Wednesday 28 January 2015

A New Topcoat Technique and a Lottery win!

I won the lottery today!  It is great timing because Mr. Chuckles and I are about to take off for sunny Cuba in a week's time.  Sure, I only won $26, but hey, that will pay for the cost of the spray tan I will get before we go.  Yes, I get spray tans...not that often, as I find my life isn't exciting enough to need 'tan' skin on a regular basis.  But, I do like to get them before I head off on a vacation to a sunny destination when I have been covered up in layers of clothes for the past five months. I find with the spray tan I am not in such a hurry to play catch-up on my tan in the first two days of being on vacation (which inevitably results in a really bad burn).  By the time the spray tan wears off I am usually starting to get a bit of a natural glow.

Speaking of top coats, I used a new technique on this piece, which I must say, is an absolutely stunning piece of furniture!  It is so grand, and was surprisingly manufactured right here in my very own city.  It stands at 36" tall and is 20" deep.  Most of my 9 drawers stand at 36" - but only after I custom add legs to them!  Prior to that they are a dwarfy 31".  I like a short stature on MCM pieces, but on the chunky 70s dressers I find they look way better with extra height.  Personal preference I suppose.
But obviously this amazon didn't need extra height because she was already so tall! I went to pick her up and realized there was a very good chance she wouldn't fit in the Mazda 3, the gentleman enquired where I live, and by sheer good fortune he was heading to my very street later that same afternoon for a birthday party!  Pretty coincidental in a city of 500,000 people!  So he actually brought her to me. Very kind.

The least fun part was the sanding.  Sanding French provincial furniture is the most labor intensive out of all furniture.  So many god darn curves and bevels and lips and ledges.  Urgh.  It took about two hours to sand her down, vacuum and wipe her clean.
Next step was to prime her up with some tinted primer.  Two coats and a bunch of dry time later I was ready to paint.= (aka the fun part). Oh, and the hardware was giving a dose of Rub-n-Buff in antique gold.
I used a cobalt colour I love, but I also mixed in some navy blue and black tint to achieve a more navy colour. I painted on about three or four coats in a satin finish.  It turned out really nice, but it was missing that 'pow' sheen that I get when I use wipe on poly.  The problem is, the last time I used WOP I had such a hard time getting an even finish on the top that I ended up doing WAY too many coats.  I just wasn't mentally or physically ready to go through that again so soon.  Still licking the wounds and all...
I remembered reading in a wood working forum that someone found that tung oil finish gave a less streaky result than  WOP.  I just happened to have a can on the shelf in the basement so I thought Id give it a whirl.  I used an old rag to wipe it on, and then I used a second rag to virtually wipe it all back off, just leaving a tiny hint of the product, but enough to give me the subtle sheen that I wanted.  It took quite a long time to fully dry (despite me wiping almost all of the product back off), but in the end it produced a more high-end result than if I had just left the paint un-topcoated.
Anyways, I am really happy and I think I will try this technique on another piece in the future. But for now I would recommend it, particularly on a darkly painted piece of furniture as tung oil finish will amber over time (so DON"T use it on a light coloured piece).

The before!

Monday 26 January 2015

Mint-Turquoise - On a dresser and on a BEACH!

It's a good day when you wake up to yet another blustery haze.  Snow flakes are knocking on your window, the sun is playing hide and seek for the 23rd day in a row, and to top it all off its a Monday!  Yep, those are great days indeed. Why?.. because, you just booked a trip to sunny paradise!!! - and only have eight days left until you board the plane, grab a cerveza and smile and wave at everything in sight for the next two weeks!

Its winter vacation time! Woop woop. Mr. Chuckle's and I have picked sunny Cuba for this year's winter hiatus. We will be crisping on the tennis courts and basking on the beach for a full two weeks.  Yay!  We have never been to Cuba, and the crux of all the reviews I have read have said 'great beach, average food'.  But I'm pretty sure I can manage some drudgery in the food department if it means I have a nice beach to frolic on. Can't wait!

In honour of the vacation, this will be my last piece of furniture until we get back toward the end of February. I still have to catch up on posting on a few other finished pieces, but this one here is actually the last one I painted before I called game, set, match to get ready for the vacation. Can anyone say 'New bathing suit!'.

I finished it in a very heavy distressed 'time-worn, super-weathered look'.  Like I said in the last post, I was pretty keen to relax and do a piece with a bit of creative flair that I didn't need to worry if it got a scratch here and there.  Undistressed pieces can be quite stressful, especially to move around. One false nudge and your uncured paint can scratch, or one drop of falling water onto uncured paint means repainting the entire top.  This happened to me recently.  I opened the garage door to take some photographs of a finished piece, and the condensation caused a drop of water to fall onto the top of the piece (which was dry to touch, but wasn't fully cured), I wiped it off really quickly but you could still see the ring from the drop a day later.  I ended up repainting the top.

I used Cottage Paint sold at Benjamin More for this piece.  I bought it in a cream-taupe colour and I added some tint to it to get this bright minty toned turquoise colour.  I had to alter the colour a bit on my monitor because my laptop monitor shows it as blue, when it is most definitely green.  So, more than likely it will appear differently on other monitors.  It isn't a fluorescent type colour, just a nice minty-come-turquoise, but I suspect it is going to look a bit flouro on other monitors.
I sanded the piece prior to painting despite Cottage Paint's claim that sanding isn't required.  I used a brush and deliberately left some of the nooks and crannies unpainted to tie in with the distressing I was going to do.  After two coats of paint, I used my orbital to distress on the edges and I also did some hand distressing with a coarse grit paper.

I used clear wax for protection and I also used a little bit of dark wax on the drawer facings.  The hardware got a buff with some sand paper to bring out a soft gold.

Lastly I added corner brackets so I could add the custom legs.  The piece now stands at 36" tall.  Love it!

A little shout out to all the people in NYC, New Jersey and the Maritimes here in Canada...The news tell me a whopper of a snow storm is headed your way.  Good luck, stay safe, and keep warm.

Thursday 22 January 2015

Weathered Turquoise Night Stands

It felt so good to do these pieces with their wonderful imperfections.  Lately I have been doing so many pieces with no distressing that I really need a perfect finish in order to get the 'look' I'm going for.  So when I picked up this three piece set (9 drawer pictures to follow) I thought,  'Im blowing the dust off the orbital and doing some serious distressing'.

Its not that distressing pieces is can take a long time to distress, particularly if you are doing it by hand, but its just a little less worrisome because if there is a little flaw in the finish you don't have to worry and redo it.  I actually just recently finished a nine drawer in that deep blue cobalt colour I have been using a lot lately and I think in total I did 8 coats on the top.  I kept having problems getting a perfect finish, and then I had trouble with my polyurethane topcoat looking streaky and I just wasn't happy with it.  8, maybe 9 coats later I finally nailed it.  Isn't the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results? 

These beauties only took two coats.  Much easier.  I used Cottage Paint chalkpaint I had in a cream colour and I added some tint to get this blue-based turquoise. I painted it on roughly, deliberately missing parts here and there as it would make distressing easier later.

I used wax on these because there is a strong oak grain.  I am not a huge fan of wax, I find it really streaky, but as I have mentioned before I don't mind using it on weathered looking pieces, I also don't mind using it on 'oak' furniture as it doesn't look as streaky over the strong oak grain.

I did all of my sanding before waxing. I like a good dust storm.  I did wear a protective mask to save the lungs though.  I used the orbital on some parts, and used a piece of coarse sand paper on others and did it by hand.

Some of the nice oak grain.

The before.

Friday 16 January 2015

Blue and Gold Frenchie

This was such a lovely French piece.  I knew I wanted to go for a bold look with it. I used a cobalt blue combined with gold hardware.  The pictures make the blue look much brighter than it actually is.  I have used this colour several times in previous posts, I don't think I quite captured the settings correctly on my camera for this one.

Im feeling a little bit under the weather I am just going to let the pictures speak for themselves.  Happy weekend.

the before

Friday 9 January 2015

Changing tables..not the baby kind

Sometimes I think Mr. Chuckles wants to kill me.  Not in the Ben Affleck 'Gone Girl' kind of way - which I must say was a fantastic read - and a surprisingly excellent movie too.  I read the book alone late, one weekend last year when Mr. Chuckles was in Las Vegas for a bachelor weekend.  By three am my eyes were drooping and I was fidgety as all heck; jumping at every little sound I could hear in the house - I think I even managed to put the cat on edge.  When the movie came out my BFF and I were both so keen to see it that it didn't occur to us that lots of other people were keen to see it too.  We got to the theatre all casual only to discover something called pre-reserved seating. Long story short we watched it from the first row.  The ride home was a little difficult as neither of us could point our necks in a position suitable for driving.
But back to Mr. Chuckles, no, he doesn't want to kill me that way, he just wants to kill me in the "stop bringing new/used furniture home you crazy lady don't you realize we live in a townhouse and don't have room for it", kind of way.  This dining table here is the third dining table we have had in the past year.   Its no surprise why I love mcm furniture.  Its really trendy at the moment and it features a lot in my make overs.  So a year ago we had an awesome vintage teak set in excellent condition (see picture below). BUT - I didn't LOVE the chairs, there were six of them (we only have room in the kitchen for four), and they didn't have the iconic mcm wingback look. 

So when I found this set below about 8 months ago, I bought it, lugged it home, refinished the top of the table and recovered the chairs (only four of them), and forced Mr. C to love it unconditionally.  He just rolled his head and exhaled through clench teeth.

But I didn't stop there, no ma'am, because although I liked that set, I didn't love it as much as the one I was staring at on the Craigslist screen 5 months later. These chairs sat lower, had an even larger curve to the wingback, and had a neat little detail underneath the seat.  'Hey, Chuck,' I called with a nervous chirp 'How would you feel about a new/used dining set?'.   No, just kidding, I didn't even tell him.  He just came home from hockey one night to find it all slumped in the corner of the garage.  'Honey, I have a surprise for you!' I called from the couch wearing nothing but his tie (Pretty Woman may have been a prostitute, but she got a few things right).

I'm not going to lie, Chuckles wasn't laughing that day.  He measured his stance, took a deep breath through quivering nostrils, and with clipped tones informed me that in his unprofessional opinion I needed to be institutionalized.  'Oh, calm down.' I retorted, 'we all need to have a hobby!'.

I chose not to refinish this set.  It is in decent condition, but there are some dings and scratches.  I may eventually refinish it, but I found with some gel stain touch ups and a good buff with paste wax, it came out decently enough, that if you stand back a few feet it looks great.  I did recover the chairs with black vinyl though.  The old fabric was pretty icky. 

For the first chair I recovered over the existing layers of fabric, it seemed like too much work to removed the multitude of staples.  But when I stood back to admire my work, I realized the seat had lost its beautiful little curve and looked decidedly chunky.  Kind of like taking Elle Machpherson and covering her up in 50 sweaters.  So, I grabbed a pair of pliers and stripped back all of the layers of fabric.  There were four in total.  It was extra work, but it was worth it as now the seats are thin and sleek looking and they dip in the middle like they should.

It was really the shape of the chairs that sold me on this piece.  They are vintage yet look futuristic.  Little spindly spiders ready to prance around my kitchen.

Mr. Chuckles love them too.  He hasn't told me as much, but I can tell by how happy he looks when he sits on them.

Monday 5 January 2015

Two MCM side tables with a side of male peacocking

Inspired by the New Year, and chomping with anticipation for the only two weeks away Australian Open Tennis Competition, Mr. Chuckle's and I decided to go have a hit at an indoor tennis facility.  We play religiously on the local outdoor courts during summer, but pull our heads into our turtle shells during the winter months.  So off we jaunted to the bubble court, paid the fee and made our way to court 2.  I couldn't help but notice the two 18ish year-old girls slugging away on the court next to us.  They were really good. They were pretty cute too.  (Cute like these side tables).

Having not played for a few months myself,  and perhaps not being as good as I fancy myself - aherm, I seemed to be missing a lot of balls.  At first my mindset was going something like this 'geez, I really suck today, what am I doing wrong'.  After a few more minutes I had a perspective shift.  You see, I realized that Mr. Chuckles seemed to be slugging his heart out at every single ball as though his life was at stake...Apparently he had mistaken our friendly Sunday hit for the Wimbledon men's singles final.  Then the lightbulb moment happened when a throaty grunt came from the ponytail swinging on the court beside us.  Ah. Of course, Chuckle's was showing off for the young strumpets at the sorority next door.  Can someone please explain why men do this?  Do they think we don't notice?  'Two can play this game I thought to myself'.  I took charge with a couple of un-returnable serves. Chuckle's didn't stand a chance, I think I even saw a couple of sisterly nods from the young ladies. 'Ha. Take that Chuckles!'

Anyway, I, like a lot of other people, love the mid century renaissance currently going on.  Such a cool fusion of vintage and contemporary.  So when I saw these cute side tables I picked them up straight away.
When I got them home I immediately sanded the tops back down to the wood as there were quite a few scratches in the original finish.  I cleaned off all of the dust, wiped them with water, let them dry, and than stained them in 'special walnut' gel stain.  I allowed that to dry for a day and than I finished with four coats of satin finish polyurethane, letting each coat dry fully and also using steel wool between coats to get a smooth finish.
The legs and the rest of the piece were in good condition and in any places where I noticed any little dings I just touched them up with gel stain.  Its like a little magic eraser. 

Unfortunately I forgot to snap a before. Until next time. ;)

Sunday 4 January 2015

A two-tone and a UFC review

I am a tired girl today.  I stayed up with a group of friends and Mr. Chuckles watching a UFC fight until 2 am.  Normal bedtime for me is between 10:30 and 11:30, so I have been drooling my way through the day. And naturally I couldn't sleep in; up making coffee and donuts for the cat at 6:30. She gave up the 'nip a year ago, but fell paws deep into the Maxwell house. Lesser of two evils? Who can be sure.

As for the UFC?  No thank you. I shan't be repeating that.  The final 5-minute round was pretty much a hug fest between the two fighters.  Nary a punch was hurled. I couldn't be sure if they were fighting or getting a mating ritual underway. It was really adrenaline pinching. But then again, maybe my lady-brain just doesn't get it. The fellas sure seemed to fancy it, they were calling out all sorts of things I didn't understand.
On to furniture?  I naturally forgot to snap a picture of the 'before' in my haste to get the brushes stroking on this beauty.   But her drawer facings are original ( a nice dark walnut), so it does give you an idea of what the before would have looked like.
The wrap was in pretty good condition, but it did need some puttying here and there where some dings marred the surface.  After, I sanded primed and painted with several coats of Benjamin Moore Aura in an off-white.

I love the way this piece turned out and I am currently teeter tottering on switching out the turquoise piece in the living room for this one to be used under our tv and to store our media gear.  Hmm. We'll see how it pans out.
I like how the drawer handles don't span the entire length of the facings like a lot of MCMs do.  I also really like how they are off-centre on the drawers.  Ive not had a piece like that before.  Something new, always fun.

Notice the cute little teapot perched on the top?  I was picking up another piece just before Christmas off an older gentleman who just lost his wife to cancer a couple of weeks prior.  He walked me through his apartment and pointed at his China cabinet and said 'take what you like'. It was really sad.  He had lots of cute things in there (that I hope his children will keep as mementos of their mother).  But I admit that my eyes fell on the curious looking teapot with an MCM feel to it.  I told him that it was really unique and he explained it was a wedding gift and then thrusted it in my hands, insisting I take it.  I was very grateful and will always remember him when I look at it.  I can imagine this Christmas was really hard for him having just lost his 40-year friend.  Hopefully it gets easier for him.  So thanks John, Im sure you will never read this blog, but I appreciate your little gift and shall always keep it.

Right, In the words of Miss Bridget Jones, I am off to Bedfordshire.