Tag Archives: stain

Travel Buddy

What’s better than having a travel buddy who shares a love of history, antiques, flea markets, and four-legged friends?

Camilla and I live 400 miles apart, which means there’s a good deal of traveling that has to happen before we get together and shake up some dust. A great surprise for my BFF would be a funky update to a vintage train case I’d bought on one of our jaunts.

Out came the insides, including the mirror.

The fabric inspired the paint colors: Annie Sloan Florence and a pink concoction left over from Just In Case.

At first, I cut the fabric in the shape of the old liner, but I lost patience trying to glue a lightweight fabric into a cramped space. I took a different route.

I painted the interior, then cut pieces of fabric and thin foam to fit the bottom. (I thought it would be nice to have a little bit of cushion, especially if the case might hold a fragile flea market find.) I sandwiched the layers with spray adhesive.

I measured a length of fabric to wrap around the inside walls and cut the top of the strip in a wave, leaving only whole, jumping dogs at the top.

Honestly, because it didn’t have to line it up with top edge, the wavy cut made it a whole lot easier to position the strip and adhere it with Mod Podge.

Painted clothesline, also left over from Just in Case, neatened up the inside. I coated the whole interior with Heirloom Traditions 1Gel. [A note about 1Gel: It’s expensive. I only choose it over Mod Podge when I want a tougher topcoat. It’s also a good transfer medium.]

I created paper versions of the dogs by scanning and printing the fabric. I decoupaged the doggies with 1Gel and let it dry. To seal the paint and and create a uniform sheen, I gave the whole exterior a coat of (you guessed it) 1Gel.

I stuck on an oval mirror from Michaels with thick, double-sided tape. The clips in the corners are Gorilla-glued clothespins disguised by decoupaged doggies.

For reasons too silly to explain, I sometimes call Camilla, “Rosie.”  Behold a doggie train case a la Rosie the Riveter. The whole mish-mash kind of says it all.

Love ya, Rosie! Where are we going next?

www.karenraelevine.com

 

 

 

 

The Golden Touch

My King Charles Cavalier didn’t seem impressed with the royal treatment the middle child of this nesting table family received in If at First You Don’t Succeed, so I decided to dress the eldest for a coronation.

With gold spray paint.

It looked as if King Midas had come for tea.

King Midas and the Golden Touch by Al Perkins, Pictures by Haig and Regina Shekerjian, Scholastic, 1973

To tone down the gold, I experimented with a wash of Annie Sloan Old White. The paint beaded on the glossy surface and I let it dry like that. It was an interesting effect but still left too much of a Midas touch.

Out came the Black Gel Stain. I applied it to the surfaces as if it were paint. Gel stain is oil-based and thick. I doesn’t behave exactly like paint but if you’re patient and let it cure between coats (in this case, two days), it leaves a rich and solid finish. It’s blacker than Annie Sloan’s Graphite chalk paint and it doesn’t need wax or varnish.

I learned from A Cup of Joe to Go to wear gloves and use a foam brush.

I wouldn’t take all the gold away from this rich little table. The metal base and pull, as well as the inside of the drawer, stayed golden.

The random raised pattern left by the beaded white wash gave this little prince some depth.

Quite regal.

www.karenraelevine.com

Just in Case

Be still my heart! Two wooden suitcases at Goodwill for six dollars each!

Fumigation not included.

I had a big idea for this small suitcase: A table when it’s closed and a vanity when it’s open. You know, “just in case” I need to freshen up.

I paired the suitcase with a table waiting for the perfect partner.

Stripping the inside of the suitcase involved experimenting with a few cleaning products. Goo-gone won first place in glue removal BUT it soaked through in some spots and darkened the exterior. Decision made. Paint!

Magic Eraser did such a good job cleaning up the trim and handle that I decided to leave it as is. Before painting, I taped the trim and the hardware.

The suitcase and table were graced with two coats of Annie Sloan Cream. In this “case,” I didn’t need the tabletop. I removed it and saved it for a future project.

I taped off stripes on the suitcase and added pink and peach highlights to the table. The pink is a combination of Emperor’s Silk and Cream and the peach is a combination of Barcelona Orange and Pure White. I don’t know the proportions. I just mixed until I liked the color.

It looked a little stark so I did some distressing and added images. Thank you to the Graphics Fairy and Diana Dreams Factory for the “Shabby French Roses Furniture Transfer.” The complete transfer is on the bottom shelf. I enlarged some of the elements for the top of the suitcase. Heirloom Traditions 1gel is a great transfer medium.

On to the “Just in Case” vanity…

I had some beautiful fabric and used a craft paper template to cut it to fit the back of the lid. I brushed the fabric with Mod Podge before the final cut. That made it easier to get a true cut without loose threads and it also helped align and decoupage the fabric to the surface

Before I glued the fabric to the suitcase, I cut an oval in the center about half an inch smaller than the mirror.

For more secure adhesion, I wanted to be able to glue the mirror directly to the the bare wood (and granite-like cardboard residue). To avoid sharp edges, I’d purchased an inexpensive mirror with a beveled edge

After the Mod Podge dried, I sealed the fabric with 1gel. 1gel is much more expensive but I find it leaves a harder, more protective top coat.

Gorilla Glue gel held the mirror beautifully.

To attach the suitcase to the table base, I needed a sturdy piece of plywood that fit inside the bottom. I was excited to break open my brand new jigsaw but I waited until my brother Jim was available for some lessons and guidance.

(I asked to borrow a sweatshirt. Apparently he only owns NY Giants sweatshirts. Worked for me.)

A perfect fit!

I rested the board on a smaller table and flipped the open suitcase on top of it. I screwed the table base through the bottom of the suitcase and the board at the same time. I’m sorry I didn’t take a picture. I was on a roll.

This is the flip-side after the operation was complete.

The interior came to life with another piece of fabric decoupaged to the board on the bottom and sealed with 1gel.

I used the same method for the trim that I used for the Pretty as a Peacock Chair. I soaked clothesline in water, then soaked it in paint, and hung it up to dry. No wax if you’re going to glue it!

I felt like Willie Wonka on the cusp of inventing bubble gum licorice.

“I am the maker of music, the dreamer of dreams!” – Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

With a little extra help from Beacon Fabri-Tac, pink trim!

With repurposed clothesline, repurposed clothespins seemed the right choice for some handy hooks.

A suitcase side table…

with a surprise inside.

Just in case.

www.karenraelevine.com

An Old Soul

I found this chair on the curb in front of a barber shop. I thought of all the people who must have sat in it and all the stories they had to tell. Maybe I was being romantic, but I felt that under its shabby exterior, there was an old soul.

I freshened the chair with a bright coral I created by mixing two parts Annie Sloan English Yellow and one part Emperor’s Silk. You really get to know a piece with the first coat of paint. Sometimes I’ll start with a coat of Pure White just to get a better idea of my “canvas.”

This time the paint highlighted an area where the rattan had begun to separate.

I removed the damaged back with a utility knife and was surprised to find yellowed batting underneath. It left me with  with an area that had to be filled in and covered.

 

I cut out paper templates for the back and the seat.

What followed was a series of “failures” that I prefer to think of as “learning experiences.” First of all, don’t upholster with carpet padding. Hey, I was trying to be thrifty. The foam rubber was too thin but at least it helped me make a sturdier template. (I used duct tape around the edges and used the utility knife to trim away the excess.)

The one and only winner, of course, was batting. And to cover the batting? Hmm, those are very nice curtains, aren’t they?

Confident that I could succeed with the upholstery, I added clear and then dark wax to the wood. There was the depth I knew was hiding in that chair!

I was careful not to wax the area to be covered because I knew from experience that wax resisted glue. (Wake Up Little Dresser!)

Time for the fabric.

“The moss-green velvet curtains felt prickly and soft beneath her cheek and she rubbed her face against them gratefully, like a cat. And then suddenly she looked at them.” – Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind

Sorry about the book reference but it gives me a chuckle: Scarlet O’Hara made a dress from her curtains. I used mine to cover a chair.

I used spray adhesive to attach the fabric to the batting and the batting to the chair.

What followed was another “learning experience.” I learned that my talents do not include sewing chair cushions. I did, however, come upon a rattan-ish seat cushion at Bed Bath & Beyond.

By then I was spray-adhesive-happy. I traced the cushion outline onto my curtain panel fabric and cut around it with a good three inches to spare. Because I only wanted to cover one side of the cushion, I used painter’s tape to keep the spray adhesive off of the bottom half of the cushion.

Once the fabric was stuck in place, I trimmed the excess to the edge of the painter’s tape.

I rolled a bead of Unique Stitch (Time to Play Dress-up) under the fabric where it was a little loose on the edges.

All it needed was a bit of trim to pull it all together. I had some twine and used Unique Stitch to glue it along the curves on the back and also around the edge of the seat cushion.

I’m glad I was able to see beyond the surface of this time-worn chair. It already had a long and interesting life before I came along. That’s the beauty of it.

Bones, depth, character, soul…

What I learned:

  • When upholstering, use upholstering materials.
  • Curtain panels are a terrific source for fabric.
  • Art rejuvenates the soul.

If At First You Don’t Succeed

This little table is the first of a three-part plan to decorate a corner in an “eclectic contemporary” living room.

I knew right away the side table would be Napoleonic Blue because it would share a room with a dresser in the same color (The Tale of the Ugly Green Dresser).

I loved the Napoleonic Blue with clear and black wax.

I didn’t love the rubbed bronze metal on the legs and knob. I decided to paint them Old White and highlight the paint with wax. “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.”

Try number 1: Because it was metal I decided on a first coat of primer. In the end, it didn’t matter and I didn’t need it. But how do you like my high-tech method of letting the paint dry on a knob?

Try number 2 (below left): Old White. Boring.

Try number 3 (below right): Old White with clear wax and then black wax. Not bad. I could have applied even more black wax but I wanted to try another method.

 

Try number 4 (below left): Old White rubbed directly with black wax (no clear coat in between). Black wax on its own is more of a stain. It did have an interesting look, almost a silver tone on the white, but it still wasn’t what I was looking for. I took out the mineral spirits to clean off the wax .

Try number 5 (below right): This is what it looks like when you grab the wrong can and, instead of mineral spirits, dump a glob of paint remover on the paint you had so carefully applied. When I was done cleaning this toxic product off of my unprotected skin and calling myself all sorts of names, I took a look. This might be a method to catalog for another time. But not this time.

 

Try number 6: I gave up on the Old White and went to Graphite. This is the first coat.

Two coats of Graphite and an application of black wax gave me what I was looking for. What I really wanted was so much easier than what I thought I wanted!

The table, by the way, was one of a set of three I bought together. This is Charlie checking out my work. Charlie is the reason I have to watch out for dog hair in my paint.

Try number 7: Since the knob had been painted Old White and then Graphite, I sanded down some of the Graphite to reveal the white. I liked it. Finally, success.

What I learned:

  • Pay attention to the product label before you open it!
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment.
  • Mistakes are a learning experience.
  • Sometimes simple is best.
  • If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.

karenraelevine.com

City Tree, Country Tree

I wanted to give special gifts to two different people, separated by miles and styles. My “city” friend lived in a small apartment and my “country” friend would be bringing his gift home on a plane. Their gifts had to be small and portable.

It felt like one of Aesop’s fables…

country-mouse-city-mouse-scott-g-detailDetail, The Country Mouse and the City Mouse by Scott Gustafson

For my human friends, I started with $20 flat-packed wooden trees from Crate & Barrel.

bare-1 bare-2

This project required very little paint, and I used the paint I already had.

For my country friend, I painted the branches with Annie Sloan Amsterdam Green.

green-1green-2

I brightened it by painting the little leaves with Antibes Green and the star with Emperor’s Silk. (I forgot to take a picture with the red star).

green-4

I loved the look on my husband’s face when I asked him to pick up a bottle of white nail polish. Time to polish my nails? Nope. Time to make some snow.

green-7

Nail polish on the branches was fun because it created raised, shiny snow on this country tree’s branches.

For my city friend, it was modern all the way. First, Pure White, then a repeat of Emperor’s Silk on the star, and sprayed all over with silver glitter.

white-3

white-1

I cut some beads from of a red garland (it’s shown in a couple of the previous pictures) and stuck them to the branches with tacky glue.

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It was quite a balancing act to keep those beads in position while the glue dried. I had to play go fetch more than a few times when those red balls rolled out of reach. Much much better to use a hot glue gun.

Aesop’s fables always ended with a moral. The moral of this story is that style, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

three-trees-abc

Which one would you choose?

What I learned:

  • For small projects, try to use the paint you already have.
  • It’s fun to paint with nail polish.
  • Style, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

An Ode to My Favorite Veteran

My father-in-law wasn’t just my father-in-law, he was my dad. I miss him terribly and there are certain days when he’s on my mind more than most. One of them is Veteran’s Day. He served his country during World War II and his closest friends called him “Sergeant Sammy.”

Dad was an organized guy and he must have opened and closed the drawers of this little caddy at least a thousand times. I knew I could never part with it and thought if I used it for my own storage, some of Dad’s organizational skills would rub off on me.

caddy-0

I pulled out my power sander. I love power tools. They make me feel, well, powerful. Sanding the top and drawer front revealed a very nice solid wood.

caddy-01

I had the perfect drawer pulls already, somewhere, and by a stroke of luck, I found them. The caddy didn’t need pulls but the advantage to these was that they held labels.

Before I finished sanding the drawers, I measured the pulls and did a test run with the positioning. It’s a good thing I did because one of them was way off. I was able to spackle the hole I made by mistake.

caddy-02 caddy-02-oops-arrow

I sanded the rest of the drawer fronts and applied two coats of a combo walnut stain and polyurethane to all the bare surfaces.

caddy-04

Next step was the base. I chose Graphite.

 

caddy-08  caddy-07

I touched up the curves in the drawers with calligraphy brush. If you hold it on an angle and use a steady hand it makes a nice even line.

caddy-09  caddy-10

As it happens, Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, not sealed or waxed, acts as a chalk board. I could write notes and reminders on the sides! Here’s the chalkboard technique I learned from the helpful staff at my favorite stockist, Suite Pieces.

  1. One coat paint
  2. Light sand
  3. Second coat paint
  4. Light sand
  5. Third coat paint
  6. Prep by rubbing chalk across the area and wiping off

Drum roll please!

caddy-13 

This little piece will inspire me to stay organized.

caddy-14

Thank you Sergeant Sammy, for your love for your family and your service to our country.

What I learned:

  • Drill holes before you stain or paint.
  • Use a calligraphy brush for touch-ups and smooth lines.
  • Chalk paint, when prepared properly, can be used as a chalk board.
  • Appreciate our veterans.

Wake Up Little Dresser!

Someone left this at my house after a Man Who Came to Dinner  kind of situation. Long story. Let’s stick to the little dresser or side table or whatever it is.

 

This was a sturdy little piece that seamed hand-hewn. I didn’t need it and didn’t want it… an absolutely ideal situation to experiment with chalk paint, and a great excuse to buy a quart of Annie Sloan Cream. None of my three rules (Use what I have, Keep what I need, and Have Fun) would be broken because I had someone in mind who would love it. Onward!

shabby but not chic

The knobs were weird, similar to paper fasteners.

img_3469 dsc02331

Off came the weird knobs and on went the paint, followed by clear wax. Fairly easy stuff.

cream-table-during2

I sanded the edges for more of the shabby chic look. I sanded the inside edges of the drawers to help them slide more easily.

img_2777

Headed in the direction of shabby chic, I had the bright idea to apply waterslide decals and bought some pretty ones on Ebay.

rose-decals-2

You cut them out, soak them in water until the image slides off the backing and then smooth them on the surface you’re decorating.

First problem: waterslide decals don’t stick to a waxed surface. I removed the wax on the top with mineral spirits and applied a new decal. It stuck! I waxed the top.

Second problem: you can’t wax over a waterslide decal. It will slide right off. I gave myself a day to breath, used the back as a test space, and found the solution. Apply the waterslide decal to a bare chalk-painted surface. Let dry. Apply rub-on varnish. Let dry. Done.

Then I found the cutest knobs on Ebay. It’s difficult for me to stay away from Ebay.

knobs

I had the hardest time pushing the new screws into the holes for the knobs. I gave myself an imaginary smack in the head. The holes were smaller because they were made for those weird paper fastener pulls. Duh! I drilled holes big enough for the new knobs.

I already had the contact paper to line the drawers.

cream-table-1

Isn’t she bright and pretty?

cream-table-2cream-table-3

What I learned:

  • You can apply waterslide decals to chalk paint, but not over or under waxed surfaces.
  • If the knob holes aren’t big enough, use a drill to make them bigger.
  • Beware of house guests who show up with furniture.

The Orient Express

I had an old Pier 1 cabinet and my husband needed a new night stand. Here was the perfect opportunity to paint, refurbish and reuse.

The cabinet had an Asian look and a nice design but the color was boring and some of the paint was chipped. My idea for it was ambitious. Not only would I paint it, I would add a custom design.

bamboo-table-before

 

The color it called for was Emperor’s Silk, a beautiful deep red. Even the name sounded Asian. I made it darker, mixing two parts Emperor’s Silk and one part Graphite.

bamboo-process-0

 

After two coats, it was time to add the decoration. Because I’m not exactly a fine artist, I sat down with my computer and found just the right stock art to buy and copy.

bamboo-decoration

It was more complicated than I wanted but I knew I could break it down. I may be middle-aged but I’m no stranger to computers. I’ve been working with them since we used card punches for computer programming. If you’re not familiar with these, click the link and have a laugh.

I broke down the image (an Adobe Illustrator file) to the piece I wanted to use and resized the design. I copied and flipped so that I would have two mirror images, one for the right side and one for the left. Because they were taller than the standard 11” paper size, I had to print each of them out on two pages and tape them together.

bamboo-decoration-copy             bamboo-decoration-copy-right

Time to dig out my trusty graphite paper. I used painters tape to attach both the graphite paper and the image. I left a flap so that I could lift both and check my progress. I traced the image on the paper with a sharp pencil. In the image below, you can just about see the transferred outline on the left side.

Check your progress. If the graphite paper is upside down you’ll waste time transferring the image onto the back of the paper. Check once in awhile to make sure you didn’t miss a spot.

bamboo-process-1a

Once I had the outline transferred, I used paint pens to color in the lines. I was like Kindergarten, only a little more nerve wracking. Paint pens are good for smooth lines and color but, being oil-based, they are not as forgiving as crayons.

I wasn’t too worried about the details. A rough rendering of the flowers, for instance, would be pretty enough.

bamboo-progress-4

 

When I was finished, the front seemed like it had too much blank space. I added, using the same print and trace method, the Chinese symbol for love, borrowed from Google images and checked by Google translate. Those of us who have dropped a pile of carefully ordered pile of 1980’s card punches never take Google for granted.

With a sigh of happiness, I applied a coat of clear wax. The result was good but not great.

thumb_img_2817_1024

It needed a coat of dark BLACK wax and I applied it hesitantly, hoping it wouldn’t take the pop out of the design. No worries. Not only did the dark wax create more depth, but it settled in the grooves of the faux bamboo edges and showed it off very nicely.

Pier 1 table dark wax 3

I didn’t have to do a thing to the knobs from the original piece (except not lose them). They were perfect.

bamboo-after-front  bamboo-1

Mission accomplished!

What I learned:

  • If you can’t draw, trace
  • Go easy with the paint pens. Mistakes are hard to correct. Use a gentle touch with the side of the nib.
  • Waxing over paint pens is not a problem.