I have to say when I got off the plane to do this job for my sister in law I had no idea what was in store for me or how amazing this project was going to end up. What started out as a week long project doing cabinets and a simple wall finish turned into a three week learning experience slash love fest with a few of my decorative finishing colleagues.
It all started when Nathan was giving a class at The Chicago Institute of fine finishing. I had not intended to attend but my sister in law Dale encouraged me to go as long as we could work in the evenings. Dale realized how important this class was to me and I was glad to oblige her. In class Nathan was making columns out of dry stacked stone. I have not had the opportunity to carve stone so this was the perfect chance. I learned about layout, carving, prep, and color. My classmates were a very talented and good group to work with and I learned allot about the system.
After class I asked Nathan if he would be interested in assisting me on the kitchen project as now I had gone from a simple Travertine finish to wanting a dry stack look m (You think class had anything to do with it??) He agreed to help. Then I went to my classmates and asked if they wanted to get some practical experience after class and offered them the opportunity to help. For those of you that have taken a class and forgotten all that you learned in a week you know how valuable a chance like this is to learn the ins and outs of this craft.
Nathan showed up and my nephew Danny and I started mixing concrete and Nathan and I started putting up concrete above the cabinets in a 1’ veneer (I was trying to save time seeing as I was leaving in four days) as we started Gary one of Nathan’s students and now a very dear friend of mine showed up and started pitching in. We worked all day and Nathan and Gary stayed late to complete the 1st phase. After they left I received a call from Kris one of the girls from class and she had just finished her job and offered to help. We worked until about 11:30 that night and she offered to come help the next day. Dale and I worked until 3am on the cabs so as not to get behind.
Day 2 “Go large or go home”
Nathan showed up and we got started. All of a sudden we were using more mix then before and the relief was about 2-3” (Mind you this was in drywall with no lath and only the scratch coat we put on the day before) I was like Excuse me but what happened to my veener? ….Nathan said he was not used to working so flat…Go large or go home I said. Who was I to argue with the master..lol On Sunday I attended a party at my friend Jodi’s and saw Sigi, Tracy, and Linda and told them of my quest. They have all worked in so called vertical concrete (micro toppings) and were very curious what was going on…I think they new I never do anything small..lol
Tuesday afternoon Sigi visited and lent a hand bringing a few friends and ladders from her son (Thank you!) and from there we had people coming out of the woodwork to help. Dale’s friend Penny helped and Linda came who said “I’m a muralist I don’t do faux” After watching Linda sling concrete and clean out I now consider her a great finisher and friend. Kris showed back up and carved a wall soup to nuts and did a great job. I don’t know how I would have done it without them.
At lunch after she was done slinging concrete Sigi got into a conversation about food with Danny and soon ordered food for all of us and went and picked it up…Best Barbeque in town…They truly love their food and know were to get it..Thank you Sigi.
Dale and I worked with Kris till 1:am finishing cleaning out and Dale kept cleaning up (God bless you Dale)
Day 3 My day
On the 3rd day I spent the whole day carving with Nathan and Gary showed up to clean out while Danny mixed concrete. Gary did a great job and turned some of my smaller stones to rubble which looked so cool. I finished my beams and carved my initials in a log to sign my work..looks cool.
Day 4 Change ticket
After a ticket change and a almost divorce we started coloring. We have a flagstone fireplace in the adjoining room so we had our muse. We kept the colors light and used the oxide tones…looked sick! My brother came home and I asked his input. He is older and more anal then his gay brother. He had a couple of problems and Nathan being the true professional that he is blue taped the stones and we changed them to his liking. (Allot easier then I thought)
Nathan had never done a floor before and neither had I ..Especially one as bad as this one no skim stone micro topping for this floor …
I went to Specco were they make Vertifaux and asked the chemist Zed what to do…They hooked me up with the proper mix, bonder, and patch and away we went. Specco is an amazing co. they can help you with anything you need and make all kinds of products besides vertical mixes I HIGHLY recommend them.
After patching the floor I asked one of Danny’s friends “Spaz” to help with the layout. This guy has a blood disorder and a bad ankle but it never slowed him down a bit he laid out the floor in no time. Danny and their other friend “Copan” started mixing concrete and away they went. I taught them how to stamp and use release agent. Within hours the beams were done and we were off for sushi (another one of Danny’s choices)
I wanted to make the floor look like flagstone slabs to match the backsplashes so I did them in slabs. It looks great. I did half one day and the rest the next so I had some were to stand. On the second day Gary showed up with his wife and kids and I had the kids help me with the stamping. It was the coolest sight seeing those kids stamping that floor they were so excited to be a part of the project…Then they went and played with our horses and donkey…Sorry Gary for getting them hooked on horses…make sure you bring them back to clean stalls that usually curbs it…but I think your daughter is hooked bad. Poor Gary the beginning of the end.
Day 3 Color
I colored the floor after washing off the release agent (Much easier vertically ) and it looks great. Linda stopped buy again and shadowed the floor…not bad for a MURALIST…lol
She also helped me choose a proper beam color by retouching my beams in Photoshop
It was a big help.
On Saturday after postponing my trip a second time I decided to have a party for everyone that helped on the project and their family and friends. It was also an opportunity for everyone to see the unveil of the kitchen and take pictures. I staged the room and started mixing cocktails and cooking salmon from my Alaska trip. Everyone brought food and we had a great evening. I want to thank all the people that were a part of this project for all your time and goodwill. If it was not for you I would still be there….xoxo