Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire wasn't built over night and I should know, I have a bit of Turkish blood running in my veins AND I reupholstered my ottoman.

I don't know about you but high design ottomans are expensive!  And I'm designing on a quarter?  Let me explain.  From my previous posts you will know that I am working with a lof of color in my apartment and a lot of the furniture and accent pieces are white/light.  BTW, white furniture is very hard to find in your typical furniture stores like Raymour & Flanigan, Bob's Furniture, etc.  So a person like me has to be clever and patient.  Now back to the ottoman. I wanted a white ottoman, of course.  I was searching on line for images of ottomans to see what was out there and I came across the most beautiful ottoman I have ever seen. Pic below.  It is made by They have very beautiful things but they are very expensive.  I love the circle design in upholstery studs - so cool.

Isn't it a work of art in itself?  Since I couldn't afford this gorgeous piece, I thought I would just borrow some of the look and make one of my own. I knew mine wouldn't look anything near the real version but then I don't keep a picture of that one around so people don't have anything to compare mine to, usually.  I have never upholstered anything before but I've watched a lot of do it yourself shows and so I plotted.

First, instead of making an ottoman completely from scratch, I would use one already made and go from there.  I found this round medium sized ottoman at Home Goods for a very reasonable price.  It has a croc pattern which I wanted but ugly brown color!. 

Ah, to find bright white vinyl with a flat croc pattern.  Also not easy but after sending away for several samples, I found the croc I was looking for.  I found this website and ended up buying the White Croc Nuvtex Dundee vinyl.  It is bright white and has the same exact pattern as you see in the brown ottoman.  In order to create the stud design, I purchased upholstery studs in silver nickel in bulk (I bought too much, so if you neen any let me know) from ebay.  The next step was to buy foam long enough in order to surround the ottoman where the ends would touch. I found two large foam pieces from Jo-Ann Fabrics that would be long enough and wide enough and then I needed a piece that was big enough to cut the diameter of the new ottoman's top piece.  I found that online at where I had gotten other swatches.  I wish I had taken pictures along the way to illustrate.  Picture this: one long piece of foam to wrap around the ottoman making it wider and then a circle foam piece to sit on top to make the ottoman higher.  I used a scissor and a sharpie to cut the pieces to the right size after careful measurements.  The next trick was to figure out how to glue the pieces of foam to the ottoman and to each other.  I got this yucky, smelly, spray glue also from Jo-Ann Fabrics, called Fast Tack upholstery adhesive.  Lots of danger signs on this thing.  I put on clothes I didn't care about, took a plastic tarp, surgical gloves, facial masks and safety goggles, went out on my terrace and carefully spray glued the pieces together.  I never want to use this stuff again. In fact, the spray can is mostly full, so you can have it. 

The glue did the trick though.  Now the real fun begins.  How to sew the thick, really big pieces of vinyl together so that it fit this now large ottoman made out of foam.  It was a real struggle because I don't have an industrial sewing machine.  My machine did a pretty good job considering - I have a Husqvarna Viking machine - but it was such a large project and trying to get a perfect fit that was skin tight - not possible for me.  On top of the sewing being difficult, once the pieces were sewn, I had to get the "cover" over the foam.  The inside of the vinyl was coated with an almost felt like layer which stuck to the foam like crazy.  I had to just keep working the cover over and down until it finally fit.  I'm sweating just remembering it. 

Once the cover was on the ottoman, it needed to be fitted and tacked down to the wooden shell of the original ottoman.  Using scissor to cut off excess vinyl, little sharp pointed tacks and a hammer, I pulled the vinyl as taut as possible and hammered it all into place.  This cover ain't going nowhere!

Okay, design time.  In order to replicate the circle design in the upholstery studs, I measured, did the math and made a template for the circle that would go around the ottoman. I took graphpaper and a compass and drew a circle of the correct size.  Which was dependent on the size of my ottoman but could be different for someone else and depending on the look they wanted. Then I took a hole puncher and punched holes going around the very edge of the circle.  I used the same method to make a bar shape that would go in between each circle.  The holes were used to mark on the ottoman where the design would go.  Here's how I did it.  I used painter's blue tape to center the design in the middle of the ottoman by marking the top of where the circles would go. I did this all around.  Then I took my circle template, lined it up against the blue tape mark and with a pencil, marked where the hole punches were.  This gave me a circle where I would insert the upholstery studs, one by one, all around.  Then I took the bar template, lined it up and did the same.  I repeated this process until I connected the design back to the starting point.  That was a lot of pushing in studs.  But it was worth it!  Finally, here is the finished, not perfect but still awesome, product at a much better cost. (excuse the mess and the kitty)

Here is a detail view.

Please post your comments below.  I would love to know what you are all thinking of my posts and my projects.
Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned for more creativity!

"Windows are the eyes of a room, drapes are the eyelashes"

Drapes, Curtains, what's the difference?  Beats me.  I just know that I like them and needed them on my windows.  Like everything else I've purchased or made in my new place, the search was long and I confess probably obsessive.  Ands it funny, sometimes I have a vision of what I think I want and it turns out to be totally different and other times, I know exactly what I want and if I can't find it (or afford it), I have to make it happen. 

I have three windows in my apartment.  Two large picture windows and one regular sized window.   Because of the saturated colors I have in my place (blue in the living room, red in the bedroom, white in the dining room), most of the furniture is white or light so as to not compete with the color.  More on that later, but after trying a few options, I decided to go with light/white curtains. And I decided to use the same pattern for all the windows in the main living space because they were all on the same wall, despite the different wall color.

So one day, I happened to be in Bed, Bath and Beyond passing the shower curtain section and my eye was caught by a shimmering curtain hanging up.  Hmm, I thought, this is cool.

I really liked the hourglass pattern.  I really liked the silver sequins that made up the hourglass pattern and I liked the shinier background which reminded me of the sheen of raw silk.  Luxury! I love diamonds and sparkle. I'm not afraid to decorate with them! So, I grabbed a few packages and brought them home, opened one and spent days looking at it against the blue painted wall of the living room and the swatch of wallpaper to eventually go up in the dining room.   Just in case, I brought home a few other options and swatches of fabric to compare and in the end this one won the battle. It is called Infinity Shower Curtain. 

All was going well, I finally made a decision.  The only problem was that the dimensions of a shower curtain (72 x 72) are very different than the dimensions of a window curtain (usually longer and not as wide).  I bunched up the 72 inches wide shower curtain to see if it was too much fabric, but it worked.  So yay, I didn't have to make changes to the width.  My ceiling height is 8 feet or 96 inches and I wanted some pooling of fabric on the floor.  This meant that I had to add length to the pre-made shower curtain.   But how to connect the pieces so it looked good?  A ribbon to hide the edges of both pieces and to connect them, but what kind of ribbon?  Another thing to obsess about.  I tried a few options and didn't like anything.  I ended up making a custom sash with a strip of the shower curtain and metallic silver ribbon sewed on both edges.  Now just keep in mind, I said I was creative, I didn't say I was a master sewer.  Unless you look really close, you don't notice anything that might possibly not be perfect!

I picked up some really cool clear faceted crystal curtain hardware from JCPenny to hang the curtains on.  The trick to making a window and ceiling look taller/higher, is to hang curtains as high as possible.  I plan on getting crown molding, so I left a little room when I installed the curtain rods.  Then I sewed away and here is what the curtains look like now.  Oh, one more note.  I didn't like all of the silver metal of the curtain rods (very long curtain rod, not easy to install alone) and decided to try covering the rods with extra fabric.  I think it came out cool.  What do you think?

Please ignore the shade on the window, that was there from previous owner and will be replaced eventually! Oh, can't wait.  Here's the dining room.

And one more picture - with the sunlight streaming through!
Kitty makes a cameo. You can see some of my pretty flower on the terrace.

Okay, one more thing.  For the bedroom, which to remind you is RED, I wanted a geometric bold pattern with bright white as the background and red as the pattern color.  I was inspired by some fabrics I saw online but the colors were all wrong.  So I found a website, where you can create your own patterns and get them printed on different types of fabric.  So, that is exactly what I did.  I made my own pattern using mostly Photoshop and then uploaded it to spoonflower and now I (and everyone) can order the fabric (when I get a job) and make curtains for the picture window in my bedroom.  Here is what the pattern looks like that I call Red Trellis.  Don't even get me started on picking the right RGB pantone color so it would print the right color.  Actually, I should say a few words about this.  What you see on the computer screen, is not necessarily what others see on their computer screens and not necessarily what will print out from the computer.  So, in order to ensure the color you want comes out right, you must make sure you use the right settings.  Really simply, because its more complicated, there are codes for different colors.  On spoonflower, there is an option to print on a yard of fabric, color charts.  You can see a tiny bit of it on the very right of the picture of the finished curtains in the dining room. This is a yard of thumb size color swatches very close together.  Put it this way, it took me a while in different lighting to figure out which red to use.  Luckily, it came out well when printed.  One last note, a red that was medium in color, turned out to be coral when printed on fabric so I had to have real red, the color I picked looks much darker on screen.

Okay, that's it for now. Time to go to sleep. 
Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned for more creativity!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A break from job searching

Hello again.  I'm currently job searching but I feel I did a lot today and need a break, so post number 2. 

I bought a one bedroom coop not too long ago and decided that I wanted to really to make the place my own.  Especially after living in a studio for 13 years.  I wanted bold colors on the wall instead of being surrounded by white walls like before.  I wanted to turn around and see things that made me happy.  During the buying process, I decided I would have painting done before I moved in so I had to map everything out.  You may laugh, but I ended up making a diorama.

I even used paint samples and painted the walls.  And tried out furniture placement and rug choices.

So I didn't buy the rugs yet, but I was thinking of those.  Oh and I would like to get a flat screen TV for that wall across from the couch with a white electric fireplace mantel underneath.  One day! 

So, paint colors.... While watching Sex in the City first movie, I fell insanely in love with the beautiful blue paint used on the walls of Carrie's redesigned apartment. 

I went on a search to find who the set designer was, I even got a hold of his number and left him a message.  I told you - insane.  Needless to say, I never heard from him.  But he gave an interview which I found online and apparently I wasn't the only one asking so he mentioned the color was closest to Benjamin Moore's Electric Blue.  The color is gorgeous and changes in the light.  Then I found a purple that would look good next to the blue - Benjamin Moore's Gentle Violet.  Here are some more pictures to illustrate.

As you can see, I went bold.  It's been a year and a half and I still love the colors!  BUT, wait until you see what I picked in the bedroom.  I wanted red ruby walls and I searched high and low to find the right red to no avail.  I finally asked the mixing expert at Janovic to try to match a rolo red cup.  I know what you must be thinking but its my vision.  The mix master came through with a red sample which I then dubbed "impossible red" because it was impossible to find.  And for all of you naysayers out there, while picking up the paint several people noticed the swatch I was holding and asked which color that was.  Anyway, let me first show you my inspiration for the red room before I show you what it looks like now.

Okay, so I'm not quite there yet, but here is a bit of my red bedroom.  As you can see, I have had my ceiling painted metallic gold and what is really missing is the white crown molding.  Here I have taped up some paper to see what it will look like and to try out different thicknesses.  See how the white molding makes the ceiling reflect differently.  Alas, I am not able to have the work done yet, but it will be fantastic when its done.  I might even do something more like the picture above.  Not sure.  BTW, do you see the orbs in the picture?  I get those sometimes.  What do you think, ghosts?

Okay, one more area to discuss.  This post will make future posts make more sense.  I have a "dining area" and I wanted to keep it white since all of the other walls were bold.  But white doesn't mean it has to be plain.  Okay, so before I moved in, I had the walls painted white and I had a chair rail put in.  Above the chair rail will be least one day.  Here are a few visuals for the dining room. The chair is from homegoods. I love them and I love homegoods! Hey, just remember, everything is a work in progress.

Need a new table!

Thanks for stopping by again and stay tuned for more creativity! 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Why a blog, why now?

Well, why not?  I love to create things and I want to share.  I will be blogging about different projects I have worked on in the past and new projects that are in the works.  Explaining a little bit of how I did it.
Your welcome to come and peek into my brain.  I think I will start with something old.

Back in I think it was 2004, I took a soldering 101 class at FIT. I had always wanted to learn how to make jewelry working with metals. I had been making beaded jewelry and loved it! I really wanted to turn this into a career but instead it remains a hobby. Here is my final project which the teacher called museum quality and which landed me an A. The assignment was to make a bracelet using at least one hinge. I had extra time to work on mine since I wasn't working at the time so I made one with 9 hinges. Here is what my final project looks like.

I incorporated beading design into this complex hinged bracelet made of sterling silver and garnet. It reminds me of an abacus.  I also put my first initial into two of the plates just for the hell of it. Mind you I did most of the soldering in my tiny kitchen when I lived on the UES in NYC.  I had to map out on paper with exact measurements in millimeters (that is very small) my design and how all the pieces would fit together.  And then, I had to figure out in what order would I solder the pieces together.  For those of you who don't know anything about soldering, "solder is a fusible metal alloy used to join together metal workpieces and having a melting point below that of the workpiece(s)". What this means is that there is hard, medium and soft solder.  When you are making a complex piece that requires more than one stage of soldering, hard solder would be used first so that when you soldered the second time with medium solder, the hard solder would not melt.  The hard solder does not melt because it takes a higher temperature to melt than when using the medium solder where less heat would be applied to the piece. But before soldering can begin, the raw materials need to be sawed, measured, drilled, filed, polished, hammered and otherwise prepared.  After the piece was all soldered together, I used sterling silver wire to thread the beads in between the pre-drilled holes. 

Here is a picture of my first project in that class, a pendant inspired by the chinese symbol for longevity also made in sterling silver with garnet cabachons stranded with garnet beads.  I like garnet.

I would show you my secret jewelry designs but then I would have to kill you. 
Maybe one day.

Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned for more creativity!