Gallery Wall: In Praise of Chopsticks & 3M

When Jarrod and I order sushi the quantity is such that no one can imagine we’re feeding any fewer than five people, so there are a lot of extra chopsticks in this house.  Which is fine by me because they’re great for all sorts of alternative purposes, like shims and paint stirrers.  (Although, let me clear, getting raw fish into my mouth is their greatest purpose.)

I decided to hang a collection of frames on our back dining room wall.  In tackling this project, I put chopsticks to work twice.  First off, I wanted all of my frames to be black so I spray painted a few to match.  Chopsticks work well for holding a frame off the ground unobtrusively, allowing you to spray paint at all angles.

Secondly: one of my IKEA frames was warped from, ya know, hanging on the wall like it was designed to do.  Good work, IKEA.  In The Furniture Doctor, George Grotz recommends using the sun and consistent pressure to heal warped wood, which gave me the idea of using chopsticks in a tourniquet.  I tied soft rope (so it wouldn’t damage the wood) around the frame and then tightened it by twisting the chopsticks in the rope.  I tied the chopsticks in place so they wouldn’t unwind and then left the frame in the sun for the day. It noticeably improved the warp, and could have removed it entirely had I been patient enough to leave it in the sun for a few more days.

(Side note: The Furniture Doctor, or The Furniture Whisperer as I like to think of it, can be had for $0.03 on Amazon and is an enjoyable read if you’re into that sort of thing.  It begins:  Hello, out there! And welcome to the strange but happy world of people who are always fussing around with their furniture.)

Moving along!  I arranged the frames into a pleasing formation on the floor.  I had various things I wanted to frame, so I didn’t worry about what would be in the frames at this stage.  Take a picture of the arrangement before you start hanging them so you don’t forget the order!

I started by placing the bottom row of frames along the floor, using a tape measure to space them evenly.  I read online that 57″ is a good middle point for hanging pictures, so I used that as a guide.

Here’s where I pitch 3M Command strips.  Guys, they’re amazing.  And you can take my word for it, because there aren’t enough people who read this blog for me to get paid to hype a product.  They’re great because as soon as you get them into the position you want on the wall, you can press them into place and know that that’s where they’ll stay.  No budgeting for where the wire hangs in the back, or where the hook is, or anything like that.  It’s WYSIWYG for the decorating world.

So I got the bottom row up and fretted that it was too low and looked weird, took the picture above and called it a night.  The next day I tackled the top row in the same way, using a tape measure to space them evenly and my laser level to provide a guide for the baseline.  I even secured it to the wall with a Command strip, which worked great.

Here’s the finished product once I made my art choices:

If you’re curious, here’s what’s on the wall:

1) This one is to be determined.  I have some big stencils I like but haven’t successfully stenciled anything yet.  That shit’s harder than it looks!

2) The awesomest yard sale sign ever, drawn by Jeffrey Brown for a yard sale we had a while back.  If you know anyone who’s really into cats, Cat Getting Out of a Bag and Other Observations should be on your holiday shopping list.

3) I’m unsure of this one.  Vote below!

4) A collection of photo booth strips.

5) A screen print I made of a Jack Johnson patent illustration.  He was issued a patent for a wrench he improved while in prison.  I work in the intellectual property field and the illustrations on old patents are a public domain image source goldmine.

6) A picture my brother, Andrew Droz Palermo, took of my aunt and uncle’s pecan grove in Rich Hill, Missouri.

7) An original illustration by Pia Guerra from Y: The Last Man, which is a pretty awesome graphic novel series if you’re into that sort of thing.

8) A picture of my mom and aunt looking like babes on a boat dock, taken by a newspaper photographer when they were in college.  Because they looked so hot it was newsworthy.

Returning to frame no. 3: I think it’s too small and throws off the balance.  See the badly-Photoshopped mock-up below for what it would look like if I removed the frame and shifted the bottom row.  What do you think?

Option A:

Option B:

UPDATE: Per Kate’s suggestion, I hastily Photoshopped Option C, which swaps the two top right frames.  I think this does succeed in breaking the symmetry that makes Option A look kind of rigid/formulaic, although the bottom left frame is still looking a bit puny to me.  Something to think about.  Thanks for the idea, Kate!

Catio Portal Project

The cats love being on the patio – so much so that they get really bitchy when their catio access is cut off.

Usually we keep a window open for them but that’s becoming a less appealing option for us as the temperature drops.  The other day I realized a scrap of wood I had leftover from another project was the perfect height for a window insert, so I ordered the cheapest pet door offered on Petco.com ($13.99 PetSafe 2-Way Cat Flap – “Give your pets the freedom they deserve”).

I cut the wood to the correct length using my handsaw and then cut out the pet door hole using a hand-me-down RotoZip saw from my dad.

Victory!

After painting the wood white, I applied foam strips to all four sides.  This roll was left in the library after the renovation at MGB; no one ever returned to claim it, so I took it.  It’s really useful stuff.

The foam helps the wood stay gripped in the window and makes a tight seal all around.

I can’t believe how well this turned out.  And quickly, too.

At first the cats don’t get it.

But treats help!

oh man oh man oh man

Oh man oh man oh man: I bought this today!  The low price and the free shipping and the “Only 1 left in stock – order soon” was too much for me to resist!  Plus, it was 4:30 and I was really bored at work.

We used this sander in my woodworking class and I have wanted it ever since.  Two years is a long time to want something!  I don’t know why I didn’t buy it earlier.

I have a Black & Decker Mouse that I will continue to use for detail sanding, but its surface area isn’t great enough for larger jobs, it requires special-made (and expensive) sanding sheets and it vibrates big instead of fast, which leads to visible marks on the sanded surface and totally numb hands after five minutes of use.  Oh, and now I see that it’s been discontinued, which means I better stock up on those special-made (and expensive) sanding sheets.

I will put the Porter-Cable 330 Speed-Bloc to work on my new dresser. It’s not in great shape – I will need to:

#1: Fill in the crack in the top drawer front with wood filler.

#2. Sand everything, especially the top.

#3. Attach a simple guide thing to the bottom drawer so that it stays on the runner.

#4: Paint and stain!

I think the curves and squatness of this dresser will add something new and much-needed to our next apartment.  It’s been getting pretty boxy & leggy.  I can count 24 brown legs in this photo alone!