Brass SwansThe large brass swans on the hearth called to me. Up to that point we had only acquired unique and unusual furniture to paint. But these tall swans looked amazing. I’ve seen them labeled Mid-Century Modern or Hollywood Regency style. They exuded glamour and personality despite a few dings. I couldn’t believe our luck and snatched them up. Unfortunately they were brass, extremely popular several decades ago, but not so in vogue these days. Real swans have an average lifespan of about 15 years, but these lovelies easily surpassed that and are still going strong. One thing was clear: time for a makeover. The day arrived when we settled the female, called a pen, into our car’s back seat, seat-belted her in, and headed for the beach. Lugging her into Mid-Life Crisis by the Beach — they are surprisingly heavy — I showed her to Pat. Mid-Life Crisis by the Beach If I haven’t described Pat before, she embodies enthusiasm, creativity and encouragement. A visit to her shop inevitably refreshes my spirit. We talked about Annie Sloan Chalk Paint colors and some new products from Artisan Enhancements. The eyes would be the key to this project, Pat advised. Make them regally Egyptian. In her enthusiasm, Pat picked up a brush and began painting an eye violet, then blue, soon adding eye shadow and black mascara. Just practicing.


Armed with inspiration, we headed home. Zinsser Shellac went on first because it just makes life easier. I started with the male swan, or cob, and mixed Artisan Enhancements’ Pearl Plaster with ASCP Pure White. I simulated feathers with long brush strokes. This was a strikingly different look from my previous time using Pearl Plaster when I gave a pair of elephants rough skin with Fine Stone and finished them up with a pearly shimmer. Studying the finished product, I decided the cob wasn’t pearly enough. I covered him with a thin coat of Pearl Plaster. It provided a lovely iridescent sheen. Painted Swan I applied a mixture of Old White and Arles to highlight their beaks. But the eyes. Ah, the eyes challenged me. When I know I must draw a straight line, my hand plays tricks. After failing to achieve the look I wanted, I turned to index cards and practiced with multiple brushes to get it right. Statistically, one has to achieve success eventually but it took me a while. The day finally came when I decided I was, in fact, satisfied with their eyes. I lightly brushed Pearl Plaster over them, using a cloth to wipe away any thickness. Painted Swans 1 The final step: finding a way to accentuate those long necks. Amanda, the floral designer at Michael’s was delightful. She found ribbon that matched the eyes, eye shadow, and snowy feathers, and created the beautiful bows. She suggested a nautical theme with a rope and strands of shells but I didn’t want to go in that direction. We agreed on the ivy, which she carefully arranged, and topped off with delicate white butterflies. And here they are. They’ve shed their outdated brassy coats and donned softer, fluffy feathers. Their eyes are so expressive and Amanda’s ivy and ribbons complete their  ensemble. They could hold their own at any red carpet event. Painted Swans 5 Painted Swans 3     Let us know what you think about the swans. If you’d like to receive our posts, just sign up below.

Ann Marie and David

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8 Comments on Glamorous Swans

  1. Cathy
    November 4, 2014 at 3:33 pm (7 years ago)

    How pretty they are now and those eyes are perfect. Thank you for sharing at Share It One More Time. Cathy

    • irisabbey
      November 4, 2014 at 10:04 pm (7 years ago)

      Thanks, Cathy. It was so refreshing to look at those eyes one day and realize I am done with them. What would we do without challenges?

  2. Robin @ Redo It Yourself Inspirations
    November 6, 2014 at 2:40 am (7 years ago)

    Thank you for visiting me again, Ann Marie!

    I was so excited to see what treasures you transformed this time and you didn’t let me down. These swans turned out beautiful!

    I hope you consider posting your creations at my Trash to Treasure Tuesdays. I’d love to see them join us.

    Have a great week!


    • irisabbey
      November 6, 2014 at 2:46 am (7 years ago)

      Thanks for your kind words, Robin. I love those swans. They are in our shop space right now. Let’s see how that goes.

  3. Suzanne
    November 7, 2014 at 11:27 am (7 years ago)

    Your swans turned out wonderful. They would be perfect as a wedding table centerpiece. Thanks for sharing at Saturday Sparks.
    Have a Lovely Day,
    Pieced Pastimes

    • irisabbey
      November 8, 2014 at 1:02 am (7 years ago)

      Thanks you, Suzanne. You are right about a wedding. And swans are so appropriate since they mate for life.

  4. Poppy
    December 2, 2014 at 8:20 pm (7 years ago)

    What a lovely transformation, to a softer, more elegant version of a beautiful bird!

    Have a lovely day!


    • irisabbey
      December 2, 2014 at 9:21 pm (7 years ago)

      Hello, Poppy. Thanks for stopping by and your comment — I love it. The swans are still at the shop, although I gave my card to a wedding planner recently. These might be perfect at weddings, right?


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