The Art of Hanging Around

After removing all the artwork in our old house I was left with a LOT of nail holes to fill. For most it was just a matter of filling the hole then painting with undercoat and then dabbing paint on with the end of a brush. However, where the paint was older it had discoloured, and while in a few rooms I was able to thin down the paint with water and blend the edges of the fresher paint into the old, in some rooms the colour change was still visible.

It was worst in the workroom, where I’d had lots of little paintings hanging and the abundance of light had really changed the paint colour. The room wound up with lots of very obvious patches of new colour. It had to be repainted, but by then my right wrist was sore and swollen so I had to get a painter in.

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Dealing with all those nail holes was a lot of work and an unexpected expense. I’m now very reluctant to whack a whole lot of holes in the walls of the new house. Yet we have a lot of art: paintings, photographs, signs, clocks, mirrors and various objects that look good hung on walls. What to do?

I’ve started gathering clever ideas for hanging art without making nail holes. The first three are ones I’ve already used:

A shelf or the top of a bookcase.
The best part of this method is you can overlap the artwork and fit more in:

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There are a couple of places in our house with a dado rail we could install a shelf on top of, and we have a mantlepiece begging for overlapping art – though I’ll have to work out a way to stop them sliding off as it’s painted with slippery gloss paint.

Picture rail.
And old idea but a good one. The advantage is that art can go anywhere along the rail. Might not suit some houses, though, and where we have dado rails already it might be overkill. There’s a wall in the family room one would be fine for.

Picture hanging system.
This involves a purpose-made rail installed up under the architrave from which you hang a wire with a hook. The wire and hooks can be moved so you can position art wherever you like both vertically and horizontally. You can also put two or three paintings on each wire, depending on their size and weight. It’s expensive, but we’ve found the rail can be swapped for a curtain rail and the wire hung from the hooks used on picture rails:

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Or a picture rail, with a length of chain and an s-hook:

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One solution I haven’t tried yet for art is the removable plastic hook. I’ve used them to hang other things, like oven gloves. They don’t always come off cleanly, but if even half of them do that’s cut the time spent repairing walls considerably. I’m going to try these for our lighter pieces of art. For the gallery wall effect I’ll use nails for heavier pieces then then surround them with smaller, lighter ones on removable hooks.

Another solution I’m considering is to place art on something that either stands in front of or leans against the wall. Like this ladder. Or display easels. I saw several nice wooden easels going cheaply at an antique market a few weeks back, and I have one I don’t use for painting any more because the screws are too stiff for my hands.

Full size easels do take up floor space, but there are table easels that can sit on top of cabinets and shelves. And cookbook and plate holders will work for smaller artwork.

At the moment we have all our art leaning against cupboards and boxes in the family room. I don’t want to decide where anything is going until we’ve moved the rest of our furniture from the old house. But once I do, I have plenty of ideas for non-nail hanging and display methods to try, and no doubt another blog post to show how it all works out.

Mirror, Mirror

Pinterest has been great for finding inspiration for the new ensuite. The one at our old place was apple green and white, with a circular motif and an overall feel of modernness and fun. This time I took inspiration from the French Provincial kitchen, a couple of pics on Pinterest of bathroom with a luxury/glamour style, and some cool coloured glass sinks I bought online:

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I love those long rectangular mirrors, and last weekend I found a couple of old kitschy paintings in an antiques market with nice black frames.

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I took out the old factory-line paintings, cleaned them up and had mirrors cut for them:

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That’s the first of the new ensuite projects done. Yes, I have a couple more planned. The others are a bit more labour-intensive, so it’ll be a while before I get them done.

Plans Underfoot

I don’t expect that all the things I made for the old house will find the perfect spot here, but some have in ways that have been a pleasant surprise. The t-shirt and denim rag floor rugs proved to be exactly what I needed in the kitchen and bathroom to make the hard tile floor bearable for my still-sensitive feet. (I got plantar fasciitis at the beginning of the year.)

We’ve not needed floor rugs before. I made them because I like the look of them. Now we do – and we need big ones. There are three uncarpeted areas that need protection here: under the dining table, in the family room, and on a small area between the kitchen and the hall.

After pricing commercial rugs in the sizes we need I got a little dizzy and started googling DIY floor rug ideas instead. I’d weave them, but my loom can only make 80cm wide strips. I don’t like the look of strips stitched together, or the thought of the loom being occupied with floor rugs for a long time, so I’ve been looking at non-loom rag rug DIYS or methods that only require a simple, small loom.

There are various tutorials out there for making rugs from braided rag strips. One kind has you hand or machine stitch the braid into a coil, but with rugs the sizes I’m thinking of it will be too hard to hold and manipulate it under the machine. There’s a ‘no-sew rag rug‘ method that’s appeals more.

I reckon I could also make a rug by crocheting around the rag strips with heavy cotton thread, like I did for the coaster below using linen thread around heavy twine:

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All of those methods involve lots of twisty, fiddly RSI-inducing work for the hands, however. There’s a basketry method similar to the crochet one where you simply hand sew each round to the last, but it might be too slow for a large rug.

Recently an email from Interweave reminded me of pin looms. Perhaps I could make a larger pin loom to weave squares on then join them together to form a rug. It would make the majority of the work do-able while watching tv at night. Rather like crocheting granny squares.

And there’s another idea: granny squares crocheted from rag strips using a huge hook. It still might aggravate the RSI in my hands, however.

One rag rug method that I’m not considering seriously because it’s very slow is the rya or ‘shag’ rug one, where you knot short strips onto a mesh. Still, it is very appealing, especially done with soft t-shirt material.

Other DIY floor rug ideas I’ve found include buying a cloth drop sheet and painting it, or embellishing a coir rug. The former wouldn’t provide a softer surface to walk on, and the cat would consider the latter a giant nail sharpening mat.

I think a little experimenting with pin looms is in order. But if you know of another cheap DIY floor rug method, let me know.

WIP-lash!

As the trials an tribulations of pool ownership continue, investigation commence into how to prevent the neighbour’s back yard washing into ours next time there’s a storm, and the excitement of the ensuite/WIR renovation extends a week longer than scheduled, I’ve been dipping my toe into crafty waters. Just one toe, and not very deeply, but it’s a start.

So I thought I’d do another bloggy exercise to get those crafting brain cells firing: the WIP update.

Alan’s Portrait:
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Just the arms to do. I’ve not gone to art classes for two weeks, and probably won’t make it this week, so hopefully I can get back to it next week.

Double Trouble Baby Blankets:
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Still waiting for me to add the binding, but not that the craft room is tidy I have room to set up the sewing machine.

Grey Vest:
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I got this far before moving house. Not sure if I should add more and/or if I should put some of the same stitching on the matching skirt. Part of the reason I’m hesitating is that I’m not sure I like how I’ve finished the stitching at the back. The ends kept working their way out again so I’ve knotted them, and it looks messy. But who cares what it looks on the inside, eh?

Two Heddle Leno Scarf:
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Haven’t touched it since the move. I’m not liking how it’s wider at the beginning and I’m thinking of unweaving and starting again. I’ve not had trouble with weaving pulling in at the edges this much before, and I’m guessing it’s because the yarn is slippery silk.

The Art Necklace:
What art necklace?

Kogin Tissue Cosy:
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I’ve worked on this little kit three times now, and it has proved to be a good interesting-but-not-too-challenging project for evenings of post-house move/reno exhaustion.

Eye:
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My travel craft project. Went to Brisbane with me.

Inkle Band:
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Another travel project. Not on the WIP list in the sidebar because I always have one on the go.

Finishing these projects seems achievable now that I’ve spent a little time thinking about what I need to do. I just need to make time to do it – and not get distracted by new project ideas and gardening.

Have to say, being stuck on ADSL internet speeds makes blogging about craft a test patience.

Craft Room

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Still some tidying to do. I did most of it in a fit of obsessive organising. I even made a scale drawing in Illustrator of the wardrobe to help me work out what would fit where.

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The left side is for paper-related craft, the right for fibre-related craft. The middle shelves and drawers are for everything else. Art materials and tools went into my tool trolley in the laundry, and the art instruction books and canvasses into the huge laundry cupboard. I rearranged the loom, knitting machine and tables until they fit reasonably well.

And then… well, more important things took away my attention and some last boxes of craft-related stuff were shoved in there, leaving the craft room not quite organised enough to comfortably use. I suspect I need a big surge of inspiration to push me into finishing. Maybe it’ll come soon. After all, I’ve done a bit of a tidy up of my to-do lists on this blog, and that often leads me to tackle projects.

Well, it turned out writing the above was the push I needed. A few hours later I started finding homes for the contents of boxes added after the first tidy-up, and repacking the wardrobe more efficiently with the help of my trusty Illustrator file. I turned the loom 90 degrees and liked it better that way. I’m sure there’ll be more adjusting, but I feel like I could start working on a project now, without having to spend a few hours making room for it first.

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Have I explained the missing wardrobe doors? The wardrobe in this room has three doors to the hanger spaces on either side of the central drawer and shelf section. There’s an inconvenient beam blocking entry 1/3 and 2/3 across each section. The only reason we can think of is that the beam is extra support for the shelves. We’re going to add internal supports to the shelves, remove the beam and join two doors on either side with hinges so they open concertina-style.

Once we find time. Which could be a while.

Goodbye, Hello

The first move is done. We’ve officially switched to preparing the old house for sale. The workroom looks like this now:

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Waiting for a quick tidy-up coat of paint.

Most of what was in it has gone into two and a half smaller rooms at the new house. I now have an office, a craft room and an art/laundry room.

The office is neat and uncluttered, with two desks, two bookcases, a filing cabinet and a small built-in wardrobe. The craft room is the opposite, and I had to rearrange the loom, knitting machine, drawing board and table a few times before I found a set up that kinda-sorta works – though that’s yet to be proven as I haven’t had time to do any craft in there yet. The art stuff has just been stuffed into an existing cabinet in the laundry and my tool chest.

I’m hoping the separation of work and play means I don’t get distracted when I’m supposed to be working, and end up not crafting when I’m chasing a deadline thanks to wanting to get as far from the computer as possible during breaks.

I also culled some craft items. The bulk of it was books and magazines, including all of my Interweave Knits collection, which has found a new home with a friend. After all the box packing and unpacking and carting stuff from house to house, I’m not sad to be shrugging off some stuff I’ve never got around to using or can’t use now thanks to RSI. I can’t believe we still have another move to go, though it should be mainly furniture, wardrobe and kitchen items.

Even half-furnished, even with a few problems like a broken central heading system, this new house is lovely. It feels like I’m meant to be here.

Upheaval

Life has been pretty hectic lately. And stressful. Let’s not go there. Instead, here’s another craft project:

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Folio bags. I found some duck cloth in a fabric store out in Lilydale (I think). The handles are some plasticy cloth tape I bought at Reverse Art Garbage lined with some softer cotton tape.

Of the 300 boxes we estimated we’d need for the first move, over 160-170 have been packed. Maybe more. But I reckon 300 was an overestimate, and it’ll be somewhere not far over 200. Mostly because we’re going to move kitchen and wardrobe contents as we need it. We’ll want some of each at both houses for a while, to make it look lived in, and we’re planning to work at the old place even after we start sleeping at the new place.

Once settlement happens we’ll take the stuff we don’t want to trust to anyone else. The movers are booked for the week after next.

(Is it just me, or does the term ‘removalists’ seems to imply they take stuff away, but not deliver it?)

Craft Daze

My lovely arty crafty buddy, Karen, hosted a Craft Day a few weekends ago. I’ve never been so disorganised over a Craft Day. To begin with, I’d lost all memory of it. It was only because I went out with some of the crafters a few weeks before that I heard about it (again). When I looked up my emails I found the one inviting me there, but it was dated around the time I had that awful cold, so I suspect I didn’t register it. That shows how sick I was. Me forget a Craft Day? Never!

But then I wasn’t sure what to take. I don’t want to start new projects when I’m going to be moving house soon. I decided to get the baby blankets off the loom so I could attach satin blanket binding and to take the knitters loom so I could finish the leno scarf.

I work on either. I’d also thrown in two projects for the move: make folio bags (large flat bags with handles that hold several folios of bundles of craft paper at once) and pouches for the previous year’s harvest of lavender.

For the folio bags I needed sturdy material. I was going to buy denim, but at the last moment we ducked into an op shop thinking we could recycle an old bed quilt or something. They just happened to have rolls of fabric, including heavy curtain fabric – which seemed perfect for the job.

Except it wasn’t. The plasticy fabric slipped everywhere and the holes made by the needles started to look suspiciously like perforations for tearing. I gave up on that project and concentrated on the lavender bags. For those I cut up an old pair of cheesecloth pants and just sewed ravioli-like squares, stuffing them with the lavender then finishing with zig-zag stitch.

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And that’s all I got through. But I did get a crafty fix and it was a fun afternoon – especially as I got to chat with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while.

The Style You Have When You Don’t Have One

With all this preparation to move house, I’ve been looking at how well our furniture fits together. We have a mix of inherited antique and retro, modern ‘federation’, pine shelving and table, modern black office, and even asian furniture. The ‘new’ house has a white french provincial kitchen. Quite a mix.

I’ve started reading the Apartment Therapy blog via Bloglovin’, and they had a post recently called Ten Signs You May Be a Maxamalist. ‘Your Favourite Colour is Everything’ and ‘You see a white wall as a missed opportunity.’ are both so very me. ‘You Have a Collection of Collections’ is Paul, and ‘You worry less about whether things match than if they’ll fit’ is my reaction to most of Paul’s purchases. They should have added ‘Decluttering is a dirty word’ to that list.

So I reckon our style is ‘eclectic maxamalist’ incorporating lots of what Kevin McCloud calls ‘autobiographical clutter’.

Being the control freak I am, I’ve measured up our furniture, drawn a plan of the ‘new’ house to scale (assuming the advert map was correct) and worked out where most of our furniture will go.

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I could see straight away we’d have problems getting the bigger, heavier furniture into some areas and that our bookcases won’t fit where I first intended to put them, so it’s been worth doing. And, well, fun.

The challenge is to also group furniture that complements each other. We have pieces that we have inherited and want to keep, some pieces we love, some that are practical, and a few pieces we’re a bit ‘meh’ about. We’d like to avoid buying and replacing as much as possible, too.

I’m not keen on matchymatchy furniture. It’s a bit like wearing garments made of the same fabric all over, or a suit while relaxing at home. Yet I’m also not keen on the current fashion of aiming for all decor in the room to be as different as possible, so your house looks like a second hand furniture showroom – perhaps the equivalent of wearing tracksuit pants with a denim shirt and suit jacket.

Taking cues from the fashion analogies, I grouped furniture together of similar quality and mood. The better quality, fancier furniture went with the antiques in the living room and reading nook. The practical pine and office furniture will go in the craft room and office. The lesser quality, more casual living room furniture is for the family room.

Almost every piece found a new home. However, we do want a new bed and bedside tables, which we don’t like. It’ll will solve the problem of having a set to keep in the old house while it’s on the market, too. My first plan was to buy something french provincial as that’s what the current/previous owners have, but it would clash with the asian camphorwood chest and triangular chest of drawers I want to put in there. The room’s paint and soft furnishings leave it open to all kinds of furniture styles, so I figure we’ll get pieces that work with the asian pieces instead.

As you can see, I’m having a lot of fun planning the decor in my head, and on the computer. Whether it all works when we move in remains to be seen.