Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Faux Finish

For years it was wallpaper and now it's faux finishing. There are certainly pros and cons to each.  The one thing that bothers me most about wallpaper is that it just doesn't do well in humidity which always prevails in the bathroom.  I have drifted away from wallpapering in bathrooms for that very reason.  Inevitably the edges curl over time and all your hard work starts to look pretty bad. I've turned to faux finishing my walls using paint.  I'm pretty sure that I've tackled every faux finish technique that is possible.  My latest faux was in my daughter's bedroom.  It came out looking like a basket weave print or even more like grass cloth.

I selected two paint colors.  The base coat was beige and the faux (mixed with glaze) was a medium brown.  

The first step is always preparation of the wall. Filling all the holes and sanding to a smooth finish and any repairs your wall may need.  I painted my base coat (one coat) beige. Then I mixed one quart paint to four quarts glazed-4:1 ration.  I used a roller and a whisk broom.  Yes, a whisk broom.  Working very quickly I rolled across the wall, horizontally with the paint from the ceiling to about 24 inches down, took my whisk broom and dragged it across the glaze.   If you can get help from someone, it really makes the job a lot easier.  One person rolls and one uses the broom.

After the horizontal work was done, then I repeated the step working vertically.  Pictured above is a very close up shot of the paint effect.  Pretty cool, huh?          
The above  photo is taken from further away.  The look is a lot more subtle.     Although I really wanted to do this in blue (the daughter would have no part of it) I do like the way it came out. However, done in blue this technique would make your walls look just like denim.  A great look for a teens room.

Two closely matching colors of paint.
a hand whisk broom     
a gallon of glaze
and some help if you can get it

I managed to do it alone (but that's how I operate) and it came out fine.  Remember this-when working with glaze you don't have much time until it dries.  You must be prepared to move quickly with no interruptions.    

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Decorating "After" The Holidays

So now the holidays are over, decorations are packed away, the lights are out and the magic is over.  Oh......and the diet begins. Christmas is a lot of work which includes all the shopping, cooking, decorating, cleaning, mailing and packing. For all our hard work it seems that people really do appreciated the work involved and what goes into it.

There's just one thing. I really love taking the decorations down and returning the house back to it's original condition but I miss the lights and I miss the tree.  

Last year I purchased a small tree after Christmas that I could keep up and decorate for other occasions.  I like the look of hand crafted ornaments but of course, they take time to create.  Last year I managed to make a bunch of Mardi Gras ornaments and this year I've finished ornaments for Valentines Day.

Here is my little tree all done up for V-day. Most of the ornaments are hand painted and made of wood.  All of the wood hearts cost 50 cents each.  It was fun creating several unique hearts painted in pink, red and white.  
Using acrylic paints, sparkles, glue and clear spray for the finished product,  I managed to put 25 of them together, the rest I picked up in various stores.  
A great project for some creative kids (Ok, mine want nothing to do with it) and a reason to keep the lights on after Christmas.

 This helps me get through the Christmas withdrawals.

There certainly may be some shamrocks in the future.
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Monday, January 5, 2009

Your Questions About Effusion Lamps

Effusion Lamps

I hope everyone had a great holiday! 

 Since I've been writing this blog the largest percentage of questions I get via email
 are about effusion lamps.  I started using them about
 three years ago and could only find limited information on how to use them, take care of them and just about anything you would want to know.  I stumbled upon a web site in Canada where I learned a lot about these lamps.  I've never been able to find that site again but fortunately I took copious notes.

Through experimentation and practice I think I have it down to a science.  There is plenty to learn about these great little lamps and sometimes I wonder how people can even use them when purchased from a retail store because they come with very basic instructions.  It must be frustrating.

Keep in mind that I am no expert.  There are probably plenty of people out
 there that know much more than I do. This is how I do it and it works for me.  I'll share everything with you and hope that you learn to enjoy them as much as I do.

Before I begin I'll tell you this-  I was a huge "candle" person for years.  I always had them burning in my home and I was always looking for the strongest fragrance I could find.  Since finding effusion lamps I've done some research on candles and really don't like what I read.  Don't get me wrong, I still burn them on occasion, but they are not a constant in my house anymore.

First of all, When you burn a candle made with paraffin wax  are actually burning refined gasoline, a byproduct of
 petroleum.  Paraffin is harmful when burned emitting 11 toxins, 2 of them above the cancer risk. This results in unhealthy air quality in your home.  This
 information I found on the EPA site and The American Lung Association site.  So if you like candles you may want to try soy candles.  I use these and they scent up the house very nicely.  From what I've read, they appear safer to use.  The soot that candles emit sticks to fabrics such as curtains, carpet and upholstery and is difficult to remove.

If you want more information just Google it yourself and you'll find plenty of information.  Again, I do use them but not as much as I use to.  It's effusion lamps for me.  Read the history of them and you'll find it pretty interesting.

The Glass Effusion Lamp

So let me see if I can answer some of your questions.  Let's start with the glass lamps themselves.  They range in price starting anywhere from $6.00 to hundreds of dollars.  I find them discounted in stores all the time.  The glass
 lamp itself doesn't have to cost tons of money.  The wick is the important part!

Here is a lamp that I purchase in a specialty store at the mall for about $25.00. This particular one has solid glass so you can' t see into it as you add the fuel.  You only fill your lamp 1/2 way with fuel because it needs Oxygen to burn properly.  Never fill it up more that 3/4 ....ever!  That said, you can also buy these lamps with see through glass which makes it easier.
Any brand of these lamps is just fine.  You do not need to spend a ton of money on them.  I love them and collect them as decorative pieces. You will notice that the above lamp is capped with a brass top.  This means that this particular lamp is not in use and is cold.  If you want to "turn" off your lamp, cap it with the brass top.  They all come with one.  When it comes to the bottles:

  1. you don't have to spend a lot of money
  2. only fill them 1/2 -3/4 up with fuel
  3. the brass cap is used to turn it off

The Wicks

The wicks that you use are critical.  This is where everyone has problems. When you buy a new effusion lamp it always comes with a generic wick.  Everyone I have ever purchased has looked like this.
Notice this wick is solid in the center with a scalloped edge.  These wicks do not work!!!! and they come with every lamp I've ever bought.  I have never gotten more than three burns with one of these wicks. Period.

If you are using these wicks then that's why you're having problems.  Even the expensive ones don't seem to work.

I only use Lampe Berger wicks.  I buy them six at a time on Ebay from some place in Hong Kong.  It gets to me within a few weeks and I pay about $7.00 per wick which is a very good price.  6 wicks will last me over a year and I burn my lamp almost every day.  Just search "Lamper Berger" wicks on Ebay and you will find plenty.

The photo below shows a Lampe Berger wick.  Notice the hole in the middle?  These are the only wicks that work for me.

Taking care of your wicks.

  Buy a small Rubbermaid container and fill it with 91% Isopropyl alcohol. When you are done burning your lamp and the wick has cooled, drop it into the container and let it sit in there until you are ready to use it again.  It can sit in there for weeks and won't get hurt. Remember that the "whole " wick and stone goes in.  The stone is actually the part that needs soaking because that is what get clogged with oil.

Photo below shows one of my wicks soaking.  I usually soak one and burn one, alternating every day.

Here is the small Rubbermaid container that I soak my wicks in.  Keep it sealed and remember you can leave those wicks soaking for weeks.
If you have a problem wick that won't light or stay lit try any of the following.

  1. Try burning pure alcohol (91%) with no oil.  This cleans the wick.
  2. Soak your wicks for a few days.
  3.  Force them to burn.  Use a small torch lighter.  You can buy them in Walmart or other discount stores.  It's used to light grills and looks like a little torch.  This works very well to light a stubborn wick.  You keep it on that stone for 3-4 minutes until the stone turns red hot.
  4. As a last resort you can take the wicks apart, cut the black off of the wick and reconnect them.  Soak for 24 hours and light.
If you continue to have problems with your wicks then you have to look at the oils that you use in the fuel.  They have to be 100% essential oils.  Those cheapo oils that you can get in the Walmart or craft stores do not work and will clog your stone.  Good quality essential oils are a must. I've told you before about Brambleberry.com.  I order from them only because I never have any problems with their oils clogging my stones.  If you take your stone apart and it is filled with gunk, you are either using bad oil (not 100% pure) or your stone is just worn out and old.  You should expect to get at least 6 weeks from your stone if you burn it EVERY DAY and take care of it.

I know this sounds like a lot of information and work but once you practice, get the hang of it and do it the correct way this becomes very easy and quick.

Check my prior posts from 2007 on Effusion lamps and you'll find even more information including the recipe to make your own fuel. My recipe includes distilled water.  Some people have questioned this.  You don't have to include it but it works for me.  Those previous posts include step by step instructions on how to use these lamps, so please read them.

If you should have any questions or need help just send me an email at clturner3@aol.com and I'll be glad to answer you.


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