Thursday, December 30, 2010

Lovin' Those Stars & Stripes

“Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?...”
It’s safe to say that I’ve always been as “proud to me an American” as the next person, and maybe even a little more than “the next person” after my brother enlisted in the Army, but I have never owned anything that showed off my American pride. My parents have always owned, and flown, an American flag on the outside of the house (although, again, it was Jack’s enlistment that encouraged them to hang it from sunrise to sunset (did you know the US flag should never be left outdoors once the sun goes down, unless it is illuminated by some light; check out the US flag rules and etiquette here) every single day. Caton hung one vertically on the wall inside the garage (flush against the wall, with the blue union in the upper left corner, of course) when we lived in the apartment. We also have a new flag to hang outside the house, but have yet to purchase a flag pole. That’s my first “to-do” for 2011, so it will be displayed in a matter of days.
It’s also safe to say that I have never heard of Warren Kimble, an American folk artist from Vermont. Since I had never heard of him or his well-known art, it’s a given that I was a completely clueless bargain-shopper when I found this beauty at our local Goodwill.

The second I saw this piece (which I later found out is named Colonial Flag) I loved the art… didn't care for the color of the frame… but loved the art.  I brought the new purchase home and decided to do some research (read: type the artist’s name in Google) to see what exactly I had snagged up on the cheap. Literally 3 mouse clicks later I discovered that I happened upon a pretty neat piece of art. The original owner had paid $50.00 for the hand-crafted piece, while I paid a whopping $2.50 for the hand-me-down. And not only is the price cool, but I just love the art itself – the colors, lines, distressed/antiqued look. Everything about it.
I knew the lightly stained frame would never work with our dark wood furniture, so I decided to take my first trip down Staining Lane. The first thing I did was tape off the inside of the frame (the art had been professionally framed and the back was covered in paper, so I couldn’t take the frame apart to remove the glass) with blue painters tape.

I had picked up some Minwax PolyShades Stain & Polyurethane (color: Bombay Mahogany – since it matched our furniture perfectly) from Wal-Mart, along with a variety pack of sponge brushes (that was simply my preference). I set up my “staining station” in the garage (the fumes are pretty strong, so I wanted plenty of ventilation) and used a paper box lid to elevate the frame but also allow me to stain the sides of the frame. The number of coats is completely up the discretion of the DIY-er. I did this project over a weekend, so I stained once in the morning and once in the afternoon on Saturday and Sunday, for a total of 4 coats, to get it as dark as possible. Many people would have sanded the frame down prior to staining (with 100 grit sandpaper or something similar) but I chose to stain directly onto the original frame. I liked the extra glossy look, but I may switch it up and sand/re-stain down the road. For now, I’m super happy with the results!

“Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”
I think of you every time I see it, Jackson.

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