Monthly Archives: July 2016

July Bricolage Roundup

Lampshade and lamp cords: Have you ever used spray-on fabric dye?

blue sinkI’d only used it once before. I needed to dye just the white pique cotton cutwork cuffs and collar of a black maid uniform I bought at the San Francisco uniform store red, for a “Servant of The Devil” costume. It worked pretty well in red. So I got some in blue and used it for a lampshade!

Kare lampI’d waited a year, constantly surveying prices, ’til I found a deal and bought this beautiful chandelier for the hallway. Then i found it  wasvery out of scale for even our huge hall. But it was perfect for the enormous salon.IMG_1853 - Edited

I still wanted the style for the hallway, though, to help sell its Alice theme. So I found a smaller model (Butler’s 30% off coupon- only a couple times a year, but I’m insanely patient!).

Unfortunately the smaller model had one white shade, and white cords.


lamp2I sprayed the lampshade in the sink and the cords on a turquoise towel. It worked pretty well- the white fixture got faintly blue, which I probably could have removed with a solvent, but twelve feet up in the dark hall, it was good enough for me.

IMG_1851 - EditedYou can set the dye with heat, either in an oven or by ironing; since neither of those was an option I used a blow dryer and hoped. James didn’t get blue hands when he hung it up, so I assume the dye is sufficiently set. It rinsed out of the sink with just a little bleach.

More furniture: gel stain on raw wood.

wardrobeWe have a place to put coats at last. This wardrobe was my first time using gel stain on raw wood. And as wonderful as it is on already stained surfaces, it’s a thousand times better on raw. It doesn’t raise the grain of the wood. You don’t have to sand between coats.

It’s almost aggressively nontoxic. You can put it on with a foam roller- the secret is to roll it on, then immediately drag the roller over the rolled area to smooth the finish. As a product, it’s highly mistake-tolerant. If you accidentally leave a thick rope of glopped-on stain, you can sand it and re-stain the same day. If you wipe it over an area of raw wood you didn’t mean to cover, you can wipe it off back off so it’s nearly undetectable.

Gel stain is an incredible product for someone like me, who does projects at breakneck speed and is also highly mistake-tolerant.

dresserI assembled and stained another Amazon-score dresser for our hallway, on the left- looks good, right? Gel stain, I’m tellin ya.

I remember spending hours in my mom’s backyard in my early twenties, using tradional stain and shellac, staining and sanding and staining and staining and sanding the cage for my first iguanas. It was horrible. I became intensely stain-phobic.

But now I’ll stain anything. Keep an eye on your dog around me.

My DIY modus is predicated on the 3 Laws of TV News:

  1. Get it Done

  2. Get it Right

  3. Make it Interesting

I learned them from a CNN reporter when I was a courtroom artist, and have since applied them to many things. Particularly to the next project:

My Passementerie Obsession and my glue gun love affair.

What is passementerie? It’s French for dust-catching textile! Ha ha no. Here is what it is.passementerie

Suzanne Forbes paintings with pink model chair 2005 09


I love adding trim to things; I will add trim to anything (see: keep an eye on your dog, above). The fastest and most effective way to do this to upholstered furniture is with a glue gun.

I had trimmed a lot of the furniture in my house in Berkeley in burgundy (burgundy is the goth khaki) bullion fringe to match the bullion fringe on my window treatments. It helped bring together the disparate thrift-shop and craigslist pieces while adding Victorian detail.

We left all that furniture behind in Oakland, including one piece I hadn’t planned to leave.



Tragically, I had to leave my pink model chair behind.

pink model chair Mark II - EditedThe terrible night of the shipping container loading, when for the last few hours Slim and I were alone in the dark trying to get everything in, it didn’t fit.

Although it was just a crappy yardsale 80s dusty mauve wing chair with twenty bucks worth of trim, it had appeared in a dozen or more paintings and I loved it. I had to ditch it outside the Hayward Salvation Army the next day, and I’m still grieving it.

So I was determined to get a new pink model chair.

blue chairThe one you see here was also stalked online for over a year, ’til the magic 30% Butlers coupon. The blue armchair and little bench I got earlier, with a 40% off BonPrix coupon! Subscribing to email newsletters and the patience to open every single one so your spam filter doesn’t start grabbing them, my dudes.vivienne on bench 2016 - Edited

I got the trims from UK eBay, another thing Brexit will ruin.

Suzanne Forbes bug frame 2016 So mostly furniture this month for making-stuff, besides Horribella, except this little frame I made for a dollar-store lenticular picture.



Berlin Graphic Days Nr. 8, July 2016

Daria and I had a table at the Summer Session of Berlin Graphic Days.Berlin Graphic Days Suzanne Forbes July 1 2016

Patrons Berlin Graphic Days July 1 2016 by Suzanne ForbesWe chose to be there only for the Night Market on Friday from 6pm to 2am, which was the right choice given my health challenges and Daria having a full-time art job.

However, there was definitely not as much action Friday night as there is during the Saturday session, and we missed some amazing fellow artists who didn’t make the Friday event. We both sold a few things (Daria’s cool F*ck u I’m Evil bags sold out instantly) and met some lovely people, and friends came to see us. You can see the delightful scene here– be warned the link takes you to Facebook 😛


I made some drawings of people with fabulous hair.

Suzanne Forbes July 1 2016 Berlin Graphic Days

It was the first time I’d tabled at an event in quite a few years, maybe since 2009, and in between I’ve had some ridic-ass health issues that mean my energy level seems to be permanently much lower. I’m a spoonie, at least for now, and just can’t do all the things I’d like to.

Suzanne Forbes July 1 2016 Berlin Graphic Days


Still, at the end of the night Daria and I were whipping out portraits for people, and it was heavenly.

And I got to visit Urban Spree at last. And it is amazing, a crazy fuck-you honey badger of a venue where artists rule and the feasting and drinking goes til dawn.