Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Dreadful Egg Carton Stones

Last week I was delighted at all of the mini time that had suddenly been dropped in my lap. It seemed like things were progressing quickly, and I could see the project taking shape. You know - the exciting part when your vision becomes tangible!

Then, the next step arrived - the dreaded egg carton stones. I was enthusiastic about doing them! That was until I had worked on them for many, many hours over two days. Then I realized my pace had slowed to a crawl. So much for progress...



The cutting and applying part, though excruciatingly long, went fairly well. I used the pattern from the vacation photo of the Mt. St Helens path wall as a guide. I loved how they looked and thought maybe they just needed a bit of dimension.




Okay - I'll just sponge on a little paint in contrasting but muted colors. That ought to do the trick. Well, it might have, if I could just leave well enough alone. But I can't. 47 years on this planet and still I can't just Leave Well Enough Alone! I swear, they looked fine on Saturday evening.



They didn't become completely disagreeable until I had the Grout Idea on Sunday! You see, I had several different grout options, but each also had a drawback:

1. The powdered grout from the hardware store where you just add water. Drawback - It was already colored, and being a bit of a medium brown just didn't fit with the vision for the project.

2. Spackling compound. Drawback - Too easy!

3. The tub of mosaic tile grout that I purchased from Northwest Art & Frame in 2002 which by now of course was a completely hard and solid rock inside the container. Drawback - Why, none of course! Let's prove a point and bring to life and make new again something completely dead and useless! Frankenstein was not crazy! He was a visionary!

So once option #3 was chosen and committed to I began to attempt to resuscitate the dried up grout. I took a rather large Xaxto implement (to scare) and cut the substance into chunks and out of the container.  Once I had dispatched about half of said grout into a paper towel I added about 1/4 cup of hot water to the container with the remaining (now scolded, freaked out and ready to submit) grout. I let it sit a few moments after which time I further forced it into submission by smashing and stirring it vigorously with a large paint brush handle. After several minutes of such treatment the grout relented, and was just as liquidy smooth as the day it was purchased. Ha! Try to waste my $3.99 will you! To this now yielding batch I added more and more of the paper towel contents until I, once again and satisfied, had a full jar of perfectly good grout. :O)

I mixed in a little complementary color, put it in an applicator bottle and began the grouting process.......... It Was A Mess........... Apparently, little bitty chunks of the resistance party remained, clogging up my applicator bottle, exploding under the pressure and causing a great disaster of a mess. I stopped trying to apply the grout into the cracks, I began to, in frustration, pour great globs into my hand and apply the grout smearing and pushing and hoping some would make it into the places it was supposed to be! It Was Awful! Then it got worse...



Now, with warm wash cloth and sponge in hand, I began to attempt to try to remove the grout off of the rocks only to find that in the motion of scrubbing off the grout that the surface of the Egg Cartons were coming off too! Never Have I Ever Had This Kind Of Holy Terror With Egg Carton Masonry!!!

At this point I went to bed. To distract myself from the grouting horror with which I have never seen the like, and being at home alone (due to hubs and son doing an out of town job), I thought listening to the Dark Waters YouTube Channel would be just the thing to fall asleep to........... I have come to the understanding, after lying awake and afraid to move until 4:00 in the morning, that I am an appalling decision maker, and that apparently, my bad decisions come in groups. Unless you want to truly terrify yourself while home alone with "real" encounter stories, Never, Never Listen To Dark Waters!

The next morning I made the decision (remember? Me + Decisions?) to just coat all of it in a wash. I mixed a little of the grout color into some water and brushed a coat over everything. It does look a little better, but still so one dimensional. Now I have decided not to do Anything! I need to wait a few days and  see if I can figure out what to do next. More sponged on color? Some Mod Podge? Leave it alone? I am just afraid to do anything.

So, in the meantime, I am doing some trim and some detailing. Thank goodness, that is going much better than the Egg Carton Stones!




And, in other Bad Decision News I have resolved to quit being such a big sissy and just enter the darn HBS Creatin' Contest. I finally had a fun idea (my ideas are still okay) for the structure, and it's so fun to share with everyone! Don't think I'll start until this project is done, but I bet that decision will come back to Bite Me too!



24 comments:

  1. With your egg carton stones I always seal my stones with matt nod podge first and that way the carton doesn't dissolve. and I smear grout and then wipe it off and it turns out great. I do so love your humour.

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    1. JC can you believe that I did do the Mod Podge to seal the egg cartons? Two coats! I am guessing, based on the smell, that the mosaic grout contained something to weaken the Mod Podge. Thank you so for the suggestion - all we can do is laugh, right!

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  2. Your sass had me chuckling.....and my husband thought I was loosing my mind since he couldn't see the iPad over the blanket as we sat in the couch. I applaud your tenacity with the grout. I love the goes on pink, but dries white spacking that I texture with a wire brush. But I have also had success on my room box with the carton of powder plaster from Home Depot. Plaster + water + white glue and then paint in the mix to tint. It's held up and you end it with a life time supply of powered plaster.

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    1. Oh those are great tips! I doubt you'll find me using anything other than those in future egg cartonings!

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  3. I'm going to remember the mod podge trick. I think if you wait until its dry and then add some paint layers you'll get more dimension.
    Good luck with the Creatin' Contest! Can't wait to see what you come up with.

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    1. Thanks Sheila! It is an idea that I have had since 2012 but I finally realized a way that I could use this year's kit for. I hope it will be fun and that it turns out to be something I enjoy for a long time!

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  4. Oh! And HBS has partnered with some Instagramers for the new contest kit. You should check it out via their profile

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    1. Thanks for mentioning that, Kat! My daughter has been nudging me to Instagram for a while now. I'll check it out!

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  5. I am excited to see what you do for the hbs contest! I have yet to get anywhere on my egg carton stones - still just cutting out bricks from egg cartons !

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    1. It took me 9 years to get back into minis again, so you just take all of the time you need. Trust me, at some point in the future, you will find a lot more time for your personal passions. Then, you'll be on fire with it!

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  6. Your dedication to resurrecting century old grout is inspiring. It made me laugh reading your post because I can totally relate to the bad decision making. I think the stones just need a little variation in colour to define them. Maybe dry pastel dust so as not to drench them again. Good luck =0)

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    1. Thank you for the unity on the bad decisions - if you can pull out of them, there must be hope for me! The pastels are such a perfect suggestion, Pepper! Then if I muck it up again I can wipe it a bit and start over. I'll give that a shot!

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  7. I like Pepper's idea of the pastels. I'm a huge bad decision maker, but I usually get pissed, destroy and start over. Seriously, the stones don't look that bad. I think a little color variation will add a lot of dimension.

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    1. Thank you, Cyd! I agree about trying the pastels! The thought of ordering a new kit and starting over did cross my mind. I just wanted to tell myself that if it got too bad to fix, having a second chance at it is possible. Now I am at the pissed stage, and I will crush this project into submission! :O)

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  8. This seemed so familiar....I had a similar experience, refusing to give up on the applicator tip & the chunky grout....it took my weeks to do a few walls, and I was swearing at innocent inanimate objects to the point of abuse.....Thanks for making me laugh today!

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    1. I'm so glad it made you laugh! I laughed really hard at myself after the grouting incident. Like, what did I think was goin to happen trying to using a dried up and untested product. Duh! But, I am glad that our mini disasters just make us more determined instead of giving up!

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  9. So sorry you had such an experience!! Like JC mentioned above, when using egg cartons, or any other paper-type product for stones or bricks, I would definitely put a matte finish on first before attempting to grout. It works much better! However, I know you will persevere and emerge the victor!!! -Marilyn D., Oromocto, NB, Canada www.charminis.blogspot.ca

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    1. Thank you, Marilyn! Us mini builders do persevere, right! Never give up, just do it until we get it right!

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  10. Jodi, in your third photo the chimney looks so good because the grout lines are filled with shadows. Would you be able to recapture that look by painting in a dark colour between the stones? The stones will look great with some pastel definition as previously suggested but I think the grout has to be darker. I know that sitting there hunched over with a fine paint brush is just how you wanted to spend the rest of your mini time (evil laugh). The stone work is beautiful and good for you, I hope the contest entry goes well.

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    1. Oh Shelley you give me way too much credit for my painting skills! I can only imagine the exacerbated horror I would cause trying to paint the grout lines! (I am really laughing at myself out loud!)
      I did a bit of the artist chalk and it did help a bit. Then I tested a few varnishes and decided to go with Mod Podge and call it good enough. Next time I know to leave well enough alone and stop before I muck it up again!

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  11. And the minions want me to do a whole castle with those freakin' egg carton stones....

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    1. Oh but look at the church! You are so good with them!!! It's going to be gorgeous!

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  12. The house looks great I especially love the trim.

    When I did my egg carton bricks, I used a polycrylic after I painted them. After impatiently waiting for that to dry, I used caulk as my grout. What didn't come easily off the bricks added a nice white wash look.

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    1. Thanks Audra! I really like the look of old and whitewashed bricks! I bet it looks great!

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