Friday, March 9, 2012

Not Quite Finger Paint

I have been stalking chalk paint bloggers lately. That is substantially less threatening than it sounds. I have just become enamoured with chalk paint, and there are a few people who do it pretty well. I have been watching all their tutorials and reading and subscribing to their blogs. It is really the Washington Post's fault. If it weren't for the Post, I wouldn't even have a clue this stuff existed. And Pinterest. Pinterest is also responsible.

So about a month ago, the Washington Post Home section runs an article about this women who does furniture refinishing out of her home in Arlington, VA.

So I start reading the article and I think, "I need to know this woman." So I read her blog,  and she has all the furniture she has redone posted and for sale. It's fabulous! Plus she's a cute mom who loves her family as well as being a crafty, thrifty artist in her "spare time". I love her Belgian/French look with its chalky white tones accented with grey and blue. So restrained and elegant. (Not that there is even one room in my house restrained enough for it to work) In the article, it mentioned that she used a special paint, Annie Sloan's chalk paint.

This is where the stalker in me came out. I went where any good visually inclined woman of 40 something would go....Pinterest. Chalk paint everywhere. So I follow the links of my favorites back to their blogs.....after spending a bunch of time drooling over . I kept finding pics I liked on, so I subscribed after watching Jami's cute chalk paint tutorial on youtube. (How did anyone learn anything on their own before YouTube?)

That one led me to the tutorial by Shaunna of Perfectly Imperfect . I decided she was one of the cutest people that I don't know in person, so I subscribed to her blog too. Both of these tutorials refer to Miss Mustard Seed's Waxing 101 tutorial, so I headed over there.

Miss Mustard Seed is another one that gets quite a few hits on Pinterest. Here's the link for Waxing 101.  It really IS fantastic. And my favorite thing about her is that her name is Marian, yes, with an "a".

Somewhere in there, one of the bloggers (sorry ladies, I can't remember who it was) had a "post your chalk paint" contest. I don't know who won on the site, but Janet of The Empty Nest certainly got my vote with this amazing sideboard. Her technique used such amazing color combinations! Things I would never have thought of on my own.

As I read and stalked and pinned, I started to realize a few things. These were people like me, home, arty, incapable of not creating stuff and making their worlds prettier. I was like them. They were like me. I could do this. I bought my paint.

I bit the bullet and using some barn sale money bought the Chalk Paint Kit along with 2 more colors from Patty, the highly recommended stockist at Best Furniture Paint in New Jersey. . And she is just as wonderful as everyone says. There was a question about what color I had ordered, so 3 hours after I had placed my online order, Patty herself called my house to clarify! That is some serious customer service. And the kit was the best deal I could find anywhere.

You can imagine how hyper excited I was by the time the paint arrived a few days later. It was dreamy. Such saturated colors. As fate would have it, my parents were here, so I had to wait four whole days to use it. But somehow I lived.

You wanna see what you can do with chalk paint?

And yes, it can be a much softer look than this. But you have to cut me some slack. I had to wait four whole days to play with these pretty colors. Did you seriously expect me do something subtle?

I think this may be the most fun product I have EVER used. It is fast, flexible, and really, really pretty. The magic comes from sanding after you wax the paint.

Here's how it works. You start with a piece of something. I used an oak plate.

With Annie's paint, you can just paint right over the wood, finish, everything. So it looks like this:
Then you add another color like this. I beat it up a little with a wet rag right after painting, to give a bit of grit and texture.
This picture is the bottom of the same plate, but you get the idea. Once all that has dried, you can wax it. The first coat of wax is clear and doesn't show up very well on white. Once that dries, you sand the plate. Somehow, the paint and the wax bond and the sanding works more like blending than color removal. Here you can see the difference on the red and blue plate. The first pic is the waxed paint before sanding.

The second is the sanded paint.
See how the wax drags the paint and blends it like an Impressionist painting?

So that's the clear wax. You sand and then add more wax and let it dry over night. Then you can polish it with a soft cloth to make it all shiny.

Now back to the white plate. I sanded, then decided to try the dark wax. You put this over the light wax and sanded paint for an aged finish. Then wipe off the dark wax using a rag and/or a bit more clear wax. The dark wax gets all in the nooks and crannies and really highlights the groves and grain of the wood. It's pretty amazing on oak. See?:

That's with a flash. Here's without:

The real color is somewhere in between. But I love it!

This really was my attempt at a calmer color pairing. I thought for sure I could make something "still" out of white and beige. I think I should probably give up trying to do calm things. Apparently, it just isn't in my nature.

So what we have learned here is 1) following Pinterest posts to their source is a great way to penetrate the Blogosphere, 2) Patty at really is as nice as everyone says, and 3) chalk painting is fast and completely addicting. I finished 4 pieces in 2 days from start to finish. And while I am a total spaz and was hyper focused the whole time, that is really fast, even for me. So go get some and give that ugly piece of furniture with pretty lines a makeover.