Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and Wax

DIY Moss Covered Balls

It’s Spring and I have containers to fill.

I planned to buy pre-made moss balls at Michaels but they didn’t have the size I wanted and frankly, the few in the store looked like rejects of the many shoppers ahead of me.

Really? I have to make my own? Please join me.
DIY Moss Ball

Let’s assemble materials:

  • styrofoam balls
  • a package of moss
  • a bottle of styrofoam liquid glue (my preference), or a can of spray glue for styrofoam

DIY Moss Ball supplies
Take moss from the package, stretch it out and break off chunks.
stretch moss

I first tested Easy Tack glue because I already had in my supplies. No, no, no. Shouldn’t the name say it all? I switched over to the liquid styrofoam glue, a far superior adherent. Using  my fingers I smeared the glue onto sections of the ball. That gets messy quickly.

Affix the moss in sections. I compressed each ball with both hands so that the moss would stick. A little pressure won’t tame the wildness of your moss.

After letting the moss dry, I checked for small areas of exposed styrofoam and glued additional bits of moss onto those spots. All told, I only used about one-third of my moss bag, so I should be able to churn out another four balls. I like the thick, lush sensibility of these balls rather than the thin covering on the pre-made ones.
Moss Ball and Styroglue

Let me tell you about the containers. I bought them at estate sales. I didn’t do anything to the matching set other than create the moss balls for them. The blue one is actually pewter with art nouveau decorations. A while ago I painted it with ASCP Duck Egg Blue, Old White, adding  Clear Wax and Dark Wax. I liked the moss balls with the white and gold goblets but I needed something different for the blue one.

Moss Balls in Urns

I cut a silk peony to size and placed it in the urn. For my photo shoot, I fancied it up:
Hand painted art nouveau container

And a photo at dark:
Painted urn at dark

But let’s get back to those moss balls:
Moss Balls
Moss Balls in urns

They are easy enough to make and look good. My problem occurred with excessive time I spent photographing them. You may have noticed that we’ve gone from bright daylight to a  softer evening light.
Moss ball

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Ann Marie and David

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Removing Water Stains From Painted Upholstery

Take a look at my nightmare — my dark secret that I’m mortified to show you.

Water Stain on Upholstery

Yes, it’s a water stain on the seat of a rather pricy antique chair. My scarlet letter of shame.

Below, we’re looking at a Victorian Renaissance Revival Chair with an Eastlake influence. Built of gorgeous walnut wood, this chair was manufactured around 1870-80.

Iris Abbey

Generally I’m cautious about painting antiques. If I do, I undergo a bit of intense self-examination:

  • Does it have sentimental value?
  • Is the piece tight, with no wobble?
  • What kind of wood was used?
  • How much structural repair is needed?
  • Does the wood have minimal scratches, dings, dents?
  • Does the fabric enhance the piece?
  • Will paint make the piece more appealing in a contemporary home?

My initial, and now silly, problems lay with the fabric and heavy feel to the wood. The fabric was OK but not great and my lackluster upholstery skills deterred me from tackling a project like this.

Victorian Renaissance Revival Chair

Other options? I could paint the entire chair using Annie Sloan’s Old Ochre.

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Old Ochre

I stirred the paint, measured some out, and cut it with water. Then I grabbed my spray bottle and filled it with water. I’ve discovered that spraying the fabric will help the material absorb the paint instead of allowing it to just sit on top.

The chair looked much better with the fabric painted — and the texture still came through. The photo below shows only 1 coat; I painted 2 coats.

Victorian Renaissance Revival Chair

I worked outside in the shade of our 10×10 tent, noiselessly painting the wood Old Ochre. I can’t remember the reason now, but I had to run a errand. I debated lugging the chair into the house but it’s so heavy and unwieldy. Instead, I pushed it into the center of the tent and took off. I’d be quick.

Rain. A sudden afternoon downpour, so common in Florida summers, over as quickly as it began.

Sturm by Adolf Sätbli
Sturm (Storm). Adolf Stäbli, around 1895

Upon my return I leapt from the car and sprinted (actually more of a jog) to the tent. The damage was already done. Horrified, I stared down at the water stain on the chair’s seat. Towels. My first thought was towels. Maybe with enough towels I could blot the water and limit the damage. If only it were that easy.

Water Stain Damage

I paused to send photos of the stain to Pat Stone-Smith, my Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (ASCP) stockiest at Mid-Life Crisis by the Beach. She, in turn, carried my desperate questions to the national ASCP reps. They advised

  • setting the chair out in the sun to dry (this was the easy part);
  • buying a can of Kilz and spray it on the stained fabric.

As long as I’m sharing my mistakes, here’s another: Since I’d never heard of Kilz, I phoned those nice folks and asked which of their varieties I should purchase. “We don’t guarantee it will work on fabric, so we advise you not to use it.” Oh. Better listen to the experts.

The chair dried quickly but I didn’t touch it for weeks. David finally brushed shellac on the seat cushion, assuring me the paint wouldn’t penetrate. Still I waited, sorrowful.

One bright day I mobilized. I mixed a half-and-half solution of Old Ochre and water. After 2 coats I could still see the water stain. Argh.

Kilz Original Aerosol

As I became increasingly desperate and perhaps a bit unhinged, David bought a can of Kilz. We put plastic and newspaper all over the chair, everywhere except the seat cushion. Then we sprayed a white covering on the Old Ochre and, mercifully, the water stain disappeared. The Kilz created a a white hide but eliminated the stain. I waited several more days.

I put 2 coats of Old Ochre and water on the cushion (4:1 Old Ochre to water) and studied it closely.

I was back in business, as you can see:

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Old Ochre


Out came my stencil. I spooned out a little Louis Blue into a container; next to that I doled out some Aubusson Blue. I didn’t mix the paints. I simply dabbed my stencil brush into Louis Blue, followed by Aubusson Blue (or vice versa), offloaded the paint on a paper toweling, and stenciled.

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Old Ochre

I waxed the entire chair with Annie Sloan Clear Wax. I lightly applied Dark Wax to the carved areas and, although I generally don’t distress, I gently took several swipes . Here it is in the dappled morning light; the sunlight’s causing a few uneven splotches.

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Old Ochre

Originally I intended to put him in our booth at Avonlea Antiques and Design Gallery but we’ve both been through a lot, Chair and I. I am keeping this beautiful boy in my living room so I can watch how well the paint, wax, and Kilz interact together. So, all is well.

We love your comments. Do you have any tales of terror with your own projects? Please don’t hesitate to share!

Ann Marie and David
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Finding Inspiration to Paint a Drexel Buffet

When we began our fledgling business about two years ago, one of the first pieces David and I acquired was this delightful Drexel buffet from its Esperanto Collection. David still worked at the university and I wanted to test this idea of a small business once he retired.

The buffet in this photo isn’t ours; in my enthusiasm I never took a Before picture. But it’s a twin of the unpainted one we brought home.

Drexel Esperanto Buffet
Photo by

I knew I wanted to use Annie Sloan Chalk Paint on it, and I scoured the internet for inspiration.

The shimmering greens and gold in this photo of the Rialto Bridge spanning Venice’s Grand Canal spoke so me. David, Michael and I once vacationed in Italy. Venice, with its green-blue lagoon, St. Mark’s Square, tiny shops, carnival masks, canals and gondolas, wove a magical spell despite the autumn mist. This photo became my inspiration.

Rialto Bridge
Rialto Bridge in Venice. Photo by Suzanne Thompson

Of course I had to go back and look through my own photos of Venice and show you a couple:

Soft evening lights of Venice
Soft evening lights of Venice

Our tour guide informed us we were looking at the “Best Butt in Venice,” so I’m sharing it with you. You’re welcome.

Venice Best Butt

Back to the Buffet: I began entering in search terms like “green and gold painted furniture” and eventually something miraculous happened. I found the perfect inspiration photo at 1stDibs. Here’s the amazing part: it matched my own unpainted buffet.

Drexel Esperanto Buffet
Drexel Esperanto Buffet. Photo by 1stDibs

This inspiration piece looked like it belonged in the opulent Doge’s palace in Venice. I set out to replicate it. Despite the buffet’s substantial weight, I wanted to achieve a light and airy sensibility.

Doge's Palace Venice
Doge’s Palace Interior. Photo by nuneza15

We studied our buffet for weeks, plotting our next move. Really we didn’t have a choice in the matter; the only place to store it was smack dab in the middle of our living room.

I didn’t feel guilty about painting this Drexel because of its condition. Scratches marked up the top — they’re a bit difficult to see in the photo below — and David needed to replace more than a few pieces of veneer.

Drexel Esperanto Buffet

According to the markings on the back, Drexel manufactured this buffet in January 1965. Definitely not an antique, which further strengthened my decision to paint.

Drexel Buffet Back

Meanwhile, our kitties had a field day.

Drexel Esperanto Buffet
Starbuck stretching downward while Pepper watches.

You know how you hesitate before trying something new? We hoped to sell this piece — our first painted piece. It needed to be perfect. We desperately wanted to avoid looking like amateurs.

Eventually, like when you’re standing on the edge of a high dive, you screw up your courage,  take a deep breath, and jump.

I mixed Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, Olive and Versailles, to achieve the custom sage color. David and I struggled with the new technique. From years of hardwiring, his brain only understood long, smooth strokes. Now we had a fat, round brush and tried to achieve shorter strokes. There was a learning curve, and I’m embarrassed to admit how many coats of paint we applied while perfecting our technique. But we learned and we improved.

Next came the French gold gilding wax, painstakingly applied by hand. I bought a jar from my Annie Sloan Dealer at Mid-Life Crisis By the Beach. I couldn’t wait to head home and get started. In hindsight, I had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.

Gilding Wax

Michael and I undertook this Herculean task. We spent hours — days — applying the wax. Thinking it would go on like a paint, we started out by applying with a small brush. This failed spectacularly. The gilding was the wrong consistency to adhere evenly to the brush. Worse still, its coarseness caused difficulties in application. When wet it had a tendency to flake, both off the brush and off the piece. We would not be defeated. We tried different sized  brushes, Q-tips, and our fingers. The wax isn’t meant to look perfect but we formed Team Obsessive in our impossible quest for perfection.

We’d focus on small areas, shutting out the world, finally walking away and muttering to ourselves. Then back for more. It seemed never-ending. But just look how she turned out.

Drexel Esperanto Buffet
Drexel Esperanto Buffet. Photo by Avonlelal Antiques and Design Gallery
Drexel Esperanto Buffet
Drexel Esperanto Buffet. Photo by Avonlea Antiques and Design Gallery

I waxed her with Annie Sloan’s Clear Wax, but for the final step, the pièce de resistance, I  applied Royal Design’s Marrakech Medallion stencil to the bottom of the drawers drawers. A small surprise for its future owner.

Drexel Esperanto Buffet
Royal Design Stencil inside Drawer. Photographed by Avonlea Antiques and Design Gallery.

At Avonlea Antiques and Design Gallery our son, Michael, and Georgie took a series of photos in their makeshift photography studio. Avonlea had requested vendors submit 5 blurbs on self-selected pieces. Since only a handful of vendors responded to that original call, our pieces were among the first photographed, edited, and put in the new online store. The online store is still a beautiful work-in-progress that will soon be bursting with items.

Drexel Experanto Buffet
Drexel Esperanto Buffet’s Side Door. Photographed by Avonlea Antiques and Design Gallery.
Drexel Esperanto Buffet
Drexel Esperanto Buffet Detail. Photo by Avonlea Antique and Design Gallery

While we’re still stewards of this great beauty, I have no doubt that the perfect match for her is  out there in the world. My point, however, is take inspiration where you can find it, whether it’s a photo on the computer, out in nature, a picture in a magazine, or a flash of inspiration. Good luck.

Ann Marie and David
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An Antique Piano and Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

My friend, Anne, recently decided to spruce up her spacious ranch home. Fed up with her carpet, she had it ripped out and replaced with eye-catching porcelain tile. The soft white and grey hues look gorgeous. It’s like pale wooden planks cover her floors. The faux wood tile even has indentations to simulate hand-hewn lumber. I’ve always wanted hardwood flooring and have spent years coveting it while eyeing my budget. This seems to be a realistic alternative. Don’t tell David, but Anne passed along the name of her sales rep. Lucky for him I’m too busy to get to the store at the moment.

Faux Wood Porcelain Tile Floor

Before you get the wrong idea, no, this post isn’t about Anne’s new flooring. The tile merely launched our joint project. Her home looks so bright and cool, which is great to offset the Florida heat. But darkness loomed in the corner. Her antique mahogany piano reverberated stiff Victorian formality, not breezy coastal casual. Having watched us work on many painting projects in our front yard, Anne asked me to help lighten up her piano.

Anne is an interior decorator and definitely knows her way around colors. Getting things started, I loaned her my copy of Colour Recipes for Painted Furniture and More (2013) by Annie Sloan and by the next morning she had selected Paris Grey.

Take a look at these fantastic intricate carvings. The level of detail required something special, so David and I offered two different suggestions on how to treat them.

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

I thought a coat or two of Old White would really let them pop. David, however, didn’t want to lose the wood; he recommended leaving them unpainted. Anne remained undecided. The front carvings caused us the most concern. We not only wanted to do a good job, but also create a piece of art. Read on for more on our decision process.

Challenges Faced

The piano could not be moved from its current wooden blocks. I don’t mean that it was difficult to move, or merely unwieldy. Without wheels it sat, imposing and unyielding. The piano tuner will come soon, we were told, to attach wheels, perform some much-needed mechanical work to the action and tune the instrument.

Further complicating life, the piano stood 15 inches from a side wall. Since we couldn’t shift the mahogany beast, the simple tasks of cleaning, shellacking, painting and waxing would prove tricky. But not impossible. Contortions, head stands and lying flat on the floor in homage to Michelangelo — David’s middle name is Michael — and we managed to cover hard-to-reach detailed carvings in the cabinet structure.

The carved legs, while beautiful, took a lot of time to paint because of its nooks and crannies. We literally lay on our backs to find spots we missed, and there were plenty.

Annie Sloan Paint

We wanted to allow the piano’s beauty and age to show through the minor dings. Anything bigger than a ding, however, got a treatment of wood fill. The piano’s top had the most damage, as you can see in this next photo:

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

Cleaning and Stitches

We spent the first day cleaning the wood. Before we could start the transformation process, decades of polishing waxes and oils had to come off. We used Simple Green and Min Wax Cleaner. This job was neither pretty nor easy. For our Bonus Round, David somehow managed to break one of our clip-on lamps. The lamp head with its sharp shards sliced his calf deeply — about 2 inches long. He drove himself to a doc-in-a-box for 6 stitches. Don’t judge me. I would have gone if it were serious; it hardly bled, and thankfully none of it got onto our friends’ floor.

Six Stiches

After two coats of shellac on the side, legs and bottom, followed by a couple coats of Paris Grey, we called it a day.

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint
Making Progress on Day 2 and No Medical Emergencies

More shellacking and painting, but we left the carved mahogany to discuss with Anne. David still lobbied for the natural wood to remain, enhanced with a coat of Howard’s Restor-A-Finish. The center carvings retained the deep red mahogany. The two side rosettes retained a very dark, dull patina.

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

I took this opportunity to research the piano’s origins. Imagine my surprise when I discovered it was made by the esteemed Krakhauer Bros. of New York in the early 1900s. Just glance at the lovely lines and intricate details and you can see their master craftsmanship at work. Have I mentioned this piano is absolutely beautiful?

Painting the Carvings with Paris Grey and Whitewashing Them with Old White

I’ll ask that you stick with me here because these carvings are going to go through several changes. Here’s David on the day we painted the carvings Paris Grey. We diluted Old White to create a wash: apply wash and blot.

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

But these carvings went through some transformations. Before we get into that ball of snarled twine, which style do you prefer?

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Annie Sloan Chalk Paint
Unraveling the Ball of Twine

Anne spent the evening looking at the paint job shown in the first photo: an Old White wash over Paris Grey. But she remembered David lovingly describing the beauty of the mahogany wood. The next day she asked about the possibility of removing some of the paint to reveal the mahogany’s glory.

We are good friends and I assured her it could be done. I didn’t tell her the amount of work it would take. David and I tried a few different techniques but the one I highly recommend requires a Scotch-Brite Dobie scouring pad. Dip it in water and use a light touch. Remember, we had two coats of shellac already down on the wood so I felt OK using water.

It took a full day but David and I were pretty pleased with our efforts, despite our sore fingers.

After a night studying this new version, Anne asked if it would be at all possible to combine David’s recommendation and my recommendation: whitewash the mahogany. Yes, that would be easy compared to the day before. After another day’s work, here’s how the piano looked with an Old White wash over the mahogany wood, and mostly clear waxed.

Annie Sloan Paint

Anne asked if we could go back to the original design of Paris Grey washed with Old White. Sure. Again, that would be easy.

Drum roll, please, because we have our completed project and it’s stunning.

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint
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A New Realm: Upholstering Chairs

We’ve entered a new realm: upholstering chairs. In the last few months we’ve acquired several chairs and purchased upholstering equipment to make the process easier.

I recommend watching Marian Parson’s (aka Miss Mustard Seed) 6-part video series on upholstering chairs. She offers clear explanations and shows you exactly how to do things.

We thought this 1920s cane side chair would be perfect with our writing desk that is sitting at Avonlea Antique Mall. And a good beginner’s project.

Cane Side Chair with needlepoint

Lady's Writing Desk

We planned to use the original needlepoint seat but after David pulled out all the tacks around the seat cover, we saw that it had dry rot. The textile had been weakened by  environments with poor temperature and moisture control.

We lifted off the needlepoint along with the batting and foam. In her early life this chair had a cane seat that matched her back. On her journey, though, someone cut out the cane seat and inserted a piece of retaining wood as a base to build upon.

We painted her Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Burgundy to match the writing desk. Clear and Dark Wax went on next.

You can see how we layered the base, building from the retaining wood, to the new foam cut with an electric knife, to the original batting, to the new batting.

Retaining Seat
Retaining Seat

Foam Insert
Foam Insert

Original Batting
Original Batting

New Batting
New Batting

We’ve been acquiring the necessary equipment:

I visited JoAnn’s a couple times to collect fabric swatches. Originally I tried to match the fabric with the aubusson blue, burgundy and gold of the desk. I gave up on that idea. A Waverley toile won. We practiced on scrap fabric and then plunged in. Along the way, we dealt with some issues.

If I cut the cushion cover using the old needlepoint fabric as my template, it wouldn’t be large enough because the new foam was a tad thicker and the new batting fluffier. We decided to cut the material larger than we needed and then we’d trim.

Cane Side Chair Cushion Stapled We trimmed and trimmed. In this next picture, you can see we still have more trimming to do.  I’m pleased, however, with how the fabric centered up to show a gentle pastoral scene, complete with a sheep in the lower right corner.

Reupholstering Cane Side Chair

Our search for burgundy gimp led us on a merry chase. We already had burgundy pillow cord (not gimp), but I continued to look everywhere locally for gimp. One saleslady explained that  gimp is going out of fashion: double welt is the new trend. Ahhhhh.

I took a deep breath and painstakingly cut the round cord from its fabric strip. David and I hot glued the cord around the fabric. The puffed cushion actually sits higher than the cord.

We moved the chair into Avonlea to accompany the desk. What a nice set — but they can be purchased individually. Here are our photos from this afternoon’s shoot:

Annie Sloan Burgundy Lady's Writing Desk and Upholstered Cane Chair

Annie Sloan Burgundy Lady's Writing Desk and Upholstered Cane Chair


Annie Sloan Burgundy Lady's Writing Desk and Upholstered Cane Chair

Thanks for visiting. We’ll see you next week.

Ann Marie and David








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Diamonds For A Lady

Stenciled Diamonds

The diamonds drove us crazy and nearly defeated us. More on that later.

We acquired this lady’s writing desk on an estate sale’s final day. We’d first laid eyes on her a couple days earlier and expected someone to snap her up. Imagine our surprise (and my secret happiness) when we returned for deep discounts and there she sat, lonely and neglected. No question about it. She was coming home with us.

Lady's Writing Desk Unpainted

Her body is exceptionally narrow. With the lid closed, she measures 11″ at her widest part. That’s a big positive for the owner of a small house or apartment needing a petite desk. I also love her convenient pigeonholes.

Lithe and beautiful, that’s what she is. Just look at those details.

I checked with our furniture expert and learned that she was made around the 1900s, probably birch wood and stained mahogany. Ohhhhhhh. We prefer not to paint antiques.

David and I tossed around some ideas. But first he needed to do a few minor repairs and replace the old, worn-out hinges.

Lady's Writing Desk Unpainted

We decided to paint her something special, something that would make her the most attractive girl in town.

Annie Sloan’s new Burgundy paint was perfect. For a contrasting interior color we chose  Aubusson Blue. Wait. How about stenciling diamonds with the Aubusson and gold? How hard could that be?

Annie Sloan Burgundy
AS Burgundy
Annie Sloan Aubusson Blue
AS Aubusson Blue
Royal Design's Antique Gold Stencil Creme
Royal Design’s Antique Gold Stencil Creme

I love the Burgundy. Annie Sloan compares it to dark cherries. Personally, I see it as a bowl of juicy, ripe plums on a sizzling summer day. The color looks unbelievably rich once the Dark Wax goes on.

I studied videos and read blogs to learn about diamond techniques. I began enthusiastically, confident in my abilities. By Day 3 my enthusiasm shrank to crankiness. No matter how hard I tried, my diamonds refused to follow a straight line. Thankfully, David stepped in to save the day.

He salvaged most of my diamonds and carefully traced the outlines for new ones.

Lady's Writing Desk

Here’s the board that flips outward. See how he’s using painter’s tape for the points of the diamonds?

Stenciling diamonds

The full writing surface is below. He struggled with those diamonds for a few days and was so happy to finish them.

Stenciled Diamonds

While David worked on the diamonds, I painted gold stockings on our little lady:

Gilded table foot

It took us weeks to get her looking glamorous. Look at these details:

Lady's Writing Desk

I just want to mention that the lowering of her lovely lid provides a writing surface but throws her off balance. She must be affixed to the wall for maximum support, but that’s not a big deal. Another thought: while I used AS Clear and Dark Wax on the exterior and pigeonholes, I only used Clear Wax on the Aubusson and Gold diamonds.

Lady's Writing Desk

Look at her gold stockings! Imagine sitting here with your laptop, drink in hand, taking care of business as twilight descends. The creek is just a few yards away.

I have the perfect chair for this desk but that will take more time because I must reupholster the seat and paint the chair. As for this little lady, she’s heading to Avonlea Antique Mall tomorrow.

Lady's Writing  Desk

Thanks so much for visiting. We love it when you leave comments.

Ann Marie and David

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A Circus Poster To Frame

Circus Poster and Carved Lion

It’s a circus poster! What child doesn’t love the colors and promised excitement of the circus? This artwork would look great in a child’s room. And Leo, my heavy, handsome lion, is ready to stand guard.

Let me back up, though. I visited an estate sale at the home of an adult circus enthusiast. Circus plates, figurines, even vinyl records–this house had it all. I bought the poster, selecting it from many, because it looked visually arresting but more importantly it was the one I could afford.

This poster features Madame Olympia Desvall, a German-born equestrian. A New York Times article from 1907 described Madame as a “graceful rider with a troup [sic] of well-trained dogs.” Her Barnum & Bailey act included horses, ponies, and birds, all of which followed her around the ring, performing various tricks. Look at those dogs somersaulting and spinning in wheels. One horse has wings. Just how high can he soar?

But Madame and menagerie needed a frame, which David produced after scouting out a few sales. Plain oak with a band of white linen. Nothing special to see here. In fact, the whole thing is rather a yawn.

Circus Poster in Wood Frame

I painted it with ASCP Old Ochre and used Arles on the linen band but haven’t added wax yet in this photo:

Circus Poster with Painted Frame

It still wasn’t where it needed to be, so I added Clear Wax followed by Dark Wax to warm it up and give it some age. It’s hard to see the wax on the left side of the photo below because light washes it out. A mat and glass came next, secured at a new local frame shop. I love how the complete package turned out. The frame and mat are neutral enough to draw the eye to the vivid  circus colors.

Circus Poster with Matte and Frame

We carried the artwork into our booth at Avonlea Antique Mall and positioned the mighty Leo next to it. I really hope they can be sold as a set. Leo’s body color matches the linen stripe on the frame. Good luck, Madame, wherever your new adventures lead you. Take Leo with you.

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Pampered Pets


We love animals. Though four spirited yet beloved cats currently make up our household, dogs have always been important in our lives. Recently my son, Michael, acquired  a hexagonal side table for a project, and during his research he came across an interesting re-imagining of this rather drab piece of furniture. He suggested we try our hand at making a pet bed. It was an intriguing idea. We’d seen plenty of those hexagonal side tables from the 1970s in thrift shops, many remaining unbought and unloved and just waiting for a makeover. Here are his inspirations: Side-Dog-Bed-pets-home-decor Rusted Treasure did these DIY End Table Dog Beds We set to work. Off came the doors and on went the Zinsser Shellac, just in case there was a chance of bleed through once we painted. Image

I looked through my fabric stash and found a couple yards of green with small diamonds. I based my paint choice of Annie Sloan’s Old Ochre on the colors of the fabric. Image

My new peacock stencil from Muddaritaville became the focal point on the top, but after staring at it I convinced myself it needed something more. I decided to stencil a small peacock feather at each of the angles. I was delighted with the result; it seemed to draw the focus to the peacock by providing a frame. Image Image Image Once I painted and stenciled the wood, I waxed it with Clear Wax. I cut a piece of fabric using the top as a template. Using Mod Podge, I  glued it to the inside bottom. Image I trimmed it to size with an X-Acto knife and a pair of small scissors. The sides required two pieces of fabric and more Mod Podge. Image

David and I headed to Joann’s to look for upholstery tacks. We found two kinds: the individual tacks and Dritz Nailhead Decorative Trim which is a long strip of fake tacks that only required one tack every several bumps. Since this would be David’s project, he opted for the strip and later was glad he did. I mean, this is a bed for a pet. Did it really need individual tacks nailed in with painstaking precision? Image

Once everything was assembled, David thought we should paint the inside ceiling, just to finish it off. A cat or dog shouldn’t have to stare up at raw wood while trying to fall asleep, right? We added a luxuriously fluffy bed (20-in. diameter) that we bought at Petco and keep far away from our cats, who are always on the lookout for new places to nap. Image This cushy baby will be on sale at Rustapalooza on March 30. Hopefully, one pet owner will be very happy. Happy First Day of Spring,

To see another of our luxurious pet beds, click here.


Ann Marie and David

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Buccaneer’s Table

Finished Side Table 8

This week I transformed a small, nondescript oak side table into a prize suitable for a daring buccaneer.

Unpainted Side Table 1

Unfinished Side Table 2

This project let me test out a new technique: transferring a printed image onto a painted surface. The Graphics Fairy’s website is a wondrous place, where I’ve read about miraculous things created by a variety of techniques. Maison Decor, however, walked me through a project using Transfer Gel by Artisan Enhancements. It sounded straight forward and easy to use, something that appealed to me greatly. Confident in my decision, I ordered a jar of Transfer Gel from Robyn Story Designs.

After a bit of searching I found a promising picture online and used the Block Posters app on my Mac to enlarge it. Four 8″ x 10.5″ pages would fit my table, with a little room to spare. Before printing the picture to transfer, make sure you’ve set the control to mirror image mode. I used 100 lb. card stock, but in retrospect, I think that’s a little too heavy. I’ll try the 67 lb. stock next time.

I wanted to use two Annie Sloan paint colors for distressing later on. Of the colors on hand, Old Ochre would be the primary color. I chose Scandinavian Pink for underneath because it matched a subtle hue in the image. Apparently I’m the only one in my house who could see that.

Painted Side Table 3

I cut the white edges off the prints and taped the four pages together to form a single, large image. Using a chip brush, I applied the transfer gel both on the table and on the printed image. Press and smooth. I found a clean paint mixing stick admirable for the task of smoothing. Then let it sit overnight. I knew the oozing gel would cause a halo around the image, but a little paint would easily correct that.

Painted Side Table 4

There’s a learning curve to removing the paper from the image. In my case, it was steep. I think the thick paper was the source of my problems. Using a spray bottle, I spritzed a quarter of the image and began gently rubbing the paper away. Whenever I began to feel good about my efforts, I’d accidently tear a piece away. I became frustrated and cautious. And tried again. I’d make a little more progress, feel encouraged, and endure another tear. How like life.

Image Transfer 5

David would walk by and reassure me by saying things like, “We can just sand the whole thing down and try again, you know.” Grrrrrr. I walked away but came back throughout the day. David took a crack at it and seemed to have a better technique. My learning curve remained steep, while his quickly flattened. Once we finished the table, it looked pretty spotty. Literally. Visible holes stared back at us.

Map 6

But we’re talking about a picture of an old map. They’re supposed to be dirty and holey. I could live with the holes if I handled this next part successfully. Annie Sloan’s Dark Wax would be the key.

I covered the entire table with Annie Sloan’s Clear Wax and then picked up the Dark Wax. If this didn’t work, I’d be forced to sand the image off and start over. I slathered the dark wax all over the top of the table, especially in the holes. I worked hard on this step, knowing it would make or break this effort. The result was outstanding. The wax gave the map a weathered look and turned my holey mistakes into interesting features.  When I presented the table to David and Michael, my son and fiercest critic, they nodded appreciatively. On to the legs.

Dark Waxed Side Table

I made a few attempts at distressing down to the Scandinavian Pink but quickly decided against it. This table needed to stay masculine. I think it will be perfect for a young boy — or an adventurous girl — to use as a play table. It will also work quite nicely as a grown swashbuckler’s side table.

Our best,

Ann Marie and David

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