Country Traditions

October 30, 2010

Interiors: Get the distressed look | Life and style | The Guardian

Filed under: decorating, farming, furniture, painting, weather, wisdom — Tags: , , , — dmacc502 @ 8:44 pm
Antique French Bamboo washtand - black pink an...

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Interiors: Get the distressed look | Life and style | The Guardian.

via Interiors: Get the distressed look | Life and style | The Guardian.

Style tips for the distressed home

1 Avoid the overly ornate. A curling French bed looks great in a sparse room with white painted floorboards, but straight-edged, blocky shapes work better under distressed paint as there’s less to distract the eye.

2 Colder, neutral tones work best – from dark to pale grey to blue-whites. Avoid creamy and yellow tones that will tip you towards Scotts of Stowterritory. If you’re brave and have an artistic eye, experiment with strong colours such as turquoise (très Provençal) or pea green (rather Bloomsbury set). But be warned – most of us don’t have an eye. For a safer strong colour, dark grey is always a winner – check out Downpipefrom Farrow & Ball.

3 Pay attention to handles – anything shiny or attention-seeking is out. Safest is to paint-in round wooden handles, which makes them disappear: the distressed ethos is about quiet elegance, not shouty dingly-dangly bits. Another alternative are half-moon handles, which are often sold in an aged patina.

4 Be inspired. If you’re commissioning built-in distressed furniture, collect pictures of the desired look to show your carpenter. Think about structure first. If you want blocky, Shaker styling, draw up trad panel doors. Bevelling, or perhaps mirror panels, on bedroom wardrobes? Colour and the level of distressing comes later.

5 Never underestimate the importance of the tester pot.

The basic technique

1 Remove all handles and other hardware.

2 Sand the piece thoroughly – boring, yes, but vital to the finished product. Don’t lose interest yet.

3 Apply a coat of primer. White is fine, but if you want to vary the look, use a toning undercoat (grey under white, say), which will show through at the distressing stage.

4 Apply two thin coats of matt eggshell. The more matt, the better. Farrow & Ball has a woodwork paint called Dead Flat. Say no more.

5 Once dry, sand it down again to expose tasteful glints of raw wood or primer. Go hard on edges, crevices and curves for that beaten-up look.

6 Wipe it all clean, then coat with a wax paste to seal the deal.

Make it age, and fast…

1 Cheap picture frames can be instantly antiqued using Rub ‘n Buff (in silver leaf or pewter) – try Amazon and online craft sites. Dab a small amount along the raised ridges for that Miss Havisham glint.

2 To age a modern mirror, brush flecks of grey paint into the corners where it meets the frame, especially if there are cracks or indentations. But do this sparingly and carefully. “It’s quite a delicate job,” warns interior designer Gill Richardson.

3 Painted floorboards scuff up all by themselves – as long as you don’t varnish them. Several coats of floor paint is enough to protect boards but malleable enough to scuff quite quickly. For perfection, varnish over the top coat. Lighter shades will age more quickly than dark floors.

4 Don’t forget the garden. Railway sleepers make great raised garden beds. Paint them with live yoghurt and you’ll get a beautiful patina of growing lichen – within hours.

September 16, 2010

Housework in Late 19th Century America

Filed under: farming, furniture, gardening, outhouse, sewing — Tags: , , — dmacc502 @ 12:44 pm
All My Cast Iron

Image by cybrgrl via Flickr

Housework in Late 19th Century America
By Steven Mintz

Housework in nineteenth century America was harsh physical labor. Preparing even a simple meal was a time and energy consuming chore. Prior to the twentieth century, cooking was performed on a coal or wood burning stove. Unlike an electric or a gas range, which can be turned on with the flick of a single switch, cast iron and steel stoves were exceptionally difficult to use.

Ashes from an old fire had to be removed. Then, paper and kindling had to be set inside the stove, dampers and flues had to be carefully adjusted, and a fire lit. Since there were no thermostats to regulate the stove’s temperature, a woman had to keep an eye on the contraption all day long. Any time the fire slackened, she had to adjust a flue or add more fuel.

Throughout the day, the stove had to be continually fed with new supplies of coal or wood – an average of fifty pounds a day. At least twice a day, the ash box had to be emptied, a task which required a woman to gather ashes and cinders in a grate and then dump them into a pan below. Altogether, a housewife spent four hours every day sifting ashes, adjusting dampers, lighting fires, carrying coal or wood, and rubbing the stove with thick black wax to keep it from rusting.

It was not enough for a housewife to know how to use a cast iron stove. She also had to know how to prepare unprocessed foods for consumption. Prior to the 1890s, there were few factory prepared foods. Shoppers bought poultry that was still alive and then had to kill and pluck the birds. Fish had to have scales removed. Green coffee had to be roasted and ground. Loaves of sugar had to pounded, flour sifted, nuts shelled, and raisins seeded.

Cleaning was an even more arduous task than cooking. The soot and smoke from coal and wood burning stoves blackened walls and dirtied drapes and carpets. Gas and kerosene lamps left smelly deposits of black soot on furniture and curtains. Each day, the lamp’s glass chimneys had to be wiped and wicks trimmed or replaced. Floors had to scrubbed, rugs beaten, and windows washed. While a small minority of well-to-do families could afford to hire a cook at $5 a week, a waitress at $3.50 a week, a laundress at $3.50 a week, and a cleaning woman and a choreman for $1.50 a day, in the overwhelming majority of homes, all household tasks had to be performed by a housewife and her daughters.

Housework in nineteenth century America was a full-time job. Gro Svendsen, a Norwegian immigrant, was astonished by how hard the typical American housewife had to work. As she wrote her parents in l862:

We are told that the women of America have much leisure time but I haven’t yet met any woman who thought so! Here the mistress of the house must do all the work that the cook, the maid and the housekeeper would do in an upper class family at home. Moreover, she must do her work as well as these three together do it in Norway.

Before the end of the nineteenth century, when indoor plumbing became common, chores that involved the use of water were particularly demanding. Well?to?do urban families had piped water or a private cistern, but the overwhelming majority of American families got their water from a hydrant, a pump, a well, or a stream located some distance from their house. The mere job of bringing water into the house was exhausting. According to calculations made in 1886, a typical North Carolina housewife had to carry water from a pump or a well or a spring eight to ten times each day. Washing, boiling and rinsing a single load of laundry used about 50 gallons of water. Over the course of a year she walked 148 miles toting water and carried over 36 tons of water.

Homes without running water also lacked the simplest way to dispose garbage: sinks with drains. This meant that women had to remove dirty dishwater, kitchen slops, and, worst of all, the contents of chamberpots from their house by hand.

Laundry was the household chore that nineteenth century housewives detested most. Rachel Haskell, a Nevada housewife, called it “the Herculean task which women all dread” and “the great domestic dread of the household.”

On Sunday evenings, a housewife soaked clothing in tubs of warm water. When she woke up the next morning, she had to scrub the laundry on a rough washboard and rub it with soap made from lye, which severely irritated her hands. Next, she placed the laundry in big vats of boiling water and stirred the clothes about with a long pole to prevent the clothes from developing yellow spots. Then she lifted the clothes out of the vats with a washstick, rinsed the clothes twice, once in plain water and once with bluing, wrung the clothes out and hung them out to dry. At this point, clothes would be pressed with heavy flatirons and collars would be stiffened with starch.

The last years of the nineteenth century witnessed a revolution in the nature of housework. Beginning in the 1880s, with the invention of the carpet sweeper, a host of new “labor? saving” appliances were introduced. These included the electric iron (1903), the electric vacuum cleaner (1907), and the electric toaster (1912). At the same time, the first processed and canned foods appeared. In the 1870s, H.J. Heinz introduced canned pickles and sauerkraut; in the 1880s, Frano-American Co. introduced the first canned meals; and in the 1890s, Campbell’s sold the first condensed soups. By the 1920s, the urban middle class enjoyed a myriad of new household conveniences, including hot and cold running water, gas stoves, automatic washing machines, refrigerators, and vacuum cleaners.

Yet despite the introduction of electricity, running water, and “labor-saving” household appliances, time spent on housework did not decline. Indeed, the typical full-time housewife today spends just as much time on housework as her grandmother or great-grandmother. In 1924, a typical housewife spent about 52 hours a week in housework. Half a century later, the average full-time housewife devoted 55 hours to housework. A housewife today spends less time cooking and cleaning up after meals, but she spends just as much time as her ancestors on housecleaning and even more time on shopping, household management, laundry, and childcare.

How can this be? The answer lies in a dramatic rise in the standards of cleanliness and childcare expected of a housewife. As early as the 1930s, this change was apparent to a writer in the Ladies Home Journal:

Because we housewives of today have the tools to reach it, we dig every day after the dust that grandmother left to spring cataclysm. If few of us have nine children for a weekly bath, we have two or three for a daily immersion. If our consciences don’t prick us over vacant pie shelves or empty cookie jars, they do over meals in which a vitamin may be omitted or a calorie lacking.

http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/historyonline/housework.cfm

September 14, 2010

How to reupholster a chair

Filed under: furniture — Tags: , , , — dmacc502 @ 12:39 pm
Singer sewing machine - 31K32 (detail 1)

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A chair, before and after reupholsteryThe reupholstered chair: from an auction house bargain to a thing of beauty

Try working with a piece of furniture that you find at an auction house or junk shop. When I talk about furniture picked up at auction, I’m not talking antiques. Consult your telephone directory to find a saleroom in a small town rather than one in a big city, which can be a lot pricier. Most sales have preview days, and it’s worth having a browse and looking closely at any pieces that catch your eye.

Check for basic soundness: is it fit for purpose, is it riddled with woodworm, is it more trouble than it’s worth?

I have found a wooden-framed chair with a back and seat that need replacing. The chair is a lovely shape and will work well with my other furniture. It’s not an old piece, cost just £8, and as it only needs stripping and small areas of fabric replacing it’s perfect in terms of time.

Obviously, if you are feeling brave and have the time you might well want to try something more ambitious. If you decide to use a chair, try to find a chair with a removable seat

What you need

Old chair
Paint stripper
Mask
Rubber gloves
Furniture wax or limewax
Fabric
Tracing paper or pattern paper
Pencil
Scissors
Upholstery tacks
Ribbon
Sewing machine
Embroidery thread
Textile or craft adhesive
Pins
Staple gun (optional)

What to do: Stripping and cleaning

Paint-strippingPaint stripper needs to be used with caution (use outdoors if possible)

Before I strip and clean the chair I’m going to remove the pieces of fabric so I can use them as patterns. The chair has been coated with a thick, dark varnish and is generally a bit grubby. I’m using a product called Nitromors, which is a powerful paint stripper. If you are going to use a substance such as this you need to work outside or with very good ventilation. Wear a mask and rubber gloves, keep it away from pets and children and try not to splash it on your skin. Just follow the instructions and you’ll be fine.

LimewaxingLimewaxing gives furniture a soft quality and emphasises the grain of the wood

I’m going to wax my chair once I’ve finished removing the old varnish; this will bring out the grain and protect the wood. You can also limewax your piece; this will stain your furniture slightly and give it a chalky appearance. Limewax can be purchased from most good DIYstores or picture framers.

Upholstery

Vintage fabricA collection of beautiful old fabrics that I have sourced from Donna Flower

Try to use the existing upholstery as patterns for your new cover. Think about the type of fabric you are going to choose. I want this chair to be functional rather than merely decorative, so delicate fabrics won’t work. As the areas to be recovered aren’t huge I’m going to treat myself and buy some fabric. This is cheating, I know, butthe website I’m going to use to source my fabric specialises in reclaimed fabrics. It’s run by a lady called Donna Flower who is incredibly knowledgable, her website is a pleasure to use and she is constantly adding new fabrics. As I only need a metre of fabric and the chair was so cheap I think I can justify this little diversion.

Patterns

Making a patternCut a paper pattern to fit your piece of furniture

Using tracing paper or pattern paper make yourself a pattern. Cut out your shapes from your selected fabric. I need to ensure that I cut sufficient material to allow me to pull it taut over the chair frame, but I don’t need to hem the fabric because any uneven edges will be hidden by the trim.

My next step is to replace the seat cover and back of my chair. Starting with the chair back I am going to secure the fabric with upholstery tacks. As the tacks are visible I’m going to create a trim to cover this edge.

Trim

Taking a bundle of ribbon, I’m going to join a variety of lengths and widths to make enough to fit around the fabric on the back.

Making a braidDon’t worry about any distortion created when stitching; you want your braid to have a wavy quality

When you have the desired length of trim, set your sewing machine to embroidery mode. Using contrasting machine embroidery thread, stitch a trailing motif along the length of your ribbon. Don’t feel you have to use an embroidery hoop for this; any distortion created through stitching will add rather than detract from your final trim. Using a good quality textile or craft adhesive, stick your finished trim in place. Allow the glue to dry thoroughly.

Staple gunA staple gun is often easier to use

Fitting the seat cover requires the fabric to be stretched tightly across the pad making certain that the corners are neat. If the seat is removable, then take it out first. Pin the fabric in place as you work before tacking the fabric in place on the underside. The new seat can now be replaced. If you want to you can use a staple gun to secure the new fabric to the base. It’s sometimes easier to get a tighter, more professional finish if you staple rather than tack. You should now have a unique piece of furniture which is both useful and lovely.

September 12, 2010

Willow Twig Furniture

Filed under: furniture — dmacc502 @ 10:34 pm

Gather several long, straight willow branches of various diameter. These branches should be taken from live trees and cut the day you plan to make the table. Remove the smaller shoots and leaves from the branches as cleanly as possible, leaving only small nubs.
2
Choose four straight, evenly-sized large branches for the table legs and cut to the height you want the table. Cut four additional pieces for the cross members, and bevel the ends of the cross member pieces with a whittling knife.
3
Cut and trim four more pieces of willow to make the frame for the bottom shelf. Use an electric drill and bit and carefully drill holes into the ends of the four frame pieces. Place the pieces together to make a square and use short, galvanized wood screws to secure the corners together. Fill in shelf with additional branches and willow twigs.
4
Build the top of the table the same way as the lower shelf and bore holes into the frame so the branches can be secured inside the square with screws.
5
Position the bottom shelf at the desired height against the table legs. Attach each leg to the outside corners of the bottom shelf. Bore holes through each leg into the shelf and secure with screws.
6
Attach the table top to the legs in the same way, then add the cross member pieces. Place the cross sections so they extend across each side, near the bottom of each leg and screw them to the legs. The more cross sections that are used, the sturdier the table will be.
7
Decorate the table with pieces of tree branches. Bend the green branches into decorative shapes and secure to the furniture with screws.
8
Finish the bent willow twig furniture with a good quality waterproofing finish. Reapply waterproofing each year to the twig furniture as needed to protect the wood.
4 legs, 18″ long, thumb thick or larger
4 bottom sides, 14″ long, thumb thick or smaller
4 top sides, 12″ long, finger-to-thumb thickness
a bunch of twigs size: pinky-to-pencil

Read more: How to Make Bent Willow Furniture | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/how_2074649_make-bent-willow-furniture.html#ixzz0zNQJydm3

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