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.

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 re.design 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 re.design with prima for providing the Classic Vintage Labels transfer.

You can find Dixie Belle paint here.

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

a Swedish (but slightly Norwegian) trunk.

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.

 

that’s a wrap.

Happy New Year!

Where in the world did 2018 go?  It just flew by for me.  Overall it was an awesome year, except this last part got a little rocky.  I had some dental work done just a couple of weeks before Christmas and it was a rough recovery.  My body just doesn’t adjust well to having foreign objects installed (it was a crown, in case you are wondering what in the world I’m talking about).  I’m only just starting to feel more like myself again.  Have any of you had this experience with a crown?

It required four trips to the dentist, and I do not enjoy the dentist (even though my dentist and her assistant worked really hard to make me comfortable).  Honestly, the whole thing just threw me for a loop.  Mr. Q was concerned because I completely abandoned my paint brush during this time frame.  I find it difficult to be creative when I’m not feeling well, how about you?

Next time remind me not to schedule this sort of thing just before the holidays!

I’m starting to feel much better now though and I’m putting the whole experience behind me, along with the rest of 2018.  But before we move on, let’s take a look back at some of the projects that I shared with you here on the blog this past year.

Photo collages wrapping up your work for the year are all the rage on Instagram these days, so I thought it would be fun to create one myself for this blog post.  But as I started looking back through my 2018 posts I realized that I needed more than just one.  How about more like seven?

Starting with some of the pieces I did with Prima Marketing transfers …

In fact, I had so much fun using transfers during 2018 that I have to share a second collage of transfer projects.

I was going to do a collage with just pieces painted with Dixie Belle paint, but I soon realized I could do an entire collage of just those painted in Dixie Belle’s Caviar

This deep, rich black has turned out to be one of my favorite colors to work with.

Next, here are many of the mid-century modern pieces I painted last year.  It’s obvious that Fusion’s Park Bench (green) was my go-to paint for the mid-mods in 2018.

Those are four different dressers painted green, not just different shots of the same piece.  I also did a few dark grey pieces usually using Fusion’s Ash, but the one on the lower right is Dixie Belle’s Gravel Road.  Fusion’s English Rose is the perfect Millennial Pink for this style of furniture too.

And then there are the milk paint pieces from 2018 …

Hmmm, it would seem that I have a definite preference for using milk paint in shades of blue.

Next up are some of my favorite smaller projects that I did in 2018 …

Smaller projects like these are one of my favorite ways to try out new techniques or new paint colors.

And let’s not forget my favorite garage sale finds of 2018.

Is anyone else starting to experience garage sale withdrawal?  Spring is just around the corner, right?

Well, that’s a wrap on 2018.  If you’re looking for more details on any of the pieces of furniture featured in the photos above just visit my ‘fab furniture‘ page where you can see ‘before’ & ‘after’ photos with links to blog posts with all of the details.

I hope to have many more inspiring projects to share with you in 2019, and perhaps I’ll experiment with a couple of new products here and there too.  Be sure to stay tuned!

caviar with a vodka chaser.

Have you ever tried caviar?  I’ve tried it a couple of times.  The most memorable was when Mr. Q and I were in St. Petersburg, Russia where we we tried on fur hats, ate caviar and then washed it down with shots of vodka.

But even with the vodka chaser, this delicacy is pretty much lost on me.  Give me a bag of potato chips instead any day.

But there is one kind of Caviar that I just can’t get enough of …

Dixie Belle’s Caviar!

I’ve shared several pieces painted in this color over the past year starting with a pair of Windsor chairs that I painted back in February.

They were followed by a lovely vintage dresser.

Then in July I painted a gorgeous vintage bed in Caviar.

And more recently I painted the simply beautiful hutch in this color (although the inside is painted in Fusion’s Coal Black which is a pretty good match, just a little different sheen).

On Monday I shared the latest collaboration between me and my handyman Ken, the black bench.

And I still haven’t had enough Caviar!

In addition to the bench, I painted several more items in Caviar recentlyAnd I played around with some other ‘chasers’ including clear wax, black wax and black glaze.  I started with this vintage train case (do you call it train case?  or a vanity case?  or a makeup case?) …

  

I cleaned the case first with soap and water.  Then I painted it with two coats of Caviar and stenciled it with craft paint.

I finished it with Dixie Belle’s Best Dang Wax in Black.

I find it easier to apply an appropriately thin coat of wax using a brush rather than a rag.  Once applied, I go over the waxed surface with a clean cloth right away to remove any excess wax.  You can then wait 10 or 15 minutes and buff to a shine, but I’m not a super shine lover so I don’t do very much buffing.  The brush pictured is one that I reserve exclusively for use with dark wax.

Today’s q-tip:  usually I advise adding a coat of clear wax prior to adding dark wax, but with pieces painted in black that isn’t necessary.

Next I painted a library chair in Caviar, and then finished it with Dixie Belle’s Best Dang Wax in Clear.

I have to admit that I didn’t notice a whole lot of difference between using the clear wax versus the black wax over the Caviar.  Also, as an FYI, I used Dixie Belle Best Dang Wax in Brown on the vintage dresser above which worked beautifully as well.  So if you have a particular color of wax on hand already you could just use that over the Caviar, no need to buy a special wax.

Next I painted this rather heavy wooden tool box in Caviar, stenciled it and then tried something different for the topcoat.  I used the Dixie Belle Black Glaze.

I applied the glaze using a cheap foam brush.

It went on so easily and the glaze seems to add just a tad more sheen than the wax does.

I actually finished this toolbox before I finished the bench that I shared on Monday.  It was my guinea pig for the glaze.  It went on so easily and looked so good that I went ahead and used the black glaze on the bench too.

One thing to keep in mind is that some of the water based poly’s are not recommended for use over black because they can become streaky.  For that reason I tend to stick with wax, glaze or hemp oil when adding a top coat to black.

If you haven’t tried Dixie Belle’s Caviar, you absolutely should.  And although I wouldn’t recommend following it up with a vodka chaser, I do think clear wax, black wax or the black glaze are all great choices!

a painting fairy tale.

Once upon a time in a land far, far away (Stillwater) I saw a beautiful painted dresser in a shop.  The color was a gorgeous, deep, dark blue-green.  I ask the proprietress of the shop if she knew what paint was used on the dresser and she said it was milk paint from The Real Milk Paint Co.  Sadly though, the evil queen had cast a spell upon her and she couldn’t remember exactly which color it was.

OK, I made up the part about the evil queen, but the rest is true.  The shop owner thought it was either Dragonfly or Peacock, but she just wasn’t sure.

So I embarked upon a quest to find that magical color and paint something with it myself.

I started with Dragonfly

But it was clearly way too blue.

Next I tried Peacock

It was much closer, definitely the same level of darkness, but it was a bit too green.

Trying to recreate a color exactly like one on a piece that you’ve seen, in person or even worse, online, can be rather difficult.  Especially so with milk paint which is far more translucent than other kinds of paint.  Sometimes the original color of the wood that you are painting over will make a difference in the look of the final color.  I’ve also found that there can be pretty wide variations from package to package of the same color of milk paint (well, that can be true of other paints too).  In addition, the topcoat you use can also really affect the color.  In the case of that Peacock dresser, I think the hemp oil topcoat combined with the orange-ish color of the wood really brought out the green.

Still hoping that I would be able to find that magical color, I tried The Real Milk Paint Co’s Blue Spruce next.  But as it turns out, this was no fairy tale.  The third color I tried was not ‘just right’.  Instead it was even more green than the Peacock.

After giving it some more thought, I realized that the original dresser I saw in that shop was probably painted in Peacock.  Maybe it just didn’t have a hemp oil topcoat?  I had enough Peacock left to give it another go, so I pulled out this dresser that I purchased at the Linden Hills sales.

Before painting it I stripped the top using Citristrip.  While the Citristrip was working its magic, I started prep on the drawers.  I grabbed my screwdriver so I could remove those wooden knobs for painting.  Imagine my surprise when I couldn’t find screws on the back.

Turned out that the knobs themselves just screwed into the drawer.  Pretty cool, right?

After the top was stripped and I’d prepped the rest of the piece by sanding it lightly and cleaning it with TSP Substitute, I mixed my paint.  That’s when I had what turned out to be kind of a dumb idea.  I decided to mix a little blue milk paint into the Peacock to ensure it would be a little less green than last time.  So I pulled out some of Homestead House’s Homestead Blue.  I didn’t add much, maybe a heaping tablespoon of Homestead Blue to a quarter cup of Peacock.

And after two coats of paint and a top coat of Miss Mustard Seed’s clear wax, here’s the color I got.

Hmmmmm.  In case you are in doubt, this is nowhere near the color I wanted or expected.  How did it end up so light, and so very blue?  What happened to the green?

For a minute I even thought maybe I confused the Dragonfly for the Peacock while I was mixing, but no, I checked.  This was definitely the Peacock.

Go figure.

Did that heaping tablespoon of Homestead Blue really make that much of  difference to the Peacock?  Or was it the clear wax topcoat?  Honestly, I’m baffled.  This color not at all what I envisioned for this dresser, so I’m having trouble being happy with how it turned out.

But I’ve realized that even though this isn’t what I expected, it is a pretty color.

The moral to our fairy tale story is that you don’t always get what you wish for when mixing your own shade of milk paint, so you have to be flexible and willing to just go with the flow.

The top of the dresser turned out beautifully.  As I said, I stripped it.  Then I sanded it a bit and finished it with Miss Mustard Seed’s Antiquing Wax.  I love that it has some dings from many years of use, but looks clean and fresh with the wax.

I staged this piece for a laundry room complete with my new dress form, Collette, and some pretty vintage linens.

I’m going to be bringing some of these linens to Reclaiming Beautiful to see if they will sell.  I’ve always sold pretty vintage pillowcases, napkins, tablecloths and sheets at my own occasional sale so I’ll see if they sell well in a shop or not.

These are all in incredibly good condition, which tends to mean that the owner received them as a gift and never used them.  I hate to see them wasting away in a linen closet, so I hope someone buys them and uses them.

I hope you enjoyed today’s painting fairy tale.  I’ve got another for you on Friday!

 

And in the meantime, if any of you locals need a pretty blue antique dresser be sure to check out my ‘available for local sale’ page!