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How to Use Photoshop for a Mirror Replacement

When I first began using photoshop, I was overwhelmed. The amount of tools you have and options is a lot to take in for a beginner. I’m going to explain how to do a mirror replacement with photoshop. It’s actually relatively easy when you know what tools to use. The quick selection tool makes it easy to erase the mirror in order to replace it with another one. A basic understanding of using layers of images for your final image as well is all you need to get started.

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Blending with Metallic Paint

Metallic Moroccan Dresser

One of my favorite finishes to create is a blended surface using metallic paints. It is absolutely possible to blend any kind of paint, in my experience and each type just takes a specific technique because of the different qualities in each variety of paint. Metallic paints are thinner, acrylic based, and dry fairly quickly especially when you apply them in thin layers like I do to avoid obvious brushstrokes. Metallic paint vary in coverage from transparent to opaque and this effects the finish as well and how I layer them. I will share a few of my tips when it comes to blending metallic paints.

The base coat of the surface is extremely important in that it impacts the color of the metallic finish and how many coats you need to use to get adequate coverage. I usually try to use a shade similar to the paints I am using. For example if I want a pearly white finish I would paint the base with white primer and paint. This will give it a true white color as opposed to if you used a base of grey paint. What kinds of paint do I use for the base? I have used chalk based paints, enamel, and milk paints. My preference depends really on the color and the finish I want. For more rustic boho blends I will use chalk paints and for a smoother, immaculate finish I prefer milk paints in that they self level and you rarely get any brushstrokes. Metallic paint is so thin that the base texture will appear so make sure you sand any scuffs and scratches on the surface.

I use synthetic brushes with metallic paints. I highly advise not to use a natural bristle brush as they shed and will give you a rougher texture. When creating a base you can paint it in one solid color or blend various colors to give it a more apparent transition in metallic colors. When I painted my base for my most recent Moroccan sunset inspired piece, I used a base of General Finishes barn red milk paint. The warm tones of the metallics I was using would be enhanced with the red base. I used orange, reds, yellows and pinks so they are all complimentary to red. If I was using blues, silvers, purples, and colder tones, I would paint the base a cold tone as well like gray or any of the above colors. If your base is darker then the metallic paint you are using, it will appear darker. I rarely use a white base unless it is for a shade of white metallic.

When blending, apply the paint with a damp brush and go in one direction. This will help with a smooth finish and better blended look. I usually use the same brush to apply all the colors unless I am doing a very light color with a dark color. Using the same brush helps with the color transition and making the shades meet without too much of a stark contrast. For my Moroccan dresser I used the same brush and applied the darker color first and from there, onto a gradually lighter shade. I did the copper first, moved on to a orangish hue, dark yellow, and layered the pink on last. Let the layers of paint dry first before applying the next thin layer. While wet it looks rougher then it usually is once dried so don’t worry if it looks different then what you are wanting. Let it dry before deciding if you need to apply another layer. I sweep the paint on in one direction and mist my brush with water as needed to keep it damp and the paint.

When the paint starts to seize and harden using your brush to move it will cause it to drag and look patchy and rough. Work quickly while the paint is wet and leave it alone. Do not overwork the paint. This is the most common problem with new users of metallic paints. It is best to have a gentle touch with metallics and lightly brush them on the surface. They are not thick like chalk paints and not porous so that it allows you to play around with them and blend by spraying water on the surface like chalk paints. Do not spray water directly onto the metallic paint as it will cause droplets to form that will interrupt the smooth coverage of the paint. Dampen your brush to keep it wet. The magical thing about metallic paints is that blending can actually look much more smooth. You can apply a thin layer or a certain metallic color on top of the one you used first and that will give it a light glaze like effect on top of the metallic color underneath it. For example if you apply a thin coat of gold on top of a blue or red metallic, it will give it a gold shimmer. The more layers of it you apply on top the more apparent the top color will be. When I applied the pink metallic on top of the dark gold and orange, it gave it a pink glow that was not opaque. I’ve created my signature peacock finishes this way.

Metallic paint is a light reflective paint so you want to make sure you apply it under bright lighting. When you examine the surface at different angles the coverage will appear differently and show you where it is less and more. It looks very differently under varying lighting making it difficult to capture the true color with a camera. The play of color under light is what I find magical about it as it shifts in tone. It can look lighter and darker from one moment to the next. Practice on a small surface until you find the right technique for the finish you want. Once you become familiar with painting using metallics, I’m sure you’ll find their complex beauty very unique and mesmerizing.

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How to Fix Broken Trim and Appliqués on Furniture

Having bought a lot of antiques and vintage furniture to refinish, I come across a lot of damaged pieces that require some creative fixing. One common problem is broken trim, parts of the feet, and appliqués from rough handling. It’s actually quite a simple fix and there’s no reason you need to pass on furniture that has cosmetic damage. It can be repaired so it looks like new.

All you need to fix these broken pieces is hot glue, wd40, and bondo. I prefer bondo over wood filler because of it’s durability and quick hardening time. Bondo is used for repairing the bodies of cars so you can imagine just how durable it is. You need a replica of the part that is broken in it’s whole state. So for appliqués you need whole ones to make a mould from. Without it, it will be a hard fix to get exact. I spray the wd40 on the area I am creating a mould so the hot glue doesn’t stick too much to make it difficult to remove. You can use any oil at home too.

Unbroken appliqué I am creating a mould from.

I take my hot glue gun and make sure I cover the entire area with hot glue. More is better as you want to get the mould of the missing bit but also around that so you can tape it onto the area you are fixing much better. It’s much like what I explain in my blog on, how to replicate missing hardware. After the hot glue has cooled down and hardened, carefully peel it off the surface. Now you have you mould from which to cast the missing part.

I spray the mould with some wd40 so that the bondo won’t stick to it and I can peel it off easily. Now I mix my bondo in a small little paper cup with a popsicle stick. Use as much as you think you will need to cast in the missing area. Bondo will harden quickly so it’s best to work fast and have everything you need in place before you such as painter’s tape, materials to mix the bondo in, your mould, and wd40. Bondo comes in 2 parts kind of like resin but not liquid. You have a small tube of the hardening agent and the paste like product. You only need a tiny bit of the hardener agent, usually just a small drop. The measurements are on the instructions at the back of the can. Bondo has fumes so wear a mask and work in a ventilated area. For those with health issues to such smells, you can find wood putty that will work as well and is nontoxic. It will just take much longer to dry depending on how thick and wide the part you are recreating is.

Recreated casting of the broken appliqués.

I spread the bondo into the mould at the area that I am casting and then tape the hot glue mould in place so that it can harden and form the shape you want. It typically takes 30minutes to harden fully. After it has cast, take off your mould and reveal the part that was missing before now whole. I sand the surface a bit to smooth it and get it perfect in shape to the original. Now paint over and nobody will be able to spot the difference. If the replica has little spots missing because the bondo did not fill the mould entirely you can patch it up with some wood filler. So that’s it, all you need to know on how to fix broken bits and pieces on furniture.

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How to Create a Harlequin Pattern on Furniture

There is something so elegant about a harlequin pattern. I love creating it on my pieces for a fancy style that compliments a lot of my designs. I’ve tried quite few techniques when it comes to doing a harlequin pattern on furniture. I have used a ruler and drawn the lines and then painted within by hand. This takes a steady hand and lots of patience. Though I find it meditative to do it this way, I can understand why that may not be a preferred method for you. Yes there are harlequin stencils you can buy and use. I’ve been asked why don’t I just stencil it?

The benefits of using my harlequin tape or ruler method is that you can customize it to fit the proportions of the surface area you are covering so they don’t look too large or small for the piece. It’s possible to get clean and crisp lines with a stencil but it takes some practice to do without getting bleed through. Plus, I always get a thrill peeling off the painter’s tape to reveal the diamonds like magic. I find my tape method to be effective and relatively simple on a flat surface. You can do it on a curved surface but it does take some practice to get the tape to lay flat and at the points you want to meet at each end of the square of rectangle.

It’s a bit of basic geometry to create a harlequin pattern. You want to imagine a square of rectangle on the surface of where you are painting the pattern. Depending on whether your surface is more of a square or rectangle the height and width of your diamonds will vary. You want to start with a master line from which all your other lines will use as a marker. The master lines will be from point A to B and from point C to D. You can use a ruler and draw the line or this is where you will tape to create a perfect line that reaches each opposite point.

From the master lines, you begin to create all you other lines using the width of the ruler as a measurement of size by laying it next to the master line, following it along the sides perfectly to draw your line or using your painter’s tape as the width aligning each piece of painter’s tape next to each other starting from the master lines. The diamonds will be painted every other line or else it will just be a solid area of color with no alternating diamonds. If you are using tape you peel off every other painter’s tape from each direction to form the diamond pattern. If using a ruler you just make all the lines in each direction and paint every other diamond. I know this sounds confusing but my videos will give you a step by step tutorial on how to do this.

One direction with tape after peeling off every other one.
Tape going in other direction after peeling off every other.

See how the diamonds have now formed? So when you paint in the untaped spaces it will form the diamond you see. If using a ruler your lines will look like this and you simply will paint in every adjoining diamond going across and vertical thus giving you the harlequin pattern. If using painter’s tape you will have to do step 2 which is taping over the diamonds you just painted after they have dried so you are not painting over them again and instead the ones adjacent that form a harlequin pattern. After doing step 2 you will have your perfect harlequin pattern.

Watch my videos for more in depth instructions.

Harlequin using ruler

Harlequin with Tape on Canvas

Harlequin with Tape Part 1

Harlequin with Tape Part 2

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Watering Can Makeover with Moulds and Patina

Gardening season is definitely here and what better way to bring style and pizzaz to your gear then decorating your watering can? I love vintage and antique watering cans. The metal body and cute nozzles delight me. I decided to give my vintage watering can a makeover using the new redesign with prima mould called Vintage Roots. The mould has various vegetable shapes like a carrot, beet, mushroom and radish.

Redesign with prima Vintage Roots Mould

I made my mouldings out of casting resin as it is durable and I like the sharp details it captures. I glued the moulds onto the watering can using e6000. The mouldings are flexible when you take them out of the mould immediately after it sets. I taped down the moulds so that they curved around the watering can’s body. The glue takes about an hour to dry. After I removed the tape, I painted them using finnabair’s patina pastes.

Finnabair Patina Paste

The patina pastes come in brass, a bright blue, and mint green which is the color of verdigris. I painted them first using brass. After it has dried, I applied the bright blue and green by dabbing it on erratically with a small brush onto the mouldings to mimic real verdigris. The paste dries permanent but if you want you can seal with poly acrylic for extra protection. Cute, fun, and quick, it’s an easy project you can do with your kids or just yourself to make your watering can extra special.