Some of you might already be familiar with Goedele François. Goedele is a blogger (check out her blog, Dala Muses, here), a business coach for creative entrepreneurs, a furniture painter and now a stencil designer!
Goedele recently released her own Dala Muses Nordic stencil collection. Her stencil designs are influenced by Scandinavian folk art (read more details here) and were also inspired by her move to Sweden. She now lives in the Swedish province of Dalarna, where the symbol of the Dala horse originated.
My paternal grandfather happened to be of Swedish decent and I still have the Dala horse that he gave me when I was a child. My sister has one too.
So, when Goedele offered to send me one of her stencils to try out I chose the Dala Horse stencil.
I had the perfect project for it too.
This is a trunk that my sister uses as a bedside table (how many of you are noticing that I took this ‘before’ photo before I painted my living room?).
The trunk originally belonged to our maternal grandmother, so technically it’s Norwegian rather than Swedish. It was not always painted black, my sister spray painted it about 40 years ago!
Unfortunately no one has retained any historical information about this trunk other than that it came from our grandmother’s attic. My mom doesn’t recall anything about it at all. So I have no idea how old it might actually be or who might have made it, which is a bit of a bummer. I searched the inside and the bottom hoping to find some clues, like a signature or a written note, but no such luck.
Well, regardless, it was ready for a makeover.
I started by sanding it down thoroughly and then cleaning it well. I decided to use milk paint this time because I think milk paint gives the most authentic looking aged finish. Plus I had the perfect color for my sister, Miss Mustard Seeds Aviary. However, I’ve had some super chippy experiences using milk paint over spray paint, so I added a little bonding agent to the mix this time. My sister would be OK with a slightly chippy finish, but I don’t think she’d like a seriously chippy look.
The Aviary is a lovely smoky blue. And lucky thing I added that bonding agent because even though I did’t see much chipping as the paint was drying, once I started sanding it smooth the next day I got a bit more chipping than I thought I would.
Especially on this lower corner which makes me suspect there was some kind of oily residue on this part of the trunk …
Had I not used the bonding agent this piece would have been over the top chippy.
Next I pulled out Goedele’s stencil.
As you can see, it’s a two-part-er. One stencil is the body of the horse and the other is the detail of the saddle, etc.
I suggested to my sister that we use a warm white for the body because I thought it would stand out nicely against the smoky blue of the Aviary, and Debbie really wanted some traditional orange in there somewhere so I used orange for the details. I used acrylic craft paint for both.
I wanted to line up three horses in a row across the front, all facing the same direction, mainly because I’m a fan of using odd numbers of things. But Debbie vetoed that plan and said it was either one centered horse, or two. So I went with two (I thought one would look rather lost all by himself) and turned the stencil over on the 2nd so that they are facing each other.
Once the stencil paint was dry I sanded over the horses lightly to give them a more distressed look. Then I finished the entire trunk with Miss Mustard Seeds clear wax. The next day I added a second coat of wax to just the top of the trunk for added durability.
So here’s some behind the scenes info. When I stage pieces to take photos of them I often start out rather stumped. For this trunk I just couldn’t imagine how I was going to stage it aside from adding the blue and yellow quilt and some vintage books.
I also knew I wanted to include my little Dala horse and I tried just placing him on top of the books, but that looked pretty silly. That led me to bringing in this adorable kid sized chair …
and then adding a few other smaller details to the chair like this fun vintage card game …
It wasn’t until I’d taken quite a few photos already that I thought ‘hmmm, maybe I should get some shots with the trunk open’ …
I then added this beautiful vintage monogrammed tablecloth because that’s what you would pull out of a trunk like this, right?
Finally, I realized that I really preferred the look of the trunk open.
So I took a few more shots that way and they turned out to be my favorites.
We were planning on delivering the trunk back to my sister yesterday, but we had snow for most of the day so I opted to stay in. We’re supposed to have more snow late tonight and into tomorrow, and again on Thursday … so, I’m not sure when I’m going to get this over to her. But hopefully she’ll like it, and now this trunk will always remind her of our Swedish grandfather and our Norwegian grandmother.
Many thanks to Goedele for sending me the Dala Horse stencil. You can check out Goedele’s Dala Muses Nordic stencil collection here.
Her stencils are available from selected paint retailers in Europe, but those of you in the U.S. and Canada can order directly from Goedele by emailing her. Be sure to check out that link for more details.
Also, I’d like to once again thank Miss Mustard Seeds milk paint for providing the Aviary paint, bonding agent and clear wax used for this project.