Monday, April 6, 2015

Steampunk Steamer Trunk

I used this old steamer trunk (an auction score for a couple of bucks) as a coffee table for a long time, and it was just totally ratty and grungy. I upgraded to a fabulous antique wood tool chest and stashed the old one until I decided what to do with it.

A chest like this is great as a "coffee table" because it also adds clever storage to a room. I store my hundreds of vintage 80s and 90s "Victoria" magazines in mine, and in the summer, my stash of warm fuzzy blankets we throw all over the sofa during cold weather. Out of sight, out of mind.

So earlier this winter I finally decided what to do with the Old Grungy,and started looking at buying some caster wheels like this, except new..... meh. I despise buying anything "new". Enter the husband - who, apparently, has every cool thing a DIY junkie's heart desires in his stashes of stuff disguised as "crappola".

"Oh... I have a set of vintage iron caster wheels," he says. Sure enough, he did.

BAM. A little watered down white chalk paint, a little antiquing glaze on a very wet rag, a little sanding block in all the right places - and I had the perfect "new grungy" finish on the canvas trunk.

Note: there was no saving or refinishing this trunk. It was plywood covered in canvas; not pretty wood. It was water damaged on the bottom and messed up in every way possible. Painting it did not break my heart. Trust me. 

Kevin added a piece of wood to the bottom to reenforce, and on went the caster wheels and there you have it - a steampunky steamer. I only wish the wheels were more visible.....  oh well.

For sale in our shop in North Carolina. If interested, drop me a line.

Sunday, March 29, 2015


 (unfortunately, I didn't get a photo of the mirror)

When I saw this thing I knew exactly what needed to be done. My client wanted to consign it in my shop and just wanted me to paint over it. But I knew that underneath this was probably gorgeous oak.

I am all for painting furniture. Especially the gross, ugly veneered stuff one finds at Goodwill or on the side of the road, or at the recycling center with the garbage, as I have done on a couple of occasions.

However, what I am not all for is painting furniture in this manner. I apologized to this piece several times in the process of ridding it of it's Smurf blue high gloss coating.

SO I pulled out the ol gel stripper and the elbow length rubber gloves and slathered the snotty stuff on and three layers of paint later, it started to show it's inner beauty...

then came several hours of sanding with various grits of paper on my two different sanders, a thorough cleaning with denatured alcohol, a coating of Minwax wood conditioner, another sanding and cleaning with more denatured alcohol, and finally two coats of "honey" by Minwax, which I love.  

The mirror was a beast; I pried off the carved appliques and that was a life saver. I was able to use tiny tools and brushes to get in all the nooks and crannies. Then they popped right back into place. I also had to add new knobs, as the ones it came with were white plastic, and the original wood ones were long gone. I chose these antique repro ones from Hobby Lobby.

I finished the piece with Howard's Feed n' Wax, which is a product I just RAVE about. I love all the Howard products for wood.

I did not, and will not put any Polyurethane products on this piece or any antique piece. I have really come to despise polyurethane and even polyacrylic, for a lot of reasons. I think this looks just fine with it's beeswax based finish.

This lovely is available in my shop for $275.00, delivery available to certain areas of VA  and NC.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Three alarm nightstand

You're probably assuming I need three alarm clocks to wake me up in the morning.


No, I just like them, and this is three out of my collection that I happen to like the best.  They don't work. They just look cute and serve absolutely no purpose.

So this is my own personal nightstand. It started out as a record cabinet:

I'd had it since last summer and never did anything with it; I just put it in my bedroom and kept putting it off while I did bigger more important projects. I like it as a nightstand because it's tall-ish, and  my antique iron bed is really tall, so I needed something that I didn't have to lean far out of bed to reach.

It has these little divider doo dads in it, that Kevin removed before I got this photo. It was rather dusty inside as well. Ewwww.

It is solid wood, but not super thrilling; and lest you think that is pretty wood grain on the bottom and top of the doors lemmie just tell ya - it's paper. Paper, made to look like pretty wood grain.

Post-war furniture like this was made to look modern, sleek, and useful. Homes were smaller in the post war era, and furnishings followed suit. No one, pretty much, was buying huge heavy bedroom and dining room suites anymore. And this kind of furniture was being made to be affordable - so while it was durable, it didn't have a lot of fine craftsmanship or details.

SO anyway I painted this with some random concoction of leftover paint I had mixed up a few months back for some end tables in my living room; so it's like a blue/grey/slightly aqua color. I did the design on the doors with a stencil that I then doctored up a bit. I didn't want to do it in white because that's not the "vibe" I have going on in my bedroom; so I did it in Rustleum's "Java" antiquing glaze.  And I kept the original iron knobs.


I love it.

Happy Valentines Day, everyone!

Monday, January 19, 2015

In which I kick chalk paint to the curb and have a wild fling with milk paint.

I have been reading about and drooling over milk paint and milk painted pieces for a long time, and when I bought this cute dresser at a local flea market I immediately knew it needed the chippy milk paint treatment.

It had a mirror on the back of it but one of the arms that held the mirror had broken off so I decided just to omit the mirror altogether.

I ordered some samples of Miss Mustard Seed's milk paint since she emerged as the leading authority on milk paint and it's use. I bought one sample size of "Linen" and one of "Kitchen Scale", and mixed them exactly 50-50.

The cool thing about the milk paint is, if comes in a powder form, and you add water to the powder to make your paint as thick or as thin as you want/need. For this piece I wanted a thin coat of paint so I would end up with a genuine looking chippy old look. The piece had a nice grain to it, not a smooth veneer, which helped with getting the "primitive" look on it. One teeny tiny (about 1/2 cup of paint) covered the whole cabinet of the dresser, with double coats in a few places. A little of this stuff really does go a loooong way.

The main reason I liked this paint's performance so much was because of the natural way the distressing looked. You know how you can look at some chalk painted pieces and the distressing looks so fake? (I despise the fake distressed look.... distressing should only be done on areas of a piece where distressing would occur naturally, not just random spots making it look downright silly.)

As this piece started to dry, areas of the paint lifted away from the surface of the wood in large flakes. Once the whole thing was totally dry, I rubbed it lightly with a about a 120 grit sandpaper and it distressed perfectly. It was amazing. It was like it knew where it wanted to be distressed and just did it itself. No heavy handed sanding needed here. It was effortless and perfect. It looks like a authentic, primitive piece that was painted 100 years ago, not something that was just painted last week.

I left the drawers original (but cleaned and oiled them) for contrast. I also did a light wax on it  but not anything too shiny.

I haven't totally cast off chalk paint, though. Chalk paint is still great for many things.

I think it depends on the piece. Something primitive like this looks great with a chippy weathered finish.
Something more Victorian style, for instance - or something MCM, would look kinda funny with a super chippy paint finish on it. In my little ol' opinion.

I tried to come up with all kinds of reasons for keeping this dresser  but in the end none of them were good enough so it went to the shop where it awaits a new home.