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.


Something in Turquoise

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.jean-4

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.


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Decoupage to the Rescue

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.

waterfall vanity

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.

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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.

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The overall effect is totally feminine but why not?  It is a dressing table after all.

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Waterfalls are still not my style but this did turn out very well.


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Tribal/Boho Style

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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Retro meets Glam

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.

gibbard desk 1gibbard nighstand

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.


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It definitely has a glam look to it.


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Using Hemp Oil on Chalk Paint

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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.

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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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mari wallpaper



Anyone who grew up on the 1960’s is familiar with Marimekko  [MAH-ree-meh-ko], the great Finnish design company that produces textiles and women’s clothing that is still popular today.  Marimekko  designs are bold, oversized and reflective of the aesthetic of mid-century modern decor. When Jackie Kennedy bought 7 Marimekko dresses in 1960 while her husband was running for President, she immediately created a fashion trend.  They were loose-fitting, brightly coloured and Marimekko became a household name.  The red and pink poppy pattern, Uniko, created in 1964, is instantly recognizable and can be seen on everything from coffee mugs to raincoats.  Even Converse has a line of running shoes in Marimekko fabrics.


I recently ran across a blogger, Pillar Blue Box, who covered a bench in blue Uniko.  It’s very impressive and you can read about it here.

I have a true fondness for all things Marimekko because I grew up in the 1960’s and I associate their designs with everything that was hip and modern looking at the time.  Their fabrics stretched over a frame, like a canvas, was an inexpensive way to add colour and the instant look of modernity to a room.  As with all things mid-century modern, Marimekko has enjoyed a resurgence in North America and their products and fabrics can be purchased in many stores.  I have bought some of their paper napkins and used them in decoupage.

This mirror, tray and some of the wooden hangers are painted with chalk paint and have Marimekko napkins on them.

mari mirror

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When I decoupage, I use Mod Podge but I don’t like it as a topcoat.  These all have clear acrylic varnish on them.  It protects the paper and unlike MP, it will not be sticky.  What I like about the  Marimekko is that it looks so contemporary.

mari mirror 3


Making Broken Beautiful | No. 36


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