kiss me I’m Irish.

Do you remember back in the day when we had those buttons that said “Kiss me, I’m Irish”?

I always wore one of those on St. Patrick’s Day even though I’m not a bit Irish, although many of my friends are.  Have you ever heard that there are more people of Irish ancestry in the U.S. than there are in Ireland itself?  Hey, I’m not making this up, check out this article from the Washington Post if you think that sounds crazy.

Well, regardless of whether or not I’m Irish, I do love the color green.  So in honor of St. Patrick’s Day I thought I’d share some of my favorite creations that are wearin’ the green.

One of my all-time favorite shades of green is Sweet Pickins In a Pickle.  I’ve used it on a few things, but the first was this old farmhouse table.

This shade isn’t for the faint of heart.  It’s a rich, saturated green.  After falling in love with it on that desk, I also used it on a vintage dresser.

I think what I loved most about that dresser was how beautifully the paint crackled.  It was a gorgeous finish.

I used the color again on this sweet little table.

And I just used up the last bit of a packet of In a Pickle on an adorable kid size chair.

Another shade of green that makes a big impact is Fusion’s Park Bench which looked amazing on this mid-century piece.

That piece was such a hit that I used it again on another fab mid-century piece.

And then I completed the Park Bench trilogy with my latest mid-century piece earlier this week.

You might not guess it lately from reading my blog, but Fusion has some other lovely shades of green too including Little Speckled Frog, the subtle pale shade of green on the body of this next dresser (the drawer fronts are painted in Fusion’s Limestone).

This next piece is painted in Fusion’s Lily Pond.  This color was available for a limited time only so I’m not sure how hard it might be to get your hands on it, but some retailers might still have some of it around.

Miss Mustard Seed milk paint has a darker green called Boxwood and a lighter green called Luckett’s Green and I used both of them on this little table.  The undercoat is Boxwood, and the upper coat is Luckett’s.

Miss Mustard Seed also has a lovely shade of mint green called Layla’s Mint.  Although I didn’t use an official packet of that color on this vanity, I did use Miss Mustard Seed’s recipe for it which combines several of her other colors.

 The Real Milk Paint Co makes a gorgeous, deep rich green called Peacock that I once used on an antique Eastlake style dresser.

Homestead House also makes a similar shade of green in their milk paint line called BayberryBayberry leans a bit more towards the yellow end, while Peacock is a bit more blue.

Bayberry is the perfect shade of green for painting chalkboards too.

So how about you?  Do you have a favorite shade of green paint?  Maybe in a brand that I haven’t mentioned.  If so, please be sure to share in a comment!

more fun with rust.

You may remember the recipe box that I painted last fall.  It started out looking like this …

Then I painted it with a sample of Miss Mustard Seed’s Bergere, added an IOD rub-on transfer and a metal key-hole escutcheon.

But I have to admit, that shade of blue just wasn’t doing it for me so I decided to start over.

I took my inspiration from the stool I painted when I first sampled the Dixie Belle chalk paint …

I repainted the box with the same Dixie Belle paint in Drop Cloth, with grain sack stripes painted in Dixie Belle’s Yankee Blue.  I even added a smaller version of the same Milk and Cream graphic using Fusion’s Transfer Gel.

I used some Tim Holtz rub-on numbers to add the “1953” to the front of the box.  This was to become a birthday present for my friend Terri, and I think you can all now guess what year she was born.  Then, instead of putting the key-hole escutcheon back on, I decided to add a little clasp to the front of the box.

I debated spinning a yarn here about how I found this old rusty hardware in a coffee can full of rusty bits and pieces that I picked up at an estate sale held in a big ol’ red barn out in the countryside, and I bet you guys would have believed it, right?  That would have been an awesome story.

But the real story is that I purchased a pack of 3 of these at Hobby Lobby for $2.50 during a half off sale and they were a sort of ugly ‘antique gold’.

So I used the Dixie Belle Patina Collection to add some rusty goodness.

I used the Prime Start first again since this little clasp is made out of metal.  Then I painted it with the Iron paint, followed by a spritz of the Green Patina spray (for more detailed instructions on using these products check out this post).  And now the little clasp looks like this …

I love that I can take something new and make it look old and rusty with this stuff!

Yep, I am much happier with the outcome this time and I’m pretty sure Terri liked it too!


feeling international.

This past Saturday I went to the Pink Martini concert at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis (if you’re reading Kim, thanks for the heads up on that!).  If you’re not familiar with Pink Martini, they once said that if the United Nations had a house band it would be Pink Martini.  I love this quote from their bio:  “We’re very much an American band, but we spend a lot of time abroad and therefore have the incredible diplomatic opportunity to represent a broader, more inclusive America… the America which remains the most heterogeneously populated country in the world… composed of people of every country, every language, every religion.”  Saturday night they sang songs in Turkish, Armenian, Italian, French, Japanese and more.

Not sure that Japanese music would appeal to you?  Check out Zundoko Bushi.  Or perhaps an Italian ballad is more your style, if so check out Ninna Nanna.  They do sing songs in English too, and I always dedicate Eugene to my sister (because her ex is named Eugene and I enjoy teasing her about it).

Anyway, seeing Pink Martini perform is like taking a trip around the world without leaving Minneapolis.  I let that idea inspire the staging for the piece I’m sharing here today.

But let’s start with the ‘before’ pic …

Mr. Q and I risked life and limb to pick this up one cold evening last week.  It was being stored in the seller’s walk out basement so it required backing our vehicle halfway down an icy hill in the pitch dark, and then carrying the piece itself halfway up that same icy hill in the pitch dark to load it into the van.  And yes, in case you are wondering, it is as heavy as it looks!  Once it was all loaded up it took a couple of tries to get the van back up that icy hill.

But we survived to tell the tale and got this piece safely unloaded back at our house.

By the way, this dresser also came with two tall, skinny, side by side mirrors attached at the back.  You may be familiar with that style from the 70’s.  I took them off and will not be putting them back on.

I bet you can guess what I did with it next!  If not, you haven’t been paying attention lately.

Of course I painted it in Fusion’s Park Bench!  I warned you guys that I was going to bore you with repeats of this color.  The last two pieces I did in this gorgeous shade of green flew off the shelf, each one selling within 48 hours of being posted on Craigslist.  So when you have a winning combination you just gotta go with it, right?

I would say the design of this piece is somewhere between the sleek, modern, clean lines of earlier mid-century pieces and the chunky, Spanish Rivival stuff of the 60’s & 70’s.  Perhaps it was designed by someone who couldn’t quite embrace either style so they stuck with somewhere in the middle.

I really debated the fate of the hardware.  The original stuff wasn’t horribly bad.  There might even have been some who really liked it.  If the back plate had been plain instead of fussily engraved, I might have tried shining up the brass and keeping it.  Also, if the back plate had been a separate piece that I could remove and still use the pulls, I may have done that as well.  But they are one solid piece.

 So I really felt like the piece would be better served with new hardware, and since I’d gotten an excellent price on it I felt like I could spend a little bit more on new hardware.  Luckily Hobby Lobby is really stepping up their game on more modern looking drawer pulls.  There were several different styles that caught my eye, but I ended up going with some matte gold drawer pulls for the six drawers and some matte gold and clear acrylic knobs for the center door.

Also, I was in luck because last week knobs were 50% off at Hobby Lobby.  Great timing!

Seeing the new hardware in place, I know I made the right decision.  These pulls and knobs lend a bit more of a modern edge to the dresser.

If any of you are wondering about the details on this piece, I started by filling the old drawer pull holes with Dixie Belle’s brown mud.  Next I sanded lightly, vacuumed away the dust and wiped it down with TSP substitute.  I painted it with two coats of Fusion’s Park Bench.  As you know Fusion paint has a built in top coat, so I didn’t need to add one.  Finally, I drilled new holes for the hardware, and voila!

There are three more drawers behind that door in the middle of the dresser.

And as it turns out, I’m kind of a dork because I neglected to paint the inside of the door.  It wasn’t until I opened it to take photos that I realized it looked rather awful unpainted.  I had to slap a quick coat of paint on it for the photos while I still had some light, so the paint isn’t actually even dry in that photo.

And in case you are wondering, I’m also going to have to cut down the screws for the knobs  on the door so that they don’t hit those interior drawers.  I did some measuring and I will just be able to trim them down enough to fit.

So technically this piece wasn’t quite finished when I took the photos for the post, but I had to make hay while the sun shined (shone?) and get my pictures done during daylight hours.  I won’t be listing this piece on my ‘available for local sale page’ until it’s totally finished and ready to go.

But in the meantime, I thought I’d still share it with you guys.  What do you think?

Will this third piece in my Park Bench series do just as well as the other two?

Fingers crossed.  I need to add a little more cash to the travel fund so Mr. Q and I can plan our next real international adventure.

photo finish Friday.

I know that a few of you out there are fellow furniture painters.  Some of you might just take your pieces to a shop to sell them, but I’m betting that many of you need to take good photos of your pieces to sell them online too.  Possibly you share photos of your furniture on Facebook.  Or maybe you’re a blogger, or thinking about starting a blog, in which case you really do need to have great photos.

I’m hoping that whether you take your photos with a smartphone, iPad, click and shoot or a more expensive DSLR, you’ll get some info out of this post that you can put to use.  I’m planning to stick with tips that you can use without having to purchase software or buy new equipment of any kind.

Today’s post focuses (pardon the pun) on one of the most important pieces of the photography puzzle and that is composition.  That are lots of things to consider when it comes to composition, so let’s just briefly touch on the ones that can be directly applied to furniture photos.

Rule of thirds.

Many of you probably already know about the rule of thirds because it’s one of the basic rules of good photography of any kind.  Many cameras even have an option for including a grid in your view screen that will help you instantly see if you are following this rule.  It might look like this …

The basic idea is that you will create a more dynamic photo if rather than centering your subject, you place it on one of the lines of a grid separating your frame both vertically and horizontally into thirds.

You might be wondering how you can accomplish that with a close up furniture shot where the piece fills the frame.  The trick is to pay attention to what the subject of your photo really is.  For example, in this next shot the subject of my photo is the drawer pull itself, not the entire piece.

But even with photos from further out showing the entire piece of furniture you can use props on one side of the piece to balance a photo where your furniture isn’t centered in the frame.

Sometimes it still makes sense to center your piece in the frame though, if so then try to use some of these next tricks to improve your composition.


As I was looking back through my blog posts for a good example of symmetry, I realized it’s something I rarely use.  To achieve symmetry you want to center your subject and then have each side of the frame somewhat mirror each other, or at least be visually balanced.  This symmetry in this next photo comes from the cabinets that are behind the piece and are equally balanced on each side.

Triangles and diagonal lines.

Making a visual triangle with your props is another great way to add dynamic tension to your photos.

Diagonal lines work well for this also.

OK, technically that’s not a piece of furniture, but you get the idea.

Rule of odds.

This is a simple rule to follow when adding multiple props to your photos.  For some reason odd numbers of items always look better than even numbers.  For example, five paint brushes, three books, etc.

This works when styling shelves in your home as well, try grouping things in odd numbers.

Filling the frame.

This is the idea that you should fill your entire frame with the subject of your photo, even to the point where you can’t see the entire thing.  Filling the frame adds instant impact to your photo.

There are three ways to accomplish this; 1) use a zoom lens to zoom in on your subject, 2) just get close with your camera or 3) crop your photo in post-production.

Foreground interest.

This is something that I wish I would remember to do more often.  One of the furniture artists I admire most does this all the time and it looks amazing (Marthe Leone).  Basically the idea is to have something in the foreground of your photos to help add some depth to your photo and make it look less two-dimensional.

This can be challenging if you don’t have a lot of space where you take your photos, but if you have the room give it a try!

Point of view.

Point of view refers to the position your camera is in when taking a photo and it’s an important thing to pay attention to.  Are you looking up at your piece?  Down at your piece?  Are you taking the photo from an angle or from straight on?

I find that a lot of people tend to take furniture photos from a standing position, and thus are really shooting down on their subject.  While shooting down can be flattering for people (because it makes things look smaller), and it can add some artistic flare to one or two photos in a blog post (like the one above), it tends to throw off the scale of the piece.  Especially if you’re taking a photo for an ad.

Instead try taking your photos straight on at eye level with the piece.  I use a little kid size chair to sit on when I’m taking the majority of my furniture photos (just because it’s easier than spending a lot of time on my knees).  Always include at least one or two photos taken at eye level when posting an ad for selling your pieces.

As you’re taking the photo, pay attention to your lines.  The horizontal and vertical lines of the piece of furniture should all be straight and even like in the photo above.

I hope some of my tips for composing photos specifically for furniture have been helpful.  If you’re interested in seeing more posts with photography tips for furniture painters or if there is a particular subject you’d like me to address, be sure to let me know with a comment.  If you guys are interested, I’ll definitely do some more photo finish Friday posts!

the pickle chair.

Recently I shared the pair of chairs with the stamped fabric seats that I purchased on the day of chairs …

I also bought two little kid sized chairs that day, see them there on the left?

Here they are again …

At the time I stashed many of these smaller projects away for the winter so I would have things that were easy to work on inside the house.

I painted the first little chair back in November in a pretty Homestead House milk paint color called Maritime.

I just finished up the second one, and this time I chose Sweet Pickins’ milk paint in a color called In A Pickle.

I’ve had such luck with green pieces lately so I figured I’d try it in milk paint.  I’ve painted a few pieces in this color in the past and the little bit of paint powder left in the bag was just enough for this chair.

Just look at the gorgeous chippy-ness …

I opted to just leave this chair unadorned, so no stencils or transfers.

It’s perfect for providing a pop of vibrant color.

The milk paint has been top coated with hemp oil, which really brings out that rich color.  Here is how it looked before the hemp oil was added.

The little bowl with the strawberries on it is something I picked up at a garage sale many years ago.  It’s just one of those sweet little things that I couldn’t resist.

I’m sure at one time it had a lid, but now it’s lidless.  I store paper clips in it.  It never fails to bring a smile to my face when I see it.  I love the little lines of green around the base and handles.

I’ve hung the chair on the wall for the photos, I think it would be fun to use a chair like this as an alternative to a traditional shelf, don’t you?

I’m slowly but surely making my way through all of the smaller projects that I had stashed away for the winter.  Luckily spring is just around the corner (shhh, don’t tell me differently, this is what I keep telling myself) and along with spring comes garage sale season!  It can’t get here soon enough.



the boutique de vin dresser.

I sent Mr. Q off to pick up this lovely dresser one afternoon last week.  It wasn’t far away so it was easy for him to pop over and buy it while I was still at work at the day job (well, technically I was getting my hair cut on my lunch hour at the time, hi Tamara!).

It has a rather classic traditional style, wouldn’t you say?

You can barely see them, but it has a pair of hankie drawers attached to the top.  I’m not a fan of the hankie drawer.  I’ve removed them from many dressers over the years.  Having those two boxes permanently adhered at either end of the top makes it difficult to put anything else on top of this piece, like a TV for instance.  And in the case of this dresser, I think it could easily be used as a buffet in the dining room, but not with hankie drawers. Usually there are a couple of screws holding the drawers in place, and that was the case with this dresser too.  So, I unscrewed the screws, removed the boxes, filled the holes with Dixie Belle’s brown mud and you’d never know they were once there.

Other than the finish being a bit worn, and the holes left by those hankie drawers, this piece was in perfect condition.  I paid a little bit more for it that I normally would, but not having to make repairs meant that I could restyle this one quickly.

To prep the dresser for painting I sanded it lightly and cleaned it with TSP substitute.  Then I pulled out my Fusion paint in a color called Little Lamb.  In the jar Little Lamb looks like a nice medium grey.  What I forgot about Little Lamb is that once painted and dry it has a purplish undertone.  In some lighting (such as mine) it almost looks lavender.  It’s a pretty color, but not what I wanted for this piece.  Here is how it looked on a bookcase I painted last year.

But no worries.  I just pulled out another jar of Fusion paint in Putty and was able to get away with just one coat of Putty over the Little Lamb, so I really didn’t waste any time or paint.  I would have needed two coats of the Putty had I not already had that coat of Little Lamb in place.  In fact, sometimes I even do this on purpose when transitioning a piece from a very dark original finish to a pale paint color.  Start with a first coat in a medium shade and then move to a paler color.

Once painted, I hand sanded with 220 grit sandpaper to distress and bring out some of the details on this piece.

Remember, Fusion paint can be more difficult to distress than milk or chalk paints because it has a built in top coat and once cured it is incredibly durable.  So if you’re going to distress Fusion I recommend either distressing right away as soon as the paint is dry to the touch (which is what I did here), or using some beeswax or hemp oil under your paint to create a resist in the areas you want to distress.

After I distressed this dresser I stood back and took a look. It was pretty, but it wasn’t very exciting.  The next decision was whether to add some more detail that would really make it pop, or leave it more neutral to appeal to a wider range of potential buyers.  I always struggle with this decision.

After all, we all need multiple pieces in our homes and they can’t all be showstoppers.  Sometimes we just need a piece that is pretty, but doesn’t steal all of the attention.  Sometimes buyers are looking for a piece that they can work into their existing decor, not a piece that will require redecorating the entire room.

But there was something about the top row of drawers on this dresser that was just bugging me.

See it now?  Why such a big gap in between the drawers, with the drawers flush up against the outside edges?  It just feels weirdly off balance to me.  Those two top drawers should be more centered.  I felt the need to correct that visually if not literally.

I thought one possible solution would be to add some sort of decorative detail to just that wide middle space.  Maybe a small IOD rub on transfer, a stencil, or even an IOD decor stamp.

But as I was digging through my IOD transfers I came across this one.

At 36.25″ x 25″ it was the perfect size to fill the entire front of this dresser.  And the detail of the rub-on would do a good job of drawing your attention away from the odd placement of those upper drawers.

Unfortunately I had a little trouble with the transfer.  When I tried to pull the backing paper off, parts of the transfer stuck to it.  No matter how I tried, I couldn’t get those bits of the transfer to detach from the backing.  And one of the bits in question was the face of one of the lions.  I really couldn’t apply the transfer with one faceless lion.

So I contemplated my options and decided to just remove the lions completely.  I cut away those sections of the transfer and kept going.

As it turned out, I think I might prefer this transfer without the lions.  Maybe lions just aren’t my thing.

I reached out to my contact at Prima Marketing and asked if there was a solution to this problem (aside from cutting away portions of the transfer) that I should try next time.  And yes, there is!  If this happens to you try popping the entire thing intact into the freezer for a little bit.  That should solve the problem.  But I also learned that there were some issues with this in previous shipments of the transfers, but they have made some changes to correct for it.  The transfers going out now shouldn’t do this (I purchased my transfer over six months ago).   So if you tried an IOD transfer a while back and ran into problems with the transfer sticking to the backing paper and decided they weren’t for you, give them another try.  I’ve done quite a few pieces with them (I counted, I’ve done 17 pieces with IOD transfers!) and normally I don’t have any issues.  Although, spoiler alert, I have learned not to wax before applying an IOD transfer (you can wax after).  But that’s a post for another day.  For now, just trust me on that one.

In addition, if you do have a transfer that fails, go back to your retailer and ask them to replace it.  Prima Marketing will send the retailer a replacement for you.

Did you notice my new lamp shade from Light Reading?  I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I was in the market for another of their gorgeous lampshades and I did find one at Piccadilly Prairie in Southdale Center.  It looks amazing on the very Grecian looking lamp that I purchased at a garage sale.

I’m so glad I switched to the Putty for this dresser.  I love it in this pale shade.  Wouldn’t this piece make a lovely sideboard in a dining room?

As usual, this piece is for sale locally.  Check out my ‘available for local sale‘ page for more details on this piece or other pieces I currently have listed.



a pair of french chairs.

Before I get into today’s post, I have to mention … Fusion’s Park Bench green on mid-century pieces seems to be a magical combination.  The dresser I posted on Wednesday is already sold.  Once again, less than 48 hours from posting on Craigslist to being sold.  I’m going to have to start painting everything green!  How boring would that get for you guys?

Well, not to worry, today’s pieces aren’t green, and in fact they aren’t even painted … yet.

Do you guys remember the day for chairs last September?  I ended up bringing home 8 chairs from a neighborhood garage sale.

I love the carved detail and the pretty curvy legs on this trio of chairs.

Shortly after bringing them home I decided to save two of the chairs to deal with later, but paint the third chair for my guest room.

I used Miss Mustard Seed’s Apron Strings milk paint and the milk paint did its fabulously chippy thing.

My plan all along was to paint and reupholster the remaining pair, using the Iron Orchid Designs Decor Stamps on some basic muslin fabric for the upholstery.

Here’s the Decor Stamps how-to.

Step no. 1 – pull out your fabric, ink and stamps and do some test runs to be sure that the ink you are using will work well on fabric, and that you like the color combo.

Not all stamp inks are appropriate for use on fabric, so it’s always a good idea to test your ink first (or read this great article comparing various ink brands for use on fabric).  It’s also a good idea to see exactly how your ink color will look on your fabric before committing fully as well.  I was totally expecting that I would use the Sepia colored ink for this project, but after trying both that and the Watering Can I realized that I much preferred the latter.

Also, I have to note here that I like to use ink rather than paint for any stamping project (whether it’s on fabric, wood or paper).  Paint can be sloppy and harder to control than ink.  I get a much crisper image with ink.  That might just be my personal experience, but if you’re going to use paint be sure to fully test it on some scrap material first and make sure you like how it looks.

Step no. 2 – lay out your stamped design on the chair seats, making sure it fits properly.

I used stamps from two different sets of IOD Decor Stamps; the letters and no 2 are from the Alpha II set and the wreath and the crown are from the Grain Wreath set (by the way, the smaller wreath and rooster I used for my test are also from the Grain Wreath set).

Be sure that you have placed the pieces stamp side down with the smooth flat side up.  If you have any letters or numbers in your design you should be able to read them as shown in my photo above.

Once your design is laid out just place your IOD 10″ x 12″ acrylic stamp block over them and press down lightly.  It picks up the stamps almost like a magnet.  That smooth side of the rubber stamp will easily cling to the acrylic block.  At this point you could still change the placement of any of the stamps if you want to by pulling the individual stamp off and re-positioning it.

Now it’s time to ink up your stamp by pressing it into the stamp pad making sure it is evenly covered with ink  (hold it up to the light and you can easily see if it’s well inked).  Place your fabric on a flat, hard surface.  The surface under your fabric is going to determine how well your stamp works so make sure it is flat and doesn’t have any concave spots.  Place your stamp where you want it on your fabric (I tried to keep mine centered on a piece of fabric that was about 3″ bigger than my seat all the way around).  Then press firmly on the block over all of your design trying not to rock the stamp, just press straight down.  Use your hand to press down on the acrylic block above anywhere there is a stamp.

Step no. 3 – place the fabric over the chair seat, centering the design appropriately.  Staple your fabric in place, and voila! you are done.

Once I had the seat reupholstered I decided to just pop it on the as-yet-unpainted chair quick to see how it looked.  That’s when something really unexpected happened.  I kind of liked it as is.

I totally did not see that coming.  The finish is worn away in some spots and I think that is part of what I like about it.

So now I have to make a decision.  Do I leave these chairs unpainted?  In which case I would clean them up and maybe add a coat of hemp oil or wax for some added protection.

Or do I paint them?  Most likely in a chippy look using milk paint in white, or maybe pale grey (check out my pinterest board full of chippy chairs for inspiration)?

Any thoughts?  What would you do?  Let me know with a comment.

And in the meantime, be sure to pin this post for future reference!