Thursday, January 30, 2014

Finally, photos

Last year I posted about being inspired to create a couple of end tables out at the camper. We hope to add a deck this summer and these will add some color and be functional, too.

We found a little red side table in Lanesboro at a vintage shop. I think we paid $25 for it, which is high, but Lanesboro is a tourist town and when I tried to bargain, the guy told me he had just put it out and he knew he could get that price. He was right, so I bought it.

I brought it home and wiped it down with a damp cloth and then just let it sit for a few weeks. As is my usual style, I knew it would eventually tell me what I should do with it. At the same time, I was collecting a few Minnesota themed items, digging things out of boxes, picking up a vintage postcard here, and an old wooden fishing lure there, thinking they might have something to do with the table, or perhaps another project for out at the camper.

Now we will flash back to about 1999 or 2000; Rob and I watched a lot of HGTV. Keep in mind that this was before the home improvement and DIY craze; we did it because we had bought an old (1952) house that needed updating and we couldn't afford to hire the work done. There was an episode (not sure of the show) where a family in California turned their garage into a family room. (Not uncommon, Minnesotans -- square footage is at a premium out there.) Anyway, they did it in a 50s diner theme, with black and white checkered flooring, chrome and hot rods. So cool. They had a bar with bar stools in one area of the room, and they placed diner-style paper placemats, flatware, etc. as if they were place settings, added a few Hot Wheels cars for color, and poured an epoxy resin over all of it.

It. Was. Genius.

Rob and I have mentioned that dozens of times to each other -- it was unique, fairly simple, inexpensive, and a conversation piece. But I never had the project to try it on.

Until we found the red table.

The epoxy is a mess. Two different jugs that you mix together. I was surprised because it was more expensive than I had expected, although still affordable in the overall project budget; I got ours at Menards. There are small containers for smaller projects; the tables required 2 of the biggest kits they carried.

Tips for working with epoxy resin:

Lay newspaper everywhere. Multiple layers.
Be somewhere that is well ventilated but where the objects can dry without being disturbed by insects, dust or debris (so outside is not recommended).
Buy several measuring cups and rubber spatulas at the dollar store. You will not be able to clean this stuff up.
Be patient, follow directions, and DON'T PANIC. (Thank you Douglas Adams).

Rob built a frame for the table edges so that the resin would build up and stay in place rather than running off the table edge. He used scrap wood and covered it with duct tape so the resin would not stick to the tape. He clamped the corners and I got to work. It took several layers -- I would mix, pour, let dry, and repeat. Allowing adequate drying time meant it took a couple of days.

I placed the items haphazardly, as if they might have just been casually tossed there, and the result was this:
Not great photos, but you can sort of see in the top one that the wooden fishing lure actually sticks out from the surface a little bit. The paint is the color that was on it -- it had a few splashed of beige and brown paints but I strategically covered up some of those spots and left it alone. The company hasn't done any testing o how the epoxy holds up in cold weather, but this one made it through the winter last year in the shed at the campsite. It is maybe a little yellowed, but for this application, I am okay with that.

Next up? Its companion piece, a French Provincial nightstand I found for $10 at a garage sale. The color is Superior Blue, for our lovely lake, and I did the same trick again, only this time it required a lot of sanding and mucking about with prepping.

This one has a bobber on it, a photo of my paternal grandparents' lake cabin, a vintage postcard of Rochester's own Plummer building, a rock that I picked up at Kris's place after she died, a Mayo keychain, and a birchbark postcard that was sent by my grandma to her parents in the early 1940s. The card is curved and sticks out a bit from the surface -- the curved one is the original. I added a photocopy of the writing on the back as well -- that is that darker brown rectangle on the left. The bobber sticks out a bit, too, but I like that it has some dimension.

SoI did have the table done in time for the party, as mentioned in the entry I linked. I just (clearly) took a little longer than expected with sharing this project.

All in all, it was worth the expense of the resin and the time involved -- Maybe by this fall I will be able to post a picture of the two tables on the deck next to the camper!

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