Modern Masters

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

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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