

This is a kind of wall board rather than wall paper. It's fake paneling on the bottom half and fake off white moire stripe on the top. Nailed into the wall with seventy bazillion tiny nails.With a strip of molding nailed across the seam.
This is the crown molding that previous owner put up... if you know what crown molding is and how it's supposed to work you'll see what's wrong with this picture. Even if you have no idea how crown molding is supposed to be installed you can still see the interesting way the corner miter was just... totally ignored ("We don't need no stinkin' corners!").
So we ripped off the moldings and the wall board thinking "This is a breeze!" and found...

The previous wall treatment that they had started and given up on... burlap cloth on the bottom and a woven reed and grass over foil wallpaper on top. 
It was HORRIBLE to get off! We had to rip the layer of reeds off with a scraper; massively puncture with a scoring tool and then saturate the foil; and then slooowly putty knife scrape it off... inch by aggravating inch. 
I didn't blame those owners one bit for giving up halfway and covering it with the wallboard. I was half tempted to reapply it myself a time or two. Or three. 
But we persevered (and perspired)... 
and got the wall completely clean...
patched and sanded the thousands of nail holes... and painted.

It's kind of hard to photograph as it's a hallway and not conducive to wide angle photos, but we continued the fireplace wall grey up one side and white around the remainder. And we love it! It's so much brighter and cleaner feeling. And the effect of the grey wall traveling up the stairs makes the space feel like it goes on...

I will continue to the easier, yet more controversial, wallpaper removal in the living room next time.
AND... I knit a pair of socks! yes, you heard right. I knit. And it was a pair. I will share that next time too.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Not really a post

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

All the blogs I used to read on bloglines have disappeared. So I switched my reader, and I'm registering the blog. Even a limpy blog is worth holding on to!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

What no one ever tells you about new home renovation...

by Kathleen

Is that lots of what you do is small, simple and boring. And no one will ever notice. Like thinning out overgrown hedge bushes (that still look overgrown when you're done). And changing out toilet seats (though you'd think they'd notice the padded butterfly embroidered seat gone missing). Or like switching out light switch plates.
From old heavy bronze ornate or cutesy...

To simple, clean and white...

These are some that matched the few plain original plates that we found at a thrift store. They were a little dirty and beige, but some soap and water, and a spritz of white enamel spray paint, and they're good as new! Or rather, good as old since the new ones were the ugly ornate ones.
Interestingly (to us, of course) we have decided to keep all the plates, switch and outlet, white regardless of what color the wall goes. So as you'll see in a later post, whether we painted the wall dark grey, light green or even white the plate stayed white. Personally, I like the stark contrast on the colorful walls.
But that post is for another day... after we finish the wall paper stripping (ugh).

PS...  One thing we haven't done is scraped the gold paint off the actual switches (yes, they painted the switches to go with the gold-bronze plates). They look dirty, but they're not. I just haven't yet figured out how to get into those tiny little shapes with a scraper.

PPS... I can't leave without showing you the toilet seat. The old one that is...
I admit it... I hated it from the moment I saw it. But really? Replacing a toilet seat is low on the priority scale. As long as it works... But when the bolts finally give way and the whole thing slides off sideways...? Yes! Goodbye old monstrosity and hello very plain, simple, unadorned, so boring I didn't even take a photo of it seat.
Now all that's left is to get rid of the (identical) one in the master half bath.  Hmmm, now where did I put that hammer...?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Short Disucssion on Shorts Dyeing

by Kathleen

You know what would be fun? A new post!! And how about one with lots of pretty (maybe) pictures? Yesss!!!

These past few years one of my recurring design responsibilities has been to do the costumes for two to three of the pieces in our spring dance concert. I started out as a dancer when I went to college, and I still love dance. All kinds and forms of dance interest me, but here our main (pretty much entire) focus is modern dance.
I have certain strengths in my design work, and one of them is character and humor. Two strengths... my two strengths are character and humor. And use of color. Three! My three strengths are... oh wait... sorry. I got lost in Monty Python (Nobody expects the Costume Designer!).
Anyway, despite the above I am good at funny and and at bold characterizations. And so I tend to get those kinds of pieces. But this year... I not only got a character driven piece, but I also got a pretty one too. Oh such fun!
The choreographer wanted dresses with full skirts and each of the five dancers should be different. There was a lot of twirling and floor work, so one of the elements that the choreographer and I talked about was that the full skirts meant something else had to offer modesty protection. And since we wanted to keep a flow to the silhouette I suggested full legged culottes... so there would be a double skirt effect (she didn't want it to look like pants), but plenty of modest coverage as well. (This was an idea another of our designers had used a couple years before). And as we got further into color discussions the idea of differentiating each girl in dress color but unifying in culotte color gelled.
To achieve the different colors while maintaining the strong connection between the five dancers I bought an undyed yardage of rayon knit for the all the dresses and stretch silk charmeuse for the all the culottes. And first built, and then dyed them.
The dressed were ombre dyed a solid color each, but the culottes... ooooo, I did something new to me! I threw dye on them! Fun messy splashy wheeeee dyeing!
I used Dharma Trading's acid dyes, and I pretty much followed the directions given on their site. I soaked the shorts in a vinegar and water mix first, getting them well saturated.

Then I mixed up the desired colors in small batches in glass jars, filled the washing machine with cold water for the rinse, and prepped the aluminum pan.

I did one pair of shorts each time. I laid them out as flat as I could length and width wise.

And then I poured the dye over them, overlapping and splashing as I went, judging it by eye. I did the up side and then flipped it quickly to do the back.

I did a quick microwave... VERY quick, about 30 seconds, pause, 30 seconds. I had read somewhere that this would help set the colors. Maybe it did, maybe it didn't... but I figure it didn't hurt anything.

Then I rinsed until the water was mostly clear and tossed it in the washer.
When all the shorts were done I turned on the washer and rinsed them well. This is their color wet.

This is their color dry.

Back view.
I also dyed scraps with the intention of finishing off necklines and sleeves and wherever it looked right on the dresses.

Here is one of the dresses. You can see how beautifully the rayon knit draped (and it felt like a cloud of soft melty textile fabulousness. Really).

Back view. I wish the dancer had turned her back to the audience more... she had a great back and this looked great on her!

And when she spun...

Here you can see the colors all together, the dresses in motion, and the way the culottes peeked out here and there adding coverage and color. The choreographer was happy, the dancers were happy, and I was happy.
It's always such a joy when things comes together so well...