Monday, July 1, 2013

What To Do With Wood Scraps. How About Wall Shelves?

At the end of the day there are always scraps.  These shelf sets were scrap projects.  I had a bunch of end cuts of 1x6" pine.  What do you do with an 18" left over?  Turn it into a shelf!

Aside from the two longer pieces on the sides, these two pieces were almost entirely made out of scraps.  The orange piece (The Heliopolis Shelf) has no piece of trim on it over 6 inches.  The ivory and Versailles Yellow piece has one longer piece of trim but even that was pretty much a scrap.

In my studio almost every piece of wood, no matter how small, gets used.  These two shelves are a good example of that!  Even the knob was a vintage 1910's era knob being recycled and reused.

Black Dog Furniture Design
Portland Oregon

Built and Designed by Brett Bigham.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Wall Fairies Are Living In The Garden Of Earthly Delights

Hidden down low in the middle of my retaining wall is this little Fairy House.  Now that all the flowers are in bloom it has almost disappeared behind all of the flowers.  

The little stained-glass window to the right  of the door has a tea light behind it. I have to take off two levels of rocks to turn it on and off but the effort is worth it.

Most people walk on by without even noticing these but the little kids in strollers see them.  I've found several notes to the fairies now from neighborhood kids.  I always leave a reply (and remind them not to step on the flowers--fairies need the flowers for magic!).

The Chrysler Mirror. The One Piece That Never Sold.

This is the Chrysler Mirror.  I was reading a book on New York Architecture and saw the square-headed rivets used in the Chrysler Building and decided to try my hand at a little Art Deco.

This mirror came out  top heavy and kind of thick but it is an important piece in my design history.  From this piece came the Metropolis style that is one of my favorite design aesthetics to follow.  If you look through my blog you will see many pictures that echo this original experiment.

This is also the piece where I finally created a silver finish that was easier than silver leaf but retained the true look of a burnished metal.  This finish is one of my secret recipes that I've never seen anyone recreate.

This mirror is the only piece of mine that never sold.  After a year at  one of the stores I gave it away as a gift.  

The Chrysler Mirror: Pine, Hand-cut Wooden Rivets, Recycled Victorian House Trim, Silver Secret Recipe.

Designed and Built By Brett Bigham
Black Dog Furniture Design
Portland Oregon

Benches From Salvaged Lumber and Trim

I don't do a lot of wood finishes  but this lumber was beautiful and it seemed a crime to paint over it.  This is Northwest Old Growth Victorian-Era lumber and trim at its finest.  

The footstool is even a better story of recycling.  It is made from the scraps of the wood that was salvaged from a building being torn down.  Recycling the recycled is a noble goal, eh?!

Benches and Footstool: Pacific NW Old Growth Lumber, Salvaged Victorian House Trim, Pine, Hand-Cut Wood Diamonds, Miller Latex Paint, Spar Varnish.

Built and Designed By  Brett Bigham
Portland, Oregon

Balcony Railings Made Into Legs and Some Home Depot Pine

I don't do much white furniture, it bores me to death, but, every once in a while I make a piece that seems like it should be ivory colored.

I liked the simplicity of this piece.

Ivory Pine Coffee Table: Pine, Hand-Turned Railing Spindles, Miller Latex Paint, Spar Varnish
Brett Bigham
Black Dog Furniture Design
Portland, Oregon

Meet Our New Deaf Kitty Fernando Riblets

This little fellow is our new kitty.  We were at the farmstore getting food for our farm animals (OK...we were at the farmstore buying catfood) and they had a bunch of kittens.  We couldn't help ourselves and brought home this little fellow.

Once we got home we realized he didn't seem to be  hearing the 85 pound dog jumping and leaping all around him.  The little fellow is deaf.  Stone deaf.  You can clap your hand as hard as you can six inches from his head and he doesn't hear it.

Of course, we could have taken him back but we decided it was fate.  Plus he is so danged cute.  He spent all morning crawling all over the dog looking for some milk.  The dog just licked him and licked him the whole time.  

The other cats are not quite as thrilled.  Butch was friendly but won't really play yet.  Jasper is pissed off.  Or was until I opened a can of delicious Snoutloaf (Fancy Feast) for them to share.  As soon as the food was gone, Jasper was pissed off again...but it will all work out.

The funny thing is, Jasper is hissing and sounding all tough but the kitten doesn't hear a word of it. (meow of it?)

The name isn't his proper name.  Fernando Riblets is a painter and his name just makes us laugh. One of these days we'll figure out his real name.  Right now he is laying on my neck while I sing to him. He can't hear it but he seems to like the vibration.  He purrs in a funny little squeek and his mews are a peep.  

Very, very cute is Fernano Riblets!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Full Length Mirror That's Too Nice To Hide Behind A Door!

I love doing full-length mirrors.  They give me an opportunity to do something fun and dramatic.

I  hope this shows you that nobody has to settle for one of those ugly mirrors you stick to the back of a door.  This whole project took an afternoon to build and the paint job was quick and simple in black with a nice wash and good spar varnish to wrap it all up.

Metropolis Temple Mirror: Pine, Ash Trim, Hand-cut diamond appliques, Fir, Antique Victorian House Trim, Re-purposed mirror glass, Miller Latex Paint, Spar Varnish.

By Brett Bigham
Black Dog Furniture Design
Portland Oregon

Today In The Garden Of Earthly Delights (Before and After)

Good Morning! The Garden of Earthly Delights is looking very lovely today. That 85 degree day (in MAY??!  Unheard of!) finished the Dogwood tree off.  But, as the dogwood blossoms snow down on the yard, the irises and calla lillies have taken over.

Stop and enjoy some beauty today.

(this is what the front yard looked before I put in the wall and turned the hedge into little bonzai trees).

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Saturday Project. What To Do With That Pile Of Wood Scraps? Art For Arts Sake.

This one is just art for art's sake.  

I had a little bitty piece of trim left and some end-cuts.  This is what I made out of it.

Cubist Masterpiece: Fir, Pine, Birch, Miller Latex Paint, Gold Leaf, Spar Varnish.

By Brett Bigham

A Wrecked $5 Garage Sale Dresser Gets A Fabulous Makeover!

Sometimes I like to challenge myself and take a really wrecked ugly duckling and attempt to make a swan out of it.  I ran across this dresser at a garage sale.  Five bucks.  The dresser was wrecked. The paint was goobered up, it was covered with 1970's stickers and the front of the middle drawer was gone as were most of the drawer pulls.  But, a couple of the drawer pulls it did  have were old vintage brass ones from the 20's.  I wanted those art deco pulls so I bought the dresser.  The guy I bought it from wouldn't let me just take the pulls and leave the dresser, so I lugged the ugly thing home.

Once I was home I figured I might as well do something fun with it.  I wrapped the bottom of the dresser with a thick Victorian house trim. This gave the piece a nice heavy feel to the bottom that really balanced out the addition of the top shelving unit. I went for a very architectural look, the piece mimics the shape of a Roman or Greek Temple.

Instead of making a new front for the drawer with no face, I added a cut out.  This made a center shrine almost that still pulled out like a drawer.  The top shelf had an added drawer and the top piece is made from 100% reused and recycled wood (The top's base is the corner of 5th panel cut off of a Victorian five panel door--seen in my previous post "Jeremy's Bed", with an added wrapping of 1960's ornate picture frame trim). 

The decorative diamonds are  hand-cut on the saw and the finials were hand-carved in Bali and the appliques were hand-carved in Thailand. I bought them from the woodcarvers myself.

I've always wondered if the buyer has ever found the hidden compartments?

Roman Temple Dresser Makeover: Ratty old dresser, Pine, Tongue-and-groove molding, Victorian House Trim, 1960's Ornate Plaster Picture Frame Molding, Hand-carved Camphor Wood Finials, Hand-carved Appliques from Thailand, Hand-cut Diamond Appliques, 1970's Wood Knobs, Miller Latex Paint, Spar Varnish.

Designed and Built (except the dresser) by Brett Bigham
Black Dog Furniture Design
Portland, Oregon

A Recycled Victorian Door Turned Into A Bed...and a yellow dog too!

Here our lovely model Coco is showing a beautiful blue bed that has been made out of a Victorian panel door.  The trim is all recycled Victorian house trim, I hand-cut the diamond appliques and the finials and top carving came from a small village outside Ubud, Bali.

Bali is a wonderful place to go for furniture builders.  We used to go for a month every year. We'd drop our designs off at the wood carvers, then travel through the Indonesian islands for a month and then return to Bali to collect our wood carvings. (The carvings on this piece, however, were not my designs.)

These old doors are wonderful to work with but note that old doors and furniture often have lead paint on them.  When I first started building I loved sanding back into layers of different colors of old paint. But then I decided that all that lead paint would probably kill me, so I began experimenting with paints and paint layers.  I rarely use old wood with paint on it now but, as a rule, when I do use old wood, I make sure that I put several thick coats of varnish over it to seal everything in, just in case.  

Jeremy's Bed: Victorian Five Panel Door, Victorian House Trim, Pine Diamond Appliques, Camphor Wood, Mixed Woods, Finials and Top Carving Modern Balinese Carvings, Miller Latex Paint, Spar Varnish.

Built and Designed By Brett Bigham
Black Dog Furniture Design
Portland, Oregon

Friday, May 3, 2013

A Vintage Four Poster Bed Became This Fun Little Bench. Recycled Furniture is Green Furniture.

This 1960's fourposter bed became a very cute bench.  The front legs are chopped down bedposts from the footboard and the back of the bench is the headboard.  

The blue-green color is my Versailles Green. My version of the color used at Versailles.

Versailles Headboard Bench: 1960's headboard, pine, Victorian house trim, Miller latex paint, Spar varnish.

Brett Bigham 
Black Dog Furniture
Portland Oregon

Monday, April 29, 2013

Recycle That Old Headboard Into A Bench!!

That is Adobo, the black dog behind Black Dog Furniture Design.  

This bench is an excellent example of how we can reuse and recycle old furniture. This vintage headboard turned into an awesome bench. The decoration on the front stay was cut with a jigsaw. The blue-green color is what I call Versailles Green since a similar color was often used there.

Versailles Headboard Bench: Vintage headboard, vintage bedposts, pine, Miller Latex Paint, Spar Varnish.

By Brett Bigham
Black Dog Furniture Design
Portland Oregon

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Oranges Smoranges! Who said there ain't no rhyme for oranges.

Pardon My H.R. Puffinstuff reference there.  

I was leery about doing orange furniture, due to emotional scarring during the '70s when everything my mother bought for half a decade was orange.  But when it came time to paint this mirror, it just seemed like it should be orange.  

The response to the color was also so positive that I tried orange out on a few tables and benches.  It ends up that orange is still a popular color.  Orange pieces sell faster than almost every other color!

Orange Temple Mirror: Pine, Recycled Victorian House Trim, Antique Mirror Glass, Pressed Wood Appliques, Miller Latex Paint, Spar Varnish.

Designed and Built by Brett Bigham
Black Dog Furniture Design 
Portland Oregon

My 100th Post! A Cupboard Door, Victorian Staircase Spindles and Some Fiery Red Paint.

This cute little table is nearly all recycled woods!  

For fun I tried using stripes on the top and was extremely happy with the result.  The piece was bright, cheerful and sold extremely fast.  What's not to like about that?

Again, I remind you, don't be afraid of color!

Fire Stripe Table: 1950s Cupboard Door, Victorian Staircase Spindles and Trim, Pine, Pressed-wood Applique, Miller Latex Paint, Spar Varnish.

Designed and Built By Brett Bigham
Portland, Oregon

What to do with your woodscraps!

These are a great example of what to do with leftover pieces of wood and trim.

The top rack was made using old cupboard knobs.  The natural brown rack was using hand-forged iron  hooks from an artisan.  The last two used Mexican cast iron hooks left-over from a restaurant project. (I've seen these same hooks on Ebay for $10 a piece.  Shop carefully, I got mine for $1.50 a piece in bulk).

The most notable design feature of these is the hanging applique that slides open to reveal a hidden screw. This allows the rack to be secured to the wall and the screws to be hidden.

Coat Racks: Pine, David Douglas Fir, Victorian House trim, Vintage Door Knobs, Cast Iron Hooks, Miller Latex Paint, Spar Varnish.

By Brett Bigham
Black Dog Furniture Design
Portland, Oregon

Saturday, April 27, 2013

A Little Bit About the Artist

In Kindergarten I was a star!  (At least as far as Sacramento goes).  Romper Room used new kids every week but we lived close to the TV station so I was their "substitute kid".  If someone was sick or late we could be there in a few minutes.

That's me on the far left.  I was a Do Bee.

A Goodwill Dresser Gets A Facelift.

All this $15 Goodwill Dresser needed for a new lease on life was a paint job!

Every store that has ever carried my furniture begs for two things.  Bookshelves and dressers.  Bookshelves I like to build.  Drawers, I hate.  Seriously.  Unless it is a hidden secret compartment drawer, I do everything I can to avoid drawers.

But, the stores still want dressers.  So, when I see a cheap dresser that is banged up and lost it's finish but remains stable and sturdy, I grab it.  I'm sharing this redo with you because I really liked the top of the piece.  The stripes were rich looking and unexpected and I used blue because I was working on a blue table and I thought they would look good in the store together. (I learned a long time ago that if I take in several pieces in the same color scheme, the stores will decorate around them so instead of stray pieces floating around the store, I tend to end up with groups of pieces in the windows and high traffic areas).  The funny thing is I delivered the dresser first, came back the next day with the blue table and the dresser was already gone.  So much for grouping.

A Garden Shrine For Buddha.

When I bought this Buddha from woodcarvers in Bali, the statue was shiny and new. (Super shiny, in fact, since they were using shoe polish instead of paint!)  I didn't care for the finish so I figured some good old Oregon weather would give the statue some character.  

Camphor wood is very soft and the weather did more than give character.  Poor Buddha's hand fell off and he lost his knees.  Finally I decided I'd better make him a home or there wasn't going to be much left of him.

Buddha: Camphor Wood, Hand-carved in Ubud, Bali by a very nice family that lives on the side of the Volcano.

Buddha Shrine: Pine, Recycled Cupboard Door, Hand-cut Appliques, Gold Leaf, Miller Latex Paint, Spar Varnish.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Lying In My Grass As The Sun Set Behind Me.

This is my view as I lay in the grass this evening.

Happy Spring Everyone.  What a beautiful day.