The weather is beautiful.

Perfect conditions for working on furniture.

I have no pressing engagements / school functions  / meetings or anything else to do today except for work.
And yet....

It's days / weeks like this that make working for yourself and working at home difficult.

Normal I am self-motivated.
My Backyard Retreat

But it is my birthday week.

I am 48.

I have a lot on my mind.

All good stuff.

Work just isn't in the cards.

Last night I sat on my patio and drank tea while I read a book. I stayed until it was so dark that my little light wasn't enough.

I saw the moon rise.

My teenagers each came out, one by one, to briefly talk.

My husband came out for about an hour.

My life is normally chaos with work, three teens, one with a chronic medical condition that keeps me in an alert mode 24/7 and then the ongoing, never-ending sports schedule.

Last night my life was a Norman Rockwell painting.

My favorite room
I'm not ready to let that go.

 Tomorrow might be different, I might "face-my-garage"

Today I am going to sit and stare.

When I look at my bank balance next week I will curse my laziness.

But that is next week's problem.

Today, I have no worries.

See you next week....


Ishma Update

As many of you know, part of the proceeds of this business go to support a refugee family living in Denver. The family are Kunama people who lived on the border of Eritrea and Ethiopia. They were displaced by the fighting and forced from their land. The mother and her six children lived in a refugee camp for eight years (a few were born in the camp) until they were granted asylum in the US. The dad took off shortly after arriving in the US.

They have been living in Denver for eight years - I like to describe their time here as an ongoing train wreck when it comes to jobs, illnesses, police trouble (being black and poor with limited language skills is sometimes considered criminal - I can't tell you how many times I have sat in court with them and had charges dismissed because they were ridiculous.)

Case in Point:

Felony Charge/Arrest Warrant for Child Abuse (translation: no child car seat - case dismissed - paperwork had been lost)

Assault Charge (translation: 11 year black boy hit a white kid at school, white kid had been tormenting the black child for months but his language skill prevented him from complaining to the teachers, the boy finally lashed out and punched the white kid-- case dismissed) why the principal called the police?? no answer, she just did.

Criminal Trespass (translation: kids -all under 12 -were running through the sprinklers on a golf course at 10pm - case dismissed) side note - mom lost her minimum wage job for missing work that day

I don't remember the charge - but in court because the 10 and 12 year old boys got separated from their older cousin while watching a parade downtown. They hopped on a bus that seemed to be going in the direction of their house. Ended up at the airport. Airport Officers charged them and we had to go to court. Case-dismissed.

Those are the cases I remember. All charges are always dismissed because they are stupid charges. What scares me is that when I show up with the family, the prosecutor and judge start falling all over themselves trying to apologize and back pedal.

I am not a lawyer, but I "speak" for the family and that changes the dynamic. I fear for the refuge families who don't have an advocate.

On a happy note - the family is, as always, full of laughter, smiles and are genuinely happy people despite their poverty and troubles. They aren't blissfully ignorant, they just choose to be happy. They have plenty of sleepless nights.

I purposely do not name the family or use their real names (Ishma isn't their last name but it is the name I use when referring to them, it's a funny story how that started, I will explain it someday) because I want to protect their privacy. However, the oldest girl, who is now in her mid twenties, has a baby, and that baby turned 1 today. They stopped by this weekend and I snapped a few photos - because babies change so fast, I decided to post her photo here.

Because of Mod Mid and all you buyers/ collectors - little Sara will have a permanent home address where she will grow up and be able to go to the same school without switching constantly and falling behind. She is the first in her family to have an American citizenship (by birth).

When I feel hopeless I remember that I can't change the world. However, together we have changed the world for these eight people by giving them a bit of security ...thank you to all my customer who have made this possible!

DIY Refinishing a Dresser Part # 3

It's taken me longer than expected to get back to this is like that.

So, my guy who sands for me came last week and began taking the finish off the dresser. It was rough all over so he used 100 grit sandpaper to take the old finish off and it ended up looking like this:

It took about an hour to sand the finish off. When it's down to bare wood, I hand sand it again with emery paper and then wipe it down to get all the sawdust particles off. Some people buy a product to clean natural wood, I just wipe it clean. A damp cloth (not wet) helps the job along.

When everything is clean and dry I get out the polyurethane and foam brush.

Some people prefer lacquer or water based finishes. I like poly. for a few reasons. The main reason is that it wears well. Some people like the patina that lacquer will eventually bring, but I like the look of natural wood at its best.

When spreading the finish, use long, thin  strokes to even out the finish.

If you leave the edges undone, your finished product will look like this. Even the best painter goes back and checks for drips- they can really ruin the look.

 When an edge is done properly it will look like this:

Here is one drawer with one coat of poly. It needs to dry a few hours or overnight. After the first coat is dry, run the emery sandpaper over it and wipe it clean. Then its ready for the second coat. I like to do three coats (each sanded in between).

One drawer done!

When the three coats are applied over all the raw wood, take the emery paper and give it one last rub down to take off any uneven finish.

Finally, its ready for polish. Using any rag, put about a dime sized squirt of Feed & Wax on your rag and polish every inch Take a towel to wipe of any excess. Put the hardware back on.....and...


DIY Dresser Refinishing Part 2

The previous post is about the tools you will need. (Hopefully you have or can borrow an orbital sander - otherwise the cost of refinishing one dresser gets cost prohibitive.)

In 7.5 years of doing this, I have never taken a "before" photo -- I have threatened to, but just never done it.

Until now.

Mid Century Dresser Arriving in my garage.
It has a few scratches in the photo but doesn't look terrible - until I zoom in a bit.

the top
the top side panel

more top photos

top and front

front drawers

The dresser and it's condition are pretty typical of what comes in. Some are slightly better, some are much, much worse.

My favorite picker,  Pat, likes to say....the people who had it last "must have been animals..." -- I always say..."No, they just had kids."

I love these pieces when they are all beat up because they come out so beautiful after being refinished -

The next post will show the refinishing process.

Stayed Tuned...

Tools of the Trade

I get asked how to refinish mid century furniture all the time...

It's no secret so I will share it here and refer future "askers" to this post.

In case you stumble across a great find and want to give it a face-lift here is what I do most of the time -- teak is a totally different process and some specialized items get a more expensive make-over that require different products - but for the run-of-the-mill walnut or mahogany mid century dresser, here is what I do.

After all the years and years of refinishing dressers, I have tried just about every process out there and every product. Most are fine, but really, the simpler you keep it, the better the results.

This is going to be a two or three part blog because it's really long.

To start, you need the right tools - This post will be about the tools.
 So,  in case you are ever hit with the DIY bug, here is what you will need:

An orbital sander - any kind will do - I like DeWalt - I have to replace it about every two years so I buy a medium price- range sander - I have bought the high end ones and I still have to replace them every two years - the cheap ones won't last 6 months so spend the $80 to $100 on the mid range sander.

I have experimented with every grit level out there and settled on 100 grit as the best - it takes off the old finish but doesn't leaves sanding marks on the wood - lower grits may work faster but they also scratch the wood - save the 80grit for taking off paint, and then when you near the wood switch to 100 or 120 grit

A Mid Sized foam brush - I always keep about 10 on hand (between uses, when they are full of polyurethane, I freeze and thaw them and they can last about a week) Brushes leave brush marks - foam brushes are the best.

ACE BRAND Poly. - I have tried them all - the smell on any other poly will make your toes curl. Anything that smells that toxic cannot be good for you or the environment. ACE BRAND  has the lowest odor and is the fastest drying -- The photo shows a "GLOSS" finish - I never use that, I only use SATIN finishes - you want to see the wood, not the finish.

Wet/ Dry Emery Sand paper - anything from 320 to 2200 - this is to sand the poly. between coats - and after the last coat - do not skip this step! I use whatever grit is the cheapest - usually a few bucks per sheet 
My Secret Weapon! After the whole dresser or other piece of furniture is sanded and sealed with its final coat of finish, I use emery paper over the whole thing and then coat it with a layer of this great product -- I will have "know-it-alls" tell me that this finish will not go into the wood after being sealerd in a poly or lacquer - they like to say that this product is only for items with an oil finish -- ignore those people - this stuff is a dream -- use it on all your wood products and you will LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it!! - I have no affiliation with this product even though I sound like an infomercial -- its just the best stuff out there and you can get it at any hardware store for about $15 a bottle.
Last but not least are these wood markers - I usually don't sand the wood between the drawers or the legs on a dresser - I use these guys to touch up any scrapes - (I call them "aggressive vacuuming marks") or dings -- they are magic -- but only on marks less that an inch - bigger than that, you need to sand it.

These are the basic tools I use every day -- I have shelves and shelves of different products but on a day-to-day basis, I only use what is on this page -- one things to note - there is NO mention of WOOD STAIN - because, I never use it!  Mid Century wood does not need to be buried under a nasty stain - its naturally beautiful and only needs a clear finish to show its beauty. I guess the markers are a stain...but you get my point...

I will get the next installment up in a few days-