Remember the pretty sea glass dressing table that I shared a couple of weeks ago? I mentioned at the time that there were three pieces that I picked up together that night. Today I’m sharing a story about the 2nd piece, a linen press dresser.
There are four more drawers behind those doors. Whenever a dresser has drawers behind doors I call it a linen press. I’m not sure if that is technically accurate, but it works for me.
Since I had so much fun layering milk paint on the desk I painted during milk paint madness week, I decided to try that again on this piece.
So I began with removing the knobs, sanding the piece, cleaning it well and then painting a base coat of Homestead House milk paint in Texas Rose. I painted the entire outside of the piece, as well as the four inner drawers, both inside and out. My plan was to use the Texas Rose as a base coat under some Miss Mustard Seed Linen on the outside, but leave the inner drawers in this pretty rosy color.
I’d never used this color before, so before I started I painted a test board in it and tried out a couple of different top coat options. As you can see, the topcoat can really make a difference in the look of this color. I wanted to see what my options looked like before I made a decision.
Before moving on to my final color, the Linen, I decided to layer another color under it. I went through my mostly used bags of milk paint to see what I had and pulled out Homestead House’s Upper Canada Green. I only had a couple of tablespoons of this paint left, so I mixed it up. I thought this would be a good opportunity for me to show you what I mean when I tell you to let your milk paint sit for 5 – 10 minutes to be sure all of the pigments are dissolved.
Here is how the paint looked before any mixing at all, just the water and the powder in a cup.
See all of those flecks of blue pigment floating around? They still need to dissolve.
Here’s is the paint after an initial stir …
You can still see a few darker flecks of color and the overall color is pretty yellowish.
But after waiting five minutes and giving it another stir, you start to see true color of the Upper Canada Green as those blue pigments are finally dissolving.
You can see why you don’t want to start painting before those pigments are all fully dissolved. You can end up with an entirely different color.
OK. So you might be wondering at this point why I have mixed up a couple of tablespoons of my next color since this is clearly not going to be enough paint for the entire thing.
This is another little trick I want to show you. I had someone comment that they hated wasting milk paint for a layer of color that was barely going to show on the finished piece. I totally get that. So here’s what you do. Instead of painting the entire piece in your second color, just paint it over the areas where you want to see it peeking through your distressing/chipping.
So far, so good, or so I thought.
The paint looks pretty well adhered in that photo, doesn’t it? There were a couple of chippy spots on the legs, but that was about it.
However, fast forward about 18 hours. The next morning the dresser was chipping pretty much everywhere. Ugh. I decided all was not lost, I would just sand it well to get all of the chipping paint off and create a better base for the final color. So I sanded, vacuumed and then painted on a coat of Miss Mustard Seed’s Linen.
As the Linen started to dry I could see that it was continuing to chip. In fact, it was chipping even more than before. And it was chipping all the way down to the wood. My work applying the layered colors was all just flaking right off.
Ugh. This was the moment when I felt like a complete and total fraud. I’d just spent a full week here on my blog proclaiming to be an expert on milk paint and now my own milk paint project was turning into a complete disaster. Was this the universe’s way of keeping me humble? Reminding me that I don’t know everything and no matter how much experience I have with milk paint it can still totally backfire on me.
I was mentally beating myself up and wanting to just kick the dresser to the curb. Suddenly a bonfire seemed like a great idea.
Or maybe I could just hide the dresser under a sheet and never mention it to anyone. I told Mr. Q I was going to sand it down, paint it with chalk paint and never, ever tell anyone that I’d initially tried to paint it with milk paint and it was a complete failure.
Instead I did what I usually do in these situations. I walked away. I pushed the dresser into a corner and decided to give it a couple of days to think about its behavior.
In the meantime Mr. Q reminded me that I’ve painted well over 100 pieces of furniture with milk paint and this chipping situation has only happened to me a few times (see them here, here and here). He also suggested that sharing this experience with you guys was the right thing to do. If it happens to me, it probably happens to other people too.
I really don’t know what was on this piece that caused it to chip like this. I did prep it properly. If anything, I sanded and cleaned it more thoroughly than I usually do. I guess 4 times out of over one hundred or so pieces aren’t terribly bad odds.
A few days later I pulled the dresser out of its corner and I thought to myself ‘you know, that chipping is a little extreme, but some people love a really chippy finish.’ I thought that perhaps if I just added one more coat of the Linen milk paint I could make it work.
Can you guess what happened? Sigh. Yep, it chipped even more, if that’s even possible. Literally to the point that there was very little paint left. I have run into this phenomenon before, each added layer of paint activating even more chipping.
After knocking off all of the loose paint, this is what was left.
Milk paint just wasn’t meant to be with this piece.
I decided not to throw it on the bonfire, but instead to start over from square one. After all, under all of that chipping paint is still an adorable linen press dresser that is in great shape. You’ll have to wait until Friday to see the end result though. I hope you’ll check back then. But in the meantime, how about you? Have you had any colossal paint disasters? Please tell me I’m not the only one.