September 30, 2011

Friday Feature Finish - Something Soft Like Grasscloth

It is feeling very warm in sunny Arizona still and since fall isn't really going to show itself until at least December, today's Friday Feature Finish is grasscloth.  Organic and flowy, soft and light, a linen weave creates a very subtle backdrop to just about any space and keeps it feeling summery!

This finish can be done in panels, stripes, an entire wall in one, or any other number of endless possibilities.  I installed this in my mom's house (as shown at the top of the post there) as one of the first finishes I completed when I set out to build my own Faux Finishing company. 

The finish is so subtle, from a distance you almost can't even tell its there.  But that was exactly what she was looking for.  Her bathroom has deep brown tile flooring and light grey accents on the sink top, toilet seat cover and in the ceramic tile tub surround so we worked together to come up with a color that would look nice and work within the muted color palate.

With a white tub, toilet and vanity, plus storage cabinets, we settled on this lovely muted sage green over white.  Isn't it so pretty?!

And the possibilities for grasscloth colors are only as endless as your imagination!  This photo shows a tone on tone in a khaki shade.  Blue on blue in a beach cottage, hot pink on light pink would look really cool in a little girl's room under a chair rail, tan over buttery yellow would look killer on kitchen cabinet door panels...

A couple days and a limited budget can bring a world of difference to your spaces!

Where could you picture a grasscloth effect in your home?  What colors would you like to see this finish done in?

September 29, 2011

Do Artists Undervalue Their Own Work?

I was posed the question: do artists undervalue their own work by an amazing jewelry designer and friend, Anna of Della Messina, and my initial reaction was to say YES, yes we do!!!

The more I sit here and think about it though the more I have to disagree with myself.  I don't believe Artists undervalue their own work, I believe they allow the general public to influence their decision to undervalue their work.

Does that make sense?  Let me break this down a little bit.

What Am I ME?

I ask myself this question a lot because its really the best way to determine what I should be charging for all my work, be it smaller pieces in my Chucka Stone Etsy Shop or an entire room full of a beautiful faux finish.  The toughest part is always how I can justify charging the same hourly/square footage/materials price on my decor items as I can for my room finishes.

The answer, however, is easy.

Because that's what I'm worth.  Period.

Here's a little example of what I mean. 

Say I'm pricing out a focal wall in a client's home -- a gorgeous brick faux finish like the photo above.  The wall is 8' high x 12' wide and there are no windows, doors or other obstructions at all.  Let's also pretend in my fantasy scenario that there are no issues with the wall to address before the finish goes on, a perfect wall with perfectness all around (hey, I said it was a fantasy scenario!). 

How do I price this finish?
  • My first objective is to determine exactly what the homeowner wants -- all red, perfectly rectangular; some varied tones on individual bricks; a keystone pattern; traditional stacked pattern; shaded/highlighted bricks; raised relief; etc. -- as this will greatly impact the time it takes me to complete the job
  • Next, I have to determine the number of rows/columns of brick to account for & all other measurements required for the installation
  • The next step is to determine the materials and how many passes over the surface this entails (relief for example will raise the passes by at least 1, usually 2, because of the need for plaster then the paint)
  • My final adjustments determine -- can I install the masking on my own; are there other accommodations to account for such as a sloped ceiling; how far away is the job; are there limitations on days/times the homeowner or I can not be available for; etc.

And that's sometimes not even the half of it!  Yes, there is a whole lot of information required for pricing a finish which is why:
1) I never quote without first seeing the space.
2) I never bend on my price once I've quoted it unless the specs of the job change.

A long time ago I was given advice by someone in the industry that it is better to lose a job because someone thinks you're priced too high than to let your work suffer because you cave into the pressure to lower cost just to get the job.  That simple act right there will leave you feeling desperate to finish quicker so you can get out to make more money and trust me, the quality of your product will ultimately suffer for it.

So How Does All This Apply to an Etsy Shop?

Simple.  I take the basic considerations above and still price my pieces accordingly!  Same time, material, labor, etc. adjustments apply in smaller items as they do in larger ones. 

On top of all that, for Etsy, I have to figure out if I was able to create multiples at once (cutting out 8 pieces of fabric instead of just 2 for example), if the finish is done in the same manner as a wall (for example, there's no need to snap a chalk line for brick on an 11" x 14" canvas but there will be on that wall I talked about above!), etc.

It may seem like a lot of work and that's because it is.  Many business owners find it cumbersome and tedious to try to price their work so they immediately undervalue it in an effort to just get it out there.  Business owners who want to make a name for themselves may just price haphazardly or way too low to begin with in order to get a foot in the door. 

Sounds great in theory right?  Only problem is then you're stuck there forever.  Raising prices to what you know in your heart and head you're worth is way tougher once you've established yourself than it is to establish yourself while charging exactly what you're worth from the start.

I'm not the highest priced finisher out there but I'm certainly not the lowest either.  I know how labor intensive certain finishes are on my body, how much critical thinking is involved in others and even how quickly I can whip out certain things just because the product allows a faster turn around time.  All of that is accounted for in my quote.

It doesn't matter if you're a jewelry designer like Anna, a painter like me, or some other type of artist selling themselves and their wares to the public, the basic principles of how you arrive at your worth apply no matter what you create.  My advice -- start charging what you should.

How much are you worth?  Are you undervaluing your work?  Could your shop or website use an update on listing prices or estimates?

September 27, 2011

Tuesday Tip of the Day: Mark your mudroom cubbies

Sometimes things in the mudroom can get a bit dishevled, disorganized and out of control!  How about making a statement of organization in a simple way by marking everyone's cubby or hook with their name on a great cubby name sign? 

This faux finished wall hanging is an example of a piece in my Chucka Stone Etsy shop that could easily be turned into a cubby name sign.  I love to make custom orders special for personalizing your home! 

My smaller artwork pieces can have each person's name painted right on the frame, by my trusty brush hand of course, and then we can hang them inside each cubby to mark each individual's spaces.

Let's talk shelving colors too!

A more masculine look would be to do deep navy woodwork, a sapphire blue Giani Granite bench (for taking off shoes of course!) and artwork with a cream frame, or maybe even his favorite team colors!  For the more feminine side how about using a butter yellow trim with a deep rose-grey wall background.  This frame in lime green would pop right off the wall!

Do you have a mudroom that needs updating?  I'd love to discuss your project, shoot me an email today!

September 20, 2011

Tuesday Tip of the Day - Its Networking, Not Speed Dating for Business

I came across this wonderful website this morning and I don't even really remember how I found it.  Suppose it was likely one of those situations where one link leads to another and so on unti the Gods of fate stop you in your tracks with just the thing you've been looking for all along!

Since moving to Phoenix I've been considering ways to get out and meet people, specifically make some terrific business contacts that could be beneficial to helping me grow my finishing business here in the Northeast Valley and surrounding communities of Phoenix.

Yesterday I happened to run across a list of some seriously amazing Interior Designers in the area.  I must have spent three hours scouring websites, reading information and generally feeling out the designer's style to see if it would possibly be a good fit. 

Another talented group are the local people using the incredible site  With a calendar of events that shows pretty much ANYthing going on for networking opportunities in the Valley I had no choicebut to sign up!  I combed through the calendar and there's this fantastic women's networking group that meets every other week literally on the corner of my street!

But here's the secret...I'm so bad at networking!  I completely excel at sharing my business info and yapping on and on about my work when the environment is casual.  For instance I was at the dentist yesterday and while she was getting the tools together she and I struck up a super easy breezy conversation abotu my Faux. 

But put me in a room where I know the ultimate goal is to talk to as many people as I can about my company while tossing out elevator pitches, painting the picture of my (literal) paint with my words, hooking them in the first five seconds, getting them to follow me, call me, book me for a job...

Well, you can see how exhausting and intimidating that can be right?  Like the title suggests its like speed dating for business people.

But I figure the only way to get over the hurdle of figuring out how to do it more effectively is to just do it right?  So here's what I've done to network recently:
  • Joined 3 new teams on Etsy -- they are all local Arizona/Phoenix teams who like to schedule events here and there out in the real world.  Additionally these folks enjoy just promoting each other and sharing in the love for art in our local community.  Hooray!
  • Joined the community -- through joining this larger group I have already written to the organizer of a small women's business owner's networking group and hope to attend thier next get together.
  • Emailed about 4 local Interior Designers who's styles seemed to gel pretty well with mine to introduce myself as a Faux Finisher in the area and request to schedule a time when we could review each other's portfolios.
With slower paced classes coming in the next 20 weeks I feel like there is no better time than right now to start meeting new people and growing my business out here in the Valley of the Sun!

What have you done to network in the past few months?  Have you found a terrific group of people you love getting together with and sharing ideas?  Have any of you had to get over the fear of the business network meeting?

September 14, 2011

Featured Member of Team EcoEtsy - joonwalk

I was first exposed to joonwalk's shop when I was peeking through the EcoEtsy member list and was I ever blown away by her super crafyiness!

She opened up shop in January of 2009 in Austin, TX and since then has been spreading the love of upcycling / repurposing out to the entire Etsy community and more.  Joon primarily works with paper and fabric and that photo over there of her Hula Hut is a great example of how she can take seemingly scrappy bits and stitch a collage of loveliness!

While reading up on her shop's profile I discovered that Joon has started her own community project in March of 2010 called PRoJeCT SNoWFLaKe.  The purpose and method of the project is to utilize the number 13 as a way to clean up the joint!  How does this work you may ask?  In Joon's own words:

"For every purchase in any & all of my etsy shops, I will pick up a baker's dozen worth of litter or spend 13 minutes throwing an eye, whichever comes first. I will keep a tally, post it in my shop announcements, and write about my venture on my blog."

Super cool right?

Giving back is such a great way to make the best use of the talent that she has shared and then the cycle of love for the planet continues -- the customer gets an adorable item made from leftover parts that are blended together into something wonderful and then Joon takes that theory and gets back out there to do even more cleanup!  Hello awesome!

To get in touch with Joon, to purchase or to read about her adventures as a one woman powerhouse please visit her at the links below.

Joonwalk Etsy Shop
Joonwalk Blog
Joon on twitter

September 13, 2011

Tuesday Tip of the Day - Remain Professional

Last night was the season opener of Monday Night Football.  I love football, I've always been a fan of the sport and its rough and tumble-ness action.  In high school I went to pretty much every home game and grew up with half a family who hung around watching the games every Sunday afternoon.

As a kid I wasn't really into it yet but getting older and learning about the plays, rules and of course the New England Patriots, I was hooked.  It took many loyal years for my Pats to start winning games because there were many years they were at the bottom of the barrel in the NFL.

For a kid just starting to watch at the same age as I was when I started, about 12, who still watches today (they'd be in their early 20's now) that might sound ridiculous considering the numerous Super Bowl rings and playoff appearances over the last 10 years but I assure you, its true.

Last night the Pats played the Miami Dolphins and not only did they Squish the Fish, Tom Brady threw for a record 517 yards and one of his receivers, Wes Welker caught a pass at the 1/2 yard line then ran it all the way down the field for a touchdown.  It was an awesome game.

For some odd reason though the powers that be decided to force east coasters into exhaustion as they had a MNF double header (correct me if I'm wrong but has this ever happened before?  I don't think so???).  The second game was a scrappy match up between the Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos.  But before we ever even got to that game...

Both games were televised to millions over the ESPN Network.  Both games trucked along just fine until...(Warning -- profanity!!)

Oh yes you heard that right!  That was ESPN Announcer Ron Jaworski saying the most casual thing ever, it just happened to include a curse word.  I whipped my head around to look at my husband and asked "Did he just say what I think he said?"  Matt agreed he heard it too.  Ron had just blabbed the S word on national television. 

So here's the real kicker, no pun intended, later on in the broadcast he simply apologized for his mistake and went right on announcing, commentating and blabbing as if it never even happened.  And why shouldn't he have?  I mean we've all been there right?  You're at work and something moderately inappropriate slips out of your mouth...but do you cower in a corner and quit your job on the spot?  No way!

You apologize for the foible and move on.  Just like Ron Jaworski did.  Kudos to you Ron for not feeling the need to issue a 16 page manifesto for all the reasons you didn't mean to say the word 'shit' on television.  Kudos for apologizing and then getting right back to the job at hand.  You remained professional and that's what really matters!

In honor of Ron's mistake I curated a nice little collection of items, as seen in that picture at the top of the post, called Wash Out Your Potty Mouth.  Click on it to head over to the page so you can see more.  Thanks for the inspiration Ron and don't worry, your mistake won't be talked about for nearly as long as the Justin Timberlake / Janet Jackson costume "malfunction" mishap!

September 9, 2011

Friday Feature Finish - Mildew Resistant Matte With BM Aura Bath & Spa

The picture on the left over there is the most recent project I'd done right before leaving Boston.  The homeowner hired me to rid their space of an electric toned periwinkle purple (it was awful!) and expressed a desire to have a soft, spa like feeling in the space. 

It is a multi use bathroom and acts almost as a hallway from one side of the second floor to the other.  Gotta love those old New England houses huh?

Because the space is a general family bath as well as the primary bath for their kids the finish needed to be both beautiful and durable.  The homeowner showed me the shower curtain she was considering purchasing for the space and I plucked that beautiful blue out of it for the upper walls. 

Now, that blue isn't just any paint...its a beautiful matte finish, mildew resistant paint made specifically for bathrooms - Benjamin Moore Aura Bath and Spa.

With little to no odor, a low VOC rating (<50 g/L) and unmatched durability it is a paint that won't need to be touched up or re-finished for many years to come!  I used semi-gloss in white for the wainscotting and radiator covers (4 in the house in total) as well as applied a slight skimcoat of joint compound over some of the worst divots in the walls.  Including 3 holes left after the electrician moved the light fixture.

But because of the paint's matte finish, slight dings and imperfections are hidden without having to go for perfection!  And that's important in an older house or even a wall with knock-down that you're looking to mask at a quick glance.  The paint utilizes a resin in its properties and because of that application is slightly different than your everyday paint.  A great brush and correct roller cover are imperative to a perfect finish!

Do you have a bathroom or other wet location you're looking to have professionally painted?  Give me a call or shoot me an email and I'd love to discuss your project!  Aura Bath and Spa is available in all of the colors available in the Benjamin Moore product line so there is sure to be one that's right for your space!

September 7, 2011

Featured Member of Team EcoEtsy - Zosimos Botanicals

Yesterday I curated a treasury over on Etsy, it was a collection of yumminess from only members of the team and it was called Rainbow of Green.  Kind of a dorky name but I wanted to do a gradated rainbow of colorful items because everything over there lately has been brown and grey with fall rapidly approaching.  I needed a pick me up!

So when I got to yellow-orange in the rainbow I wasn't thinking too much about it until I came across the item above.  Oh my goodness, how good does that look right?  Let's just say I hadn't had any interraction with Zosimos Botanicals in our team before that moment but as soon as the treasury was posted and promoted I scampered right back to the shop to ogle!

What I found is a company that not only produces beautiful makeup items but they also produce a bath & body line (including the Orange Cinnamon Bath & Shower Gel featured in the photo at the top of the post), as well as deodorant and hair care.  The company is comprised of three Artisans who create their products from natural sources and resources only.  They have been certified by GreenAmerica and GenGreen, have won various environmental awards and participate in the Compact for Safe Cosmetics.

As their shop announcement states:
"Zosimos Botanicals is an award winning "green" business because we refuse to use known chemical irritants. It is important for your health that everything is formulated WITHOUT: parabens, petroleum products, talc, nanoparticles, lanolin, magnesium stearate, heavy metals, sodium laureth or lauryl sulfide, mineral oil, bismuth oxychloride, silica, synthetic fragrance oils, FD&C colorants, sulfates, synthetic fragrances; synthetic dyes, petro-chemicals or phthalates."
Hello awesome!  A huge goal of mine is to reduce the chemicals that I put on and in my body over the course of the next year and it sounds like I might be spending even more time perusing the "aisles" of Zosimos Botanicals!

Zosimos Botanicals Etsy shop
Zosimos Botanicals on Facebook

September 6, 2011

Tuesday Tip of the Day

I spend a lot of time climbing up and down ladders and after a while my legs got used to the muscle usage.  But for those who maybe don't do this more than once in a while you could end up with sore calves or shin splints depending on how you climb, what kind of shoes you wear and the way you stand on the steps.

For easing the pain of shin splints I've never found a better solution than the crinkling a towel trick.

  • Lay a towel lengthwise out from the edge of your bathtub.
  • Sit on the edge of the tub, barefoot, and with your toes just at the ends of the towel.
  • Begin to pull the towel towards you using only your toes and trying to keep your feet as flat on the floor as possible.
  • Repeat this about 3-4 times crinkling up the entire towel until you begin to feel slight fatigue in your muscles.
  • Repeat about once a day for a few days until the pain eases.

Usually I would only have to do this for 1-2 days and my shins felt so much better!

And if all else fails do it with a margarita in your hand, that tends to do the trick every time :-)

Hope everyone had a great holiday weekend and you're enjoying getting back into the grind.

September 2, 2011

Friday Feature Finish - Granite

Granite is one of the most popular options for kitchen and bathroom countertops these days.  The array of different colors, styles and patterns are all but endless and can be customized to fit anyone's imagination. 

In the world of faux finishing stone designs are quite popular but until recently the health risks for the type of materials needed to create these looks far outweighed any benefit of beauty the finish brought to a space.  But like I said, that was until recently!

I've written about Giani Granite before but figured it was high time to feature the finish on a Friday post.  I'm currently in the process of completing more picture frames like this one.

Cute right?  On my studio's table top right now I have 4 frames and a decorative item that is going to be a clever little bit of decorative art.  I also completed this jewelry box which my Mother in Law wants to purchase from me but I just can't bring myself to sell it!  Well, not yet anyway :-)

All of these items have been completed using the basic Sicilian Sand kit but I've added some veining to the frame and box.  But this isn't the only color available!  Giani offers 4 more kits -- chocolate, sapphire, emerald and black -- and consider the possibilities for mixing and matching multiple kits together to create a truly one of a kind custom look.

So here's where things get awesome...Giani utilizes a resin based, waterborne, automotive grade topcoat durable enough to withstand daily use.  The product is designed to be used on kitchen counters, bathroom counters, desktops like the one at the top of this post, bar tops, furniture items, or even small home decor pieces like the ones referenced above that I'll be listing in my Chucka Stone Etsy shop.

Are you in Phoenix, Arizona or the surrounding area?  Or are you in eastern Massachusetts?  Want to freshen up your laminate, butcher block, ceramic, etc?  I'd love to work on your project!  I'm in Phoenix full time, plan to be back on the east coast for almost all of November and would certainly love to chat about your project anytime.