Thursday, May 30, 2013

Adventures with Milk Paint

Back in December, I had the opportunity to hang out with Marian Parsons, aka Miss Mustard Seed. I highly recommend this, as she is a total delight. (Did I tell you guys that she came to see my booth at Luckett's? I was delirious with excitement!)

In between book signings, I got her talking about milk paint and how it was different than chalk paint.

 Thanks Janet, for letting me "borrow" your photo from here.

After our conversation, I was super curious to see what it did in person, so I bought some. One sample packet of Flow Blue (Prussian Blue), a packet of Kitchen Scale (Blue green), a packet of Ironstone (creamy white), and a bottle of the bonding agent, just for good measure.

Fast forward to March 2013. I was digging around the studio, looking for a solution to some finish based problem and remembered that I had never even tried my MMS milk paint. I found it and decided to go with the Flow Blue. I was super glad I had seen a demo on what to expect the texture to be at the book signing, because milk paint, when mixed, looks like you did something wrong.

This was what the demo looked like. 

from The Empty Nest

This is what mine looked like:

That is a combination of Flow Blue, Kitchen Scale, and I think I added just the smallest hint of Ironstone for good measure. It made a grainy, runny mix. But I knew what to expect, so I just went with it. I had already started chalk painting a wooden box with Pure White ASCP, so I decided that would be an excellent thing to start with. I slapped a coat of the milk paint on, and then blow dried it, simply because I was feeling impatient. 
Well joy of joys when the crackling and bucking and flaking started!

Well, that's the finished product at any rate. 

Here's a better picture of the kind of flaking I'm talking about:

There, you can see it better. The paint literally peels off by itself.

And the more "finished' an item is, the more the paint will flake and chip. And there is no way to know where your flaking and chipping will occur. You can hedge your bet by sanding a bit, but even then, things might still chip or buckle, ... or not.

 I purposely painted another wooden box I knew had been sealed, just so I could see how much peeling I got. Almost all of the paint peeled of in big flakes. It take about 1/2 hour to fully peel and buckle if you just leave it in the air. I used a paintbrush and gently rubbed off the flakes, then took stock of what I wanted to do. It was way too much peeling for the look I was going for, so I sanded with a 320 grit sand paper in a few spots where I wanted more adhesion and then added more paint. it peeled some more, but I was pretty happy with what adhered, so I stopped there.

The blue shadows are where the milk paint bonded. The green and red are ASCP chalk paint glazes I did in Antibes Green and Emperor's Silk after milk painting. Here's another angle:

You can see how much of the blue peeled off. I completely covered everything twice. What's left is what stuck. I was going for a very worn look, so that was fine with me.

The great thing about milk paint is that you can just keep layering it on until you get the look you want. The grit is part of the look. It gives a very primitive look, so if you love Shaker and American Primitive, you will adore what this product can do. And I was very pleased with the results I got from blow drying stuff. It seemed to encourage cracking and lumping. Which is what I wanted.

If you are looking for a super smooth finish, just know that you can get that, but you will need to use the bonding agent and be ready to sand and re-coat a few times. Wax also helps.

When I had each of these projects painted the way I wanted, I used a paste wax to seal them. I am pretty sure I used Annie Sloan wax, but I may have used a little of another brand I have. I think I also waxed the blue milk paint coat of the red box before I put on the chalk paint glazes. Then, after glazing, I clear waxed and dark waxed the whole thing again. The blue box and white frame were both clear waxed and dark waxed after milk painting.

I highly recommend dark waxing if you want the cracks and flaws of the paint to show through. it completely brings the piece to life.

So here's a summary of my experience dabbling in milk paint vs chalk paint:

1. Chalk paint sticks to almost anything. Milk paint needs quite a bit of tooth to stick. That is the point of both of them. They are total opposites in this regard. So if you are going for a really opaque look, or a painting on a slick surface and want good adhesion, go with chalk paint. If you want chipping and peeling and aging, go with milk paint. It gives a great rustic, aged finish.

2. Chalk paint and milk paint can be used to excellent effect as layers on each other. It doesn't matter which is first, it just depends on what you are trying to accomplish. I used chalk paint as a base layer under milk paint on the blue box and got no peeling, but plenty of cracking and buckling. I used chalk paint as a glaze over the milk paint and loved the way the lumps and peels showed through. If you wanted to do some decorative painting, but wanted a rustic base, you'd use milk paint for the base, the chalk paint for the design. It would be lovely. Miss Mustard seed does this often.

  Here's the piece she used to announce Kitchen Scale

3. Don't stress that your milk paint looks lumpy. MMS uses a hand blender to mix hers a little smoother. But just apply it. If it's too runny, add more powder until you are more comfortable with it, but think "water color" not "latex" in your thickness expectations. Here's her tutorial for mixing paint.

4. Wax is your friend with both milk paint and chalk paint. Just like it does with chalk paint, wax brightens the color and transforms milk paint. In that sense, milk paint and chalk paint are alike.

5. Both chalk paint and milk paint are very forgiving, so just relax. Find something you won't cry about not turning out to practice on. It's just a matter of experimenting until you get the feel for it. Start with a frame or a piece of wood or a small wooden box, or that 80's country plaque your mother snuck into your collage stuff because she was desperate to be rid of it. If you hate how it turns out, keep in mind, you can ALWAYS chalk paint over anything.

 Just for fun, here's a look at my all time favorite milk painted piece ever. It's the piece Miss Mustard Seed used to introduce the black color of her milk paint line, Typewriter. I saw it in person at her space in Lucketts  and didn't buy it. I am still amazed at the self control that took.

So there you go. My thoughts about milk paint. I was actually impressed with it once I started fiddling with it. And I didn't think I would be. So go give it a try and tell me what you think.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Lucketts, What an Adventure!

Wow. That was quite the rush, I must say. 

And thank you all for coming! There were thousands of you! Wow. So many people. Nice people. Fun people, with kids and open hearts and kind things to say. I am so grateful to you all. People stared longingly at our original art, and then said things like "If a piece of art makes you cry, you should buy it." And then they took it home. Could you die? It's those comments that make all the work worth it. And that wasn't even about my stuff.

A few minutes later, lady who does paper flower wreaths took the time to come over and tell us how beautifully made ours was.

Lucketts is quite the event to participate with. I highly recommend it if you have a gritty or shabby chic or farmhouse look to your products. Such nice people work the show. It's so well run. Heather and Diana do an amazing job with all the organization details. Everything works like clockwork and they are super responsive to questions. Thanks so much ladies, for all your time and effort. It was an incredible show, in spite of the bit of rain we got here and there.

 Here's a few more pictures of the booth:

And this is my wonderful staff. Thanks to Liisa and Hasni for keeping me sane and focused on the important things. I could not have done it without you ladies!!!!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Few Little Claims to Fame and More Stuff for Lucketts

Sorry I missed last week. It has been a bit crazy around here. But I'm here today. And I have a few exciting tidbits to share.

Let's start with Thistlewood farms. You guys remember. This is the site that inspired this post about my messy house (here) where I shameless threw back the covers and showed my own disorder to the world. It's the site where Karianne's perfect, perfect pantry caused me to wail in despair of ever having even one place in my house be that organized and clean.

Well, exciting things happened. 

She asked for readers to suggest a name for her online shopping posts (my  suggestion is in the comments here)....and she chose MINE!!! Read all about her wonderful sponsors, etc here. She mentions me way at the bottom. So go show her some love and check out the cool stuff she's gathered for you guys. You can tell her Marian sent you, if you want. But you might have to clarify that I'm not Miss Mustard Seed. She's a way more famous Marian. It wouldn't be the first time we've been confused with each other.

My other bit of fame comes from the Old Luckett's Store blog. Branches: the Barn Sale Without a Barn was a featured vendor on their blog yesterday! Yay famous! Woot. Check it out here. We are the third vendor mentioned. That was super exciting to discover.

So I bet you've all been wondering what's been keeping me too busy to post. Well, that would be book lamps, garage sales, and collages. Great stuff, right? The garage sale gods have been super kind to me the last couple of weeks. I found some incredible things. Like this huge, vintage wooden trunk.

and some amazing old forged iron serving pieces

and this cool silver plate tray. Can you see the bunches of tiny grapes all around the edge? 
Who wouldn't want a silver tray with tiny grape clusters?

I almost had heart failure when I saw an entire table covered in vintage and antique copper pieces. I only had enough money with me for a fraction of what they had. Could you die?

And the vintage and antique spoons. You know you have to have at least one of these.

I especially like the happy meal book on the floor behind them.  We keep it pretty real at my place. 

Here's a little peak at what Sharon from Hand Picked Art is bring to our booth at the show:

Isn't it funny how different our taste is, even though we hang out all the time? That's why it's good to have a partner, folks. Then there's something for everyone. 

In the studio, I have been super busy making collages and refinishing frames like this one with vintage stamps and 100 % linen backing

And this

And this. 

 DK shot the picture for me because I love dandelions. I'm having a really hard time putting it in the show. I LOVE how the chalkboard frame turned out. You guys would forgive me if I kept it, right? You 'll just have to come to Lucketts to see what I decided.

Here's a closer shot of the frame.

As far as the book lamps go, they are all drilled and bolted together, but are still a work in progress. I will have them looking amazing for the show. Please pardon the mess. Neither one has any lamp parts attached yet. The picture with the shade and the big pipe sticking out is just to show you where they are going. 

 These detail shots are the two different ways I attached the casters to the book stacks. One goes all the way through the bottom book. I had to reinforce that stack with a board hidden inside the book. The other style caster is screwed into the base book's cover.

I have a couple more pieces I am working for this show, a box and another collage, of sorts. Neither is finished, but here's a peek:

This is that piece from 1888 that I found. Please pray that the conservation glass I ordered from California gets here in time for me to pull this one together for the show. I suppose I could have used regular glass, but if something has made to to me from 1888, I certainly am not going to be the one to let it get ruined. UV glass or bust baby!

This was an experiment with MMS milk paint. I love how it chips and cracks. I'll take better photos and tell you all about this project later. But the lining will be woven strips of book page. (A Tom Clancy novel, if you must know.) You can see how I've done it on the bottom already.

So that's where things stand for now. Thanks for hanging with me. 
I always miss you guys when I don't post.

Don't forget to come to the show. I'll be there all day Saturday.
Here's the link for directions etc.
The Lucketts Spring Market
MAY 18-19, 10-5 both days
$7 at the gate

The fields behind the Old Luckett's Store
42350 Lucketts Road  Leesburg, VA