I wanted to make a special gift for my brother and his awesome family. My nieces are talented softball players and my brother and sister-in-law spend countless hours at ball fields watching their girls play.
I looked for inspiration for softball themed make-overs and I found some interesting baseball ideas but they all looked very boyish. Not that I was going to paint something pink and frilly, but really, these girls needed a shout-out.
I owned four benches, which is about three too many. A bench would suit the purpose very well because I’ve watched my nieces play and witnessed the whole family drag themselves, satisfied and exhausted, back home. And when you feel that way, there’s really no place like home. Are catching on to the theme here?
I forgot to take a “before” picture of the bench but I managed to catch it after I sanded the top.
I stained the top, let it dry, and and then flipped it over to drill four holes in the cross bar at the bottom. I made sure they were spaced equally. I can be finicky about things like that. I’ll save the reason for holes for later. I’m sure the suspense is killing you.
I designed my plan for the top, which included resizing the exact dimensions of home plate. This is another example of how finicky I can be. Now for my brilliant double entendre (stolen from a photo of a doormat). I had mapped it out in Photoshop. Note the guidelines I included.
I transfered the image with graphite paper.
I decided on a paint pen to outline the smaller lettering. The pen was red but on the stained wood it came out kind of pinkish. That wasn’t bad. A little girly, but not too much. I taped around home plate, loving all those straight lines, and painted it Old Ochre. I even “dirtied” it by dry-brushing a mixture of Old Ochre and Graphite.
After I was finished patting myself on the back, I painted the H, M and E with Graphite, trying to resist perfection as I swung my calligraphy brush along the curves of the lettering.
I applied two coats of Old Ochre to the base.
Then I had a sinking feeling, as if I was stealing second and the outfielder was on the ball.
I’d read on the internet that chalk paint would hold up in the great outdoors. You can’t always count on the internet, but you can always count on your coach. I messaged Amanda Peppard, the owner of Suite Pieces. She explained that untreated chalk paint was good-to-go outdoors BUT it wouldn’t protect whatever was underneath. The wood I’d painted was already ready for weather. A hip-thumping slide and safe on second! Thanks Coach!
Remember those four holes I drilled? Are you still dying of suspense? That’s where I screwed four softballs. (NOT baseballs.) I’d pre-drilled the softballs and used a nice long wood screw to attach them from the bottom.
Back in the dugout, my pinkish lettering wasn’t standing out as much as I wanted it to. I took out my paint pens for another pass.
The thing about paint pens is that you have to shake them once in awhile and, like banging the dirt off your cleats with a bat, the stuff flies everywhere. I tried removing a few but the stained wood had absorbed those little paint bombs. A swing and a miss. Pass the Gatorade.
I gave up and sealed the top with two coats of polyurethane, paint bombs and all.
I surprised my brother and his family with their bench after a double header. They were thrilled and amazed. Thrilled and amazed always gives me a good feeling, especially when it comes from my sports idols.
I pointed out my imperfect pink dots to my sister-in-law. She asked me the most amazing question. “Do you know what the enemy of “good’ is?” My 15-year-old niece chimed in before I could even begin to think of an answer. “Better!”
What I learned:
- Do not shake a paint pen anywhere near your project.
- Untreated Chalk-painted surfaces will hold up outdoors but will not protect the surface underneath.
- “The enemy of good is better” – Voltaire.
P.S. Did you know that before Judy Garland stamped “There’s no place like home.” on our hearts in The Wizard of Oz, the chart-topping song in the 1800’s was “Home Sweet Home”, which includes the same phrase–over and over again?