I’ve been working on some small painting projects lately as a part of spring cleaning. I had various piles of thrift store and other finds and I needed to get them painted and out of the Q Branch.
After finishing some more hatboxes as well as a set of wooden shoe trees, it occurred to me that these projects would make a great comparison study for Fusion paint v. Miss Mustard Seed milk paint.
Can you guess which is painted in MMS milk paint and which in Fusion? It’s kind of a no brainer due to the chippy factor. Yep, the shoe trees are painted in MMS Grain Sack, and the hatbox is Fusion’s Champlain.
Let’s start with the shoe trees. My friend Cathy passed these on to me.
Even though they are really just beat up shoe trees, not fabulous vintage shoemaker forms, I knew I could make them fab with the addition of some paint and some rub-ons. I also thought ‘the chippier, the better’, and these had the sort of semi-shiny wood finish that would be conducive to chipping. I used a mere tablespoon of milk paint powder to one tablespoon of water for these and did have some paint left over. Once they were dry, I sanded them and added clear wax. Then I added a variety of 7 Gypsies rub-ons to them.
I added some picture hangers to the back of each so so they can be hung on the wall as decor, or as a place to hang your necklaces or maybe your bathrobe.
In between painting the shoes trees, I also worked on some more hatboxes. I wanted to try doing some with the Fusion paint. I painted my first hat box with chalk paint and that ended up being a little dicey when it came time to wet down the transfer. I had to be really careful to not remove too much paint along with the paper backing of the transfer. But here is what Fusion’s manufacturer says about their paint:
“FUSION is made up of 100% acrylic resin and is unlike any other product on the market. This results in one consistent and cohesive surface across your piece. So what exactly does that mean?
It is a water proof, non-porous surface which is why you do not need a top coat for water-permanency! Using 100% acrylic binder results in the strongest adhesion and durability once cured.”
The ‘water-permanency’ part was key for me.
I started with a coat of Bedford on my hat box so that when I distressed the edges the grey would show through. Then I ran a block of canning wax around the edges to make them easier to distress later. Next came two coats of Fusion’s Champlain. I let that dry overnight. The next day I added my transfer design using the same process I used on my previous hat box, letting it then dry overnight. Turns out I was right, it was easier to wet the paper without taking off any paint.
Once I had removed the paper to reveal the transfer, I used some 220 grit sandpaper to rough up the entire box.
Easy peasy. This hatbox was so much fun that I did another one.
and then another small one …
To recap, let’s compare the results. When it comes to the chippy factor, milk paint wins hands down. But, that really only works on certain surfaces. Mainly wood or other more porous materials. If you need a paint that will stick to non-porous materials, or become more waterproof for things like these gel medium transfers, then Fusion is a better choice. If you want an authentic looking distressed finish, you can’t beat milk paint but the results can be unpredictable. You can distress the Fusion paint, but I find it more difficult than with other products. If you want to paint straight out of the can and not mess with mixing and measuring, Fusion is for you. But I haven’t forgotten my old friend chalk paint. For painting straight out of the can, and the ease of distressing, it is still an excellent choice. Just remember you’ll still need to add that top coat of wax or some other sealant.
I’m pretty sure I will continue to paint most of my vintage cottage style furniture pieces in milk paint. But I will definitely go with Fusion for mid-century modern pieces, metal, glass and pieces that I want to add gel medium transfers to. Both are great products and as you can see with my shoe trees and hatboxes, if you work with them you can get an awesome vintage look out of either one!