So, here we go – this is the wonderfully over the top dressing table that my husband found in a charity shop – how amazing is this? Ok, it really won’t be every one’s taste I know, but it makes me think of the Wicked Queen in Snow White – mirror mirror. The only thing is for me, it’s too brown woody, and its just crying our for a paint effect make over, so – hold your breath and heres we go, here’s how I did it!
So, stage one I did some light sanding. I know chalk paint usually doesn’t need any priming or sanding, but actually I think it’s always worth doing and does’t take that long. The first stage is to paint everything with a metallic base.
I hadn’t used this one before; I liked the pale gold tone and the shine. It’s quite translucent and gives a frosted effect; I think if you wanted this as the final colour, you’d need to give it three coats and sand well in between, but having said that it goes a long way. This is a big piece and I had some left after I was done with the second coat.
It looked quite good coverage from a distance, but close up it was still a bit streaky, but for the under coat it worked fine for me.
The next stage was to paint over the top of this base coat with home made chalk paint in three shades of blues/verdigris colours, rubbing back where I wanted the under coat to show through.
I bought a selection of paint testers in the colours I wanted, Home base are doing three for two at the moment, and I mix roughly two teaspoons of plaster of Paris and one of calcium carbonate powder to about 120 ml of paint, which is about three paint testers worth – can you tell that this is all a bit hit and miss? Yes, I think in future I will buy a blender and keep it just for making paint, but I mixed these by hand and they actually came out fine.
I begin with the darker blue, panting it on and rubbing it back. I’ll be honest, I was playing this very much by ear, so my plans kept changing as I saw the effects work, or not. This looked quite good but too modern for me, if you wanted a very metallic effect this would be great, but for me, this is too bright looking.
Then I started with the second colour, initially with the darker tone in the cracks and crevices, but then I just felt I needed more blue coverage and kept going. I tried to keep the darker tones to the hollows in the design, and spread the paler tones out. I tried rubbing back, but this didn’t work as well for me as dry brushing. I loaded my brush with paint but then kept a sponge in my left hand and wiped off as much paint as possible on this before lightly brushing the colour onto the carved wood. Remember, you can always add more paint, so go easy and build up gradually.
Once I had painted the dark blues and the peacock greens, I got out my Liberon verdigris wax. The dry brushing of the two tones of chalk paint leaves some brush marks, obviously, which I don’t want, so I used a round brush to warm and work the verdigris wax over the whole piece to blend the two tones together – above left is the finish before the verdigris was, above right is after. Because the wax forms a translucent layer, the colours still show through and add depth of tone, but they’re softened and give a more unified surface.
Once the wax has been worked over the whole thing, I began to add the gold highlights. I chose a deeper, richer gold than the primer colour, again trying to avoid flat colour and giving as much depth as possible to the finished effect. I used Rub and buff gold wax, and although the little tube seems expensive, a little goes a long way and it’s very economical. I love it on the corners of the dresser top, and the eagles tummy, he now looks very tactile.
And the final touch is to think about sealing all my hard work. I did test out some of the usual furniture wax, but the problem I found was, in the words of Mr Miyagi, it was ‘wax on, wax off’ – going over the verdigris wax with the clear wax tended to lift the verdigris wax off, which wasn’t what I wanted. So, instead of that, I decided on varnish. I actually used a dark oak varnish in the end on the most heavily decorated parts, to further enrich the gold high lights, and then a clear dead mat varnish on the table top. I also mixed some of the dark oak varnish into the clear to create a ‘half way’ between the two just to age the lighter parts.So, here it is finished….nearly. My last job will be to choose a paper to line the drawers, ideally something to contrast completely with the blue tones and make a splash, but this is the finished paint job. If you have any questions about it, just ask, and I hope you like it as much as I do – and I love it!