For some of you, those who are brave with paint and brushes and haphazardly throwing them together, this post may seem tedious… but for those who are rule followers, paint-by-number sorts of folks, I hope the following emboldens you to try your hand at some creative “antique” finishes.
Normally, I would recommend scouring thrift stores or the trash until you discover a fabulous wooden frame that is cheap (or free!) and is awaiting your rescue and refurbishment. Or, you can get impatient like me (and motivated by a guest coming to stay… since this will eventually go in my guest room) and go to Hobby Lobby to catch a 50% off sale. Either way, start with your frame:
And yes, include your toddler in the experience. Why not? The beauty of “antique” finishes is that they are far from perfect. You want layers. chips. dirt. smudges… all things a toddler excels at. For this, I used homemade chalk paint. My recipe? Glad you asked:
Sherwin Williams paint sample in Dovetail (yes, a true sample, much cheaper than a real quart)
a few shakes of plaster of Paris (in the red and white milk-carton looking container at Lowe’s)
dixie cup and disposable spoon… stir well
I believe in disposable things whenever possible. With one exception: I prefer to use an old sheet as a drop cloth because it absorbs the drips and keeps me from brushing up against them and spreading paint unknowingly. Anyway, I really do eyeball the chalk paint, but I’m guessing it’s around 2-3T plaster of Paris per 1/2c of paint. We slapped that on, careful to avoid drips, but not careful to get perfect coverage – a little of the black peeking through will add to our “antique” look:
Let it dry (a glorious advantage to chalk paint is that it dries in mere minutes). Let toddler help with second coat, still careful to avoid drips but not too precise in your coverage:
Next, if you want to ensure the bottom layer to show significantly, you can use a little vaseline. I just rubbed it on to the smooth parts where I didn’t want the next layer to stick (I didn’t bother with the crevices because I knew I could simply not paint them on the next coat):
I then used some white chalk paint I had mixed up a few weeks ago (and stored in a dixie cup with a plastic bag held on via rubberband – classy, I know) and a small craft brush. Note that I purposefully did not cover very well. I just tried to avoid major brush-stroke look:
I rather liked the frame at that point, but when I held it up in the guest room to check, I was disappointed to find that the white was too white. I have warm antique white (much yellower) molding in there, and the frame was too cool. So, to warm it up a bit, I grabbed another dixie cup, a shot of Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint in cream (the only jar I have of the real stuff – a gift from someone – because I’m cheap!) and watered it down a bit. I then brushed a very light coat of that glaze over the whole thing:
Once dry, I gave it a good rub down with a VERY slightly damp washcloth. I wanted to make sure all the vaseline was removed and smooth out the top two coats a bit, but I did NOT want to distress the main coat any more than it already was. I dirtied it up a bit with Miss Mustard Seed’s antiquing wax (though a little real dirt, shoe polish, stain, or anything else would accomplish the same… remember, you want it to look old!), and this was where I stopped. I could have kept going. Forever. Really. Once you get started, it’s tough to stop.
I finished it off with a coat of Johnson’s Paste Wax. Why? One disadvantage to chalk paint (the advantages are numerous: great coverage, quick drying, easy to distress) is that it really needs a finish coat. It looks, well, chalky and is easy to scratch off until you put something over it. Polyurethane works, as do many other things, but I find wax the easiest to apply. I prefer soft waxes (like Miss Mustard Seed or Annie Sloan), but they’re expensive and I’ve run out. Paste wax is a little smelly at first (it goes away), and not quite as smooth in its application, but it makes a fine finish, especially for something like a frame. I’ll buy more expensive wax when I next refinish a big piece of furniture. Anyway, forgive my tangent… Here is the final result:
I actually painted the other frame pictured years ago… with a combination of latex and craft paint. not waxed. Point is, your options are endless… but if you are a person who needs a formula to follow, I hope that the above empowers you. I love how it turned out!
Come back later to see where it’s goingto live in my guest room. And tell me, do you have any great tips or tutorials for antique paint finishes?