Piece for Piece – Make It Your Own (Part I)

August 2, 2017 , In: Inspiration, Mixed Media

More often than not life does not follow the schedule. Actually the diversion was well orchestrated: We got a fresh sample to analyze from the clinic (I work in research and that in itself is the opposite of an organized schedule), the weather brought summer back to us including heavy storms with rain and more  rain and last but not least my husband decided to bring the bed he build at the makerspace back home now (with a really, really short term notice). 

The beginning! A little bit blurry but I do love the play with light and shadows… and yes, I may be a little bit obsessive documenting my husbands projects 😉

So instead of showing you one project after the other, each in a single post from start to finish, I will show you the current status… and hopefully can show you the progress next time! What I want to show you are the pieces we create for our apartment, starting with the biggest project – a new bed – and a small project – painting a stool.

On the left you can see the first treated beams. By the way, dust and dirt was already removed from the ones on the right.

My husband and I are both members at the makerspace Leipzig and while we enjoy different materials to work with, we both love to create for our home. Some time ago he decided to build us a new bed. Not sure where the idea came from but I am all for it! I just love when he creates, doesn’t matter if it is new furniture for our apartment or a new statue. 

Several work days… really a lot of work days later… after the jointer, the saw, the slicer, filling in all open parts with wood…. finally lots and lots of sanding! The goal was perfectly sanded wood that feels smooth to the touch with wood oil as protection.

The beams he used are really old, at least over a hundred years old. They were from an old farmhouse and about the last thirty years or so they gathered dust in an attic. We got them from friends for some coffee and cigarettes (you know, the symbolic price). I can buy good coffee, but cigarettes? Ehm… none of us smoke or smoked (of course we tried other things in our youth, but general smoking was just not appealing in any kind for either of us). So we went into the kiosk and asked for “any kind of cigarettes”. The woman asked what kind, and we said something like: “Don’t know… any you would recommend?” Turns out she also didn’t smoke and could only show us the ones that were bought most often. We all had to laugh, because it felt like being teenagers again trying to buy their first “adult” stuff without any idea at all! 

Space and the right tools are essential, something a Makerspace can provide. But even more important is the help we get. Hans can work with wood quite well but a project like this bed constructed with a hook system was highly challenging. Thankfully we have professional master carpenter as members as well as a lot of other trades and artists as well. In the end this is also a team project .

The wood was worm eaten, creating wonderful textures. It took a lot of hard work to remove the dirt and dust, banish any potential living thing inside, remove all old nails, level the beams, give them some right angle, sand them  down… and so on. My husband spend a long time at the makerspace. 

I don’t know the english term for this kind of drawer – the will come out with a slight touch so they don’t need any kind of handle.

What is really genious (yes, I am totally not neutral!) is that the whole bed is set together with nocks. So you can take all parts apart and when it is set together you don’t see a single screw!

The round wood pieces are inserted for stability. If you drill along the wood grain you would push the wood to the outside and it would crack. The wood parts are where the screws are to secure the hooks. I love the look (but it is inside, no one will see it anymore).

What is still missing is the backrest. The first idea was a mosaic made from wooden pieces but in between he said something that we could also use tiles… and I so fell for the idea!

There it is! Please excuse the bad light, already late, and the surrounding chaos, we moved and rearranged a lot of things. The size of the mattress will be 180x200cm. I could get lost in this bed! Can you see the parts for the hooks of the backrest in the beams?

Now I am in the production of a lot of small tiles. I try to test as many different textures as I can. The colour palette will be mainly different shades of blue. The idea of old wood and blue tiles mosaics reminds me of Formentera, the Mediterranean sea, Lisbon, Barcelona…  

A small selection of all the tiles that are drying. They still all need to be bisque fired and glazed…. and even if I have several loads more of these, there are still a lot I have to make.

The small project – painting a stool – is quite simple and maybe easier to use as inspiration than our new bed 😉 We bought a cheap IKEA stool (for about ten euros) that is made of untreated wood. I use acrylic paint, mainly good one from Schmincke (for the light fastness, I want the colours to “hold on” a little bit), some Amsterdam I still had and mixed it with cheaper matte craft paint to create irregularities. 

The packaging material that came with the IKEA package was perfect to be used as paint protection. I used white Gesso as basic layer before I started adding the colours. It makes the colours brighter, gives another layer of protection (the stool will be on the balcony) and also the other acrylic paint will hold better.

As you can see, it is really simple and straightforward. Only the heavy storms made it impossible to finish since I do the painting on our tiny wee balcony. After the first colour blocking I started to bring in some pattern, also used a stencil… but the paint was a little bit to thin and went under the lines. Oh well, I’ll redo it. In the end there will be marks and pattern in bold and bright summer colours all over! 

The terracotta paint area can’t really be seen well under the masking tape as well as the green above the purple…. but believe me, a lot of colours going on here already!

Oh, by the way, the next project of my husband will be to finally build me a vertical plant pot holder to use the most of our tiny balcony. I want to grow even more spices and salads and still want blooming flowers at the same time. 

I will correct the edges and pattern and then start adding more pattern, layers and colours!

I want to end with the note how much I enjoy that a lot of the everyday things we use are created (or added  to) by friends, artists or ourselves. Yes,  I also have a lot of store bought items and pieces I love. But the bed my husband build for us? Made me smile even before it existed. 


Claire Fabian

Claire Fabian loves to experiment with materials and ideas. She needs to create to “keep her sane” and the process of creation itself is the most important in her work. She is drawn to weird things, to organic and natural textures and loves a tribal and ancient vibe. She makes beads as well as jewellery, but also loves mixed media pieces and little sculptures. Amongst her favourite materials is polymer clay, ceramic clay, all kind of metals, glass beads as well as everything found in nature. She is also working in research which may explain her desire to experiment.
  1. Reply

    WOW!! that is a bed!!! can’t wait to see the finished head board. Oh the drawer is called a ‘divan slidestore’ in English 😉

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