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Blog — "projects"

The End of the Chair Saga

Heidi Shenk "chair" "design" "furniture" "projects" "upholstery"

Finally it is complete. That old olive colored chair which had seen better days is now a fresh teal, super contemporary accent chair that is begging to be sat upon. I must admit, it turned out a thousand times better than I had ever hoped. The hardest part, no doubt, was fastening the leather accent buttons to the seat back. This was done with some help from Andrew and a complete McGyver technique in which we taped the upholstery string to a piece of wire which was then threaded through to the back.

In order to make sure the thread knots that I tied in the back did not pull through our chip board backing, I used two leftover buttons as a backing before tying the knot. Nothing pretty of course, just two buttons from our stash of extras that are saved for that unfortunate incident when you pull your pants out of the dryer, only to realize they are now buttonless. And in the end, our technique stands up to our tests of sitting down into the chair in the bounciest ways possible. Luckily all of Andrew's handy man (or as he calls them, handy Andy) tricks have been concealed with the final backing of fabric.

In the process of making a new cushion, I lined the old springs with burlap and then covered that with the seat cushion before adding the final upholstery. All in all, our final product is spectacular-- keeping to the old chair's vintage look, yet adding a modern and contemporary flair. And of course, now for the obligatory before and after photos. Enjoy!

After
Before

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Architectural Salvage Wine Stoppers

Heidi Shenk "art" "Baltimore" "crafts" "cuisine" "food" "projects"

My chair project was put off this past weekend due to rainy weather. I've been doing most of the work outside on my back deck since it involves sanding and finishing, or inevitably sawdust and stain fumes. So instead I decided to work on another upcycling project.

There are several wonderful architectural salvage warehouses in Baltimore. My favorite is Second Chance which is not just one, but I believe five huge warehouses nestled between M&T Bank Stadium, I-95, and some railroad tracks. What I love about Second Chance is that they have a different warehouse for different subcategories of architectural salvage. One warehouse, for example, is all furniture and stained glass. Another is doors, windows, and the like. A third, and perhaps often most interesting, is architectural elements. This warehouse features anything from old tin ceiling panels to beautiful stair railings to antique walk in refrigerators.

The last time I went to Second Chance, I spent some time sorting through old vintage door knobs and cabinet knobs. All of the different knobs were so much fun that I bought them on a whim knowing that I would surely find a project that would work with them. I eventually decided to turn these lovely knobs into cork wine stoppers. After purchasing the corks, I used the vintage knobs paired with a copper plumbing cap to create my finished product. These particular wine stoppers are currently listed on my Etsy shop. For now, enjoy the wine stoppers in the photos below!

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The Chair Saga | Pearls and Butterflies

Heidi Shenk "cards" "chair" "crafts" "furniture" "projects" "upholstery"

I spent a good portion of today designing and working on my chair project. Andrew had gone into the office to work on drawing for their latest deadline and I was at home by myself on a lazy Sunday. Obviously that meant I had to do some sort of crafting to fill up my time! I spent the morning sanding and refinishing the legs of the old vintage chair that I wrote about yesterday. It is coming along quite nicely. I used a dark walnut finish that turned out amazingly! I am still debating whether or not to do another coat, but I have decided that I would like a bit of sheen instead of the matte finish I had originally planned.

I have decided that the easiest parts are now finished. I am most concerned that when it comes to cutting and fitting the new upholstery fabric I am going to fail horribly. Andrew continues to tell me that the chair is going to turn out to be amazing, yet I continue to remind him that there is still plenty of time for me to royally screw up! This is my first go at reupholstering an old piece of furniture. I have no fear when it comes to woodworking aspects. After all, my father is a woodworker and luthier so I learned many tricks of the trade from him. And now that I think about it, I guess I am fairly decent behind a sewing machine so I am not sure what my worry is. I think it is just the perfectionist in me that does not want to fail when the potential outcome could be that awesome.

After I finished working on the chair for the day, I spent some time making a new set of note cards. I recently found some rather elegant satin ribbon that featured butterflies. I decided to pair the ribbon with some pearlized card stock that I had purchased. I was rather pleased with the final outcome-- a very elegant yet simple note card. The cards are vertical in orientation with the fold at the top rather than horizontal. I don't think that I would choose these cards for myself-- they're almost too girlie for me. However, I am still happy with the end result from a design standpoint. The cards remind me of pearls so I've dubbed them Pearls and Butterflies-- how lady-like!

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Reupholstering an Old Find

Heidi Shenk "chair" "furniture" "projects" "upholstery"

When my sister was in high school she found an old vintage chair to use as a desk chair at a Goodwill store.  I can't imagine that she purchased it for more than several dollars if I remember correctly. After she moved to Colorado, she left the chair in my parent's house in Indiana. Each year that I visited my parents, my dad would ask if I had any interest in the chair as it sat forlornly in their spare bedroom. Knowing that my sister would not want it any longer, I decided to take it on as a project. After Andrew inspected the chair, he decided that he absolutely wanted it-- he thought it was fun in its old vintage character. So when my parents drove down to Baltimore this Christmas, they brought with them the chair.

Last weekend I went to Joann Fabric to pick up some new upholstery fabric and a few buttons. I chose out a light teal fabric with the same sort of vintage appeal of the old olive green fabric. I also picked out two dark leather buttons as accents that will match the dark walnut finish that I picked up for refinishing the legs. On Tuesday, during our latest snow day, I began sanding the legs and taking out the upholstery tacks. I have only gotten this far at this point as the current stuffing was in very bad shape. I was hoping to reuse the stuffing, but now find myself off to the fabric store again to pick up new foam for the chair.  So before I leave, I will leave you with a few photos of my project thus far.

The chair in its original state.

Post removal of the old upholstery fabric.

New fabric and buttons to be used.

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Snow Days are Project Days

Heidi Shenk "art" "crafts" "projects" "snow"

Snow days are a blessing in disguise. Somehow they always manage to pop up right after a long stretch of stressful events. In today's case, my snow day arrived the day after second quarter grades were due. There is no better feeling than that of having a surprise visit by an overnight winter storm on the day after such a day. It is as if the snow was purposefully sent to provide me with rejuvenation for the mind, body, and soul.

On days like today, the first priority is to enjoy extra time lounging around the house in soft and cozy sweatpants. The second priority is enjoying my cup of coffee rather than rushing it as I usually do-- and of course then have a second and possibly a third. Then on to the projects.

Snow days are project days. It is blissful just to think of having an entire day to myself with no obligation of any sort! It is the ideal time to start new projects or finish ones that have been left by the wayside and consumed by the daily grind of being a teacher. But a snow day! The possibilities are endless!

My recent endeavors have taken me to an architectural drafting table that is tucked away in our cozy basement. I spread paper of all colors, textures, and patterns in front of me and carefully choose a pleasing assortment and begin crafting a new set of cards. Paper has quickly become one of my favorite mediums and cold, snowy days are perfect for creating new designs and cards. Today, however, I start with a new project-- a writing project. And here I am, curled up in my reading chair, beginning this new blog.  Here I hope to share with you my own passions-- travel, music, food, photography, design (and, yes, maybe a little here and there about education). But for now, I'm off to that cozy basement full or wonderful and vibrant paper!

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