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!

another day, another drop leaf

I can’t stop with the drop leaf tables. There’s more where this one came from too! This is another one that we picked up in Brimfield. It is the perfect size in my opinion. I like drop leafs for their versatility. This one is petite when closed. Just right for a cottage beach house kitchen that can open up to accommodate additional diners around the table. However it could also make a really functional sofa table that can open up as a game table or home office if need be. Anyway, enough imagining its future life. Let’s discuss its former.

french enamel & tricycle MMS milk paint drop leaf table

When I acquired the table, it felt really primitive to me.  Too primitive for my taste.  It needed color. A little pizazz.

dropleaf before

I started with a coat of tricycle MMS milk paint which is such a good, vibrant red.  Why I haven’t I used it in so long?  However, red on this piece still felt primitive.  I punched it up with french enamel MMS milk paint, a gorgeous light blue that I also don’t seem to use enough.

bentwood chair & drop leaf table

The twist, though, is that I created a resist once again using hemp oil.  Just like the last drop leaf I painted.  The red peaks through in just a few chipping spots on the legs and apron of the table.

french enamel & tricycle MMS milk paint drop leaf table

I considered staining the top with curio, the dark brown MMS milk paint.  It is getting increasingly popular as a stain for table tops and dresser tops.  But it turns out that just a coat of hemp oil did the trick to revive the dehydrated wood top.  I love the nicks in the top too.  It gives so much authenticity.

MMSMP hemp oil table top

Ahh, the magic of hemp oil!

MMSMP hemp oil

This table is for sale at West End Garage in Cape May.  The chairs are not.  They’re mine!  The entire Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint product line is also available so you can achieve this look on your own piece of furniture.

Have you made over any furniture lately?

french enamel & tricycle MMS milk paint drop leaf table

celebrating june

Well, June is here! The weather is on the rise, the days are long, the water cool and strawberries are the pick of the moment.  These things will be celebrated, as they should be, on Saturday at the annual Strawberry Festival in West Cape May.  Be sure to walk across the street and visit us at the The West End Garage.  You might just stumble upon a free milk paint demonstration.  Will you be in Cape May this weekend?

strawberries
June milk paint demonstration at The West End Garage

Strawberry Festival

a whole lot of legs

I picked up this drop leaf table while in Brimfield. I have a growing drop leaf table collection. It is an addiction really. I don’t know what it is about them. Their versatility. The timeworn tops. Not sure. But I’ve never met one I don’t like.

mmsmp resist layers-3633

Well that’s not totally true. When the tops are impeccable and shiny, I don’t usually like them. I like a worn stained finish and of course a chippy worn paint job to match on the legs.

mmsmp resist layers-3631

And that’s the exact treatment this table got.

mmsmp resist layers-3637

Oh the power of milk paint and the chippy goodness it can create.

mmsmp resist layers-3635

The first coat on the legs is Trophy.

mmsmp resist layers-3638

The second coat is Grain Sack.

mmsmp resist layers-3636

I followed a similar suit on the ladder back chairs which I previewed here before.

mmsmp resist layers-3639

This chair features Apron Strings & a custom mix of French Enamel and Linen…I think.

mmsmp resist layers-3640

The options are endless when it comes to milk paint.  But to get this layered look you need to create a resist between colors and coats.  This can be achieved a number of ways including applying the wax puck or hemp oil as a resist.

mmsmp resist layers-3643

See, milk paint naturally wants to absorb into the surface unless, of course, there is a previous finish there for it to resist.  That’s where it gets interesting.

mmsmp resist layers-3641

All three pieces are available individually at Serendipity Shops of Doylestown.

mmsmp resist layers-3644

a walk through the garden

A thunderstorm washed through the area last night leaving everything in the garden looking extra lush and green this morning.  So much so that I decided this was the day to snap a few photos and share a status update on how things are progressing in the garden.

annuals garden box

This is the first year we’ve gardened this plot.  It runs about 4o feet long but only 18-24 inches deep on each side of the fence that divides the vegetables from the flowers.  These border gardens get full sun most of the day.  We decided to start out with a manageable size garden and we’ll add-on annually as desired.

vegetable and perennial border garden

On the exterior of the fence I’m working on a perennial garden.  Most of the plants are immature so I’ve been filling in with annuals.  I can’t wait to see how the perennial gardens thrive over the years.  Perennials gardens have always been my favorite to grow.  I am anticipating a cottage style cutting garden out here.  The thought of garden flower bouquets all summer long is delightful.

milk paint picket fence

The other side of the fence is where most of the action is happening as the flowers get established.  We started this vegetable garden in late March mostly from seed, directly sown.  We are now harvesting the early/cool weather vegetables such as lettuce.  If you come for dinner I can assure you that there will be a salad.

lettuce salad garden

And the snap peas are just darling.  I love their little tendrils and sweet flowers.

snap peas

We upcycled a trellis out of two crib rails.  Ryan just screwed them together making an A-frame.  They’ve already grown about 4 feet tall so looks like we’ll need to give them more space to climb.  Some snap pea varieties grow up to 8 feet.

upcycled snap pea trellis - crib rails

The other vegetables include carrots, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, beans and kohlrabi – planted mostly from seed.  Plus, we have a galvanized container garden for herbs.  I want to make tea with the relevant herb harvest.

vegetable garden milk painted fence

The fence is a new addition that we added in the fall.  Would you believe we used milk paint on the fence to achieve that subtle light blue?

milk paint on a picket fence #mmsmp

Yes, you can use milk paint outdoors!  It won’t fade from UV light and will be protected when a topcoat of tung oil is applied.  We sell tung oil with milk paint for this purpose.  The color was custom mixed eulalie’s sky and linen in more of a wash consistency. Then two thin coats were applied on a raw pine fence.  Perfect little cottage garden accent, don’t you think?

the beginning of a perennial cutting garden

But the best part of the garden is definitely the bounty it produces.  This morning, I harvested my first bunch of kale to enjoy with some locally grown strawberries in a breakfast smoothie.  Life can really be that simple.

locally grown produce

What are you growing?