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The Joy of a Rusty Rustic DIY Fireplace Screen

DIY creative fireplace screen

It’s happened to the best of us. We toss, turn, kick and moan, unable to sleep at night because so many fireplace screens tend to be:

  • Chintzy
  • Cheesy
  • Boring

This anguish over fireplace screens is so strong and unrelenting, it can hit even if you don’t have a fireplace.

What to Do about It

The roaring fire is so gorgeous. You need something just as gorgeous to compliment its beauty. That’s where my pal Mary came in. Actually two pals, both named Mary, came in.

Mary 1 had a delightful idea some time back. She asked me to create a fireplace screen out of upcycled metal stuff. Since she only needed the screen for aesthetics, any type of fastenings and material would do. I don’t have a photo on hand, but it came out fabulously.

Mary 2 wanted to expand on the idea. But she needed a cool fireplace screen that was functional. That meant it must:

  • Stand firm against the roaring flame
  • Have a back screen to stop shooting embers
  • Withstand the high heat of a fireplace fire

That was a whole ’nother ballgame. And Ryndustries scored a home run!

The Fireplace Screen Foundation

DIY fireplace screen
Foundation was an old gate. Had to remove hinges and add feet.

It all starts with some sort of foundation, in this case a metal gate. Mary’s instructions included making sure the gate scroll stuff at the top was covered. She also hates symmetry. One more move was to amend the blechy black color by providing a ravishing rust coating.

Mary and I had headed to Gersons, a used building material shop here in Tucson, where she had picked out the foundation and other parts for the project.

The Parts and Supplies

DIY fireplace screen feet
Metal brackets, nuts, washers, bolts for fireplace screen feet
  • Thick sheet of metal cutouts from pile of metal cutouts sold at Gersons
  • The back screen, also from Gersons
  • Metal brackets for feet; nuts, washers and bolts to secure feet, hardware store stuff
  • Metal screws for attaching screen and metal cutouts
  • Paint kit that includes specialized primer, paint, oxidization solution, coating to create rust effect on non-rusty pieces, Modern Masters Metal Effects is where it’s at
  • Fire proofing for final top coat
  • Dremel metal cutting wheels to cut metal

The Tools

  • Flat-headed hammer for pounding
  • Drill for making holes and inserting screws
  • Snips for cutting metal screen
  • Various pliers for bending metal
  • The almighty Dremel

The Final Result

creative fireplace screen
Final result of creative fireplace screen.

Wow. I loved it. My beau Bob loved it. Dog Elmo loved it so much he even tried to pee on it (Note to Mary: I stopped him!). Most importantly of all, Mary loved it.

With all the research, supply gathering, sanding, drilling, attaching, bolting, priming, painting, screwing in screws, bending, pounding and flameproof coating, total time spent was a shade under 9 hours.

One look at the rusty rustic metal fireplace screen in action makes all the effort worth it. It’s amazing what creative minds can do when you put them together. Thanks, Mary, for one of the most amazing projects I’ve ever had to pleasure of creating.

Back of creative fireplace screen.
Top view of creative fireplace screen. All attachments were made with screws and bent metal. No welding involved.
DIY creative fireplace screen
Close up of creative fireplace screen.
DIY creative fireplace screen
Night shot of creative fireplace screen in action in front of tiki chimenea in rynski magic garden.

Got a groovy project idea you want me to help you create? Go for it. Shoot me an email. Let’s make something coooool.

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Will I See You in Phoenix Nov. 4?

local first az fall fest 2017

Come one, come all. C’mon – the drive from Tucson (or New York or Michigan) can be fun, especially if you discover trance driving where you get to meditate while watching the road.

Check out the Local First AZ event page for more info.

Can’t make it? Will miss you. But you can still shop rynski online.

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3 Marketing Tactics that Backfire Big Time

make it go away

Not one. Not two. But a total of six! – count them – six emails bombarded my email inbox milliseconds after I recently ordered a single $12 dog collar online. Give me a break. Give us ALL a break – please!

While many modern marketing tactics are highly effective if done right, some companies are doing them wrong. Way wrong. Modern marketing tactics require a delicate balance of:

  • Pertinent information
  • Strategic timing
  • Tactics that don’t piss off your customers

The real-life examples I’ve encountered below backfire miserably in one or more areas, making them more annoying than a sleeping dog’s paw hitting you in the face at 3 a.m.

Example 1: The Email Bombardment

You already got a sneak peek at this one, with a dog collar company sending six emails when I ordered a single $12 collar. I can only imagine how many emails I may have gotten if I would have ordered $150 worth of goodies. Geesh.

Online orders basically require two emails:

  • One email to confirm the order and mention expected ship date
  • One email to alert customer when the order ships

Add tracking info and you get a gold star. Send a flurry of emails that contain things like a message from your founder, a rundown on your return policy, or one just to tell me “You are PAWsome,” and I promise I’ll never order another collar from you again.

This type of email tidal wave suggests the folks at the company have recently discovered email automation and, by golly, are going to set up as many as they can.

Example 2: Begging for a Review

The biggest faux pas in this category are the sellers who start begging for a review of the item you purchased – before the dang item even arrives. Others don’t wait long enough, like the company that started begging for a review of the 303-page book I had ordered a day after I received the book.

How the heck would I have read a 303-page book in a single day unless I quit my job, told my dogs they had to skip their daily meals and walk, and decided not to sleep.

Begging for a review in general can make a company appear desperate, and begging for one with a series of emails raises that desperation to an even higher level. It’s akin to sending hourly texts to someone right after your first date.

One purchase I made started an avalanche during which the seller sent me one email per week, every week, asking if I reviewed the item yet. I finally broke down and wrote a review, just so the emails would stop. My review gave exactly one star, not necessarily because the product sucked, but because the begging emails did.

Example 3: Ads that Follow You around Like a Lost Puppy

You know this scenario. You buy a stand-up yoga paddle board, kiln, or new backyard couch online, and suddenly your browsing is peppered with ads for – you guessed it – paddle boards, kilns, and backyard couches. What backfires most about this ploy is the fact that many of the ads end up being for the exact same thing you purchased two seconds ago.

Sorry, Charlie, but if I just spent $1,500 on a paddle board, $600 on a kiln, or $327 for a new backyard couch, it’s highly unlikely I’ll be buying another one just yet. Why not follow me around with ads for stuff related to the item I recently purchased, rather than a duplicate of the same item?

That paddle board would be more fun with some swim shorts, the kiln would align nicely with a pair of 3-foot tongs, and perhaps the backyard couch could use a few cool throw pillows.

Since the personalized ads come about from cookies, you can go through a whole song and dance to disable cookies. Or you can do the next best thing: ignore them.

Like anything else in life, marketing tactics are best done in moderation. Because we’re all hounded, pounded and otherwise barraged with all types of digital disruptions on a daily basis, moderation is more likely to make your company stand out than joining the crowd of pests.

Modern marketing tactics are definitely an area where the company that acts as the proverbial squeaky wheel won’t get the grease. Your squeakiness is much more likely to make customers throw you off to the side in favor of a wheel that gives you a smoothly quiet and pleasant ride.

Need writing for non-annoying marketing content? I’m on it! Contact me today.

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9 Things I Learned from My First Art Sale Open House

rynski magic garden

Selling art online is dandy, but it doesn’t give folks a hands-on feel for your work. Getting your art into local ships is OK, but retailers tend to take a hefty chunk of your profits. Sitting in your living room and hoping people will magically order things through osmosis doesn’t work (I tried). This leaves one more option: holding your very own art sale open house.

Since my backyard doubles as my studio, triples as my serene oasis, and is already packed with examples of my art, I agreed to give it a whirl when a pal suggested it. And I’m glad I did, as the Rynski Magic Garden Open House was officially a success (wheee!).

I’m extending a massive thank you to all who came by – and a handful of tips for anyone who may want to give an art sale open house a go in your own home or yard.

Take Photos of the Event

While I took several shots of my backyard setup before the event, the camera was promptly forgotten once the open house was in full swing. Oops. Photos of the event serve several purposes. They give you:

  • A way to publicly say “thanks!” to those who attended, by posting their pix online
  • Plenty of people to tag on Facebook
  • A reminder of how you arranged things in case you want to do it again
  • Automatic blog content following the event
  • Fond memories you can pass down to your grandchildren (or grand-dogs, as the case may be)

My apologies I am unable to tag any of the fabulous attendees on FB. And I forgot to get a pic of the food table or my shirts hanging in a tree.

Scan for Dog Poop – Twice

While you can skip this step if you don’t have dogs and the event is not being held in your backyard, you still want to make sure things are spic and span. Hose down your patio furniture. Spruce up any artwork that looks like it’s been hit by a Mack truck.

And for goodness sake, make sure anything you’re selling is free of dust, dirt, detritus and other debris. No one is going to want to buy something that looks like it’s been stored in the corner of the basement since 1982.

voodoo dolls
lucky voodoo dolls

Ask Someone to Help You

Sharon gets a huge thanks here, as it’s essential to have someone on hand who can help man the event. Not only did she bring a bastion of delicious snacks, but she moved them into the house when an equal bastion of flies discovered them. She likewise helped showcase my work, answer questions, provide suggestions and otherwise was a joy to have on hand.

In addition to about 62 rounds of verbal thank yous, I’m also giving her a “No Soliciting” sign as tangible appreciation for her assistance.

Choose Snacks that Make a Good Stir-Fry

Speaking of snacks, we had waaaaay too many of them. Take note of when you’re holding your open house. Ours was 1 to 3 p.m., or right after lunchtime. Guess people weren’t all that hungry. Or maybe they just saw the bastion of flies moving in (kidding). In any event, the leftover shrimp and veggie platters made a scrumptious shrimp and veggie stir-fry.

Oh yeah, I also ended up with a full pot of coffee no one touched. It may have helped if I would have remembered to actually offer it to the guests. Make that a scrumptious shrimp and veggie stir-fry with a big caffeine buzz.

rynski business cards
business card magnets

Don’t Forget the Coffee, or The Other Extras

In addition to forgetting about the coffee and as-it-happened photos, I also have a slew of business card magnets I meant to hand out with every purchase. Here comes another oops. Thankfully, some folks did notice them and I was able to hand out a few. Like the shrimp and veggies, they certainly won’t go to waste. But it’s still a good idea to make a checklist of things you don’t want to forget as the event is going on.

Be Prepared to Sell the Shirt off Your Back

Literally. Sharon and I both wore Rynski shirts, along with a sign that said: “Want the shirt off my back? Order one today!” While the open house was mainly geared toward taking orders for art I would then create, I was also OK selling a shirt and art right off the trees.

Sure, there was one item made out of junk drawer debris I wasn’t ready to part with, but I was delighted one of the coolest gals I know wanted to provide several other items with a new home on the spot.

rynski art
stocking stuffer alley

Get a PayPal Card Swiper

Officially known as PayPal Here, the setup involves downloading the PayPal Here app, ordering a card swiper from PayPal, and then being able to take credit or debit cards for payments. This is an absolute must in a society where many of us carry very little cash.

And I would have purchased at least four knit scarves and hats at the Nordic Fair instead of the single head warmer if the Nordic Fair lady would have had one.

Have a Catalog of Your Work On Hand

Having photos of your work that’s for sale online, custom orders you sold, and other goodies that may not be on hand is a huge help for giving your attendees a better feel for all you can do. Taking the time to sift through your photo files and print one up will definitely be worth your while.

art open house tucson
yard sign display

Follow Up Promptly

Post-event follow-up needs to be done pronto. Heck, I’m writing this blog the evening after the open house – even before I unwind with the final season of “Sons of Anarchy.”

I’m also about to pick the winner of the Rynski Magic Garden Open House raffle and then pen a “Thank you” email to all who entered and attended. You want to keep the momentum going, connect while the event is fresh in people’s minds, and make sure they know how much they’re appreciated.

Don’t worry. The excitement of a successful open house will help you achieve all of the above soon after the event. Well, that, and the full pot of coffee you forgot to serve to your guests.

Thanks again to all who came by. You absolutely rock!

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