Monthly Archives: January 2017

Vintage Lath and Porcelain

“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.” — Mary Lou Cook
I re-purpose slath porcelaintuff.  I primarily use materials left from the rehabbing of our 120+ year old houses. There is always lots of vintage wood that many rehab-ers toss out as scrap, especially the raw stuff from the plaster walls:  lath.  I love this stuff.  It’s so raw and rustic.
Then there are all those cute, interestingly shaped porcelain parts from replacing knob and tube electrical.  Buckets of them.  Over the holidays, as I awoke one morning, a plan in the form of images, for making wood boxes and trays using the lath and porcelain, popped into my head.
I had already made some small lath boxes, but this added a whole new genre for me!  Each would be unique, yet just using the same basic ingredients:  Lath and Porcelain bits.  I also had a ready-made painted wood box that was found at an estate sale to add to the mix.
The Concept
 When using reclaimed materials, I let the materials dictate dimension rather than deciding on a certain size ahead of time.  Ragged ends, broken and cracked parts must be removed, leaving random lengths.   In the end, for a tray all you need to start is four lengths of wood, two pairs the same.  If all four happen to be the same, you have a square, if two and two, it’s a rectangle.  I have not ventured into other forms, such as triangles and rhombuses (hey I took geometry!)  as that requires fancier cutting of the joints than I care to do at this point.  Ninety degree cuts only for me!
 The Tools:
  • a Stanley hand miter saw (that, as I said, I only use for 90 degreelath porcelain cuts for now)
  • a small hammer (for small brads)
  • a set of corner picture frame clamps (estate sale find)
  • a multi-purpose screw driver
  • a cordless power drill (my one power tool)

The Supplies:

  • Greased Lightning for cleaning the porcelain parts
  • Nitrate gloves (to protect my manicure – of course!)
  • Wood glue
  • E-600 glue (it will hold anything!)
  • Lots of small brads and screws (estate sale finds)
  • Buckets of hex nuts and bolts (leftovers)
  • Paint samples.  I generally do not paint lath, but there are other bits I may add some color to.
 The Steps
  • Cut the Lath into pairs of the same length.  Most of the time I have already cleaned it, but if needed, I take a wire brush for a final scrub.
  • Place into the frame clamps, gluing as you go
  • Using a very small drill bit, drill two small pilot holes in each joint.  Do not skip this step!  125 year old wood is well seasoned and can be brittle – this will avoid cracking.
  • Nail each corner and let set for a few hours or overnight.
  • Measure the bottom and cut the lengths of lath or other wood material for the base.  I have used reclaimed cedar shingles or other bits of scrap wood as long as they are the same thickness
  • Cut, glue and nail the base
 lath porcelain
At thislath porcelain point the box is complete.  I have added felt pads on the bottom, and fabric inserts in the tray just to give it a bit of polish.  However, the insulator bits made cute legs and handles.  I have also used vintage porcelain door knobs and handles.
lath porcelain
My next project will be to take a wooden clothes rack that Maggie the cat managed to destroy and turn it into, let’s see, a breakfast tray or two?  Art? Picture frames?  stay tuned….


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“Home, home on the range.  Where the deer and the antelope play…..”

I was privileged to attend the world premiere of the new film, Home on the Range, recently.  It took place at Wichita’s Historic Orpheum Theater just a few blocks from our own historic landmark home.

Even with the threat of ice and snow tossing adversity into its’ path, in usual Kansas fashion, over 800 people came out to enjoy the fruit of this project.  The website has lists of screenings where you can view the film.  It is worth any effort to see.

We happen to know the producer/director, Ken Spurgeon.  My husband serves on the same faculty at Northfield School of the Liberal Arts, so we enjoy a bit of the inside scoop and benefit of Mr. Spurgeon’s gifts and talents on a regular basis.

Cabin where Home on the Range was first penned, located in Smith County, Kansas
We also know many of the actors, some in person and others from their iconic place in our own lives through their careers in the entertainment world.  It was inspiring to see the merging of such seasoned with new talent, from local and beyond, into this wonderful film.
My Western Home
The film is about the story behind the song, Home on the Range, first known as “My Western Home”.  About where it really came from and how we almost lost it.  It is the Kansas state song but, more than that, it is a song that is timeless and familiar.  It is known worldwide and some call it the national anthem of the West.  The places used in the film are all familiar to me. From the countryside to the buildings, I know these places, and even though used to portray a different location in some cases, I was home as I watched.
Yet, behind this film and its story underlies the purpose of this and the other projects Lone Chimney Productions does.  They go beyond entertainment, past education to identifying stories.  Then proceed to, not just repeating the story, but to preserving them.  In the process, one is entertained, educated and nurtured.
This resonates with my soul and illustrates the purpose of this BLOG.  It’s the stories, yours and mine, from which we learn, are entertained, build on and interrelate with each other.  Stories give voice to the voiceless and substance to the intangible.  Without story, our own and others, life is empty and even pointless.  It contains no history or future.  Although living in the present is vital, connecting to our past and future hint at the eternalness within our hearts.
Today’s activities are tomorrow’s stories, no matter how exciting or mundane they may be.  When the words to Home on the Range were written, its author had no idea that 150+ years later, His story would inspire 800 people on a cold Icy evening.  Your stories matter.  Tell them, write them down.
Begin today by sharing one today in the comment section below:

Re-purposing: A Tale of Two (end) Tables

“Therefore every scribe instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man, an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure new and old.” Matthew 13:52

My sweet husband is a scrounging, dumpster diving, alley shopping, keeper.  He can’t seem to help it.  As an organized, clutter free type, it can be exasperating to find his “treasures” tucked away in a corner that just last week was, well, uncluttered.  However, both of us hate waste and after the initial  “what the heck is this doing here?” reaction, my re-purposing gene kicks in and I find something to make out of these found objects.   There are a multitude of examples that can be seen on some of my other posts, at Kechi Korner and in my ETSY shop.  Here is one I did for myself.

Re-purposing is Vision in Action
Most of time these things, these found objects arrive in our domain without fanfare or announcement.  They just sneak in.  At some point two very sad, ugly, dated but sturdy tables appeared in the basement of one of the houses we were rehabbing.  They just appeared, or so I was told…..  Their only redeeming qualities were the quality of the wood, either cherry or walnut, and their stoutness.  I passed by them, swept around them, tried to give them away and thought about tossing them, to avoid any more shin damage, but as I said before, I hate waste.
The Journey of a Table
Switching to my creative side, I looked at the elements of these tables separately.  I realized that the bases would make great settees for the bath we had just renovated and the tops could be, well something else.  A bit of deconstruction, light sanding, some black lacquer paint, foam and fabric remnants and within short order I had more storage and two more places to sit on in the bath.
The tops became an ottoman/coffee table and a coffee table.  Legs for these two projects were found pieces from other rescued objects, but I will save those stories for another post.

Continue reading Re-purposing: A Tale of Two (end) Tables

ACTION! Top Five BLOG Posts for 2016

action“A real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken a new action. If there’s no action, you haven’t truly decided.” – Tony Robbins.

I am almost a year into this Blogging thing.  I thought about it long and hard before taking action because once I started I wanted to be certain I would stick with it.  The action of blogging needed to be based on a real decision.
I had one objective:  to post new content once a week.  Ideally, that content would contribute to the idea of defining our daily experiences in the metaphor of stones that make up a bridge.  A solid bridge upon which we navigate life’s seasons. One would think that is not a big deal, but like anything, stuff happens.  Things like daily chores, emergencies and bright shinny opportunities come along to derail that initial commitment.  I wanted to avoid using those events as a reason to quit.
Add to that the learning curve on how a BLOG works and the action it takes to get a peep of a word in edgewise in the noisy world of cyberspace, and one’s resolve can wane.  But here we are, ten months later and the stats show you are out there.  Thank you.  I mean it, thank you for your time, even the few minutes you take to click on or through these pages.  You are most welcome in this place.
At the same time, its a bit creepy that I know as much as I do about who you are, since I am not sure who you really are!  Oh course, I do know some of you, since you have introduced yourselves or we have met in the flesh.  But many I do not yet know.  Let me just say:  Hi there!

Continue reading ACTION! Top Five BLOG Posts for 2016