Monday, June 30, 2014

Transforming an old Buffet into a Media Center

I wanted  to replace my media center recently.

I needed something less bulky in that space but I also need storage, so what to do?

Go to Salvation Army and find a wonderful vintage buffet to re-purpose.  I wanted one with an intact finish, but not so pretty that I'd feel sacrilegious painting over "good wood".  It has to accommodate a HUNKING big receiver, my smallish cable device and the Roku box.   The piece I bought is wider than my previous TV center, but is flatter to the wall and will be fitted to use without any open doors. 

Just so you know, most media "box" devices are 17" wide or less, and less than 5" tall and 10" to 12" deep.... any furniture piece with at least that space and 15" depth will accommodate most of your electronic hardware AND its wires at the back.  My side cabinets are sized for a mini tower PC that I'd like to eventually use as a media controller on the cheap.  YYMV, so measure your own components to see exactly what you need with an eye to what you might add later.  And, Yes.... I keep these dimensions and many others in my cell phone notes along with a measuring tape in my purse when I go junking.  You never know what you're going to find!

I also keep color chips and photos of items I like handy, but that's another story.

Here is what I found.   Nice middle class bit of "good" furniture from probably the '40's or '50's.  It has simple lines and more importantly a bank of drawers down the front that has dust covers between each drawer and one will convert very easily to a shelf.
No worries, I have plans for the removed drawer. A nice dovetailed box will never go to waste in MY house!

This is actually an Internet photo of an almost exact copy of mine... I just forgot to photograph my buffet before I started tearing it up...My handles are different, see below.   But I actually am on the lookout for these oval brasses... I think they suit the piece better.

 My handles are inexplicably ornate

First, I stripped off the handles and sanded away with 80 grit sandpaper.  These old pieces are likely to have a shellac finish on them which sands very easily.   I had planned on just scuff sanding, as the surface was in pretty good shape, though very sun faded, but as I started sanding it came off so easily, it was a cinch to strip it down to the wood.  I noticed the sanding residue was very waxy feeling, so waxed shellac (almost unheard of these days) may be the culprit.  It might also have been old furniture polish.  Its hard to know exactly, but waxy is a hard thing to stick paint on, so off it went.

There is something inexplicably attractive about a well stripped bit of furniture... clean, smooth woody goodness. 

I was even able to remove most of the colored stain as well, so now the decision was, to stain? or to paint?

Well... it was a toss up.   I have several large heavy wooden pieces in my room already so something less 'woody' won out.    The finish was, however, clean enough to re-stain and refinish. 

 Wearing a mask at this stage, no need for old junk in the lungs!
 Visually, thinking out loud.  No... black outlines are a no go.

I toyed with the idea of ebonizing for just a second, but its again, too heavy, too dark for the space.   (Note the neato Milwaukee orbital sander.... it really pays to have a good sander on this kind of project. 

You will also note the second drawer was removed along with the guides that run down the center.   I sprayed the interior black to just make it "go away" with the electronic gadgets inside.  Any color would make the mess of wires and electronic boxes just stand out.   At this stage I also used a hole saw to perforate the back wall of the drawer box to provide an inlet for all the wiring as well as several holes along the top of the back wall to let the hot air out.  Your electronics need lots of air flow to survive in a cramped space.

Chalk Paint on the Cheap

Three coats of a mixture of gesso and lamp black sanded down beautifully and waxed is the plan.  I'm eventually going for a cooler, gray, cream look for the walls and larger pieces in my living room, especially the walls that have not been painted in over 10 years, but this is a start. The Gesso sands like buttah!   The color of the finish was modified just a tad by using a slightly different mix of black and gesso for each layer, and the final sanding was very, very fine.   Waxed, it has a luscious, silky feel.   I've done some water testing and it holds up beautifully.  I wouldn't scrub this finish with Comet, but for a nice living room media center, its perfect. 

Here it is finished, with and without that funky hardware.  I'll look for those nice oval brasses... I think they fit the curve of the front much better.  
Doors still off and interior shelf not touched up. 

Doors back on and waxed and ready for those odd handles
 The color is off in this photo, but you see a slightly exaggerated  view of the finishes effect.

Well, its the next step.  Those walls are creeping their way up the to do list!   I think a nice limestone look.... plaster with pale yellows and greys...... mostly cream....

dreaming away!  I'll catch up someday. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Sold and gone to new homes and new collections!

Its almost sad to see the work go out, but delightful when you see how happy it makes people.  I've the most pleasing job.... I get to make people just a little bit happy.


These aren't all, but all I could find images of right now.   Lots of prints sold!  Robert sold his paper flowers so he's making more.... he loves making flowers.

You can see some of the flowers on the table.

This lovely lady, a study done at the AVAA model meetup group to a young girl who just graduated from UT!

Friday, May 16, 2014

WEST AUSTIN STUDIO TOUR The last, best weekend

Tomorrow and Sunday are the last chances you have to see my work in person for a while.  I will have a Square Market space online to continue selling so if you see something here, please do stop by there to see what is available.  I'm pretty sure its live tonight, but if not, by tomorrow.

Its really nice to meet people who love the play of color and light and materials like I do.... great times...  Links below to the Catalog at BIG Medium who herds all these very artistic cats. 

The cool thing is I have TWO NEW paintings just for this weekend... I don't know how I pulled it off, but getting a stash of Mica and creating chunky glitter with it for my new painting was delighful!

 " Cave Pool, Black and Gold" 
Which is at the top of this picture. 
I rehung the gallery wall to showcase the newer work.  I hope y'all like it.

Tomorrow and Sunday from 11-6 are your last two chances to see my work for a while.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Copper ceilings

Its been a few months of non stop work on beautiful copper ceilings. Real copper, mind you, applied as a delicate layer of leaf over other surfaces and applied to the ceiling.

First, there is this gorgeous take on a traditional coffered ceiling, in which the coffers are actually tiles by Ceilume, which are painstakingly painted, leafed, antiqued and sealed. I thought this would take a month or so to do the whole 400sqft ceiling, but it ended up taking more like 3 months, part and full time.

Ceilume ( tiles are actually not metal at all, but a sturdy polystyrene panel usually used as suspended ceiling inserts but can also be used on sheet rock ceilings with proper adhesive and careful nailing. There are other brands, but this one seemed the most sturdy and likely to withstand fluctuations of temperature and weather. Though I was installing them inside, I want the best possible product for my clients.

Painted copper can look stunning, but it doesn't compare with leaf.... leaf is so rich, reflective and gorgeous that when compared side by side, there simply IS no comparison. Great care was taken in the design to create an even pattern, with no partial tiles at the edges, and in the installation to glue and tack the tiles up, one by one, square and even. Each join between each tile has a tiny copper strip that covers the space and fills in the pattern.

The other installation is a new product for me. It is Anaglypta style wallpaper (wallpaper with a raised or embossed texture) is sold unpainted and is usually installed and then painted finishes and antiquing stains are applied. Because copper is so labor intensive a process, I decided to leaf, glaze, and seal this paper in the studio first, and then install it on the ceiling. There are a few technical glitches to iron out to get it installed properly, but for this client, in this installation, it was a wonderful fit.

I have used copper leaf before when we decided to update some kitchen cabinets but keep the Texas Farmhouse feel. Copper leaf, glazed with stain and varnished to seal, both provide a face lift to the old cabinets and a rosy, traditional glow to the kitchen.

One More Time Into the Breech

This weekend it looks like the weather will be cooperating and giving us a beautiful sunny break for the last of the WEST Austin Studio Tour.  A self guided FREE tour of Austin's amazing artist community.

Here is a link to the Map

I have spent the week painting and matting and getting new things ready to show.   If you liked anything from last week, please come by again and see if it is still available.  I'll have water for the walkers and bikers and NEW WORK for everybody!

New photos will post as they are available

Having new folks in the studio is quite inspiring.  Its interesting what attracts people and one thing I will have this week is a new painting based on the one that sold before the show... The Bicycle Thief.... Which was featured in the catalog but left the studio a week before.  

Time to get back to it.  

Enjoy your Wednesday!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Little Red Dots

The great thing about an open studio weekend is meeting all the great people who appreciate art.  

No one is on that tour to be negative.  It's delightful.  

Thanks everybody


Saturday, May 10, 2014


What a gorgeous Day!
Stop by #31 on the West Catalog Map
I have water for the walkers.

How pretty is a tidy studio, full of finished ART!

I have prints and original art at just about all price points and beautiful handcrafted lamps with gemstone pendents and cards and and and.... 

Come, ENJOY!

Pat Strong Art
#31 at the West Austin Studio Tour

Friday, May 9, 2014

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow

Yes Folks, Its upon us.  A few months of hard work and I can safely get people to my Studio.  If you are in the neighborhood, I'm #31 on the Tour Map, which is available here:

The good thing?  Its DONE!  Now it will be easy to get clients, fellow artists and friends into the studio.

I'll be hosting my part of the West Austin Studio Tour Saturday and Sunday from 11-6 and the same next weekend.  

"She Made Me Do It!" 2013  
 Gilded carved foam and acrylic resin with glass gems on wooden panel

My good friend ROBERT SAN ROMAN will be showing his beautiful gemstone hand crafted lamps, stunning hand made cards and the paper flowers he learned to make from his Mom in San Antonio.  No he's not on the map, but he's in our hearts, and will be on the studio porch showing his beautiful wares.  He started his blog and you can see his work here:

His cards feature stunning photographs of male models, actors, and athletes from the Austin area.  He creates a haunting, romantic and lyrical atmosphere with his photography that elevates the note card to an artistic status not usually seen.  Check out the Blue Angel.... its quite beautiful. 

If you read up on Robert's blog he describes his creative process which evokes memories of a childhood in Central Texas and his fascination with the healing powers of gems.  

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Close in and FAR OUT


I counted them.   
If you are ranging between #17 and 41 in the the WEST catalog, they are all within a bike ride in the BRENTWOOD and CRESTVIEW neighborhoods.

So, if you are south of ANDERSON LANE... north of HOUSTON.... east of LAMAR and west of BURNET there are 24 artists who have opened their spaces up for visitors.

Here is a link to the amazingness!

There are fabulous artists all over town, but I have to say we got at least weekend one covered just in the immediate area.... and think.... no fighting downtown traffic!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Go West!

Nothing makes an artist review their surroundings more than signing up to open the Studio to a public tour.

Hope Springs Eternally, oil on board 9"x30"

I open my beautiful Studio to my friends, patrons and the curious.  Look for me at #31 on the Guide Map
 Available at Austin Public Libraries or HERE  

Opening the studio to the public also makes me review the state of the pathway TO the Studio as well.  So, decluttering is underway which has the strange side effect of making room for more  creativity IN the Studio as well.
Apple Blossoms, oil on canvas, 12"x16"
Several new larger paintings and a slew of smaller oil studies are ready to see.  Prints, professionally printed with archival inks on thick, creamy, acid free paper are available in mats, ready to display as is or in frames.  I have enjoyed the process of framing actually, refurbishing vintage frames and building some new of my own.
Deborah, oil on board with Vintage frame, 17"x15"

I'm working hard to make sure that artwork is mostly ready to hang.  I'll have oil sketches from the AVAA figure study group, small oils and acrylics of florals, landscapes and figures, a few abstract acrylic.   Its such a treat to see it all coming together, finished and ready to find new homes...

Sisters in Autumn,  framed, acrylic on panel, 11"x11"

I hope to see all my friends soon, please come to share!