Posts Tagged With: home decore

Delicate Beauty of the Paper Wasp.

Bringing the outdoors in”, is often a decorator term that means using natural materials for home decorating and design. It is not uncommon for people in West Virginia to collect all kinds of natural wonders, often it is the delicate paper wasp nest.

Over the years I have been fascinated with the beauty of the things in nature here in the hardwood forest. I often take photos of mushrooms,flowers, and plants that grow on the forest floor. I collect birds nests and nuts that fall from oak and walnut trees. Yet, the most intricate of all the natural finds is the summer home of the paper wasp. I have often had friends and family members who have displayed them with pride in their homes and businesses.

Carrie Shupp’s Paper Wasp nest collection, Elkins,W.V.
Image of a traditional shaped paper wasp nest via e-bay

The nests are made up of chewed up wood pulp and wasp saliva. The pulp is placed in repeated thin layers around a central core of cells that are the home to all of the wasps larva. It is their home for only one summer season. A good fall frost will kill off not only the larva but also the mature wasps living inside. Fall rain and winter snow are deadly to a wasp nest. Water of any kind will slowly deteriorate the nest before spring. So the challenge of capturing a nest before winter is tough.The goal of the collector is to keep the delicate paper and cells in tact and preserve the nest for the future. It is possible to bag (cover with a trash bag and tie it off) a live nest to try to collect it, but the risk of being stung multiple times makes this way of collection dangerous. Wasps are territorial and will defend their home with hundreds of swarming stinging insects if you threaten their home.

Over the years I have heard several stories of why people collect the nests. Some used them in homeopathic medications, some collect them for display, while others use them to ward off other wasps from building near their homes. I have never tried the fallowing remedy or used a nest to ward off other wasps but I will share these unique stories anyway and let you be the judge of if they are worth the effort.

It was my friend and horse trainer, Red who was the first person who explained to me that he used the paper wasp nest in his treatments for horses and other farm animals. If an animal got a injury that needed to have medication applied to the wound he would make a poultice with a wasp nest as part of the mixture. The paper was torn way from the nest placed into a bowl and crushed with a mortar and pestle.Other items for the poultice was added like leaves, oils and liquids, then mixed with the paper until it became thick and pasty. Then the mixture was applied to the wound. I don’t think the paper had any medicinal qualities other than as a suspension for other ingredients. With the mixture formed into a paper paste I think it would be easier to handle and be applied like a compress. I have never attempted to use a nest this way but it sounds like it would have been easy to make for our forefathers .

The logic of using an old paper wasp nest to ward off other nest building wasps is based on the territorial nature of wasps and hornets. It is rare to observe two nests close together because of in-fighting between swarms of wasps. It is believed that if a dead nest is kept in place, or a artificial nest is placed on a porch, it will prevent more nest building just by being seen by other wasps. The information found online says an artificial nest will keep other wasps from building about 200 feet from where it is hung. So if you can keep an old nest dry, it would be possible to reuse the nest as a natural chemical free wasp repellent.

Fake wasp nest found on line at Garden Supply.

Finally, The most common of all the uses for the delicate paper wasp nest is for decoration. I have found that the owners of the nests love the outdoors and the wildlife of West Virginia. They often have wild stories about how the nest was collected and who got the nest down from some far fetched branch. Often the nests are treated like a trophy, a physical reminder of a courageous adventure up a tree, where a person is face to face with what could be a live nest full of bees.

A friend of mine, Carrie Shupp, shared with me a the story of her cousin climbing a tree, 20 feet in the air, to cut a nest free one fall day. Without ropes or safety equipment her female cousin shimmied up a tree to cut a basket ball size nest free in the canopy of a hardwood tree. With nothing but a hand saw she slowly cut the branch that the nest was attached to and brought the nest back down in her mouth. I am sure I would have passed out from just the thought of getting stung in the face, but this young woman was not worried at all. Not all of the stories I have heard are quite as dramatic as this one, some are just about fallen trees that have huge nests hidden in them. Other friends have told of having nests in bushes behind barns where they are a danger to animals and people.The farmer shared with me that he sprayed the nest with chemicals and left it to dry for a few weeks. Then cut it free from the brush and brought it into the barn to show it off as a prize of the war between man and bees.

Every story is different, but each is about our relationship to nature. Some tails show man triumphant over the simple danger of a stinging bug. Others are about the challenge to gather the delicate paper as if it was a treasure worth risking our lives for. Some are about how they are needed for keeping animals and people healthy and how they are coveted as a tool for healing. Other stories are about the danger and the thrill of the capture. I don’t think any other items collected in the forest causes such a strong emotional reaction. These simple homes are loved and hated in equal measure, making a paper wasp nest a unique and fascinating conversation piece in a home, barn or office.

close up of leaf embedded in the side of a paper wasp nest.

damage shown to the bottom of a paper wasp nest where the cell structure inside the nest is visible.

I suggest that if you ever have the chance to own or collect a paper wasp nest that you take a little time to preserve the nest. Most people will suggest varnishing the nest but I don’t like to change the color of the nest with varnish so instead I use clear flat spray paint. Making sure not to saturate the outside of the nest to much. Let the nest dry and mount in a high dry corner of a room. Then share the wonderful story of how the nest came to be in your home and let people share their feelings about wasps and their nest with you. The nest will keep for many years if they are kept dry and away from curious pets and children.

Categories: bees, Home Decor, home remedies, natural remedies, wasps | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mason Jar Chandelier a DIY project: With Our Barn Wood Update

To add a real personal touch to the family room remodel Tom and I added two Mason Jar chandeliers. We removed an older ceiling fan/light fixture that did not properly light the large room and replaced them with 2 light boxes, with 6 bulbs of soft colored pendant lights. We got the idea from a looking at web pages that had barn wood and county rooms that had used Mason Jars as shades for light fixtures. Tom and I worked out what we wanted and the did some experimenting before settling on two lights instead of just one large one. This is what we ended up making out of the scrap wood left over from the walls. This is just one of the two light boxes we made.

Mason Jar chandalier made from old barn wood

Mason Jar chandelier made from old barn wood

Each box houses three lights (like the one above) and each light has a 40 watt clear appliance bulb inside a pint mason jar. Using the ring and seal as our bracket to support the jar. Each jar is removable can change in color or size, up to a quart jar with many decorative colors… This is my first combination Green, Clear and Blue. At some time in the future I will stain a few clear jars a warm yellow if Ball does not produce them soon!

The room looks like this with both light fixtures, you can see in the photo where the ceiling fan/light used to mount. These lights are about 8 feet apart and mount to ceiling rafters with brackets in our attic. The brackets attached to wooden blocks on the drywall part of the ceiling that slide into the wood boxes and attach with double-sided blots that have wood screws on one side and machine screws on the other, topped with acorn nuts and washers.

two  mason jar light fixtures installed and working ... yea!

two mason jar light fixtures installed and working … yea!

 

The lights are pretty easy to make and there are a lot of ideas on the internet, some have “how to” videos and others are just photos. So to explain what we did here I have added some photos and descriptions that may help if you to make these  yourself.

First, Tom and I had to decide three things, how much light we wanted, how many fixtures we wanted and finally how big should the shades be. So with a little test light that Tom wired up we started with clear quart jars and the idea of having 8 lights on one fixture using 90 watt clear bulbs. Wow that was just toooo bright.Unless we wanted to buy Edison light bulbs ( they appear sepia in color) at 9 dollars a bulb we had to come up with something less bright.

So we started to scale down what we wanted to make. The one big box idea changed to a two box light set up so that the light would fill the entire room and not blind people watching  the T.V.  Then we needed to rethink the amount of light we needed. I could have used the Edison bulbs at 60 watts they are still a less bright light than clear bulbs but the cost of the bulbs was just silly about ($100.00 ). The bulbs would cost more than the whole fixture.I still wanted clear bulbs so we went smaller and lower wattage. The standard 40 watt clear bulbs cost me 4 dollars for 4 bulbs, so the price was good and we could use a smaller shade and I had many jars to use.I have some clear jars and some colored already. I like the colored ones to use for drinking glasses,vases and candle holders. So I had no money in the colored pint jars and had lids and rings in my collection of canning supplies.

We then decided that 4 lights was really more than we needed wattage wise and the look of three pendants looks better than 4. So the two light boxes with three small jar covers with 40 watt bulbs became the plan. Tom made the boxes out of scrap wood we had left over from the Barnwood Builders remodel and drilled three holes for the light cord wiring. The wire was the most expensive portion of the fixture and we bought a 25 foot roll and had about 4 feet left over. Tom wanted the wire to match the socket and fill it completely so we kind over did what we needed to produce a 40 watt light but it looks great so the extra money was worth it in the long run.

light box with three holes the box face is 36 inches with a 1 inch frame on all sides

light box with three holes the box face is 36 inches with a 1 inch frame on all sides

Tom wiring in light cords into shallow wiring box

Tom wiring in light cords into shallow wiring

wiring for Manson Jar chandelier

wiring for Manson Jar chandelier

From here you can see how we could wire up more than one light to a single fixture. We mounted two Grounding Bars ( found in the fuse box section) to the side of a shallow blue wiring box. Each bar has room for several connections we would only use three on each bar. One bar is the ground and one bar is the hot,then the wiring box  mounted to the center of the light box with wood screws. The cords were then cut to length on the other side and a zip ties  applied to the cord so there was a stop on the cord. This prevents the weight of the shade and bulb from pulling on the cord and possibly pulling the cord out of the grounding bar. Then sockets attach to the cords. We used two-part sockets so that we could add the lid to the socket as the bracket to hold on the jar.

Adding sockets to cords of three Mason Jar light fixture

Adding sockets to cords of three Mason Jar light fixture

Chandelier light test

Chandelier light test

After adding the sockets to the cords it was time to make sure the wiring worked and add bulbs to see how bright the lights were. Tom just stripped an old extension cord down and wired it into the power bars on the inside of the box, plugged the other end into the wall outlet to see if what he had made worked properly; this is what I saw. Now we just needed to get the lids cut for the shades and add them to see if they were going to look good.

Cutting the lids was pretty easy if you leave the lids on the jars and tighten up the rings. Otherwise it is almost impossible to hold the lids in place with either your fingers or small clamps. Tom used a 32 mm hole cutter to cut the holes … the cutters hole is just shy of what we needed and the fit was rough from the cutter.

Standard 32 mm hole cutter to cut holes in canning jar lids

Standard 32 mm hole cutter to cut holes in canning jar lids

cutting hole in lid of Mason Jar for light fixture

cutting hole in lid of Mason Jar for light fixture

ruff hole cut in canning jar lid

rough hole cut in canning jar lid

To make the edges smooth and increase the size of the hole Tom used a small grinding stone bit in his drill. He ground off the edge until the socket fit into each hole and the edges are not super sharp. Then he fits each socket into the lid and drills ventilation  holes 4 each in the lid.

Tom grinding down the lid and enlarging hole for socket

Tom grinding down the lid and enlarging hole for socket

drilling 4 vent hole into lid of Mason Jar light shade

drilling 4 vent hole into lid of Mason Jar light shade

When complete the lids and rings were added to the sockets, then we screwed on the jars and tested again.

Mason Jar light shades... blue green and clear ready to add to light fixtuer

Mason Jar light shades… blue, green and clear ready to add to light fixture

Testing Mason Jar Lights these are ready to install

Testing Mason Jar Lights these are ready to install

The installation was a two person job as the boxes are heavy. The barn wood box with wiring is held in place while the wires connect at the ceiling for a long time. I would suggest using two ladders it makes installation much easier. Be prepared to use a strong set of arms as you push the fixture on to the screws hanging down from the blocks attached to the ceiling. Once in place we were so excited to see that they both worked and the light filled the entire room instead of only in the middle that we just stopped working for a couple of days to enjoy what it looked like.

View from back of room to front with both Mason Jar Chandeliers

View from back of room to front with both Mason Jar Chandeliers

 

We have also added a small sconce light to the back wall over my computer desk so that we can see at the desk without turning on all the lights. Again it needed rewired because I did not want to open up the wall to install it. Tom added a switch cord and we stuffed the cord between the boars on the wall. It works great and in the future I will get a brown cord and tack the cord in place.

New light sconce light fixture and some of the base board and ceiling molding

New light sconce light fixture and some of the base board and ceiling molding

So I am slowly getting the furniture back in place, photos hung and rugs put down. It will be next week before we have every thing back in place and I can take after photos but this gives you an idea of how far we have come. It has been more work then I imagined and took about a month longer then I hoped. But we did this ourselves no contractor was really needed.We did call on lots of friends and family to help out over the last 4 months and it was all worth it in the end. Can’t wait to share the after photos.

Categories: Barnwood, Barnwood Builders, DIY, Home Decor, home improvement, home remodeling, light fixtures, Mason Jars | Tags: , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Restore, Repair and Reuse an Old Coffee Table

Like many people my family lives on a limited budget. This means that the remodel of our house with the Barn Wood Builders has made us stretch every penny that we have extra every month as far as it will go. So when I wanted a different coffee table for the “NEW” room I had to think out of the box on how to get some thing we could afford. At first we started looking at new coffee tables…. then sticker shock set in. We had to try to find some thing used as I just could not see paying 300 to 450 dollars for wood coffee table.

So after a couple of weekends  we ended up at a local antique/ new furniture store that sells just about everything. On the top floor of the store, in a back corner, under another table, hidden away because it was so ugly, Tom found a table. It turned out that the table was a very used late 1960 to 1970  sold wood coffee table, with a leather stamped top. It was ugly and burnt and dog chewed and he loved it. So for the very reasonable price Tom said this was the “one” and we packed the ugly thing into my little Chevy.

Damaged top of coffee table

Damaged top of coffee table

 

side view of damaged coffee table

side view of damaged coffee table

close up of the amount of dirt and damage at the corner of table

close up of the amount of dirt and damage at the corner of table

The finish had chips, the top had burns from cigarettes and one leg was dog chewed, leaving the finish a different color then the rest. I was not sure what we would do with the table but my first thought was to tile the top with some of our left over tile and just stain or paint the base and call it done. Well some times you get a surprise that you are happy with before you reach the end of a project.

I first applied a stripper to the table and waited the recommended ten minutes and began to remove all the old finish. It took two complete coast of stripper to get all the finish off and  I washed the table off with a garden hose. Then I removed the leather top. The top was real leather that had an embossed gold leaf printed into the edges. I found a loose corner and began to pull and pry the leather away from the wood top below as carefully as I could. I did not want to damage the tables wooden top just in case I needed it later. This is what was left when I finished removing all the finish

stripped table with out leather top.

stripped table with out leather top.

As you can see in the photo the glue still remained in some places and would not come off with stripper… I tried and it was not going come off that way. I also really got a good look at the wood and the color of the table. To my surprise the back had a light-colored strip of wood and one leg was almost white after stripping.

back view of stripped table

back view of stripped table

So I let the table dry for a couple of days and started to sand the remaining finish off the table and it was looking pretty good but I really had no idea what was under the glued covered top until the sanding started. I sanded the top with a 220 grit paper on my orbital sander and the beautiful grain slowly appeared. This was not just a fill in top made from some second-rate wood. I was so happy to see the table top was the same wood as the rest of the table. It was the same color and would take stain the same way. This changed all of my ideas for the top. I sanded the entire table again with 400 grit paper and made the choice to finish the whole table the same way.

After a couple of days I stained the table with two coats of stain… the first being a stain called Gun Stock that should have been a nice darker maple stain. but turned our table orange. It looked funny and I was very unhappy with the first coat. This is what the Gun Stock stain looked like.

red orange color of the first coat of stain.

red orange color of the first coat of stain.

So after a day of dry time I added a coat of Cherry stain to darken the wood and bring out more of the contrast of the gain of the wood.  This was a good combination and we both loved it. Not to dark but not orange.

second coat of stain in cherry with out top coat

second coat of stain in cherry with out top coat

close up of the grain on the hidden top of the table

close up of the grain on the hidden top of the table

 

I finished the table with a wax rubbed on finish and we are still debating if we want to add a glass top to protect all of my hard work. I may need to get my coasters out for now just so I don’t mess up the finish. As you can see the old table that we spent less the 100 dollars for with stripper and stain is a real bargain over the 400 dollar table I feel in love with at the furniture store.

I really enjoyed this part of my summer projects it reminded me that we can recycle, reuse most well made furniture. It makes me smile when I look at the difference I have made and that my home has a personal touch of my handy work. I laugh when I know that if this table was back in the store it would not be hidden way in the back with the discards, but would be up front with a price tag that would be double what I have in it. Some times thinking out side the box is so much more fun then just buying new!

Categories: furniture, Home Decor, recycling, refinished furniture | Tags: , , , , , | 11 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.

Daydreaming Millennial

Come for the thoughts, stay with the journey.

Monkeying Around

Monks, monkeys and monkeying around. An adventurous life.

The Midnight Ember

An Ember for Thought

Elder Mountain Dreaming @ gmail

Ptaki Mądrości (Birds of Wisdom) Dreaming, Lunar Cycles, Soul Healing, Creative Emotional Work, Journeys, Mirrorism, Sacred Art

Dreaming Reality

If Existence is a dream, let us dream perfection....

alifeofvanity.wordpress.com/

For anyone who has ever thought of attempting the #vanlife, A Life of VANity is an unfiltered, realistic look at the unglamorous day-to-day happenings of life in a Chevy G20 Conversion van. Unlike other #vanlife blogs, A Life of VANity is here to show you that it isn’t all roadtrips and ocean-side views, and that there’s nothing wrong with living in a backyard or two.

Beyond the Campfire

Stories of exploration

Thrifty Campers

Nature knows no such barriers

Missmackenzierose

Dream-Explore-Discover

Camellia's Cottage

Alabama Lifestyle Blog

Free to express

thoughts, experiences, travel, feelings, stories, diaries and many more...

Appalachian Housewife

The Mullens' Family's Journey Running The Pioneer Farm at Twin Falls State Park

Recipes by chefkreso

Cooking with imagination

Trish the Dish

Keeping Our Family's Bellies and Minds FULL.... One Dish at a Time

%d bloggers like this: