Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Design Resource: Library of Congress Image Files

The Library of Congress website hosts a staggeringly large collection of image archives, many of which are public domain and available for download.  It's not the most user friendly site, but if you give yourself some time, you are likely to find some gems to suit your taste.

I especially love these examples that I pulled from their WPA poster archive.

Monday, August 30, 2010

How-To/Look for Less: If I Don't Have a Million Dollars Lamp

If I had a million dollars I still wouldn't buy you this $1,500 (really?!) lamp.*  I will, however, show you how to make your own similar model for a substantial discount.  I do like the simplicity of this lamp's lines. It lends itself to a variety of decor styles and is easily customizable.

1.) Select a simple stick lamp like this one (which already comes with a black shade), a solid colored wrapping paper and matching spray paint.
Tip: Make sure your spray paint is rated for use on metal.
2.) Remove the shade and harp from the lamp.  Spray paint the lamp base.  Allow to dry
3.) Wrap the wrapping paper around the shade.  Use a pencil to mark the size of the shade.  Cut out the paper.  Measure and trim off 1/8" from the top and bottom of the paper template.
4.) Attach the paper to the inside of the shade using double stick tape.  Reassemble the lamp and shade.

Tip: When you line a lamp shade with wrapping paper, make sure you use a low wattage bulb (no higher than 40w).

*If I had a million dollars I would buy you a monkey.  Haven't you always wanted a monkey?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Tool Box: Chalk Line

I love a chalk line.  It's instant gratification.

A chalk line is a case containing powdered chalk and reel of string.  You use it to make long, straight lines on flat surfaces like walls.  Mark the beginning and end locations of your line.  Shake the chalk line to make sure that the chalk is covering the string.  Fasten the end of the string at one mark.  Stretch the string over the surface, but don't place it against the surface.  Stretch taut and hold the string at your second marking.  With your other hand, pull the string away from your surface and let go. (Snap the line.)  Gently lift the string off of the surface and rewind it into the casing using the crank.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Giving Back: 100 Fold Studio

I had the pleasure of attending the Green Building Focus show with my supervisor today.  There were several interesting vendors and exhibitors as well as some familiar faces.  The most exciting exhibitor though was 100 Fold Studio.  Check out their mission statement:

Our purpose is to provide innovative and affordable design services to local and global ministries.  The vision of 100 Fold Studio, a biblical reference to the Parable of the Seed – Mark 4:1-20, is to multiply the studio into a global network of licensed architects that are readily available to serve in missions. Focusing on long-term internships, 100 Fold Studio provides a unique opportunity for a young architect to work towards licensure while serving third-world communities.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

How-To: Ribbon Roses

When my sister got married two years ago, I took on the task of elevating the rehearsal bouquets beyond bows stuck to a paper plate.  (PS...Mine totally looked better than this version.  Ha!  Take that Martha!)  One of the most important skills that I used to craft these bouquets was making ribbon roses.  Here's how you can create one of the most classic shapes.

1.)  Find the middle of a length of ribbon and fold it at a 90 degree angle.
2.) Fold the right side of the ribbon over the middle triangle so that it's facing left.  Fold the downward facing ribbon to point up.  Continue folding the ribbon until the whole length is folded.
3.)  Hold the two ends of ribbon firmly to keep it from unfolding.  With your other hand, pull one of the ribbon tails until a rose is formed.  Use a needle and thread to tack the ribbon together in its formation.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Frivolity: There, I fixed it.

I love this website.  It's always good for a laugh.*

*I do not recommend that you attempt to replicate any of these fixes.  Seriously.  Don't.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Tool Box: Cutting Edge Ruler

I have a generally unhealthy fear of knives stemming from an unfortunate incident cutting out paper dolls with a pocket knife in 4th grade.  When I entered design school though, I knew that I would have to confront fear and develop a very close bond with my Xacto knife.  Freshman year, I was mounting and trimming out a project the night before it was due.  Inadvertently, I let my finger slip over my straight edge, and I took off the side of my finger.

I always knew that being the child of artists made me different.  When I told my mom what I had done, her first question was, "Did you get blood on your project?"  (I didn't.)  After making sure that I was okay, my parents bought me a safety edge ruler.  What a great tool!  I survived the rest of my college career unscathed.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Parental Wisdom: Furniture Finish Renewal

From the desk and experience of my mom:

Use this mixture to cover scratches and renew the finish of antique pieces without the hassle of refinishing.


1.) Mix equal parts boiled linseed oil, white vinegar and mineral spirits in a glass jar.

2.) Apply the mixture to the finish using 0000 grade steel wool.  Scrub in small circles to re-spread the finish over the scratched areas and lift paint.  Allow to dry.

3.) Buff the finish using a soft, lint free, cotton cloth.  (An old t-shirt works well.)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Design Resource: Dover Publications

You are probably familiar with Dover Publications' thrifty literary paperbacks which are often used in English classes.  What you may not know is that Dover produces some fantastic design resources too, including; clip art collections, books about architecture and interiors (many of which are reprints of historic volumes), home repair guides and more.  You can purchase books online or at bookstores like Barnes and Noble and Books a Million.

Don't forget to get on their email list to receive free weekly content.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tool Box: Google SketchUp, a Condiment for Design

After graduating, my student version of AutoCAD expired, and I suffered from some bouts of computer design withdrawal.  Thankfully, Google stepped in with a patch for my predicament.  It's Google SketchUp--a free*, downloadable CAD (computer aided design) program.  It doesn't have a lot of the features that you may be used to if you use AutoCAD, but for about $4,000 in savings, I can do without them.  SketchUp is a very user friendly application with great tutorials and an extensive library of pre-drawn components.

*Make sure that you download the regular version, not the pro version.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

How-To: One Step Wonder

There are three factors:
You can only have two, or so the saying goes.

This just may be an exception though.  All you need to do is apply a quick coat of spray paint to a thrift-store frame with fun detailing to make an inexpensive, flirty poster frame.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Frivolity: A Truer Word Was Never Spoken

"Before plastic, only rich people could afford to have bad taste."-Don Featherstone (designer of the pink plastic flamingo)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Design Resource: Bonus! Library Sale

Call me lame.  Go ahead...do it.  I spent my Friday evening at the Homewood Public Library book sale preview, and I loved it.*  As you will note from the flyer, refreshments were served.

Not only can you bag a good read or five, library book sales are a great resource for the DIYer on a budget.  You can...

Fill sparse book shelves with quality, hard-back books.

Find DIY and design books for inspiration and information. (I look for vintage design books as a reference for historic interiors.)

Use illustrated pages as inexpensive artwork.

Take a look at the treasures that I picked up for $9!

Get in touch with your local library's "Friends of the Library" organization for more information on scheduled events in your area.

*I did receive a hand stamp as I entered the event, so it looks vaguely like I did something more exciting than go to a book sale.

PS Happy 50th birthday to Green Eggs and Ham!

Friday, August 13, 2010

How-To: Brooch Storage and Display

"A really well made buttonhole is the only link between art and nature."-Oscar Wilde ("Phrases and Philosophies for the Use of the Young")

Some of my favorite costume jewelry pieces are floral brooches.  They're like modern buttonholes (or en Françaisboutonnière), and they add personality and whimsy to a work dress or blazer.  Create a simple, inexpensive display for your brooches and pins with some scrap fabric, a styrofoam ball, a rubber band, and a pretty container.

1.) Select a container.  Purchase a Styrofoam ball that is slightly larger than the opening of the container.

2.) Measure the circumference of the Styrofoam ball.  Add 3-4-inches to find an overall dimension.  Cut a square of fabric to the size of the overall dimension.

3.) Gather the fabric around the ball and secure with a rubber band.

4.) Place the ball in the container.

5.) Insert pins into Styrofoam.

*This method can be used for all types of broaches and pins.  If your broaches have a separate clutch fastener, keep the fasteners safe in a Ziploc bag inside your jewelry chest.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Design Resource: Desire to Inspire

This website is pure eye candy. Interior design enthusiasts Jo and Kim have compiled an extensive library of images in a plethora of styles. It's been the source of many ideas for me both professionally and personally. Be careful though; it's pretty addictive. You could search through this site for hours and barely scratch the surface--believe me; I speak from experience.