Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The saga of my reupholstered couch

When we moved into our apartment in October I bought this midcentury sofa on Craigslist. Mostly I just wanted the frame, figuring I could make new cushions in the fabric of my choosing. This proved to be more expensive than I had initially imagined. The cushions were so worn down that sitting on the couch you could feel the wood frame underneath. So not only did I need new fabric, but new foam as well, which is not cheap.

I also had a hard time finding affordable fabric that I liked. I had something really specific in my head--a charcoal gray wool--and the only thing I could find that remotely resembled this cost something like $40 a yard. Then I came across this post about upholstering a chair in gray wool felt, which set off a lightbulb in my head. I found a site selling wool felt for $10 a yard and ordered a huge roll of it. And then I procrastinated about three months.

After sewing one cushion a week, give or take, I finally finished on Sunday. From afar it looks pretty good but if you look at it up close you'll see that the felt is seriously pilling. In short, if you want a new couch that looks good, buy one at CB2 or something.

Okay, okay, I am kind of proud of my endeavor. Other than the pilling I think the end result is pretty good.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Storm King, redux

I was just looking at some of the photos Dave took at Storm King with his iPhone, and I couldn't resist sharing some. The colors are so great.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Storm King Art Center

On Saturday we braved the heat and drove about an hour north to the Storm King Art Center, located in the Hudson Valley. It's a 500-acre sculpture park, filled with both large-scale and smaller works. One of the things I loved about it is how it seems like an unexpected location to happen upon a work of art; every turn brought a new surprise to explore.

This one by Alexander Calder strangely reminds me of a dinosaur. In fact, a lot of them had that feeling for me (I suppose the size is probably what does it mostly, though for this one the shape is also a factor).

Alexander Liberman's "colossally scaled compositions are constructed from discarded tank drums, boiler heads, giant pipes, and steel beams." I mostly like the bright red color.

This one, entitled "Sea Change," is motorized, so that the two steel rods are constantly moving, changing shape, dancing through the air.

This one also moves, though by wind power alone. On a windy day it might have made more of an impact, but at the time it was just barely swaying in the near-nonexistent breeze.

This untitled work by Robert Grosvenor "was intended to mimic the effect of a mountain emerging out of a plateau," according to the Storm King website. We noticed a number of paw prints on it, imagining a giant catwalk for the local wildlife.

We were pretty amazed at this seemingly gravity-defying sculpture (I've unintentionally photographed it as though it is about to squash that little blue sculpture in the distance), though the Storm King site explains the phenomenon: "The two hollow steel boxes are bolted together and welded at the top, and a counterbalancing support anchors the piece into the ground."

You could almost miss this extremely creepy series of faces that seem to be emerging from the ground, courtesy of Nam June Paik.

We didn't cover everything, mainly because after a couple of hours we were feeling pretty wiped out from the heat. But I'd like to go back some time in the fall and check out the rest of it. You know, when I don't end up drenched in sweat just walking around.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The finds

The locker baskets were definitely my most useful Brimfield find, but I did come home with quite a few more great things.

I finally got some letterpress blocks that actually fit inside the tray I bought awhile back. I didn't want to spell anything, instead selecting a random assortment of letters and numbers based on shape, color, and overall aesthetic value. Like the baskets, I wish I'd bought more. But there's always next time!

Vintage milk bottles are a ubiquitous flea market item I'd always passed up until now. Maybe because they're so ubiquitous, and yet always seem overpriced to me. This one was only $5 (the seller assured me I wouldn't find a cheaper one that day), a decent size, and I really like the orange lettering. It'll make a nice carafe for water. I just wish it didn't say Massachusetts on it (the seller asked me where I was from and when I said "The Bronx" his only reply was "I'm not much of a city person").

The man who sold me this camera claims that it takes 35 mm film and that if I get it professionally cleaned it will work just fine. I'm kind of curious, but mostly I just like the way it looks on my shelf, and for $10 I thought, why not.

And here's my big spend of the day: a Russell Woodard sculptura armchair. I hemmed and hawed over it for a little while but ultimately reasoned that it was priced at less than half of what I've seen them sell for, and thus worth another trip to the ATM. Also, it's really comfortable. And I like it. And it looks good in my living room (I guess I couldn't really determine that until I got home, but I had an inkling).

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Flea markets can make your life better

So maybe the statement in the title of this post is a bit far-fetched, but after buying this pair of vintage locker baskets at Brimfield the other day, that's kind of how I'm feeling. I'd been pretty confident that I'd stumble upon some, particularly because they've become a bit trendy lately (or at least I've been seeing a lot of them on design blogs), and I was sure they'd be perfect to put in my kitchen closet, which was in desperate need of organization. The gods did smile on me, as I found a guy selling them for $12 a piece (pretty good compared to what I've seen them priced at elsewhere). I only wish I'd bought more!

Which brings me to my kitchen closet. I'm almost too embarrassed to show the before photo (which is appropriately blurry). I used one basket to corral all the little half-used bags of lentils and rice and so on, and the other for boxes of ziploc bags and vacuum bags and such.

The results are pretty incredible. It's amazing what a couple of baskets can do. I hope it stays looking like this!

Monday, July 19, 2010

At Brimfield it's Christmas in July

Saturday we went to the Brimfield Antique Show for the first time. It's the craziest flea market I've ever been to—about a mile long and several hundred yards wide. We arrived around 10am and didn't leave until 5pm. After awhile everything started to blur together into one massive pile of rusty tools, vintage fabric, and mahogany furniture. Not to say that I didn't enjoy myself and come home with some pretty good finds (more on those to come). But first, here's a bit of what we encountered.

Dave took this one. I wish it really were Christmas! (Then it wouldn't be 95 degrees out.)

This seller had nothing but old wind-up Victrolas and their accoutrements. I love these little dogs.

If you like Fiestaware, this is the place to go.

Not sure what these are—sculptures? lawn ornaments?—but they look pretty cool.

A pile of pitch forks.

Not really my style...

I like the church sign (the missing letters only add to it) next to the cartoony room divider.

Piles of letters on the ground (another Dave photo, obviously).

This little vignette is kind of surreal. Where else would you see this juxtaposition of objects? It looks like a weird still life painting.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Homemade ice pops

I have been seeing ice pops everywhere lately, from this place near where I work to food blogs to design blogs...and, well I guess that's it. Anyway that and the sweltering heat inspired me to run out and purchase a set of popsicle molds (I mean, ice pop--apparently the popsicle people will sue you if you misuse their copyrighted name) and make my own.

I started out with this recipe for raspberry creamsicles that I saw on Design Sponge. Here they are in their molds, about to be transferred to the freezer. I personally think there was a little too much yogurt in the mix but I'd try it again with some adjustments.

Next I made my own concoction with frozen lemonade concentrate and frozen raspberries (leftover from the previous pops). I think I used half the lemonade container and maybe a cup of raspberries. My mistake was not using enough water--I ended up melting all of the pops and adding about a cup and a half more water, which worked pretty well. They're still pretty tart, but go down much easier.

I'm also thinking about orange creamsicles, iced coffee pops, fudge pops, maybe something with cream of coconut...more to come!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mr. D for president

I feel like I need to mention how my day at the beach began: with a delicious pizza from Di Fara's in Midwood. Well, it started with an hour wait in a crowded, hot, and stuffy pizzeria--and then with a delicious pizza.

Any visit to Di Fara's entails a wait of some sort. At 12:45 on a Sunday afternoon there actually wasn't an hour wait just to give them my order (as is the case on a Saturday night), though it did take quite awhile to get the pizza after that. No matter, I was expecting it. Note the people above hovering around good old Mr. DeMarco*, hoping their pie will be next. I feel bad for his poor daughter, who is constantly fielding "Where's my pizza?" questions from hostile, hungry customers. Seriously--you should not go to this place if you are starving or in a hurry. It will take awhile, even if you try to bribe them with rainbow cookies from the bakery across the street (I actually witnessed this).

Here's the man in action, slicing up a pie after clipping some fresh basil and sprinkling on extra cheese. He's been doing this for about 45 years in that same spot, and despite the long lines of people he makes each pie one at a time, moving slowly and carefully around the kitchen. He will just reach his bare hand right into the oven and grab a hot, bubbling pie. I watched him handle a metal pan without flinching.

Somehow we managed not to take any photos of the actual pizza, but you can find enough of them on flickr.

*There is no Mr. Di Fara, apparently. The name is a combination of DeMarco and his former business partner, Farina.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Gun batteries and sunbathing

I've been wanting to go to the beach for weeks now so on Sunday we finally planned a trip to Jacob Riis Park in Rockaway, Queens. (All day I kept humming "Rockaway Beach" by the Ramones.) But when I looked at a map I noticed that right next to it was Fort Tilden, a place I'd been meaning to check out, so we did some exploring before changing into our bathing suits.

Here is one of two gun batteries that we came across. From a New York Times article about the park, "Years ago, each of them housed a 70-foot-long cannon that could accurately shoot 2,300-pound shells 25 miles out to sea...The fort, built in 1917 as part of the city's coastal defenses, was used through two world wars and part of the cold war to keep the enemy — German subs, Japanese bombers or Russian nukes — from reaching New York."

Underneath the concrete canopythis one is a bit overgrown with vegetation, and as both of them, is covered with graffiti (which really only adds to the appeal). Note the milk crate turned on its side in the cornerit'd actually be a pretty nice place to sit down and relax. It's quiet, and there's a really nice breeze.

I really liked this graffiti inside the second battery.

The ceiling, where minutes earlier a group of birds were perched on this wire but they flew away by the time we could change the "lens."*

Dave, and more graffiti.

Looking out from inside the battery.

One of the batteries has a wooden staircase built next to it that brings you up to the top...

and leads up to this viewing platform, which affords beautiful views of the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Bridge, and of course of the beach. The platform features some choice graffiti, particularly the "Mr. Bacon was here," right next to "yummy."

Finally, we got out on the beach and went swimming.

Jacob Riis Park is definitely my favorite New York City beach, at least, of the ones I've been to. It's actually on the ocean, so that's a plus (Orchard Beach is much closer to home but it's on the sound, so the bottom is muddy and the water is no higher than my knees), it's not that crowded, and you're surrounded by 1930s brick buildings that house bathrooms and concession stands (not to mention the abandoned military base in close proximity). The water was the perfect temperature, though the waves were a little rough. I don't know if it was just high tide or if it's always like that, but as long as you don't go too far out it's just fine.

*All of these photos were taken with Dave's iPhone using the Hipstamatic app. I'd forgotten my camera and am actually kind of glad about that, as these look much cooler.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Stitched paper

A couple months ago I signed up for Reform School's pen pal club and was paired up with someone in Seattle. It's been my turn for about a month or so but I've been slacking (sorry, pen pal!). The other day I decided I really needed to just sit down and do something, so I cut out a bit of brown kraft paper from a shopping bag, not sure of what I was going to do with it. And then it came to me. I wrote a simple message lightly in pencil, poked some holes in the paper along the pencil lines, and embroidered the message into the card. I made one wrong move and it kind of ruins the impact, but on the whole I love the outcome, especially the feel of the stitches on the paper. I definitely want to try this again.