Monday, July 29, 2013

Chalk Painting A Bird Cage ... Act II

I’ve had a thing for birdcages since the first Harry Potter movie. 
Sooo many beautiful cages, and all with the divine old-fashioned shapes.

I acquired this decorative cage several years ago, and though not terribly old, I still appreciated its classic lines. After staring at it year after year, putting things in it for Spring and Halloween, I’ve finally decided to enhance it a bit, and sell it to another home. Do you remember when I painted this cage?

Because this one had wood trim, it had obvious placement for the paint. This time, the entire cage is made of metal, and the only solid surface is the base, which wouldn’t have been interesting enough for my taste.

I approached it the same way I do when painting a home’s interior. I look for any attributes with great potential, and give them the star treatment. So I analyzed it a little more, and it did indeed have some fine points to accentuate. The wires that I enhanced, though few and far between, really gave this cage architectural interest. Before...


The finial on top emphasizes the height.Before...


The 4 corner wires on the lid really highlight the shape.Before...


The scrolly details on all 4 sides now look more like doors,Before...


And the solid base and its scrolled sides now look more substantial.

The finish on the wire was a dark brown Bronze color, which I love, so the majority was left alone. I chose dark Turquoise because it’s reminiscent of verdigris, and swished some Kelly green on it to give it some energy. But really, who am I kidding….I needn’t make an excuse for painting with Turquoise. It’s always a good day to paint any shade of Aqua.

The Turquoise and Green were great together and really caught the light, but I still wanted more depth, so I finished the painted areas with clear and dark wax.

Need I mention that of course I used chalk paint. Spray painting has its place (not often with me), but when I’m picking and choosing individual wires to paint, it certainly wouldn’t be sensible.

Speaking of sensible, I once again committed to painting detail work on and around individual wires. And then waxing them. Yep, that’s me…..

Friday, July 26, 2013

A Clock, A Plant, and Chalk Paint

The very Summery Oregon weather has stirred up my gardening mojo, so let me inspire you with a fun repurposing project for your plants. I brought this Pottery Barn Kids clock home from Goodwill a few months ago. I get sucked in by clocks all the time, specifically the double-bell alarm clocks. I love the classic shape, but sometimes the finish is chintzy and undesirable.

Although the color red is one of my favorites, the clock just looked too new for an antique body style. While staring at it one day, a creative idea popped into my head. And here is the result……

Why not turn it into a planter!

A little fun with chalk paints and a plastic frosting container, and now my junker soul is satisfied! First I disassembled the clock to remove its guts. I would feel guilty doing this to an antique clock, but since this is a new-ish, Made in China item, I felt good about keeping one less thing from the landfill…..but I digress.

After a quick sanding of the body to remove the slick surface, I chalk-painted multiple layers to give it a rusty verdigris finish, using brick red, rusty orange, dark brown, aqua, and mossy green colors. When applying the paint, the messier the better, using a small sea sponge or mushy brush. Thinning the paint with water will help give it a more natural, mottled look, and will avoid distinct brush or sponge marks. I’m sure there are a million options for creating the planter part, but I am always looking for new uses for items I already have on hand. Some containers just look too useful to throw in the recycle bin.

I wanted to use a plastic vessel, because it wouldn’t rust when holding a watered plant. After trying out several options, the perfect fit came from a ready-made frosting container. I sanded the plastic exterior to rough it up for painting later.

I cut it in half, top to bottom, with regular scissors. Then I cut some of the top section off, where the lip is.

I thought it would be fun to re-use the paper clock face, so I used brown tones of alcohol ink to grunge it up. I followed that up with a watered down wash of brown-ish chalk paint, to give it a matte and rusty finish. I cut the face in half, glue-gunning each half to the bottoms of my plastic container.

To hold the plastic in place in the clock, I used insulation putty, but floral clay would also work perfectly. Using putty allows for easy removal, should I use the clock for something else. On the inside of the clock body, there are screw and nut ends sticking up from the legs. When I was fitting the front end of the planter to the clock body, I was able to push the plastic into the screws hard enough to make an impression in the plastic without puncturing. That way, the plastic will fit more flush with the clock body. Once you’ve positioned the clock face end against the body’s front opening, press down where the putty is, to hold it in place. It will leave a thin space underneath, and that is where you slide in the other half of the plastic planter. How far you slide it in is totally dependent on your plant's needs. A Succulent or Ivy, like Kennilworth, can grow just about anywhere, with very little soil.

After deciding on a planter length and positioning the back plastic half, I glue-gunned the 2 plastic planter halves together at the exposed cut end. So far so good, with no water leakage, but if you want to be extra cautious, you can use silicone adhesive sealant from a tube. Just remember that you will have to wait for it to dry before you can start planting.

The back opening in the clock dips down below the back planter half, leaving a wobbly gap, so I added more putty to fill the space and also to secure the position. Of course I painted the putty too, cuz I'm all about the details....)

I obviously didn’t want the look of white plastic up against my rusty paint masterpiece, so the only thing left to do was paint the exterior plastic. (No need to paint the interior, because the dirt will cover it.) I chose to paint after it was secured, so I would only have to paint the exposed area. I used a brown permanent marker to darken the plastic edges. Once the paint is dry, you’ll want to seal it, especially if you're displaying it outside. I used Matte clear coat spray, not glossy, to keep the rusty authenticity.

Finally, time to plant! When I had my planter epiphany, the first plant that I pictured for this project was this wire vine plant.

I’ve seen versions of this called Australian or New Zealand wire vine, but this one is called Maidenhair. They're all basically the same. It's an awesome plant that will grow as crazy as you want it to, and wonderful for topiary forms.

The dark brown vine has the old woody and wild look that suits the rusty finish perfectly. I’ve grown this plant before, but not in such a small container, so this is an experiment to see if it survives or not. If it doesn’t, I may plant another wire vine in a larger container, and nestle the clock body (sans the plastic) into the bigger planter as decoration, then weave some of the vines through the clock.

Once the plant begins to grow fuller, it will cover much more of the back end. Although I’ve only focused on using this concept as a planter, it could just as easily be used as a vase, with floral foam or frog placed inside. (This is where it would really be a good idea to use the sealant.) Wouldn’t these be charming vases for reception tables at a rustic wedding?
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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Fabulous Frame Facelift with Bold Chalkpaint Colors

Do you remember these?

I do recall saying that painting these fabulous frames would only
be gilding the lily. Well, after many hearts on the Etsy listing, but no buyers, I revisited the notion of painting them. I decided the white frames
weren't enhancing the prints,
so I said what the hell.....
I'm so glad I did!Voila!

I didn’t want to create too much work for myself, so I had to do this carefully. You see, I wanted all those gorgeous ridges to be a different color than the grooves, to really make them stand out.

So first things first. I painted the whole frame, front and back, with red chalk paint. Now here comes the careful part. Using my handy dandy fan-shaped artist brush (a stiff bristle kind), I dipped the edges in a pale Spring green chalk paint, then off-loaded most of the paint onto a paper towel. Then I gently swept the bristle tips up and down the ridges (inner frame edge to outer edge, and vice versa). It is important to run the brush this way, like sweeping straight down a staircase, to prevent the bristles from brushing paint into the grooves. You can always go back with a very fine brush to touch up any groove messes, but I tried my best
to avoid that, and yes,
it worked like a charm!

I had considered stopping there, save for waxing them, but after testing the outer edge with warm black, I just couldn’t help myself. The black really brought it all together, bringing out the dark background of the prints, and the contrast is so lush and bold. I just love it.

I finished with clear wax, then added dark wax to the inner red border and back, just to make the red richer.
And Oh, aren’t they purty!

I have visions of these in a richly-colored powder room, where the space is small enough to make these a focal point, and not much to compete with. My other vision is these hanging in close proximity to some dramatic vintage barkcloth.

I guess this proves that adding 3 colors wasn’t gilding the lily after all. They look like they were meant to be
this way all along. My next post I’ll be showing you the birdcage I just finished painting,
again with chalk paint. Tata for now….. Maria

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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Charming Herb Tray via Chalk Paint and Stencils

I found lots of small treasures this past week, but that will have to wait for another post. They’ve all been put on the back burner while I completed another chalk painted project. You know those old wooden, dove-tailed flatware trays? I’ve always gravitated to them, and use them in my craft drawers instead of the kitchen.
I’ve had this one for quite a while now, and had no intention of painting it. Recently, a dear friend gave me a new
set of alphabet stencils in a great font,
and I really wanted to find something
to use them on.
I’ve also been hankering to paint
a sign with chalk paint.
So at the intersection of chalk paint, letter stencils, and old wood, and throw in my gardening mood, here is the result……
I’ve acquired these old trays with graphics painted on the sides, (windmills are my favorite), but up until now, haven’t painted my own design.
I wanted this tray to be at home on a countertop or table, rather than stuck in a drawer. I believe I’ve made it worthy of being on display now.
Since the wood was already very old and aged, I didn’t want to hide all of the beautiful patina with paint. So I dry-brushed very lightly, here and there, with Red, Kelly Green, and Moss chalk paint. I gave the same treatment to the dividers and the inner walls, and darkened all of the inner corners with a black wash,
to mimic to look of darkened wood from moisture. I then stenciled “Herbs” and “Seeds” alternated on all 4 sides. Then after lightly distressing with sandpaper, I sealed the paint treatment with clear and dark wax. I left the bottom wood bare (above and below) just to preserve the rustic look. I really love how it turned out, so naturally
I couldn’t stop taking beauty shots of ways to use it.
For holding mini planters of herbs.
Great for tea bags, sweeteners, etc.
A charming serving tray for cordials.
And of course, for silverware…. I have another larger dove-tailed tray, but the wood patina is blonde, so I may be more liberal with the chalk paint. Not to mention the size will allow for longer words, so we’ll see what I come up with. Ciao for now.
A million projects waitin’….. Linking To:
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