Thursday, June 12, 2014

Cabin update

   One of the things I most remember about my childhood is that my mom was forever baking meals and desserts and hauling them to people who needed them.  It was so generous and a great example for me - something I very much enjoy doing now.  However, as kids, we once accused her of only making dessert for other people!  She felt a bit chagrined and from then on always baked two - one to take, and one for us.  I, too, sometimes give other people my best.  It has really been on my mind this spring as I give other people's furniture new lives.  My boys' rooms needed updates badly and once our house in Kaufman finally sold, I devoted May to sprucing things up!  I moved Cullen in with Blake, and Seth has his own room now - for those of you who don't know my kids - the youngest had his own room so he could nap and have different bedtimes, but now they are all school-aged, and I rearranged and my ten year old has his own room now.
     When we bought the cabin - which had been abandoned for 7 years and was full of all sorts of furntiture- we really didn't have money to redo everything.  We did so much, ( if you want to see THAT transformation, click here,   here and here and here...) but these things happen in stages.
     The first thing I wanted to go was the bookshelf that came with the cabin: super handy, but in no way my style.  We don't have tons of toddler toys anymore, but I still need bookshelves.  Right now if one book comes in, one has to go.  Here is the bookshelf when it was Cullen and Blake's room:
 I was on a budget, and this isn't where I wanted to spend it, but I wanted something super sturdy.  So I bought a vintage door for $40 and spent about $50 in lumber. I split the door vertically and made it the sides of the shelf, and made slatted shelves out of 1x6s. The back is luann plywood.  My father-in-law got me a compresser and nail gun for Christmas and it made this project SOOO much easier!

For some reason, presumably because I am a glutton for punishment and just can't do things the easy way, I decided to paint this French Linen and then dry brush a bazillion coats of Paris Grey, Provence, and Old White on top of it.  I love the way it turned out!! I always have a moment of panic when I am only halfway through.  It looks awful:
Here's a closeup of the dry brushing:

Next I took the old bed, which we bought new but Cullen had already scratched all up, and painted it Old White.  I found all the decor at my two favorite stores, Home Goods and Target. And Ross.

Next I bought this dresser on craiglist:
And here is the after:

I finally bought a rug for the living room:

And I moved a desk out of the little boys' room and put in a dresser instead:

I'm not all done - I'm having drapes made and I haven't found decorations for rooms yet, but it already looks so much cuter and cheerful!  I enjoy all the projects I do, but it was really great to do something for my own home!!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Making Your Own Wax

In my last post, I went over some of the pros and cons of my favorite waxes.  Some smell far too strong, most have carcinogens, and the ones I really like are just far too expensive.  I come from a long line of thrifty women, so paying $34 for 10 oz. of Cece Caldwell's wax was really grating at me.  That's $3.40 per oz.  folks.  Fine chocolate is cheaper.  It was really cutting into my profit margin, too.  So, I started researching obsessively, 'cuz that's what I do.  I came across several things that were kind of helpful, but no recipes I could try as it.  I'm nothing if not picky.  I wanted all natural, or at least as close to that as possible, affordable, soft enough to apply with a brush, yet harden enough to buff to a soft sheen.  I looked up Cece caldwell's ingredients, did a little more research as to the purpose of each ingredient, and then just went for it.  I just started melting it together, keeping track of amounts, and adding more of this and that until I got what I wanted. Grating the beeswax block is the only part that was work.  I gave up on that and just start chunking it with a knife and that worked, too.  It was fun, and more importantly, it was a success.  For most of you occasional refinishers, this would be a bit much.  But if you go through as much wax as I do, have fun with my recipe!  Here's the breakdown of ingredients:
- 8 oz. beeswax                                   $6.75 etsy
- 16 oz. boiled linseed oil                   $4.00 home depot
- 8 oz. olive oil                                   $3.00 HEB
- 4 oz. carnauba wax                          $6.50 amazon
- 12 oz. D-limonene                           $7.92 amazon
- 30 drops lavender oil                       $2.00 health food store
48 oz. wax                                           $30.17       = $.63 an oz.

Sooooo much cheaper!  I gave you the price for the exact amount that I used, when in reality I ordered enough to make 2 batches for most ingredients, some many batches. 

Again, that's $3.40 per oz. vs. $.62 an oz.

How did it turn out?  Great!  Applies nicely with a brush, smells great.  I don't need to worry about fumes.  Works very similarly to Cece Caldwell's wax - by that I mean I apply it, let it soak in for a few seconds, and wipe it off.  It is ready to buff in about 5 minutes.  Dries harder than Annie Sloan.  The only thing I would change is ordering white beeswax instead of yellow - I just wasn't paying attention, didn't think it would matter, and maybe using plain vegetable oil instead of olive oil, just for color.  The end result would be a lighter colored wax.  I did try my wax on Old White, and it warms it up a tiny bit (like Minstead wax does), but I liked it just fine. It also works well with Annie Sloan dark wax. 

Here's a pic of how it turned out:
It filled two plastic paint tubs from Home Depot.  Good luck and let me know if you have any questions!

Monday, January 20, 2014

My Favorite Brands

Although there are tons of great tips and tutorials out there on the web, I get a lot of questions about technique, supplies and preferred brands, so I thought I'd take the time to share some of my favs with you!

 1.  Why do I wax instead of using poly?

In the world I live in, things get scratched.  Period.  I have tried all the conventional finishes, and with my three boys, things get scratched.  Life happens.  So, in my opinion, it's less about what won't scratch, and more about which scratched surface is easiest to repair.  With wax, most scratches buff right out with a cloth or fine steel wool.  If the paint underneath has been scratched, you can just take sandpaper and make a new distressed spot, and slap some new wax on it!  If it's in a bad location to do so, (Like the middle of the top), then call me and I can spot repair it. 

2.  What kind of clear wax do I use?

My favorite is Cece Caldwell:
 What's the big deal?  I used Annie Sloan for over half a year before calling it quits.  I just don't feel like it goes as far, or on as evenly. It doesn't sink into the paint as well.  By a long shot.  Even being vigilant I felt like it was still patchy.  With Annie Sloan, you have to wait 24 hours to buff; Cece Caldwell about 5 minutes.  Annie Sloan also smells stronger.  Cece Caldwell is all natural, or pretty darn close.  Because this is my business, I am working with chemicals all the time.  I don't want to work with something that causes cancer and/or requires a mask and gives me a headache.  The more natural, the better.  This smells like essential oils.   In general, I prefer a cream wax that I can apply with a brush instead of two fingers and a soft cloth, and these are both soft.  I ain't got time for that.   Cost: Annie Sloan $25
CeCe Caldwell $36
The only 2 things I don't like about CC wax - the price (!) and the availability.  My closest available store is in New Braunfels, and they are frequently out.  Honest to goodness I am going to experiment with making my own wax so maybe, maybe I won't be at the mercy of stockists...

 Other contenders:

Fiddes and Sons: What I like: Very soft, went on easily, buffed hard immediately.  Cost was $18 on amazon.  Cons: Doesn't go as far as CC wax, smells so strong I literally got light headed and sunk to my knees in the workshop today (the first time I've used it).  Should have worn a mask, but I couldn't find it at the moment. 

If you are only going to attempt one project ever and be done, get this one.  It's $10 and fool proof.  The only catch is that it is a harder wax, so you have to use a cloth or pad.  It would really slow me down.  But, I love the soft sheen and the hard finish.  Available at Home Depot.

Briwax - do not use!  Has Toulene in it, a carcinogen, which incidentally works as a paint stripper, ruining your project.

I have also heard to only use Annie Sloan wax on Annie Sloan Paint -this is what the stockists are taught and they are always a little taken aback that I would try anything else!  Plenty of waxes perform well on it!

3. What dark wax do I like?

Just to be contrary, I prefer Annie Sloan Dark wax over Cece Caldwell!  Both go on easily, in this case it is about tone.  I have both, but 19 times out of 20 I reach for Annie Sloan because it is cool toned.  The CC dark wax is so warm it almost has a pink tone to it.  Not noticeable over a red, but can really change the look on a blue. 

CC on left, AS on right:

 I also really like Miss Mustard Seed's Antiquing wax, but it is too expensive to use all the time.  I use it when I want to highlight the cracks, "alligatoring", and textures of a piece without darkening it too much.  I love the way it settles into cracks, and it smells so good you could just stuff it up your nose!  Smells like fresh lavendar.  Although expensive, the tiney 2 oz. jar was plenty to do a king sized headboard - making this one the winner for going the furthest!
4. What brushes do I use to wax?

I use Annie Sloan Paint brushes to apply wax with.  One is always used for clear, one for dark.  Very thick brushes make spreading the wax easy, and they are soft enough to reach up into nooks and crannies.  Would I buy these for one piece of furniture I was redoing?  No, I would use old paint brushes.
 5.  What paint brush do I use?

The Clear winner is the Wooster Shorty.  $5.  Rubber, bendy handle keeps my wrist from getting sore, which is a serious issue!  Before I started using this, even with nice Purdy brushes, my nerves would tingle on my hands after awhile.  I can reuse these babies for a long time and then not feel guilty when I forget to clean one and ruin it (like the one pictured!).  By the way, like my old kitchen table, aka work bench?

6.  How do I make my glazes?

Don't ever buy a store bought glaze, it is a waste of money!!  There is no need to measure, with this recipe, either, although the very idea makes some of you twitchy.  The basic ingredient is Floetrol, a latex paint extender.  This bottle runs about $6 and is available in any home improvement store.  Pour some into an empty container with a lid.  If you use around a cup you'll have plenty for at least 2 projects.  Then add your color - you can use brown or black paint, or any stain.  For the paint, pour in about a Tbsp at a time until it looks right - keep a sample board for testing.  For stains, pour in a teaspoon at a time.  I regularly mix stains, too.  For example, I made a big batch to do my kitchen cabinets with, about 2 cups of Floetrol and both Dark Walnut and Jacobean stains.  I wanted to make sure I had enough that I wouldn't have to make more.  I needn't have worried - it did my kitchen, a friend's entire kitchen, and I got enough back to use on several pieces.  I use glaze instead of dark wax when I want to see all the brush/wipe strokes.  

7.  What paint do I use?

Annie Sloan chalk paint.  Environmentally friendly, extremely low odor, goes on any surface - even on top of old wax!  I love the look of it and how easy it is to sand.  I have tried homemade recipes with some success, but they just don't behave the same when I am working with them.  I much prefer this.

Other contenders:

Cece caldwell chalk and clay paint:  I have used it, and I like it.  I just generally like Annie Sloan's pallette better.  I do really like the Smoky Mountain Blue and the Virginia Chestnut.  It is thinner than Annie Sloan's.

Miss Mustard Seed: Milk Paint.  Smells bad, not gonna lie.  This is a tricky review, because the milk paint is good for it's intended purpose - making things look authentically old, and chippy with the paint not adhering to some parts.  I have used it on a couple of pieces for the store that basically had no top coat on them and they did well.  They were smaller pieces, too.  I also used them for a set of four chairs for someone, and they all turned out different colors.  That was with one batch of paint that I stirred constantly and gave them 2 coats each.  I eventually had to give up and create a chalk paint color that matched and paint with that.  I used it on a 70's lacquered piece and used and bonding agent to help it adhere and it came right off anyway.  I put more bonding agent and repainted, and it stuch so hard I could barely sand through it to distress it.  I usually have clients who want a certain, specific look.  This paint is better if you are willing to just see what happens.  I don't plan on using it again.

Any questions?  I'll be glad to answer them in the comments!