Posted on Leave a comment

Adding Patina on Furniture for Shabby Chic Finish

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.

Posted on 2 Comments

What Nontoxic Products Should You Use for Painting Furniture?

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.

Fusion Mineral Milk Paint

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.

Posted on Leave a comment

Redesign with Prima’s Summer Release

When I saw the new redesign with prima’s summer release products, I was over the moon. It has diversity, variety of styles, and improved quality. There’s no doubt redesign with prima is innovative and listens to their consumers. As a brand ambassador, I have the privilege of trying all of their products. Having been with them for 3 years, I have seen the beginning and the evolution of their products over time. They offer the most rub on transfers from any company out there and it just keeps getting better and better. I’m proud to be a part of their team that is also a small, woman owned business that supports many minorities. It’s reflected in their designs of the products.

I worked tirelessly for a month straight to complete 8 pieces for the release. That’s how much I loved the transfers. I could see each one fitting a certain piece and the style that I could create for the transfer and decoupage papers. The part I was most excited about was being able to reflect my Asian heritage and culture. My parents are from Taiwan so I have Chinese and Japanese influence in my heritage. There is a lot of symbolic designs used like the crane, other birds, nature, and flowers. You might have seen the black lacquered furniture with pagodas, birds, fisherman, and elegant court ladies painted that is typical of Chinese furniture.

I love chinoiserie art and the transfer Postal Birds from immediately brought that to my mind. Not only was I inspired by the Asian like designs, I also love the nursery and baby themed transfers. I have a one year old son so that was a perfect reason to redo his furniture. My daughter is 3 and the butterfly dance transfer was a big hit with her. She asked me to paint her dresser and use that transfer.

In Asian cultures the crane represents good health, longevity, truth and fidelity. To be compared to the crane was the highest compliment. It is said a crane lives a thousand years.According to Japanese legend, folding a thousand paper cranes results in one wish. Most famous to undertake this challenge was Sadako Sasaki who at 2 year olds was exposed to atomic radiation from the bombing of Hiroshima. As a twelve-year-old girl she was diagnosed with leukemia. Suffering from the deadly disease, she learned the ancient tradition about the 1,000 paper cranes called senbazuru. Inspired to follow the legend, Sadako folded paper cranes in her hospital bed, praying for world peace. She managed to fold 644 cranes before passing away within the year. Touched by Sadako, her classmates folded the rest of the 364 paper cranes and buried all 1000 with her.

Following her death, a statue of her was erected at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in remembrance of all the innocent lives taken by war. Today, her memory serves as a symbol of hope and her story continues to inspire people to wish for a better future. One of peace, love, happiness, healing, and community. During this turbulent time when there is so much division and anger, when I see these cranes, I think of Sadako and her wish for world peace. I think of how much better the world would be if we were all folding a thousand paper cranes together in harmony.

I was inspired to go bold, using many different colors on all of my furniture pieces. I did a classic black to boho, fantasy, metallics. I wanted to show all the different kinds of styles that the transfers and decoupage papers can create. Redesign with prima decoupage papers are the easiest decoupage papers you’ll find. No worries about bubbling, tearing, wrinkling with these sturdy papers. They are more fibrous and like dryer sheets in texture. I have used spray adhesive, gesso, modge podge, and top coats to apply them. They allow you to use a variety of products without worry of botching up your decoupage. The new designs are amazing and so versatile. You can find the new products and other redesign with prima products here

Posted on Leave a comment

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.