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Achieving the Perfect Top Coat on a Stained Table Top

This weekend I worked on getting the perfect finish on a dining table top. It has a veneer top which makes it difficult to stain evenly and top coat. I kept getting streaks in my top coat and was about to pull out my hair in frustration. I’ve had to sand and restain, sand some more, apply another layer of top coat, and sand again; well you get the picture. I’ve finally managed to get a streakless finish and thought I would share what I’ve learned so you don’t make the same mistakes I did.

I used java gel stain from General Finishes which is an oil based stain. It’s thicker then regular stain so more like a paint in texture, but I love how it provides even coverage more than regular stains and you can use it like paint in some situations. Oil also penetrates more deeply than water based stains which sit more on the surface. Always wipe on some mineral spirits on the surface you are applying the gel stain beforehand. This will give you better and easier application as you are wiping the stain on and off. It avoids the splotchiness which can occur. I used a foam brush to apply the gel stain, worked in small sections at a time to wipe it off with a lint free rag in the direction of the wood grain. Keep going until all of the surface area has been covered. It must dry for 12-24 hours before top coating with an oil based top coat or 72 hours if you are using a water based product as we all know oil repels water so a longer drying time is needed for the oil to be absorbed.

I let it dry for a day and used Varathane Ultimate Polyurethane in Satin. It is an oil based top coat. I love how oil based top coats make the wood look richer so I chose to use it and also because I had used the oil based gel stain. It has a yellowish tint which gives the stain an amber hue. I’ve heard wonderful things about General Finishes Arm-R-Seal Urethane as being easier to apply so I will try that next time but this is based off of my experience with the Varathane Ultimate Polyurethane.

I used a wide foam brush to apply it. You an also use a good quality synthetic bristle brush. Do not use a roller or you will get air bubbles. I applied one layer, over lapping my strokes and going in one direction. I let it dry for 6 hours and applied another layer. I began noticing streaks under my bright lighting. I used a 3M Scotch-Brite pad and wet sanded in between layers as it dried. You should get a white powdery residue and not gooey or it means it hasn’t dried long enough. Sand in one direction. I did this by hand. You wet sand by wetting the pad with water as you sand. this helped eliminate the streaking. After I had applied 3 regular layers like this with my foam brush, I thinned the polyurethane with some mineral spirits so get it more in the consistency of a wipe on poly. I used my foam brush to apply it again. No sanding in between this time as it was not needed. I allowed it to dry 2 hours or more before applying on another thin layer. Finally I had achieved the perfect glossy top coat.

That sounded like a lot of work because it was. I’m hoping my experience makes it easier and less frightening for you to create a perfect stained and sealed table top. Dining room tables can be intimidating to refinish but with the right technique, they don’t need to be.

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Glazes, Stains, and Waxes

Giving your project an artistic finish often requires using a glaze, stain, or wax that has a color to it. What is the difference between glazes, stains, and waxes? How do you decide which you should use for your piece? What does each one do? There are many factors to be considered and depending on the look you are trying to achieve, figuring out the right one is important for the perfect finish.

Waxes are easy to use and don’t require a lot technical skill. The most popular use for wax is antiquing wax that has a dark color and once buffed on the surface, can give the finish an aged effect. There are liming waxes that can give a whitewashed look as well, that highlights the wood grain and details. There are decor waxes that come in all kinds of pigmented colors, often metallic sheens and are perfect for decorative finishes. I often use the redesign with prima or art alchemy waxes for my carnival glass finishes or other colorful effects. There is clear wax which is used to seal chalk paint. The technique for applying antiquing and liming wax is best with a natural bristle brush to spread the wax on the surface and using a cloth to buff it smooth. For decor waxes, I often use my fingertips or a small artist brush because I am accenting small details and not the whole surface area. Waxes are easy to use for any skill level and the most popular go to for artistic finishes. I love using them with stencils because there is not bleed through and it so easy to apply.

Glazes are highly pigmented liquid solutions with a lot less binder or no binder at all and are usually layered between coats of finish. They are usually semi-transparent. Glaze, like wax rests on top of the painted surface, while a stain penetrates the surface like a dye. Glazes can be applied like paint, unlike wax because it is in liquid form. You can use a brush, sponge or wipe it on with a cloth. Glazes come in all kinds of colors that you can imagine and are used for decorative finishes. You can use glazes for antiquing with a dark colored glaze in black or brown. You can also use colorful glazes to give you more depth and dimension on the surface and to highlight details. Most glazes must be sealed as they have no binder. There are some glazes that do not need to be sealed, for example, I make glazes mixing mica powder and water-based polyurethane so it’s essentially a topcoat already. I love Modern Master’s platinum series glazing creams because they are easy to use and are slow drying so you have more workable time to blend it on the surface. They come in a large array of colors. Some people find glazes easier to use than wax because of the viscosity of glazes, which makes it easier to apply on the surface, however, some find that attribute makes them more difficult to apply.

Stains are like thinned out paint. Sometimes a dye will be added and these are sometimes called a dye stain. Stains penetrate the surface unlike waxes and glazes. Stains contain a binder, usually a thin oil-based product.   Stains always have to be stirred while in use because they contain solid pigments that settle to the bottom of the can after a short time. Usually, some type of topcoat is applied on top of the stain to lock in the color and to allow for multiple coats of stain without lifting previous coats of stain. Stain cannot be wiped off like glaze so there is less room for error. Once applied it is on permanently. They can go on darker than glazes so keep that in mind. Stains are perfect for unpainted wood because they penetrate the surface and will give it an even color. Glazes will make it splotchy and uneven as it rests on top and does not penetrate the porous wood. Stains must be top coated as they have no hardening agent and will not protect the surface. Gel stains are thicker versions of stain. Oil based stains penetrate wood the most as opposed to water based stains. You can thin gel stain with a bit of mineral spirits to make them easier to apply and less dark. Use a foam brush or brush to apply and wipe with a rag afterwards. Stains can give you a lovely antique look just like a glaze or wax but the working time is less than it is for glaze or wax.

How do you decide which is for you? Based on what I have mentioned about the characteristics of each, one may suit your needs more. For me, it’s more about what I have on hand and is available at the moment. You can make any of them work for you but the technique will be slightly different for each as well as the effect you get. Glazes have more variety in colors with the exception of decor waxes. I usually decide based on what color I need for a project. If you are wanting an antique effect, wax or glaze is probably the easiest to use but you can certainly use the stain you have on hand too to get the same look. Wax is buffed unlike glazes or stains. You can play around with wax more but a glaze with a topcoat afterwards is more durable. Decor waxes from redesign with prima dry permanently but like any wax, can be scraped off as it lies on the surface. The advantage of glaze is that you can seal it immediately after it dries with a topcoat. Wax needs to cure before you can topcoat it which can take 30 days or more. The decor waxes need 24-48 hours to cure before applying a topcoat. Play around with each and see which works best for you. Depending on your budget, the availability of the product, and what you already have, you’ll be able to make the right decision for you.

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Morocco Inspired Furniture

I’ve never been to Morocco but who hasn’t heard of the magical land near the Mediterranean Sea and at the north of Africa? I’ve seen photos of travelers posing in front of gorgeous mosaics and tiled walls. The colors of their tiles and the exotic spices found in dishes like tangine evoke a dreamy landscape of sandy dunes and Arabian adventure. I think of camel rides across the desert, dusky colored landscapes, intricate architecture full of patterns and bright colors. It’s hard not be inspired by the romance of Morocco.

The colors that come to me are corals, teals, blues, gold, copper, ruby, dusky orange, and purple. Incorporating all of these colors may seem a bit much for a piece of furniture but I believe a balance can be achieved that will create a wonderful landscape that draws you in and leaves you in breathless. I was lucky to have 2 clients who wanted me to create Moroccan pieces for them and I was happy to take on the customs. Color, for me is a form of expression beyond words. It weaves a storyline of emotions dancing in your head. When I am moved by color, I feel tears brimming in my eyes because the emotions are so overwhelming. It’s like listening to music and having it pull at the chords of your heart. I can’t help but respond.

For my first dresser set, I used blues, teals, splashes of coral, purple and bits of copper. I wanted this one to be joyful and expansive like a clear blue sky on a limitless day. My client is from South Africa so she wanted a bit of animal print here and there. I love metallic paints. The colors you think of when it comes to metallic paints are usually: gold, silver, copper, bronze, or iron. Being lucky to use Modern Master’s huge array of metallic colors has changed my view on metallic paints. I have every hue you can imagine and maybe not imagined. The way they reflect the light, gives them a vibrate I just can’t achieve with chalk paints. Most paints are matte unless you topcoat them with a satin sheen or gloss. Even then, it’s still flat and I often add texture to give it some dimension and depth.

Modern Master’s metallic paint colors

I paint my pieces with a base of chalk paint or other paints that match the metallic color I want to use or is complimentary to all the colors I will be using. Beige and gray are usually the safest colors to use for any of the colors. Warm tones for beige and cold tones for gray. After the base dries, I add the metallic paints and allow each layer to dry before adding another because if you overwork the paint, it will be a splotchy mess. Brushstrokes in one direction help give you less apparent brushstrokes later and help with blending colors. To achieve a beautiful blending when different colors meet, gently brush them against each other until they meld seamlessly. I used mostly glacier blue and sapphire for the dresser set. I also used redesign with prima’s transfer: boho patchwork as it has the color textile patterns she wanted. I used stencils to create the tile and mosaic like surface pattern with decor waxes which are my second favorite next to metallic paints.

To me, this is what boho is, colorful and playful. Boho is a wild and carefree spirit without pretension or convention. For my second commission, I took a different direction with sunset colors and dusk. I wanted it to be warm. I used more coppers, ruby, gold, and subtle peeks of coral for the dresser. It already had lovely detailing on the surface so I just added some subtle stenciling to give it the signature Moroccan patterns. I also created an ombre finish.

The matching desk I wanted to be complimentary but not identical in color. I added appliqués to give the flat surface details like the dresser but in a different style. I created them with fast cast resin and redesign with prima moulds. I used the colors I already had with the dresser but added more purples and teals to it. Sunsets come in all colors and varieties. I did a sort of sweeping ombre from side to side. The top I made more playful with parts of a transfer on top of patchwork stenciling with decor waxes. I sealed the top with resin because I wanted it to be protected the best it can, especially being a desk top, it would be subject to much scraping and scratches. I also love the glass like finish resin always leaves. This one was a magical carpet ride into Jasmine’s palace.

I don’t think this will be the last Moroccan inspired designs I’m asked to do nor want to create. I travel the world in my mind and try to convey the culture in my work. There’s so much beauty and mystery in this vast world that not visiting it would be hindering to the imagination. I have only to look around me in order to find the design for my next piece.

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Glass Bead Gel Stenciling

I’ve used many products for raised stenciling but my new infatuation is with glass bead gel. Glass bead gel is a paste that is formed with microscopic glass beads to give you a unique texture for any type of medium. The one I use specifically is from Modern Masters Inc. The technique for applying it is much like one for any type of paste. The texture you get once the gel has dried is a smooth and durable. I love running my fingers over the surfaces where I have applied glass bead gel and it feels like braille.

Parisian Bar Cabinet Doors

The gel is translucent so if applied on by itself it will give you a sparkly, textured surface. The effect is rather stunning . I usually mix my bead gel with a bit of metallic paint so that it has color but still has the pearlescent sheen. The ratio is roughly 1 tsp to 1/2 cup. You don’t need a lot because the paste is translucent, so it picks up the color easily without diluting it as if you were using white colored paste. It will also darken as it dries so the color you see initially isn’t an accurate gauge on how it will look upon finish.

Dried Glass Bead Gel

I love using stencils with the glass bead gel to get sharp and amazing patterns with a definite wow factor. I use 3M spray adhesive on the backs of my stencils first so that they will be fixed in place with no bleed through to mar the crispness of the fine details. It also doesn’t leave behind sticky residue that will ruin your surface. I apply the paste with a spatula and use a trowel to get it evenly on. When I peel off the stencil, the design that emerges is always stunning. There’s no need to topcoat the dried bead gel surface as it is impossible to scratch once fully cured.

To me, the bead gel surface looks like sea foam. It’s a luxurious product that gives any surface depth, dimension, texture, and color. If you haven’t tried raised stenciling with it, it’s a must on the check list.

Imperial Damask
Alessandro Flourish
Garden Dream

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Sealing with Resin

Using resin can be very daunting when you have never used it before or maybe you did and had a failed attempt. It’s much like baking, the proper measurements and steps are essential for successful resin coating. I prefer to use epoxy resin with UV protection so it doesn’t yellow over time. I love sealing my hand painted surfaces with epoxy resin because it protects it better than any other product and enhances the colors, giving it a glossy wow factor. It looks high end and the extra effort is well worth it, in my opinion. Don’t be intimidated by the seemingly complicated process. Here’s my step by step guide for resin coating.

Resin comes in two parts: the gloss coating and the hardener solution. It takes the chemical reaction of combining the two for the resin to harden with a clear surface. It’s stays viscous when unmixed. You measure in equal parts for both solutions. I use two equally sized plastic cups to measure my solutions as it’s cheap and disposable. You won’t want to wash what you measure it with later, trust me. It’s sticky and very difficult to remove.

What you will need:

  • Epoxy Resin
  • Disposable measuring cups
  • Disposable container for mixing and combining
  • Large mixing stick
  • Gloves
  • Drop cloth
  • Tape
  • Culinary flame torch

You’ll want to protect your floors with a drop cloth even if it’s in your garage, The resin will drip onto the floor and create a sticky mess. First I prepare my surfaces being coated by resin by cleaning them and making sure no stray particles floating in the air are on it. Your surface must be dry. I let painted surfaces dry for at least 24 hours prior to coating. If it is a stained surface, make sure it is dry as per the instructions given by the company. I tape off the underside of my surface along the edges. If you are wanting the sides to not be coated by the resin, tape them so that the resin can still drip over without forming a lip later. The resin will form droplets underneath and it’s much easier to tape off to remove the droplets cleanly once it has dried. Make sure your tape is on securely by burnishing with fine grit sand paper or a burnish block. You don’t want the resin to seep under the tape. Elevate your surface. If it’s the top of a piece of furniture, make sure the sides are protected with plastic wrap or some other covering. In this case, my doors were removed from my piece so I had to elevate it with some large containers. This is to allow the resin to drip over and not pool around the surface.

Wearing gloves and a mask in a well ventilated area, measure the parts so they are equal. I have seen some people use a small scale to weigh the containers to make sure they are equal. Pour the parts into a larger container in small parts at a time. It doesn’t have to be poured exactly in even parts because when you have it all mixed it will be in equal parts. Using your mixing stick, stir in the large container for a minute. Make sure you scrape the sides and bottom of the container. Mixing thoroughly is one of the most important aspects of successful resin coating or your resin will not harden completely and the surface will be sticky. Add more from your measuring cups into the large container about 1/4 of a time depending on how much resin you are mixing. The gloss coating solution is thicker than the hardener solution so at the final pouring I pour the hardener part into the cup with the gloss coating solution and mix it in there before pouring it all into the large container so every bit of resin gets into the mixing container.

After you have thoroughly mixed your resin, you will notice that there are air bubbles in it but don’t worry, it won’t affect the surface because the torch will remove any air bubbles. Pour your resin over the surface evenly across the entire area as you can. You can use your mixing stick to smooth it over the entire surface or use a plastic putty knife to spread it across. Having more resin than you need is better than having too little. You want it to drip over the surface as it levels to get an even and smooth coating. Smooth it over the sides of the edges if you are wanting it to coat over the sides as well. When you have spread it over all of the surface area, use your torch and holding it over your surface a few inches away, quickly torch the resin surface in a waving motion. Don’t hover or it will burn the resin. This pops all of the air bubbles and helps your resin level. When you no longer see anymore air bubbles popping, you are done with torching. You’ve reached the finish line of the resin coating. All you have to do now is let the surface harden which will take 24 hours or more. Make sure no floaties will get on the surface somehow by floating in the air, so no fans going. It would be a shame to have the little particles stuck on your surface by accident.

When your resin has hardened you can remove the tape. You can use a box cutter to help remove the tape if it’s stuck by going underneath the tape. It take resin a month to fully cure and harden completely. During the curing process, don’t place anything on the surface as it can scratch the resin and do not expose it to extreme heat. Enjoy your beautiful finish and the glass like effect on your surface.

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Modern Masters Metallic Paints

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” – Elizabeth Barrett Browning

I truly have a love affair with Modern Masters’ metallic paints. What do I love about them? I love that there are 56 different shades of colors. That is absolutely amazing, as some paint companies don’t even have that many paint colors available. I choose colors based on my design, mood, inspiration, and other factors and having so many colors at my disposal makes designing a furniture piece much easier.

My style of painting is best described as eclectic. I don’t adhere to any one style or categorization, as I love to experiment with various techniques, products, furniture pieces, and looks. To me, versatility is creativity.

Working with Modern Masters has been a tremendous opportunity, as it’s a company that specializes in products for artistic finishes. Their metallic paints vary in sheen from satin to matte. The transparencies also differ from sheer to opaque, with opaque being the least transparent. This variety offers convenience for various projects, giving you the ability to choose the best finish for your project. No need to thin out the paint or add extra coats. Simply take your pick and paint away.

Modern Masters Metallic Paint Colors

I’ve completed several pieces using Modern Masters’ metallic paints and it’s allowed my work to a find a new level of creativity. Their champagne metallic paint is my new favorite neutral. I used it along with bronze for my Parisian set (curio cabinet and serpentine dresser seen below). I used Sapphire to accentuate the beautiful flame mahogany veneer on my empire chest. My bombe chest features Black Cherry and Black Pearl.

For my jewelry armoires, I used sage and warm silver on my autumn themed one, teal and snowflake on my rococo bird jewelry armoire, and rose and pink pearl for my moonlit blossoms jewelry armoire. Each are distinctive in their own way, in part due to the metallic colors I chose. My most recent piece is a very large jewelry cabinet, in which I took a more whimsical approach, choosing Gold Rush, Lilac, and Rose Gold.

Modern Masters has primers you can use as a base for the metallic paints. These primers come in beige and gray. Beige is better suited for warmer tones such as gold, greens, and reds. Gray is better for cooler tones such as silver, blues, and black. The more translucent the paint, the more the base color will show and affect the tone of the color. The opaque paints will be less affected but there is still a difference in the tone.

For my bombe chest, I painted the bottom half with a base of black chalk paint and the top with a red chalk paint. As you can see, there is an ombre (gradual blending) with the black cherry from dark to light. I used three coats of black cherry. I used black pearl for the top and a bit on the sides for depth. The black pearl is semi-opaque, so the black cherry still appears underneath.

I love blending with metallic paints to create depth and dimension. For a smoother finish with no brushstrokes, paint in one direction and sand with fine grit sandpaper in-between coats. You can use any type of paint for the base. It’s best to seal the metallic paints with Modern Masters Master Clear, which is a UV protective, water-based polyurethane specially formulated for the metallic paints.

My adventure with their metallic collection continues and I look forward to finding new ways to use the colors on my furniture pieces. I love the extra glam that metallics bring and how the color appears differently in the light from various angles. Their products are available in Michaels, so you can visit your nearest store or you can order the paints on Amazon as well.

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Faux Marbling

Marble is elegant, timeless, and evokes a feeling of luxury. Marble countertops are trending now in designer homes but did you know that furniture has long featured marble tops such as with Empire style furniture or Eastlake furniture. It can be quite expensive to have a marble slab cut and fitted to a furniture piece so creating a faux marble effect is much more economical and feasible. You can customize it with your own color palette while still getting that luxurious feel.

I decided to try my hand at faux marbling when I acquired a hand carved, teak, foyer table which called for something subtle as to not overwhelm the ornate details but complimented the soft blue I was planning on painting the body. I decided to go with a white, soft blue, gray, and gold veining design. I used Rustoleum’s primer+paint in glossy white as a base then painted with Fusion’s casement, soapstone, pebble, and heirloom.

I painted over the primer with casement. Using a sea sponge, I wet it first then dabbed on a bit of pebble, soapstone, and heirloom paint in random areas to give it the subtle coloration of marble. I use a rag to clean up certain areas and soak up the bleeding paint so it doesn’t look too blotchy. It’s a very instinctive process where you need to keep adding paint and touching up until you get the look you are trying to achieve. I used the finest tipped brush I have to draw the veining and kept my wrist loose so the lines don’t look so rigid. You can also use a feather by dipping it in a bit of paint at the tip and drawing it across the surface for the same effect. I take a natural bristle brush with some of the casement paint and tap on more white with just the tip of the brush to clean up the coloration and create more balance with the white areas. For a bit of glamur, I add some gold veining with decor wax and a fine tipped brush. I continue adding paint, dabbing, wiping, and fine tuning until the marble is to my liking. I love how this effect will look different everytime because it is hand painted and defined by the colors one chooses to use.


I seal it with epoxy resin because I want it to have a polished marble look with a mirror glass shine. I add just a touch of pearl mica powder into the resin while it is being mixed so it has a pearlescent glitter but still is translucent. The resin once it sets and cures will give the surface durability as well that other top coats can’t provide. It really looks absolutely amazing in person.

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Creating Replicas of Hardware with Hot Glue Moulds

What do you do when you have furniture missing some of the hardware or details? For my latest project, I have a serpentine dresser that is not in the best shape, to say the least. It has gorgeous brass hardware I have not seen the likes of before and finding exact replacements for the missing pieces is a daunting task.

It features knob backplates and detailed escutcheons. Luckily, none of the knobs and pulls are missing but the escutcheons have only one pair of each kind as well as the backplates. I love the original hardware, so for this project, I opted to recreate replicas of the missing pieces. It takes a bit of creativity but it’s not as difficult as you might think to create some convincing copies.

There are many options when it comes to making your own moulds. You can purchase mould kits that have clay or silicone material with which you can use to create a mould. I decided to go with a less fancy option and use my hot glue gun to create a usable mould. You must use a large hot glue gun and not one of the smaller versions, as the hot glue will set too quickly due to the diameter of the hot glue coming out and make for an imperfect mould that’s lumpy.

I plugged in my hot glue gun and as it was heating, I spray the original escutcheon and back plates with some WD-40. This will help me pop out the pieces from the hot glue once it has set, more easily. If you don’t have WD-40, any type of slick lubricant will work like oil, vaseline, butter, etc.

Set the piece you want to make a mould of on a flat surface with the details facing up. I then cover the pieces with hot glue generously as it lays on the surface so that the surface of the piece is entirely covered and the edges have a generous covering of hot glue as well. I did this over parchment paper for easy clean up later.

Allow the hot glue to set and cool for at least 15 minutes. It will get more cloudy as it cools. Once it has hardened, pop out your pieces gently. The lubricant should make it easy to do so. There you have it, easy peasy moulds from which you can cast replicas with from the material of your choosing. You can use paper clay, modeling material, wood putty, bondo, or resin. I chose Amazing Casting resin for this because I like how it sets in 10 minutes and the details come out clean and crisp with no cracking or shrinking plus it’s durable.

I spray the inside of my homemade moulds with some WD-40. Use whatever lubricant you have handy. I measure and mix my resin. Resin comes in two parts and you measure equal parts of each solution together before you cast. I mix with a popsicle stick in a plastic cup. You can feel the resin heat up the longer you mix so work quickly. I pour enough resin within the mould so that it is even with the rim of the mould and scrape off any excess from the back. Allow the resin to set. Amazing Casting resin turns white as it sets.

I popped out the resin moulding after the material has set. You can just lightly touch the surface to see how much it has hardened. I tear off the excess bits from the moulding for a clean, detailed look. My original brass hardware is gold so I had to spray my moulding with some Rust-Oleum metallic spray in gold to match the original color of the hardware. I added a bit of redesign with prima’s decor wax in eternal for the perfect shade of gold after the spray had dried.

Once my replicas have dried completely and hardened, they are ready to be applied onto my dresser. I’m so happy that I went with the original hardware for this very special piece. Can you spot the “fakes.”

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Smoky Mercury Glass Mirror Effect

I’ve had a lot of interest as to how I turned an old window into a decorative mirror. I’ll try to be as detailed as possible so that those of you reading this can recreate this project for your own home. It would be stunning on a mantle or just hung on a wall. The image I used is a redesign with prima transfer.

When my hubby brought this antique window home for me, I was surprised by its size. After contemplating how I could re-purpose it, I recalled that I had a prima transfer that would fit perfectly within it and I knew immediately that I had to create a smoky, mercury glass “mirror.” This particular transfer is called “Dans La Vie.” It’s 27″ x 36″

Antique window
Where caulking is missing.

First step: the window. Old, antique or vintage windows often have the interior trim or caulking falling off. This is what holds the glass in the frame so, if it continues to fall off, your glass will have nothing to hold it in place and that can be a disaster. I had to peel off the old caulking and re-caulk.

After it has dried for a day I used Rust-oleum’s mirror effect spray on the side opposite of where I want it to be a mirror; basically what will be the back of my mirror. Spray it a foot away from the surface, sweeping back and forth with your arm to coat evenly. Lie the window flat on the ground to prevent any dripping. I would advise wearing a mask while you spray. Once you’ve covered the surface evenly let it dry. It should only take 30 minutes at the most.

Rustoleum Mirror Effect Spray

If you want an aged, antique mirror effect, which I did, spray some Windex while the mirror effect coating is still wet, erratically on the surface. The areas where the windex spots will be where you have the black little speckles you see on antique mirrors. After it is dry, I sprayed black paint over the silver surface of the mirror effect spray on the back. This will block out light from showing through the mirror from the back. For a fun colorful effect, try other colors.

Next, I painted the frame. I painted it in vintage duck egg first. I then applied a paint crackling solution over it once it is dry. I allowed it to dry for 30 minutes and then I painted it in dropcloth which is a shade of white. When it crackles you see the blue come through and it makes an interesting pattern. I distressed lightly by sanding to make the blue pop through a bit more. 

Now that the mirror has been created, I apply the transfer. Prima transfers come in sections so that it’s easier to apply. You can also create your own design by piecing it together how you prefer. I opted to stay true to the original design. I put all of the three parts onto the mirror surface the way I wanted and then taped them down so that they won’t shift when I peel off the white backing on the transfer that keeps it from adhering onto another surface.

It’s important to peel the white backing off slowly because once the transfer touches the surface it’s pretty much stuck on there. A stick comes with each transfer and you use it to smooth the transfer so there are no wrinkles or air bubbles. I like to smooth it especially on the edges with my fingertips. If some of the design is still stuck on the clear part, just carefully stick it back in place and press on it until it rubs off and sticks.

This is why taping it down is so important, it will ensure that the transfer doesn’t accidentally adhere crooked while you are rubbing. I like using a brayer over the transfer once it is on the new surface to get rid of any air bubbles or wrinkling without damaging the transfer. See my transfer blog post for more detailed instructions.

Matte Spray and Varathane Poly Spray

Now that the transfer has been applied, you have finished the most difficult part. Last comes the smoky, frosted mirror effect on the front. I used a matte, clear spray and sprayed it on the front surface, concentrating more on the areas I want less reflective. You can also wipe it off with Windex in areas and spray again for varying tones of frost.

I spray on a clear polyurethane after the matte spray so that the transfer is further protected from scratches as it can tear. This is optional and you don’t have to add the spray on poly to achieve the frosted effect though it does enhance it. There are also specialty frosted effect sprays you can use as well. I had the matte spray on hand and it worked for me on this project.

You can now clean the mirror if you need to and not worry about the transfer peeling or the frosted effect coming off. Whew. That was a lot of instruction but that’s all there is to it. I added some D rings and attached a wire on the back so that it can be hung easily. I love up-cycling old windows with transfers. It’s an easy way to create wall decor you can personalize for your home.

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Faux Wood Grain

The next best thing from real wood grain is faux wood grain. Sometimes you come across a furniture piece that is made out of pressed wood or manufactured wood and it doesn’t have the beautiful wood grain you see on solid wood furniture but you still want to have that look so you have to improvise. Sometimes you just want to create a rustic effect on a surface but you don’t necessarily want a stained wood look but want some color so faux wood graining acts like a cool pattern that gives the illusion of rustic. I love creating faux wood grain for all types of reasons.

If you have a laminate piece of furniture or one that isn’t solid wood but you still want that beautiful stained wood grain, all is not lost. You can create your own stained wood grain using Retique It, a wood grain tool, and stain. Retique It is a patented liquid wood product that allows you to “paint” on the product and once it has dried, you can stain it. It comes in different wood tones: light, medium, and dark. This will effect the color of the stain you decide to use.

You paint the first layer of Retique It onto the surface and allow it to dry. You apply a second layer of Retique It and while it is still wet, use the wood grain tool. Allow it to dry and then stain.

My other favorite method for wood graining is using paint to create the wood grain effect. You can create custom color combos that can be truly spectacular and unique. For my nautical collection, I used the combos of navy blue and white for my hutch. To get a driftwood look, I used white and gray.

My other favorite method for wood graining is using paint to create the wood grain effect. You can create custom color combos that can be truly spectacular and unique. For my nautical collection, I used the combos of navy blue and white for my hutch. To get a driftwood look, I used white and gray.

Allow the first layer to dry so that it doesn’t get scraped off by the wood grain tool. Apply a wet second layer and mist the paint with water to keep it wet. Use the wood grain tool to drag the wet layer and create the wood grain patterns. Allow it to dry and you can lightly distress to make it blend in better. Seal with your favorite topcoat.