Why I stopped painting furniture

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/

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Projects from 2016

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:






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Have a creative 2017, everyone.


More Shibori Pillows

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:pillows-6

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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