Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Mystery of Chalk Paint Revealed

Hello Everyone!

I'm really excited about a discovery I recently made. Ever since I read about this amazing Annie Sloan Chalk Paint my mind has been in overdrive trying to figure out what it is. You see, I have an art background, and I knew that there had to be a product already out there and readily available.  Well, I finally figured it out with a little digging and searching through the web.  It is very simply Gesso. What is Gesso you ask- it is an very old  product made out of powdered chalk, glue and water, used to prime canvases prior to painting with oil or tempera paint. You can also use it as paint, as long as you "wax " over it to protect the finish. The reason that you don't have to prime before you paint with it, is that it is, in essence a primer.  Primer is just glue.  This contains glue.  And what makes it Chalk Paint?- Chalk.  Pretty simple when you think about it. 

Annie Sloan Chalk paint
  How did I make this discovery you ask?  Well, one day I was going through some of my fav blogs and came across one where the author paints furniture with Gesso- the ready- made kind that you buy at Art and Craft stores.  This type is a synthetic product made of acrylic, but still very similar to original Gesso. I thought it looked strangely like the Chalk paint, but I couldn't be sure, so I decided to Google Gesso.

To my absolute amazement, the very first web site I came across refers to Gesso as "Chalk " paint.  It even gives you some very simple recipes for making your own, and you will be "shocked "at how inexpensive and easy it is to make.  There are 2 different types listed- original Gesso made from Animal glue , and an imitation version made out of Chalk powder, white glue- or PVA glue ( and I mean that really cheap Elmers glue) and water.  You can even add pigment to it if you want to colour it.  This is the one you will want for painting your furniture, and I will add the link so everyone can see for themselves what I saw.  It even lists one of  Annie Sloan's books as their resource for the recipe.  I really can't believe it and am still dizzy from this discovery.  Anyway, here is the link to the website, and happy experimenting with your own inexpensive "Chalk" paint.

Here is a snippet of the article just so you all know that I am "serious", and not just "delusional".

Now I realize some of you won't want to go to the bother of making your own, and kudos to Annie Sloan for coming up with a way of making  money from a very inexpensive product that has been around for centuries, but I for one will not be paying the outrageous price now that I know what it is.  I am going to make my own, and experiment - you see there are very many different methods and ways of making Gesso.  I take it as a challenge. 

Until next time.  Au Revoir.

This is an update to this post:  Late last night I decided to give making this a try.  I just couldn't wait.  Now the only things I had were reguar chalk sticks ( the kind you use to write on blackboards) and Weldbond white glue. Since it was only an experiment, I decided to make a small quantity.  I ground up the chalk with a mortar and pestal until it was very fine, added an equal amount of glue, and water and stirred.  I didn't get the chalk as finely ground as I would have liked, but that's okay because for the real thing I will buy chalk powder from Home Depot.  Then I colored it a pretty blue with a small amount of water color paint.  It was a little runny, so I added more chalk and glue and painted it onto a scrap piece of board.  I let it dry over night, and this morning I tried sanding it.

My sample board with homemade chalk paint- after sanding and waxing.

 Turns out the Weldbond is just too hard to use as the glue in this mix, but it looks really good.  I was able to sand it with a palm sander, but it was too rigid to sand by hand, so I will use regular Elmer's white glue in the actual product.  I  didn't have any paste wax, so I rubbed  the surface with an old white candle and buffed it with a cloth.  It looks great.  Now I know I can go out and buy all the right ingredients and make this paint really easily for my next furniture project.  I just knew that with a little investigating I would figure this out.  Yahoo!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Vintage Shabby Chic Signs - Part 2

Latey I've really gotten into making these cute vintage looking signs.  This time I made a French inspired "Patisserrie" sign :

Close-up detail

Close-up detail

Close-up detail
And this " Antiques" sign.

I just love how they turned out, and they were  really easy.  Oh, and it only cost me $5.00.  I'll give you a quick tutorial, so you can make your very own. 

Here are the supplies you'll need:

Wood in your desired size and shape ( I got mine for free from the scrap pile at Home Depot).
Wood applique's in scrolly shape( for the Pattesserie sign).
Wood glue.
Acylic or latex paint in Raw Umber and Sage Green.
Sand paper, and palm sander.
Faux finish medium ( optional)
Spray paint in Heirloom White
Drop cloth.
An old white candle.
Paint brushes- a foam one for coating the board and a fine one for the lettering.
Old toothbrush.
Hammer or screwdriver.
Stencil or font from the computer.
Lead pencil or charcoal stick.
Chain for hanging.
2 metal cup hooks or eyelets.

The first thing I did was go to my local Home Depot and look for the roughest piece of wood I could find from their scrap pile.  The one I found had a nice big crack in it, so it was perfect for the antique/shabby chic look I was going for.  They will let you have them for free if you ask, as long as you're not greedy- they let me take 2 at a time. Of course, you can use any board cut to size, but rough wood looks best. Then I bought a set of 2 decorative scrolly appliques for  about $5.00.  This was the only thing I had to buy, as I already had all the other supplies on hand. For the " Antiques " sign, I used a scrap piece of beadboard that I had left over from a previous project.

Next I used my palm sander to take off the splinters and round the corners a bit. Then glued the scrolly wood appliques to the top of the wood.  You could also put some on the bottom if you wanted.  Once the glue is dry, paint the whole front with the raw umber paint.  Let dry thoroughly.  Next take your old wax candle and rub it in random places on the edges and front of the board.  Wherever you put the wax, you will later sand off the light paint and it will look chippy and cracked, and show the dark umber paint below.  Then take the board, and chain outside and spray  with 2 or 3 coats of Heirllom White spray paint. Use the drop cloth to protect your surface.  Let this dry very well- at least 12 hours, or more if you can stand to wait.

  Once the spray paint is dry, transfer your selected font onto the front of the board.  If you're using a stencil, just use a stencil brush and light swirl the paint. Build up the layers slowly- 2 or 3 will be sufficient, as you will sand most of it off later.  If you're using a font from your computer, as I did, print out your caption and size it.  On the back side of the paper, rub the entire surface with the lead pencil or charcoal stick. Center the caption on your board and then using a lead pencil, trace around the outline of your letters.  The rubbed pencil/charcoal acts like carbon paper. Now carefully paint the lettering with the sage green paint.  I used 2 coats, letting it dry in between.  If you make any mistakes, you can take a damp Q-tip and clean up the edges of the paint.  It's really cool- it's almost like a mini paint eraser, and you can even go back and clean up edges that are almost dry. Let your lettering dry- I used acrylic paint, so it dried really quickly. 

Now you're ready to distress.  Take a hammer or screw driver and hit the board in random places to create dents- don't go overboard unless you really need to take out some " pent up frustations".  Then go over the entire board with sand paper- go lightly at first, and then build up pressure where you want more distressing.  The more you sand, the more faded your letters will be.  And all the places where you rubbed wax previously will come off really easily and leave some nice dark spots.  The thicker the wax, the more chippy it will look.  If you're happy with the look, you can stop there.

 I decided to add more layers of distressing by mixing more raw umber paint with faux finish medium and painting it over the entire surface.  Then before it dries, take an old T-shirt rage that is wet and wrung out, and wipe over the surface.  This will leave glaze in the cracks and dents and look aged.  Let this dry.  Then , if you want even more texture, take some plain  water and mix it with the green and raw umber paint ( separately).  Dip the old toothbrush in the paint, and then using your thumb, drag over the bristles of the  toothbrush, and fine droplets of paint will spray onto the board.  You might want to practice on a piece of paper first for this effect.  Let dry again.

Now you're ready to hang.  Srew in the cup hook or eyelets, then attach the chain.  Voila!!! A beautiful vintage/shabby chic sign for next to nothing.

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial.