Tag Archives: stain staining

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.


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


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.


[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.


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


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.


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.

The Tale of the Ugly Green Dresser

This project was one of my first and favorites. I owned a small dresser that I could use, but it was the wrong color.


Fortunately an Annie Sloan stockist, Suite Pieces in Huntington, NY, wasn’t far away. Before perusing the paint samples, a display of knobs caught my eye. One set called out to me and I knew they were “it.” Only a select few understand the strange and mysterious summons of furniture hardware.


The blue and white knobs made picking the paint color easy. Annie Sloan Napoleonic Blue.

At this point, I had little experience with chalk paint and wax and I didn’t want to get too fancy. I removed the old knobs, kept them together in a baggie and added them to my box of knobs. This was a good sign that I could possibly stay organized.

I found a dresser in this color and a doable technique on Pinterest and felt no shame as I tried to copy it… in my own style of course.

I covered the boring green with two coats of Napoleonic Blue. This is a color named for a man who wanted to conquer the world and failed. I wanted to conquer a dresser. Sometimes you have to ignore an omen.

I applied clear wax and gave it a day to dry. Then one coat of dark wax and a good buffing. The inside of the drawers aren’t painted but I plan on Old Ochre for some contrast.


Beautiful! But my dresser didn’t come to life until I added those knobs.

It don’t mean a thing if you ain’t got that bling!


Let’s call it a literary project because I put books on top. Credit to my creative husband for the photo of our house over the dresser.

What I learned:

  •  The perfect hardware is sometimes a good place to start
  •  Imitation is the sincerest form of inspiration.

P.S. I spotted the same green dresser on an episode of Ray Donovan. You know you’re hooked when you’re watching a high-tension action flick and looking at the furniture.

Next week: “The Orient Express”