Category furniture

Makin Stuff: Giant Squid Pillow


After reupholstering the kitchen bench with a Squids in Space fabric (how many times can I post the same bench with different fabric and call it content?), I had quite a bit left over, and when I saw the instructions for this giant squid pillow, I knew it was the perfect project for some of the remaining fabric.

It actually takes longer than one might think to sew a giant squid pillow–I spent the better part of two days sewing and stuffing in the living room with Malcolm in the Middle streaming in the background. Frankly, I don’t know why I have a craft room at all, I just go where it’s warm and comfortable-ish and I have a TV at my disposal regardless of where I’m supposed to be dumping all of these works-in-progress.  My squid’s tentacles ended up a bit overstuffed so they’re not as flexible as I’d like, but they’re still good for staging shark (and dog) attacks which may explain why Napoleon lived in terror of this thing for a while.




For a while.

Napoleon vs Giant Squid

If you’d like to make your own giant squid pillow, the instructions are here.

You’d better not be in my ass groove!

I started bringing new furniture home practically the second we closed on the house. I was able to justify this by telling myself that anything that I moved in, I wouldn’t have to move out for the foreseeable future, unlike apartment living, where I was practically guaranteed to have to trudge it someplace new after a couple of years. There are a number of items of furniture I lust over in my soul at Fabulous and Baroque, one notable example of which is the Queen Anne’s Revenge Chaise. If I won the lottery, I would would re-poor myself in a week’s time with Fabulous and Baroque’s furniture. Since I have not won the lottery and won’t win the lottery since I don’t play the lottery, I have been trying to scratch this itch with furniture found on Craigslist.

It wasn’t long before I found a couch that was listed as being from the late 1800s with ‘minor’ upholstery damage. When I went and saw it in person, I realized that the damage was a little more severe, but since I didn’t intend on keeping the gold brocade anyway, I figured it was no big deal and loaded it up in the uhaul.

beforesideLook at those rusty nailheads!



I took this photo immediately after we brought it into the house, before we returned the uhaul. Jason voiced his concern about Napoleon ripping out more stuffing since his stuffed toys have an average lifespan of about a minute and a half. I countered that the couch didn’t have a squeaker, so it would be fine.

We came home to carnage. Stuffing was everywhere, and he’d built himself a fine nest, all the way down into the hay that the rest of the couch was stuffed with. Hay. Hay and…matches?


It was about this point that I realized I’d gotten in way over my head with this couch, that the entirety of my reupholstering experience consisted of some benches I’d purchased for a penny and a half-assed job on an IKEA couch that didn’t have long for the world anyway. You can’t just slap some monster fur over hay and matches and ripped-up matted wool and call it a day. I’d go in and look at it, get intimidated, and leave the room again. I’d prod at it, trying to figure out how exactly I would get the fabric up and under the wood pieces, get overwhelmed, and walk away. Eventually, I threw a dropcloth over it and pretended it acted as some sort of invisibility cloak, masking my incompetence.

Napoleon did not forget about the joyful time he had ripping out couch guts, and I found him lounging on my failure more often than not.




I’d wanted to have the couch done for our wedding as the group was getting ready in the house and thus photographs would be taken on/around the couch, but with all the flipping projects I planned for myself before the wedding, including some house renovations, there was simply no way I was going to get it done, so I settled for ‘artistically’ draping a blanket over the damage, like a surgeon taping a band aid over some festering sore. When everyone’s family was over at my house for the rehearsal dinner, everyone who moved the blanket to see what was underneath grimaced like the hay, matches, and matted wool had physically hurt them. You shouldn’t pull back the curtain if you don’t want to see tiny, hay-stuffed Oz. That one’s on you guys, not me. I tried to protect you from the horrible truth.




I think Napoleon only ever left the couch to eat and pee.

After the honeymoon, one day I’d decided I’d had enough of being defeated by a couch and started to pull off the brocade, which was so old and fragile that some of it literally disintegrated in my fingers. I don’t even want to know what I inhaled over the course of reupholstering it, because I only occasionally remember to wear protective headgear. After I got the fabric on the back off, what had been puzzling me for months became clear. Of course I couldn’t see how it all went together with the fabric in place. The fabric on the back and sides was nailed on last, after the front and the cushion had already been upholstered and fitted in. Once I saw that the back had been upholstered and then screwed to the frame, it was just a matter of taking things out in the reverse order of the way they’d been fitted in.



backI’d done that giant ouija board in the background of this picture earlier in the month, because somehow a coffee table sized ouija board was more pressing. It may or may not get its own post in the future.

 I’m bad at taking photos in the middle of a project like this, because once I get going, I get so thoroughly engrossed that I don’t even think to pause and photograph the process. Basically, I took the old fabric off as carefully as I could, so I could use it to make a template for the new fabric. I then sewed the pieces together with a sewing machine, stapled on one side and stretched the fabric as much as it could stretch before stapling the other side. This keeps the material from sagging/wrinkling over time. The seat of the couch was redone with a LOT of upholstery foam, which makes it significantly more comfortable and somewhat less flammable than being stuffed with matches. The sides and the back were nailed on with decorative smoked crystal nails, and when it was all said and done, it looked like this:


Originally, I planned to silver leaf the wood, but now I’m glad I didn’t, the original wood is so pretty that I think it would have been a shame to cover it up, and the brown tones give it a warmth that helps keep the living room inviting. It’s not perfect, but it’s much better than it was, and it’s sufficiently scratched my itch for a more ornate couch at a sixth of the cost of a new one. I think I’d ultimately like it more with a matte fabric instead of this shiny faux ostrich, but with a dog in the house, an easy-clean surface rules over them all. I’m sure at some point (years down the line, not any time soon) I’ll have to tackle it again and we’ll see if my technique can be improved.


It followed me home, can I keep it?

I have a thing about scouring Craigslist for furniture and then experimenting on it. I can’t stop. I won’t stop. I am on temporary hiatus, owing to not having access to a working car during hours when Jason is not supervising me. It’s harder to go out and collect things and “forget” to tell him about them when he’s right there, looking suspiciously over my shoulder as I’m dialing the phone number of yet another Craigslist weirdo.

Here’s a piece from the 70s that had clearly already been subjected to the whims of someone like me:




The white and lime green zigzag is cute-ish and only a year or two out of date, but it doesn’t go with my decor and even if it did, the finish was rough and pimply, so it had to go. I sanded the crap out of it (though not enough to get rid of the half-assed chevron) and sprayed it glossy black. You can still see the ghost of zigzags past on the top, but that’s fine as I had other plans for it.


I took the giant builder mirror we’d pulled out of the bathroom and shattered it, which took more effort and blows with a hammer than you might think. A lot more.



After that was done, I arranged mirror pieces on the top of the end table like a mosaic until they were the shape/density I wanted, and glued them down with mosaic glue.


When the glue was dry, I used black mosaic grout to fill in the gaps between the mirror pieces. This was by far the messiest part, the grout had separated and shot black goo all over the place when I opened the container, and this goo stained every surface it touched. What I’m saying is, it was pleasant. The grout itself was a consistency that didn’t want to spread very well, and though it was supposed to be completely dry in a few hours, it took days. Days in which I poked and prodded at it, wondering if it would ever actually set.

Eventually, I was able to scrape all of the extra crap off of the top and clean the mirrors, and now it lives happily in my upstairs. It could probably use another grouting to be perfectly level, so I wouldn’t run your tongue over it or anything just in case of a sharp edge lurking somewhere, but it works well enough for my purposes! Maybe when I forget how infuriating that grout was, I’ll give it another crack to make it perfectly smooth.



Glittersplosion table makeover

The friend who gave me the now orange chairs also gave me a table to makeover. The table was overall in decent shape, save for the top, which was flaking and peeling like a sunburn.

I decided I didn’t want to refinish the entire thing, just the top, and I was just recently inspired by a completely glittered concrete floor, so I decided to glitter this tabletop in a similar fashion. After sanding it down, taping it, and laying down the base coat, the first lesson I learned is that glitter doesn’t stick well to spraypaint. Even wet spraypaint. The second lesson I learned is that if you’re going to get large amounts of glitter to stick where it doesn’t want to stick via spray lacquer, you must first mist the glitter from above with several light coats, as if you spray too directly, the glitter will ball up and roll across the table in chunks. The third lesson, I already knew: glitter eats topcoat, so in order to have a non-bumpy, reflective top, instead of gritty, dull glitter, you have got to coat and recoat and recoat with lacquer. I determined that doing this via spraycan would take a year and a day, so I busted out the big guns: polyurethane in a can, and I still needed three thick coats before the surface was smooth and reflective, with each coat taking approximately 24 hours to cure as apparently it dries very differently on glitter than on wood–lesson four.

Lesson five: if the paint on the top was flaking, the other paint probably isn’t all that stable, either, and the tape you placed to protect it from red spraypaint and glitter will likely pull it straight off. @(#& Nothing a little more spraypaint can’t fix!

The photo doesn’t even begin to capture its glittery majesty. It’s primarily red sparkle but in direct sunlight, it flashes gold and purple. It’s going to live in my crafts room, dubbed Mellzah’s Sparklepalace of Glitter and Gore, and there it will serve as a stand for the monitor/xbox Jason got me for the room, as he knows how important it is to me to have movies/tv shows running in the background when I’m working on a project; it helps me to stay focused on the task at hand instead of wandering away after five minutes.

Chairman of the Orange

Recently, a friend gave me some chairs and a side table for me to refinish that had seen their fair share of abuse; she didn’t want/need them anymore and didn’t have the time to fix them up.

I started on them today, and while the table is going to take more work than anticipated (and will thus get its own before/after post if I don’t screw it up completely), the chairs are just about done. I sanded them down–one of them required a lot more sanding than the other (can you guess which?), wiped them off, primed them, and then painted them the color I’ve deemed “Fuck Yeah Orange!” I am completely and totally into vibrant color lately, particularly in the kitchen, and since I’m not going to paint this kitchen orange like I did the last one, Fuck Yeah Orange! chairs are the very best next thing. I’m going to also make some cushions for them when I find the right fabric, which will be dual purpose–both protecting the finish and delicate hineys– but in the meanwhile, they will be a sorely needed splash of color in an otherwise entirely-too-neutral kitchen.

It’s so vibrant, my camera can hardly deal with it. LOVE IT. If I could find a leather/leatherette purse this color, I’d snatch it up in a second.

In other news, my manicure is shot, I’ve got primer in my hair, spraypaint coating the inside of my nose, and two to three distinct strata of sandpaper grime and dirt on the rest of my body. How many showers to get it all off? The world may never know.

No piece of furniture is safe from me!

I finished my coffee table:




And I also finished some other furniture:



The Bullet Bill is a subwoofer. The other furniture is to hold games, consoles, and accessories. Just a little over a week until the big move–I suppose I should get back to work!

Still no Elvis sightings

Aside from yesterday, which I spent gossiping with Jeanine, looking at housewares, and drinking coffee, I have spent the week sanding and staining my desk–I finished sanding the drawers on Tuesday and applied my first coat of stain to them that day as well. I also sanded down the top of my coffee table–on one of his first nights over, Jason pulled my scented oil bath and body works doodad out of the wall and set it down on the table so he’d have a place to plug in his laptop. Hours later, I noticed that oil had leaked out and onto the table, and when I went to wipe it away, it took ALL of the finish with it. I was pretty upset, but the table had to be refinished anyway as a hot white pizza box had left a big mark on it a few months earlier, so this wasn’t the first finish ding, though it was the impetus to finally fix it instead of looking at it and mumbling that it really ought to be refinished someday.

Wood stain is pretty magical–I’ve been using a water-based ebony stain as I want the desk to be near-black when I’m done–but it’s really quite remarkable how different the stain looks on different wood. On the oak of the desk, it immediately picked up red and amber qualities, making it a rich warm brown. On the pine (I’m fairly certain it’s pine from the smell it released when I was sanding it) of the coffee table, the stain immediately turned it a cooler brown-grey. I am six coats in on the drawers and five coats on the table. The drawers I am going to continue to stain until they turn black or very close to black, and I estimate that I am perhaps two to three coats away from that. I’m hoping to stop on the table before it turns black, however, there is a part that has been more resistant to the stain and I’m going to keep coating it until it’s even, regardless of how dark it gets.

The gunmetal bird skull drawer pulls arrived in the mail today and they are AWESOME. I can’t wait until the desk is all done and put back together, because it’s going to look amazing. I can see why people get hooked on refinishing furniture!

It’s not a project unless toxic chemicals are involved.

I just spent an hour at home depot talking with an employee about refinishing the desk I bought a long time ago with intentions of refinishing. Eventually in the new place I’d like to use it as a makeup vanity instead of a computer desk because it could amply store my buttloads of makeup and be less awkward to use than the dresser I’ve been using. Since I’ve got a ton of free time now, what better time to do some of the projects I’d been putting off, right?

I brought in one of the drawers so he could determine what wood it was made from, and brought photos of the damaged areas to best determine how to go about fixing them–apparently I got the score of the century when I bought it as I got it dirt cheap and it’s oak which is a spendier hardwood. The employee mentioned liking the hardware on the desk and I scoffed, saying I wanted to replace it, but apparently I can sell the hardware for something like thirty bucks a pop on craigslist because you can’t get hardware like it anymore. If that’s true, I’ll be glad to sell it instead of just chucking it like I’d intended. I don’t think what’s on there now will go with the ebony finish I’m applying, and I’m thinking I’d like something a little more modern on there regardless. Or awesome. Like bird skulls.

So over the next couple of days, I’m going to be sanding and staining–and, apparently, if I don’t use proper ventilation, according to the home depot employee, I’ll also be “talking to Elvis”. It’s nice to have projects to work on! And maybe I’ll get some sandwich-making tips from the King.

As it turns out, despair alone doesn’t kill you

Many thanks to everyone who has reached out to me this week, via text, email, phone call, etc. Everyone’s kindness and support has made a difficult week a little easier, and even though I still feel nauseated and scared and my brain keeps whirring about unfairness and things I could have said and didn’t, it’s not as bad as it could have been, and I thank you all for that. Jason has been a rock for me this week, getting me to eat*, getting me out of bed/out of the house, encouraging me to exercise to keep my spirits up, and being supportive and understanding when simple things frustrate and upset me and push me close to the edge of a screaming, crying, way-overreacting “I’m gonna be homeless” tantrum.

I’ve been trying to keep myself busy. Friends have tipped me off to some jobs and I’ve sent out a few resumes, I’ve boxed up and sent out most of my physical movie media for trade-in at Amazon (something I’d been meaning to do for a while and additionally lessens the load when I decide to/have to move), traded in a big bag of books at half-price books so my bookshelf will stop leaning meanacingly, and have been doing other organization/cleaning tasks around the apartment.

On Tuesday, I took some beautiful thick brocade fabric I’d been saving for over a decade that I bought when I was in Taiwan and reupholstered one of the piano benches I’d bought for a penny from Guitar Center. I’d originally intended to make a top out of it, but a decade had come and gone and the top went unmade and had it been made, it probably would have gone unworn, so it was time to put it to use. I’m also working at getting better about how long I save things for undefined “project” use–if I find myself saving something using the same excuse used by someone on Hoarders, I set a timetable to actually use it, and if doesn’t get done, that stuff gets donated or binned, because I don’t have unlimited storage space for a lifetime of “someday”s and this has motivated me to start and FINISH doing things that otherwise could have been put off indefinitely.




I only wish I had enough fabric to reupholster both benches, but I’m sure I’ll find some that I like just as much for the other bench at some point.

*Also his presence keeps me from binging on everything in sight. Hello, eating disorder, I did not miss you.