Thursday, May 22, 2008

My Fair Lady: Turning a Plain-Jane Country Table Into a Stunning French Beauty

(Click on Photos to Enlarge)I thought it might be fun to walk through the steps that turning a found piece into treasure involve for me.

Country Cottage French is one of my favorite "Shades of Shabby". I have a lot of fun transforming ugly ducklings into, as-pretty-as I can make them, items offering more versatility for use than in their original as/found state.

I started with a nice, sturdy antique/vintage half-moon table with good lines. I was immediately taken with the details on the legs - and the curvy, feminine shape. Still it wasn't a table that worked everywhere or that lended itself to many uses.

After basecoating it with a very neutral sage, it looked like the above photo. Ok, but lacking strong eye-appeal. Truth: This table was a wall flower. My husband notched the back of the table in order to create a great backsplash to the table. (He's soooo handy!) Instantly the table has more significance and possibilities for it's use began to expand.

The backsplash is painted in a matching sage green
and I think you might agree, it's much better, but...

Alas, although the sage green is nice, all of the wonderful details of the intricate carving just fade away. These details scream for antiquing. Antiquing glazes are available for retail, but I mix my own because I can't tell what colors are in those cans. For this piece, I mix a tapioca brown with a grey blue and I lavish it on, wipe it away, leaving much of the glaze in the recessed areas and softly shading the rest of the surfaces.
What a difference! Now those details show! But still....
I add a handpainted floral spray on the backdrop, and two matching floral motifs on the apron. The designs are lovely and practical because they don't interfere with using the surfaces. Not quite satisfied because the design stands out as new against the antiqued background, I first antique the designs, then as a finishing touch, I thin and darken my antiquing glaze, dip an old tooth brush in it and add delicate splattering over the entire table, designs, legs, surfaces, all of it.

Note: If you don't click on any of the other photos to enlarge, DO click on the above ones to see the details of the spattering. It is this spattering that brings all of it together.

Not quite finished, I distress the paint by lightly sanding to allow the wood to peek through. Then I seal it all with a matte sealer. The LAST STEP, I delicately accent all of the edges with 18 K gold. I'm sorry the gold doesn't show so well, but it really does add elegance.

Now I feel the table offers so much more potential for decor and versatile use than before. It could serve as a small vanity in a bath, as a credenza for a small entrance or as an accent table anywhere. After it cured, I thought it was ready to list on eBay - and so I did! Y'all x your fingers for it. You can peek at the rest of the photos here.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Faux Chocolate Valentine Log Gift Basket: For the Man in Your Life

This was such a fun project, it looks like a burning chocolate log. I made it full of the anticipation that comes from hoping it will please your loved one. It is for my husband for Valentine's Day.

It was made out of things on hand and you may already have these items or something that will work equally well.

Do it now; fill it later. My son suggested his and his Dad's be filled with chocolate covered almonds, chocolate pretzels, lots of beef jerky (the expensive kind, Mom) , lots of good cheese, and a bottle of wine. (Not! Son will receive grape juice )

Supply List: You will need fluted cardboard; two large jar lids, silver bubble wrap for insulation (optional); red cellophane; crumpled brown paper; masking tape, brown liquid shoe polish or brown paint; Optional: spray adhesive or glue, a Valentine tag with ties, and clear spray sealer of your choice.

Tools: Scissors, hole punch

Your jar lids will be the end pieces and will determine how wide your cardboard fluting needs to be. You will want to fit it around the lids (ends) leaving a little over a 1/3 of it open to fill. Just remember to make it longer than it is wide so that it will look like a log.
Optional: I used a quick spray of adhesive to secure the silver insulation to the flat side of the fluted cardboard. I thought the insulation might help keep the the food products fresh; however, I don't think it was really necessary. The insulation did add strength. You might want to double the fluting for strength instead.

With the masking tape, tape the cardboard fluting to the end pieces, fluted side out. Really crumple the masking tape as you do this, going right over the top of the lid. You want it to be really lumpy like icing. Then finish off the cut edges that are open by crumpling masking tape over the edges. It should now look like this.

Once it is taped, stain tape and cardboard with dark brown liquid shoe polish or craft paint. It should look like a chocolate frosted log. Let it dry and seal it with a quick spray of clear sealer. Once dry, use the hole punch and ties to attach your tag to the center front I backed my heart tag with a heart I cut out of fluted cardboard. It looks like a cookie. Line the log with a fluff of crumpled brown paper and red cellophane . Done!

Click on any photo to enlarge.