Friday, October 31, 2014

The cocky painter

Using chalk paint to transform furniture

There's nothing more exciting than unleashing an idea I've been carrying within. I love to transform raw ideas into physical things that can be touched, savored, read, worn, admired. It might be a favorite restaurant dish I recreate for my family. It might be an article that shares the emotion locked deep inside, that I was able to coax to life with just the right words and rhythms. It might be a newly painted room, with the perfect eggshell finish, the quintessential modern, slate color.

When my friend suggested I refinish a tired, moldy piano I'd inherited from my mother, then, I became excited about transforming the grotesque into the beautiful. As I tiptoed into the world of salvaging and refinishing, I reached out to my friends, who held my hand, giving me advice on paint colors, technique, and waxes. When completed the piano was stunning.

That's when it happened. I fancied myself an Annie Sloan protege. I began giving others advice. I became a bit cocky.

I was on a roll. What else could I paint, I began to wonder. How could I make the world around me, in my little new house, more beautiful?

I have the dream of refashioning a tiny room, perhaps originally a sewing room, into a dressing room. I have a fabulous gold mirror, and a decadent sheep skin rug in it. A chandelier, an antique desk, some beautiful shelves to complement my armoire, and my vision would be a reality. So I decided to try a two color distressing technique with my bland old desk chair. I'd paint it gold, then white, then wax, distress, and wax some more. It would be the first step toward creating a room I could call a masterpiece.

I painted, sanded, waxed, distressed, and waxed again. And, as my son aptly described it, when I was done my chair looked like I'd smothered it in dog doo doo. It wasn't pretty. No. It was a complete disaster.

I was crushed. Had my piano project been a fluke? Had I experienced beginner's luck? What would I do now?

Naturally, I decided to cover up all evidence of my art project gone awry. I sanded the chair to the bone and started over. This time I skipped the dark wax and made sure the gold color showed through at the marks of distressing.

The result?

It's better, but I'm no distressing aficionado. I think I'll focus on writing down words for the next few weeks. They are easier to make beautiful.

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