Tag Archives: staining

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

Flower Sifter

While cleaning out my kitchen cabinets I found an old sifter. I use flour from time to time but “sifter” is no longer part of my baking vocabulary. It was about to go in the donation bag when a word from my high school French popped into my head. Fleur. The sifter was saved.

It looked like this.

sifter-before

With my new “repurpose it” eyes, I saw it as a flower pot with built-in drainage. I painted the sifter with two coats of leftover Antoinette  from my high chair project. The color matched one of two lonely saucers I owned.

If your sifter is new, remove the label. You can soak it in sudsy water and scrub it off. Goo Gone works well on stubborn glue. I didn’t paint the inside of the sifter all the way down because I knew it wouldn’t show.

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I cut a two circles of coco liner in the bottom. Coco liner is the stuff you see on hanging flower baskets. The circles don’t have to be exact.

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Squish in the coco liner in the bottom. It absorbs the water, keeps the soil moist, and prevents overflow when watering. Fill with soil and a plant — preferably a flowering plant to keep the pun intact. If you’re thumb is as brown as mine, you can create an artificial flower arrangement instead.

I’m sure you’re dying to know how I decorated the pink sifter. I love to play with words. The French word, “fleur” is close to the English word, “flour.” And what is my sifter for? Flowers, which in French is “fleur”  Flour. Fleur. Flower. Get it? I crack myself up.

A single flower is “la fleur” and a bunch of them is “les fleurs.” You can download the lettering I used here.les-fleurs-cropped

I  used the tried and true method of rubbing pencil on the back, flipping it over and using the point of the pencil to transfer the lettering. The rectangle outline helped me position the the transfer. I knew I would cover the transfer with a dark paint pen so using a pencil transfer was not a problem.

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No need to wax or varnish. Voila!

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This is an artificial flower arrangement but I’m inspired to replace it with soil and a real growing plant.

What I Learned:

  • Look at odd items with an eye to repurpose.
  • Play with words. It’s fun.

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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Next step was the base. I chose Graphite.

 

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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.

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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!

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This little piece will inspire me to stay organized.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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Isn’t she bright and pretty?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.