Ever since I read this post by Make Me Pretty Again, I have been interested in cerusing a piece of oak furniture. Cerusing is an old technique from the 1600’s that used lead to fill the porous surface on certain woods; it is also called liming. Originally, it was a type of preservative to ward off insects and rot. It was very popular in the Art Deco era and is making a comeback today in modern furniture, flooring and kitchen cabinetry. Lead is no longer used but rather some form of whiting.
These beautiful examples are from Houzz :
I bought a 1980’s side table to experiment with. The straight lines make it contemporary and also easier to strip.
It was covered with a thick polyureathane finish which is not easy to remove. I started with an eco-friendly stripper but after several coats, it still was not all off. I have had problems with stripping oak in the past. Oak has a lot of tannin in the wood which reacts with water and certain acids and I have found that the eco-strippers will leave grey streaks on the wood. They don’t sand out although you would think that they would. I think this probably only happens with oak that has a poly finish because you have to keep applying the stripper but I am not sure. After some research, I learned that you can use oxalic acid to even out the colour ( you use this on decks, for example) but I didn’t know where to get it so I tried laundry Oxy-Clean and it actually worked.
After that, I followed the steps laid out in this excellent post by The Ornamentalist
. I bought an aniline dye from Lee Valley, I scrubbed the grain with a brass brush, put on a coat of shellac then mixed Old White chalk paint with wax and wiped it across the wood. The result is excellent and except for the stripping, I would definitely try it again.
Lately, I have been painting smaller items that I have picked up at various thrift stores. I am hoping to take part in a few local craft shows and I know that I need smaller items that are easily transported and will not take up too much space at the show. In keeping with my own philosophy of upcycling, I have been collecting a variety of wooden objects and thinking of ways to make them more attractive or modern. The plus side to this is that it allows me to indulge my love of colour, pattern, stenciling and découpage without worrying about whether or not it will appeal to a buyer because the items cost so little to begin with.
I have found that there are a lot of free-floating shelves around. They are usually pine, many have hearts carved in them ( too many ) and have that country, kitschy look that was popular 20-30 years ago. This shelf was originally plain pine without coat hooks. I have always wanted to imitate that great subway dresser done by Lindauer Designs and this seemed to be the perfect piece for it. I added a darker stain to the top, unfortunately, my sanding did not remove all the original finish so it resisted the stain in spots. However, it does give it a reclaimed look. The rest is AS Graphite over Old White; I used reverse stenciling . The street names are from Ottawa, where I live ( we don’t have a subway!) and I added the coat hooks.
This shelf looked hand made when I bought it. It was painted white and had odd block like posts which I removed. I painted it red, and added an old Ikea kitchen bar that I was no longer using.
I did buy one of those shelves with hearts. I thought it was okay because it has a mirror and I went for an over-the-top feminine look. It is painted in AS Antoinette and stenciled all over with pearl plaster. I haven’t found much use in the past for the pearl plaster but it does give a nice raised effect to the stenciling.
This last shelf is pressed board and was meant for a bathroom as it had a bath motif in the centre part. I painted it with yellow and grey-white chalk paint and added the wrapping paper découpage.
In addition to shelves, I have painted a bread box:
some doll’s furniture, like this antique cradle and a few trays. This tray was painted in Old Ochre and printed with chalk paint colours. It is my version of Annie Sloan’s take on Paul Klee. It’s not nearly as attractive as hers but it does look nice on the tray.
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