Weighty Matters

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DIY Wild Hair

on May 19, 2013

Every once in awhile I get a wild hair to take on some do it yourself (do it myself?) project around the house.   For some reason, these often involve furniture, either assembling a new piece or redoing something old to give it a fresh look.  Hand to God, I always have the best of intentions and I swear that I’m careful, but there have been many times when I’ve finished up with some bruises, scrapes and cuts.

I’m not the handiest person and, frankly, a project probably takes me twice or three times as long as someone else that actually knows what he or she is doing.  I blame my father.   He didn’t exactly have the fix-it gene either.  His father, however, was a wizard at making, fixing, creating and constructing.  Grampa had a sixth grade education but his knowledge knew no bounds.  He’d sketch out an idea, take a few measurements, go to work and, presto, a new object would exist where previously there were just pieces of wood and some hardware.  He could also dress out and butcher a deer, make sausages, fix a car and do any one of a few hundred other things.  Daddy, not so much.  I asked him once why he became a doctor and he said he’d known he’d never be able to make a living with his hands.

He was half-kidding.  Dad actually was great with his hands and was a terrific surgeon.  That same kind of precision also made him a champion tier of knots on boat lines or fishing lures.   What he took on, he excelled at, and he was smart enough to know his capabilities and strengths.

I’m really good at needlework.  Not sewing, but things like needlepoint, counted cross stitch, and sequinning.  Good eyes, with corrective glasses or contacts at least, and manual dexterity help me produce truly beautiful things.  Here are two examples.  I did the Serenity Prayer in counted cross scene.  The beach scene is a needlepoint piece.


Serenity prayer in counted cross stitch

Beach scene in needlepoint.













When I trade in a needle for power tools, a paintbrush or even an Allen wrench, well, bad things can happen.

Still, sometimes I get an idea or a yen in my head and nothing will do but that I tackle the project.  I’m sure that has something to do with my compulsive personality.  The thing is, no matter how much energy and good intention I begin with, midway through I begin to regret it.

I have to say that being super obese never made these things easier.  It was harder for me to tote things.  My muscles would ache after continued movement.  I’d feel strain and burn in my back from bending.  I’d get short of breath.  Every project took even longer, not only because I was inept inexperienced, but also because I’d have to take frequent breaks and rest.   Only sheer stubbornness and refusal to quit until finished would get me through to completion.  Even then, I’m sure the quality of the work suffered as the need to finish began to outweigh the need to do it perfectly.

Hmmm.  I wonder if there’s another correlation.  Needlework is done with one’s butt planted in a chair.   Laziness, compensation, or something else?  Okay, I’ll accept that it’s not a high energy craft, but I honestly do enjoy it!

So, back to the DIY discussion.  Last week I read an article about sprucing up your outdoor furniture.  Like a seed planted in a fertile field, a thought took root about the pair of Adirondack-style chairs out in my yard.  I assembled them myself a couple of years ago, and had the black and blue marks to prove it, and they’ve sat outside ever since.  Florida climate with the heat, sun and salt water is tough on furniture and, although these structurally held up, they’ve been looking sort of shabby and weathered.  After reading the article, I immediately new that I could paint them and give them spanking new beauty.

That idea stayed with me for days and yesterday I trucked right on down to the home improvement store for paint, a drop cloth and sandpaper.  While there I remembered the concrete planter outside my front door that really needed freshening, too.  It wouldn’t take a gallon of concrete paint, but the saleswoman swore that this special outside spray paint would do the job.   In for a penny and all that, I added a can to my supplies.

Note to self:  Don’t spray paint something if there’s the slightest breeze.  Bad things happen.  Let’s just say that there’s a border of blue on the concrete driveway around the planter too.  No worries.  Sometime this year I’m getting the house and driveway painted.  I can live with my mishap until then.

I won’t bore you with the blow by blow of cleaning, sanding and painting the chairs except to say that when I was three-quarters of the way done with the first chair I had an epiphany.  Yes, my excess weight made every previous DIY project like this even more difficult to accomplish but the bottom line is, I really don’t love doing this work.  Some people thrive on tackling these and even more complicated jobs.  (Jenny Crusie come to mind, anyone?)  I now realize that I like the results but would be more than happy to skip the labor.  DIY is simply not my thing.  I am, however, pleased that I completed this job without suffering any injury and my muscles aren’t killing me even though I put in several hours between yesterday and today.

I now have two Adirondack chairs painted Purple Paradise.  They’re done and done well — mostly.  If they have a head start on the slightly weathered shabby-chic look in small spots, who cares?  I’m the one who sits in them the vast majority of the time.  If it doesn’t bother me, it doesn’t matter.

Here’s the before and after:

Adirondack chair before painting

Adirondack chair before painting

Chair Two

Adirondack chair now painted Purple Paradise

6 responses to “DIY Wild Hair

  1. Gwen Toews says:

    Hello, I also like to cross stitch. Can you tell me where you found the pattern for the serenity prayer scene you did? Thank you

  2. KimCz says:

    I agree with Skye, sanding is my least favorite part of the makeover process. When I plan out a project like this I assign different tasks for different days. I always make sure that when I sand it’s the only project related task on that day. It helps to be able to get in there get the sanding done and then walk away and do something else, preferably some thing fun. Your hard work paid off, the chairs look great.

  3. Oh man, I’m going to be blaming you for this.. I have this awesome but rather weather beaten bench outside my front door.. and have had a glimmering of “thought” about staining or painting it and making a more “usable” and cute sitting area there.. but only just the THOUGHT. Now… sigh… it is more like a plan.. and I think tomorrow I will get the paint and do this. You are inspiring, you see, in more ways than one. And sometimes.. we don’t have to LOVE the process of the project.. but the result is so satisfactory, it makes it worth the effort. I think I can.. I think I can.. I think I can….

  4. Anonymous says:

    Terrific job, Mary. The color will compliment your home beautifully. Your needlework is very nice too. Have a wonderful, productive week.

  5. Skye says:

    Beautiful! You did a fantastic job and I love the purple!

    I love DIY projects and have done a lot of them, but I admit that sanding is my least favorite of the tasks. I do love painting tho’! I think I got the gene from my maternal grandfather as my parents definitely didn’t have it and I don’t think any of my aunts, uncles, or cousins did much of that sort of thing either. It’s definitely a love it or hate it thing.

    I do not have the patience for needlework (except for crochet and I want to learn to knit). I admire the work you did with your art pieces. I’ve tried counted cross stitch a few times on very small items but I just cannot seem to count right and they always come out wonky! 🙂 You did an great job on the chairs, even though that is not your strength!

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