From a mans view… Haven Conference

* Disclaimer – This is my first blog post, I’m usually the hands-on kinda of guy!

haven logosew woodsy

Over a year ago Katie approached me with the idea of going to a DIY conference. I wasn’t opposed to going, I actually thought it would be kinda of cool to meet a bunch of woodworkers and home DIY- ers.

Their was a catch.

It fell on our 4th wedding anniversary, I was like: “are you serious that you want to spend our anniversary at a conference and not laying on some tropical beach somewhere?” Katie had her mind set that she was attending this conference, so I agreed and all I could think about if this is not true love I don’t what is?

sew woodsy at haven

Last month I attended my first DIY Conference. After driving 8 hours and getting settled in to the hotel it was time to go down stairs for the welcoming cocktail party. I was like “this is gonna be great, have some drinks and talk with the guys about woodworking and project around the house”. Until I turned the corner, I felt like a piece of meat getting thrown in to a lions den. I was out numbered like 250 to 1, not a man in site.

I didn’t know what to do.

Talk about fight or flight. I wanted to fly on out of there.

Katie told me it would be ok, that I’d  be surprised on how many people would recognize us from the blog. It was not even 5 minutes in and someone was like “Sew Woodsy“. From that point on, I felt at ease and I started meeting more bloggers and recognizing bloggers from their website.

Day 1:

Beginning Paint and Stain

This was probably a class I should have skipped.  But this being my first conference, I stuck it out to see what I could learn from the speakers Kate from Centsational Girl and Chris with Just a Girl talked about the different types of paints excluding chalk and milk, which was covered in advanced class (which I thought was kind of odd). They also discussed different paint tools, techniques, methods and protectants.  Everything that was covered was very simplistic and would be very informative for a beginner. The second portion of the class was done by Bruce from Minwax. Bruce was very knowledgeable about all the different types of oil & water based stains. He gave great techniques to get a flaw-lesss finish and different methods to achieve it. Bruce’s demonstrations were great. I only wished we could have spent more time on staining and doing some hands on demo’s.

Basic Carpentry

Ana White at Haven

With me being a woodworker, I don’t think their was any class I was more excited to attend. To be able to see Ana White working with power tools and wood (in stilettos) was a dream come true. I had to pinch myself to see if I was dreaming. Ana’s class was a little disorganized (not her fault), but she worked through all the issues. She was very informative on all different types of tools and gave many of the Mavens hands on demo’s. She built a remarkable storage center using the Kreg system.  I was most impressed by how fast the Kreg system works rather then using the biscut and glue method. Ana made changes to her class on day two: setting up stations so all the Mavens could demo all the tools she used in her demonstration.

Rigid Air Compressor

I also was shocked to hear that Ryobi was giving away all the tools that Ana used during her demonstrations. I was one of the lucky one’s to win an air compressor and nail gun. I wish this session could of been longer, so I could have seen the storage center be built from start to finish.

Hobby to Business

hobby to business at haven

This class impressed me the most and inspired me to turn this blog in to a business. The hand out was limited with some sub par information about starting a business with small business development websites for Pennsylvania. I started my own business last year, so I’m a little more knowledgeable about the paper work you need to start your own business. Rhonda from Southern Hospitality discussed how she used a product that she loved and believed in. She created a partnership between the manufacture and she receives a percentage from every sale she makes on her site (kind of like an affiliate program). Marian from Miss Mustard Seed discussed about creating a unique name for your blog, creating a logo and Trade Marking it rather then registering it, having a sales tax license if you are selling product, having insurance for your blog if you’re doing tutorials and adding disclaimers. Gina from The Shabby Creek Cottage opened my eyes to start selling my art online. Do it by diversifying by using Etsy to create new customers and send them to your blog where they can purchase from your site (with out the Etsy fee).

Day 2:

I Love Thrifting

Mr. Goodwill Hunting at Haven

Rashan Carraway also known as Mr. Goodwill Hunting was an enjoyable session that gave thrifters an insight to Mr. Goodwill’s tips. He told us “don’t look for anything at anytime, but look for everything at all times“.

Thrift Survival Kit:

-Tape Measure

-Hand Sanitizer

-Camera Phone (to take pictures and to look items up online)

-Truck (to move large items or know someone with a truck)

Also, build a relationship with your local thrift store.

Advanced Paint and Stain

Marian from Miss Mustard Seed talked about her line of Milk Paint that is coming out that you can use as an alternative to chalk paint. The only downside to Milk Paint is that you can’t control the distress part of it, and it all depends how the paint reacts to the piece. It can either chip off a lot of paint or maybe a few specs.

If you want more control use Annie Sloans chalk paint that gives you the control to distress what you want by just using a little bit of sandpaper and elbow grease. Then add a clear or dark was to create a finished look. (The pictures above with the molding, I did that in about 15 minutes and added the dark wax).

Slipcovers & Upholstery

Not gonna lie–I wasn’t too excited about this session going into it, but Katie encouraged me to check it out. I’ve now done a few upholstery projects at our house and didn’t think I needed to learn any more. Boy, was I wrong. I’ve done projects and this class blew me away. For those who had never done an upholstery project I’m sure their headers were spinning with information, because mine was and I have done a few projects!

Slipcovers & Upholstery at Haven Conference

Shelly Leer from Mod Home Ec discussed re-upholstering a wing backed chair. The session was way too short and could have been a lot longer. If you ever done any re-upholstering you would of loved it, cause it was packed with tip and secrets to help you achieve that perfect upholster job.

Angie Knowles – Is a slipcover professional that broke down the basics of creating a slipcover and showed us products, tips and ways to create amazing slipcovers easily.

Next thing I knew, it was time to go and Haven 2012 was over.

I was just starting to get in the groove and comfortable with all of these sessions and learning more about blogging.

I hope you enjoyed my first post. There will be more post to come from me!


  1. Oh my gosh they should have put estrogen shields in y’alls swag bags! I enjoyed meeting y’all at Haven! You may want to take your wife out for dinner tonight after the stilletto comment!haha I am so glad you ended up enjoying it, I loved seeing a male breakdown of Haven so much more matter of fact-a welcome break in a blogosphere of girly politeness 🙂 I loved Haven, can’t wait to go back!-Now I wish I had taken the upholestry class!

    • Thanks for the comment. I’m glad you enjoyed my first post. I’m still trying to get the hang of the back-end part of blogging. I hope next year they will make the upholstery class longer. I’ll definitely take it on the first day next year.

  2. Nice rundown of events. I’d love to attend a conference one day. Good on you for being willing to spend an unorthodox anniversary.

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