Thursday, 18 April 2013

Tuscan Treasures

Do you ever have those days when you have lots to do (or so you think) and you want to do them but you don't know where to start? Then you get that frustrated feeling because you are not actually solving anything but rather you are doing circles. THEN you feel angry because you are just not achieving anything.
Yup! That is my day. I can make all the excuses in the world but the simple fact is that I want it done and I want it done now (and it is not happening). To make things worse Miss 2.5 and Miss .75 must be picking up on my complete... (I cannot even think of the right word), so you can imagine there is squealing and crying and tantrums galore.
I wanted to focus on something today that makes me happy. So I thought that I would share with you my very first "revamp". Well the first successful one, that my parents didn't want to paint over ;-)
Last year I spent a significant amount of time with my parents. Not by choice (I do love them) but out of necessity. It was a humbling and wonderful experience and I am very lucky that it cemented my relationship with my parents and not tore it apart. I feel like I am very lucky that they could be there for me and I wanted to do something special for them to say thank you. Although I don't feel like I will ever be able to thank them properly, I did try lots of little things to show how grateful I was.
Mum and dad have this aluminium table. It was something that was my great grandfather's (not sure where he got it but I remember it being in his garden). Obviously mum and dad inherited it. It was a round aluminium ex military table (it may have been a recreational table like a card table). Over the years as mum and dad's garden has been re landscaped and revamped the table served many uses but I couldn't bear to see it just sit there anymore just flaking away. Mum and dad used it as a alfresco table more than they have ever before, so, I made a decision. I was going to re-do the table so that they had a lovely alfresco space to enjoy a wine or cup of coffee or to just take a break from the hard work of gardening.
Now, mum and dad went to Italy and they LOVED everything about the Italians, their food, their passion, their buildings and their decor, so I channelled my inner "Italian Goddess". Pffft!
As you can imagine this table has had MANY layers added over the years and it was flaking in some spots, right back to the aluminium. I had to figure out the best way to get the paint off this baby.

I initially started by using dad's sander. I changed my mind on this for two reasons.
1. It was as dusty as hell
2. my uncle pointed out that the initial layer could have been lead paint (I don't want to be turning that into dust).
So seeing as that is something I should have thought of PRIOR to stripping back the table I went and grabbed some gloves and a paint chisel. I figured the paint was flaking fairly easy so with some elbow grease I should be able to get it off. It was so much easier than I thought. YAY!
I just wanted to add here that when I managed to remove the paint there was some names carved into the table that I wish now I had taken better photos of. Imagine my excitement over the history of this table.
I had decided I was going to do the painting first. I painted the table a beautiful Paprika Red. I used a rust sealing and prevention paint so that I could paint and not only seal the rust that was there so that it wouldn't spread but also to prevent any more rust appearing on the table. I was only painting the legs and the side and I did this because I was planning to grout tiles to the top of the table and I figured it was going to be much easier to do it this way around that tiling first and then painting.

Ok so once the table was painted I took to the tiles. I went to Bunnings and bought those little square tiles (maybe 100mlx100ml). Now I realised (very quickly) that I couldn't just take to the tiles with a hammer, so I wrapped the tiles in a towel and THEN went to town on them. I wanted a variety of sizes with the tiles so I broke them all up and then the ones that I wanted smalled I broke again. Then came the fun part (not). I had to sort the tiles into colours so that I could make sure that I was putting them evenly on the table. I started initially laying the tiles where I wanted them and I quickly learnt that, that wasn't working.
So, I went to plan B. I had the tiles in piles (I can rhyme) and I picked one off each pile and placed them down. I recommend using whatever system works for you, I think I tried 3 or 4 in total. You just have to remember the glue dries quickly. Everything will work differently for everyone. Mum and dad were away in Melbourne for the week while I was doing this so I was on a mission to have a surprise ready for them when they got back. It took about 3 small square tiles in each colour (maybe 5 colours) to cover this table and leave me with some spare (just in case). I would say to you, that you are probably better overbuying and returning that not having enough and not being able to get the tiles that you need.

To tile the table top you apply tile glue (I was messy with it because I figured I would be grouting over it). Make sure you apply the tiles to the glue before the glue gets a film over it. It makes it much harder to apply the tiles and get them to stick once it has started the drying process. Once the glue is dry you can apply the grout. Now I recommend here that you used you finger to squish (so technical) and smooth the grout onto the table top. I pre-warn you though that tiles are sharp. So take care when doing this (it hurts when you cut yourself), but I did find it more effective that any other method. Also I recommend being prepared to do all the grouting at once. I thought I could mix in batches but found out that, that wasn't going to work so had to work quickly before the grout set.
TA DA!!!!
Now I took this photo as soon as I finished tiling but before I grouted the table so I hope to get some more photos of this gorgeous (finished) piece in its pride of place in mum and dad's garden.
Take the time now to enjoy your table.
Keep smiling

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