the crackled box.

Remember the wooden box I found while garage saling a few weeks back?  You can see it here behind the Land O’Lakes recipe box …

The seller said he thought it was part of an old record player or radio cabinet, although he really wasn’t sure.

I thought it would be fun to paint it up so someone could use it to store their treasures, whatever they might be.

I also thought this old box was a great candidate for milk paint.  I haven’t been using as much milk paint these days simply because it can be so unpredictable.  And as you’re about to see, once again it surprised me.

I wanted to do some color layering on this one too.  So I started with painting the entire thing with a base coat of Dixie Belle’s Kudzu inside and out.  Next I mixed up some of Sweet Pickens milk paint in Window Pane and added it to the outside of the box.  When I went back out to my workshop the next day the milk paint was thoroughly crackled.

I’m not entirely sure why this happened.  I mixed the milk paint on the thicker side, so that might be part of it.  I also don’t know what kind of finish was on this box originally.  Sometimes milk paint will crackle when applied over shellac, although I had painted this one with that coat of Kudzu so that shouldn’t have mattered.  Otherwise it usually takes some heat to get this kind of crackling, and it certainly wasn’t hot here when I painted this (it was before the massive heat wave we had last week).  However, if you ever want to end up with a crackle finish using milk paint you can dry it using the high heat on your blow dryer to get this effect on purpose.  Putting your piece out in the hot sun to dry will sometimes cause crackling as well.

Anyway, like I said, milk paint can be unpredictable.  Sometimes it crackles and you’re not sure why.  If you’re using milk paint you will save your sanity if you are prepared to go with the flow.

And the crackling looks pretty cool on this old box, not to mention authentic.

To give the box even more character, I added some sections from the IOD Label Ephemera transfer to the front …

and to the top …

Use caution when adding a transfer over chippy, crackled milk paint.  If there is any loose paint, the sticky transfer will pick up the paint rather than the transfer sticking to your piece.  To prevent that you can either sand well, being sure to vacuum away any dust or chips, which is what I did here.  Or you can topcoat the paint with a clear water based sealer like Dixie Belle’s flat clear coat, before applying the transfer.

As you can see in my photos, not much of my undercoat of the Kudzu green shows through.  Instead the milk paint took the Kudzu with it and chipped right down to the wood.  However, I did keep the Kudzu on the interior.

And then I lined it with some October Afternoon scrapbook paper.

So, like I said, milk paint can be unpredictable.  But as long as you are OK with rolling the dice a bit, it’s a fun medium to work with.  If you love the chippy look, it can’t be beat.

How about you?  Are you a fan of the crackled or chippy look?  Or would you rather just stick with chalk paint for a more predictable, smooth finish?

I took this box in to Reclaiming Beautiful, the shop in Stillwater where I sell on consignment, this week.  So if any of you locals are in need of a cool treasure box it might be time for a shopping trip!


16 thoughts on “the crackled box.

  1. I love this look on old pieces like this and you cant go wrong on Label Ephemera. This wont last long in your booth. Where did you say you got the lining?
    Thank you for sharing.


    1. That is old October Afternoon scrapbook paper. October Afternoon was a local company here in the Twin Cities and I used to shop their warehouse sales. But they seem to have gone out of business now. You can still find some of their old stock online from various scrapbook supply vendors. They had the best paper!


  2. The nice thing about the randomness of the milk paint is that it helps create an original patina; more naturally aged. And, since you’re not carving in granite, you can simply redo a piece if you don’t just love it!


  3. I’m loving what you did with the box! I’m also wondering what this was originally? I’m looking at the hole in the side and top and wondering. 🙂


    1. I used to use it much more often. Although quite honestly part of the problem is that I don’t happen to have any of my favorite shade (Miss Mustard Seed’s Linen) on hand anymore so I tend to go with the Dixie Belle Drop Cloth instead.


  4. I love it! I love the unpredictability of milk paint, but I’ve only used MMS’s and I find the quality very inconsistent. The color seems to shift while painting my piece, no matter what I do. I might have to try another brand. Your treasure box turned out perfect!


    1. I think that the shifting color is a quality of all brands of milk paint. That is caused by the pigments not dissolving into the water at the same rate, and also because some pigments are heavier and will sink to the bottom of your mix. It’s especially apparent when using shades of green. I’ve had that happen with all of the milk paint brands I have used; Sweet Pickens, Homestead House, Real Milk Paint Co and Miss Mustard Seed.


  5. Personally I LOVE milk paint and especially the unpredictability of it. Your box jus gained so much character. Most places where I have sold vintage people snatch up the chippy pieces much quicker than the plain pieces. It turned out amazing! Thanks for sharing.


    1. You’ve given me some food for thought here Laura. I wonder if some of my items would be selling more quickly if I shifted back to using more milk paint. I may have to give that some more thought … and order some more of that MMS Linen!

      Liked by 1 person

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