Tuesday, April 16, 2013

...and Branding

This past Sunday was beautiful here in Chicago.  The rain we've had has greened up the grass, and the daffodils and hyacinths are out in full force.  After a period of cold, gray weather it's hard to focus on the work at hand when the sun is finally shining.  Fortunately, I had a project I wanted to start that I could do outside. I have a table that converts from a console table to a dining table that I picked up for a song at a Goodwill store. The previous owner had painted it a dark brown and not being fond of chemical stripping, I decided it was perfect weather for sanding off the old finish.  

Since I was set up any way, I also cut down some shelves for a book case.  I had bought the bookcase a year or so ago--nothing special, just one of those fake wood, assemble it yourself deals.  The case has a fair amount of height, but not enough shelves to take advantage of it.  I was fortunate to find three shelves with a similar finish at thrift store for a $2.20 each; they were the right depth, just a bit longer.  The only thing better than inexpensive shelves is free shelves, and as it turned out, I found two more discarded shelves in one of the local alleyways.  I will post pictures once I get the final configuration set.  

If you've visited this blog before, you may have noticed some changes, including a new logo.  I am in the midst of trying to get a more cohesive look for this blog and my art websites.  I produce this blog using Blogger.com, but I also have a website for marketing my artwork and another that allows customers to order my photography through a 3rd party vendor (frees up time for me to work on more art!).  There are links to my other sites at the top and bottom of this page, so feel free to take a look at each one, poke around a bit, and send me your feedback.  I am hoping that the three sites will eventually blend more seamlessly.  In the interim,  because each vendor offers unique advantages, my blog posts appear not only at LivingWholeARTedly.com, but also on the blog link at EricEPaige.com.

Hopefully you are all enjoying Spring.  This Internet branding is taking up time, but I should be back to a more regular posting schedule (with photos) some time next week.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Reclaiming Space...
...Bringing A Sun Porch From the 70s Into The 21st Century

Like many older Chicago apartments, mine has a back porch that was enclosed as a living space. At some point, probably in the 1970s, the walls and even the door were covered with paneling. Though the space faces north, it is at the back of the building so it has no obstructions and is actually one of the brightest rooms in the apartment.  I knew with a bit of a face lift it could be a great bonus room.

The only thing worse than paneling? Mismatched paneling!
(c) Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved

South wall, formerly the exterior of the building.
(c) Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved
North wall. Note the patched paneling.
(c) Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved

East Wall. Unfortunately someone paneled over the  door,
but the closet is a nice bonus!
(c) Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved
My budget didn't allow for sheetrock, but the landlord did give me permission to fill the grooves in the paneling and to paint.  I used Durabond to fill the gaps.  You could use regular joint compound, but the Durabond is a 'setting-type joint compound', so it hardens faster.  You have to mix it in small batches because, unlike regular joint compound or spackle, once the product starts to set up you can't extend the working time by adding water.  I used one of the easy sand varieties.  It comes in various setting times; I think I used the either the 45 or 60 minute.  More detailed info on the product can be found at your local hardware store or home center or from the manufacturer, USG.

First coat of  Durabond.
(c) Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved
(c) Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved

(c) Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved
I had hoped to remove to the paneling from the door, but unfortunately, it was holding in the lock set. I was a bit disappointed that my original door was going to look like a modern hollow-core door. I decided that trimming out the door would help.  As I was going through some boxes, I found an Asian-Inspired wall hanging and a picture frame that I could use to add some depth to the door.

Wall hanging from a discount store.
(c) Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved
Turns out this old picture frame
 was just the right proportions.
(c) Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved
It took a couple of coats of the Durabond, and then, of course, was the sanding! Once everything was sanded, I primed with a stain blocking primer and then painted.  The darker wood paneling had an exceptionally high amount of tannin bleeding through the water based stain block, so I ended up switching to an oil-based version (glad it was warm weather and that the room had windows!

Prematurely gray from the dust!
(c) Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved
Multiple coats of primer,
and it's starting too look more like plaster!
(c) Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved
(c) Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved
Under the window was more damaged,
so a different approach was required.
(c) Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved
The area under the window required special attention. Not only was the paneling patched (to cover the vent hole from an old heater or dryer), but it was warped and water damaged (from water getting in the vent hole).   I had in my stash several cupboard doors that were just the right height to panel under the window.  The doors were slightly narrower than I wanted, but I filled in the gaps with stock modeling (parting stop) and 1" x 4" lumber.  

These doors were all the same style,
but not the same color.  Ahh the magic of primer!
(c) Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved
Doors in place, the gap will get filled with molding.
(c) Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved
All of the pieces in place.  The wall was warped,
so I had to install the shoe-mold right away to hold everything in place.
(c) Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved
All trimmed out, caulked, and painted.
(c) Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved
The original baseboard was not only ugly, but it it didn't fit right.  The floor also has quite a slant since this was originally a porch.  I used a combination of 1" x 4" and 1" x 6" to make a new baseboard.

The piece on the left was cut at angle to match the slope of the floor.
The piece on the right is a 1"x 6", while the piece on the opposite wall (not shown) is a 1" x 4"
(c) Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved
Shoe mold hides the gap between the baseboard and the floor
(c) Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved
I had to get a little creative in this corner....
(c) Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved
The last thing to paint and trim out was the back door.  I didn't feel like buying another can of paint, so I took some leftover paint and custom tinted it.  It took 3 tries, but I finally got the color I wanted.

(c) Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved
Two of the Three pieces of door molding installed.
(c) Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved
The final piece of door trim, baseboard, and shoe mold.
(c) Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved
(c) Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved
Once the trim work was complete, I painted the floor, hung the curtains and moved in some furniture.

(c) Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved
(c) Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved

(c) Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved

Media cabinet, turned art-supply storage!
(c) Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved
The room has undergone a few changes since I finished it. The media cabinet pictured above was given to me several months after I finished the space.  I've since moved in a larger table and I mostly use the space for art projects that don't require paint or glue.  If your wondering how I got such a big piece of furniture in there, well that's a story for another post....

Monday, April 8, 2013

Spring Is Here...
...Time To Explore Chicago

This morning I contemplated building an ark and gathering animals two by two, but by late morning the rains had subsided and the temperatures began to climb. Despite a few downpours, the last few days have been quite pleasant and signs of spring abound. The crocuses are starting to wane, but the snow drops and daffodils are starting to bloom. 

Daffodils  (c) 2013 Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved
Snowdrops (c) 2013 Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved

I even was treated to these early blooming miniature irises on one of my walks this weekend!

Miniature Iris (c) 2013 Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved

There are also signs of Spring in the built environment. I walked into Andersonville this afternoon and saw my first paleta vendor of the season. Paletas are Mexican style popsicles. They come in almost any flavor you can imagine, and probably some that never would've occurred to you!  In the warmer months pushcarts and bicycle carts filled with these delicious, frozen confections can be spotted along Chicago's beaches and in any neighborhood with an appreciable Latin American population.  

Another sign of spring: the fountain on the northern edge of Andersonville was happily bubbling, and the gardens, urns, and the Gethsemane Garden Center were all bursting with color from pansies and other hardy annuals.

Andersonville Fountain (c) 2013 Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved

I love this time of year for exploring the city. The quality of the light is wonderful for picture taking, and it's nice to be free of the heavy, winter jacket.  I've been wanting to get to know my city better, so I recently purchased a deck of cards printed with walking tours of Chicago neighborhoods.  

City Walks Chicago
Text by Christina Henry de Tessan
Maps by Bart Wright
Published by Chronicle Books
ISBN-13 978-0-8118-5558-7

Each card has a map and directions to tour part of a Chicago neighborhood. The tours highlight points of interest (not just historic sites, but also shopping and eating opportunities). Sunday was beautiful so I decided to break the deck in by doing the Old Town Triangle walk. This is a beautiful area of the city with a variety of architecture styles. Among other things, I saw one of the last surviving fire-relief cottages built after the Great Chicago Fire.  I am still sorting through the images, but will post the photos later this week.

Today, I a found another great resource for exploing Chicago, only from a culinary perspective. As you may have noticed, photography and food are among my addictions.  I found this book at a Goodwill store today (a true bargain at only 89 cents, though I'd recommend it, even at its full price), 

"A Cook's Guide to Chicago by Marilyn Pocius
Published by Lake Claremont Press
ISBN 1-893121-16-X
The book is a great guide to the various ethnic foods available in Chicago, and includes a directory of stores, a top 10 list of ingredients for each culture, and though it is not primarily a cookbook, there are some great recipes.  Look for future blog posts about my culinary exploits as I tour the globe, without having to leave Chicago!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Baha'i Temple in Wilmette...
...An Archtitectural Treasure

A short post tonight. I have had a little writer's block the past couple of days. April is one of my favorite months in Illinois, as Spring seems to finally give Winter the boot.  I belong to a bicycling club that each April has an annual brunch, followed by a ride out to The Chicago Botanic Garden.  Last year I went to the brunch but was unable to ride (my bicycle was making a rubbing sound and no matter what adjustments I made to the brakes, the problem persisted).   The weather was on the cold and windy side, so a few others had decided not to ride, but we did decide to walk down to The Baha'i Temple, which is just down the road from the hosts of our brunch.

Baha'i Temple (c) 2013 Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved

It turned out that the congregation was celebrating the centennial of the groundbreaking for the Temple, so we had access to their property across the street, a beautiful spot on the shore of Lake Michigan that was formerly the studio of the Temple's architect, Louis Bourgeois.  They had a tent set up with an exhibit about the landscape plan and were even serving tea and cookies, a much appreciated treat on a cold day!

This building, across the street from the Temple,
is normally not open to the public.
(c) 2012  Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved

Lake front view from the Baha'i Temple property
(c) 2012 Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved

The Temple is covered with elegant carvings of symbols from various world religions and is surrounded by beautiful gardens with fountains.  The Illinois Tourism Office calls it one of the 'Seven Wonders of Illinois'.  You can learn more about the temple by clicking here.
Baha'i Temple Detail (c) 2012 Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved

You can enjoy the rest of my photos of The Baha'i Temple and its grounds, including some rarely seen views of the property across the street, by following this link.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Affordable Lighting...
...With Just A Few Brushstrokes

As you may have gathered from my paintings (click here to check them out), I am a fan of the Arts & Crafts Period. Some of my favorite pieces from this era are lamps. I love the soft glow from a lamp with a mica shade and the play of color from a stained glass shade. Buying period lamps or even high quality reproductions is a bit out of my price range, though. Fortunately, thrift shops are a great source for finding great lamps that just need a little update to their finishes.

This first lamp had that antique brass finish found on so many replica pieces. It was also missing it's glass shades.

Waterlily Lamp
(c) 2012 Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved

The first step is to check the lamp over to make sure the cord and socket are in good shape, and that the lamp works. Don't despair if you find a great lamp with a bad cord or socket, these parts can be replaced. If you aren't mechanical, there are lamp and hardware stores that will do the re-wiring.

I decided for this lamp I wanted more of a copper tone rather than brass, and I wanted to add just a hint of color on the lily pad and blossom. I cleaned the surface with rubbing alcohol to remove any dirt and grease that might prevent the paint from adhering. In this case I painted directly on the metal, but if the lamp is going to be handled quite a bit or is subjected to humidity or temperature changes, you might want to prime the surface with a metal primer. Try to pick a primer similar in color to your base coat. For example, I would use a red primer for a copper painted piece.

Metallic paints often take several coats (though a primer will help reduce that number). Once I had the whole thing a nice copper color, I went back and lightly brushed on some metallic colors to bring out the lily pad and blossom. Though the glass shades were missing, I found two mica shades for 50 cents each at a thrift shop. Though they don't look like lilies, they are similar to other lamp shades from the Arts and Crafts Period.

Base after applying copper paint and metallic colors
(c) 2012 Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved
Detail of mica shade
(c) 2012 Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved
The finished piece
(c) 2012 Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved

Sometimes it is not just the base that has a not so great finish. This next lamp had a nice shape, but the glass shade was definitely stuck in the 1980s!

Stained Glass Lamp, circa 1980s
(c) 2012 Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved

I used a combination of glass paint, acrylic mediums, and metallic paints, to glaze over the original colors to get the colors that I wanted. I also painted over the black 'leading' with pewter colored paint to make it look more like real lead. As with the other lamp, I base coated the body in copper and used colorful metallic paints to highlight the design.

The finished piece.
I painted over the 80s color scheme with glass and metallic paints
(c) 2012 Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved
Lamp base painted in copper and detailed with metallic paints.
I also applied a coat of  asphaltum to bring out the details
(c) 2012 Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved

I was pretty aggressive with my color on the stained glass, because I knew I wouldn't have this lamp on very often, so the translucency wasn't the main concern. Still, it's not too bad when lit. I have since done some other shades using solely glass paint, and they definitely do better when lit. I don't leave the bulbs on in these lamps very long and use a lower wattage bulb so as not to melt the paint.

The shade lit
(c) 2012 Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved

The next lamp was made from two separate purchases. I found the shade at a thrift store for a few dollars, but it is missing the piece that allows it to attach to a base (it also was missing the base!). I found the base at a yard sale. It had a paper shade that was squarish like my glass shade. I removed the paper part of the shade exposing just the wire framework and then 'squished' the framework flatter to accommodate the shorter glass shade and simply set the shade on the wire frame. Though this works, it isn't the most sturdy solution and you wouldn't want to do it in an area where the lamp might get bumped or handled a lot (I have the outlet on a remote, so the only time I need to touch the lamp is when I dust it or change the bulb).

Prairie style lamp
Prairie Style lamp shade as missing the top piece
(c) 2012 Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved
I found the wooden base at a garage sale.
I reshaped the metal frame from a lampshade to hold the glass shade
(c) 2012 Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved

Paint can also be useful for matching replacement parts. This ceiling fixture, which I picked up for under $15, was missing the chain and the hardware to mount it to the ceiling, including the cover for the wiring. While I was able to find chain in a color that look alright, all of the covers were in bright brass, antique brass, and chrome. I simply painted the cover a copper tone similar to the color of the fixture.

Prairie Style ceiling light
(c) 2012 Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved
A bit of copper paint makes the replacement cap match the light
(c) 2012 Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved

Not all lamps are so labor intensive. This next one had a nice finish, but was missing its glass shade. My living room and dining room are in different styles and open to each other, so I like to have some elements in each room provide a nod to the other room's style. I simply put an inexpensive contemporary shade from IKEA on this Craftsman-style base. No paint, no labor, and under $25 for the lamp and shade!

This Goodwill find has great Craftsman Style details
(c) 2012 Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved
The stained glass shade was missing.
This simple, white shade fit great,
and fits in with the more modern decor of this room
(c) 2012 Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved 

Lighting is key to a great looking room, and with a little paint, some imagination, and perhaps a new lampshade, you can have great looking lamps at affordable prices.