When I first read a novel about the tragic heroine Odette inspired by the ballet composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, it captured my imagination. Like all fairytales, the heroine is under an enchantment which she must break free of by finding true love. Under the spell, she is trapped as a swan forever except for a few hours each night. Swans mate for life, so the symbology of them in the fairytale is conducive to Odette being transformed into a swan. The elegance of ballerinas pairs perfectly with the beauty of swans whose long necks craned and face to face, create a heart. They are romantic symbols of grace and beauty.
It was obvious to me that this foyer table with a matching mirror would be inspired by Swan Lake. I used a delicate blue, silvery metallic paint. I painted the swans with Wise Owl’s pearl metallic paint and gilded them with a touch of Redesign with Prima’s shiny star decor wax. The patina is created with chalk pastes in manor coffee and English country. You can catch the live if you would like to see how it is done.
The top is a faux marble created with Modern Masters metallic plasters in antique lace and shimmered moon. I did the veining with the decor wax as well. There is a live for that one as well. I sealed it with epoxy resin. The flowers are colored with the galactic halo and ursa green decor waxes.
The tragic nature of the story resonated with me. If only all our problems in life could be fixed by true love. The power of love is legendary but how many of us truly attain it? It’s a romantic and idealistic notion that gives us hope of something perfect but as humans, we can’t possibly ever achieve. I have been trapped many times in life, wanting to escape the clutches of despair and like Odette, I had the hope of someone saving me. Now I know only I can save myself. There is no prince charming. The sorcerer is my own mind and sometimes I am free for a brief time but it always returns. I just try to enjoy the times I feel free and savor the hope that allows me to continue living.
The beauty that time and age bestows is marvelous especially when it comes to patina and rust. The colors of aged brass, bronze, and iron give it a multilayered effect that can be mimicked using many products. The darkening of wood and other surfaces over time has a certain character that can be alluring and romantic. I like brand new, shiny things but something with history has an attraction that brings out my imagination like reading a classic novel. This is why I often look for vintage and antique furniture to refinish. Its style is from another place and time that I did not live but can only fantasize about. Reproductions of furniture from past time periods appeal to many in a way modern styles do not. The trend of shabby chic furniture is popular with furniture painted to look worn and used in order to soften the look so it appears more ethereal and dreamy. Ornate details are often used in which for aging effects gives it an elegance that is not quite glamorous and more understated but still grand.
One thinks of the grand chateaux in France, villas, to large country homes in the English countryside full of antique furniture that is time-worn but expensive in quality. It’s a nostalgic look in stark contrast to the modern style of straight lines, more industrial materials, and affordable in price to the masses. The opposite of assembly furniture that arrives in boxes making it portable and easily obtained whereas the quality of antique furniture cannot be put together without craftsmanship. It’s a shabby luxury not as pretentious as genuine rococo and baroque furniture. Don’t get me wrong, I love baroque furniture as well for its over-the-top gorgeousness. The celebration of many styles is reflected in my work.
Adding patina and rust is an easy way to give your furniture or decor an instant shabby chic look. It emulates the actual time-worn effect but on something freshly painted. I like using patina effect paints and activators in that it can look more organic but using patina pastes and rust or verdigris colored paint is an alternative that can give you the same look. For simple and timeworn patina, I like using patina pastes to dab on around areas and give it an aesthetically pleasing design. There are many patina pastes available but I prefer the one from Re-design with Prima. These are perfect for old-world finishes and shabby chic looks.
If I am going for more of a verdigris finish and not the rusty sort of patina, I love using the verdigris colored pastes and paints along with the metallics that create these colors in nature. These would be copper and brass paints. Copper produces more of the darker blues and green hues. Brass has the whitish blues to bright blues and mint green hues. Of course, you can use your own artistic interpretation for your designs. I like to dab the pastes on with bristle brushes as it gives more of a textured effect but you can use whatever kinds of brushes you prefer.
What is boho or bohemian furniture and style? Bohemian furniture is unconventional. It doesn’t adhere to rules or the standards of design. The furniture is often vintage or antique. Not something you would buy new at a furniture store. It doesn’t adhere to modern concepts. It’s about taking something old and turning it into something new that is the opposite of the furniture style. An example is rococo furniture painted in a myriad of bright colors that aren’t the norm historically. Designing a room, it is about using antique and vintage furniture with other types of styles such as exotic pillows on a Victorian bed, a rattan chair with a Moroccan throw, mixing elements to create an unexpected design.
Artistic furniture is boho. If it has something that makes it one of a kind then it is boho. When I create my furniture pieces, I am looking to do a unique design that nobody else has done. There are many ways to make the furniture unique using stencils, moulds, transfers, and many other products. This is why I love the Redesign with Prima products as it allows me to use many different elements on my furniture. I also love mixing paint colors for contrast or a blended look. I love all kinds of patterns whether it be more modern or old like damask. For my home, I love different colors of furniture together in a room with bold decor. I want something warm and inviting that makes you want to sit down and relax. I like it to feel lived in and with my children, that’s never a problem.
Urban or Modern boho is an updated version of the design style that uses modern decor or furniture and pairs it with a burst of color and pattern. It often uses colorful pillows, macramé, rattan, plants, and interesting textiles with modern or vintage furniture and retro styles. Midcentury Modern Furniture has become extremely popular with boho interior designs. The use of clean lines and natural elements along with pops of color is the new trend. For a modern boho home use leather, modern furniture, a minimal palette of colors, a bold pattern contrasted with something plain, vintage furniture, statement walls with bold wallpaper along surrounded by plain walls creating a feature, incorporate natural wood in the room, baskets are becoming popular as boho storage, rattan chairs, different textiles from around the world, wicker or rattan furniture which is typically used as porch and outdoor furniture now and back in the day. A lot of natural elements paired with modern elements like metal or concrete. Lots of plants seems to be the boho staple.
Whether your style is more of the eclectic boho or more modern, it’s fun being able to pull all kinds of elements into a furniture design and interior design without being restricted by rules. I like dabbling into many styles and making them my own. I have done more modern styles, coastal, to the more is more concept. I love color and it helps me therapeutically. There is nothing I won’t try. Life is meant to be lived freely. Experimenting with various mediums and patterns is fun. If you don’t try, how will you ever know?
Moulds are silicone templates for all kinds of shapes. You fill them with a medium like clay, modeling material, or resin and the appliques harden. You attach them to surfaces for a unique design. I love using them on furniture and decor to add details to my designs. I prefer to use fast cast resin. It comes in 2 parts and you mix them in equal parts then pour it into the mould. It hardens within 10 to 15 minutes and turns white. You pop them out of the mould and can attach straight away or paint them first and then attach. It is pliable for a short time after it hardens. This makes it convenient for attaching on curved surfaces or anything uneven. You can also heat the resin moulds to soften them and make them pliable again.
You can use many types of adhesive to attach them. I like using e6000 as it is durable and dries clear. There are many industrial strength adhesives available. Try them and decide which is your favorite. I tape the mould in place until the glue has had time to dry. The weight of the appliques causes them to slide down. If you are applying on a flat surface level to the ground you don’t need to but if it’s upright it’s best to do so. It also ensures the applique remains flush to the surface without any gaps on the sides of it. Experiment with your favorite casting medium to achieve your preferred look. Clay tends to crack and shrink as it dries. Resin does not shrink or crack. Depending on what you are hoping to achieve you will want to use a certain product that has the characteristics you like.
Before you paint, furniture prep is just as important as the finish. Your furniture will only last as long as the base beneath the paint. Most paint companies claim no prep is needed but it’s just a generalized statement with the caveat that the surface you paint on is ready to be painted. You must clean, do whatever repairs are needed, sand if needed, strip if needed, and make sure that the paint will adhere so that a scratch with your nail doesn’t result in seeing the wood underneath. The proper cure times are essential as well.
How do you know what to use and how to use it for prep? It depends on the surface slickness. Some pieces are made of pressed wood with a lacquer or laminate over it. This causes sleek surfaces that make it difficult for paint to adhere properly. That’s when priming is a must. Primers are made to adhere to glossy and slick surfaces however even primer has issues adhering to laminate type surfaces which repel water and thus repel the primer. You will need to sand so that there is some grip given to the product you use on it. I painted a laminate surface on MDF wood. MDF looks nothing like real wood but is comprised of wood fibers. An attractive finish is needed over it. Most of the time it is a faux wood-looking laminate that can be a solid color as well. I used a primer over it and after it had dried, proceeded to paint it with a high-quality paint that claims no prep is needed. What resulted was a peeling mess. The paint would not go on evenly and streaked. No matter how many layers I tried to cover it with, it still peeled easily. I stripped it and sanded the surface with 120 grit paper. After that, I went ahead and primed then painted. The paint stuck and didn’t peel. The lesson of the story, deglossing is not enough on the contact paper like laminate nor does primer prevent paint from peeling. Sanding is a must in certain instances. You cannot cut corners trying to go around essential steps in prep.
Shellac is made from secretions of the female lac bug. It is used to seal wood for a more durable finish. It is self-leveling. It also prevents wood tannins from seeping into the paint and stains that you cannot see coming through like cup rings. It provides a solid layer like resin for stain blocking properties. Certain woods are prone to bleed through more like cedar and redwood. Back in the day when people often smoked inside their homes, the nicotine coats the furniture over time. This is another reason a thorough cleaning with a product like the Krud Kutter degreaser is important to strip off accumulated layers of nicotine and old varnish. Sanding further removes any residue. If you use a shellac-based primer like the Zinsser Bin advance primer, it will help with paint adherence, coverage, and blocking stains as well as bleed-through of tannins. The staining is especially noticeable with light-colored paints and notoriously white paint. White paint is prone to yellowing for many different factors including bleed-through of tannins. This is not to say your white paint finish won’t yellow over time due to sunlight, what you use to seal it as an oil-based varnish will certainly yellow it, and what is used to clean the furniture. Do your diligence to prevent yellowing as much as possible with the proper prep.
I often use a deglosser as the last step as it helps remove any left over varnish and helps with adherence by making the surface a bit tacky to touch. It does not replace sanding. A deglosser merely coats the surface, it doesn’t prevent staining or bleed through. It’s useful to make surfaces less glossy but if you need to sand, you must sand. I like to prime even if it’s not necessary as it helps with the coverage of paint. If you are painting with a light color, you will not need to use as many layers because the primer has excellent coverage if it’s a quality one and it comes in white or gray. You must have a good base layer with certain paints like metallics. Primers are generally cheaper than the boutique paints that are popular these days. Even if the primer is costly, I prefer to use one layer of primer and decrease the double amount of layers I need to apply using light colors. If you are painting black, it isn’t necessary to prime most of the time. You would use a gray primer if you are using cold tone colors like purple, silver, blue, and dark green or dark red. The gray brings out the true shade of the colors.
There is no shortcut to proper prep. Be mindful of what you are using and its properties. There are instances when you can just clean and paint but I prefer to be careful especially selling my furniture. I want it to last for another lifetime. Be wise in choosing the correct products and steps. Remember, the slicker the surface, the more you need to be leery of your paint peeling. For certain paints, you must use primer like with latex paint as it’s a paint meant for walls and not heavy traffic surfaces. You want to be able to clean the furniture after it’s been painted and cured. The paint should not peel or rub off when cleaning with soap and water. Extra steps will avoid extra headaches in the future of having to touch up the furniture.
Decoupage is when you apply an image onto the surface with various mediums so that it adheres. The most common decoupage product is tissue paper as it is thin and easier to apply to the surface without worries of peeling and seeing the edge of the paper if it doesn’t span across the entire area. Other choices are posters, napkins, and other paper like products with a design. When decoupaging, the desired look is one that is smooth, without wrinkles, flat upon the surface, and subtle so that it looks like it is part of the surface. Depending on the thickness and texture of the paper, techniques will vary.
I prefer to use heavier ply tissue papers as there is less likelihood of tearing and wrinkling. If you order tissue papers from sites like Zazzle, you have the option to pick the size and thickness. Ordering the thicker option will make it easier to decoupage and seal. My preferred product is spray adhesives like 3M’s 45 spray adhesive as it is strong but allows you to readjust if needed while remaining sticky. I spray the back of the paper, let the adhesive set a bit, usually a minute and then apply it to the surface and smooth it out with a brayer or wallpaper smoothing tool. I start at the center and smooth towards the edges. I then seal using a spray topcoat like Rustoleum’s spray polyurethanes. Usually, a few coats are sufficient. If the edges lift a little, I put some glue underneath and press it back down. The same applies to napkins or any other lightweight paper.
If you are decoupaging something thicker like a poster, you need a thicker paste like adhesive such as wallpaper or modge podge so that it will not peel. Spread a thin layer onto the surface and press the poster down doing from center to the edges with a smoothing tool. Let it dry and you can seal with a polyacrylic or polyurethane but make sure you do not apply it too thick as the paper will bubble up and distort. If this happens, do not panic. You can iron it smooth with an iron and piece of parchment paper on top of the poster. The iron on method will help smooth any bubbling or wrinkling with any type of paper. You can also use a heat gun and smooth with your tool.
I love the Redesign with Prima decoupage papers because they are intended for decoupage and the textures and paper fibers were chosen to make decoupage easy and durable. They have a few different types of papers made of mulberry fibers. The thicker decoupage paper with a dryer sheet like texture is the easiest as it will not wrinkle no matter the products you use if you smooth it on correctly. You can use any sort of adhesives like modge podge, gesso, and a spray adhesive. You can also use a wet medium like polyurethane or polyacrylic to adhere it just make sure it dries. When you topcoat, the topcoat permeates the paper and further adheres it on the surface.
The rice papers are a thinner consistency but more durable than tissue papers. I prefer a spray adhesive for these as it eliminates the issue of wrinkling. However, the texture of the paper camouflages any wrinkling fairly well. I like to tear the edges before applying so that I can blend around the paper with paint to make it look like the design spans across the whole surface. If you do need to smooth it, you can use the iron on method as well.
The new large decoupage rice papers are thicker than the rice papers and you can see the mulberry fibers on the back. Again, I prefer spray adhesives with a higher strength like 3M’s 90 spray adhesive to adhere them. I spray the back of the paper and apply it going from top to bottom slowly. I apply a bit of gesso or modge podge to the edges to make sure they stay nice and flat. If you use a spray adhesive it should not wrinkle. If you use a paste like gesso or modge podge, make sure you spread it in thin across the surface before applying the paper or as you apply the paper. The papers can be sealed with polyurethane or polyacrylic once you let the paper adhesive dry completely. Use the iron on method if it does wrinkle and you need to eliminate any creases.
If you are looking for something food safe to seal a project or you are concerned about your health refinishing furniture, you would be interested in using nontoxic products for painting and sealing furniture. It’s important to be careful when sealing a furniture piece for a nursery or child’s room and use nontoxic products that will not be harmful to young children. Babies often chew on the railings of cribs. My daughter gnawed on her crib like a little beaver which did cause me concern about the chemicals used in the factory finish on her crib.
Nowadays, there are many non VOC paints and products available from companies. Volatile organic compounds are compounds that are gases emitted into the air. Some of the most common VOCS are: benzene, ethylene glycol, formaldehyde, methylene chloride, tetrachloroethylene, toluene, xylene, and 1,3-butadiene. VOCs are mostly human-made chemicals that are used and produced in the manufacture of paints, pharmaceuticals, and refrigerants. Breathing in low levels of VOCs increase your health risks especially if you have asthma or sensitivities to chemicals. The severity depends on how long and often you breathe in VOCs. You can expose yourself to VOCs just by storing paints and products with VOCs.
The level of VOCs is reported to be 2 to 5 times higher inside homes than outside, regardless of whether the homes were located in rural or highly industrial areas. While people are using products containing organic chemicals, they can expose themselves and others to very high pollutant levels, and low levels of VOCs can persist in the air for years. Pretty scary right? This is why it’s important to use air filters, have good ventilation, and air out your home. You don’t want to suffer the short term side effects like nausea, throat and nose irritation, headaches, and dizziness. Long term effect can be cancer, damage to the kidneys or liver, and central nervous system damage. Children and the elderly are at higher risk to the adverse effects of VOCs.
Luckily, there are many kinds of zero VOC paints and products you can purchase to use at home. Zero VOC paints are made without VOC chemicals listed in the US Clean Air Act. There is still the potential for unlisted VOCs to be in the paint. Your safest bet is using all natural paints like milk paint which is made from casein, lime, chalk, and pigment. It is made to use by mixing the powder form with water. It does not last long after mixed so use only as much as you need per application. There are companies with milk paints that are available in containers ready for use but they still have preservatives that keep the paint on the shelf longer as well as bonding agents that help them adhere and are not true milk paints. They are called “milk paint” because it gives you the same smooth finish milk paint does such as Rustoleum’s Milk Paint which is zero VOC and General Finishes Milk Paint. This is why milk paint has a tendency to chip. It doesn’t contain the inorganic bonding agents of other types of paints but uses milk protein. It is less smooth than other paints that are ready to use and is less durable. An example of real milk paint is the Fusion line of milk paint.
Zero VOC paints are still far better than other paints containing VOCs. They come in many colors, are ready to use, and have varying textures and finishes. If you have any questions about the VOC levels, check the MSDS sheet for clarification. One reason why I recommend Wise Owl Paints is because it is not made using box store latex paint with minerals added as is the case with many Zero VOC paint companies. This poses health issues with consideration to inhaling crystalline silicates, but it also affects performance. Their paint is made in small batches from scratch which improves quality. Choosing to use zero VOC paints is always a good option for health safety.
Sealing paints helps with the endurance and durability. You want your furniture to last so sealing it is a no brainer. Some paints now have built in top coats but that has the possibility of adding VOCs. Just because the paint is zero VOC, it doesn’t mean the top coats and varnishes you use are. If you are painting a piece that will be in a high traffic area or the surface top where objects are placed and removed often, durability is a concern. If you are wanting a food grade safe sealant, natural oils are your best bet. Technically any top coat cured for 30 days is food safe including polyurethane and polyacrylic. Linseed, tung, refined hemp, soy, and walnut oil are all natural oils. Shellac is also all natural as it’s made from Indian Lac bugs and is water resistant. Watco has a butcher block oil that seals and protects wood and is food safe.
I’m excited to offer Wise Owl’s furniture tonic as an all natural sealant for wood and paint. It is made with hemp oil, natural wax, and essential oils without any solvents. It comes scented or unscented. It is also hydrating and nourishing for anything you rub it on like leather, wood, skin, hair, ect. You rub it on with a lint free cloth, let dry for 20 minutes and polish. I also highly recommend their furniture salves which have a waxy paste like consistency. When sealing nursery furniture, children’s furniture, and anything you are concerned with the levels of VOCs, using all natural products are the best options. You can find my recommended products in my shop page. Be safe and happy painting.
Old world, European, shabby chic, french provincial vanity. I’ve been searching for a french provincial vanity for quite some time so I was excited when I found this one in an estate sale. Definitely antique the bench was upholstered with little tacks and shredded fabric. The lacquer was peeling badly on the top especially. I sanded using Gator Finishing Products hook and look, orbital sand paper to strip off all of the flaking, original finish. I primed using Rust-Oleum‘s painters touch in flat white spray. I added the Universal satin bronze on top as the base and a bit of chestnut. I added Re•design with Prima rice papers called Botanical Sonata and Floral Sweetness. I wanted the surface to have a lot of texture and depth so I dabbed on the memory artisan hardware powders in taupe and french ivory. I used the finnabair patina paste in brown rust and gray. You can find the lives where I demonstrate the entire process. The sides are decoupage with the Washed Damask paper. I reupholstered the bench with new satin, damask fabric. She’s glamorous but in a more subdued way because of the patina effect. Dainty like a ballerina with her tapered, slender legs, she is the perfect balance of rustic elegance. I’m happy I was able to revive this vanity and reveal her beauty once more for another lifetime to come. What’s old is better than new sometimes.Papers and pastes: https://retail.redesignwithprima.com?aff=5 Artisan Powders: https://shrsl.com/2u4pf
Freya is the goddess of beauty, fertility, and love. As the most important goddess of Norse mythology, she represents the bounty of spring, the warm presence of love, and the shamelessness of sharing oneself with full vulnerability. Similar to Aphrodite, the goddess of love in Greek mythology and irresistible as Helen of Troy, she is the archetype of desire, longing, and the need to be loved.
According to legend, Freya will travel the world searching for her lover Óðr when he goes traipsing around on long journeys, inexplicably leaving Freyja behind. She will assume different names and embody different aspects of herself as she searches for her love. She weeps tears of gold in her sadness at being abandoned by her true love. Why was I inspired by this particular painting called Freya’s Tears created by Anne Marie Zilberman in the style of Gustav Klimt? Truth be told, I did not plan on this piece evolving as it did into a poem without words. I created the background using Rust-Oleums metallic sprays Turquoise, Satin Bronze, and Carbon Black. I couldn’t decide on the color so I kept spraying a different one on top of the other until I became frustrated and attempted to wipe it all off. What emerged was a dream-like haze of all the metallic colors I had used. From there, I knew what it should be.
I love the art nouveau movement but in particular, Gustav Klimt’s work is powerful in its intensity featuring women in various poses wearing geometrical patterns and the heavy use of gold. It made sense to keep the metallic theme on this piece and who better than Klimt to inspire the design. Like Freya, I often feel lost in the stream of consciousness in my mind. There is a beauty in sadness as is symbolized with Freya’s golden tears. Without it, we would not know happiness. We would not feel joy.
I used gold leaf and some of Re•design with Prima®️ transfers: Gilded Distressed Wall and Rustic Sea. I painted Freya with a mixture of Eye Love Hue Paint and acrylics. I also added some of Modern Masters pale gold. I wanted the design to look like a story so the script was perfect. Additional gold on the sides tied it all in cohesively. You can catch my lives on the creation of Freya. Aren’t we all seeking something? The need to be loved? Wanting what is lost? The continuation of our species? From my heart, I poured what I felt into this. I hope you feel some connection with this piece. It is sadness, but it is also what the power of love can do to unite us all.
Today is Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras where extravagant celebrations are held before the 40 days of abstinence during Lent. Originating from Christianity, it’s become more of a day for partying and festivity. It’s about extravagance, indulgence, gluttony, and debauchery like the last hoorah before you are married. Festive colors are displayed, there’s parades, feasting, parties, and all kinds of revelry. This year the festivities will be more subdued but there’s no reason not to show off all the purples, yellows, greens and other bold colors with costumes. Here are some of my carnevale inspired decor and furniture.
Masks are worn especially in the Venetian Carnival to hide one’s identity as you commit acts of debauchery and gluttony. It’s also to free one of all inhibition with the mask of anonymity. I created these masked ballroom and carnevale masks using Re-design with Prima moulds. I filled the moulds with resin and modeling material then glued them on using e6000. I painted them using Modern Master’s metallics and also added decor waxes to further highlight the mouldings.
I’m often inspired by colors and I have a few pieces with carnival glass like finishes and color schemes. I used Modern Master’s metallics and Re-design with Prima decor waxes. For video tutorials on the finishes, visit my Facebook page.