Carolyn Kimball. Carolyn is a gal of many talents but my favorite would have to be her handmade tea towels. Not only are these darling, but Carolyn goes the extra step and uses non-toxic inks. Each design begins as an original watercolor and is screen printed by hand. I use her tea towels each and every day. I must say, in addition to being functional, they really add a bit of happiness to my kitchen.
They’re back! We’ve just rolled out a fresh new batch of upholstery classes for the fall. Get excited!
We’re super pumped to be collaborating with local furniture maker Kelly Dewitt of KKDW on a special Ottoman Class on November 7. Kelly is a talented maker based in Central Texas who has collaborated with Hotel San Jose, Canoe and Folk Fibers on a few projects, and her modern planters were recently featured in SF Girl By Bay and Anthology.
If you’re from Austin, you may have seen her on the cover of this month’s Tribeza Makers Issue. We really love the shapes of her planters, so we asked her to design some steel, octagon-shaped ottoman bases for us. They’re going to be 24″ wide by 24″ deep and 18″ tall. Take a look at some of her work below.
We’re so excited about this collaboration and will post photos of the ottoman prototype as soon as it’s ready! We’re also celebrating the collaboration with a little party after class at Spruce (Friday Nov. 7, 5 p.m.), so save the date! It’s not to be missed!
Speaking of classes, we’re teaching our ever-popular Bring Your Own Chair Class on September 11-12 and our Headboard Class on October 23-24. We get a lot of questions about these classes, so visit this blog first, and then feel free to reach out to us if you still have any questions! We’re also headed back to Dallas on October 4 to teach a lampshade class at Oil and Cotton (register here).
If you are unfamiliar with upholstered panels, let me give you a short explanation of how they work. Panels are often used to cover the front of arms or sides of backs on furniture pieces such as wingback chairs and camelback sofas. A panel nail is first punched through the bare panel before it’s covered in Dacron and fabric. Then a mallet is used to hammer the panel onto the furniture. The nail has a large and flat, round head that allows it to be discreetly hidden under the upholstery without making a bump, while the shank protrudes out the back of the panel.
Unfortunately, hammering doesn’t always go so smoothly. Sometimes the nails push back out of the panel and damage the fabric while trying to hammer the panel in place. It can be very frustrating, but, as always, I have a little trick that will help prevent this from happening.
Another helpful tidbit is to use your regulator to find the shank of the nail so you can perfectly line up the mallet with the head of the nail. Also, do your best to distribute your “whacks” evenly. Partially tap one panel nail in and then move to the next one, and so on, until all of the nails have been fully hammered.
Follow these tricks and save yourself the frustration of having to redo your fabric-covered panels!
We’re overdue in introducing our new Sprucette, Elizabeth Najdecki! Welcome Elizabeth!!!
Elizabeth comes to us with loads of experience and knowledge under her belt. She hails from many places and is worldly-wise. Born in Chicago, she’s lived in Oklahoma, Connecticut, Michigan, England, Georgia, Dallas and is now residing in sunny Austin. She has enjoyed marvelous tutelage at Dallas’s Southern Methodist University (SMU) and the incredible Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), where she focused her studies on textiles and applied studio art. She’s cut her teeth in the design industry since graduating, working for Dallas area designers, retailers, and a hefty dose of doing-it-herself.
Enjoy my Q&A with Elizabeth below!
Clar Mapes: You’re an arty type. Who’s your favorite artist?
Elizabeth Najdecki: I am mesmerized by Claire Zeisler!!! I can always find something new to marvel at in her work.
CM: You can see the Zeisler influence in the sculpture for sure! Nice study! Coolest pillows — those are killer!
What’s your favorite vacation?
EN: I can never say ‘no’ to a tropical getaway. I’m happiest on the beach or at the pool with an appropriately garnished adult beverage — the more umbrellas and pieces of flair the better! I have visited Thailand, the Maldives, Mauritius, South Africa… but I think my favorite vacation is always the next one because I like looking forward.
CM: That’s nice, Elizabeth. Well played! What do you love about home?
EN: I always love making a house a home, but I’m also super impulsive; so decorating, collecting furniture, arranging it, painting, then changing my mind a week later at 3 a.m. and redoing it all is super fun for me! I also love entertaining, sharing my home with friends. I love to lay by the pool, can’t get enough of the Texas sun! I have a cat named Tyson and a dog named Belle. Tyson is named as such because he bites ears, and Belle because she’s a Southern lady!
CM: You’ve been in Austin such a short time. What are your favorite food discoveries thus far? Any favorite hangouts?
EN: A standout for me are the eggs and bacon tender belly with hollandaise at Austin’s Searsucker. Love the creme brulee from Olivia’s. I’ve always had fun out on Rainey St. and East 6th St. Send me suggestions for fun things to do! (Readers, leave us your comments here on the blog!)
CM: I will do so! Tell me some of your favorite movie titles. I wanna know!
EN: Some of my favorites are Point Break, The Science of Sleep, Home Alone, and Welcome to the Dollhouse…but I hate to name favorites because I like too many!
CM: I know what you mean! I have worn out a childhood copy of Point Break, and at one time, I’m positive I could quote most of Welcome to the Dollhouse. Ha! Do you wanna be “besties” with Keanu?
EN: Right now I’d rather hang out with Nick Kroll and Jenny Slate because I’m in the mood to laugh!
CM: I would be tickled to meet them, too – they slay me! Last question/command: tell me about the kind of music you like, please?
EN: I love music and will listen to anything, but I can’t help but always love Alkaline Trio and Saves the Day (I try to hide my embarrassing high school emo side, but I can’t fight it.). One of my favorite songs will always be, “Goin Against Your Mind” by Built to Spill, and I love both the song and video for Alt-J’s “Breezeblocks”….and all my friends’ bands! I love the sound of rain!
Thanks so much Elizabeth! In your short and completely helpful tenure here at Spruce, you have proven to be a quick wit, a bright smiling face to our customers, and so informative for those you’ve consulted. I/we salute you, Elizabeth! You are a golden gal, and thank you endlessly for your expertise and easy personality. We’re truly so happy to have you!
Take advantage of our Storage Sale this month! We’ve never done anything like this before. We’re pulling all the furniture pieces we’ve collected over the past seven years from our sheds and discounting them for sale and/or custom upholstery.
Items include vintage and antique chair and sofa frames (along with a few headboards, stools and rockers, to boot!) — mostly priced at under $100.
Get the frame for FREE and a 10% OFF FABRIC when you book the upholstery project with us!
The cost for basic upholstery ranges from $75 to $1500.
Let’s take a look at some of the goods…
We’re pricing this “Antique Rose” sofa for $95. The cost to upholster this elegant beauty is a mere $1,095 — a steal!
This antique oval desk just needs a little TLC. Take it off our hands for $100!
I’m personally a big fan of this fun, 3-piece sectional ($150 for frame, $895 for upholstery), so if you want it, come and get it ASAP! It has a lot of potential, don’t you think?
If you’re looking for dining room chairs, we have sets of four, six and eight! Take this handsome set of fish armchairs, going for $30 each. Upholstery is $295 each.
Two wingbacks are better than one! These are priced at $45 each; $850 each for upholstery.
I’m a sucker for rattan! This pair of rattan club chairs are $35 each; $500 each for upholstery! Imagine recovering these exotic gems with a tropical, contemporary print. Oh, the possibilities!
Now that I’ve wet your whistle, come by and see the other pieces in person! If you’re looking to spruce up your home with some new digs and you love a great deal, don’t miss this sale ending on August 30. The sale started yesterday, and we’ve already sold several pieces! Questions? Feel free to give us a call at 512-454-8181.
Ply Grip (a.k.a. Pli-Grip, Flex Trim, and Curve Ease) is a nifty invention that helps create professional looking, clean, smooth edges for all your projects. It can be a little tricky when working with thinner fabric, as the metal of the Ply Grip will sometimes cut through delicate fabrics. Naturally, I have a quick solution for this problem.
A strip of masking or painter’s tape serves as a great barrier between the fabric and the sharp edges of the Ply Grip. Be careful to leave the teeth free from tape so they’re able to do their job and grab the fabric.
After the tape is applied, use scissors or a razor blade to slice the tape in between each segment of the Ply Grip so that it may bend and flex around curves.
Once you complete the above steps, continue Ply Gripping as you would normally.
Now you’ll be able to Ply Grip without having any hesitation or worry about damaging your fabric. Add this tip to your upholstery tool box!
Recently, we worked with the creative and marketing team at Tito’s Vodka to help them out with the design and build of their new offices. I got the chance to bring in and work alongside one of my favorite Austin makers, Adam Young of Old Crow Custom Works. The majority of our resources came from decommissioned bottling equipment, which we picked through and selected from the manufacturing graveyard out at the Tito’s plant, as well as pine planks that were salvaged from the devastating fires in Bastrop. One of my favorite details is that I got to work with a pinata maker over on Cesar Chavez to create three pinata chandeliers, using the copper foil that everyone’s familiar with from the Tito’s Vodka bottles.
Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions, Chris!
We’re at it again THIS WEEKEND! Visit Spruce and nine other fine fabric retailers for the semi-annual Fabric Shop Hop.
We know who your are, that lovely customer who loves to come in and ooh and aah but never has a reason to pull the trigger. Well, here are your reasons:
20% off ALL FABRICS and WALLPAPERS
10% off ALL OTHER RETAIL
$50 off CLASS REGISTRATION FEE
Plus, make one of these adorable pincushion wristlets at our DIY station (while supplies last), and enter to win a FREE LAMPSHADE CLASS!
Here’s what you missed at the last Fabric Shop Hop.
Sometimes the stripping process can take quite a toll on your furniture. Even the smallest of missing chunks will be noticeable when the fabric is pulled around the edge, especially when using a thinner fabric or a fabric with a sheen. In these scenarios, fear not! I have a very simple solution that will help you achieve a nice, smooth edge.
Cardboard tack strip is a material we use for various things in upholstery. For today’s tip, I attach a strip of cardboard tack strip along the edge of the damaged side, creating a straight edge.
Attach another piece of cardboard tack strip along the underside to add extra stability and structure.
Two strips of cardboard and you are back in business. The simplest tips are always the best ones!
You want to know what’s all the rage this summer? Pineapples!
Clarisa returned from Alt Summit (see post here) with reportage that pineapples are on trend! I’ve collected some of our fabric offerings that feature pineapples, or conjure ideas of the juicy fruit in color or texture just for you, dear readers!
One of my favorites is the Manuel Canovas Jamaica print. This pattern comes in a few colorways and sports a giant pineapple along with other vibrant citrus, passionate fruits and luscious melons that connote everything SUMMER!
Wikipedia says that “in the Philippines the pineapple’s leaves are used to produce the textile fiber piña, employed as a component of wall paper and furnishings, amongst other uses.” Fascinating! How apropos!
Though the pineapple belongs to the bromeliad family (think Spanish moss and certain rosette-forming desert succulents), I can’t help but include another print idea that is so connected in my psyche: the palm. This one’s thrown in to reinforce the summery theme!
I love this next one from Duralee’s Jalene Kanani contract collection. This fabric is built to last and has a great organic repetition – just like the pineapple!
The Design Connection offers a cool print that is all at once contemporary, Art Deco, and a bit organic! This one’s another super durable print, and it comes in several colors.
I found a bunch of sweet prints from Christopher Farr that don’t feature pineapples overtly but remind me of them! See a short list of great prints from the Christopher Farr Cloth line below! The first one I included is a sweet reminder of a pineapple’s golden interior flesh and ashy, bark-like, spiny exterior.
I really loosened up on the theme for this next pattern! I was thinking pineapples, pina coladas, and then… tiki! Here ’tis! A sweet pattern that shouts “Hawaii,” the adopted home of pineapples, swinging retro times and some frothy, fruity drinks! Mahalo!
This pattern I chose as a riff on the pineapple skin diamond pattern texture. I love how the drawn black lines lend further to the ideas of the pineapple texture – rough, a little pokey, natural… You get it, right?!
If you’re in the mood this summer for a pineapple or two, we can fix you up!
We’re excited to participate in a special collaboration that’s kicking off a Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA) event – Urban Picnic by Design (featuring picnic table set ups by 20 talented local designers) – held on September 11. Take a look at The Frank Bench! We’re auctioning this one-of-a-kind bench on our website, and all of the proceeds benefit AIDS Services of Austin!
The bench is a collaboration between Spruce, local interior designer Kelly LaPlante (who upholstered this beauty in our bench class using an Alexander McQueen-inspired velvet) and TreeHouse (which provided the industrial hairpin legs). It is named in memory of Kelly’s friend who battled AIDS for 34 years and passed away earlier this year.
Bid for the bench here! The auction expires at midnight, July 8.
When I first met Amanda, the very first conversation I had with her was about the awesomeness of Alt Summit. “If you’re into blogging, you should definitely go,” she said, after sharing some gems she learned about social media and SEO during her time at the conference in 2013 (which you might remember us blogging about here, here and here). Surprisingly, I had never heard of Alt Summit — once dubbed the “burning man of blogging” by the Huffington Post. Once I learned more about it, I knew it was something I had to experience! So, I packed my bags last week and headed off to Salt Lake City for a few days.
While I was at the conference (held at the exquisite Grand America Hotel), I met several wonderful bloggers, photographers, designers and entrepreneurs who inspire me to be the best marketer I possibly can. I learned the importance of collaborations, networking, creating effective marketing materials and using social media platforms, such as Pinterest, to their fullest. I’m still in the process of digesting all of the information I got out of the workshops, talks and networking events I attended. For now, I’ll leave you with a few highlights from this memorable experience.
Winning an Oh Joy! for Target bowl
On top of the fact that Joy Cho of Oh Joy! was the opening keynote speaker, she “liked” our Instagram post of her. Call me a fangirl, but I was pretty excited.
Oh, and she gave away some cool serving bowls to a select few, and I was one of the lucky participants who won one. You made my day, Joy!
Someone asked Martha Stewart about making pie crust.
Martha Stewart was the keynote speaker this year, and we all had the pleasure of asking her questions. Several people asked Martha about her work-life balance, but one question was specifically about pies. Someone asked her if she uses butter, lard or vinegar in her crust. She responded by saying she uses butter for most sweet pies, lard for her meat pies and vinegar for a specific apple pie. There you have it, folks!
There was a Garden Party.
Alt Summit is a lot more than just workshops and lectures. It’s about having both a fun and beautiful experience. Thanks to generous donations from sponsors, such as Bing and MailChimp, the organizers were able to put together some fun parties, gorgeous flower arrangements and delicious food. Every detail – from the strategically decorated photo booths to the letterpress menu cards – was considered. The final event of the conference was an outdoor Garden Party, and Alt Summit went all out. There were mopeds people could pose on for photos, a croquet set-up, ribbons hanging from trees – and the majority of the participants were decked out in fabulous attire. Check out some photos from the event here.
Learning what’s hot right now
Apart from learning the trends in social media and blogging, I got a chance to see what’s hot in fashion and design. This is what’s trending with some of the most influential bloggers in the know: pineapples in design, Scandinavian braids in your hair, Pippet, jumpers with bold prints, ’70’s wavy hair, fluorescent colors, starting a stationery company, thick-rimmed glasses, gold, calligraphy, and food styling.
Take a look at some more photos from the conference!
Some numbers from Alt Summit
Celebrity sightings: 2 (I saw actors Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Ty Burrell of Modern Family at Bar-X, which is owned by Burrell)
Hours Susan Petersen of Freshly Picked sleeps every night: 5-6
Books Martha Stewart has produced: 85
Minutes the average person spends on Pinterest: 15 per day
Cards collected: 43
Times people said, “there are a lot of people from Austin here!”: 4 (Local creatives Anna Kamburis of Demi + Olive, Miranda Anderson of One Little Minute, and Nycia Emerson of Inspired Events and Designs were also in attendance!)
If you have any questions about Alt Summit, feel free to leave us a comment – or tweet us @spruceathome!