musings, mutterings, and creative muddle. . .

Friday, September 26, 2014

That's a Great Set of Pipes!

I needed. . . no wanted. . . .a new display set for my jewelry when I set up at Art Shows. Not that there was necessarily anything wrong with what I had - I just felt like I could do better. Always watching and looking for ideas, I came across something I thought was The Best Thing ever!!!

I thought about it. . . stewed over it. . . sketched out my thoughts and dimensions. . . Then finally talked to Hubster about my idea and he thought it was smashing! And that was the end of it. Or so I thought.

We were out of town on a middle-of-the-week weekend excursion (Empty Nesting is AwEsOmE, BTW) and he said we needed to go to a specific home improvement store. Thinking he was shopping for that elusive chain saw that's been on his list all summer, I knew I could wander around and find other neat-o stuff to look at.  When, SURPRISE! He directed me to the plumbing department and we proceeded to pick out parts for my idea. Considering I was ill-prepared and did not have my drawings and measurements with me - I did push my brain, did a lot of envisioning and ended up with all the parts needed (barring one floor flange, black stain, screws, and liver of sulphur).

Saturday was spent cutting pipe and sawing some reclaimed wood (a discarded piece of mop boarding from my 1950's kitchen).

And soldering all the pipes.

A looooong day! I had my trusty dimensions and sketches and always measured twice (only made one mistake, and it was a judgement call on my part - and I changed my mind). The end goal was five bracelet / necklace racks, and four decorative / ring posts.

But first. . . I had to figure out how to age and stain that wood. I didn't want a traditional stain color - but something with more personality. Enter steel wool, vinegar, and tea. That's right. . . You read it right. I took a handful sized wad of 0 steel wool and shoved it in a mason jar and covered it with white vinegar (do NOT tighten the lid and let it set outside. Trust me!!). I had to wait at least 24 hours to try it. . . So the official brewing of the tea wasn't going to occur until the next afternoon, so to speak. in the meantime, I started researching how to 'blacken' and soften the bright copper flash and dash of the pipes.

The next day I brewed my black tea and painted it on my boards. Boooring. . . Nothing happened. I let it dry (didn't take long) and then brushed on the steel wool - vinegar mixture. Oh! What's happening?!?!  Cool!!! As I was wanting a deeper tone than what was occurring (think 80's walnut) I repeated the process 12 hours later and then 24 hours later. Still not quite right, so off to get the torch and add some scorch marks. Better. . . but. . . . off to our local hardware store a I trekked and returned home with some black stain with finish and a sanding block. A quick brush on, let it dry (again - didn't take long) and lightly sanded it. Oh! Yes! That's it!!! Topped it with a matte finish and Gorgeous!

Now for the pipes. What to do with those bright shiny pipes? Liver of sulphur seemed the answer with some Renaissance wax to hold the 'finish.' I had to order it then wait three days for it to arrive. My beautiful wood blocks were so impatient. I took some time and did some painting on the silver-toned floor flanges - making them antique black as well. And admired my blocks. . . .Then my order arrived - hooray! Earlier than expected even - Double Hooray!!!

I quickly got things rounded around:  heated water for mixing, located containers, mixed up some baking soda water, set up a work area outside in the shade, got the hose turned on and close by, put on my apron and gloves, got rags and brushes ready,  and rounded up the pipes. I was ready!! I had read the instructions, and learned tips and tricks of the trade via the internet - so here we go.

Well. . . . disappointment. Just wasn't what I envisioned. I started with the ring posts and though the first one seemed to come out okay (nothing fab - but okay) I went ahead with the other three ring posts. Yeah. . . .No. Sigh. . . . Back to reading the tips and tricks. . . I scrubbed the pipes and tried another tact. YES! I brushed the liver of sulphur gel onto the pipe straight out of the little jar and waited. And waited a little longer. Patience. After about 15 - 20 minutes (a complete guess as a friend stopped by about this point and we visited while I went through the routine) I dunked it in my baking soda water, wiping it down with a wet rag then set aside to dry. Once dry, my trusty extra fine sanding block and I got busy sanding. Oh My Goodness!!!!  Gorgeous! A couple hours later and all the pipes are now done. LOVE!!! I let them 'rest' for 24 hours then went at them with the Renaissance Wax. Wax on, wax off, buff. Twice.

While the wax took the rosy patina down a notch - it deepened the black areas just ever so slightly and evened the tones out. I like it. I like it a lot.

The blackish floor flanges (that's really what they're called) you see there at the bottom of each pipe set started out a steely gray color. A couple of dustings of flat black spray paint, then a solid coat of matte clear finish and you get an antique-y 'burnt' black look.

BTW - I had planned on taking photos throughout the whole process (started Saturday, and they were officially finished and assembled today. Lots of hours were put in (best guess is at least 12) as well as many trips to the hardware store (7 covers it) - and Hubster was gone for much of it. Oh, he got me motivated, supported me, sawed the wood and cut and soldered the pipe, but I was on my own for the rest. . . And as each process involved gloves and some sort of highly-staining substance - well. . . photos just weren't happening. At least I have the befores and afters, right?

Speaking of after - here they are all assembled (two more trips to the hardware store - came home with 1" #6 screws and I needed #8!!  Doggone it. . . But totally worth the extra trip:-)

And I was able to get the project finished a full day and a half BEFORE the art show. Good timing, I say. . . Good timing!

Wanna see them with jewelry and on my table and all glitzed out? Ya gotta come to Artist Alley in Chanute, KS for the grand premiere!  Or follow ksyardbird on Facebook to see when ksyardbird (complete with pipes, jewelry, and home decor) will be at an art show near you . . or have patience, cross your fingers, and hope for photos to be posted.  I would recommend seeing the display in person ;-)

*UPDATE* How about a couple pics of The Pipes 'in action'???

My Artist Alley Display (complete with a 'mug' of me - LOL!) at the end of September 2014. I used my 6' folding table for this one. A little tight - but it worked.

Holiday Open House at my favorite local gift shop November 8, 2014. I used about a 4' table which made things extremely snug-  but you know what? It all fit!!!

& then my own Holiday Wingding at my home / studio December 13, 2014. I dragged out the big ol' 8' table and it was great to spread out!!!! I ended up not using one of the racks - but had plenty of room had I needed it.

It's just so great having a customized, consistent (yet flexible), and 'trademark' looking display. And what a great learning experience it was!!

BTW - I see you eye-balling my upcycled clipboards. . . hehe. Those are for another blog :-)

 Have a Good-Set-Of-Pipes Kind of Day -

Robin Z

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