Thursday 14 February 2013

A Tale of Two Sisters The Sequel: Tall Sylvia

Like any good mom, I like to dress my girls as twins.

Ok, so Im lying.  I don't have girls, or any children for that matter.  I do have a cat though, oh, and Mr. Chuckles can behave a lot like a child sometimes.  But no, Im talking about Long Sylvia's twin sister Tall Sylvia. 

I refinished her in much the same way as her sister (pure white chalk paint on the drawers and stain on the body), except this time I used GEL stain, instead of regular stain.  If you read about some of the problems I encountered with stain whilst doing tall Sylvia, then you would understand why.

Gel stain can be applied on top of existing finishes, that is its beauty.  You don't need to sand, or strip away the old finish, you can just lightly sand and then you pretty much apply the stain in the same fashion (wipe on, leave for several minutes, wipe off).  

The stain does not absorb into the wood like regular stain, instead it hovers on top and dries (yay, no tackiness 4 days later).  Plus, it still looks pretty good (not as good as regular stain in my opinion, but not bad).  I used a varathane brand gel stain in dark walnut.  This lady only took me about 5 hours, instead of the 12 her sister took!)

The Story of Long-Sylvia

Don't you just adore those instances when someone else just doesn't see the beauty in a piece of furniture, but you do.

When I picked Long Sylvia up from a young couple's house it was love at first sight.  She (and her matching tall sister) were sitting dejected and forlorn in a dark garage underneath a taxidermied moosehead.  I was told that the dressers belonged to the BF, but a swift ultimatum of 'It's me or the dressers' by the lady in question promptly saw an ad posted on Craigslist.  Enter me.

I was so happy to see that they were in great condition.  Although they were manufactured in the 1960s, there was nary a scratch on them, and their shape was just beautiful. Classic mid-century modern.  I loaded em up and the happy lady even through in a double bed for free. Thank you very much.

I tackled long-Sylvia first (as opposed to tall Sylvia).  I decided to go with a trendy midcentury two-toned look.  I used pure white on the drawer fronts, and I restained the entire body of the dresser in Kona and American Walnut mixed together.  I had trouble with the stain on the top of the dresser drying.  Days passed and it was still tacky to touch.  I realized I didnt sand back far enough, so I spent several more hours resanding off the stain, and then really sanding all the way back to the wood grain.  It was a serious hassle, which by the end of it had me swearing off stain for all of eternity.

I realized after reapplying the stain that I should have used a pre-conditioner, because the stain absorbed funny and left a weird hazy looking film that looked really milky at certain angles.  I wiped off some of the excess stain even further and in the end I wiped on some polyurathane which did help cut through that hazyness a bit.  But it still wasn't perfect, so I applied some wax and buffed that out.  Well, that seemed to do the trick, because the hazy/milkiness was virtually gone. 

It was a learning curve though, I realized that stain really isn't simple to work with, it takes time, patience and a fair bit of knowledge.  I have since stained other pieces, but it still isn't my favorite thing to do, fortunately, I am getting better at it.

I kept the original pulls because I thought they were gorgeously angelic. 

With all the sanding, re-sanding, and re-staining.  I think I spent about 13 hours on this dresser.  A little long, but I think she turned out lovely in the end. 

I forgot to snap a before pic (Doh!), but I have a picture of a dresser in the same colour, so you get the gist of what colour she was.



This last picture shows the milky/hazy look after I restained. I did some research and some other people have experienced the same thing, but I didn't find much online by way of a soloution.

A Little Bit of Simplicity and a Side of Bacon

Free is my favourite.

I was given this pokey little guy for free.  I picked him up from a very scary house late one night.  When I approached the door I could smell flesh frying up. Mr. Chuckles assured me it was just bacon..Im still not so sure. The house was so dirty I just wanted out of there, but I had promised the guy I would take the dresser, so we loaded it up, and scurried outta there quick sticks. 

I realized that it was a plastic laminate over particle board only after I got him home and into the light.  Darn.  Not only that, but it was covered in crayon, nailpolish and highlighter. 

I was determined to try and make him over anyways, so I broke open the TSP and wiped it all down. I gave it a light sand with the palm sander and focused on making sure I got all of the wax crayon off without sanding through to the particle board, I just gave it a good scuffing.  

Finally, I whipped out the homemade grout chalk paint, giving it three coats of white, and two coats of black.  I was amazed at how well it turned out.  I used white on the body, black on the top, and gave it all a coat of clear minwax paste wax.

I didn't have dark wax, so I tried a little trick Id read.. I mixed a bit of black paint in with the clear wax and used that.  It actually worked pretty well, BUT I have since tried it on the top part of a different dresser and the results were less than average.  Tsk, tsk, fickle little homemade wax.

I repurposed some of the pulls, and also included some old pulls from another dresser.

Big Bertha - the bed that could

After I finally convinced Mr. Chuckles to let me paint his bedroom furniture, there was no stopping me.

This is big bertha.  She was a classic 70s solid pine cannonball bed.  I hated her.  I am not a big fan of wood furniture, and our shared bedroom sported a six-piece matching set of the stuff; inherited from Mr. Chuckles' parents.

Witness her transformation. I mixed up some homemade chalk paint using grout and gave Bertha  three coats, lightly sanding between each coat.  I did the same for the nightstands, but I sanded back the tops and stained them in Varathane's KONA which is a dark chocolate colour. I gave the whole thing a light distress and coated her in clear wax.

Yes, you are seeing correctly, we 'staged' her on the driveway because we decided to do something different in our bedroom and make our own pallet board headboard (more on that to come), therefore we couldn't muster the energy to take her back upstairs.

I think she turned out lovely though, and would have happily kept her.



The "I Cant Stop Until Ive Painted Everything In My House" Syndrome.

It's a very serious affliction, and I have a feeling that Im not the only lady who has fell victim to it.  It is a malady that is brought on rapidly with little warning. Im talking about the notion that every single piece of furniture in your house would be greatly improved if only you were to wave your magic paint brush over it. 

I blame Pinterest.

I was bit by that bug in mid 2012 after I became addicted to the site and spent a solid three weeks pouring over it.  I didn't eat, I didn't sleep, I neglected Mr. Chuckles. It was bad.  Finally I snapped out of it and picked up a paintbrush.  Like any good junkie I didn't give up until Id got my fix.  In my case, it was furniture.   After Mr. Chuckles had unsuccessfully tried to sell his inherited (and somewhat blaise) pine furniture from his parents, I convinced him to let me paint it instead.  It took all my ladycharm skills, but I finally swayed him.

Here is the armoir (she was the first victim).  I used my homemade chalk paint with grout recipe (found on Pinterest of course).  I only did one coat in some places because I wanted a 'whitewashed' kind of feel.  I used pure white and also mixed in a bit of minty blue for highlighting.  I sealed it with Minwax paste wax (available at HomeDepot in Canada).
I forgot to snap a good before, but here she is without her doors and drawers.

And of course the after

Ugly coffee table = pretty bench

As Miss Mustard Seed says - "Hunt Your House"

This is exactly what I did when I embraced furniture painting with gusto late last summer.  One of my first projects was to turn this old hand-me-down coffee table we inherited from Mr. Chuckles' grandmother into something just a little bit more pretty.

This was a very quick and simple project (don't you just LOVE those) which quite frankly I needed after the "Clock that nearly killed me" fiasco.  I used a homemade chalk paint recipe from leftover latex paint and unsanded tile grout.  I learned after this project that it is better to mix the grout with hot water to help it disolve better and prevent those pesky lumps.  I used two coats on most of it, but three on some of the places I wanted a little more brillance. 

The grout recipe does leave a gritty feel (imagine rubbing your hand over the soft side of a nail file - it feels like that), so it is best to give a quick sand with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth it all out. I HIGHLY recommend doing this whenever you use homemade chalk paint with grout (I havent tried the PP or the Calcium Carb yet)

I sealed it with mixwax paste wax (I now use Annie Sloan and find it much easier to spread).  I didn't have dark wax, so I used some black paint mixed with glaze and wiped on and wiped off to give a hint of age to it.

I was too lazy to put my sewing skills to the test on this one, so I found a perfect little pillow cover for $1 at thrift store and stuffed it with two pieces of foam.  The gods were shining on me that day, because it all fit together perfectly - hullo - that NEVER happens!

Have a look:

The Before
After one coat

 Wiping the Glaze off

I realized I haven't taken a finished product pic. I will upload that soon!

Wednesday 13 February 2013

The Clock that nearly killed me

Ever had a bright idea that you were so certain would look fabulous that you spend way too long on it?

Ladies and gentlemen, meet the clock that almost killed me.

The Before
The After

This clock was not a bad clock.  Sure, she was no show stopper.  Men wouldn't turn their heads in the street to watch her strut along, but she sufficed, she possessed somewhat of a personality, ok at the very least she had a pulse.  

But after Mr. Chuckles (the other half) decided to paint her plain blue with Roman numerals I decided it was time to take charge and jazz her up good and proper.  I decided to cover her in broken bits of mirror.  Yep, you read correctly. Sparkle sparkle.

Materials needed:  hot glue gun, six dollar-store mirrors, hammer, dedication, more dedication, bandaids.

Ok, so what I did was take one dollar store mirror at a time, put it in a box and cover it with newspaper to prevent shards of glass from flying around the garage, and then repeatedly smashed it with a hammer to break it into smaller shards .   Yes, it sounds easy enough doesn't it?   WRONG.  While the drab blue clock was slowly marking time, and broken bits of mirror persistently took flight, I knelt with my hammer and marvelled at just how long it could take to smash a mirror into pieces. 

Perhaps I should have just hurled the thing against the wall, vacuumed up the pieces, broke the bag open, and voila! At one point Mr. Chuckles Senior dropped in to visit and looked at me like I was insane.  I sheepishly hid my bandaided fingers behind my back and assured him it was a perfectly safe project.

I painted the entire clock black prior to beginning to add the sparkly bits of broken glass.  I thought it would look better to have black poking through the mirror bits instead of light blue.

Sadly, downhill was the direction of the project.  I severley underestimated how long it takes a pair of hands and a glue-gun to fasten tiny morsels of glass to a round clock.  I had to space this project out over several nights due to achy shoulders from hunching over my work bench.  

All up it took bout 12 hours to complete this mirror.  And the saddest part?  No, not the abuse my hands took from cuts, or even the third degree burns, its that I don't even like the finished product that much.  Not only did it take the better part of my life to complete, but I can't help but give it dirty looks when I pass it by.  Because oh yes, I hung the dang thing! I spent 12 hours on it, afterall!

And here is the final picture of the transformation.  Warning, you may need sunglasses - she's glittery.