Tuesday, July 30, 2013

We're floored

Tom stained the sanded floor yesterday and it looked pretty good.  Today we put the first coat of polyurethane on it and WOW!  It made the beauty of the wood pop!  It gave the wood a richer, deeper tone, and it even made the imperfections look good.  Tomorrow we put on the second coat, and then we start the whole process over on the other half of the floor.  Frustratingly time consuming, yes, but now we know it's well worth all the time and effort.

You can see the difference the polyurethane makes in the
color of the wood and how it accentuates the wood's grain.

This photo is unretouched! The dividing line between the newly
sanded, stained and varnished floor on the left, and the dirty,
undone floor on the right waiting its turn to
become beautiful. 

Another new teacher on board!

We have another fantastic teacher joining us.  He's Michael Kingcaid, a Fountain Hill resident and recent grad of NACC.  He's going to be teaching some great drawing classes, and is especially excited about teaching comic-book drawing. 

Michael co-wrote and stars in "Dead End" the short film that was partly filmed in our building (see blog post "I'm ready for my close up Mr. DeMille," January 5, 2013).  "Dead End" is in the running to be in the New York Film Festival.

His self-portrait sums it up perfectly:

Here's a link where you can check out some of his cool stuff:


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Doors and floors

Our contractor put on badly-needed new front doors.  The old ones were in such bad shape that on humid days, the wood swelled and we had a hard time getting them to close so we could lock them.  We were very happy to see them go!  Unfortunately, the transom over the top of them was pretty rotted and in bad shape as well, so we won't be able to re-use the original, but we are getting a new replacement. 

The sanding of the floors continues.  This week we're going to stain and polyurethane the one half of the floor we sanded, and then next week we'll continue with sanding the other half.  It's slow going, but it's well worth the time and sweat investment.

We also got another teacher on board this week!  Her name is Jenn Horvath, and she's a fine arts teacher at Phillipsburg High School.  She's a nationally award winning potter, and she's really excited to help us set our pottery studio up and teach classes.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Our Newest Guardian Angel

Luckily for us we've been taken under the wing by a local contractor and all around good guy named Donny.  He lives up the street and has a stellar reputation, with good reason - he does amazing work, he knows everybody in the area, everybody knows him, and he knows where to get the best deals on materials.  Long story short - I think he feels for us, a couple of newbies who just may have gotten in over their heads by renovating an old 8,100 square foot building. 

We contacted Donny about building a handicap ramp in the front and replacing the front doors, which led to a discussion about our water problem in the basement.  In a matter of one week, Donny had taken part of the front fence down, pulled a very stubborn and huge stump out of the front corner of the property whose roots were so deep and embedded, it was probably allowing water to seep down into the basement, then had a buddy of his drop 18 TONS of stone on the front lawn and use a small dozer to grade it properly so the water flows away from the building and not into it.  Donny doesn't mess around - he gets stuff done and he gets it done right!

In the last couple of days we also:

* Got 3 dehumidifiers and put them in the basement.  They are supposed to pull 70 pints of water from the air per day.  Their containers have been filling pretty rapidly, and the stones on the walls already appear to be drying.  Success!
* Continued the sanding of the floors - 2 passes with the heavier grade sandpaper and one pass with the lighter grade.  After we got all of the grime off, we found out they are not oak as we thought, but actually maple.  They look beautiful!  See pictures below.

This is what one ton of top soil looks like...

...and this is what 18 TONS of stone looks like! 

It may not look pretty, but the handicap ramp will be built over it,
and Donny left a strip of grass in the front so we can plant
something there.  The guy thinks of everything!
It's graded so the water will run off into the side yard and
away from the building.

The giant stump and fence are gone!

The gallery area floor after being sanded 3 times -
2 passes with heavy grade paper and once with lighter

Our working conditions for the past 3 days.  We can't turn the
air on because we're sanding.  It's pretty bad when you have to
go outside to cool off...during a heat wave.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Tom's Stripping! (the floors)

The floor sanding has begun!  We rented a drum sander from Home Depot today and began stripping the floors of 100+ years of dirt and wear.  It's a pretty slow and arduous process.  It's also surprisingly stinky.  There's a smell that's a mix of chemicals and dirt released during the process that can be a bit stomach churning at times.

Tom is doing all of the sanding - I'm not allowed to touch the machine.  My job is to hold the cord so he doesn't run over it with the sander (again).  First he'll sand with a heavy grade sandpaper, then he'll go over it with a finer grade.  After that we'll stain it and then give it a coat or two of polyurethane to protect it.  It's in pretty rough shape in some spots, but that's okay, all those dings and scratches give our floor lots of character!  Here's what it looks like so far...



Side by side comparisons

Monday, July 1, 2013

Rainy Days and Mondays Always Get Me Down

Here Comes the Rain Again; Who'll Stop the Rain; Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.  Why do I have so many songs about rain going through my head right now?  Because we're having a water problem in the basement, and it feels like it's never going to stop raining.  I mean, I love a rainy night as much as Eddie Rabbit, but come on!  Check out the weather forecast - and don't forget about the flash flood warning in effect until tomorrow night.  Yippee!

What was promising to be an exciting week of finally refinishing the upstairs floors turned into a disappointing disaster this morning.  Standing water for the first time in the basement instead of just seepage and dampness.  So, I guess we'll have to do some more work to try to fix the problem before we do anything else.  We have 3 large dehumidifiers on order that should be here by the end of the week, but until then, it's all hands on deck with the mops, ye swabbies!