hand painted furniture

Hand Painted French Provincial Bombé

Here’s our newest hand painted French Provincial bombé:
Hand painted French Provincial Bombe

I don’t find much French Provincial furniture at estate sales, but this little guy grabbed my attention. We’ve handled so much Mid-Century Modern furniture lately — which we don’t usually paint — that I welcomed this piece.

Hand-painted bombe nightstand
Boston and Starbuck Appraising the Bombé

He doesn’t have a stellar pedigree but he’s so cute! His original look was faux leather with gold filigree.

Bombe handle
Bombe’s Handle

Annie Sloan’s Duck Egg Blue — I had some, so it went down as the base coat.

French Provincial Bombe
First Coat of Annie Sloan’s Duck Egg and Old White

Once that dried I mixed different tones of Duck Egg and Old White and set to work. I wanted to create an Old World patina using light and shadow. This process is always a judgment call, in that I work on a section until I’m satisfied with the mix of tones. I wait for that section to dry and adjust as needed.

Hand-painted French Provincial bombé

I finished up by dry brushing touches of Old White and French Linen and then Clear Waxed. He still needed something, so I lightly distressed to add interest and texture.

Hand-painted French Provincial Bombe
Hand-painted French Provincial Bombe
Hand painted French Provincial Bombe

Here’s something I learned: there’s a bombe (pronounced BOM) dessert and a bombé (with the accent, it’s pronounced bom-BEY) piece of furniture. That means you may place the bombe (BOM) on the bombé (bom-BEY), like this:

Bombe on Bombe
Sources: Bombe on Bombé

Or the bombé (bom-BEY) on the bombe (BOM), like this:

Bombé on Bombe
Sources: Bombé on Bombe

 

 

 

For another example of my layering technique, check out this Empire Revival library table.

Thanks for stopping by. We’re also on Facebook and Pinterest.

Ann Marie and David

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Painted Smooth Finish on MCM Furniture

Warning: The following post may be unsettling to MCM purists.

What do you do when you can’t save the original wood? When the time and effort to refinish your find just isn’t worth it? Perhaps if these 2 pieces of Mid-Century Modern furniture had been in better condition we could have salvaged all the bare wood. Instead, David and I decided on a painted, smooth finish.
Dixie MCM Dresser and Nightstand

Made by Dixie, the dresser and nightstand had more problems than just a few dings. While they had excellent bones, both pieces were really showing their age. Take a closer look at the dresser drawers.
Close up of Dixie Dresser Drawer Damage
The factory’s stain and topcoat had broken down with age and use. Beyond that, David faced scratches, scrapes, nicks, and even a bit of water damage.

David usually restores our Mid-Century Modern pieces to their natural glory.

White Furniture of Mebane, NC
White Furniture: Sideboard
White Furniture of Mebane NC
White Furniture: China Cabinet
Mid-Century Modern China Cabinet
MCM China Cabinet – SOLD

But these Dixie pieces had taken too much abuse. Luckily, David thought he could save the drawers. A bold choice. I undertook painting the exterior frame in Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Old White. I chose Old White instead of Pure White because I had a can of the former and none of the latter.

Testing a New Technique: Mid-Century Modern Smoothness with ASCP

I wanted the paint to resemble the smooth lacquer finish. I’ve read about people loading up their paint sprayer with watered down ASCP, but I don’t have a sprayer. Annie Sloan herself demonstrated a feathering technique for painting modern furniture.

I tried my own technique using a brush and watered down Annie Sloan paint. In retrospect, there are easier ways to achieve a lacquered look. More on lessons learned later.

Here’s the dresser with its first coat of paint, on its way to a smooth finish:

Dixie MCM Dresser

I put two coats of paint on (no water involved), pausing to sand the 220-grit between every layer. After those coats, I swished my brush in water and then dipped it into a plastic container of paint. Very watery paint went down on the next 2 to 3 layers, again with sanding between each layer. The water thinned out the paint so there would be fewer paint lines. I wanted smooth — no lines.

This photo shows the nightstand after a few coats of watered-down paint and still needing sanding. Since we were experimenting, the top probably got 5 layers of watery Old White, and the sides about 4 each. We used 220-grit sandpaper between each layer. For the very last sanding David worked his way up from 220 to 400 to 600-grit.

Smooth Finish on MCM Furniture

Meanwhile, David focused on the nightstand drawers. You can see differences emerge in the photo below:
Dixie MCM Nightstand 3 Drawers
1. Left Drawer – Nothing has been done to it; years of grime contribute to its dullness
2. Middle Drawer – David sanded with 150 grit sandpaper and acetone to strip off the original  finish and sanded the drawer removing scratches and shallow dings
3. Right Drawer – Multiple coats of Watco Danish Oil Medium Walnut. Sanded between coats with 220-grit. No sanding after the final coat. David just wiped it down and let it cure.

We researched the sealer. I saw an article by The Purple Painted Lady with this caution:

Something to be aware of – is if you burnish your Chalk Paint™ (we call this the Modern Look) that you may not be using Clear Wax on top. In fact- you may have a problem having the Clear Wax being absorbed into the Chalk Paint™ since by sanding the surface excessively to get that super smooth feel, you create a hard- compacted surface and the wax will have a hard time penetrating it or the Chalk Paint™ will have a difficult time absorbing the wax now. Slight sanding is fine!…I do this all the time and then apply Clear Wax. But if you are “polishing” the surface, please be aware of this caveat.

Our pieces had a super smooth feel, so ASCP’s Clear Wax was out. We next researched polyurethane and learned that it has a high possibility of cracking and yellowing. Nope — didn’t want that. I couldn’t reach my stockist so I telephoned The Purple Painted Lady’s shop up in New York State. They recommended General Finishes High Performance Water Based Top Coat – Gloss, which I bought locally. We went with Gloss because we wanted shiny brilliance rather than a muted, Satin surface.

Here’s the nightstand with 2 coats of the GF Top Coat on, sanded with 400-grit between coats. The third coat was sanded 600-grit. The fourth and final coat, with 400- and 600-grit.

Smooth Finish on MCM Furniture

Painted Smooth Finish

As for our timing, we chose to finish this piece before starting our Christmas holidays. Before cleaning the house, buying and trimming the tree, and before shopping. Theoretically that should have worked but David found himself locked in combat with the larger chest and his work days stretched perilously close to Christmas.

Perhaps David will write a post detailing his trials with this nemesis. How many of us have encountered a piece that fights back every step of the way? But he was determined to place both chests in our booth before we began Christmas — and we could practically hear Santa up on the roof.

We made it!

Mid-Century Modern Dixie chest and nightstand

But the drawers on the big chest didn’t glide smoothly — and that bothered David over the holidays. Especially when a customer bought those 2 pieces and our gorgeous MCM 9-drawer dresser with mirror right after New Year’s.
Mid-Century Modern dresser

We promised the client that the drawers would glide like ice skaters when her fiancé picked up the pieces. And they did.

Lessons Learned
  • General Finishes Top Coat gave power to these two pieces. I love working with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and I did a good job painting, but David’s multiple layers of top coat with increasingly higher grit sandpaper provided depth, gloss and glamour.
  • Avoid delaying your holiday. That’s no fun. For us, the issue came down to space. We had to move furniture into our booth before rearranging for Christmas and buying the tree. I don’t want to be in that situation again.
  • We knew the drawers were sticking and we put a not-ready-for-prime-time piece into our booth. We won’t do that again.

I’m happy to assure you that we had a lovely Christmas season once it began, the 3 furniture pieces went to a new home, and our new client is thrilled because of our excellent service.

Ann Marie and David

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More Top Posts From 2015

This is Part 2 of Iris Abbey’s top posts from 2015. Click here to see the top three posts. We’ve talked about furniture manufacturing history, estate sales, painting techniques, a paint review and a novice upholstery projects. To view any of the original posts below, just click on the titles you are interested in.

White Furniture Company of Mebane, NC, Part 2
White Furniture of Mebane NC
Estate Sale Weekend, Part 1
Maya Man
Try This Painting Technique: Layering

American Empire Revival Style

Estate Sale Weekend, Part 2
Ceramic Mask
Diamonds for a Lady
slider-desk
Reviewing Amy Howard’s Tick Tock Paint
Amy Howard Tick Tock Paint
A New Realm: Upholstering Chairs

Reupholstering Cane Side Chair

We’re now on 1st Street at Avonlea Antiques and Design Gallery and it feels like we’ve finally found our place within the mall. Thanks to our many friends for supporting Iris Abbey. On to 2016!

Ann Marie & David

 

Iris Abbey’s Top 3 Posts of 2015

With the New Year almost upon us, it’s time to reminisce on 2015. Today’s list is short and sweet. I was tempted to assemble a long list filled with links to my most popular posts, but decided to focus on Iris Abbey’s top 3 posts of 2015. I will feature other popular posts soon but right now I want to give a bit of breathing room to the top 3. They deal with the history of a furniture manufacturer and challenging painting projects. Without further ado, here are Iris Abbey’s top 3 posts of 2015. Click on any of the titles to link to the original.

White Furniture Company of Mebane, NC, Part 1

White Furniture of Mebane NC

After we bought several amazing pieces of White Furniture from an estate sale, I found myself compelled to research the company. In my post I touched on the its history and included photos of pieces that I purchased. White Furniture has an esteemed place in this country’s history of furniture. The crown jewel of my two-part post came with photographs of the White’s Mebane employees taken by professional photographer Bill Bamberger.

Bill photographed the final months of the Mebane factory. He and Cathy N. Davidson published the factory’s story and photos in Closing: The Life and Death of an American Factory (1998). It’s a terrific book because it deals with the economy, human dignity, and loss.

Closing: The Life and Death of an American Factory
Andrew inspecting bedpost, photo by Bill Bamberger

Several months after my original post, Dennis Jones reached out to provide a lovely and perceptive comment, which I treasure:

How nice to find folks still enjoying some of the finest furniture ever produced. I worked at White’s for three summers while I was still in high school. Many of the folks pictured I knew and admired their skill (even at 16 years old I knew a craftsman when I seen one) these men and women took pride in their job. I picked up wood scraps and delivered them to the boiler to be burned for heat and other energy needs.) At times I would stand and watch for 15 minutes at the skill it takes to cut out the scalloped huge table tops, it was amazing to watch these guys handle these huge pieces with ease. The exact measurements used, the quality of wood, the skill to finish the pieces, the packaging for shipment was second to none. White’s also knew the skill it took to put out furniture of this quality and paid their employees a better than average hourly wage. My uncle worked there nearly 50 years, he and many others were able to raise families and put kids through college because of these fair wages. The book does give a good look of the factory near the end, but the over 100 years before is the real story of American pride. I so miss the folks I worked with there, but my memory of each one always make me smile.

I love his comment. Our White Furniture Company pieces, still available at Avonlea Antiques and Design Gallery, are showstoppers. Customers regularly comment on their quality of the wood, the craftsmanship, and the designs — everything Dennis wrote about.

Create Shimmer and Style with Modern Masters

Modern Masters Warm Silver

The second most-read post focused on my trying Modern Masters Metallic Paint. I painted and stenciled an antique colonial revival dresser and discovered how easy Modern Masters is to use. I used Royal Stencil Creme for carved highlights and interior drawer stencils. It turned out beautifully and this lovely piece is now settled into a new home.

Antique Mahogany Piano

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

The transformation of my friend Anne’s antique mahogany piano takes third place. I used ASCP’s Paris Grey with Old White to highlight the carvings on the front panel. Since I wrote that post Anne informed me she bought the piano over 40 years ago in Rio de Janerio from a military couple originally from New York. I like the idea of the piano traveling internationally. This beautiful girl has a richer history than I thought. Since I painted the piano, Anne’s numerous visitors have remarked that it’s not as massive and foreboding and the carvings are much easier to see now that they’re highlighted. Good deal.

I’d like to give thanks to our many readers, supporters, patrons, and friends for making 2015 our best year yet. Happy New Year. May it be filled with joy, inspiration and success.

Ann Marie and David

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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Ann Marie and David
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Reviewing Amy Howard’s Tick Tock Paint

Coffee Table Tick Tock by Any Howard

This square coffee table gave us the perfect opportunity to try our hand at a coastal sensibility. Michele Hilley of Stiltskin Studios and an affiliate of Amy Howard products, had sent me a gorgeous color: Tick Tock, an eye-catching light blueish-green. By the way, Michele and husband Kenny do astonishingly creative work, so be sure and check them out.

Amy Howard Tick Tock

Tick Tock belongs to Amy Howard’s One Step paint line and is a great color for beach furniture. I was sure I could easily get one coat down on the coffee table with the 4-oz. sample size. The question was: could I get 2 coats down? In hindsight, this was a very pessimistic view.

Coffee Table

 

Indecision prompted me choose to cover the table with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Paris Grey. My internal debate went as follows:

Voice 1: You don’t need a primer. Just go with the Tick Tock and see how far it’ll take you. You will easily get 2 coats on that table.

Voice 2: But what if you run out of paint? You don’t want patches of wood showing through. Why not contrast the grey depths of the ocean water with its light, sunny greenness?

It should come as no surprise that Voice 2 won.

Paris Grey went down first, but in retrospect, I wouldn’t do that for future projects because I had plenty of Amy Howard’s Tick Tock paint — even in a 4 oz. sample jar.

Coffee Table Paris Grey Annie SloanTick Tock came next. It’s a beautiful color reminiscent of the warm, clear water surrounding  Caribbean islands. I love the imagery it evokes: warm breeze, fruity rum drinks, toes dangling in crystal clear waters, brightly colored tropical fish darting to and fro. Needless to say, I’m a real fan.

Here’s my advice on using Amy Howard’s paint:

  • Make sure the pigment in the bottom is absorbed. Turn the paint over for an hour, shake it or stir it.
  • Wait until the first coat dries completely; the second coat will go on easily and fill in any thin patches.

Since I was doing so well experimenting with the new paint, I decided to add a color wash. I only had Annie Sloan’s Pure White on hand, so I added water to the Pure White, about 2.5 to 1. I lightly brushed it on and wiped it off, working in small sections.

Coffee Table Tick Tock Amy Howard

In the above photo I’m attempting to contrast the white wash on the table with the Tick Tock (and no wash) on the drawer. The color wash softened the Tick Tock so that it looked like a mist of sea salt had settled over the table. I love how it accented the carvings.

Coffee Table Tick Tock by Amy Howard

I used Clear Wax to seal it but decided against adding any Dark Wax, because I wanted to retain the feeling of lightness.

With the painting complete, the table looked fantastic. Before we could finish the project however,  we faced one last obstacle. The intricate, raised designs that looked so interesting left the table top choppy and precarious. Let’s face it, if you tried to set your drink on one of those bumpy designs, you’d have a mess to clean up. I can envision a little one’s grape juice settling in the grooves.

We came up with an easy solution. One trip to the local hardware store and we added 4 glass inserts to level out the top. The finished table will look great at any beach house. I also think Tick Tock would be a perfect color for a nursery.

As an added bonus, I actually had paint left over — almost a quarter of a jar. I can’t wait to use Amy Howard paints again in the future. I’m especially looking forward to testing out her Lacquer Spray. I’ll be sure and share my results, so be sure and stay tuned!

Coffee Table Square Carved Finished 2 copy

Disclosure: I was not compensated for my review of Amy Howard’s One Step Paint. I simply shared my opinion of the product: thumbs up and I’ll use it again. I’ve also recently learned that select Ace Hardware Stores now carry her paints.

Have a great week,

Ann Marie and David
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Create Shimmer and Style with Modern Masters


Modern Masters Warm Silver

Take a look at this glamorous star, all shimmer and style. She was showing her age when we first brought her home but we knew she had something special hidden away. We just needed to bring it out.

Colonial Revival Unpainted 2

Colonial Revival Dresser detail of top

David asked me to include this next photo to give you an idea of the amount of work he did. We’re looking at the top of the dresser and a loose piece of veneer on a T-square. Once David removed the mirror, he found this strip had bubbled and loosened. It also had chunks missing. He cut and lifted that strip, then sanded, glued and clamped it in place. He cut other slices of veneer to fill in the gaps along that strip. Quite simply, he worked his magic.Colonial Revival Dresser Veneer Photos

We’ve wanted to experiment with Modern Masters products for a while. Still on my wish list is their oxidized metallic paints that undergo a chemical reaction and create amazing patinas. For now, though, I can check off using their Shimmer Metallic Paint. It’s terrific.

We used Warm Silver to transform this Colonial Revival antique dresser from the 1900-1915 era. Warm Silver tends toward a golden tone, so I changed my plan for an accent color. I intended to use Royal Design Stencil Creme in Antique Gold but discovered there wouldn’t be much contrast. I switched  to Antique Silver.

It took a few minutes to get used to a thinner paint than Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint. The Modern Masters Metallic Paint glided on smoothly with hardly a hint of brushstroke. The Warm Silver is opaque and we put 3 coats on the dresser. David kept reminding me: “Don’t forget to wait an hour before the next coat.”

This isn’t a fanciful piece, so at first I searched for details to highlight with the Antique Silver. The ones I chose were subtle and, of course, extremely time consuming. For instance, we went from this . . .

Colonial Revival Dresser Unpainted Detail

. . . to this:

Modern Masters Warm Silver

Modern Masters Warm Silver

I used Annie Sloan’s Clear Wax to seal her and then rubbed on Dark Wax for added texture and age. I got out my fancy brush and buffed her.

Finding the right knobs posed a challenge. I didn’t like the original hardware simply because I find them difficult to use. I searched everywhere — for months. Reeves of The Weathered Door recently offered an excellent post on hunting for hardware. It’s worth reading.

I ordered a brass set from the House of Antique Hardware, intending to paint them Antique Silver. They weren’t right, so back they went. I sampled a few from local stores before settling on these Gwen Silver Glass Knobs from Pier 1. I didn’t have to paint them and even though they don’t perfectly match the Antique Silver, they add an extra sprinkle of glamour to an already beautiful lady.

David restained the drawers and brushed on 3 coats of shellac. He finished the drawers off  with 600 grit sandpaper. Smooth as a baby’s bottom. I used the Antique Silver Stencil Creme to create a vine pattern on the inside panels of each drawer.

Royal Design Stencil Creme Ancient Silver

Right now we don’t have room to display her at Avonlea Antique Mall. She’s at home, singing her siren song. I would love to keep her because she shimmers and glows like stars in the heavens. Let’s see how strong I remain.

Thanks for visiting,

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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Iris Abbey’s All-Star Posts

Happy New Year!

Looking at the activities we’ve undertaken this year and the projects we’ve completed — well, it just takes my breath away. We continue to learn about estate sales and thrift stores, cleaning, appraising, painting, stenciing, gilding and becoming vendors at  Avonlea Antique Mall.  I am so grateful for the encouragement you’ve provided along the way.

I started my blog posts in November 2013 but summer ushered in a gap because of family medical crises. So, I’ve decided to share Iris Abbey’s 10 All Star Posts, the most popular ones, since I began my blog. Just click the title to go to any post.

1. How to Preserve Boxwood, Parts 1 and 2

My finished product looked a bit wilder than the carefully manicured store-bought kind, but I like it here with my dad’s photo and my handblown glass ball from our trip to Venice.

Staged Boxwood 1

2. French Empire Commode

We transformed this Baker Beauty by hand painting her with Annie Sloan’s Paris Grey and Graphite on the exterior and stenciling a gold medallion in each drawer.

French commode original stateFrench commode

3. Aunt Marie’s 1953 Lane Cedar Chest

I was thrilled to honor my Aunt Marie’s memory by updating her cedar chest with chalk paint and a Royal Design stencil.

Lane chest without contact paper

Slide1

4. Serpentine Chest

This 1940s Serpentine Chest, formerly a banged up mahogany piece from someone’s storage unit, is gorgeous. David devoted months on this because it was his first piece that we intended to sell. Of course, this was a pre-retirement project and it needed a lot of work. I painted the exterior Annie Sloan Paris Grey with Old White trim, and the interior doors Louis Blue with surprise stencils inside.

Serpentine13

Serpentine Chest 2

5. Victorian Chairs

We stumbled upon 2 Victorian chairs at an estate sale and promptly grabbed them. They’re in above-average shape for their age — they were originally built in the 1860s. Our cat, Boston, seems satisfied, and I still intend to paint that functioning Grandmother Clock in the background.

Victorian Renaissance Revival Chair 3

6. Verdigris Cherubs

My first attempt at creating the illusion of verdigris with the cherubs David bought for $5 (total) at an estate sale: I used a combination of Annie Sloan’s Louis Blue, Antibes Green, and Old White. David made sure they sat on the table for Christmas dinner.

Metal Cherubs

My Grandmother and Grandfather in their 1913 wedding portrait. Painted cherub candles sit on Grandma's tray, along with some of her jewelry. She was a dressmaker, and the ribbon belonged to her. The teddy bear is made from a suit belonging to their deceased son, Joe.
My Grandmother and Grandfather in their 1913 wedding portrait. Painted cherub candles sit on Grandma’s tray, along with some of her jewelry. She was a dressmaker, and the ribbon belonged to her. The teddy bear is made from a suit belonging to their deceased son, Joe.

 7. DIY Holiday Decorations

In November I went a little craft crazy and whipped up a variety of items that. I now love Paper Cone Wreaths.

DIY Paper Cone Wreath and Autumn Banner

 

DIY Christmas Decoration Candleholder

8. Old Ochre Pet Bed

We made 2 pet beds and both made this list. We removed the doors off one and I painted it with Annie Sloan Old Ochre. David upholstered the interior and laid down faux tacks. Then, as the pièce de résistance, I stenciled a gold peacock in the center and feather tips at each corner.

Pet Bed 1.1

Pet Bed 1.9

9. A Chance to Paint Fabric and Cane

I found this chair at an estate sale after David went off on his own. I sat down to wait and ahhhhh! Quite comfortable, especially with a lumbar pillow. How could I walk away? It gave me practice painting fabric and cane. I used Annie Sloan’s Arles on the cushions and a combo of Versailles and Olive on the wood so it matched our living room rug. Did I mention? We have 4 cats. Boston and Pepper appear here.

Accent Chair with Boston and Pepper

Accent Chair with Boston

10. Emperor’s Silk Pet Bed

This second pet bed sold in a flash. We kept the doors on and painted it Annie Sloan’s Emperor’s Silk after running into trouble with Old White and the dark wood. David and I struggled with the interior fabric after the flannel proved particularly floppy to work  with. He took care of the faux tacking and our son, Michael, shined up the hardware, while Starbuck struck a pose.

Red Pet Bed Unpainted

Luxurious Red Pet Bed SOLDWe hope you enjoyed this year’s journey. We certainly did. Thanks again to all who visit. An even bigger thank-you bouquet goes to those of you who leave comments. We love comments. So many lovely people welcomed us in this, our first, year. We look forward to the 2015 and wish you a heartfelt, joyous New Year.

Ann Marie and David

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Iris Abbey Blog at One Year

I’m celebrating my first year of blogging by presenting some of the furniture and accessories that we painstakingly worked on.

My Aunt Marie’s 1953 Lane hope chest marked our first effort using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and Royal Design’s stencils.

1953 Lane Cedar chest

Bolstered by that modest success, we boldly began work on the Drexel buffet. In retrospect, it was an overly ambitious undertaking. The hand-rubbed gold paint took an eternity, but the finished product was stunning.

Drexel Buffet

And we pushed on. Here’s the Baker Commode and more:

French commode

 

Savoy Lamp Table

The Serpentine Chest that David restored so it was sturdier than when manufactured:

 

Serpentine Chest 2

Small Victorial Table With Silver Foil 2

Luxurious Red Pet Bed SOLD

Pet Bed 1.9

We moved into Avonlea Antique Mall mid-July with as much furniture as we could fit. Only then did we discover the importance of smalls. I created an splendid menagerie:

Rooster Doorstop

African Carved Lion Painted 2

Painted Swans 5

Chinese Horse Silver Foil

Namibia Elephants

Elsa Elephant Bookends 2

Elephants on Pedestal

Quails

Quite a lot happened this year: David retired and a few months later landed in the hospital for several days. An 18-wheeler totaled my car. I developed a nasty kidney stone that demanded  attention. My mom made a few trips to the hospital before her final stay. She died in August, and I miss her.

During all those bizarre episodes, however, we continued to build Iris Abbey as best we could. We’ve learned a lot — and know there is much more to learn. We make new friends daily. David and I rediscovered the joy of spending our days together, and that’s a magical gift.

We wish you joy and happiness this holiday season. May next year bring opportunities, discoveries and — always — hope.

Ann Marie and David

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