Tag Archives: stain staining

Pretty as a Peacock

Call me crazy, but look what I picked up on the side of the road, in the pouring rain, wading ankle deep in a curbside torrent.

There were a few times in the course of this transformation that I thought my skill set would run a sorry second to my imagination, but I managed to pull it off.

Phase 1, The Frame:

The vinyl upholstery had to go, which left a problematic hole in the back (to be tackled in Phase 3).

I cleaned my “new” barley chair and because some of the wood was flakey, sanded it too. I took my fabric to Suite Pieces, my favorite place for inspiration, where I received many ooh and ahhs and some great advice: Annie Sloan Giverny and Provence.

Highlighting with Modern Masters Olympic Gold popped the details on the top.

I treated the whole frame to a soothing coat of clear wax.

Phase 2, The Seat:

As for the seat, all I can say is, Yuck!

The wooden base had obviously been a patch-up job.

The cushion was originally meant to sit inside the frame. My handy, helpful brother cut the board down to size.

I covered the board and two inches of foam with fabric, then pulled and stapled the fabric to the back of the board.

The fabric had been slated for a different project but this chair had “peacock” written all over it.

Phase 3, The Back:

Get ready for a long and sometimes painful operation.

Two generations of staples and some residual vinyl had to be pulled and pried from the annoyingly deep crevice. I did this before I painted.

Post-painting, using craft paper for an initial template, I cut a form of heavy cardboard to fit inside the gaping hole.

To make it easier to find the right section of fabric, I made a silhouette by tracing the form onto another piece of craft paper. I cut two pieces of fabric, about four inches wider than the opening, one for the front of the chair and one for the back.

I made a diagram of the next step because I didn’t dare lose my concentration by taking pictures. I basically sandwiched the board and some batting between the two pieces of fabric, attaching each layer with spray adhesive. I made sure the fabric stayed nice and smooth on both sides.

From the front, I pushed the fabric-covered board into the opening far enough so that the front-facing fabric was even with the front of the chair. This created a nice flat fabric-covered surface on the back.

A double layer of fabric, from both the front and the back pieces, poked out in front. I pulled both layers taught and pushed them tight into the crevice.

I used brads to nail the fabric to the chair because that pesky crevice was too deep for staples. The brads, I soon discovered, were too long to nail straight in — the first three poked out of the back. With that lesson learned, I nailed the brads in about a quarter of the way and used an awl and a hammer to bend them over.

Next, I trimmed away the excess fabric. I only poked my fingers with the utility knife twice. (There’s a reason I stay current on my tetanus shots.) If you try this at home, please be careful.

I needed trim to cover the raggedy edges. After a series of internet searches, I couldn’t find anything I liked. Necessity is the mother of invention. I bought a clothesline.

I soaked a section of the clothesline in water and then in a bowl of slightly watered down Giverney paint. I let it dry on paper towels until it wasn’t dripping and then hung it over a chrome shower curtain rod to dry thoroughly. (Don’t do this on a decorative rod because the damp cord will leave some paint.)

The cord was a bit stiff, but pliable. I didn’t wax it because wax and glue are never a good combination. I ran a bead of fabric glue and pressed the trim into place on top of it.

Inexpensive and a perfect match. I love a successful experiment!

Phase 4, Enjoy my chair!

After some touch-up painting on the back where the nails had poked through, my pretty peacock chair was finally finished. Paint me proud.

www.karenraelevine.com

Peace, Love and a Volkswagen Bus

My son always harbored the romantic notion of driving across the country in a Volkswagen bus. The trip never happened, at least not yet, but I never discouraged his dreams and imagination. At the advanced age of 22, I wasn’t sure Andrew would want it, but I decided to go ahead and create “mom’s version” of a VW bus.

It was a Pinterest post that sparked the idea and then, as fate would have it, I found the perfect little dresser.

I knew this project would require a good deal of measuring and planning. Between finding and ordering the right size accessories (like the lights and the VW decal), deciding where to paint and drill, and then the actual painting, it took about three months. Don’t get me wrong. There were plenty of pit stops on this road trip. I worked on other projects while waiting for supplies to come in and ideas to pop up.

A coat of Annie Sloan Pure White gave me a blank canvas.

My plan included changing and rearranging the pulls so that they were functioning design elements. I laid these out before I drilled the new holes: windshield wiper pulls on the top drawer, reflectors (wood knobs I painted orange) in the middle, and something resembling a grill on the bottom. I filled in the existing holes of the drawer pulls with spackle and sanded them smooth.

I drilled new holes for the updated hardware. Tip: Because I wanted the middle and bottom drawer pulls as low as possible, I drilled the holes from the inside of the drawer.

The top drawer had a double raised bevel, making it easy to tape and paint a Paris Grey windshield.

On the Paris Grey base, I painted rectangles in Graphite to resemble tires.

I’d left room on the bottom drawer for the headlights I’d ordered. The extra planning paid off because, although it wasn’t time to attach them, they were just the right size.

  

The biggest design challenge was creating the curved lines that defined the front of a two-tone VW bus. I taped a piece of posterboard on the front and made a freehand swoop with a pencil to draw a curve from the top corner to the bottom. It actually looked good on the first try. I cut the posterboard along my mark with an exacto knife.

I’d saved  the waxy paper remnant of peelable contact paper. The tape I’d apply would come off of it without losing its stickiness. I taped my template to the shiny side and traced the curve onto the paper.

I lifted the template, applied strips of painter’s tape over the penciled line, then put the template back down and traced the same curve onto the the tape. I cut the tape and paper together along the curved line.

After pulling the tape from the paper, I stuck it to the face of the dresser. It took some trial and error to position the somewhat wiggly strand of tape.

I flipped the template and I used the same method for the opposite side. I taped both the drawers and the frame in the area between the two curves.

I cut the tape through the slits between the drawers with an exacto knife, removed the drawers, and with Napoleonic blue, painted the base and the drawers separately.

 

***

There’s a reason I chose blue for Andrew’s bus. He’s colorblind. Blues and yellows are the most vibrant colors he sees. When Andrew was young, I was surprised to learn how many teachers knew little or nothing about a condition that would surely impact a child’s experience in the color-oriented world of early education. Because of Andrew and so many others who are colorblind (1 out of 12 boys and 1 out of 200 girls), I made it my mission to help parents, teachers and children understand and cope with color blindness. One result was the publication of my first book, All About Color Blindness: A Guide to Color Vision Deficiency for Kids (and Grown-ups Too!). It won a five national book awards, including Mom’s Choice.

***

Meanwhile…

I’d found the perfect peel-and-stick VW decal from Ebay and centered it on the center drawer. The decal and the stick-on lights answered the “wax or varnish?” question. Wax would loosen the adhesive and they’d all slide right off.

I chose a satin finish because a real VW bus has a little shine. I’ve had success with Polyvine wax finishes before and it’s my go-to for varnishing.

 

I positioned the headlights using the paper that covered the adhesive. The stickiness of the stick-on lights would have been good enough for use in a closet or drawer, but I imagined the front of this dresser would get a lot more action. I rolled off the adhesive pad with my thumb and attached the lights to the drawer with Gorilla Glue.

Because I wanted the lights to last as long as the dresser, the ability to change the batteries was important. A little twist freed the body from the backing and exposed the battery compartment. The lights turn on and off by pressing the front.

I’d spent a good deal of energy on this little dresser and it looked like it was ready to roll.

But does anyone love a car just because it looks good on the outside? This baby had to be good-looking on the inside too.

I ordered a US road map that was three feet long, just the right length to cut and line three 12-inch deep drawers. Mod Podge on the bottom was all the glossy paper needed.

I painted the sides of the drawers Pure White. When they were dry I added thin strips of painter’s tape and covered paint and tape with two coats of Graphite. When I pulled up the tape it had the look of white-lined roads. These pretend highways got a coat of varnish too.

And at last it was good to go.

Since Andrew is a college graduate with a grown up job and his own apartment, I thought he might consider this a bit too childish. I included a photo in a text, assuring Andrew that I wouldn’t be insulted if he didn’t want it. His low-key response made me smile. “I can take that off your hands.” My man-child was like me. He hadn’t lost his sense of humor or his sense of whimsy. Good news for both of us, I think.

www.karenraelevine.com

 

 

Better Than Watching Paint Dry

I usually tackle two projects at once so I can work on one while the paint dries on the other. In the middle of transforming a side table, I emptied an old laminate bookcase. Before dumping it curbside, I decided to see if it could be saved.

One coat of Annie Sloan Graphite covered the fake wood. Just that little bit of transformation put my creative wheels in motion.

I slid over the can of paint I had out for the side table and dipped a brush already wet with Annie Sloan Burgundy. I guess I’d call it “wet brushing” because all I did was brush it on. I kept my strokes light and straight and didn’t fill it in where the Graphite showed through. Where I thought the paint was too heavy, I wiped it back with a wet rag.

To be sure the paint stayed wet enough, I painted one section at a time.

I thought this bookcase still might end up on the curb…

…but the more the paint dried, the more I liked my quick little experiment. The muted color combo had sort of a mahogany look.

I didn’t think the cardboard back panel would survive the pressure I’d need to add a coat of wax. I left it alone and applied clear wax to the stronger surfaces.

(Two of my books are on the bottom shelf. You can learn more about them here. Read the story of the storage cubby on the left in Ode to My Favorite Veteran.)

The bookcase wasn’t the best piece of furniture I owned but it was a quick and easy job to hide the just-plain-ugliness of the “who are you kidding?” wood-look laminate.

Instead of tossing the bookcase, I’d used it to experiment with a paint technique. Not only did I save a useful piece of furniture, I applied what I learned to the more complicated cover-up of a project already in progress. (Stay tuned!)

What I learned;

  • Don’t be afraid to experiment, especially on pieces that couldn’t possibly look worse.
  • What you learn from experiments, successful or not, can be applied to another project.
  • Some people think that creative exercise is as exciting as watching paint dry — but I’m not one of them!

www.karenraelevine.com

Rock on!

An antique dealer told me rocking chairs were dead. Dead??? It seems as a society we’re more prone to hunch over a computer then sit back and relax.

But not all of us! When a friend spied my old rocker, she sank into it and closed her eyes. What was her favorite color? Blue. Old rocker, new paint, happy friend. Done deal!

First I tried Aubusson Blue but I felt it was too light. The nicks and scratches would remain part of the character of the chair but wouldn’t be as prominent with a darker color. I chose Napoleonic Blue.

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It turned out the rocker needed more glue than paint. It was obvious that it had already been glued a few times in the past. I used wood glue where I could and squeezed Gorilla Glue Original (like Krazy Glue) into the smaller joint crevices. It wasn’t always pretty but it held the joints well enough to quiet the creaking.

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I somehow managed not to glue my fingers together.

A girl scout song helped me choose the accent color. “Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver and the other’s gold.” After two coats of Napoleonic Blue, I gave my old friend a wink with touches of gold.

First up, a gold stripe on the spindles. I positioned two long strips of Frog Tape (my favorite painter’s tape) in nice even lines across the bars, then cut in between so that I could wrap the tape around each spindle.

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The gold paint of choice was Modern Masters Metallic Paint, Olympic Gold. At Suite Pieces, I got a little friendly advice about this paint.  It works well over chalk paint but direct application to wood requires more prep work. It’s oil-based and needs mineral spirits or paint thinner for clean-up.

I stenciled a leaf design on the left and then flipped the stencil for a mirror-image on the right. Positioning was trial and error but as you can see in later photos, I think I got it pretty close.

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I used the same stencil for gold leaves on the arms. I made my own design using two different leaf shapes on the stencil, and cut a paper template to make positioning them easier.

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Another long strip of painter’s tape helped align the template and the (flipped) stencil on the opposite arm.

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How did a picture of my mother’s hand get in there? Oh, that’s my hand.

I hand-painted some gold lines in the grooves of the legs and crossbar and gave the whole chair a coat of Clear Wax.

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I gave the rocking chair a long and luxurious test run by the fireplace.

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Maybe I can give the rocking chair a new life by calling it a meditation device. Batteries not required.

What I learned:

  • Gorilla (or Krazy) glue helps bond furniture joints that can’t be removed.
  • Modern Masters Metallic Paints are oil-based and are easily applied to chalk painted surfaces.
  • When combining stencil elements to create a unique design, cut out a paper template to help position them.
  • Take some time to sit back and relax.

 

Tic Toc Table

I had just enough time for a quick visit to an estate sale at a beautiful old home, but for me, of course, the best find was a castaway coffee table in the garage.

I loved the lines on the legs and decided to try something new. Instead of painting inside the lines after the final coat, I used a reverse method.

First coat was Annie Sloan Graphite.

When that dried, I applied Old Linen. While the paint was still wet I wiped the it away in the grooves using cotton swabs, which exposed the Graphite. I repeated the swabbing method after the second coat of Old Linen.

I guess I was a little heavy-handed because I wiped down to the wood in spots. Not exactly what I had imagined, but I liked it.

The top also had some interesting grooves and I used the same method.

  

The next step was a little tricky. I used Adobe Illustrator to make a large clock face, printed it out on multiple sheets of paper, and taped them together. I included an outer circle as a guide to help me trim it.

Alternatively, you can find an image of a clock face you like and blow it up to the right size, and print it out. Either way it takes a little bit of computer savviness.

I slid graphite paper under sections of the paper to transfer the image to the table.

You have to be careful with graphite paper. It’s almost impossible to erase if you make a mistake, covering goofs with a lighter color (like Old Linen) is challenging and tedious. You can see that I must have shifted the paper while tracing the number XII. Fixing it was frustrating but not impossible. I should have checked my transfer process more often.

Finally, I was able to use a small brush to fill in the numbers with Graphite (paint, not paper). I was careful but not  worried about perfection because I knew I would be sanding them for a distressed look.

“One must work with time and not against it.” – Ursula K. Le Guin

Same goes for the grain of the wood when you’re sanding. This is one of the legs after I started sanding back the paint on the edges.

And here’s the top, distressed. I used light curved strokes over the numbers and put a little more muscle in it around the edges, sanding down to the wood in random spots.

Then came a fun time with my Facebook friends. I posted a picture and asked for opinions: Should add working clock hands, paint them on, or leave it blank? Here’s the tally:

  • 7: Leave it as is.
  • 2: Add a working clock to the table face.
  • 2: Paint the hands at 5:00 (Happy hour!)
  • 3: Make a sundial. (Vetoed. I recognized the grave danger of a table with a pointy top.)
  • 2: Add a lazy susan in the middle.
  • 1: Paint hands on the lazy susan to “play with time.” (Extra credit for making me laugh.)
  • 3: Make a working clock on the table face and add a raised glass surface. (Time-consuming.)

I appreciated all the input but after pondering the ideas into the wee hours, I decided to go back in time to my first inclination and leave it the way it was.

The bottom portion of each of the four legs must have capped at one time. To make the table appear a little more grounded, I painted them with Graphite and sanded them back about the same amount as the numbers.

A coat of clear wax and there she is! One of the dishes holds thyme. Get it?

What I learned:

  • You can wipe wet paint with brushes, rags or, in this case, cotton swabs to expose the color (or even unpainted wood or metal) underneath.
  • Sand with the grain or shape and not against it.
  • Graphite paper transfers are unforgiving and should be used carefully and with caution.
  • Other people’s ideas are alway useful. Even if you don’t use them, they help guide you to what you really want.
  • “Time is on my side, yes it is.” – The Rolling Stones

 

Time to Play Dress-up

Here’s the second step in my plan to liven up a corner in my living room. You can see the first part in If At First You Don’t Succeed.

I’m not a fashionista but sometimes a new dress with matching shoes makes me feel good about myself. It’s the same with furniture. This old chair I inherited needed a pick-me-up. The slipcover, like an old bathrobe, had to go.

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The best thing about an old chair with a slipcover is what you might find underneath. Say for instance, perfectly preserved ivory silk upholstery. Instant new dress!

Matching shoes would come in the form of a coordinating footstool. I found the one in the size and shape I wanted  but the owner was stubborn about selling the pair.

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I relented but in the end I was happy. It gave me a chance to try on two different outfits. The process of changing the look for each footrest was the same: replace the fabric and paint the legs.

Replacing the fabric:

  • Flip it over, remove the screws (keep them handy), and pop off the top.
  • Remove the nails or staples holding the old fabric in place with pliers and/or a flat-head screwdriver.
  • Reuse or replace the batting, depending on its condition.
  • Position the batting and backboard over a strategic area of your fabric
  • Cut the fabric wide around board, leaving plenty for the wrapping process.
  • Pull the fabric tight across the backboard and use a staple gun all around to secure it. Play with the corners to get the look you want.
  • Paint the legs
  • Re-screw the bottom to the top.

In this case, the footrest is painted with Antoinette over a coat of Paris Grey with the pink sanded down to reveal the grey. Then a coat of clear wax.

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Leftover fabric became matching pillows. I cut two identical rectangles, about 2 inches all around larger than the dimensions of the ottoman. I glued the pieces together, good sides facing each other, with a uniform line about a half inch inside the cut. I used Unique Stitch fabric glue, (but if you can sew, go for it. Don’t forget to leave an opening unsewn or unglued to leave room to add the filling. Turn it inside out, stuff it, and close up the opening.

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Chair legs can be painted to match the legs of the footrest. (A little Photoshop magic on the legs here.)

Now for the main ensemble, suitable for an elegant evening. First, on the legs of the chair and the footrest : two coats of Graphite and one coat of Black Wax.

A new dress (upholstery), accessories (a blue velvet pillow), sleek hose (painted legs), and matching shoes (a footrest), will help make this chair a stunner in the corner of an eclectic/contemporary living room.

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Like the clothes we pick for a mood or occasion, the basic elements of shape, color and accessories define the “look.”

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What I learned:

  • Furniture style boils down to shape, color and accessories.
  • For seating, accessorizing can be as simple as a new pillow.
  • To bring an ensemble together, coordinate the colors.
  • Two new outfits are better than one!

karenraelevine.com

Highchair Highway and Memory Lane

I snagged a scratched and wobbly toy high chair for five dollars. Solid wood and all I needed to do was tighten the screws. I forgot to take a before picture but this is what a new one looks like.

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Annie Sloan Antoinette is a very pretty pink and while I was looking for a sample at Suite Pieces, someone introduced me to a new color, Old Violet. I had to go home with a sample of that too.

I was assured by Google and knowledgeable shopkeepers that Annie Sloan paint and wax were nontoxic. Not that I expected the next owner to take a bite, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

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Soft cotton light weight gloves (usually for archivists and coin collectors) worked very well to buff the wax in those little hard-to-get areas. You can find them on Amazon for about eight dollars a dozen.

I loved the two-toned version. I used clear wax on most of it but remembering how messy the dolls of my childhood could be, I used a nontoxic rub-on varnish for the tray.

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On my journey down memory lane, I shuffled through a box of vintage hankies I inherited from Grandma Sylvia and found two that were perfect for a reversible seat cushion.

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I sewed them together. I am not a sewer, but I held my own. As I stitched, I was reminded of Grandma Charlotte, who made magic with needle and thread. I’m sure both of my grandmothers were looking down and smiling as I sewed.

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I also have to give a little credit to my seventh grade Home Economics class, where, even though I wished I could take Shop with the boys, I learned some sewing basics. That was back in the day. Girls couldn’t take Shop until I was in the ninth grade. It was also the time when all sewing baskets contained a tomato pin cushion and a metal Band-Aid box for buttons. When I dug it out, mine still did.

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So there I had it: the perfect gift for my friend’s granddaughter. I hope it will give her as many happy “grandma memories” as I had when I refurbished it.

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What I learned:

  • Annie Sloan paint and wax are nontoxic
  • Using light cotton gloves is a great way to wax small or round areas.
  • I can still thread a needle.

http://karenraelevine.com/

Let’s Hear it For the Girls

I wanted to make a special gift for my brother and his awesome family. My nieces are talented softball players and my brother and sister-in-law spend countless hours at ball fields watching their girls play.

I looked for inspiration for softball themed make-overs and I found some interesting baseball ideas but they all looked very boyish. Not that I was going to paint something pink and frilly, but really, these girls needed a shout-out.

I owned four benches, which is about three too many. A bench would suit the purpose very well because I’ve watched my nieces play and witnessed the whole family drag themselves, satisfied and exhausted, back home. And when you feel that way, there’s really no place like home. Are catching on to the theme here?

I forgot to take a “before” picture of the bench but I managed to catch it after I sanded the top.

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I stained the top, let it dry, and and then flipped it over to drill four holes in the cross bar at the bottom. I made sure they were spaced equally. I can be finicky about things like that. I’ll save the reason for holes for later. I’m sure the suspense is killing you.

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I designed my plan for the top, which included resizing the exact dimensions of home plate. This is another example of how finicky I can be. Now for my brilliant double entendre (stolen from a photo of a doormat). I had mapped it out in Photoshop. Note the guidelines I included.

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I transfered the image with graphite paper.

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I decided on a paint pen to outline the smaller lettering. The pen was red but on the stained wood it came out kind of pinkish. That wasn’t bad. A little girly, but not too much. I taped around home plate, loving all those straight lines, and painted it Old Ochre. I even “dirtied” it  by dry-brushing a mixture of Old Ochre and Graphite.

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After I was finished patting myself on the back, I painted the H, M and E with Graphite, trying to resist perfection as I swung my calligraphy brush along the curves of the lettering.

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I applied two coats of Old Ochre to the base.

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Then I had a sinking feeling, as if I was stealing second and the outfielder was on the ball.

I’d read on the internet that chalk paint would hold up in the great outdoors. You can’t always count on the internet, but you can always count on your coach. I messaged Amanda Peppard, the owner of Suite Pieces. She explained that untreated chalk paint was good-to-go outdoors BUT it wouldn’t protect whatever was underneath. The wood I’d painted was already ready for weather. A hip-thumping slide and safe on second! Thanks Coach!

Remember those four holes I drilled? Are you still dying of suspense? That’s where I screwed four softballs. (NOT baseballs.) I’d pre-drilled the softballs and used a nice long wood screw to attach them from the bottom.

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Back in the dugout, my pinkish lettering wasn’t standing out as much as I wanted it to. I took out my paint pens for another pass.

The thing about paint pens is that you have to shake them once in awhile and, like banging the dirt off your cleats with a bat, the stuff flies everywhere. I tried removing a few but the stained wood had absorbed those little paint bombs. A swing and a miss. Pass the Gatorade.

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I gave up and sealed the top with two coats of polyurethane, paint bombs and all.

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I surprised my brother and his family with their bench after a double header. They were thrilled and amazed. Thrilled and amazed always gives me a good feeling, especially when it comes from my sports idols.

I pointed out my imperfect pink dots to my sister-in-law. She asked me the most amazing question. “Do you know what the enemy of “good’ is?” My 15-year-old niece chimed in before I could even begin to think of an answer. “Better!”

Go team!

What I learned:

  • Do not shake a paint pen anywhere near your project.
  • Untreated Chalk-painted surfaces will hold up outdoors but will not protect the surface underneath.
  • “The enemy of good is better” – Voltaire.

P.S. Did you know that before Judy Garland stamped “There’s no place like home.” on our hearts in The Wizard of Oz,  the chart-topping song in the 1800’s was “Home Sweet Home”, which includes the same phrase–over and over again?

www.karenraelevine.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Harlequin Romance

I spotted him by the side of the road. He was worn and weary but what a physique! It was crazy, I know, but I took him in and let him stay in the basement. He kept to himself for a long time until one day, as I carried a basket of laundry to the washing machine, our eyes met…

Okay, enough of this gushy stuff. You know I’m talking about a table, right? Annie Sloan Coco. That’s his color, not his name. I don’t name my furniture and if I do, I guess I should keep it to myself.

For the sake of discretion, a photo of my forlorn and naked companion is not included. (In other words, I forgot to take a “before” picture.) I adorned Coco—I mean, the table—with two coats of his namesake, intending to shower him—I mean, it—with diamonds.

No, not real diamonds, diamond shapes, aka Harlequin. I laid the pattern out on my computer. Hate me for loving geometry? Don’t worry. You’ll have the last laugh.

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I used one quarter inch painters tape so it would come out just like the picture. But it didn’t. I turned to my trusty T-square and marked out rectangles with a watercolor pencil.

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I still didn’t get exactly what I wanted. My frustration was growing as big as the ball of discarded painters tape. I won’t go into details because the next time I do this I’ll position the diamonds with templates and trace them across the table top.

At last the Coco table had its diamonds. I marked the ones that wouldn’t be painted. Notice all the lines I had drawn with the watercolor pencil? Mostly mistakes.

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Unmarked diamonds got one coat of a mixture of two parts Coco and one part Pure white. Because the tape was so thin, I had to be very careful painting the lighter color.

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When I was finished I had a heck of a time washing the pencil off and sometimes had to paint over it.

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By lightly sanding the top in the same direction, point to point, I muffled the imperfect lines and made the lighter diamonds look like my uneven paint job was by design.

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I applied white wax to highlight those sexy legs.

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If you’ve been fortunate enough to shop for real diamonds, you’ll know that the fewer the imperfections, the higher the price. My find and me, we cared more about pretty than perfect. True love!

harlequin-12-horizontal

Happy was the heroine.

truffaldino_bakst

The end.

What I learned:

  • Don’t overthink it.
  • Make a template of a repeating shape and map it out before you begin.
  • A harlequin diamond is about twice as high as it is wide, but you don’t have to use that exact ratio.
  • Use a light touch when marking with watercolor pencils.
  • Pretty is more important than perfect.

A Cup of Joe to Go

No one is sure how a “cup of Joe” came to mean a “cup of coffee” but the source of a different nickname for the popular brew is clear. When coffee became popular in the 19th century, the primary source of those magical beans was in Indonesia, on the island of Java.

coffee-3   map-of-indonesia

You’ll never confuse a can of Java Gel Stain with a cup of coffee. I had anticipated something like dark jelly, but it was more like sludge.

java-gel-stain

But hey, I’d had three babies. There were worse things than sludge. It was time to sludge a table.

glass-top-table-before-2

The materials and construction of the table I had were Ikea-like, but it looked like it had been assembled before Ikea had been born. It was sturdy little thing and had the advantage of a smoked glass top that was in pretty good condition. I had to be extra careful with that glass because if I broke it, the table wouldn’t be worth saving.

This was a total, off the cuff experiment. I mixed the primary colors, Napoleonic Blue, Emperor’s Silk (red) and English Yellow. I thought this combination of colors would make brown. Good theory. Yucky color. I wasn’t going to waste the paint I mixed so I used the yuck as a base.

glass-top-table-during-2

[This was before Annie Sloan’s brown,  Honfleur, was available AND before I found an Annie Sloan video where the basecoat of her faux wood table was an eggplant color created by mixing  blue and burgundy.]

Continuing on in ignorance, out came the Java gel stain. What a mess! I wiped it on with one rag wiped it off with a clean one. I didn’t seem to have much control as far as how much came off. I had to keep reapplying stain to the bare spots.

glass-top-table-5

I was in serious need of a cup of Joe, but didn’t dare approach the spoon, the coffee, the pot or the cup.

stained-hand-2

In retrospect, I should have applied less stain and used lighter touch as I removed it. Proof that I had applied too much was the frustrating fact that the stain took two days to dry.

The table didn’t looked stained but it looked better in brown. The particle board couldn’t have been concealed more thoroughly. No waxing or sealing, just a whole lot of mineral spirits to clean my hands.

glass-top-table-after

Quite a nice coffee table, I think. Care for some Java?

What I learned:

  • Wear gloves.
  • The color of the basecoat matters.
  • Apply the stain with a disposable brush
  • Use light strokes when wiping off the stain with a rag.
  • Java is an island, a word for coffee, and the name of a color.