Wednesday 18 March 2015

A Scary Tumble and a Cheery Mint Desk/Vanity

We are counting blessings in my family this week.  A little get together at my mom's house took a serious turn when my little 18 month old nephew fell down a very steep set of 12 steps down to the basement.  We have a little child gate up, but it wasn't latched properly and when he leant up against it it gave way and he fell all the way to the bottom.  The poor little guy had the wind knocked out of him and couldn't get his breath for about 20 seconds.  It was really scary. Fortunately the stairs have a thick shag carpet typical of 1970s houses and my nephew has an inherited stubborn disposition meaning he pulled through just fine, but for the adults it certainly made us all very aware of how quickly a life can shift. In fact, an old high school friend of my sister and mine just died two weeks earlier from falling down a flight of steps. We had only been talking about it 30 minutes prior.

But onto cheerier things, I love this little piece.  The legs do it for me.  I'm clearly a leg girl, because all of my favorite furniture have legs, and if they don't, I often add them.  This piece came as part of a set.  It is the first of the three pieces to go under the knife and I'm very pleased with the result.  Isn't it the perfect colour for spring?
I contemplated doing a two-tone on this piece, but I have done about five two-tones in a row recently ( I haven't posted them yet) and I just couldn't muster the enthusiasm for another one.  I was contemplating lots of different colour options and I finally was inspired by a piece in my own house.  I have an old plastic laminate MCM tallboy in my basement that I use to store all my fabrics and decorative papers that I painted this spearmint colour a few months ago. Every time I look at it I get a little cheerier.  It is just such a warm smiley colour. Perfect for a little piece like this.

 I began by giving everything a good sand and destroyed my elbow removing all of the stickers.  I went down to the raw wood in a few places which was cause for breaking out the Zinsser BIN shellac primer.  Woop Woop! That stuff is stickier than honey and can burn the lungs raw, but it really does the trick on stopping bleed through. (note: wear a respirator).
Next came two coats of the spearmint colour which I custom mixed using a few different paints and some tint I have.  I used my critter sprayer making the process super quick. I finished by spraying on a coat of polyacrylic in satin for extra durability.
The piece was missing one ring pull, as well as the piece of wood for the top centre drawer.  I managed to source a couple of similar ring pulls and traded out the two lower ones for the new ones, they are not exact matches for the other two, but they are pretty close.  I spray painted them silver, and then glazed them with black to make them look a little more pewter like.  You can read a previous post of mine that details this process here: HOW TO GET A PEWTER LOOK ON HARDWARE.

I also cut a new piece of dowel and painted it off white for the top centre pull. I love that you can see the wood grain on the piece through the paint.
I also lined the top drawers with some decorative paper for a little pop of whimsy.
And the before.

Monday 16 March 2015

Moody Blue Dresser

This piece was inspired by this picture here.  I love the colour and the texture of the wall and the romantic yet sense of  abandon feel that it gives.  I was going to go for the same colour on this piece, but in the end I swapped out dark blue for the green, promising myself that I will use green next time.

It was a bit of a drive to pick her up, I've been having to wander further from home in order to find any good furniture as we have a drought on at the moment.  I brought my cat and side kick - Miss Do-as-I-please, along for the trip as she loves car trips, she climbs up on my shoulders and wedges herself between my neck and head rest and happily gazes out the window.  I tied her to a post while we loaded the piece into the Mazda, Im sure the gentlemen I purchased from thought I was a right eccentric!
I'm noticing that the colour is a lot brighter in these pictures posted to blogger than in my saved pictures in my editing software.  I read recently in a post by Reeves over at TheWeatheredDoor that she has found away around this, as apparently this happens to pictures in blogger.  In real life the blue is not this bright, it is actually more of a NAVY blue living up to the 'Moody' blue name. I just did a side by side comparison of the blogger pictures with my saved pictures and there is a noticeable difference in the brightness of the blue.  Annoying.  Reeves gives a helpful tutorial on how to upload photos manually in HTML to override this brightening Blogger nuance.
The piece was large and chunky with a strong oak pattern.  Oak is perfect for painting in these bold colours as their strong grain is visible through the paint.  In this case the oak grain grabbed hold of the black glaze I wiped on perfectly
I used some paste wax and traced along a few of the strips of oak grain on the top of the piece so that the paint would easily come away later to reveal the grain. I used my critter spray gun to lay down the base coat.  I only needed to do two coats.  Next I did some distressing, and as hoped the waxed parts let go of the paint and gave me 'veined' looking distressing.
The next step was to do a thick black glaze over the entire piece to help achieve the look that I loved about the wall in the picture above. I wanted it to look old, dark and moody (and in real life it is!)
Lastly, I added a few flecks of turquoise and a dash or two of yellow to give a little bit of highlighting along all that lovely raised detail along the front.
I used tung oil finish to give everything a pop of sheen and a little extra protection.  My paint was Dulux Diamond in Pearl finish.

Thursday 5 March 2015

Fauxing a Verdigris Patina

Hi everyone, sorry for the hiatus, but alas, I was busy holidaying in Cuba with jam-packed days of cocktails, buffets and hours of quality tennis time - and I do mean quality - our resort had fabulous tennis courts that kept me entertained (and frustrated) for hours everyday.  It defies logic, but I actually ended the two week holiday playing worse  tennis than I started.  How does that work exactly?  Mr. Chuckles improved immensely; and was destroying me by the end of the holiday, where at the beginning we were pretty evenly matched.  Who knows, I blame my sore ankles. Restricted my movement you see.

Im not sure how things are faring in other areas of the globe, but here in my parts the availability of quality used furniture seems to have dried up.  There is a serious drought.  I remember years ago I could walk into any second hand store and spot at least one piece I would work on, these days, I frequently do the rounds to 8 different stores and still come up empty handed.  Craigslist and Kijiji have also gone cold.  Its pretty frustrating.  Im hoping when our deep freeze comes to an end that things pick up a bit.

But I have had a few things to keep me busy in the two weeks since I have been back home.  This mirror came with a dresser I picked up a while back.  It is certainly  nothing special, just a large and average wood mirror.  I thought about tossing it, but when I happened across some inspiration while trolling though the internet I realized it was the perfect piece to try a new technique out.

What happens when you mix copper, bronze or brass with the natural elements? The result is called a verdigris patina (vert-de-gris in French), a layer of oxidation that forms over the metal to form a protective barrier. This patina varies in color from a green to a blue green / turquoise color. Left to age naturally, it will often take many years, but this natural patina results in a richer, deeper and more durable color.

Well, I certainly didn't have years to wait for a patina to form, and I also didn't feel like doling out $50+ for the science kit my local paint store was trying to flog to 'achieve the look', so instead I put on my white lab coat and got to mixing up some of my own potions.

The result?  pretty interesting and not too unlike an actual verdigris patina.  I haven't got any rustic or agey looking walls in my house, but I could completely envision this piece perched on exactly that kind of wall - old, peeling, weathered, rusty.  The mirror would look very at home there.