I’ve mentioned before that I don’t normally do custom work. Mainly because I find it too stressful. I spend the entire time I’m working on a piece worried about whether or not it’s going to meet the customer’s specifications. It’s just not as much fun for me. I’d rather be free to make decisions on the fly as I run into problems, and then when the piece is finished try to find a buyer to match up with it.
However, earlier this year when I did the Blue Alligator dresser I had two people who really wanted it.
Since there was only one dresser, it went to the first person in line. The second person in line, Debbie (not my sister, but another Debbie) mentioned that if I ever did another dresser with the same Iron Orchid Designs transfer she’d love to have it.
So, I did another one.
And as it turned out, Debbie didn’t like the color I chose. Blue wouldn’t work in the room she wanted it for.
Ironically, I ended up again having two people who both wanted the blue one though, and once again it went to the first person in line.
So now I’ve done a third. And although it wasn’t technically a custom job, I did paint it in a warm white, which is what Debbie wanted.
And this time I hit the nail on the head. Debbie loves it. And seriously, can you blame her?
But let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
Oh boy. I’m not going to sugar coat it, this one was in rough, rough shape when I got it. That ‘before’ photo was taken after it came back from Ken’s workshop. Ken took this one completely apart and put it back together again with fresh glue and wood reinforcements in every corner. As you can see, it had only one sad little drawer pull. Ken added the twine handles so that he could operate the drawers while he was working on them.
Not only was all the glue dried out, the finish was pretty dried out and beat up as well.
But I had a feeling there was some gorgeous wood underneath all of that abuse.
So after Ken performed his repair magic, I got out the stripper and started with the top. I stripped any remaining finish off the top and sanded it down. Then I waxed it with Miss Mustard Seed Antiquing Wax. Yes, it’s just the wax over the bare wood. Miss Mustard Seed has a great video tutorial on how to do this on YouTube, so if you’ve never seen it be sure to check it out.
Sure enough, it was the perfect way to go. Just look how beautiful that wood is now! I love these dresser tops that are made out of solid planks of wood rather than a sheet of veneer.
Meanwhile, I filled in the holes for the original drawer pulls on the drawers. I knew I wanted to switch to glass knobs on this one (with just one hole each rather than the two required for a pull), so I filled the extra holes with Elmer’s ProBond wood filler and let that harden up while I was working on the top.
To prep the rest of the dresser I sanded it lightly by hand. That finish was so dry that it basically just came off at the merest touch of the sandpaper. I vacuumed up the dust, wiped the dresser down with a damp cloth and then painted the body and drawer fronts in Fusion’s Limestone. It took three coats to properly cover that dark wood.
Once dry, I sanded the edges to distress and then applied the Iron Orchid Designs ‘Seeds’ transfer. The transfer worked beautifully with the Fusion paint.
Q-tip: the entire ‘Seeds’ transfer is almost 37″ long, this dresser is just under 33″ tall total, while the total space for the transfer is only about 23″ tall. So I didn’t use the whole thing. If you look back to the first two dressers, you’ll see that I did the same thing with each of them. And in fact, I used different sections of the transfer on each one. It’s quite easy to ‘cut and paste’ in this way with the IOD transfers. And now I have a section of the transfer left over that will work beautifully on another piece. It’s a great way to get two pieces out of one transfer.
Once the transfer was applied I went over it ever so lightly with 220 grit sandpaper. That helps minimize the ‘halo’ that shows around each letter at certain angles of light.
Finally, I drilled new holes and added my clear glass knobs.
Even the sides are curved.
I think this dresser has been improved 100%, don’t you agree?
So tell me, which of the three versions is your favorite?