Creators, today we're pleased to get a glimpse into the world of @whitfordj: long term member, Superfan, and hubcap hobbyist.
Why did you join Creator's Studio?
I joined Creator Studio after I happened upon Rust-Oleum via Instagram. It mentioned the Creator Studio which sounded interesting. I love sharing ideas with other crafters. Also, my hobby is painting hubcaps and upcycling various items, and since I use so much Rust-Oleum spray paint on my hubcaps and projects, I thought it looked interesting to join, especially if I could try out new products or colors.
What's your favorite part of the Creator's Studio community?
My favorite part of the Creator Studio community is sharing ideas with others. I love to see what others produce. I love to use those ideas on projects on my own. I have enjoyed getting to know some people virtually. I feel like I have friends on this site even though we've never met in person. I also LOVE the challenges.
How would you describe yourself/occupation to a complete stranger?
By occupation, I am a high school English teacher. I've been teaching (and previously in administration) for 27 years now. Therefore, I thoroughly enjoy my summers off to craft and create. In the summer I become a crafting, painting fool. I LOVE to upcycle pieces I find on the side of the road, garage sales, and thrift stores. I am a thrift store regular. I love to breathe new life into a piece in which someone else sees no value. I also like to save money when I don't have to buy the same thing new. For example, this summer I rescued a gas fire pit that was old, a bit dented and full of rust. I cleaned and repainted, and it worked like a charm which saved me at least $200 bucks. My husband has a fit when I call him and say "get the truck", but he has to admit that my finds have been worth the effort to clean, spray paint and reuse.
What creative areas do you like to focus on?
I love to upcycle or to take an idea and make it myself. I can see something that I like and make it for myself (or my daughter) at less than half the cost, which also makes the piece more meaningful than buying it from the store. I love to paint on canvas and hubcaps. Painting hubcaps is my favorite thing to create. I've painted over 100 of them. Each one has been found on the side of the road and turned into a piece of art. There are endless possibilities when painting hubcaps. It also solved my door "wreath" issue. Since I live in Florida, wreaths on the front door simply bake and dry rot in the sun, lasting one season before needing to be replaced. Using hubcaps instead took care of having to purchase a new one every year/every season. I also enjoy salvaging old furniture. I'm not a fan of sanding or painting furniture, nor am I an expert in stains or other wood projects, but I do my best. I can usually elicit the help of my husband on those big projects.
What is your favorite Rust-Oleum product? How has it helped with your DIY projects?
I love Rust-Oleum spray paint of course. I probably have over 50 cans right now in my garage, but somehow I'm always out of the color I need! My favorite color lines are the metallics. I think I use the gold paint the most. I love how they cover any project that I'm using. I'm also a huge fan of the Testor Shimmer paints, but they are hard to find. Michael's seems to be the only store that carries them, and they are always out.
What interests you most about DIY projects?
My primary motivation is saving money. I'm frugal. I go by PennyPinchingJenny on Instagram! I hate spending money on something that I could make myself. If you could walk through my house, I have probably made at least half of what's in it, upcycled something or found it at a garage sale, thrift store, or found on the side of the road. I like the challenge and creativity in making it. I also like trying new techniques and tools. While I don't have a table saw, I'm pretty handy with my mouse sander, jigsaw, and electric hand saw.
What's the best DIY project you have completed and how did you accomplish it? What's the most difficult project you have tackled?
My best and most difficult DIY project was tackling my unfinished garage/basement. When we moved into our house, we had two garages. The previous owner had a second garage that was unfinished which is like a basement since I live on a hill. It was unpainted with a concrete floor and concrete brick walls. It really was unused wasted space. It was too dark and dingy, so my daughter was afraid to play downstairs. So, I decided to paint it and turn it into a Yankee room for my husband. I started painting the walls a brownish color which was supposed to look like a baseball glove color. I painted the whole thing myself (remember, it was a two car garage) with concrete walls soaking in the paint. I saved the top two rows of bricks and painted them in Yankee navy blue. When my husband saw it, his first reaction was that it looked too much like the Mets! Sooo, I had to buy a deeper brown, and we diluted the paint and rag washed it on the walls which then gave it a textured, leather glove look. He then painted the white pin stripes on the navy blue. Then I had him paint the ceiling red, which sounds crazy, but looks great. I had to find a way to cover the ugly metal garage door, so I bought cheap rolls of navy and tan fabric and made curtain panels that I attached with heavy duty magnets. We have since replaced the door with a slider, but try finding a curtain rod the length of a two car garage and attach to concrete brick without bending in the middle since you can't attach a supports or you can't slide open the curtains. I solved that problem by buying a long piece of chain link fence rod so I could slip on curtains, but easily slide open since it has just a center support. My husband attached two baseballs to the ends. The metal rod goes right with the baseball theme. Then I found a shelf in someone's trash that was homemade out of the heavy pressboard or particle board. I nearly broke my back trying to get that into the back of my truck. I painted it in red and blue and because it has slots, it was perfect for all his program memorabilia. I also camouflaged the steps and the storage underneath with those fabric curtains, attaching his Yankee pennants. We found Yankee round placemats on a trip to NY which we spray adhesived to the brick wall. We bought a red couch and loveseat, added indoor/outdoor carpet on the concrete floor, and all his Yankee stuff. I had old wood end tables with glass inserts that did not fit my new family room, so I moved those downstairs and placed his baseball cards underneath like display tables, so you can now see all his memorabilia. It has evolved over time, but it was probably my most creative and challenging design-on-a-dime DIY projects I took on.
If you could create any type of project (with no limitations), what would you design and why?
My dream project would be to build a she shed so I actually could have a place for crafting and painting. I LOVE the she sheds that are made out of recycled doors and glass windows, but I would settle for a normal shed if I could build one. I would paint it pink and fill it with all my treasures and finds, paints and projects. I might even share it with my two "not-so-feral any more" cats. I had created a crafting room for myself after doing the basement, but now my husband works from home, so it became the office.
Tell us something about yourself that most people don't know about you.
Unless you know me really well, you might not know that I am extremely passionate about cats and animals in general. I currently have 1 dog and 8 cats, 2 of which are my daughter's and are temporarily visiting. All my animals have been "found" as strays. I went to a bed-and-breakfast and came home with the love of my life, my dog, Benny. My two senior cats were found as kittens. I have trapped and released and tried to find homes for over 20+ cats in my neighborhood. My other cat adoptions began with one feral female cat that I trapped only to find out that her clipped ear meant she had already been spayed. That's how I learned about the TNR programs. After that, my house became the safe haven for many more ferals; however, if they eat at my house, they have to be fixed. So, I found my own trapper cage at the Salvation Army and began fixing as many that would come for a meal. Luckily I have a wonderful organization in my city that fixes them for free or extremely low cost. I have made a dent in the cat colony that exists in my neighborhood and stopped the breeding. I have brought in three of my outdoor clan, and currently have two other "fat boys" who remain reliant on me for food. The other cats that I have fixed have other feeders in the neighborhood. I'm known as the "cat whisperer" since the "feral" cats eventually come around for me to handle.
What's the best advice that anyone has ever given you?
I can't think of any specific words of advice, but rather a life lesson in general. I share this story with my students (when we read Emerson and Thoreau) who I think suffer from the same affliction. I'm a bit of a perfectionist and used to be even worse. Well, it interfered with my creativity since I didn't always like what I created. My grandmother painted, my grandfather was an art teacher, my dad was extremely creative and could build anything, my mom could sew and craft anything, so I guess I put that pressure on myself to be just as good as they were. One day I decided I was going to paint something on canvas. After a trip to New York City I had a beautiful photo of Central Park. I started to paint it but stopped halfway through because i didn't think it was good enough. In fact, I stuck the canvas in my closet for several years. It wasn't until much later that I came to realize that I was painting for myself, no one else. I didn't need to hold up my painting to a Picasso; I didn't need to worry if someone thought that it was terrible. So, I decided to try my hand at painting again; however, I wouldn't let myself start something new until I finished what I had started. I finished my painting of Central park. I show my kids at school where my greens don't match up because I had to buy new paints after all those years. I try to show my kids that no one is perfect, and sometimes we are our own worst critics. We have to be able to live with our own flaws and accept them. I also tell them that there is this great thing known as primer when you just want to start over. Anyway, I think this is how crafting and painting has become like therapy.
What book(s) are on your nightstand right now?
Solid Seasons written by Jeffrey Cramer is currently on my shelf. It is about the friendship between Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. I am a fan of Thoreau and his book, Walden. I also have a stack of classic books to read, mostly American writers, since I teach American Literature. I try to read what my students are reading, old and new.
What's your all time favorite food?
I love Thai food, but probably my favorite food is rigatoni with marinara sauce, especially from Olive Garden. If you mean favorite desserts, now that's another story. I have a definite sweet tooth and could eat endless petit fours, cream horns, chocolate ice cream and Italian cookies. However, if you were to look in my pantry, you'd probably find more cat food than anything else!
Thanks for taking the time to let us get to know you better @whitfordj!