This past year has been one of great creative growth for me. I still painted a lot of furniture but discovered a new love indirectly through painting. Last summer I was inspired by Annie Sloan’s Inspiration page to try shibori dyeing with chalk paint. My efforts with chalk paint were attractive but I really wanted to see what using indigo and Procion MX dye would be like. I haven’t looked back and have been very busy experimenting with different types of shibori for pillows, tea towels and scarves. I used to sew many years ago and have now re-learned some of those skills as well.
Here are some of my favourite pillows and painted pieces from 2016:
Have a creative 2017, everyone.
I recently wrote about using chalk paint to create shibori type designs on fabric. I enjoyed learning about the process as I was dyeing the fabric and the results were good but not spectacular. The best thing about dyeing with chalk paint is that it is easy: mix a bit of water into the paint, saturate the fabric for about 20 minutes, rinse, then iron the fabric when it has dried. Here are some of the pillows:
I am happy with the result but chalk paint does limit the type of design you can do. Shibori needs contrast and in order to get that with paint it can’t be watered down too much. You can’t get deep colour using paint nor can you get sharp design
I love the process of creating shibori design so much that I have moved on to dye. Traditional shibori is done with indigo dye but I started with Procion MX dye which is a fiber reactive dye. You can dye in cold water by adding salt to the bath and later soda ash which sets the dye. Once it has been washed out, the dye is permanent.
Shibori is done with tying, binding and stitching fabric to resist the dye in places which is how the pattern is created. These pillows were done with binding or blocking:
The graphic turquoise, blue and white one was done with clothes pegs. The flower shape or starburst is a simple binding design.
My favourite technique so far is stitch shibori. Designs are created by basting sections of the fabric then gathering the stitches tightly. The pillow in the foreground was red dye on cotton duck. You can see the zig-zag created by the gathers.
These 2 were done on silk shantung. Procion MX can be used on silk but it is not the best dye for it, an acid dye is preferred .
They turned out beautifully any way. The arrow-like pattern is another binding type. You pleat the fabric, wrap it around a rope, then tie string over the whole thing. The diamond shapes were created with stitching on folds.
What I love about the technique are the endless designs and the surprises that you get from time to time. I find it a very satisfying craft.
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Annie Sloan recently introduce Giverny to her North American market. It is a bright clear blue named after Monet’s village in France. I had hoped that it was a bright turquoise-blue because photos of it make it look that way, but it’s not. You can see it here. I mixed it in a 1:1 ratio with Florence and a bit of white and got the colour that I wanted for this coffee table. I bought this second-hand for my daughter; it is from some place like Indonesia and is heavy wood. It had a thick brown stain on it but you could see the marks and knot holes through the stain.
I stripped the top and found very rough wood. Rather than cover it , I decided to keep the rough look because it is definitely reclaimed looking. I applied 2 stains, walnut and grey, and 3 coats of wipe-on poly.
The base was painted in the chalk paint mix. Deep chalk paint colours give great coverage and I didn’t have to use much paint. I wanted a clean modern look suitable for this style.
I love Annie Sloan’s stencil called Trees. I stenciled some craft paper with it and lined the drawers.
I stenciled one way then in different directions over top. It has a modern primitive look that matches the table.
This is going in a contemporary living room with a leather couch and a pale grey rug that has bits of colour in it, one of which is turquoise.
I love classic Shibori designs. Shibori is the Japanese art of folding and binding fabric so that it resists dye in places. You usually see it dyed with indigo. I decided to try doing it with chalk paint as an experiment. Annie Sloan shows you how to dye fabric in her book Color Recipes for Painted Furniture. You can also see examples on her web site Annie Sloan Inspiration. Her basic recipe is 20:1 water to paint. You submerge the fabric for at least 30 minutes, rinse in cool water and hang to dry. Later you set the colour in the dryer or with a hot iron. It’s best to use deep colours because they come out much lighter than the paint and have a faded look to them. With Shibori, it is an absolute must to use a deep colour because you want to see a contrast that is created by the binding. I started with Napoleonic Blue in the hope that I would get something like indigo but it came out sky blue. Provence is too pale; it came out a faint aqua. The reds work well but you will be getting pinks. Antibes created lime green and Graphite became grey. I think Aubusson would be good because Annie used that on drapes and maybe Barcelona or Arles.
This is one of the easiest Shibori patterns to create-it’s called Itajime and it is a shape resist pattern. You fold the fabric accordion style until you get a small square then bind it with wood blocks or any shape and elastics. I used round disks to create the white circles
This one is called Nui-it is thread resist dying. The fabric is folded in sets of 4 pleats then basted with thread. The threads are pulled to create gathers then it is dyed. This was dyed with Burgundy.
This tie-dye looking pattern is Kanoko or Kumo. You pleat and bind the fabric in places to create the circle or bull’s eye effect. The colour was created by using Emperor’s Silk on pale yellow fabric.
Finally, this green pillow started out as Shibori but you couldn’t see the pale pattern, there wasn’t enough contrast or perhaps it wasn’t bound tightly enough. I stenciled over the green with Antibes and Provence.
The advantage to using chalk paint instead of dye is that is a lot easier. You mix it with water and that’s it. I would recommend letting the fabric sit in the dye bath for longer than 30 minutes-more like an hour. I also found that you really need to leave some of the paint in the fabric when you are rinsing it out; other wise, you may get very washed out colours. Heat does set it. I think you could wash these pillow covers by hand in cold water and not have colour bleeding. I don’t think the colours are as crisp or saturated as dye but they are pretty. Dye is a lot cheaper to use, colours come out the way they are supposed to and it is more effective for Shibori. But you need soda ash, salt and it can be messy. Would I use chalk paint again? Probably, if I could get a deeper blue.
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Three years ago, I wrote a post about waterfall furniture. It certainly is not my favourite style of vintage furniture and I usually avoid painting it. My blog post, however, is very popular ( 20,000 views) so I am guessing that there are a lot of people who want to know about its value or history. You can read it here if you are interested. This waterfall vanity was given to me by a friend who had bought it rather cheaply, so I painted it.
The veneer on the top was not in great shape. At first, I tried to patch it but there was just too much peeling so I removed all the veneer in the middle section. The other top sections looked ok but had thin cracks where the wood had dried out. Unfortunately, I decided to paint those sections as is, which was a mistake. The paint made the cracks more noticeable. I had originally wanted to stencil across the top of this table but I decided that might not be the best course. S0, rather than start all over, I chose to conceal the cracks with decoupaged napkins. I had a package of birds and flowers that had a white background which seemed suitable for the feminine look I was going for.
I used Mod Podge to apply the pieces then I sealed the top with 3 coats of acrylic varnish. The table and the matching chair are painted in Annie Sloan Pure White chalk paint mixed with a bit of grey to give it some pigment. Pure white is a devil to work with so I try to add something to it. Old White is good addition but I wanted a cooler tone. I even painted the seat of the chair which was covered in brown vinyl.
There was some nice detail on the front of the vanity so I painted it a pale pink to match the roses in the paper and added gold gilding paste on top of that. I also painted the insides of the drawers in pink.
This vanity has a matching mirror but I am not fond of the frameless look which was typical of the era.
The overall effect is totally feminine but why not? It is a dressing table after all.
Waterfalls are still not my style but this did turn out very well.
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Boho(bohemian) style is a mixture of colour, pattern and furniture eras. It is bold, eclectic and vintage looking. Tribal style, on the other hand, uses earth tones and is inspired by native cultures, using their patterns and artifacts in decor items. Both styles are popular today and both have connections to the 1960’s and earlier eras.
I wanted to try stenciling paint on stained wood and this little table seemed like the perfect project. It is oak, probably from the 1970’s and it had a glossy poly finish. I stripped the top and stained it with dark walnut to make it a bit darker. Then I applied a large wall stencil with white chalk paint.
One of the nice things about large stencils is that they give you the repeat pattern outline on all 4 sides so that it is easy to match up the pattern accurately. I used a stencil brush and was careful to off-load most of the paint. Taping down the stencil and off-loading are the key to getting clean lines.
I painted the base in matte black and added some white paint to the small handle so that it mimics the stencil. I like the look of black with dark wood and this seems an appropriate combination for the mid-century lines of the table and the tribal look.
Strictly speaking, I wouldn’t say that the stencil is a tribal pattern but it resembles one.
I see it as a boho/tribal look because of the mix of colours and styles.
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Furniture produced after the Second World War shows a definite shift from darker heavier woods and colours to those that are light, less bulky and even whimsical. Heywood Wakefield is credited with bringing this shift in American tastes by introducing a line of blonde furniture that became very popular in the 1950’s. There is a definite revival of interest in this furniture because it is retro looking and it is very well-made. You can read about this revival here.
Blonde furniture was usually birch or maple with a golden or pale stain. The set that I bought is blonde mahogany which was achieved by bleaching the wood before staining it. It is made by Gibbard, a well-known manufacturer of fine furniture in Canada. It came with a frameless mirror but that look is too dated for most people.
It is mahogany veneer over solid wood. The original owner had kept a glass top on both pieces and they were in near perfect condition. The brass knobs are distinctive and original.
I refinished the tops and painted the bodies in Pure White with a bit of French Linen mixed in. It is still white but has a grey tone. Pure White has no pigment and needs many coats; by adding some colour to it, you get a lot better coverage. Because the wood had been bleached originally, it would not take a dark stain so I opted for a chestnut colour which was close to the original but richer in tone.
I cleaned the beautiful brass knobs then added some gilding paste to make them brighter. It makes a great desk or could still be used as a dressing table in a bedroom.
It definitely has a glam look to it.
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