The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and, clearly, reorganizing my shop wasn’t enough in the getting dirty department. This past week I brought in four yards of dirt to revive what once was a kitchen garden.
It needed a little love, but after cutting down the three-foot tall weeds, laying down cardboard, layering leaves and compost, I laid down the dirt, with a little help from the manpower on the property.What can I say, I’m not in the shape I used to be, after hauling 3.5 yards with a shovel and wheel-borrow, I was a little tuckered out and needed to call in reinforcements.
The manpower also framed in our garden gate, restructured our compost bins, and got the worm farm constructed and operational.
While we are not quite out of the clutches of the late winter freezes, (it was 20 degrees here two nights ago), we’re looking forward to seeing the following lovelies in the sprout for eating, canning, and more: beets, basil, carrots, collards, and rainbow chard!
Really. To say that I’ve been a little quiet may in fact be the biggest understatement since my last blog post and should cover the understatement bases for the remainder of 2019. I have come back to life. In fact, Life is kind of what got in the way. So much has changed since my last post, I don’t even know where to begin. Rather than recapping and rehashing the last year or so, what I will focus on are the things that have recently taken place to get me back on track.
Teamwork Makes the Dreamwork
I have found my tribe. I have teamed up with some amazing people to help push me forward, grow, learn… and learn things that I really needed to know to help grow laura lee… like that online store, a better website, etc. It’ll be a slow process to build, but I’ll get there. Despite sometimes what I think, I can’t do everything by myself. This team is the A-Team.
New Home… New Homestead
To wrap up 2018… I moved. I left my adorable little apartment that I’ve called home for five years and completely uprooted myself to a little home in the country. I’m surrounded by hundreds of acres of rolling hills, cows, pastures, some trees, and John Deere tractors. I’m greeted by the wagging tales of dogs every morning and coffee already brewed. (*note: we have not trained the dogs to make coffee yet) I will start prepping my garden beds this week so that I can start growing my own produce for my canned goods!
I have not forgotten about Kickstarter Incentives. I have learned that I signed myself up for too complicated of incentives, which is taking me much longer to fill. My sincerest apologies… thank you for your patience.
I’m still working on the cookbook. I will post a teaser soon.
I now live on the same property as my furniture shop, you can expect to see more updates about that once I finish unpacking boxes.
I’ve fallen in love, despite my greatest attempt not to.
I am working on a new line of embroidery goods.
There are workshops/classes being planned.
Keep your eyes peeled for a made by laura lee Youtube channel coming soon.
If any of ya’ll are still reading my humble little blog… thank you. It’s good to be back. I appreciate you.
Chair Sale. That’s right, I said SALE. I’ve never had to have a studio sale but my workspace is flooded with one off chairs. These babies have yet to be refinished. I will finish them to your liking. You can buy one or two or all six. (One chair, Chair 6, is already refinished.)
I’m desperate to make space for some bigger pieces that are needing to be refinished but I can’t do it with these lovelies taking up valuable space.
I will be selling these babies for $50 a piece.
Contact me ASAP to let me know what chair you’d like and how you’d like it. firstname.lastname@example.org
What a month! From mid-June to today, I have had the most amount of custom work I have ever had! I love it. Nothing makes me happier. I hope the custom orders just keep on coming. So tell all your friends! (wink, wink, nudge, nudge)
That being said, I wanted to share with you a couple of the pieces of furniture that I have just wrapped up. These pieces consisted of a desk and chair to match.
I was gifted this great little desk from someones garage and the chair was a curb side find. I stripped them of their finish, sanded, sanded, and applied a white paint with my favorite walnut stain over it to give it that aged look. It’s the perfect finish for the farmhouse that they will be calling home!
Not only are the desk and chair creating a fabulous new office space but the bookshelf from my previous post (Furniture for the Fight: May) also made it’s way into the mix. Check it out!
Desk after (not the best photo)
Desk & Bookshelf in new Home
Chair Before (left)
Chair After Detail
Chair After Detail
Chair After Detail
If you are in the Austin area and are interested in having a piece of furniture that you already own refinished, please feel free to message me at email@example.com
Okay! I am, admittedly, a little behind on my blogging. The hustle continues though: crafting, creating, custom orders, playing music, Kickstarter stuff, etc. I have not given up on my Furniture for the Fight project! I may have fallen a little behind, but this project is so important to me. I had the month of May carved out in honor of Immigrant Asian American Month and a percentage of the proceeds will go to National Immigration Forum.
A little back story…
I found this handmade bookshelf at the side of the road. It had a lot of texture and personality. It was solid, for sure. I pulled over, put her in the back of the truck, and brought her straight to the studio.
After stripping off the drab brown paint, I got her a good sanding. I applied a creamy white paint with my go to walnut stain. The grooves in the wood held the stain nicely to accentuate the unique texture of the wood. My favorite part of this piece is the vibrant Japanese paper applied to the back of the shelves. The red and the gold really give this simple bookshelf a lot of personality.
If interested, go ahead and contact me. Again, a percentage of the proceeds will go to National Immigration Forum. Email me if you are interested (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I’m a few days overdue for my weekly post, but I promise I will make it up to you with the best piece of furniture I’ve refinished yet.
The David Bowie Inspired Rocking Chair
I had acquired this little rocking chair probably 6 months ago. I was planning on refinishing it in such a way that I would keep it. Right around the time I was moving into my studio, David Bowie had tragically passed away. I thought that maybe this rocking chair had more purpose than just a plain rocking chair in my apartment. I put my feelers (aka a Facebook post on my personal page) to see who would be interested in a David Bowie inspired rocking chair… much to my surprise, there was plenty of interest.
This rocking chair went through such a transformation! From removing the upholstery that had stain all over the edges to a lot of the structural repairs (a lot of the joints were loose), to the actual painting and learning how to reupholster a chair…. It is now a Chair that Rocks!
I’ve been sitting at my computer for the last thirty minutes surfing the internet, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.
“Geez, there is something I need to be doing right now, but I can’t remember what it is.”
I know I have lots of work I need to do: updating menus, creating how-to guides, itineraries, checklists, blah, blah, blah. I realize, now, thumbing through the pages of the web, that I need to take care of me. I haven’t written something for me, you, a post in general, in weeks. In fact, it’s been so long that I don’t really even care to check.
Don’t get me wrong, a promotion at work is always a good thing. I’m thrilled to be working with wonderful people (I cannot stress that enough), a boss that cares about her business, employees, and that trusts me to do the right thing, and of course, a raise. The thing that sucks me in the most is I have the opportunity to make a difference, like my furniture projects, I will leave it better than I found it. The drawback is that I go head first with such gusto that I lose myself.
The not sleeping has started, my craft projects are collecting dust, my guitar.. ha! I haven’t touched it since my last show. Let me say this first: I am not complaining about work. Nope. Not here. What I am expressing is my disappointment with myself. There needs to be balance: if I’m going to polish of a pint of ice cream, I need to do some yoga the next day; if I’m going to stay up late doing god knows what, I need to make sure I rest up somewhere; and if I’m going to throw myself into work 7 days a week, I need to schedule some time for me.
This initial workload will dissipate, but I can’t burn out before then. I’ve been down this road before (flashbacks of working a 8-7/6 days a week in a windowless office, come to mind). Today marks the day that I will refocus and start balancing. Okay, maybe not today as I am taking a break from steam cleaning the carpet in my apartment, but tomorrow. Yes, tomorrow. I have my music, my furniture, my embroidery, and more. Thanks for listening and reading and your support.
It has been a long time coming, but I have finally completed a furniture piece that I have had in my possession for years. This little table deserves it.
The Back Story:
In 2010, my Ex and I both taught a class at Skill Share. (If you haven’t heard of Skill Share, I highly suggest you check it out.) My Ex, Dave, is a skilled electrician and was volunteering his time to teach a light re-wiring class. Dave also had a knack, a gift, whatever you want to call it, for finding the coolest free treasures. Most would probably call them junk but for those that were fans of the vintage and antique, he was the best magnet to have. He collected and pulled together bins full of lamps for this class. I was unable to attend his class, as I was teaching my canning class at the same time, so I never got the tutorial, but I was so happy to see many of the unwanted lamps come back home with him!
A couple of years passed, Dave and I were moving on with our separate lives, I was relieved and thrilled that he did not have a lot of interest in the two lamps that I so desperately wanted. One is the cutest yellow lamp which sits on my nightstand and the other was this little side table with a light in it. I’m assuming Dave thought it was more trouble than it was worth, just by looking at it. It was wobbly, the light fixture needed to be replaced, and the finish was shedding off at an exponential rate.
I have moved several times with this diamond in the rough. Every move, I tell myself, “Someday, I will refinish this,” or, “I swear I will get to this project.” I don’t know if the timing was just right or that there is some magic force within the walls of this current apartment that is a driving force behind me completing lingering projects, either way… this side table got the treatment it deserved.
Admittedly this project took a little longer than anticipated due to the cold weather. I do most of my work outside for ventilation and the sake of my downstairs neighbor. Thankfully we’ve had a few days of exceptional weather and I was able to sand and finish this project.
This little table no longer wobbles, it’s been painted and finished, the metal bits are cleaned up and polished, and refreshed, as well as a spiffy new light fixture. This project has left me feeling more handy than ever and satisfied to have finally completed it. What a learning experience!
I have a vivid memory from my childhood of cobalt blue glass bottles lined up on the sill of my mothers office window at the house I grew up in. I remember how the light looked shining through during every part of the day. I asked my mother why she had all these bottles with nothing in them. Her response was simple. “I love them. I just do. Look at how blue they are.” I never felt that it ever needed any other explaining. Twenty plus years later, I am just like my mother, collecting bottles just to see the light twinkle through the blues, greens, and aged clears.
A while back a friend had stumbled across a collection of old, dusty medicine bottles that were stacked along an old mans barn. I think he got 3 or 4 cases of these bottles. Well, being my mothers daughter I jumped on the chance to get my hands on a few of these these.
These lost bottles have now been found and given a home. I have a few scattered around my living room and bedroom, but admittedly there were a few, particularly the darker brown bottles, that I wanted to give some character and color to, since they didn’t go with anything in my apartment. I decided like any crafty girl to add some ribbon, I held back on the glitter, and to stick with the old theme, I added some dried babies breath and miniature roses. On the brown bottles, instead of adding ribbon, I tied antique lace that I had acquired from an estate sale. Simple but definitely brightens up these little bottles and adds a feminine touch.
I have a new piece of furniture! The little stool was a great first project, but I thoroughly enjoy moving up and graduating to more complex projects.
A little back story on this chair: A few years ago when my Ex and I had moved into this charming little house on the East Side, we discovered this white chair that was left behind. The structure of the chair was, for the most part, sound, but it had been carelessly painted white. Like a lost puppy, we kept it. When my Ex and I split, I kept the chair. I always had it in my heart that I would give this chair some TLC. Several years later, it got just that.
Eager to get started on this project, I applied stripper to the chair, chomping at the bit to peel off the layer of unwanted paint. I let it sit and when I went to scrape, I was more than disappointed. I wanted that somewhat weird satisfaction of peeling paint; similar to pulling glue off your fingers when you were a kid. (Is this weird or are you coming with me?) Needless to say that only thing that came off was the stripper. (insert inappropriate joke, go ahead and get it out of your system)
Learning Experience #1: When stripper is applied to paint that has been applied over stain: it turns into a gel and doesn’t actual get you anywhere but frustrated.
After this discovery, I quickly felt myself getting sick. I was hit with a strong wave of seasonal allergies, which landed myself in bed for a week. Ahthankyooou, Rag Weed. This brings us to….
Learning Experience #2: Don’t work on projects when you are not feeling 100%. You will end up doing more damage than good and therefore make more work for yourself.
After recovering from being Sneezy’s lost cousin, Snotty, I got back to work. I trucked my sander and my chair off to a friends house to whip this stripper/paint/stain layered mess into submission. After hours of using my power sander (YAY!) the job was done. I then applied some wood filler to cracks in the seat to get it back to an even and smooth surface.
I’ve always wanted a teal or turquoise piece of furniture. I was fortunate to locate a color I really liked, appropriately named “Smoked Turquoise.” Once a few coats were dried, I applied stain to the entire piece. I have never used stain before, admittedly I was nervous, but it turned out very easy to work with. I lathered on the stain, let it sit, and then buffed it off. Applying the stain over the latex paint gives a subtle aged feel without making it look forced.
This piece was a little more labor intensive than the previous, but I must say I found it valuable. I worked with new mediums and gained a few new techniques.
Learning Experience #3: Take better before pictures! (I did take more “In the Process” Pictures, but I wish you could have seen a better before picture!)
Needless to say, I believe I have fallen in love with refinishing furniture. In love. I cannot believe how satisfying it feels to convert an ordinary piece of furniture into something special.