Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Little House Love

I have always been drawn to little houses - I mean the small, collectible type. Combine that with my love of Nordic design and you'll understand why these following three links got pinned by me.

First, these Baltic Birch Plywood clocks. You can leave out the toy white soldiers- those are definitely not my style! But the house silhouettes - Yes!
Source: Sven Stornebel • via: The Designer Pad

Next this doorstop- absolutely minimal yet so functional.....
Source: West Elm

And then a row of cottages as simple shelves, most effective when arranged as a neighborhood on the wall.

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©2012 AshbeeDesign, Marji Roy

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Well Placed Electrical Outlet

Progress is being made on my laundry room renovation but there is still much to be done. However, while the electrician was here for the major project, I had him make a few small changes in other rooms as well. I am beyond thrilled to have an electrical outlet in my bathroom closet for charging my toothbrush, When we built back in 1978 the thought of electric toothbrushes was just science fiction. And yet here we are needing more bathroom outlets.  I have one now!

No need to keep the charger on the sink. (In reality, I didn't. My husband would keep my toothbrush charged for me so I didn't have to keep the charger and the cord out. Yes, he spoils me!) Life just got a little easier.

Next time you need electrical work, look into this possibility. My laundry room renovation is on the opposite side of this wall so it was an easy and inexpensive addition.

Other Laundry Room Redesign Posts:

©2012 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Monday, August 27, 2012

Wood Slice Wall Art

I've shared with you the flowers I designed and made from wood slices. Yesterday I was browsing back through some of my pin boards on Pinterest and I found this wall art piece pinned there.
source: VivaTerra

It is very different from the flowers I crafted yet so similar in materials. The description indicates it is from hand carved wood petals. I am not sure about the carving, looks like wood slices, just like the ones I made but cut on a more extreme angle. They have used mulberry and it has an interesting tree ring pattern which adds to the effect.

Might have to put this on my "to-do" list.  Take a bunch of wood slices, a circular base and just start gluing....

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©2012 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Friday, August 24, 2012

Branch Antlers!!!!!!

Those of you that have been following me for awhile will know my love of using branches in décor and might even remember my disdain at the current trophy head trend.  This photo appeared in my Pinterest in people I follow yesterday. It was pinned by Shannon Acheson of {aka}design blog fame. (I follow the blog she writes with her husband Dean daily).

Source: Rue

I love these faux antlers! I would classify them in a grouping with my Frolicking stick figures....

or my red dancing sticks......

Simple twigs - artistically displayed.

Check out my Branch Themes series which links to many of my posts about using branches in décor.

And here are some links to my posts about heads! Some are definitely laugh worthy! 

I still dislike the head phenomenon but branch antlers? I could be persuaded.

©2012AshbeeDesign, Marji Roy

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Optical Art Using Blue Painter's Tape

Design Sponge sponsored a Blue Painter's tape project last month and I was inspired to create. This month I have discovered that my project wasn't selected in the final 20 so I can instead share it with everyone on my blog. After looking at my project you can hop on over to Design Sponge and look at the other entires. Still waiting to see the final winner.

Here is my submission:

My art students back in the 70’s were enthralled by the optical art work of Victor Vasarely. I developed a lesson using masking tape as a paint block that they used to help them create paintings with sharp lines and strong optical patterns. They were often frustrated because the paint always leaked under the edges of the masking tape requiring a steady hand to repair. When blue painter’s tape hit the market and was advertised as having the edge lock, I thought back to my students from decades ago and knew this magic tape would have made their end projects so much easier. With this project I decided to test the materials to see if in fact, it would make creating quick, visually strong, optical paintings easier. I was right. It was a breeze. 


Supplies needed:
  • 1 piece smooth surface hardboard like masonite 
  • 1 roll 1” Scotch Blue Painter’s Tape
  • Spray paint in two contrasting colors (I used black and aqua. Complimentary colors also create especially strong optical effects (red/green or orange/blue) and just about any light color creates a striking effect with black.
  • Exacto Blade or single edge razor blade
  • Metal ruler

The Process:
  • Cut the masonite to the desired size and sand edges. (Mine was 14” x 14” x 1/8”. I would use ¼” thickness on larger sizes. If using 1” tape, make the masonite square ending in an even number.)
  • Spray paint it using the lighter of your two colors. Working in a well ventilated area build up many light coats. The number of coats depends on how light your color is and the coverage but keeping putting on coats until the surface is a solid color. Be sure to paint the edges as well as the flat surface.

  • Allow to dry thoroughly. I let mine dry over night.
  • Find the mid point of two opposites sides and draw a straight line across the surface there.

  • Apply the first piece of Scotch Blue Painter’s tape to the surface with its edge lined up to the line drawn across the midpoint.  The tape should go completely from edge to edge with about ½” over hanging to wrap around to the back.
  • Apply the second strip of tape exactly parallel to the first. Try to not leave any space between, but also don’t let them overlap. Press each piece firmly in place giving special attention to the edges. Cover the entire surface with even strips of tape. Fold the ends over on to the back of the board.

  • Draw a geometric design onto the tape. My design was created by measuring the mid point of each side and connecting them thus creating the diamond shape within  the square. Other shapes can be used as well. Use a ruler or compass and be precise.
  • Using either a single-edge razor blade or Exacto knife and a metal ruler, cut along the lines you just drew on the blue tape. The goal is to apply enough pressure to cut through the tape cleanly.

  • Peel off every other piece of tape.

  • Again make sure all edges are sealed tightly by pressing them all. Fifty percent of your design should be removed.

  • Paint over the entire surface with your second, darker color of spray paint. Do many light layers to keep a nice smooth finish.  Work in a well-ventilated space. Be sure to paint the edges as well. Allow the paint to dry.

  • Carefully peel off all the remaining tape.

Have fun finding a home for your new painting!

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©2012 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Monday, August 20, 2012

Laundry Room Update • August

Many, many months ago I posted about my BIG project for this year. I shared with you our plans to finally finish the laundry room. It is the only unfinished space in our home which we built back in 1978. We have finished off spaces one by one over the years but the logistics of finishing this space are complicated, (all the mechanicals are located here) so I just kept it the way it was. This year it moved to the top of the list and we started planning. My original goal was to do it during May but I was finishing up at school (former Tech Coordinator) and I had a new grand daughter due. Although I figured about 3 weeks for the project, I knew things ALWAYS take longer. I could see myself stuck here with contractors instead of in Boston snuggling with the new baby. Delaying was a smart choice!

It is now August and we are well under way, and it is taking longer than planned - but not than anticipated. Scheduling of a plumber, electrician and carpenter in the right order for the various tasks is the challenge. I was going to hold off and share everything at the end of the project but instead I am sharing at a midway report. As a reminder this is what my laundry/pantry looked like....

Although it looks like a basement, it isn't. We live in a passive solar berm house with the first floor backed into the hill.  This room is right off my kitchen/hall area.

And this is the plan...

With all these beautiful cabinets...

And this is where we are today.....

Most of the sheet rocking is done and two coats of spackle have been applied.

Here are some process photos....

This is the room after emptying it out. Right now our family room is filled with my pantry- all in labeled Rubbermaid tubs. We have stayed operational but it isn't pretty! I'll have to get a photo to share before I'm done.

We have had extensive plumbing and electrical upgrades installed including:
  • Rearranging the plumbing and moving a lot of it into the walls.
  • Getting a new pressure tank.
  • Installing a whole house sediment and odor/taste filtration system for water
  • Moving and upgrading the washer plumbing
  • Adding outlets everywhere, and increased lighting

It was an exciting day when the first of the sheet rock went up. I'd been looking at insulation for years! Although the hideous green of the mildew prevention stuff isn't a much of a visual improvement!

The sheet rock in the main area is done but the little utility room in the back corner still has a lot of things yet to happen.

 The plan for this week is to....
  • Install a bigger electrical panel on Tuesday- no electrcity for 4 hours
  • Remove plumbing elements on Wednesday AM - No water for 3 days!
  • Sheetrock and tape the back corner
  • Lay flooring on Thursday and tape back corner again
  • Paint back corner on Friday AM
  • Install new water heater and move rest of plumbing back on Friday afternoon.
  • Have water again by Friday suppertime!

Below is the view from my kitchen- slightly distorted. Any photography of this tiny space requires a wide angle lens and distortion.

Progress is definitely being made. I am very pleased with the direction things are going. I do lay awake at night worrying about details. I have several design challenges lurking that we have just pushed off until we have a better understanding of the space. The biggest is the opening between the laundry and utility area. I have always planned that to be sliding doors that can easily be removed to allow for maintenance access. In reality the sliding doors won't work because of spacing issues. So we are looking at alternatives.
I am considering the sliding curtain panels from IKEA or a bamboo panel curtain. With any solution it will require some creativity. 

The ironing board that folds out of the closet is going to be a challenge as well.

All things considered, things are going well. We have had our share of electrical surprises and it will be good to correct those. This should be the challenging week without water for 3 days - like last year after the hurricane!

Other Laundry Room Redesign Posts:

©2012 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Friday, August 17, 2012

Denim Blue Jeans • Series Overview

I love denim - the color, the fabric, the possibilities. This series overview pulls together the many posts I have put together showing the possibilities of denim in craft and décor. I expect this series will grow with time. I've yet to use my collection of old jeans for a project but there are certainly great ideas in this batch of posts.

Denim Blue Jeans • Iconic
A series of ideas for recycling Jeans Pockets - just the pockets!
Originally posted July 30, 2012

Many denim pillow ideas, some using pockets, some using quilting.
Originally posted August 1, 2012

Worn jeans come in many various hues. This post shares examples of wall hangings created by artists using these gradations effectively.
Originally posted August 3, 2012 

All types of containers from purses to bowls to baskets and more.
Originally posted August 6, 2012 

Quilting is a natural for any scrap fabric and recycled jeans are no exception. But oh the variety! From country to contemporary and everything in between.
Originally posted August 7, 2012 

Finish the edges or fray them. There is a softness inherent in frayed jeans. See how it is used as part of function or design.
Originally posted August 8, 2012 

Denim is tough stuff which makes it a natural for casual furniture - and one not so casual option.
Originally posted August 9, 2012 

And then there is everything else from jewelry to lampshades.
Originally posted August 11, 2012 

I put together a tutorial on how to create chevron fabric from old jeans.
Originally posed 2/16/2013

Denim on Pinterest
Interested in more denim ideas? check out my Denim-Indigo board on Pinterest. There are many pins I didn't use in this series plus I will continue to add to it as I discover more resources.

This is my third indepth theme exploration designed to provide you with a resource for inspiration. Check out my other two here.

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©2012 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Recipe • Tomato-Broccoli Crescent Pie

Time for another recipe share. I don't do a lot of that on this blog but it is another area in which I apply creativity. I am not a daring cook but I like to find and share easy, savory, recipes to add to my collection. A little variety in food is a great thing.

I made this recipe for dinner last night. It pairs so well with the fresh corn on the cob and tomatoes available everywhere right now in New England. I originally created this recipe years and years ago based on a zucchini pie that won the Pillsbury contest. Other than still using the crescent roll crust the ingredients have changed dramatically.

Marji's Tomato Broccoli Crescent Pie

  • 4 cups diced vegetables to include:

            approx. 2 1/2 cups coarsely chopped broccoli 
            approx.1/2 cup chopped onions
            along with approx. 1 cup other possibilities - sliced mushrooms
            or zucchini, or red and green peppers, or asparagus (or any combination)
  • 2 tbs. olive oil
  • 1/3 cup julienne sun dried tomatoes in oil
  • 1/2 tsp coarse ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbs. dried basil
  • 1 tbs. oregano 

Cheese & egg mixture
  • 1 cup egg beaters (or four large eggs)
  • 1-2 cups grated cheese - I used mixed mozzarella and cheddar 

  • 1 8 oz can ref. Crescent rolls
  • 2 TBS Dijon Spicy Mustard

  • Preheat oven to 400ºf.
  • Chopped vegetables and stir fry for about 3 minutes in olive oil over high heat to soften.
  • Add sun dried tomatoes, and spices to veggie mixture.
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly - about 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile open crescent rolls, unroll and press into pie plate to create crust.
  • Spread mustard over the bottom and sides of the crust.
  • Mix egg beaters and cheese together in large bowl. Add to veggie mixture and stir together well.
  • Pour into prepared pie crust.  Bake for 25 minutes. Watch. You may need to cover edges with foil for last 15 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and allow to stand for 10 minutes before servin

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

DIY • Variations on Wood Slice Flowers •Tutorial

Yesterday I shared with you my new, larger more varied and complex wood slice flowers. I did take photos as I created these to share with you. They really were simple to create and I made a variety in half the afternoon.

Supplies needed:
  • A selection of dry branches 1-2" in diameter. Mine came from branches that came down during a storm last year.
  • Band Saw
  • 5 Minute Epoxy
  • Tooth pick
  • Twine
  • Drill bit - about 3/16"
  • Power Hand drill
  • Sandwich baggies (optional)

The Process:

  • Set up a guide fence on the band saw to guide you in slicing many wood disks about 1/8" thick. Actual thickness doesn't matter but having them the same thickness does.
  • Cut a wide selection at various angles. You create longer ovals by cutting at a sharper angle. The closer to 90º the slice, the rounder the disk will be. For each size cut 6 similar ones for each flower. 
  • You can cut through areas of knots and if you get 4-6 similar slices they will create interesting and unique flowers.
  • I kept similar ones in sandwich bags for organization (optional). It saved time in matching similar shapes when constructing flowers.
  • Arrange the patterns by playing with the slices. Put 5 or 6 matching ovals together. Then place other pieces on top in a circular pattern making sure that there is adequate overlap to apply glue. The more overlap, the stronger your design will be. This design has the center open but overlapping side pieces. Remember you can also add pieces to the back for additional strength.
  • Once you have a design you like, mix up a small batch of 5-minute epoxy. Because it dries quickly you need to be ready to start gluing immediately. I save tops from cream cheese and use them as glue trays. I use a toothpick to mix the small batch of epoxy (about the size of a quarter). On my original wood slice flowers I used hot glue. That hasn't held up over time so I am experimenting with 5 min epoxy this time round.
  • Add a small amount of mixed epoxy to each place that will have disks overlapping. Work quickly.

  • Place the overlapping pieces on the correct area. This design had an overlapping center.

  • It is best if the wood slices are pressed together while the glue dries.  I had little clamps but my husband suggest using jars as anfaster, easier solution.  It worked like a charm.

  • I raided my pantry as production continued!

  • Once dry, I drill a 3/16" hole in the top of one of the petals and, using a dental floss threader, threaded a pieces of jute through to hang the ornament from.

They look great in groupings!

And on my stoop!

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©2012 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy