Monday, July 30, 2012

North and South

I had great ambitions to do one big "Before and After" post. But as I have been compiling things, I think it might lend itself better to several smaller posts. So I thought I'd start with one of the more exciting transformations, like the North/South dresser that I sold in the Spring barn sale.

You all have already seen this somewhat sorry "before" picture:

It was such a beautiful, broken thing.

A friend of mine had kept it for years after buying it at a garage sale, hoping that she would eventually be able to get to it. Sadly for her, the time never presented itself. I just happened to be there one day when she opened her garage; there it was, this beautiful dresser. I almost melted right on the spot when I saw the double bowed front, the pretty cabriolet legs, the lovely glass handles. I could just hear it whispering how magnificent it would be painted a Prussian Blue. She was going to donate it...I took it home.

Once it was here, I noticed a few things. First, the entire bottom drawer base had been water damaged to the point of unusability. I would have to chuck it and build an entirely new bottom for the drawer. The other drawers also had a bit of water damage, but it was minor by comparison. And the whole thing just smelled kind of old and musty. So I got out the bleach, and got to work.

I bleached the drawers twice and set them out in the sun to kill off anything that might even think of remaining in the wood fibers. I even turned the dresser itself upside down, bleached, and sunned the interior just to be safe. Then I reglued the drawer bases to the drawer frames, as they had slipped over time.

By now I was in pretty deep and getting a little nervous. My dad came to the rescue and cut the drawer base for me on a neighbor's scroll saw. He also showed me how to use my Dremel to route the groove so the new board could slide into the drawer base.

As you can see, my dad enjoyed the Dremel. I think he was totally amused by the idea that I had a tool that he didn't own yet.

Anyway, once all the structural stuff was fixed, I could start painting. I opted to prime both the inside and out with a low VOC oil-based primer by Zinnser, just to be on the safe side. It takes a long time to prime and paint the inside of a dresser. I should have taken pictures of it upside-down in my garage. This dresser really did spend an abnormal amount of time upside-down.

It was about here in the process that I figured out what to call this piece. I knew I needed to do something to accentuate all the crusty "used" grit visible around the handles. I knew the piece could come across as deliciously old. (It actually was pretty old.) I already knew I was doing the Prussian Blue and I was leaving the top natural wood. Grey just seemed like a natural base for both. And this being Virginia, the capital of the South, I thought the "North/South Dresser" was historically appropriate. And kinda amusing.

I went on from there to coat the inside and the outside of the dresser and everywhere on the drawers with 2 coats of French Grey chalk paint. It really does take a long time to paint the inside of a dresser. I followed that with a coat of clear wax on all the parts staying grey- the dresser "guts" and the whole drawer, minus the front.

Then came the moment I had been waiting for. I finally got to see that pretty blue that had been singing to me. One coat of Annie Sloan's Aubusson Blue almost made my heart stop.

I think I started hyperventilating when I started sanding:

And it was all over, once I added the dark wax.

And didn't my garden look wonderful this spring?

I cleaned up and restained the top as well.

But all the work was worth it. What a pretty thing!
Here it is all set for the Barn Sale. It lasted 2 hours.

Don't you love it when you can actually recreate the image in your head?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Field Trip Friday

I think field trips are about the best idea ever. Didn't you love leaving the school and doing something random, like visiting a museum or battle field when you were a kid? It just takes you outside the routine and gives you a chance to think about something new.

This picture was taken by my daughter, then age 9, at the American Museum of
Natural History of a lovely desert diorama.

Somehow I have managed to carry the concept of field trips into my adulthood. That's kinda what this blog is about. "Gathering Branches" is my quest to go out into the world and find new ideas and new talent for the barn sale I host twice a year, as well as inspiration for my own work. I am frequently chucking around the region, visiting places I have heard rumors are cool or unusual or loaded with good deals or amazing people. One bonus of this is I usually find some awesome stuff to bring home somewhere along the way. I know there is joy in the journey. But there may be more joy in the travel booty.

Friday's field trip was no different. I know I have been writing a ton about Janet Metzger lately, but I just got it in my mind that I needed to go meet her. And her new store, The Empty Nest, had it's grand opening in Warrenton on Friday. (Info and directions here.) Not that Warrenton is really close or anything. In fact, it's about an hour drive from here. But we're a hearty lot, not to be put off by a little drive. Besides, my 12 year old offered to babysit, so I got to go by myself! If you are a full time stay at home mom, you totally understand why this is exciting. So off to Warrenton I went.

Isn't it the most charming shop? Janet is a master teacher of Annie Sloan chalk paint techniques. She has taught all over the country at Annie Sloan conventions and recently participated in Haven, a DIY blogger conference in Atlanta. She also sews, felts, and paints. Pretty much, if it's painted and in the shop, Janet made it.

She is also a stockist for both Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and Miss Mustard Seed's new line of milk paint. It comes out in August, but Janet had a few bags behind glass just to tease us.

Don't you love that classy reflection of me there in the glass? I must say, this is not one of my better photo shoots technically. I should have used my flash more, but I kind of have a love/hate thing going on with it right now. So it's not your eyes, my pictures are just blurry this time.

Here are a few more lovelies from Janet's shop:

The candles are hand made by one of Janet's friends. Check out the wonderful flavors they come in.

And of course, I needed the traditional "Ha! I met a celebrity" photo (I'm up to two now. Oh wait, three. Me and Miss Mustard Seed here. And me and artist Lou Gagnon here). Here is Janet. It was nice to meet her on such a happy day. Such a fun lady.

Now you would think that the fun ended here. Hooray for me, it did not. If you recall in a recent post (here), I visited Janet's previous digs at the Fox Den Antiques Mall. Well, I had unfinished business there. As I was walking out the door, a pair of white ceramic unicorn bookends that I had desperately wanted as a child caught my eye. Alas, the children were "done", the paint was paid for, and it was time to pony up the promised ice cream. So I left. Without even looking at the price.

So I headed back to see if they were still there. And since I love reading posts about what people almost bought on their shopping trips, like this one from Young House Love where Sherry and her best friend hit up a Goodwill in Atlanta, I figured I'd take you guys on an almost shopping trip of my own.  There were lots of things I thought about bringing home.

These first two pieces of furniture completely blew me away. Especially the china cabinet. They were just begging for some chalk paint. And they were priced at a stunningly cheap $199 and $195. If I had room in my car and more cash in my pocket, they would be making an appearance at the next barn sale with a new look. Sadly, they had to stay put. So if you want them, go for it!

I seriously considered these. For a second. I have a thing for jackalopes.

This is the bench I talked about last time. Obviously, since it is in this section of the blog, Janet did not paint it, like I originally thought. But don't you love the bent log design, the lion feet, and the super weathered paint? I think $500 is a bit on the pricey side, but if the seller can get it, great!

Cute pair of ironstone looking candlesticks, I probably should have bought.

I love me a nice Victorian table. I want to buy these every single time I see them. (Not that I have a place for it anywhere.) They are pretty in the original stained wood, but I just keep thinking how cool they could be painted in a spicy orange tone, or a bright aqua. Or a lightly distressed white or grey finish would be lovely as well. So many options.

This piece made the part of me that likes mid-century happy. It was solid as a rock and a steal at $95.

This was another nice mid-century looking piece. Nice as it was, but could be pretty in some kind of solid color. I wonder what navy blue would look like? Yours for $85.

There were also a few pieces of bling that caught my eye.

Loved them both, especially that wall sconce.
I have had a thing for blue lately.
And I always love large silver plate candlesticks.

Here's a few more pics, just so you get a feel for the place:

handmade pickle forks

Loved the industrial stool, but at $199, it wasn't in the budget

Who wouldn't want an Elvis lamp on their sofa table?

Cute little collection of lanterns.

And just in case you actually were paying attention, our story has a happy ending. The unicorn bookends were still there, waiting patiently for me in a little cabinet near where I had seen them.

It makes me giddy to look at them. Every. Single. Time.

And they all lived happily ever after.