Category: Interior Design


Weekend Projects: Reboot with 5 DIY Charging Stations

Finally, minimize chord chaos and get your phone's accessories under control when you make one of these 5 easy charging stations this weekend.

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Smartphones have become an everyday necessity—as have their chargers. It’s easy for those cords to pile up (and tangle up!), especially when every member of the family leaves cords plugged into outlets scattered throughout the house. Banish those unsightly cables from view with one of these easy and inexpensive DIY organizers that corral cord clutter.

 

1. A TRUE E-READER

diy charging station - repurposed books

littleloveliesbyallison.com

In a bedroom that features a vintage or eclectic style, this charging station crafted from an old book will make a seamless, decorative addition. Choose a volume that has an interesting or attractive spine, and then, following these instructions from Little Lovelies by Allison, use a drill and a utility knife to carve a spot to feed your charger through. The careful construction may take some patience, but the homey and functional result will be well worth it.

 

2. BEDSIDE BESTIE

DIY charging station

diyplaybook.blogspot.com

If your nightstand is overrun with everyday clutter, look to this repurposed organizer from The DIY Playbook to fulfill all your bedside storage needs. Take a container with two or more drawers, remove one, and drill a hole in the back of that compartment. Feed your cords through the holes, and then plug in your electronics so they can rest on the open shelf. Your remaining drawer can store (read: hide) remotes, reading glasses, or other little accessories you’d like to keep close at hand.

 

3. FAMILY-FRIENDLY

diy charging station - family

drivenbydecor.com

As a family grows, so does its phone-cord clutter—and the confusion about where all those cords lead. Solve that problem with this family-size charging station. After easily converting a standard electrical outlet into a USB port, Kris from Driven by Decor cleared away the chaos by drilling a few holes in the bottom of an ordinary letter organizer and stringing the cords through. Not only does this unit keep charging equipment close by, but the various compartments can also house other electronics or items you need as you dash out the door.

 

4. DECORATIVE TOTE

diy charging station - bucket

makeit-loveit.com

This little, portable recycled wonder will cradle your charging phone wherever your day takes you. Cut from an old baby lotion bottle, it’s the just-right size for toting your phone—plus, the sculpted handle conveniently hangs from your cord’s plug while the phone is charging. Decorate it with fabric, decals, or whatever your imagination desires. See how Ashley at Make It & Love It put it all together.

 

5. GREEN MACHINE

diy charging station - living charger

instructables.com via theREALcybercat

Your decor can always benefit from a hit of nature’s beauty, and this faux-greenery DIY charging station brings in just the right touch. Requiring little more than some artificial turf and a vessel of your choosing—a shallow bowl, small dish, or even a ceramic pot that plays up the foliage—this simple, grassy home for your phone can be crafted in no time flat.


Meet the Man Behind Your Favorite New Home Accent

From the heart of the Catskill Mountains, one man is creating a sense of wonder in rustic, handcrafted home goods.

Photo: GrayWorks Design

Many homeowners turn felled landscaping trees into cheap firewood, piling up split logs by a backyard shed or in front of the living room hearth. But for Andrew Gray, these old trees are the beginning of something a little more magical. With a wood drying and milling operation out of Woodstock, New York, his company turns ordinary reclaimed lumber into stunning housewares and furniture. Distinguished by a meticulous yet rustic sense of craftsmanship, GrayWorks Design has become one of the Hudson Valley’s leading makers. Here’s what Andrew had to say about how he got started and the surprises he’s found along the way.

 

Photo: Grayworks Design

How did you get involved in this line of work? How long have you been at it?
I had a background as a carpenter and worked for general contractors. Around here we call it a hired gun carpenter. I’d jump from one crew to another. I struggled to reinvent myself a bit. And the reinvention was to go into sculptural furniture making. There’s this desire to take trees that landscapers and tree services people cart away and do something with it. That’s a big part of how I got involved with this type of woodworking.

It’s been about 10 years since I started making furniture, and the main product has been this footed platte that we sell on Etsy. Yesterday, I had this couple come into my shop and it was the only thing I had to show them but they walked out with 6 pieces, so it’s a good seller.

 

Photo: GrayWorks Design

You’ve been featured in a lot of places like Martha Stewart Living and O, The Oprah Magazine. How did that happen?
I had sold my product pretty successfully at crafts fairs but when I brought it to Etsy I had a friend who helped me with the photography and the copy. Etsy really responded to the effort and they gave us a featured seller position within 3 months of being on the site. After that they put publishers in touch with us. At first it was hard to tell what people were responding to. I think people were definitely responding to the good photography, but also the products that we’re making. They come from a place that I think resonates with a lot of people.

 

Photo: GrayWorks Design

These products are clearly very carefully made. What kind of place do you think handcrafted home goods have in today’s market?
One of the things I can’t do at this scale is offer a production line where I can make thousands of products at a time. I haven’t built that kind of a business. But what I can do is give a sense of luxury to the buyers. That luxury is really more about evoking a feeling; it’s more than just the primary function of the piece. These are products people can use daily that give them a feeling that they’re connected to nature.

I’m trying to offer these products at price points that are not exclusive. Handcrafted furniture can be much more expensive. But housewares are sort of this meeting ground that’s much more accessible. A lot of people can, at some point, comfortably afford to buy a $100 to $300 item for themselves or for others.

I like the idea of creating objects that can transform an entire room without the homeowner needing to redecorate everything. This is sort of how sculpture works. It augments everything else in the room but you don’t need 10 of them. One of them does the job.

 

Photo: GrayWorks Design

You show your work at craft shows in the Hudson Valley and the Berkshires. What kind of reaction does your work receive?
I do about six shows a year. What it does is it punctuates my year. I know a lot of these vendors, so I almost feel embarrassed if I show up with stuff I had the last time. I’m there to show people what I’m doing now, and I’m able to gauge the reactions I’m getting from people. A lot of times I make things that are sort of whimsical, but people get it right away.

 

hand carved bowl

Photo: GrayWorks Design

Have there been any surprises along the way?
The footed platte was a bit of a surprise. The first one I ever made was done on the fly for an art show to serve cheese and hors d’oeuvres. I actually gave the first ones to the couple that had put on the show. Then people kept asking me about them for the next year.

For a little while I was selling a 3-foot-long by 14-inch-wide footed platte. It got picked up by the Kitchn and they were calling it a polenta platter. I guess the idea is to pile a bunch of polenta on it, vegetables, meats off the grill—it’s an old Italian tradition to serve these meals on a wooden platter. There have been a few different things like that that have happened where I’ve worked on a design in isolation, brought it out into the world, and then people identify it for me.

 

Photo: GrayWorks Design

What’s ahead for GrayWorks Design?
For a while I was holding onto the idea of getting my architecture degree and trying to elevate myself in the design field. Over the last year some architects have reached out to me looking for accent pieces. Right now it feels like the architects in the design field are reaching down to me and lifting me up and bringing me into their world, which is really exciting. Every opportunity I get to collaborate with an architect is like going back to school. It’s a great way to pick up a lot of information quickly and learn about other possibilities.

 

Photo: GrayWorks Design

To see even more work from GrayWorks Design, check out their website and Etsy shop.


A Former Art Teacher Starts a New Life Building Furniture

A twist in fortune prompted this maker to create the quality furniture company of her dreams.

Urban Wood Goods - Erin and Jason

Photo: urbanwoodgoods.com

Erin True needed a job. She had recently moved from Detroit to Chicago with her husband, Jason, and was striking out on finding a position as an art teacher. Fortunately, this down-on-her-luck moment led Erin to discover her real passion and start an unlikely business: Urban Wood Goods. Though she was an inexperienced woodworker at the time (and didn’t even own a table saw), she was dedicated to learning about her newfound love for reclaimed wood and all its possibilities. Now, Erin’s hard work has paid off in spades—she’s a successful entrepreneur who’s managed to carve out her own niche in the custom furniture market.

Today, Urban Wood Goods employs a host of dedicated makers and fulfills orders throughout the country, for corporate clients and homeowners alike. We spoke with Erin to learn a bit more about her story.

 

Urban Wood Goods - Bench Hairpin

Photo: urbanwoodgoods.com

How did you make the transition from art teacher to full-time maker?
I moved from the Detroit area to the Chicago area. I was trying to find a teaching job, though in my heart I had hoped to start my own business—after all, I was already using my idea for a bench and Etsy shop as part of my portfolio in an attempt to land an art teaching job. When I didn’t get the job I thought I would get, I decided to pursue my reclaimed wood furniture experiment on Etsy.

After a few sales, I started to think I could maybe make a real business out of Urban Wood Goods. Thankfully, I had the support of my husband, who finally kicked me out of the garage and told me to find a new workshop—after I took a Shop-Vac to the sawdust-covered walls of our garage.

 

Rustic Dining Table - Urban Wood Goods

Photo: urbanwoodgoods.com

What was your background in woodworking when you got started?
Funny enough, I didn’t have a woodworking background. I took one class in high school, and that was it. The only thing I remember making was a CD rack. I didn’t even own a saw when I started selling benches online! I once had to take the slab of wood I purchased to a local home improvement store and convince them to cut it down from five feet to four feet long to fill an order.

Being new to woodworking, have you found any surprises along the way?
I have learned that reclaimed lumber has a mind of its own. Nails, warping, and movement common to dimensional lumber all make it a material that takes some adjustment when working with it. We have managed to figure it out and make beautiful furniture with the help of our kiln, state-of-the-art woodworking equipment, and a team of individuals who care about every table and desk they create.

 

Urban Wood Goods - Desk Hairpin

Photo: urbanwoodgoods.com

Do you have a favorite tool?
My favorite tools are our JLT clamp racks. They allow us to get better glue-ups on all our pieces. Our lumber kiln is also very important. Having perfectly dried lumber is a beautiful thing. We used to have some warping when the moisture content wasn’t exactly correct; with this kiln, it’s no longer a problem.

What is your favorite thing about reclaimed wood?
My favorite thing is its history and character. I love seeing the wood still in a structure that is standing and then again the next week in our shop being turned into furniture. It’s nice to give it a second life—or third life, you could say.

 

Urban Wood Goods - coffee table

Photo: urbanwoodgoods.com

What kind of response has your work received?
It was a surprise when large companies had us building furniture for them! A few notable ones include HGTV, Google, Kraft, Ralph Lauren, and Lululemon.

What is your favorite piece?
The first bench I made was my all-time favorite. I loved that bench, and it was also the first one I sold. It had amazing character. It was perfectly weathered; I hardly had to sand it. Part of me wishes I could get it back, but Urban Wood Goods wouldn’t exist today if I hadn’t sold it.

 

Urban Wood Goods - Dining Table Chairs

Photo: urbanwoodgoods.com

What is the most challenging part of what you do?
It changes from year to year. There are many challenges that come with operating a small business. We recently discovered there is a business selling plastic wood furniture on Craigslist using our trademarked logo and warehouse address. That was pretty shocking—we don’t sell on Craigslist and never have. But we tackle the obstacles one at a time. It’s much easier to approach things that way, and we don’t sweat the small stuff anymore.

 

Find out more and shop the online store at Urban Wood Goods.


Weekend Projects: 5 DIY Teepees for Indoors and Out

For a cozy hideout that's a big step up from the standard blanket fort, craft an indoor-outdoor teepee inspired by one of these 5 imaginative designs.

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With a design that evokes images of dream catchers and fort-like fabric walls, teepees have grown to be a favorite hangout for kids, adults, and even pets! A wealth of options when it comes to construction—from simple no-sew tutorials to the more involved machine-required projects—make it easy for DIYers of any skill set to tackle this trendy hideaway in a weekend. Let these five crafty projects inspire you to build your own imaginative retreat.

 

1. NO-SEW READING NOOK

DIY Teepees - No-Sew

Photo: thehandmadehome.net

To skip sewing and ultimately shrink the total cost of this large DIY, the savvy blogger behind The Handmade Home raided her craft closet for a bundle of fabric scraps she had saved from previous projects. Each pattern was cut into strips of various sizes, wrapped around the DIY teepee’s six poles, and glued into place—no stitches required! At the top, string lights woven around the poles make this hangout a magical spot for playing, both day and night.

 

2. BACKYARD BEAUTY

DIY Teepees - Outdoor

Photo: blog.boatpeopleboutique.com

Mark your calendar for a slumber party under the stars when you craft a larger-than-life backyard teepee like this one from Boat People Boutique. Thoughtful details including textured muslin fabric, 12-foot-long debarked branches for teepee poles, and scrap wood pins to hold the flaps shut will fuel your imagination, transporting you out of your own backyard and into the woodsy settings of your favorite childhood stories.

 

3. LOVELY LACE

DIY Teepees - Lace

Photo: abeautifulmess.com

Hello, living room hideaway! Even with the door rolled down, this lace-cloaked DIY teepee lets in lots of light so you can color, craft, read, or play in these cozy quarters. You may have to brush up on your sewing skills before you dive in, as you’ll need to measure and stitch together the paneled slipcover for your frame of 1×2 poles. Fortunately, the detailed instructions from A Beautiful Mess are there to guide you as you complete this pretty project.

 

4. POP-UP PET BEDS

DIY Teepees - Pets

Photo: fudgejoy.wordpress.com

Why not let your furry friend in on the fun? These whimsical designs from FudgeJoy can be recalculated to fit a pet of nearly any size, whether it’s a cuddly cat or a petite guinea pig. Fluffy will certainly enjoy a new snug sleeping spot, complete with a cushy fabric floor—and you’ll love an amusing pet accessory that’s a far cry from a carpeted cat tree.

 

5. PVC POWER

DIY Teepees - PVC

Photo: strawberryswingandthings.com

For a lightweight and light-on-the-wallet option, follow the lead of the crafty mom at Strawberry Swing and Things who structured her children’s teepee using a large drop cloth and cut-to-size PVC pipes. After you’ve saved on the bulk of the project by relying on hardware store basics, dress up the front doors and tie-backs of the indoor shelter with your favorite patterned fabric. Depending on the print you choose, you can complete this DIY teepee for less than $50.


DIY Farmhouse Bench

Building your own home accents is easier—and more affordable—than you ever thought possible.

DIY farmhouse bench

With a little help from Ana White and Shanty 2 Chic, Natalie at The Creative Mom crafted this stand out bench. What’s more, all in all it cost less than $20.

Using little more than a handful of 2 x 4 boards, screws, wood glue, filler, and stain, Natalie was able to transform some hardware store basics into a classic look for her foyer.

Entryway Bench DIY

One of the great things about this project is that you don’t even need to own a saw. Simply take your measurements to most any home improvement store, pick out your boards, and take it to an associate who will cut it to your specifications.

how to build farmhouse bench

After that, this project can be accomplish with some basic DIY skills and a free afternoon. You can read the full tutorial at The Home Depot blog.

Thanks, Natalie! For more DIY ideas, check out The Creative Mom.


How To: Make a Concrete Bowl Lamp

Add a playful, industrial note—and a little light—to your home with this simple DIY.

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How to Make a Concrete Lamp

Photo: quikrete.com

Everyone knows this about concrete: It’s one of the most durable building materials on earth. What’s not so widely recognized is how versatile concrete can be. Yes, it remains the go-to choice for large outdoor projects, such as driveways, walkways, and patios. But at the same time, do-it-yourselfers have been finding more and more creative new ways to use concrete for smaller, often decorative projects inside the house. Take, for example, this quirky concrete table lamp. Though it’s made from the same stuff as your neighbor’s pool deck, the lamp requires a dramatically more modest commitment of resources. In fact, the project takes only about eight dollars and can be completed in under an hour, even if you’ve never worked with concrete before. Besides the willingness to get your hands a little dirty, all you need is QUIKRETE® concrete mix and some basic tools and materials, most of which you probably have on hand. Ready to get started?

 

MATERIALS AND TOOLS

How to Make a Concrete Lamp - Partial Materials

Photo: quikrete.com

- QUIKRETE® 5000 or QUIKRETE Countertop Mix
- Glass jar with metal lid
- 2 wood pieces of equal size
- Pen
- Electrical cord with light bulb socket
- 2 bowls
- Hot-glue gun
- Cordless drill
- Utility knife
- Hammer (optional)

 

STEP 1

How to Make a Concrete Lamp - Outlining

Photo: quikrete.com

Gather your materials together and double-check that you’ve got the right components. Note that because there’s a risk that one or both bowls may be destroyed in the course of the project, you may not want to involve your favorite dishes. If you happen to own two matching plastic bowls, consider using those; their flexibility may come in handy for a later step. Also, while you can certainly use any type of metal-lidded glass jar, it must be tall enough to rise up above the lip of your chosen bowls. Before deciding to use this or that jar, confirm that its interior comfortably accommodates both a smaller-than-standard light bulb and its appropriate socket.

 

STEP 2

How to Make a Concrete Lamp - Insetting

Photo: quikrete.com

Place the jar, with its lid facing down, into one of the two bowls. Trace the outline of the jar on the bottom of the bowl. Next, place a generous, quarter-inch-high bead of hot glue along the ring that you drew. Having done so, add another similarly generous bead of glue in a straight, three-quarter-inch line projecting out from the initial ring. This line creates a channel through which the electrical cord can eventually run out of the jar and away from the lamp. Now, press the jar firmly into the glue (lid side down), but not so firmly that it displaces the glue and makes contact with the bowl. In other words, the jar should sit on top of the glue, not on the bottom of the bowl.

 

STEP 3

How to Make a Concrete Lamp - Quikrete Mixes

Photo: quikrete.com

It’s time to mix the concrete. Here, you can use either QUIKRETE® 5000 or QUIKRETE® Countertop Mix. Readily available at low cost, QUIKRETE® 5000 is specially formulated for high early strength; for that reason, it works well for any casting project. QUIKRETE® Countertop Mix is equally appropriate, though slightly more expensive. With no large pieces of stone or gravel, it’s particularly well suited to smaller and more intricate projects. Following the instructions for your chosen product, mix at least enough concrete to surround the jar and fill the bowl all the way up to its lip. Vibrate the bowl to release any air bubbles, then let the concrete cure.

 

STEP 4

How to Make a Concrete Lamp - Second Half

Photo: quikrete.com

Allow at least 20 hours for the concrete to cure. If the bowl being used isn’t flexible, allow up to 48 hours. Once sufficient time has passed, remove the concrete from the bowl. To do so, twist the jar and pull. If the concrete refuses to budge, it may be necessary to break the bowl with a hammer. When the concrete comes out, expect the jar to be lodged within a half globe of concrete. At this point, mix another batch of concrete and add it into the second bowl. Next, pick up the half globe with the jar embedded in it, turn it upside down, and position it so that the jar protrudes into the center of the second bowl, right into the wet concrete. Use two equal-size pieces of scrap wood to maintain separation between the halves.

 

STEP 5

How to Make a Concrete Lamp - Bulb

Photo: quikrete.com

Again, wait long enough for the concrete to cure in the bowl. When the concrete has dried, proceed to remove it from the bowl. Once you’ve done so, your lamp is nearly complete. All that’s missing is the bulb. To fit the bulb and socket into the lamp, drill a series of holes around the perimeter of the metal jar lid. From there, use a utility knife to cut out the lid, creating access to the jar. Place the bulb and corded socket into the jar, guiding the cord out through the channel you created by adding that extra line of glue in Step 1. That leaves only the last step: Plug in the socket and turn on the bulb!

 

Watch the project come together in a step-by-step video, courtesy of QUIKRETE®!

For even more details on the concrete bowl lamp project, visit QUIKRETE®!

How to Make a Concrete Lamp - Complete Angle 2

Photo: quikrete.com

This post has been brought to you by QUIKRETE®. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


How To: Make a $5 Stool with Concrete

Take a seat! With just a few materials and a little bit of time, you can make this stylish, industrial-chic stool that can come to the rescue whenever you need an extra perch.

How to Make a Concrete Stool

Photo: quikrete.com

Do-it-yourselfers have a new favorite material: concrete. Inexpensive and versatile, it can be used in seemingly limitless ways, not only for large applications out in the yard, but also for smaller creations inside the house. Such projects require no special skills or prior experience. In fact, to make a straightforward stool like this one, all you really need are a few basic tools, a bucket, a wooden dowel, and some QUIKRETE® concrete mix. Easy to make and appealing in its pared-down look, the so-called bucket stool offers a wonderful introduction to the process of working with concrete. Perhaps best of all, it’s going to cost you only about $5!

 

MATERIALS AND TOOLS

How to Make a Concrete Stool - Materials Array

Photo: quikrete.com

- QUIKRETE® 5000 Concrete Mix
- 1  1/4″-diameter wooden dowel, 48″ long
- 5-gallon bucket
- Copper pipe caps and washers (optional)

 

STEP 1

How to Make a Concrete Stool - Cutting Legs

Photo: quikrete.com

Begin your concrete stool by preparing its three legs. Starting by cutting the 48-inch-long wooden dowel (available at your local hardware store or home center) into three equal 16-inch lengths. To make the cuts, use whatever type of saw you feel the most comfortable with; it doesn’t need to be a power tool like the circular saw shown in the photo. Be aware that the diameter of the dowel determines, to a large extent, the sturdiness of the stool. These instructions specify a dowel with a one-and-a quarter-inch diameter. While you can work with a dowel that’s wider, it’s best not to cut your legs from a dowel that’s any narrower than one inch. That said, if you find an old broomstick or rake handle whose diameter fits the bill, you may be able to save a little money and the hassle of a trip to the store.

 

STEP 2

How to Make a Concrete Stool - Mix

Photo: quikrete.com

OK, so what role does the bucket play? Well, for wet concrete to take on the right shape, the material must be placed into, and allowed to dry within, a form whose hollow space corresponds to the desired design. In this project, the bucket serves as the form because its circular interior conforms to the shape and size needed for the seat of the stool. If possible, use a bucket that has a smooth bottom interior; that way, no indentations end up on the top of the seat. Typically, you would mix the concrete separately and only then deposit it into the form. Here, the bucket serves double duty as both the form and the concrete-mixing vessel. First clean and dry the bucket, then pour in three inches of QUIKRETE® 5000 concrete mix. Next, add some water and thoroughly combine the two. Be careful not to use too much water. Doing so may result in weak concrete with a tendency to crumble. Mix the wet concrete until it takes on the consistency of cookie dough.

 

STEP 3

How to Make a Concrete Stool - Set Dowels

Photo: quikrete.com

Once you’ve mixed the concrete to the appropriate consistency, it’s important to dislodge the air bubbles suspended within the material. There’s an easy way to do this: Simply shake the bucket from side to side and repeatedly tap the exterior with either your hands or a hammer. When the concrete, now free of air bubbles, has settled, you’re ready to set in the stool legs. Stick each leg about an inch and a half into the concrete, letting its opposite end rest against the bucket. Pay attention to placement. Don’t place the legs close together; instead, try to place them equidistant apart. Once the legs are in position, wait about a full day for the concrete to dry.

 

STEP 4

How to Make a Concrete Stool - Caps

Photo: quikrete.com

When the concrete has cured, you can move on to the “unveiling”—that is, taking the virtually complete stool out of the bucket. To do so, bend the sides of the bucket outward in all directions, gently detaching the concrete from the form. Next, pull the stool out by the legs—it should come out easily, but if you run into trouble, you can always cut away the plastic. Inspect the concrete seat and, if desired, smooth any rough edges with 120-grit sandpaper (at this point, the concrete still ought to be easily workable). Finally, address the legs. If your stool came out a bit wobbly, or if you’d simply like to add some decorative flair, then go ahead and attach washers and copper pipe caps to the ends of the legs. To keep those caps from moving, you may opt to secure them in place with construction adhesive, but it’s not strictly necessary. Before capping the legs, you may also consider painting, staining, or dip-dyeing the legs with semi-gloss house paint in your favorite color.

 

Watch the project come together in a step-by-step video, courtesy of QUIKRETE®!

For even more details on the concrete stool project, visit QUIKRETE®!

DIY Concrete Stool - Complete

Photo: quikrete.com

This post has been brought to you by QUIKRETE®. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


Timeless Handmade Furniture with Midwestern Roots

A Minnesota woodworker unites artistry, skill, and regional materials to stunning effect.

Photo: Robert Rausch

For home design enthusiasts, wood furniture built by true craftsmen is coveted for its uniqueness, its durability, and its timeless design. But there’s yet more to love about handcrafted furniture—it’s all within its essence. A single chair, for instance, reflects more than the maker’s structural intentions; it tells the story of a region.

To sustainable maker Scott McGlasson of St. Paul-based Woodsport, community is part and parcel of his furniture. He sources his materials from the “urban forest” of the Upper Midwest and partners with local foundries to make metal bases for his work. Then, when the work is done, he gives back to the region that keeps him abundantly supplied, sending wood chips from his shop floor to local chicken coops and the like. All this thought, care, and sense of place can be seen in McGlasson’s sleek and elegant designs. We caught up with him to discover more about his work and motivation.

 

Photo: Woodsport.net

How did you get into this line of work?
I’ve always had an interest in design: architectural, interior, furniture. Years ago, I figured I could learn how to make some furniture pieces that I wanted but couldn’t afford, and I took an evening cabinetmaking class at a local technical college. The classes were offered as a fringe benefit of my job with the Minneapolis Public Schools—I was on track to become a teacher at the time.

Have you always been interested in woodworking?
Not at all. I was about 30, so I came to it pretty late. I sometimes compare that with one of my teenage sons who has been following me around my shop, putting things together, since he was 3.

Photo: Woodsport.net

Do you have a favorite tool?
I love Lie-Nielsen planes, Starrett squares, good chisels—pretty typical woodworking accoutrements. But my fave would be a machine: my Powermatic lathe. It has opened up so much for me by way of design.

Where do you source your materials?
It’s quite simple. Someone calls me about a tree that they are removing or has fallen, and I go check it out. I’m specific in what I want: It has to be a big walnut or cherry tree and accessible. I have a sawyer that I work with, and we mill it to my specifications, usually on-site, and he dries it for me. It’s usually slabbed up for my Peasant Benches or tabletops.

I don’t spend that much time sourcing urban lumber; I’ll get one or two logs a year, and that keeps me supplied. I also have relationships with some other small sawmills that get me slabs too. I go to the lumberyard for everything else—we have some great hardwood suppliers in the Upper Midwest.

 

Photo: Woodsport.net

It sounds like you’re really connected to the community. Are there other ways those connections play out?
You bet; I source out all my metalwork. A friend does my bronze fabrication, I use a couple of foundries for iron and bronze, and a metal fabricator makes my steel bases. I used to do some metalwork, but now I concentrate on the woodworking.

I also source the pelts for my Finny stools from a farm just west of Minneapolis that has the largest herd of pasture-raised Icelandic sheep in the country.

 

Photo: Woodsport.net

How much time do you typically spend designing a single piece?
It depends. Some designs come quickly, and I nail them right away. Others need to rest, be put out of mind for a while. Challenging pieces like chairs need a long time, even years. I go through a process where I draw it up in full scale, then mock it up, then actually build a usable prototype. The prototype might sit around for a while—my house is littered with them. I’ll make adjustments, and, if the piece seems viable, it will go into my line. I used to do a lot of one-off pieces for people, but because the design process can be onerous, I don’t anymore.

 

Photo: Woodsport.net

What’s the response been like to your work? Any surprises?
When I first started selling pieces on a retail basis, I was amazed at the positive response. These days I sell the majority of my work all over the country, often via email, and I never actually meet the person. It’s fun doing shows—like the Architectural Digest Home Design Show in New York—and seeing the response. Sometimes people are blown away by the work; they can’t believe that I actually design and make everything. And nothing is more gratifying than when someone whom you’ve never met comes along and pays a good chunk of money for a piece.

 

What’s your favorite part of the process of furniture making?
I enjoy the entire process, but it would have to be finishing up a piece. For about five seconds, I’ll step back and admire it… and then it’s on to the next one. It’s especially satisfying when new designs work—where once this was just an idea, and now it’s an actual thing that is part of the world. My goal is that the magic and excitement that I felt when it was only an idea gets manifested in the actual piece. It’s not always there, but nothing is better than when it is. I’m addicted to it.

 

Photo: Woodsport.net

What would you say is the most challenging part of what you do?
Maybe some of the business aspects of it. I’ve always let things develop pretty organically, and I’ve been at a good spot for the past few years. Direct demand for my pieces has been good, and we can keep up with orders. Everyone is happy. But I’m always turning away wholesale requests, and I sometimes wonder if Woodsport could be bigger and better. But then I just shrug my shoulders and get back to work.

To see more of Scott’s collection, visit Woodsport’s website.


Quick Tip: Removing Coffee Stains from Carpet

Spilling coffee on the carpet doesn't have to mean the hassle of a patch job or the expense of a new floor covering. You can remove the stain using items from your pantry. For best results, though, you've got to act fast.

How to Remove Coffee Stains from Carpet

Photo: fotosearch.com

It’s not what you feared. Spilling coffee on the carpet doesn’t have to mean living with an eyesore until you replace the floor covering. Besides the branded cleaners readily available in stores, you can remove coffee stains from carpet using a combination of only a few common household items you likely have on hand already.

Time is of the essence—the faster you treat the stain, the better your chances of restoring the carpet to pristine condition. As soon as you discover the accident, jump into action by moistening, not soaking, a clean cotton cloth. Next, use the cloth to blot around the sides of the stain, gradually working toward the center. Do not press down hard on any portion of the affected area. Rather, continue blotting, dampening fresh sections of the cloth as needed, until the stain becomes faint.

If blotting alone isn’t doing the trick, follow the steps outlined below to remove coffee stains from carpet, whether the mark has been there five minutes or five days.

How to Remove Coffee Stains from Carpet - Spill Detail

Photo: fotosearch.com

STEP 1
Mix one tablespoon of liquid dishwasher detergent with one tablespoon vinegar and two cups of water. While the detergent works to dissolve the stain, the vinegar dislodges the coffee from the carpet fibers.

STEP 2
Dampen a clean cotton cloth in the solution, then apply it to the stain with frequent blotting. First, blot the perimeter of the mark, then work gradually towards the center, re-moistening the cloth as you go along.

STEP 3
To absorb the detergent and vinegar, sponge the affected area with cold water, then blot it dry with paper towels. Before finishing up, consider going over the once-stained carpet with a hair dryer or hand vacuum.

In the grand scheme of cleaning solutions, homemade or store-bought, liquid detergent and vinegar are quite mild. Even so, before applying the mixture to your carpet, it may be wise to test it somewhere inconspicuous. In the case of wall-to-wall carpeting, experiment on the floor of a seldom-used closet. Otherwise, focus on the carpeting located beneath a large piece of furniture. When testing, be sure to wait a few minutes before assessing the results. If the mixture seems to have hurt rather than helped, try to remove it right away with cold water and a sponge. Even if the attempt fails miserably, you will have jeopardized only a small patch of carpet in an out-of-the-way place, while learning to look for a new strategy.

Of course, the right approach to cleaning a coffee-stained carpet can return the textile to its unblemished state, so long as you are prepared to be patient and persistent in your efforts.


Meet the Kansas City Artist Modernizing a Centuries-Old Craft

What's behind the art you hang on your living room wall? If it's a Hammerpress print, then it's history, design, and solid craftsmanship.

Hammerpress - Brady Vest

Photo: Chris Mullins

Brady Vest, founder of Kansas City-based Hammerpress, has his pulse on a letterpress renaissance. Even if you haven’t heard of letterpress, you’ve certainly benefitted from its invention. Until the middle of the last century, letterpress printers were responsible for creating books, pamphlets, and newspapers. To some, these movable type machines are considered junk in our digital age. But letterpress prints, cards, and posters are making a big comeback—as offbeat decor for your home. This vintage tool is leaving its mark on our walls and throughout our houses today.

Now, the letterpress isn’t your dad’s power tool. (For one, it’s probably too large for most home workshops.) But take a look at Hammerpress designs and you’ll find that the vintage machinery is far more versatile than you might think. We had to know more about what motivates Hammerpress makers so we caught up with Brady as he was in the midst of opening his new, expanded Kansas City storefront.

Hammerpress Kansas City

Photo: Hammerpress

The reason I started Hammerpress is…
I suppose my initial attraction to letterpress printing was the machinery and the objects involved in the process. The type, the cabinets, the old machinery. Also, I think the fact that it was sort of a hybrid of art and design seemed intriguing.

Once I got a little more involved, the commerce aspect of it intrigued me—as did the fact that you could mass produce artful products in a way you could not do in the fine art world. Plus, the process seemed to lend itself to collaboration.

Hammerpress print happiness will find you

Photo: Hammerpress.net

The thing I love most about working with letterpress is…
There’s always an excitement when you start working on a design, pulling all of the pieces out of the drawers. I go into a project with a fairly good vision of what it will look like—the ways the inks, patterns, type—will lay over each other, but it always changes. I suppose, in that way, the thing I love is also sometimes the thing I hate. The machinery sometimes dictates what happens more than you can. I love that, but it’s also a little scary.

Hammerpress - Lucinda Williams poster

Photo: Hammerpress.net

My main source of inspiration is…
I look at a lot of things that are outside of my experience. Lately, a lot of textiles—older and newer—a lot of vintage ephemera, photo collage, architecture and space design, children’s books from the past, etc. I try to not just look at things that are similar to what we do.

I’d describe the Hammerpress aesthetic as…
Hard to nail down. I feel like we are constantly trying to keep some continuity while also trying to push ourselves to do things we aren’t totally comfortable with. I think the main thing we always try to maintain in each design is a sense of handwork. Although we do work digitally a lot now, our goal is to always keep handwork involved and not allow it to get too clean or refined.

Hammerpress calendar

Photo: Hammerpress.net

The most challenging thing about this work is…
Trying to maintain consistency and keep it fresh. It’s always a challenge.

My favorite part of the design process is…
Seeing it go to press. Usually—not always, but usually—it’s like the clouds opening up and the sun shining through once you see the actual ink on paper.

Hammerpress - Stay Strong Badge

Photo: Hammerpress.net

I think the biggest mark of Hammerpress design is…
We tend to use a lot of large floods of color and try to work with the layering of colors and textures a lot. That seems to be what most people are attracted to in our work.

The story behind our name is…
I had a friend in college with whom I collaborated a lot. He would put the name “one ton press” on his work, with an anvil as a logo. When we started working together, I wanted something that would look and sound good on collaborations between us. The anvil and the hammer seemed to make sense. And I continued to use the hammer from there on out.

Hammerpress Kansas City store front

Photo: Hammerpress

The new Hammerpress shop is now open in the Crossroads Arts District of Kansas City, but no matter where you live, you can also find their letterpress designs at the click of a button right here.