Louis Blue

Verdigris Japanese Lantern

Japanese Lantern 6

This was a black lantern assembled from flattened Japanese coins. You will just have to believe me on the color. I found it at the thrift store when I almost kicked it.

I asked David to take a few Before photos and then left to run a few errands. This was, in hindsight, a mistake because I neglected to specify where he should take the photos. As soon as I left he grabbed the lantern, carried it out into the afternoon sun and snapped away. Granted, we are delighted to see the sun after a miserable week of rain, but unfortunately the direct light completely changed the lantern’s color. Instead of black, it looks bronzy-blue. Ironically, the washed out colors in this picture are startlingly similar to my end goal of this piece.

Japanese Lantern Unpainted

I wanted to create the illusion of verdigris on the lantern, similar to our Chinese warrior statue. He stands watch outside our front door and his metal is beginning to show weathering. I love seeing him every time I enter our house. I assume he’s based on the terra-cotta army figures found in China by farmers digging a water well — an estimated 8,000 soldiers found, along with chariots and horses. And a small one stands in front of my door.

Chinese Warrior Statue

Apartment Therapy provided historical information on verdigris which I found delightful because I didn’t know about the salt, honey, vinegar, urine and wine.

“The name comes from the French ‘vert de gris,’ which roughly translates to ‘green of Greece,’ and in fact, recipes for verdigris are found throughout ancient literature and include ingredients like salt, honey, vinegar and even urine to be applied to copper plates in order to cause the necessary chemical reaction. In France, verdigris pigment was produced in conjuction with wine, as the acetic acid of fermenting grapes was found to be an efficient catalyst to quickly rust copper. The bluish green patina was then scraped off the metal and ground into pigments.”

After his photo shoot, David spray painted the lantern gold, forming the important base layer. I wanted a bit of gold to peek through after I distressed it. The lantern sits on gorgeous hand- painted Japanese fabric, which I picked up at an estate sale for a song. I’d like to transform it into a wall hanging if I can figure out how to do it easily and inexpensively.

Japanese Lantern Gold Paint 1

Next, I followed the procedure described in my Verdigris Cherubs post. I dry brushed Annie Sloan’s Louis Blue and Antibes in patches until I covered each side.

Japanese Lantern 3

To get a softer, older look, I needed to add a whitish patina. I mixed water and Old White at a ratio of 2:1 and quickly brushed it on one side of the lantern at a time. I did this part outside. While that glaze was wet, I sprayed on water and then dabbed it with a cotton cloth. After everything dried, I distressed the lantern with 220 grit sandpaper. I used an extremely light touch so that I didn’t expose the black underlayer.

Here is the finished product, sitting among the Florida oranges as the sun is rushing toward the horizon.

Verdigris Japanese Lantern

Japanese Lantern 4

I’m pleased with the result of faux aged green, blue, white and hint of gold. I chose not to wax the lantern so that it can be used indoors or outside.

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Ann Marie and David

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Sophisticated Whimsey

This mahogany Serpentine from the 1940s tested us. We knew it needed work when we bought it, but we had no idea how much.

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David has written about his woodworking efforts on this piece here and here. Remember her Before photo? Sturdy, but unassuming.

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Four of the handles didn’t match the original brass hardware. I pored over vintage hardware websites and finally found a good match in Canada, our friendly, frozen neighbor. FYI, I found a disconnect between web listings and the in-stock product. More than once I heard, “Oh, that set has been sold. We need to update our webpage.”

This sophisticated beauty is now ready. Her drawers glide so smoothly thanks to David beeswaxing all the runners.

She looks elegant. Here she is in a different vignette, and yes — azaleas are blooming in northern Florida. If you were here, I’d give you a bouquet of azaleas!

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We handpainted her with Annie Sloan Paris Grey. I outlined the upper drawer trim in Old White and painted the twelve handles. Annie Sloan’s Clear Wax covers the exterior. Louis Blue, on the drawers’ interiors, gives a lovely pop of color.

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As I  eased into the homestretch I received a free Lotus stencil (African Protea Flower) from Royal Design Studio. It looked  delightful and I needed to use it . . . immediately. I surveyed our in-progress projects and landed on the Louis Blue drawers.

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Using Royal Design’s Antique Gold  and Orange Ice cremes, and Annie Sloan’s Antibes Green, I stenciled a lotus on each side panel and waxed them. They offer a bit of whimsey.

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This Serpentine lovely has emerged from her spa treatment rejuvenated and looking more radiant than ever. She’ll be on sale at the Rustapalooza Spring Market at the end of the month, our very first market.

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Wishing you bunches of azaleas,

Ann Marie and David
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Verdigris 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, my Uncle Joe.

David and I stopped by an estate sale near our house last weekend. Alas, most of the furniture was gone so we poked through the small items. I found two cherub candlesticks, minus the candle cups, from the late 19th or early 20th century. David examined them and immediately dismissed them. They aren’t high quality, he reassured me on the way home. Sure, they are cast metal of some kind, most likely an alloy. And a piece on one of the bases has been broken and repaired. Nope.

Metal Cherubs

But I liked them. After dinner I asked how much he’d pay for those cherubs. Five dollars.

The next afternoon I sent him back to pick up those cherubs for five dollars. “I didn’t say I could buy them for five,” he said. “I said I’d pay that amount for them.”

He returned with the cherubs. Because of a series of amazing flukes and a little crafty negotiating, he got them for five dollars. This is one of a million reasons why I love him.

I recently  saw a tutorial for a verdigris dresser at A Bit O’Whimsy’s site and admired the technique. Verdigris is the greenish blue color that occurs when a metal like bronze or copper is weathered. Think of the Statue of Liberty. Anyway, I wanted to test out this paint style and these little ones provided the perfect opportunity.

Since my two cherubs were made of some kind of metal already, I skipped the step of applying metallic paint. I had Antibes and Louis Blue Annie Sloan Chalk Paint on hand, so my blue was lighter than shown on A Bit O’Whimsy.

Cherubs and open paint

I used a small, dry brush for each color, dabbing the brush on a paper toweling to get off excess paint. I did not mix the colors beforehand. I simply applied them with the brush randomly, working in small patches and moving on. This method allowed me to control the amounts of blue and green.

Cherub Being Painted 1

Cherub Being Painted 2

Cherub Being Painted 3

Next I poured a teaspoon of Old White paint into a container and added two teaspoons of water. I wanted it very watery. Using a larger brush, I slapped on the white liquid.

Cherub Being Painted 4

Grabbing a spray bottle of water and a clean cloth, I headed outside with a painted cherub. I must have misted the first cherub a bit too enthusiastically because the spray and the cloth stripped off some of the blue and green paint down to the metal. I was more careful with the second one. Both, however, needed quick touchups with the Antibes and Louis Blue.

I still needed candle cups so I nabbed a couple of frosted votive cups until I can buy age appropriate ones off Ebay or Esty. I also need to wax them, but, all in all, this was an easy, inexpensive project that brings me joy whenever I look at them.

Verdigris Cherubs

Ann Marie

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How To Preserve Boxwood – Part 1

Serendipity occurs when you discover something you weren’t looking for. Follow me here and I’ll lead you through a tale not too far from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.

I bought a metal plant container at an estate sale because I wanted to practice my two-color painting technique. I covered it in Annie Sloan Paris Grey and then covered that in Old White. I distressed it by sanding parts of the raised design on the container. I finished it off with wax.

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It looked good to me but I needed something to put in it. So I started looking at blogs and Facebook pages. Preserved boxwood offered me the answer. Because it’s preserved, I won’t have to water it and it’ll last a good while. It’s green. It’s popular. It’s perfect. Here’s Restoration Hardware’s photo of some of their preserved boxwoods:

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Wait a minute. Preserved boxwood is not inexpensive. But — and this is where serendipity comes in — I had six boxwood bushes in need of pruning just steps from my front door. I returned to studying online tutorials, this time focusing on preserving boxwood. I combined the instructions provided by Crafting Rebellion and WikiHow.

I bought three random items suitable for a scavenger hunt. Hobby Lobby had an 8-oz. bottle of glycerin in their soap-making section. Over at my grocery store, I gave a stockboy an assignment. Now, I regularly shop at Publix and have no qualms dispatching enthusiastic young men to find obscure items. The mission this time: find citric acid. He had to ask a few people but returned with Ball’s Fruit-Fresh Produce Protector. “My manager says this is citric acid,” he announced. Well done. The most problematic item was Absorbit green floral dye. Not fabric dye. Floral dye. I called around with no success and decided to order it online from Direct Floral.

On to the process: Mix the items with water and pour the solution into a couple of containers. I used a glass vase a a shorter plastic container. Insert the stems that my son had clipped and smashed with a hammer, and we’re ready to wait a week or so until the liquid is absorbed. Wait another week or more until they’re dried. I’m less certain about these steps because I only have reached the absorption stage. Once they’re dry I’ll get a brick of floral foam and pop in my boxwood.

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My enthusiasm led me to buy another container — all brass — the day I mixed the solution. It came from a Thrift Store by way of India. I tried to get a discount because of the heavy spotting and tarnish. No deal. But I took it home and scrubbed it with lemon juice and salt, over and over. Next I switched to a paste of vinegar, flour and salt and let that sit. After rinsing off the smelly stuff I decided that was enough polishing. I’d paint it using my two-paint distressed technique. Yes, Annie Sloan Chalk Paint adheres to metal. I put Paris Grey on the inside, with the outside a combo on Antibes, Old White, and Louis Blue. I plan to make a ball or a semi-circle of boxwood for this container, either with the remaining batch now soaking or another batch.

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I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, if you have any experience preserving boxwoods, let me know your secrets.

Preserving Boxwood, Part 2 is here.

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