Archive for April, 2013

About 20 years ago I did an 8-part French polishing course. The instructor was a real craftsman, and he covered more ground than just ‘Applying Shellac for Dummies’. Most of the techniques I use for stripping and finishing furniture are ones I learned from him. This is what he taught me about applying beeswax. 

Beeswax gives a more sympathetic, though slightly duller finish than French polishing – and it makes the surface a bit more waterproof.

beeswax, turps, steelwool and old towellingIt’s best to make up your own beeswax to ensure its purity. Avoid any commercial products that aren’t pure (for example, ones that have paraffin added to them).

What you need:

  • a lump of beeswax
  • pure turpentine (or mineral turps will do)
  • a container to put the wax in
  • fine steelwool (000 grade)
  • old cotton towelling (not flat-weave cloth) cut up into rags



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Over Easter we finally got around to moving some stuff out of the garage and into the roof space. It’s so clean and tidy up there these days it makes me proud to be, er, a perfectionist.

Mid-2011 was roof re-tiling time. Our terracotta tiles were brittle and the roof leaked during heavy rain. And the whole roof frame needed strengthening and straightening. And the old insulation had to be cleared out, and the ceiling surface vacuumed and tidied before new insulation could be put down. The project was finally wrapped up in January 2012. Gotta love the scheduling blowouts on what you think is a quick home renovation project.

Job number 1 was installing attic stairs because getting everyone up into the roof via the small hole above the shower was never going to work. Roof tilers, structural engineer, builders, insulation guys, electrician … and us.

thick layer of fine dirtThe roof space was absolutely disgusting. Ninety years of fine dust and muck covered every surface.

Call us mad but the first thing we did after the stairs went in was to sweep the dust off every roof beam. We suited-up in full breathing masks, goggles, overalls and gloves. These photos give you some idea of what we were dealing with.

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I haven’t written about any sewing projects since the denim skirt episode. Which is not to say I haven’t been sewing. I have; I just couldn’t be bothered telling anyone.

Over the past few weeks I’ve made four identical skirts. Five if you count the toile. Not all the same fabric, don’t be ridiculous, it’s not a corporate uniform. Four different pieces from Darn Cheap Fabrics – three were only $10/metre, the fourth was a bit more pricey. Cheap skirts when you consider I only needed a metre for each one, plus a bit of lining and a zip.

vogue pattern 2863Here’s the Vogue pattern (no. 2863; click to see a larger version). The main aim of this style of skirt is to have it fitting nicely on the waist so it doesn’t slip down towards the hips. When it works, it means you can wear a wide belt over the top and not have to worry about yanking the skirt back up every 10 minutes.

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