Work Table Build

Up until recently, I had been printing on a makeshift table cobbled together from an Ikea closet door, and 2 too-tall kitchen cabinets.   As we all know, most Ikea furniture is sawdust, held together by mostly cardboard and veneers. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Ikea, but most of their ‘affordable’ pieces are not suitable for heavy use.  This cabinet rig-up situation was the latest in my line of attempts at making that slab door work as a table top. The rig-up worked okay for a few months, the height, the massive waste of space and clunky arrangement really started bothering me. Plus it was ugly. Its time was up.


My Old Table rig-up


I had been pushing off building the table I really wanted, because well, I’d have to build it.  I love building things out of wood, however I don’t do it more often because I don’t have the space to build things. Oh the things I’d build if I had space to lay out all my tools!

When I do build, It is usually out of necessity (Champagne taste, meet Kool-Aid budget, hello!).


I finally decided to build the table I really want, once and for all, instead of rearranging every few months in an attempt to compensate for what I didn’t have.


The inspiration. 

I saw this table on Pinterest, and decided that was the one.

Nancy Straughan’s desk

What I loved about it was the cubby sandwich underneath the work surface. Since I would be giving up some storage in the form of the lone drawer in the kitchen cabinet, I knew I’d need some place to keep my printing necessities.

I also loved the OSB surface for the industrial look. I had seen OSB used as flooring at a friend’s house and loved how clean and simple it looked. It was also shockingly smooth. I expected that it would be rough to the touch, but it really wasn’t. Plus it’s cheap, to be honest.

What I didn’t like so much in the picture above was the sawhorse legs. I wanted legs that would not eat up too much floor space (again, storage). I did some more Pinterest searching and saw this table:


Same table, but they built their own legs. I loved the little design detail of the tapered legs, but I didn’t think I’d be able to do all that… I figured I’d just leave the legs rectangular.

The first thing I did was to get to work on the legs.

We had a whole 12ft length of 2” x10” board left over from our recent basement steps remodel. I quickly cut it down to 4 29” pieces, using my compound miter saw. SN: It’s really best to use a circular saw if your miter saw does not cut all the way through the width of the board. It’s really hard to line up the board perfectly to cut the rest from the other side.

I quickly painted all sides of the legs, thinking that this assembly would come together fairly quickly, once I got the OSB.




And it would’ve, if I hadn’t had several detours… A wise woman once said, ‘don’t mistake detours for shortcuts’. I had an assortment of 2 x 4s left from a variety of projects, so I thought I’d cobble those together to make the cubby sandwich part.

My first attempt at the sandwich, using leftover 2x4s.

The only thing left to do was to go get the 2 OSB panels. Off to Lowe’s I went.

I then assembled the sandwich like so:


Open faced sandwich, part 1.

It looked straight enough laid, but…I quickly realized how hard it is to make a cubby sandwich with so many moving parts. Even more, it’s hard to do this blindly (screwing in the pieces from the top). After much heaving and ho’ing (haha!) I had half of the sandwich made. 

After flipping the assembly right side up, I wasn’t really pleased with how crooked the pieces were.  I tried to tell myself that I was fine with it, and that I wouldn’t really see that part of the table anyway, since it would be hidden. I went on to put the legs on:

Rectangular Legs installed

Through my mounting panic, I knew, that crooked cubbies would be problematic if I plan to put in rectangular bins. I also know that if I didn’t correct it now, I’d be rebuilding the table in a couple of weeks. The legs were also wobbly.  The example from ABM was very skimpy on details about the build, so I was guesstimating what they did. My table was also substantially larger than theirs, since I opted to use the full 4’x8’ sheets.

Anything worth doing, is worth doing well.

I decided to start over, and really build properly, or live to build again.

I looked at my dining table for inspiration on how the legs were attached. They were attached using the traditional ‘apron’ style, so I decided to do just that.  I also suspected that I would need to make pocket holes, to have really strong joints. The table was wobbly because I was putting in screws on the end cap of the boards.

I also realized that, I did not need to use 2×4’s for the aprons or the cubbies. The 1”x 4”s would do just fine. This also meant that the table would be not so massively heavy.

So, what I set off for Lowes. Again. I went in for 1 by 4s, I came out with 1×4’s and a Kreg Jig. A Kreg Jig is a tool for making pocket holes. Pocket holes allow you to make stronger joints.  This is a tool I’d been drooling over since I first saw it on Ana White’s website. Can I just say that the Kreg Jig blessed my very existence?! I mean, it made the assembly so much faster! It was definitely worth the money. 

Kreg Jig

The moral of the story is: use the right tools for the job!  

I was able to drill the pocket holes pretty quickly so that assembly went smoothly.

Drilled pocket holes.

I decided that I really wanted the tapered legs, so I got the right saw blade for my miter saw, and the cutting went really smoothly. I also decided to shorten the legs from the original 29”, down to 27”.

Here are the legs cut

From this point on, the assembly went pretty smoothly.

I put the cubby sandwich in for in-table storage. The long channel down the middle will be used to store long items like my T-square and bolts of fabric. The smaller cubbies will hold smaller bins of items I use fairly frequently.

Here is the mostly assembled table with the cubbies visible:

Cubbies visible before putting the top on.

One pesky detail I had to contend with, was the stamp put on by the manufacturers of the OSB panels. This stamp is put on to mark the panel in the event of theft. It makes for an unsightly mark on my table, so I ended up sanding off as much as I could. Nobody else mentioned this in their tutorial, so I assume this was not an issue for them.

So, 4 days after I started, I had my beautiful new table.

Completed, prior to sanding off the brand markings.


Here it is, with the top sanded and waxed.

So far I’m loving it! As you can see, I have wasted no time outfitting the cubbies with dollar tree plastic bins for storage in the cubbies. I also attached a curtain rod (really a 1/2″ conduit pipe) to mount a bolt fabric on when I want to cut. It is long enough to hold the bolt, a water bottle and a roll of paper towels.

Here is my materials list and a more more concise explanation of the steps I took, minus the missteps 🙂

I know this was a lot to take in, so please feel free to email me if you have questions.

Materials List:


2 each –  ¾” (or rather 23/32”) 4’ x 8’ OSB panels (used as is)

6 each  1” x 4” Pine boards (I sprung for the beautiful pre-sanded boards because I hate sanding)

1 each  2” x 10” x 12ft Boards (or 2 8ft, or 3 6ft  pieces to make up the legs)

1 ¼” screws (at least 50)

2 ¼” screws (at least 50)

Sample size white paint.

Annie Sloan wax.


Tools used:

Kreg Jig

Power drill with phillips head bit




Paint Brush

Palm Sander


Cut List:


Aprons: 2 each: 1” x 4” Pine boards:  88”

            2 each 1” x 4” Pine boards: 48”

Cubbies: 2 each 1” x 4” boards: 96”

              8 each: 1 x 4” boards 11 ⅞”

Legs: 4each  2” x 10” cut in a diagonal to your specifications. (mine were (9” at the top, 3 ½ “ at the bottom



  1. Paint all the legs, unless you intend not to paint.
  2. Drill pocket holes into the aprons,  cubby pieces, and leg pieces.
  3. Attach the long cubby pieces to one smooth side of the OSB panel, about 12” in from each long side, using 1 ¼” pocket screws.
  4. Attach short cubby pieces to long cubby pieces, 1 per side, spacing out as desired.
  5. Flip this assembly over and attach aprons, Attach aprons to what will be the underside of your table, approximately  2” in from the edge. Attach all 4 pieces, with the shorter pieces fitting in between the longer pieces.
  6. Attach legs to the Aprons, at the corners, on the inside of the “apron box”
  7. Flip the entire assembly over, so table faces up, with cubbies exposed.
  8. Attach the lid (2nd 4’ x 8’ piece) to the assembly. Screw in the perimeter of the table into the cubby pieces.
  9. Sand off the Stamped logo as much as possible, with the palm sander.. Give the entire table a smooth sanding.
  10. Paint the edges (mine were blue) of the OSB boards and the pine boards white and let dry.
  11. Apply wax with an old t-shirt.
  12. Enjoy your new work table and admire your handiwork!

Hostess Gifts Studio 2014

This past Sunday I held a Block Printing Studio workshop in partnership with Peace on Fifth, our local Fair Trade Shop. The focus was making Hostess gifts for all those holiday parties that you’re sure to be attending. We printed up napkins and coasters… How fun!


What I love most about teaching the printing classes is seeing what my students come up with. Sure I love printing for myself, but I can get kind of caught up in my own designs. It’s great to see what others with a different design aesthetic come up with. It is also so gratifying to see people who previously thought they weren’t artistic, suddenly discover that they are!


Here is the ever-meticulous Wendy planning her fabulous Mid-Mod design


And Celeste in the background…


There was paint, coffee and divine Fair Trade chocolates provided by Peace on Fifth!

Did you miss this one? There will be another on 11/24/14. We will be printingTote Bags! Sign up here.

This holiday season, don’t forget to buy handmade!

Fueling My Mojo–Doodling

In my effort to be a more effective Illustrator and Graphic Designer, I’m brushing up my doodling skills. Most of my designs tend to feature abstract whimsical geometrics. I really enjoy those, but I’d like to develop my skills to include other motifs. Seriously, don’t laugh at my sketches…


I generally prefer to use media where my mistakes can easily be erased, i.e computer sketching. If I mess up a line I can just ctrl +z out of it and redo it. Not so with hand drawing. This intimidates a lot of would-be drawers, because after all, you are forced to look at your mistakes. Because of this I end up starting my design on computer a lot of the time.

While effective, the computer is only a tool to carry out your ideas. It is not a replacement for skill. The  drawback with drawing exclusively on the computer is that you don’t really get to think through your design, which usually leads to wasting  a lot of time in front of the computer without having anything to show for it. At least if you sketch the old fashioned way, you may have a lot of goof-ups, but you also end up with a body of work for your time, and one of those goof-ups may have a kernel of a good idea that can be developed and refined.

So I’m facing my fears. I’m starting out with recipes (like cooking, no?)

Most people who don’t make a practice of drawing generally take one look at a finished drawing and decide that they can’t do it. The idea behind recipes is to break up each drawing into short, sweet, do-able components.  Like So:


from the book: “Craft-a-Doodle” by Jenny Doh.

You might initially take a look at the final Owl drawing and feel like you could never draw that. But if you can break it down to small lines and shapes (what I call small victories) the next thing you know, you’ve drawn a sweet little owl.

Here’s my rendition, in my signature imperfect style


The point of the exercises is of course not to just copy, but to develop your own unique style after you learn how to build basic shapes. Even though I followed the recipe, my drawing does not look like the example, though it looks like an owl. It looks like an owl that Yetunde  (and nobody else) drew.

So, I encourage you to bring out your inner illustrator. Everyone can draw, you just need practice.

Here are the books I’m using:

“Craft-a-Doodle – 75 Creative Exercises from 18 Artists” By Jenny Doh
”Zen Doodling” by Carolyn Scrace
”Creative Lettering, Techniques & Tips from Top Artists” by Jenny Doh

If you draw something, I’d love to see it!

The Curious Case of the Half-Wall Shower Stall

So in my last post I told you about how I just love showers, and how my vintage home did not have one when we first moved in, but I didn’t show you the said shower.  The lone bathroom in my house it tiny and cramped. To make matters worse, it only has 2.5 walls instead of the 3 that you need to have a bona fide shower. Here is how it kind of was for a long time:


Hand-held shower and no shower curtain rod. The hose you see going up was not actually there when we moved in. The spigot that now holds the hose used to hold a hand-held shower. This is what we used the first 3 or 4 years that we lived here. Until one day when an apple hit me over the head and I realized that I could actually rig up a shower using the same concept as a hand-held shower!


I actually completed this project a while back (and by completed I mean done for now, subject to change, still looking for a more elegant solution.) So anyway, like I said, this project was done about 2 years ago, but I did not post it because I was….ashamed. Yes, I was ashamed of my bathroom because I bought into the whole ‘gotta have the palatial pinterest-worthy bathroom” ideal. I thought my bathroom wasn’t good enough to blog about, despite the fact that I had come up with an ingenious solution to what is probably a common problem for people with old homes or Claw Foot Tubs.  It can be so intimidating to put out your imperfections, especially when all the cool kids are carrying on like they have unlimited funds for big projects.

But what about the little projects? The small projects that, while they maybe not a swoon-worthy improve your life? If I waited until I could do a full tear down bathroom remodel (which is what this room would need) I may still be doing the one-handed shower boogaloo. Those first 4 years without a shower were uncomfortable at best, miserable at worst. Washing my hair was a “challenge” to put it nicely.  So while my bathroom may not be gorgeous, It functions. Sure, one day I want to replace that tub, replace those hideous ceiling tiles, maybe even knock-down a wall and expand the room, take out that ugly-ass window, etc, etc, and so on, and so forth, and so that! But right now it works.

If you are in a similar predicament (I’m talking to you, Claw Foot Tub owner), I’m happy to show you what I did.

what you need

For the actual shower rig up:

1 extra long shower hose (I think mine was 6 or 7 feet)
1 shower arm
1 shower head of your choice
1 shower arm bracket

For the custom shower curtain rod:
1  1/2” x 10’ EMT conduit pipe
2-4  pipe straps or clamps (depending on how many you want to put on, I used 2)

My bath tub already had a hand shower installed. So you will need that at the very least. If you don’t have a hand held shower, get some type of setup that will allow you to.

I connected the extra-long hose (about 6 feet or so) to the spigot where the hand-held shower was.


On the other end of the hose I connected the shower arm which I then connected to the shower head:

hosetoshowerarm (2)

I then mounted the Shower Hose Clamp to the ceiling. I had to find the sweet spot known as dead center, so that the shower head wasn’t too far on one side. Once the shower hose clamp was in place, all I had to do was snap the shower arm (with the shower head attached) into it. The hose clamp snaps into about 3 positions so that you can find what’s most comfortable. This is especially helpful in directing the shower spray so that it’s not just going straight down, but to make it point a little bit forward to compensate for not having the spray come from an angle on the wall.

For the shower curtain:

Since your bathtub/shower wall is not standard, your shower curtain will not be standard. I searched high and low for a shower curtain that would meet my needs, but I guess there’s not a huge demand for L-shaped shower curtains. So I made one.

This is where you use the emt conduit pipe and clamps. Of course you need to measure your space to determine how long, where to bend, etc. I am aware that you can have the pipe bent with a nice curvy radius. The angle was too wide for my purposes, but I’ll keep looking to see if it can be bent at a shallower angle. You want to bend your pipe at 3 points. I can show you better than I can tell you:


shower curtain rod design

You will notice that there is not another pipe coming down from the left front corner. This has not affected the stability of the curtain rod even with 2 plastic and 1 cotton shower curtains hanging on it. I wouldn’t use it as a hang bar, but it works as-is. If you are seriously concerned, I would advise you to find a way to add a piece of pipe either going up or down to anchor it.

So once my pipe  was bent, I mounted onto the 2 full walls I had, using just 2 pipe clamps/straps, one on each end. I added shower curtains, and  ta-da!


I now have a shower. Oh happy day.

This project, while fairly simple was really trial by fire (as I had tried a couple of other solutions previously). I may have glossd over a few points, so if you have questions, please ask, and I’ll give you my best answer!

what to do when

Super-simple Back-To-School DIY – Cute Up your Notebooks


Back to School…AKA the end of:

“Mom, what’s for dinner?” at 10am. Yes, the perpetually hungry 8yr old asks that early.

“Mommy I’m bored!” Again the 8yr old.

“Mom, can we go to the Mall? I NEVER get to do anything fun with my friends, and it’s all your fault!” This would be the 13yr old girl.

“Ugh, why do we have to go to the  park and ride our bikes?! Why can’t I stay in my room and play Minecraft all day?! UGH, it’s not fair!” The 10yr old talking.

Ah, yes, back to school…back to my life, back to as close to a normal schedule as I’ll have with school-age children….Hooray!

I sure will miss them. But I’m also sure I’ll be ok Smile

So, In time for the beginning of another school year, I present to you a super-simple DIY, also known as “Cute Up Your Notebook.” Why have a plain old boring notebook like everyone else? Cover ‘em up with my favorite go-to: Contact paper of course! Have you noticed how cute contact paper is getting? Isn’t it great!?



So all you need is:

Cute Contact Paper
Cute Tape
Scissors and/or craft Knife

That’s it! You guys are a smart bunch aren’t ya? I’m sure you don’t need instructions. BUT, in case you do:

1. Measure the total width and height of your notebook. Composition notebooks (my favorite) are 8 x 10. To allow for the spine, adds another 1/2 inch. Total size of contact paper you need: (8 + 8 +1/2) 161/2”. To be safe, I cut 17”. Better too long than too short. You can trim, but you can’t add.

2. Peel and stick the contact paper. Starting on one long edge of the notebook, apply to one side first. Once you reach the spine, open up the notebook flat and cover the spine. This allows space for the notebook to open and close easily. Finish the other side. Trim around the curves and edges of the notebook.

3. If you want to take it to the next level, make a box around the top middle of your notebook with cute paper tape. Also line the spine with the tape.

That’s it, easy peasy!

Now, I said this was for back to school, but that doesn’t mean Mom can’t have a little crafty fun! Now’s a great time to stock up. The composition notebooks I love are available for .49 cents or less at Wally-World…You can literally buy a couple of hundred of ‘em!

I made myself a couple of these for my use. Tasks lists are so much more fun with a cute notebook to write them in.

Screw you Target, I can make my own cute notebooks for a fraction of what you want!

I actually have found that I keep better track of my composition notebook because it stands out from The Mister’s. He’s a notorious composition notebook user and we have boxes of his old notebooks to prove it.

How I Use My Notebooks.

All things AfroMartha Notebook:


I keep one notebook for writing down anything pertaining to AfroMartha the blog or shop. This is where I jot down ideas for product, future blog posts, middle-of-the-night can’t-sleep-ideas etc.

Anything regarding AfroMartha that I want to note and keep track of goes in this notebook This notebook saved my sanity with the last vending show I did.

Weekly Menu Planning:


The other notebook is for menu-planning which is a big-time headache saver. One day a week, usually on Sunday I select 7 dinners, one for each night of the next week.

I assign one dinner per night. This dinner is not set in stone. I can switch these around as needed.

Once I’ve chosen the meals, I make my grocery shopping list in the same notebook.  I try to coordinate this with what’s on sale and also try to coordinate similar ingredients. My list includes all groceries for the week, not just what I need for the 7 meals, BTW. I take this notebook with me when I go grocery shopping.

With my meal-planning notebook, I know what I’m making for dinner each night and there’s no last minute scramble upon hearing the words “Mom, what’s for dinner?” This also helps me with knowing when to start prepping the meal. I work every night at my part time “day job” from 7:30pm to 1am. I usually start prepping dinner right around 4pm when the kids are arriving from school, that way we can eat together and I may catch a little nap before I start work (I work from home).

The 13yr old girl (the only other person in this house that would appreciate a cute notebook, made a few of her own for back-to-school. She even got fancy-schmancy and fit the contact paper through the wire spirals of the spiral notebooks.

What can I say, she gets it from her Mama.

NOT. Even I don’t know how she pulled that one off.

Well actually, she says she cut slits at each spiral location and passed the contact paper around the spirals. Nice, huh?


So there it is, go cute up some cheap and abundant Back to School Notebooks! What’s back to school like in your neck of the woods?



Midsummer 2014 and a quick project

I hope your summer has been going well…

It’s been all rain, rain and more rain in my neck of the woods. So much for lazy days spent at the pool or the park. I must confess, I secretly love the not-sticky-icky-muggy summer we’re having. If the weather could be like this year round, that would be perfecto! We did have a few moments of the sun peeking through…like this picture perfect day last week when we met up with some long lost friends…

the kids of summer

And this day, when I took my cute bike out for a spin with my DIY bike basket…


Although I’ve been light on projects, I did a few small things around la casa… I hope to show more of those later when they actually get completed. The best projects often happen by serendipity, like this one, which my FB & IG folks seemed to really get a kick out of:


Putting curtains in that doorway is something I’ve thought about on and off for the past couple of years. I never actually did it until I need to block sun glare while making an upcoming video. I put the curtains up and I loved it! So, I didn’t actually use curtains, I used Knoppa twin flat sheets from ikea that I’ve repurposed over and over. I didn’t actually put up a rod (although I plan to in the future) I just tacked them up with thumbacks. I especially love the look of the tie-backs.  I used some strips of leather cording that I already had. So as you can see, adding some drama and flair doesn’t have to cost a fortune!

I’ve been light on projects because I’ve been focusing on the AfroMartha Studio upcoming workshops! The next one is coming up on August 1st, so if you’re in the Dayton Ohio area, make sure to come! Get your tickets here.

So I hope your summer is going well. I’d love to hear all about it!