summer breeze & dried lavender

Summer breeze makes me feel fine!

This morning was one of those fantastic summer mornings that left me in a really fabulous mood.  I woke up to a chilly summer breeze blowing in from the sea.  The sun seemed a little late to peak.  Just a subtle amount of light streamed in past the drapes.

dried lavender chair-4107

I reveled at how perfect the morning was over a seasonal breakfast of yogurt, farm stand strawberries, homemade granola and local honey.  And it dawned on me, that we’ve lived in this fantastic agricultural beach town for almost a year now.  A year in Cape May!  What a dream come true.

strawberries

I got to work capturing the calm, morning light and snapping up some photos of this now finished caned chair.

dried lavender chair-4108

The chair was given to me by a friend about a week ago.  It spoke to me right away.  Some just do that you know.

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I knew it had to be painted dried lavender and I knew the caning had to remain natural.  It is rare to find caning in excellent condition.

dried lavender chair-4111

Last you saw the chair, it looked like this.  Two coats of dried lavender with bonding agent.  Perfection.

creating chippy texture with milk paint-4091

But wait!  The chair got a soft, nearly silvery glow to it with a topcoat of white wax.

dried lavender chair-4114

Summer breeze…blowing through the jasmine (or lavender) in my mind.

painting over the chipping

In several of my recent milk paint demonstrations while addressing “the chippy look”, people have asked what happens if you paint over chippy milk paint?

Great question!  Let me give you a visual…

creating chippy texture with milk paint-4079

So in other words, you have a shiny or varnished piece of furniture that you paint with milk paint without bonding agent added and immediately this happens…

Lucketts Green chipping

The paint begins to flake or chip off as quickly as it dries.   Cool, right?  But maybe that is not the look you are trying to achieve.  So for better coverage with lots of texture simply paint over the first layer of chipping paint with bonding agent in the second coat.

Did you get that?  When it dries it will be bumpy and raised in certain areas from where the first layer chipped.

creating chippy texture with milk paint-4088

At this point you will want to sand it back with a fine grit sanding sponge.  Sanding will smooth the surface out while also pulling out some of the other colors.

creating chippy texture with milk paint-4085

For coverage comparison purposes, the chair on the right pictured below is painted dried lavender with bonding agent.

creating chippy texture with milk paint-4081

Finally, wax your textured piece.  This is a good opportunity to mix white wax and antiquing wax since you already have various shades of paint and loads of texture.  You can’t go wrong!

creating chippy texture with milk paint-4084

I usually have a random “experimental piece” like this sitting in the workshop.  This way I never waste leftover milk paint and I usually learn a thing or two as I play.  At some point, I deem it finished.  This particular bookshelf started with lucketts green, then got some ironstone, eulalie’s sky and linen plus all three waxes!

creating chippy texture with milk paint-4083

Lots of paint posts lately as I’ve been plowing through so many pieces in my workshop this summer.  Subsequently they turnover relatively quickly as this is our busiest season for retail. We are planning our winter list of DIY house projects and it is looking mighty fine.  I can’t wait to share all of that inspiration as it unfolds in just a few months!  Although, I certainly don’t want to rush summer…

creating chippy texture with milk paint-4091

starry night

I remember it vividly.  There was a competition in art class in third grade.  We were to replicate van Gogh’s famous painting, The Starry Night.  I was mesmerized with the painting.  The colors, the swirls, the sharp roof lines.  All of it.  I loved van Gogh’s post-impressionist style.  He quickly became my favorite artist because of that painting and competition although I did not win.

Van_Gogh_-_Starry_Night_

The following year, in fourth grade, we had to do a presentation on our favorite artist.  Maybe it was our favorite historical figure but the category was broad and I remember choosing van Gogh.  We were instructed to not only present the person but portray him or her during the presentation.  At this point I had done a bit of research and learned that Vincent van Gogh cut off his left ear.  That fact stuck out in my young mind so I incorporated it into my presentation by wearing a large, sticky gauze bandage over my own left ear.  Tearing that bandage off was painful, let me tell you.  It had to score me some major points, right?

Vincent_Willem_van_Gogh_mirror_self_portrait

About 10 years later while in college I had the opportunity to visit the van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.  It was such a fun experience to see so many of his original pieces in person.  With every corner I turned I hoped to see The Starry Night, the painting that initially piqued my interest in van Gogh and his work.  After touring the museum I found out The Starry Night was at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  Go figure!  I will never look at a still life of sunflowers again without remembering that trip.

Vincent_van_Gogh_sunflowers

At any rate, I was working on these two cute little side tables last week when van Gogh and The Starry Night jogged my memory.  I hadn’t thought about that painting in a very long time until I was applying white wax over Artissimo.  The contrast between the dark and light.

artissimo + white wax

Certainly this isn’t post-impressionism work but a little bit of white wax over such an intense color softens the look, doesn’t it?

artissimo + white wax

Do you have a favorite artist?

artissimo + white wax

(All van Gogh images are from Wikipedia)

petal pushers

Have you ever thought about taking a floral design course before? Have you cut flowers from your garden and wished that you could do more than just haphazardly plop them in a vase? Do you have any idea how you can make the cellophane wrapped supermarket bouquet look like a million bucks?

Now is your chance to learn how from an award-winning, professional floral designer!  And for the mere cost of a floral arrangement which, in turn, will be donated to our Bike MS: City to Shore team.  The funds, not the arrangement.  You get to take your floral arrangement home!  Fresh flowers and a good cause.  Does it get any better than that?

If you’re local to North Wales, PA, I hope you will consider Petal Pushers and join us for this awesome fundraiser on August 14th.  Please register in advance as space is limited.  As always, let me know if you have any questions.

Petal Pushers Bike MS Fundraiser

 

P.S. Pennsylvania friends, I will be conducting a milk paint demo on Sunday, July 20th at 1 pm at Serendipity Shops of Doylestown.

comparing topcoats: then & now

The most pinned and visited post here is one I wrote a couple of years ago about my preference in furniture topcoats.  There has been consistent conversation on that post.  I’d like to continue that conversation over here with a 2014 update.

While the products I was using then are certainly fine products, tastes & trends change and new choices become available.  Let’s check in and compare what I was using in 2012 vs. what I’m using in 2014 and why…

2012 #1 Minwax Paste Finishing Wax – I was using paste wax primarily over stripped and stained surfaces.

hemp oil

Current #1 Hemp Oil – This is my current go-to topcoat for stained surfaces and raw wood.  Basically it can be applied to revive and treat any porous surface including flat paint leaving a rich finish.  Hemp oil is 100% natural, no VOCs and food safe.  I even use hemp oil on my cutting boards and cast iron pots.  It has no harsh odor so I use it indoors.  Hemp oil has a multitude of other DIY uses but we’re just talking about topcoats today so I will limit it to that.  Hemp oil can be applied with a cloth or brush.  I typically use a brush.  I love the addition of oil to my repertoire.

drop leaf table with hemp oil finish on raw wood and paint

2012 #2 Johnson Paste Wax – I always liked the finish this wax provided over painted surfaces but the chemical odor is just so strong that I never use it anymore.

furniture wax

Current #2 Miss Mustard Seed’s Furniture Wax – When I want a wax finish over painted furniture, I always go for this one regardless of the brand of paint.  It is made of beeswax and therefore has no odor.  It is incredibly easy to apply and leaves a nice even finish.  I apply with a wax brush.  MMS furniture wax dries very quickly, in about 5 minutes, and lightly buffs out with a lint free cotton rag.

mustard seed yellow milk paint nightstand with furniture wax

2012 #3 & #4 Annie Sloan Clear & Dark Wax – These waxes are nice and thick which is why I liked them back then.  At the time I was using a lot of chalk paint so it complemented well.  A thick wax over a full body paint made sense to me then.  However, there has been a lot of conversation around the clear wax leaving a haze and fingerprints while the dark wax was mostly just too dark and hard to work with on its own.  The dark wax is very pigmented because it is meant to be more of a stain from what I understand.  I have experienced both of those issues and pushed through until…

antiquing wax

2014 #3 & #4 Miss Mustard Seed’s Antiquing & White Wax – No surprise here but I’ve fully converted to all MMS waxes.  The antiquing wax creates such a subtle warm patina with no fear of being too dark as referenced before. The pigment is easy to spread.

lucketts green over trophy milk paint with antiquing wax #mmsmp

On the other hand, white wax creates a washed out look to the painted finish that I’ve been raving about this summer.  The white wax also has a very light scent that is pleasant and not chemically at all.

Mustard Seed Yellow + White Wax #mmsmp

I use brushes to apply these waxes as it helps gets the pigmentation to settle into the paint creating an aged look.  I reserve one wax brush exclusively for each color wax for easier clean up.  It is fun to use both antiquing and white wax on one piece to create depth and the illusion of years of wear.  I like to think of it as highlighting and low-lighting.

white wax

In 2012, I also indicated that I was using a buffer and still receive many questions about my buffer today.  Well, I can’t remember the last time I used it!  I power buffed because all of the waxes I was using were thick and it was the best way to get an even, shiny finish.  My current choice in waxes are much lighter.  When needed, a cotton rag and elbow grease buffs them out in minutes.  Although the beeswax is thinner, it gives a very solid, durable finish when cured.

Of course, this is just my opinion and perhaps, no surprise.  I wouldn’t sell a line of products that I don’t truly love.  There are many, many new topcoat choices on the market including a range of tinted waxes and ones with low or no VOCs.  It is important to find what suits your style best.  Please share in the comments what your go-to products for topcoats are.  I’d love to hear what you’ve discovered!

a beachy combo

I had a wonderful afternoon yesterday meeting with some of our customers at The West End Garage who are interested in painting their old cast offs. We talked milk paint and also heard from our new neighbor at the garage, Eastcote Lane, who carries Maison Blanche furniture paint.  Oh the possibilities!

eulalies sky + white wax table #mmsmp-4022

It is funny how chatting with creative minds about individual projects can get me excited about milk paint all over again.  As a result, I ended up painting until 11 pm last night!  Those pieces are still in progress but today I am sharing this Eulalie’s Sky side table that is in the shop now.  You may have caught a glimpse of it on facebook or instagram.  I managed to snap a few staged pictures before bringing it in yesterday.

eulalies sky + white wax table #mmsmp-4040

eulalies sky + white wax table #mmsmp-4035

This one just screams beach house to me.  The beachy, summer feel is all in the white wax details.  I like to let it collect in the corners and around the legs to give it a bleached-out, sun-faded look.

eulalies sky + white wax table #mmsmp-4034

Would you believe the top was leather?  Well, it still is leather with the addition of milk paint.  Sorry, no before picture.  I am slacking in that department for sure.  Anyway, the leather absorbed the milk paint like a champ and even has some very subtle crackling that is hard to see in the photos.  I took a cue from Miss Mustard Seed and added a decorative design around the circular inset.

eulalies sky + white wax table #mmsmp-4029

eulalies sky + white wax table #mmsmp-4030

I’m sure you noticed that Cape May pillow too, right?  It is the most comfy, down pillow ever.  The cover is machine washable and handmade – both sewn and screen printed. It makes a great hostess gift if you’re crashing at your friend’s beach house.  Or a gift for yourself!  But they are going fast at The West End Garage…

eulalies sky + white wax table #mmsmp-4036

If you’d like to join us to talk paint at another free demonstration, just check on the demo tab here for future dates.  This information can always be found in the drop down menu below ‘milk paint’ at the top of this site.  I will be in PA next weekend to demonstrate for those on the other side of the bridge.

Happy painting!