stenciling gone bad.

You’ll remember that I picked up this already painted vintage suitcase while thrifting with my sister.

Before I say more, if by some crazy off-hand chance the person who painted this suitcase also reads my blog, then I apologize in advance for criticizing your work.  I’m hoping that the fact that this piece was donated to a thrift store means that the previous owner knew it was bad and just decided to unload it.  I hope it wasn’t a gift that someone ditched after receiving it.

When I saw this sitting there on the shelf I immediately thought to myself, I must rescue that suitcase from its bad stenciling job!

To be fair, I’ve shown you the worst of the stenciling in that ‘before’ shot above.  It’s also stenciled on the other side …

Slightly better, but still not good.

Mr. Q is always reminding me that I tend to make stuff look easy, and that for some people it’s not easy at all.  Maybe this is a good example of that.  Maybe the painter of this suitcase dove right in thinking ‘Q makes it look so easy, I’m sure I can just whip this up!’  So for those of you who also struggle with stenciling, I thought I’d share some tips for improving your odds for success.

No. 1 – First and foremost, pay attention to which items are good candidates for stenciling and which ones are not.  In this instance, the pebbled surface of this case will make it tough to get a clean result with a stencil no matter how good your skills.

No. 2 – It’s easier to get a crisp result if your surface has a little ‘tooth’ to it (tooth refers to the grain of your surface, it’s what allows paint to bind to the surface).  Slick, shiny surfaces like the semi-gloss aqua paint on this case have very little ‘tooth’ and will allow your paint to slid around a bit more.  A matte finish will work much better for stenciling, as will non-glossy fabric or paper.

No. 3 – Use a thick paint for the actual stenciling.  Dixie Belle paint straight out of the jar is perfect for stenciling.  I also use the cheap acrylic craft paint that you can buy at any craft store because it tends to be nice and thick.

No. 4 –  Use a proper stenciling brush.  It should have densely packed bristles that are a bit more stiff than your typical paint brush, but also have some flexibility.  I have used the inexpensive Martha Stewart brand stenciling brushes that you can find at Michaels, but you get what you pay for.  The ferrule has come unglued from the handle on most of mine (granted, they got A LOT of use).  The with prima brushes are better quality, and I really love this large one for bigger stenciling jobs.

No. 5 – always, always, always off-load most of the paint on your brush before using it.  I know this feels wasteful because you’re leaving 75% of your paint behind on a paper towel, but trust me, it is crucial for a crisp result.  I probably should have made this tip no. 1 because it is definitely the mistake I make most frequently myself, especially when I’m feeling impatient.

In the end, if stenciling just isn’t your cup of tea, then my next piece of advice is to keep it simple and use a transfer instead.  That’s what I decided to do with this suitcase.

But first things first, I opened it up to look for hidden treasure.  I’m always hoping that I’ll find someone’s secret stash of cash, or maybe a long lost Van Gogh, inside a thrift store purchase.  So far no luck on that, but a girl can dream.

The lining of this case is actually in pretty good condition and kind of pretty.

The color isn’t really working with the aqua though, is it?

So as much as I love a good aqua, and as much as I loved it on this suitcase while it was closed, I felt like I needed to switch to a color that worked well with the lining.  I decided to stay neutral with Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth.

Inevitably someone is now going to ask me for a tip on freshening up the smell of an old suitcase, and I have to admit that I don’t have one.  I’ve found that since they generally are stored closed up tight, over time the smell returns no matter what I’ve tried.  As a result, I use my old cases for looks only.  Or for storing things that won’t pick up the smell, like my vintage glass Christmas ornaments or craft supplies.  I would never store clothing or other fabric items inside.

Once the paint had dried overnight, I pulled out the Royal Burgundy transfer. If you’re keeping track at all, this will be the 3rd small project I’ve done with this one transfer.  I’ve already used it on a wooden jewelry box and a pair of ice skates.  I still have a pretty good sized chunk of it left after doing this suitcase as well.  Just something to keep in mind when looking at these larger transfers that are one solid design.  You can always break it up for smaller projects.

I did have to line up a seam to cover the whole top of the suitcase and I didn’t get it exactly perfect.

But I don’t think too many people are going to focus on that when looking at the bigger picture.

Also, if you’re wondering, I trimmed the transfer to fit the circular top before removing the backing paper and then applying the transfer.

I ended up painting the handle of the suitcase in Dixie Belle’s Putty for a little contrast.

  The Putty is an almost perfect match to the color of the background words on the transfer.

I wanted to add just a little something more, so I added the word ‘Beautiful’ from the Hopeful Wishes transfer.

You may have noticed that I sanded the edges and the handle to distress the paint job a bit.  You’re always going to see hints of previous paint jobs when you do this, and sure enough you get glimpses of the old aqua here and there.

I finished off the case with a coat of clear wax to give it that subtle patina that only wax can impart.

I think you’ll agree that this vintage suitcase has been rescued from a bad stenciling job.

As always, thank you to Dixie Belle Paint Co and with prima for providing the supplies used for this suitcase makeover.

If you’re looking for Dixie Belle products you can find them here.

Both the Hopeful Wishes and the Royal Burgundy transfers are from with prima.  If you’re looking for with prima products you can find local retailers here, or online sources here.

And finally, if you are local and in need of a gorgeous vintage suitcase, I’ll be taking this one in to Reclaiming Beautiful this week.

irony … the opposite of wrinkly.

Believe it or not, one of my favorite chores while growing up was ironing.  I started out with my dad’s hankies (yes, believe it or not, ironing hankies was a thing … in fact, hankies themselves were a thing … in the 60’s and 70’s).

I graduated to his shirts as my skills improved.  Back then employees of IBM were required to wear white button down shirts with their suits, which meant a lot of ironing.  They also weren’t allowed to have facial hair (which would be a problem for me these days, ha!).  I still remember when they finally relaxed that rule and my dad immediately grew a mustache.

Clearly my mom did a lot of ironing before I took over.  Here she is in 1961, pregnant with my sister, slaving away over the ironing board …

Looks like she ironed his weekend shirts too, huh?

Ladies, let’s all take a moment and breathe a collective sigh of relief that this sort of thing is no longer expected of wives shall we?

Funny, as I study that photo I’m realizing that is the same ironing board that I used later.  I bet my mom still has it!

Anyway, all of this leads me to today’s post.  A funny thing happens when you have a reputation for refurbishing vintage items.  In this case, a neighbor of mine showed up at our door one day.  She wondered if I wanted some old ironing boards.  She used to run a laundromat, but had sold the business.  The ironing boards had been used there as decor.  Mr. Q was the only one home, and he said yes to the ironing boards.

I’m not so sure that I would have.  I tend to shy away from taking on things if I don’t know what I’m getting into.  This tendency helps prevent me from becoming a hoarder 😉

I would venture to say that none of these ironing boards would meet today’s safety standards.  In fact, most of them seem like they would collapse in a stiff wind.  For that reason I would not recommend actually using them as ironing boards or using them set up at all (so that leaves out using them as a makeshift bar when entertaining too).

In the past I have turned a couple of old ironing boards into signs (you can see those here and here).  But I remember at the time thinking that they were fairly heavy and clunky for hanging on the wall.  I suspect that many of you out there have spouses who tend to be a bit persnickety about hanging heavy things on walls, am I right?

So I decided the best solution would be to remove the legs/bases entirely to lighten them up some.  Seems like a simple fix, doesn’t it?  But no.  As it turned out, the bases on 4 out of the 5 ironing boards in my stash were riveted on.  Only one of them was held in place with simple screws.  I had to recruit my handyman Ken to help at that point.  He had to drill through each rivet to remove it.

Once that was taken care of, the rest was simple.  I decided to go with a slightly different look for each one.

I used quite a few different paint colors, some stencils and some transfers from with prima.

The first one got a coat of Dixie Belle paint in Midnight Sky.  Once dry, I stenciled it using Dixie Belle French Linen paint and my french laundry stencil (the Etsy vendor I purchased this from is no longer in business, but you can find similar stencils on Etsy).

I really don’t think I’ll ever grow tired of the look of a distressed black finish with a french stencil.

The next two were painted in Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth.  I taped off some grain sack style stripes on one and painted them in Dixie Belle’s Yankee Blue.  Then I added with prima’s Laundry transfer.  The 2nd Drop Cloth ironing board was stenciled using Dixie Belle’s French Linen paint and a stencil from Maison de Stencils.

Maison de Stencils gifted me with this stencil when they sent me the stencils I gave away during my 12 days of giveaways.  This was the first chance I’ve had to use it, and I absolutely love it.

The 4th ironing board received a coat of Dixie Belle’s Sea Glass, which seemed to be a top favorite among you guys when I shared my comparison of their shades of aqua.  Once that was dry and distressed, I added the Moment transfer from with prima.

I painted the last ironing board in Dixie Belle’s Apricot.  Isn’t this a gorgeous color?  I think of it as halfway between a pink and a peach.  It’s not so pale as to be blush, but not too bright either.

I used one of the newer prima transfers on it called Hello Baby.

Aren’t those animals just adorable?

Rather than hanging this one in a laundry room, it would be perfect in a nursery.

As always, thank you to Dixie Belle Paint Co, with prima, and Maison de Stencils for providing the supplies used for these ironing board makeovers.

And most importantly, thank you to Mr. Q for having the wisdom to say yes to these ironing boards for me!

If you’re looking for Dixie Belle products you can find them here.

If you’re looking for Maison de Stencils you can find them here.

If you’re looking for with prima products you can find local retailers here, or online sources here.

And finally, if you are local and in need of a fabulous ironing board sign, check out my ‘available for local sale‘ page for more details.

soldier blue.

As you’ll remember, a couple of the prize packages for my 12 days of giveaways included some Homestead House Milk Paint in a color called Soldier Blue.

I had never used this color before, and in fact never even really realized this color was available (see all of the Homestead House Milk Paint colors here).

Two things struck me.  First of all, it’s a gorgeous shade of blue.  Second, it’s pretty close to the 2020 Pantone Color of the Year, Classic Blue.  I knew I had to give it a try myself, so I mixed some up.

It looks a bit lighter as wet paint and I wasn’t sure I would get that gorgeous deep blue in the Homestead House photo.  But, as you know, paint always looks different once dry.  Especially milk paint.  Plus the top coat you use over milk paint can really change up the color.

So I pulled out this adorable little vintage kid-size folding chair that my picker Sue found for me.

I knew painting all of those slats was going to be a pain.  It’s so challenging to avoid drips when you have this many surfaces going on.  But one of the things that I love about milk paint is that it’s super easy to sand off any drips one the paint is dry.  Much easier than with other types of paint.

All I did to prep this chair was wipe it down with a damp cloth.  I was hoping to get some chipping, and the previous finish was fairly worn off so I was willing to gamble on getting just the right amount of paint to stick.

I painted the chair with two coats of the Soldier Blue, then once dry I sanded it lightly to distress.  Sure enough, I got some awesome chipping.

I knew that using hemp oil as my top coat would give me the deepest version of this color, so I pulled out Dixie Belle’s Howdy Do! Hemp Seed Oil.  This is another new-ish product from Dixie Belle that came out around the same time as their Big Mama’s Butta.

I usually apply hemp oil with an inexpensive chip brush, and that definitely would have been the smarter/easier option for this chair.  But, I was too lazy to dig out a chip brush so I just used an old t-shirt.  Clearly this is another situation where I have to say, ‘do as I say, not as I do’.  It’s a little harder to get the oil applied in all of those crevices using a rag.  It would have been much easier to brush the oil on, and then wipe away the excess with a clean rag.

Keep in mind that hemp oil will not add much sheen (if any), and it will also produce the darkest version of the color of your milk paint.  In this case, it was the perfect choice and it really brought out the richness of the Soldier Blue.

I had the perfect little piece of vintage toy china to use for staging this chair.

Isn’t it sweet?  I found it at a garage sale last summer.  It’s only about 2.5″ tall.

Remember when Mr. Q and I cleaned out our attic while getting out the Christmas decorations?  I came across some old stuffed animals in a box and decided to hang onto a couple of them for staging kid’s stuff.

Mr. Bunny still looks pretty good after 20 years in the attic.

I’m loving this shade of blue.  Now I just need to find a bigger piece of furniture to use it on.

I’ve put it in the stash of stuff that I need to bring in to Reclaiming Beautiful (the shop where I sell on consignment).  I probably won’t get it in there until next week though.

  But in the meantime, how do you like the little Soldier Blue chair?

As always, thanks to Homestead House Milk Paint for providing the Soldier Blue Milk Paint and to Dixie Belle Paint Co for providing the Howdy Do! Hemp Oil used for this project.

thrifting finds.

My sister and I braved the cold snap this past Saturday to do a little thrifting.  I came home with a fun pile of goodies to share with you today …

Some of the items will be left ‘as is’ such as the glass cloches, the vintage pudding mold and the cement garden bird.

Some of the items have a bit more work to be done on them, such as the suitcases.  I’ll be devoting a full post to the aqua suitcase with the bad stencil job later.

But a few of the items have already received their makeovers starting with this tray.

This one really didn’t need a makeover, but I wanted to tweak just a couple of details.  I painted the wooden handle thingie in the middle black instead of red, and then I added a transfer from with prima’s Everyday Farmhouse collection.

Next up was this cute little box.

  Again, it didn’t need a lot of work, but I freshened it up with a coat of Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth and then added a transfer from the Classic Vintage Labels.

It’s amazing what the addition of a simple transfer can do for something.

The little metal watering can also benefited from the addition of a Classic Vintage Label.

Finally, did you notice the set of stacking boxes?

Noah’s Ark on one side …

Halloween on the other …

These are classic 80’s country style, don’t you agree?

I gave them a little update with some fresh paint and more transfers.

The boxes are all painted in Dixie Belle paint from top to bottom, Drop Cloth, French Linen and Midnight Sky.

The top two boxes have Classic Vintage Label transfers on them, and the bottom black box has part of the Somewhere in France transfer on it.

As always, thanks to Dixie Belle Paint Co and with prima for providing the products I used to give all of these thrifty finds their makeovers.

I’ll be sharing more fun vintage makeovers this week, so be sure to stay tuned!

french folding chairs.

The main reason that I ordered the aqua paint colors from Dixie Belle that I’ve been sharing this week was for this pair of french bistro style folding chairs that I picked up while garage saling last summer.

Here’s a photo that I took when I purchased them … when the grass was green and the ground wasn’t frozen …

I folded them up to store them and I have to tell you, I had a heck of a time opening them back up again!

As I was working on them, I discovered that one of them had an IKEA tag on it.  So, that explains the poor functioning.  They were cheap chairs to begin with, and time had not done them any favors.

Well, hopefully my custom paint job will make them more appealing to a buyer than the basic IKEA originals, and I’ll be pricing these pretty low since they aren’t vintage.

To prep I simply cleaned the chairs with a damp rag.  Then I painted the wood slats with two coats of Dixie Belle’s The Gulf.  I opted to not paint the metal because I felt that it would scratch far too easily, especially if anyone tries to fold the chairs up.  Once dry, I sanded the chairs to distress them.  Next I pulled out the leftover scraps of the new with prima Cosmic Roses transfer that I used on this dresser …

I had a 6″ strip left over at the bottom that didn’t fit on the dresser.  It was just enough to do both chair backs.

Initially I wasn’t sure how I was going to like this design on just two 1.75″ slats with a wide gap in between.  But after I had the first one in place I really liked it.

I also added some Tim Holtz number rub-on’s to the back of each chair.

I used Dixie Belle’s flat clear coat on the chairs just to give them a little bit more protection than my usual wax top coat.

These chairs are perfect for pairing up with a small farmhouse table to turn it into a desk.

I enjoyed staging these photos with all of my aqua pieces from this week.

I had loads of fun playing around with the three different shades from Dixie Belle.  As always, thanks to Dixie Belle for providing the paint and to with prima for providing the transfer.

If you’re looking for the perfect aqua, you can check out Dixie Belle paints here.

And if you’re local and need a pair of pretty french bistro style chairs, check out my available for local sale page to see if these are still available.

a fan of aqua (pardon the pun).

I shared this gorgeous aqua paint from Dixie Belle called The Gulf in Monday’s post.

I’ve always been a big fan of aqua and I thought this shade would be perfect for a vintage fan that my friend/co-worker Jodie gave me.

Much like with toolboxes, I usually don’t like to paint over an authentically aged metal patina … except when they are this not so fabulous shade of brown.

Jodie had already removed the electrical cord from the fan.  I always do that too when I’m working with a piece with old wiring that doesn’t look safe.  I don’t want anyone to be tempted to plug it in.  This fan is for looks only.

I was hoping to be able to temporarily remove the safety grill allowing me to easily paint the blades, but that proved to be impossible.  The nuts and bolts holding it in place probably hadn’t been moved in at least 50 to 60 years and they weren’t budging.  So instead, after wiping down all of the surfaces as well as I could, I pulled out a long, slender Staalmeester brush.

I was gifted these brushes by Loree from Homestead House Milk Paint/Fusion Mineral Paint.  I have to confess, they are so gorgeous that I’m afraid to even use them.  I don’t want to mess them up!  Is it wrong that I just want to display them like art in a pretty jar on my desk rather than actually paint with them?

I also have to confess that when I initially saw the long slender brush in the middle I thought to myself ‘this looks like an artist’s brush’ and I wondered if I’d ever find a use for it.

Sure enough, it came in handy almost immediately for painting the blades of this fan.

I was easily able to reach in between the wires of the guard with the brush to get to the blades, and the brush was slender enough that I didn’t have to work too hard to not get paint on the guard.

As you can see above, once the paint was dry I sanded everything including those ridges on the blades to produce some faux distressing.

To be honest, I’m still wondering if I should have just stopped there.  But I didn’t.  I also added a couple of Tim Holtz rub-on’s to the fan.

Should I have left it alone for a more authentic vintage vibe, or do you like it with more of a ‘altered art’ sort of look?

Once the rub-on’s were in place, I coated everything with some of that delicious new Fusion wax that is scented with essential oils.

How do you like this fan transformation?

As always, thank you to Dixie Belle Paint Co for providing the paint for this project, and to Loree at Homestead House Milk Paint/Fusion Mineral Paint for the brushes and the wax.

You can find Dixie Belle paint here.

And you can find the Staalmeester brushes here.

the aquas.

I recently ordered a few new-to-me Dixie Belle paint colors including two beautiful shades of aqua, The Gulf and Mermaid Tail.

 Plus I already had Sea Glass on hand, a lighter shade of aqua.

I painted a really pretty dressing table in this color in 2018.

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to show a comparison of these three shades of aqua in case any of you are looking for a good aqua.  And what better way to do that than painting up some clay pots?

All three colors provided a perfect background for more of the Classic Vintage Labels from with prima.

The Mermaids Tail is a deep, rich, teal …

The Gulf is a classic turquoise …

The Sea Glass is a pale, more subtle version of aqua.

So, what do you think?  Is there one of these colors that appeals to you more than the others?

Here are a few q-tips about painting and/or adding transfers to clay pots.  Always keep in mind that clay pots are porous, they are meant to allow water to seep through the clay.  Because of that, it’s never a good idea to plant something directly into a decorated clay pot unless you are prepared for the paint/transfer/whatever to break down.  Instead keep your plant in a plastic liner pot and remove it to water.

Let it drain, and then put it back in the decorative clay pot.

Keep in mind that adding a top coat to the outside of the pot won’t prevent water coming through from inside the pot and lifting your paint/transfer from behind it.  You could try sealing the pot both inside and out, but I think even the most durable top coat would break down over time with wet dirt up against it.

If you want to protect the outside of the pot since you’ll be handling it or water might occasionally get splashed on it, you can add a wax or water-based top coat of some kind like Dixie Belle’s Clear Coat or Miss Mustard Seed’s Tough Coat.  I added just a light coat of wax to these pots.

Finally, if you’re like me and you’re OK with replacing items like these after a shorter life-span, just go ahead and plant directly in them (or use them outdoors) and just plan on replacing them down the road.  After all, it’s always fun to make more, right?

While I had the aqua paint out, I painted a few more things too.  So stay tuned, we’re about to embark upon a week full of aqua.

As always, thank you to Dixie Belle Paint Co for providing the paint for this project, and to with prima for providing the Classic Vintage Labels transfer.

You can find Dixie Belle paint here.

If you’re looking for with prima products you can find local retailers here, or online sources here.