Thursday, January 12, 2012

Chalk Paint, Furniture Painting/Refinishing, and the Reorganizing of the Work Shop

The dust is still settling from my major work shop reorganization. I am now working in a space about half the size as my old space. It may take me awhile to get everything just right but the space is feeling very comfortable. This new move is already producing some good results. I am feeling that the smaller space will force me to be more selective about future projects, it is also forcing me to process my projects quicker rather than leave them standing around to long periods of time, I find that I tend to lose tools less frequently because my tools are less spread out across the shop, and it is also making me look at how I finish or refinish our furniture projects.
For some time now I have been spraying furniture that we refinish or paint. In this new smaller space this has become more difficult. I have had an interest for some time in both milk paint and the new chalk paint that seems to be growing in popularity. So I have taken this work shop change as an opportunity to look at how I am finishing furniture and play around with some of the finishes I have wanted to try, and go back to doing more furniture by hand rather that spraying my finish. In my smaller space going with product that don't fill the air with paint has become important for my health.
The new Annie Sloan chalk paint has really intrigued me so I paid a visit to a dealer and purchased a can of French Linen, a can of the dark wax that top coats the product and a color chart. The paint is a wonderful soft matte finish, is a primer and paint in one and is water based. I painted a small primitive buffet I had in the shop and found that it meet all my expectations. Easy to use and easy to clean up, it covered in one coat and after I sanded it out I applied the wax. I brought the piece of furniture in to Bluedoor and found that it sold so fast that I didn't even get a chance to get a picture of it. So I went back to the chalk paint chart to look at some of the other colors to see what else I could try. After years of painting furniture in cottage white, black and a variety of greens and blues I found myself loving some of the colors on the chart like Country grey, Paris grey, Old ochre, French linen, Versailles, and even Emperor red. Some of these similar colors are also showing up on the Pottery Barn winter paint color palette.
                                                 As much as I loved the chalk paint I found that there were some draw backs for me in using this paint. First was the cost, second was that there are no dealers here in Grand Rapids were I live and third you can only purchase it in the colors available on the shelf or chart. So I decided to pay a visit to my local Benjamin Moore paint dealer and found that they have a new paint product called Regal Select available in a flat or matte finish which basically claims to be very similar to chalk paint. So I had a gallon mixed up in black, my white and the color called country grey(actually very close to a pottery barn color). The cost of the product was much less and when I painted the above two pieces of furniture I was very pleased with the result. Once the paint had dried I lightly sanded the furniture to give it the right amount of distressing.
The next part of the process was to wax or find a process that would duplicate the wax process. Now, I do love the wax however we have found that over the years wax can sometimes make it difficult to change colors and can sometime attract dirt. So I purchased some water based glaze from the paint store, tinted it with very dark brown paint, applied it to the painted piece and then wiped it off with a wet rag. The results were very close to the results I got with wax.
 The two above pieces of furniture were the result of my second round of experiments. I finished off all of the above piece with a matte clear water based product to give them a final clear coat.
I also tried the above two chairs in the pottery barn red which is very close to Annie Sloan red. Again, I like the result and I also like the new palette that I was developing for my furniture. 
I have also done a bit of furniture refinishing and have decided to add a few more pieces like the interesting old pine church bench pictured below.

  I love how the finish plays with some of the new colors I have been experimenting with. So you will most likely see more of my new color palette along with some more natural finished pieces, as well as some of our old standby colors like black and white. The one thing I want to try next is layering different colors as is suggested on the back of the Chalk paint chart.

We have also always tried to collect great architectural items as a part of our love. So about a week ago a came across the two fabulous items pictured below.
The items pictured are sections of vintage cast iron handrail that came out of the old city hall here in Grand Rapids that was torn down in the 1960's. Aren't they great!

All the items pictured above are currently at Bluedoor. So come down and see our ever changing collection of vintage finds.

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