Four years ago, I discovered the joys of Annie Sloan chalk paint. I had just retired from 36 years of teaching high school and painting furniture filled a huge gap in my life. I do not have the fine motor skills to be an artist but furniture transformation made me feel like one. I loved everything about the business, from looking for bargains to paint, choosing a colour or technique, to marketing the piece. But, the drive has started to wear off. I don’t enjoy lifting large pieces, I have to paint in my kitchen or dining room and there is an explosion of fellow furniture painters. I have to credit my stockist, Katrina, from Malenka Originals with the success of her business for this explosion. She introduced Ottawa to chalk paint and thousands seem to have embraced it. Many women are doing and loving what I did 4 years ago and I just don’t want to compete any more. I have painted many beautiful pieces and I know there are some very happy people who bought them. Here are a few favourites:
Annie Sloan actually led me to another hobby/obsession-dyeing fabric. I have become a textile artisan and have taught myself Shibori, Ice-dyeing and Sashiko embroidery. Here are some examples-the first pillow was done with a flour paste resist and black dye. The second one is an example of ice-dyeing. You can find my shop here: https://uwf-textiles.myshopify.com/
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.
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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I decided to try MMS Hemp Oil as a finish on a chalk painted dresser. I have used the oil on wood that needed reviving such as inside drawers but I have never actually put it over paint. Hemp oil is an all natural product that has no VOCs and has a mild, nutty odour. Read Miss Mustard Seed’s explanation about the oil here. Having used oils such as Tung, Danish and wipe-on poly on wood that I re-finished, I knew that Hemp oil would be easy to apply but I wasn’t sure about durability. This, after all, is a food-grade oil. Apparently, it sinks into a porous surface like milk or chalk paint and binds the paint. That’s essentially what wax was does to chalk paint and like wax, hemp oil has a 30 day cure period. You can add an extra coat of hemp oil to the surface if you want more protection or you can put on a coat of wax.
So, what are the pluses to using it? Number 1 has to be the ease of use. You rub it in with a cloth or a natural bristle brush and wipe off the excess. That’s it. The second bonus is the the appearance-it leaves a flat even surface. Anyone who has used wax knows the frustration of uneven waxing. I’m pretty sure that waxing is the number 1 topic of discussion among chalk painters. Finally, if you are at all sensitive to solvents like those in wax, then you won’t be breathing in chemicals with Hemp oil. The downsides? Well, it doesn’t feel as nice as wax since wax gives a slippery touch to a piece. It also feels a bit oily until it cures.
Neither wax nor hemp oil are totally water-resistant, so in that regard they are similar. I painted this small dresser in AS French Linen with a bit of pure white and some gilding paste. I love the way the Hemp oil looks on the piece. After 24 hours, it didn’t mark when I put something on the top and the paint did not rub off anywhere when I tried to scratch it.
If you want to read more about Hemp oil, here is a link to Homestead House paints who manufacture it. They explain how natural oils like Tung and Hemp work.
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