August 31, 2011

Featured Member of Team EcoEtsy - Beans Things

For this week's featured member I wanted to select someone on the team who I have never interracted with, who had items that were inspiring, and also someone from my state.  Tall order?  Not at all!

I was immediately drawn to the colorful and funky prettiness in Beans Things shop and when I saw she was located in Sedona, Arizona I immediately wished I had discovered her before going up there last weekend!  My husband and I will most certainly be back though so perhaps I can get in touch and find out if she has a brick and mortar location to peruse or if her funky items are sold in any of the fun shops in town.

Reading the Beans Things profile I learned that most of her items are one of a kind due to the upcycled nature of the papers she uses in her designs.  With fun stuff like this I can see why (bears!!!)

She's been open since December 2008 and has had over 1000 sales with just under 800 people leaving 100% positive feedback so I know she's doing something right!  And don't forget, those bottle caps and that paper are upcycled so she's saving the planet from new material creation, and extending the lifecycle of the items in question by repurposing into something fun and functional.  Yea!

If you like the items here and want to see more check out:

Thanks for joining the team EcoEtsy and for keeping it Green!

August 30, 2011

Tuesday Tip of the Day - Mom Knows Best

Today's tip of the day comes from my mom:

"Eat your vegetables!"

Sorry its a short and sweet tip today but its totally appropriate on its own don't you think?  I'm off to put primer on a bunch of stuff today and running a little behind schedule so have a sunny, warm, happy, lovely day everyone!

What did your mom insist when you were a kid?

August 29, 2011

The Look of Confusion and What Do You Do?

Over this past weekend I visited the Grand Canyon and Sedona, Arizona for the first time.  Although my sister has been living in Arizona for the better part of two decades we just never made the time to make the trek all the way up there.  Now that we only live about four hours away (as opposed to six or seven) it seemed like a great weekend jaunt.

And it was!

The Canyon is allegedly one of the wonders of the world, chosen as the eighth wonder by people who have looked down into its vast expanse of immense beauty.  I can't exactly disagree with these people because I was in fact awe-struck at the sight of the thing.  And we only drove around about 1/5 of the south rim.  Someday I will see the whole thing.

After the Grand Canyon and an overnight at the HoJo's in Flagstaff we wound our way down a few back roads and landed in Sedona, Arizona.  Another majestic and almost unbelievable place of beauty.  The red rocks and super cool formations they create also blew me away!

While in Sedona we decided to get a little food and walk the shops for a little while.  We were all but yanked into the Western Museum by the guys running the place.  The museum is definitely a trap by the way, unless you want to hear about the fantastic deal on a time share, just keep walking!  But I didn't know until it was too late so in we went and I found myself being asked by the sales dude:

"So what do you do?"

In the past I have answered this question a number of ways but these days, because I'm not a published author and because I don't feel like saying I'm a student, I tend to answer with "I'm a Faux Finisher" when I find myself in mixed company.

Normally I would answer that I'm a decorative painter, an artist, or even simply a painter, but yesterday it seemed appropriate to say Faux Finisher.  He looked at me with confusion and asked "What's that?"

Now I can't say I'm totally surprised because it was a man and generally the decorating and embellishing of one's home tends to fall on a woman's shoulders, traditionally I mean.  But at the same time, toss out the most well known names in the industry and many of them are men.  At the point where someone doesn't understand what I do for a living most of the time they just nod and smile but he followed up the question.

This is where I had trouble.  I'd never been confronted by that before and I was slightly flustered with how to respond because, honestly, where do I begin?

Looking back now my tag line is set.  I have to thank that timeshare salesman for helping me out because if it wasn't for him I might still be walking around not having come up with:

"I use paint and plaster to mimic the look of stone and other natural materials."

Good eh?  Its my new mantra, its my elevator pitch, its my descriptor and hopefully its what will get someone interested enough to ask the followup question "Ooh, how do you do that?" because that I've got well covered!

What's Your elevator pitch?  How do you describe what you do to others when they ask face to face?

August 26, 2011

Friday Feature Finish - Stripes

Up and down, side to side or angled, a stripe is a completely versatile finish!

A perfectly straight line between each band of color gives a truly crisp look and these stripes are not only funky, the colors are perfect for a man or a woman. 

Diagonal like up above can be used to create an argyle pattern of diamonds, or just one focal wall of diagonal stripes. 

But why stop there? 

Vertical stripes will add height to a room.  Done in one color of two similar tones this finish provides drama, sophistication and elegance.  Multiple colors and varying sizes is a great way to get customized wainscotting for a nursery or kids room.  Looking for a more casual and beachy vibe?  I'll do planked wainscotting in a Heavily Weathered Crackle finish with a taupe base and off gray-white top coat.  We can then paint the upper wall sea green.  A few shells and a little tumbled glass and you're on the coast!  If it can be taped off it can have a stripe applied -- Venetian Plaster, tinted glaze, straight up paint -- you name it, I'll apply it to your surface!

But what if you want more contemporary?

Horizontal stripes can add movement and special interest to a space.  Want a loft style with uber chic appointments?  Let me put up last week's Feature Finish of Plaster Coated Brick on one focal wall then run a couple varied thickness black stripes around the room of white walls.  To give it a little punch, one skinny, red stripe to match the brick can be added.  Or how about pulling a wood grain through a 3" stripe at the height of a chair rail or picture rail for a more traditional look and feel?  Why not add a border to your upper wall?

Colors, styles, designs, materials and opportunities are endless with stripes and they're everywhere!  Want to add stripes to your home?  Feel free to give me a call so we can discuss your project!

What's your favorite application, orientation and color of stripes?

Photo of stripe sample board courtesy of Judi FitzPatrick Studio

August 25, 2011

I Love when it says SOLD!

One of my favorite things to see is the word SOLD next to an item that I included in a treasury I curated over on Etsy. 

I don't want to take the credit or anything, after all the artist who designed the piece is really the one who is responsible for getting it out to the public but I can't help it.  I simply love to see this:

When I click back over I always say "YESSSSSSS!" when an item has been purchased.  But you know what's even cooler?  When so many items have sold that just about everything is gone from the original treasury.

So see that pretty lemony yellow treasury picture at the top of this post?  Click it and get on over to the Pucker Up collection and buy something so I can do the happy dance today will ya?

KthxBUY ;-)

August 24, 2011

Featured Member of Team EcoEtsy - Herban | Luxe

How yummy does that look right?  I'm a fan of Herban | Luxe not only because Myra Roldan is a teammate of mine in EcoEtsy but because her products are awesome.  Period.

I have bought a few things from her shop of treasures and certainly look forward to getting more in the future!

From personal experience I can offer a big huge high five on her correctors, mascara and my personal favorite, the loose mineral powder.  I use the powder sparingly as I'm not much for makeup all over my face most of the time.  But there are times when we can all use a little hint of airbrushed radiance if you know what I mean!

The makeup goes on light with a kabuki brush and feels really weighless on my skin.  It isn't cakey or chalky, in fact I hardly know I have makeup on at all.  Myra was awesome in her willingness to work with my questions and she sent me some small samples to test out last year so we could make sure the shade was going to work for my skin tone.  I found the perfect match and couldn't be happier.

But now Myra went and raised the stakes...she has a new product that I just have to try!

I've always been the girl who used blush as lipstick and vice versa depending what was hanging around.  I'm getting down to my last bit of lipstick and look forward to testing out the Organic Cheek and Lip Stain from Herban Luxe very soon!

Reasonable prices, a handmade attitude and an eye on global impact through natural based cosmetics has me raving about Myra's shop.  Gee, can you tell?  :-)

Herban | Luxe on Etsy
Herban | Luxe on Facebook

August 23, 2011

Tuesday Tip of the Day - Only Take On What You Can Handle

There is no more accurate advice right now than simply the title at the top of this post!

As most of you know I am a student, run a business, just moved to a new area, am part of a team, operate an online shop, wrote a novel I'd like to see published, etc., etc., etc...

All of those things take time, effort, sometimes money, and certainly mental energy (not to mention physical!).  So when I started evaluating what I was going to keep and what I was going to get rid of it all came down to the question -- what can I handle and what really makes me happy?

The short and long answer?  I can pretty much handle anything I set my mind to and what makes me happy is every single thing on that list!

Matt tells me not to worry about making money as long as I can get my schooling done and maintain my 4.0 GPA that's the main thing.  And although I know he's right I can't help but want to promote my business here in Arizona.  Faux finishing is really well embraced here and I know there are areas in it which I excel at.

With that in mind my goals are simple -- create only one new item to list in my shop each week, promote one teammate each week, let school come first but when I'm painting or finishing don't let anything get in the way of my enjoyment of the creativity of it.

Most importantly, write my blog because its fun, create because its fun, and take the weekends off so I can have fun in my personal time!

So with that in mind my blog is going to become a Monday through Friday place where I share and the rest of the time I'll be fitting it all in.  But only as much as I can handle and not a speck more.

August 22, 2011

Faux Finishing Brings New Life to Old Pieces

Lately I've been looking around my house and gathering different items that I could finish in the Giani Granite.  Over the weekend I located a couple more pieces.

One is in process, a picture frame that houses a picture of my husband taken about 11 years ago when we went on a road trip to Maryland.  The frame was simple, with rounded corners, but it has been carried around to so many different apartments over the past 11 years that it was really starting to get banged up.

So, of course, because I will reuse as much as possible, it has been primed and awaiting a fine granite finish which should be completed by tomorrow (including top coats!)

The other piece...

You see the chip up there ^ ?  That's a sample of African Ivory granite.  The kit I currently have is Sicilian Sand, the lightest of the Giani Granite options, but I wanted to do something different than the granite desktop that I shared with you before.

So I started doing my research and discovered a few websites that provide photos and descriptions of various colors of stock granite.  Perfect!  When I saw the African Ivory I knew that's what I wanted to use as my inspiration.  Lo and behold here's what I got...

Gorgeous right?  I experimented with a little bit of veining and some speckling to get a totally different look.  Also the box had an etchable plate on the top that was beat up so I covered it with copper and it shines like new with the Giani topcoat protecting the final finish!

Giani isn't just for kitchen counters, that's what I discovered through this project.  I'm considering creating a whole bunch of different home decor items and plunking them into my shop at Etsy.  Why?

Because sometimes doing an entire kitchen, bath, bar top, etc. is out of reach even though it isn't nearly as expensive as real granite -- I'm a prime example, because we live in an apartment I'm not able to coat my countertops (though I'd love to!).  This makes faux accessible; on a small scale item it can be given as gifts or kept for yourself.

And just think how much less expensive it will be to ship because its so much lighter than real stone!

Details to follow on my own items but don't hesitate to get in touch with me if you have an item that you'd like to extend the life of and want me to finish in granite (or another finish option).  I've shipped back and forth in the past or if you're in the Phoenix area I could pick it up directly.

Let's talk about your favorite granite colors today!

August 19, 2011

Friday Feature Finish

Good morning everyone!

Well its just the crackling of dawn here, I know for many of you it is edging up on time for the first snack of the day, maybe even lunch time.  Meanwhile I'm still rubbing my eyes and slurping down coffee by the gallon full.  But its Friday which means a couple things.

First, its my shortie day -- no school assignments due and nothing pressing for the company.  I paint if I want, write if I want, and mostly just get the stuff together for the following week over a couple cheezy movies (Today I'm looking at you Breakfast Club and St. Elmo's Fire!).  After all, for self employed people there is no such thing as a weekend so we have to take our breaks where we can get them.  Am I right?

Second, its Feature Friday!  Today's Feature Finish is:

Plaster Coated Brick

There are so many different options of how to design brick.  This sample board was created to show a potential client what fun things could be done with her fireplace bricks that were painted white at the time.Bricks can be whitewashed for an older, aged feel; a faux mural could be painted under the plaster to give the illusion of further depth; random dashes of white or deeper purple can be applied for a more modern, loft style appearance; hand torn tape can be applied to the mortar joints for a more organic, rustic look; thinner or thicker tape can be applied for mortar joints or bricks can grow / shrink depending on the look you're going for.  On my sample board, I threw in the aged plaster just for fun!

Speaking of fun...

My fearless Photographer Judi FitzPatrick Studio (who will be here in short order to not only enjoy some southwestern sun and fun but also to snap some pictures of my new items!) recently took photos of my sample boards.  They came out great (next week's Friday Feature Finish will include one of her photos, stay tuned!). 

She's been experimenting with all kinds of funky techniques and has lately gotten into swirling circles.  She used my plaster coated brick sample board to create one:


Super funky!  She's got some amazing fine art photography as well and having a ginormous sale right now, check out her Heat Wave Sale on Etsy for amazing work at amazing prices.  And get in touch if you want fantastic photos of your own work!

What has sparked your creativity lately?

August 18, 2011

Can I Afford A "Custom" Kitchen Right Now? Yes!

It is no big secret that the economy is a little, let's just say, wonky.  Most of us are pinching a little bit just to make sure all the bills get paid in the same month and to make sure that we can keep locally grown, organic produce on our tables instead of prepackaged processed stuff.

And a lot of us are trying to sell a home, buy a home or just feel more comfortable in our own homes.

We all sit around and watch HGTV, DIY Network and other home improvement shows and drool over the insanely cool, modern and trendy kitchens and baths that everyone else seems to be able to afford but us.  We long to be able to buy that cosmetically ugly house  and renovate it into something so beautiful.  We wish we could update our kitchen to such a gorgeous and modern one so our house will sell at asking price.  We wonder how fast we can brush our teeth so we can get out of the bathroom with the chipped countertop that we've been looking at for about three years too long.

Well, instead of full-on renovation, there's an easier, less expensive and durable way to extend the style and life of your cabinets and countertops in these spaces and I'd love to help you make it happen!



Basic and boring:

Granite and gorgeous!

Think of the possibilities!  The color combinations!  The beautiful home you will live in!  The way buyers will swoon at your gorgeous house!  The SOLD sign on your front lawn!  All of these things are possible!

I can coat your cabinetry in pretty much unlimited color choices using a revolutionary product that offers the durability and adhesion properties of oil based paint but the strictest and lowest VOC rating* in the industry for a water-based alkyd.  Soap and water cleanup, durable finish and gorgeous!

Then I'll tackle the laminate countertops by giving you a faux granite finish that's so realistic you'll have to leave a note for your buyers not to put hot pans directly on top of the surface!

And why should we stop there?  I can help you pick and install the most beautiful, coordinating paint color for the walls, hardware and accessories so your space will be sparkling for under $1500**.

Yes that's right, under $1500.  Most kitchens and baths could run you easily into the tens of thousands for a similar look and feel.  Not to mention you'd be installing new which greatly impacts the environment.

So do yourself, your buyers, your wallet and your spaces a favor and call me instead!  I'll help your place shine like a new penny, for far less of them than you'd otherwise spend!

* Please note this does not necessarily mean low odor, VOC refers to the off-gassing that happens after your paint is dry to the touch and curing.  As paint cures it can release gasses into the air.  Low/no VOC paints will lessen the time of off-gassing for a healthier environment but at first it may still have that new paint smell so please be aware!

** Prices will vary based on individual spaces. $1500 estimate based on cabinetry remodel shown and 35 sq. ft. countertop refresh with 3 color Giani Granite.  Additional cabinetry, larger countertops, additional processes, etc will effect total cost.  Initial consultations are free!

August 17, 2011

A New Discovery - Stardust Building Supplies

There are a couple projects I have brewing in the back of my mind for cool ways I can incorporate the Giani Granie finish into both my day job and Chucka Stone Designs shop on Etsy.  The only problem is I really dislike buying anything new in order to create items.  With the current state of the environment, upcycling, recycling and repurposing are my favorite ways to create.  Extend the lifecycle I say!

So with these new ideas came a whole bunch of research into the types of stores in my area where I might be able to find second hand or surplus items at a reduced rate.

I was completing a little research today and wouldn't you know it, I stumbled across a company with two locations right here in the central valley!  The place is called Stardust Building Supplies and let me tell you, if it wasn't 107 degrees outside right now I'd be in my way over there to stock up on everything I need to complete projects for the next month.

The place is huge, they have two warehouse locations (Phoenix and Mesa) with 40,000 square feet of inventory.  And stock changes daily because the way they acquire materials is through donations from contractors with a surplus or from donations.

Their motto is "Don't Waste...DONATE!" and in addition to that, right on the website they reference that they're environmentally and socially conscious:

Stardust Non-Profit Building Supplies, Inc. is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to diverting reusable building materials from landfills into the hands of those who need them. The organization was founded in 1997 by a handful of visionaries, and began as a means to help families, other non-profit organizations and our environment.
How cool is that?  But the best part of all, the company offers deconstruction services -- they'll demolish the place in question then haul away the goodies back to their warehouse to resell to the public at a savings of 50 - 80% OFF the suggested retail price!


I know where I'll be checking first for all my construction needs and when Matt and I buy our house and have plans to renovate we'll make use of not only their deconstruction services but probably their available stock as well.  Its like the craigslist of building supply houses (READ: my mothership *insert angelic singing here*)

You know what?  They also have volunteer opportunities.  I'm really thinking about signing up and lending my skills to helping the community...

What way have you discovered recently that can help lessen your impact on the planet?

Stardust Building Supplies blog

August 16, 2011

Hard Work Really Can Pay Off!

My brain is about to explode!  I woke up this morning and read an email from my university that I'm being invited to join the Golden Key International Honour Society.

Oh my goodness!

So to give those of you who haven't known me for a long time a little background, to say I was a slacker in high school would be a gross understatement.  I think I graduated with a 2.4 and that was literally because I took so many slacker classes my senior year and passed every English class from 9-12th grade with straight A's.  Everything else was at best a B- and truthfully I couldn't have cared less back then.

There was more procrastination that perfectionist, more multi-tasking than focus.  I had a job, participated in a team sport, spent time with friends and my boyfriend.  There was simply very little (read: no) time to study, so if it wasn't a class I was interested in I pretty much did just enough to get by and the rest was a big who cares.

Math was a good example.  History too.  I generally wrapped up the year with low C's in both.  Oh yeah, and then there was Science...let's not even talk about my Chemistry class, it still gives me nightmares thinking about that D-...yeah.

Now if it looks like my percentage might fall below a 96% I'm writing to the Instructor to ask how I can do some extra credit to make sure I won't drop below an A.  And that's in week 2 out of 5.  Oh, and an A goes all the way to a 90% so...

All the sacrifice in time and fun that I had to make is completely worth it now.  I mean, not that it wasn't before knowing I had the 4.0, but to be recognized for hard work and dedication by the Administration of a University never feels bad!

I'm not usually a pat-myself-on-the-back type of person but in this instance I'm planning to shout it from the rooftops!

What have you given your all to lately that has made a difference in your life?

August 10, 2011

The Misadventures of a Semi Part-time Faux Finisher in Transition

There truly are days when I feel like that is the title of my life!  I am a girl who doesn't love when one single thing is said to define me, so instead of focusing on one solid idea I like to spread it tinted glaze on knocked down plaster.

This theme is not exactly a new and profound revelation for me, I have written about it a number of times over at my other blog.  For some reason, no matter how much I try to push it aside, I always tend to come back to the company. 

Kind of like Jaws - just when you think its safe to go back in the water...

For me the "water" is all that other stuff I do, but for some reason, even though I'm enjoying school and potentially found an editor for my novel, all I really want to do is start making home decor items with a Giani Granite finish, buy more sample boards and play around with metallic finishes, search online for inspiration, and then do stuff like update my blog and website (plus all associated marketing materials) to my new snazzy feel and promote it all over town.

And of course by "town" I mean to local designers, craigslist, Etsy, Facebook, twitter and LinkedIn.

Geez, could I be using more air quotes today?

Anyway, the point is I'm a casual kind of girl, I like sports and try not to take myself all that seriously most of the time.  But I'm very serious about my business, how I treat my clients and the level of quality which I will adhere to on every single installation, regardless if its an entire first floor of their home or one single light switch cover. 

So I wanted to remove the heavy formality that was associated with my old blog/website design and try to embody the spirit of 'serious fun' in my new look.  Do you think I pulled it off? 

What have you changed recently that more accurately represents who you are?

August 8, 2011

Giani Granite -- The look of slab granite without the cost

We've all been there.  We walk through the home improvement stores and think to ourselves 'geez, I'd love that (insert item of choice here) but its just so darn expensive!  Maybe I should just get this mid priced, less attractive model instead."  Next comes a forlorn sigh and we walk away feeling defeated.  Granite, particularly slab granite, is a good example of this kind of financial reality check.

Well what if I told you that your kitchen countertop could look and feel just like granite for a literal fraction of the cost?  You'd probably say that I sound like an infomercial right?  Infomercial or not I have recently become acquainted with a product that will do exactly that.

The company is called Giani Granite and their product is pretty cool!  I live in an apartment so unfortunately I wasn't able to do my kitchen countertops like the product is designed for but no matter, I had a desk kicking around from after we refurnished our office with more functional pieces and since I was considering getting rid of the desk anyway it seemed the perfect practice piece.

I rolled it out to the living room and set it up on a drop cloth alongside a polystyrene board that I intended to complete as well for my portfolio.

I gathered my materials:

I followed the instructions and prepped the surface by thoroughly cleaning it with a good de-greaser, taping off, and filling/sanding wood patch in the big chips on the laminate.

Next I used the primer on both the board and desktop.

Then came the really fun part -- the application of the minerals!  I didn't want a finish that was too light, I wanted more of the black to show through so it would achieve a very speckled granite look.  I followed the steps on the board first, all three in the order the directions stated, and used a little creativity to add a bit more light or dark in various places.  When I felt it was complete I stopped, rinsed out the sponges and brushes with water and waited overnight for it to dry.

The next morning I was blown away by how awesome it already looked -- it really truly had depth like real granite!  Ready to tackle the desk in the same manner (but this time it had edges to be aware of too of course!) I got going.  The minerals applied just as nice and I used a slightly different hand in order to garner a somewhat lighter finish overall.  Using the same kit and getting two slightly different looks made my imagination start spinning with ideas!

After an overnight dry (not because the directions call for it mind you, because I had to due to my own schedule!) I applied the first topcoat.  Another necessary-to-my-schedule overnight dry and the second topcoat went on the following morning.  When it was completely dry my jaw about hit the ground.  I was blown away with its realistic feel, look and...well, judge for yourself!

Isn't it amazing?  The company sells all kinds of different kit colors, this one is Sicilian Sand.  All-in I think the desk took about 3 true days to complete including dry time and application/prep.

So what are the drawbacks?

So far the only things I can see as even potential drawbacks are that it can't be submerged in water (no tubs, sink bowls, bird baths, etc) and you can't put a pot right off the stove on top of it.  Also, because it is a finish and not a hard surface countertop cutting on top of it is not recommended.

  • It can go in wet room locations.  Laminate sink top in your bathroom to re-finish?  Give me a call!
  • The topcoat is an automotive grade resin so it can be used outside.  Want to flank your pool with a couple planters that have that granite look?  Give me a call!

What are some other considerations?

It can be used on a variety of surfaces from laminate to butcherblock, ceramic tile to primed wood and a myriad of others.  Plus its heat resistant up to 250 degrees so putting a pot on a trivet, cookies on a rack, etc. is not going to be a problem!

The product takes two weeks to fully cure (can be used in 48 hours but small appliances shouldn't be re-installed for a couple weeks) so be aware that -- if you want it to last and perform impeccably well it should be given appropriate time to cure.  Also, in more humid or colder climates that time frame can change so that's something to consider when requesting an install from a finisher or trying it yourself.  The website has all kinds of additional information and you can always write with questions!

The odor on the primer and minerals is very limited, I almost didn't smell anything at all, but the topcoat is a heavier odor.  Be cautious to work in a well ventilated area, open windows, etc.

Great news:
  • The product is water based
  • The polymers in the resin resist bacteria
  • The company carries a streak free, environmentally friendly cleaner made specifically for the Giani Granite system!  The Countertop Cleaner is only $4.50 a 22oz. bottle and will last for 2 or more months depending on your cooking/cleaning use.
Overall I'm not only excited to write about this product, but I can not wait to begin offering one of the six color options (or a custom one that I whip up!) to my clients!  Thanks Giani Granite for sharing such an innovative product!

Want to try your hand at a granite finish?  Click on Products on the Giani website and you can order your own kit. 

Want to hire a finisher like me to install it for you?  I'd love to discuss your project if you're in the Phoenix, AZ or Boston, MA areas.  Leave a comment here or follow on FB or twitter and we can begin discussing your project today!