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!

those brimfield treasures

Oh it’s Brimfield week again!  Possibly my favorite place on Earth.  No, we’re not going this time around.  We’re much too busy here in Cape May as peak season has set in.  The streets and beaches are swollen with visitors which I love and wouldn’t leave.  Not even for Brimfield’s swollen streets and fields!

Brimfield 14

Alas, I haven’t even shared some of our May Brimfield finds with you.  Without further adieu, a few snapshots…

I love this industrial vintage laundry cart.  Unfortunately it is just too big for any space we have and it has since found a new home.  Sigh.

vintage industrial laundry cart

We seemed to have spent a good deal of time shopping a field where several vendors specialized in cleaning out old factories so industrial finds were on our side for sure.  We picked up an old factory skid.  I love the heavy metal edges.  This is still in our possession and destined to become a coffee table just as soon as we find the right castors/wheels/feet.  Not quite sure what yet but something to amp up the height.

vintage industrial factory skid

Moving along to the salvage department.  We picked up the biggest baluster I’ve ever seen.  And by “we”, I surely mean Ryan picked it up.  This sucker is heavy.  Topped with 30 inch round glass and you’ve got yourself a grand table for a foyer or a petite kitchen bistro table.  The color is original.  This gem is for sale currently at The West End Garage.

baluster table

Just a bit of TLC was needed and this 3-tier plant stand is serving us very well as a display for our live plants for sale at The West End Garage.  But for the right price, of course, it can find a new home.  For now however, we’re enjoying its company.

vintage 3-tier plant stand

One find that is here to stay forever is this hound dog weather vane.  Yes, let me just clarify that it is a reproduction and we’re fully aware of that.  We love it just the same.  Last year we had an opportunity to buy an antique weather vane just like this in Adamstown but the price was just too high for us to justify for a purely aesthetic accessory to use outdoors nonetheless.  We never stopped talking about that weather vane and the should’ve, could’ve, would’ve.  It was like the “one that got away” for us so we were very happy to run into this guy at the right price in Brimfield.  There are few cases that I am ok with a repro but this is one of them.  This hound dog dons our potting shed and greets us every afternoon.

weathervane-4020

Have you found any remarkable new treasures lately?

 

 

a collected summer mantel

Memorial Day unofficially marks the beginning of summer but for me, it seems to be Independence Day.  Once the 4th of July hits, we’re all fully aware of the season; the rising temperatures and the long, lingering days followed by breezy evenings.  And it’s right around the corner!

We’ve kept things casual in the seasonal decorating department lately.  Just a rotating collection of vintage and handmade favorites on the mantel.  For summer we have a fish painting on a barn door that was gifted to us along with a handmade swan sculpture, a wedding gift.  Surrounding the art are our own handmade baluster candlesticks plus an endless collection of vintage lanterns.  The yellow planter is borrowed from my McCoy collection which is dispersed throughout the house.

vintage summer mantel

The mantel itself is not original to the house but the art deco piece seems to fit proportionally.  We popped a mirror inside.  This was actually a happy accident as it is doing a great job of bouncing light into this otherwise dark corner.  Over the winter, we painted the wall that it is on.  The previous blue accent wall had to go.  The neutral backdrop is much more conducive to a rotating cast of collections.

And that chair!  Still our favorite rehab to this day.  I’m so glad we decided to keep it.  It was a full gut job, shopped from the curb and saved from the landfill!

vintage collection summer mantel

I’m having a moment with these vintage arrows as well.  So bright, fun & cheerful.  They coordinate well with the Crate & Barrel recycled rag rug in the room too.

vintage collection arrows

That’s where things stand in my current vintage collections.  Seemingly high between lanterns, McCoy and arrows, among other things like aqua mixing bowls and ship captains, not pictured.  What are you collecting this summer?