Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Solar Chandelier

Remember this sneak peak I posted over a year ago...?? No? I don't blame you.

With the new house we have had our hands full, but it has also inspired to finish some projects, like this one...

I have always liked chandeliers, except I have never lived (and probably never will live) in a very chandelier-y type house. So to get my chandelier fix, I decided to go for a fun, vibrant outdoor light fixture. 
The project was pretty simple... I found an old chandelier at our local Habitat ReStore and took a can of spray paint to it. 

Then it was a matter of getting some outdoor lights to add to it - part of the reason it took so long to make this was because I found a great deal on Halloween solar lights that were orange and had spider webs (just like these).... the plan was to pray paint them, but that did. not. work. So then I ran out of motivation and didn't buy any others until a few months ago.

With outdoor solar lights the stake generally just pulls off and then you have a nubbin to work with. With this particular fixture, I decided to wrap the ends in duct tape so that they would fit snugly in each socket area. Depending on the fixture, it may work better to use a different method. Hot glue, super glue, electrical tape, or maybe you will be lucky and it will fit perfectly. 

Not counting the sunk cost of the Halloween lights, I spent around $40 dollars on this project. (This number will vary greatly depending on how cheap you can get a chandelier and how many solar lights you will need.)

Right now we have our chandelier hanging from our carport... super classy, I know! but I'm hoping to add it either to our hammock area in the woods or attach it to a branch and set up a little al fresco eating area on the side of our house... Pictures to come after a decision is made. 

{ By Day }
{ By Night }

Happy Chandeliering!


Monday, January 6, 2014

Chalkboard Window DIY

You know what days I love?

Big trash pickup days!

It is great to drive around your neighborhood and see what kind of stuff your neighbors are throwing out. A lot of times you can find some really great and useful stuff. My favorite is finding wooden furniture, but people throw out all kinds of things like plant pots, rolls of chicken wire, old paint, scrap wood, the list goes on...

Last spring our neighborhood did their spring cleaning trash pickup and one house had a whole bunch of old windows out in front. We went by and snagged a couple for future use for the wedding. I wasn't sure if I was going to use them as menu boards or maybe as part of the seating chart, but I ended up turning them into chalkboards for decorations at the wedding.

I'd made plenty of chalkboards on wood but I had never done it on glass, but here is a simple tutorial how I did it...

Materials Needed: Window(s), Primer (specifically made for glass would be best), Paint brush, Chalkboard paint, Chalk

{  My big trash pick-up windows  }

Step 1: Clean the glass in the window very well. Use your cleaning method of choice. I used Windex with a newspaper wipe-down to get rid of all the streaks.

You may also want to clean up the trim a little bit, but be careful! Depending on the window you are using it could have lead paint. Try to get rid of the dirt and dust but not disturb the paint chips for true vintage charm. If you choose, you could scrap/sand the trim (taking proper safety precautions) and repaint the trim a fun color for a more modern outcome.

Step 2: Prime your window! Glass is smooth and the paint probably won't stick to it on it's own. They do make primer specifically for glass, but I did not find it readily available at the local hardware store so I chose to use a Zinsser Primer made for "All Surfaces". If you are planning to use your chalkboard heavily, I recommend taking the time to find actual glass primer. I hear bonding primer is the way to go so a primer like this may work well.

To keep the window effect, do not prime the entire glass surface. Leave the edges clear to show off your chalkboard's past life as a window.

I chose soft, uneven edges leaving a few inches of clear glass on each side.

If you want a perfect line, use masking/painting tape to tape a square or rectangle on your glass and then prime and paint inside.

Step 3: Time to paint your chalkboard. Use chalkboard paint to cover the primer. I've been pleased with the Valspar Chalkboard paint pictured above. Follow the manufacturers instructions for drying times and re-coating instructions.

I recommend at least 3 coats of chalkboard paint, and for the smoothest finish try painting in a different direction for each coat (i.e. if you paint the first coat with vertical strokes, paint the second with horizontal strokes). Multiple thin coats are best for adherence. I've used both bristled brushes and sponge brushes and have had success with both.

Step 4: Let it dry! No sense in wasting all your hard work because you didn't wait long enough before you tried writing on it. Be patient.

Step 5: Let your creative flag fly and put that chalk to use! You now have a window chalkboard!

{  Last 3 photos by Stephanie Bannon Photography  }

I made three window chalkboards for the wedding. Since I was making them for a special occasion and didn't plan on using them frequently (like for my weekly grocery lists) I used a regular primer. I was careful not to scrape too hard while drawing with my chalk. Two of the boards I had no problems with at all, but one was scraping up a little bit when I would accidentally press too hard. For this reason I recommend the special glass primer for this project. If anyone tries this and finds a really great glass primer, please let me know for future projects!

UPDATE: If you want to see the other chalkboards we used for the wedding, check out my blog about the planning, decorating, and details of the wedding.