Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Deck Staining, Squared

After my last update a few weeks ago, I got started with my plan for staining the deck.

I wanted to have some color, and decided to give this space something in common with our basement flooring.

With that decision made, I picked out two solid stains to match up with the redwood color I used on the fence. I tried out my colors in the raised areas first.


With those parts done in solid colors, I could see how the three colors would work together, and I decided to go for it. I figured the space was big enough to allow me to make two foot squares (if I had gone with one-foot squares, I would have gone crazy with all the taping).


I started out in what I considered the middle of the deck and began laying out the lines. from there I used a 12-inch metal painting blade to keep the paint within the boarders.  About half way in, I made a "mistake."  Can you spot it?


She Who Must Be Obeyed is a quilter, and she reminded me that traditionally, many quilters would purposely introduce a "mistake" into their work so as not to be perfect.  So, that's my story too, and I'm sticking  to it.


I knew going in that it would take a lot of effort to deal with the visible edges of each board, and that took the most time as I squeezed the brush into the cracks between boards and worked to get complete coverage without getting spots of one color where another color is supposed to be.  I think the end result was worth it.


 It worked pretty well, but I've got some touch up to do yet.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Starting to Wrap Up the Courtyard Build - most of the decking is down, and another 3,000 pounds of gravel


Since my last update, I am nearly complete with building decking around the base of Maynard, and I have most of the rest of the decking attached, although I don't have all the screws in.  Some boards are changing shape as they dry out (no, I didn't let all the treated lumber dry completely after purchase).

I also hauled in a couple loads of gravel and then small river rocks.  Another 3.,000 pounds shoveled, wheel-barrowed, dumped, and raked out.  I also placed some slate for a walking path.





And you'll notice that I've added some outdoor furniture and decorations. We've got sort of a 1970s vibe going.  The Homecrest chairs you may recall from a post I made a couple summers ago - I scooped those all up at a local estate sale. 






The ball is a cool thing SWMBO found and gave to me.  Over the winter it was painted red, but the silver gives it better contrast against the redwood fencing, and the idea to bend a pole to hang it came from photos I've seen of similar indoor lamps prevalent in the 1970s.


I had the window-frame mirror already, just changed the frame color to white and hung it on the fence.


This metal art is something I acquired off ebay a few years ago and  tried using inside, but since it's aluminum, it should hold up well outdoors, and I like the way it dresses up the fence.

Still on the punch list, I need to trim some decking, fix some saggy boards, and tighten a lot of screws.  I plan to stain the deck over the next few weeks, and if you look around the edges, you can see I have a lot of tidying up yet to do.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Courtyard Update -- I've Been Decked (It Only Took About Six Years)

Here's a long-promised update on my big backyard courtyard project.  If you've followed this blog for very long, you know that I have a ton of projects going on simultaneously, and some that languish, to the chagrin of She Who Must Be Obeyed.  So last year I promised I would do something with the footers I had dug years ago, otherwise known as the Big Dig.


 Last spring, I gave up on the idea of pouring footers and building a brick fence. Some of you may question this decision. Sorry, but now that it's done, I think I made the right decision.  It was shaping up to be too big of a job to do myself, and I lacked the funds to pay someone to do it.  Instead, I went for building a wood fence.  Here's how that went:

First, a flashback to what things looked like when we moved in:


Wouldn't this area look nice as a fenced in courtyard?  And wouldn't that tree make a cool carved tiki guy?

So with some outstanding help from Daughter Atom and a close family friend, we did two things -- 1) we poured this concrete pad near the back door where I plan to eventually install a hot tub:



 Here's your tired old Uncle after stage one of the hot tub pad...

And his youthful ward and all around awesome laborer standing beside the nearly finished pad.

And after we got the pad poured, 2) we dug below the footer forms and poured concrete for the fence posts, then back filled the footer hole and slowly (very slowly) I leveled out all the dirt inside the fence. 

With the posts cemented into the ground last summer, I started putting the pre-stained horizontal planks on to form the fence, being careful to level everything and get a uniform gap between each board.






 Huge gates are there to enable me to someday get a hot tub inside the courtyard, or anything else that's big.

 By the time winter arrived, this is where the project was stalled.  Dirt floor, everywhere, but at least the big dig was no more!

Over the winter, I debated putting in concrete, or bricks, or slate, or decking for the floor.  Eventually I decided to build a ground level deck to cover most of the space inside the fence. To do that, I knew I would need to do some more dirt moving and digging, then sink 4x4 treated posts in concrete.  From March through much of April I dug post holes, hauled bags of concrete mix, cut my posts, lined everything up and one by one put about 30 posts into the ground.  I spread the work out, but even so my back was killing me after moving hundreds of pounds of concrete mix from the truck out front by wheelbarrow to the back yard.

Once the concrete was set in the post holes, I started running floor joists between the posts with 2x8 treated lumber, forming a grid of sorts.  With everything as level as I could get it, I started screwing down 5/4x6 treated decking.





 This is where I am today.  I've still got to finish framing around Maynard and once the treated decking has dried out enough, I have to stain that.  Working on this, as you may imagine, has taken most of my spare time for quite a while, and it's the main reason I haven't updated this blog much, but I promise I'll provide an update soon - I have a few decorating ideas that you might like, so stay tuned.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

REPOST: Jack and Jackie Forever

I originally posted this in 2010. Seems fitting to share again. 

I get a big kick out of finding unique furnishings and accent pieces, and there are some great ones for a mid century home.  Jack and Jackie are among my favorites. 

These plaster busts are about 16 inches tall. Jack is finished in a copper color, and Jackie is more brassy/bronze in color.  They have some chips and wear, but I'm leaving them alone. I'm guessing they were some kind of craft kit probably released soon after Kennedy's assassination. 

Underneath the Jack bust is a piece of masking tape with a handwritten note that really adds to the pieces: "For Myrt and Herb - our very dear neighbors - Gran. May 16, 1964".  I scored these at an estate auction near my home, along with a couple of pole lamps, a very cool chair and several other small things.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Estate Sale Find: Cat Painting and a Surprise Photo

Earlier this summer I hit an estate sale with a lot of stuff in the basement. I picked through the goods and left with a couple of big bags of stuff, but this painting I found somehow got left behind.


Later in the day I went back and it was still there so I got it quite cheap. Someone in the house had obviously been a painter based on the canvases in the basement, but this was the only one that caught my eye.  I'm guessing that "hug" written in the bottom left is the name of this siamese cat...(?)

A couple of days later I was going through the things I bought, and among the goods were some old wallets and coin purses.  Sadly no money was tucked away anywhere, but while I was going through a wallet I did find some old ID cards and things, including this photo.


In the photo you can see a gentleman holding a cat.  I think the lady who had used the wallet may have painted the photo, and I'm guessing the man was her husband and the cat was the cat in the painting. There's no writing on the back, but I'm pretty sure it's the siamese cat in the painting.

Kinda cool, so I'm planning to hang the snapshot beside the painting in one of our spare bedrooms.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

New Front Patio - A Tune Up for the Back Yard Courtyard Project, AKAThe Big Dig

Inside the fenced portion of our front yard we've had some luck (finally) getting my old "grass couch" looking better with some annuals, but the rest of the ground inside the fence has been awful - just a place for the dog to play ball. The ground is sloped so we couldn't have a decent place to sit. I've been wanting to do something to it for a while, and finally I made some decisions and went to work!

My idea was to dig out a level area for something like a kidney shaped slate patio with a small retaining wall.

Here's the area after most of my digging was done - I'm estimating I dug and moved about 2 to 3 tons of dirt.



Next I stapled down some landscape cloth to block out weeds, and then I spread about 1500 pounds of gravel to level out the surface, and tamped it down.



At that point I started moving these this pieces of slate I've been saving for years. They formed a patio at our old house, and I had torn that apart before we moved here. Since the old house was only a mile away I brought the slate pieces with me. They averaged about two inches in thickness, much sturdier than what you see for sale these days. Yes, I'm crazy.


Here I was putting the puzzle together and doing my best to keep things leveled.  I was able to get by without doing much cutting of the stones I had.

From past experience, I knew that weeds can sprout up from the joints if you use sand or something loose, so I chose to fill the joints with concrete.


Not the prettiest at this point.


I bought some stacking stones for the wall and cemented those in place.

Now that the concrete is nearly cured, I plan to clean it with some muriatic acid.

The metal mesh chairs and love seat I painted yellow last year never looked right so I gave ten a fresh coat of Rustoleum Apple Red. I like this color much better and it matches the red accents in our front entry.

Here's the way it looks as of now:



SWMBO will be planting along the wall to add some color, and we plan to add some more plants later on this fall. 

I love the result of this project.  It took me about 30-40 hours of work spread out over two weeks, and now we finally have a level place to sit and less grass to cut!  Plus, I'm motivated to get back on the back courtyard project which has been languishing for way too long.


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Recent find: Storage hassock

We took a couple days last weekend and visited Asheville, NC, and Roanoke, VA, and one of our stops was a place we hadn't visited before: Black Dog Salvage. Apparently a DIY Network show called Salvage Dawgs is filmed there.  I wouldn't know since we don't get cable.

Anyway, I found a couple things at Black Dog, including this storage hassock. 


 It's covered in its original textured vinyl, and for being about 40 years old, it's still in nice shape.






I did remove the iron base and repainted it with some Rustoleum primer and black semi gloss.  I like that it has some storage space.




I'm not sure what those black elastic straps once held -- any ideas?

In other news, I'm still working on preparing to build our backyard patio, a multi-year project I'm embarrassed to not yet have completed. And I've started to clean up, rewire, sharpen, and repaint to cool vintage electric mower I picked up last year. I should have that done soon and ready for a blog update.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Gone Welding: Now I'm Back!

Well hello there!  Apologies for being away the past couple of months.  Let me catch you up on what's been going on:

I just completed a sculptural welding class.  That's my main excuse for a lack of recent posts.  I'm really glad I took the class, and I do have some show and tell in the form of a couple of projects.

The first thing I learned while welding with an oxy-acetelyne torch is you can very easily burn through the metal you are trying to weld!  I wanted to make a danish-stylized wire sculpture of a fish similar to this one I found online, but I kept messing up.


So I changed  direction and decided to start by welding thicker metal - rebar to be precise.  That led me to doing some searches for examples of rebar art, and I ended up with a salmon.  I printed out a photo, traced it onto graph paper, then enlarged it on some construction paper.






Here's the finished piece.  What I learned: bending rebar takes some real muscle!  And it is very easy to burn through rebar with a torch.

I had enough time left in my 9-week class to do another project, so I drew up some plans for a tiki guy based on a photo I found of a vintage surfing trophy.




With a 1:1 drawing I could then start cutting and bending the pieces to make the sculpture.

I realized that my original drawing would need some modifications so I lengthened the base so it would push into the ground for display outside.  This project was destined for a friend's garden, and the letters incorporated into the head also needed to change as it was supposed to be AFFP. (The initials for a scholarly book about to be published by my friend's husband, an anthropologist who appreciates tiki art).

And here's the final.


The first few pieces of this also were welded with an oxy-acetelyne torch, but I finished it up with an electric welder (MIG).  Using a MIG welder seems a bit easier and faster, sort of like working with a very hot "glue gun."  Once again I found myself deviating somewhat from the drawing.  I'm pretty happy with the result, despite some imperfections.

So anyway, I bought a MIG welder and the tools I need to weld at home.  I'm stoked to start doing some repairs on some metal pieces I have that have broken welds, and I want to make some more art and eventually try my hand at some mid-century style shelves and chairs, and also play around some with another hobby of mine, old bicycles.  Stay tuned!

In other news, if you usually read this blog with Google Reader, HEADS UP!  You should know by now that sometimes Google giveth and Google taketh away.  And the Google master plan now calls for Google Reader to go away permanently at the end of June (2013).  So, I want to offer up a couple of ways to continue keeping up with Uncle Atom.

I will continue this blog, so you can always find me at www.uncleatom.com  or atomicuncle.blogspot.com.  If you are like me and you follow many other blogs, there are other blog readers which can import all your Google blog links, but I think you have to act pretty fast, i.e., before the end of June.  Two that I use are Reeder, and Feedly.

You can also follow me at:

Facebook

Twitter (@Uncle_Atom)

and now Instagram

I'm looking forward to working on some new and ongoing projects this summer, including the big dig/backyard patio; some welding ideas that I've got percolating; and probably some more projects, vintage finds, and maybe a road trip posting or two.