Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Starters' Guide: how to Antique Painted Furniture using Dark Wax

Lilyfield Life Guide to Antiquing Painted Furniture with Dark Wax

I wrote a post a long time ago on how to antique with DIY homemade glaze but I am enjoying the antiquing process much more with dark wax. I was sent this dark wax by Annie Sloan and am learning a lot by practising on different pieces with it. I am still learning and by no means as expert or perfect at this but I am always happy to share what I have experienced and learnt so far. I hope it helps you.

Lilyfield Life Guide to Antiquing Painted Furniture with Dark Wax

I recently posted about how to recover / reupholster a Louis French Chair and said I would share how I gave the freshly painted chair an antiqued look with dark wax. Since then I also painted and antiqued a lovely little side table for a client (as well as several other pieces). When you are starting out antiquing with dark wax or even glaze, it is good to start on an ornate piece such as these as the carvings and grooves will naturally collect the dark wax and make the job easier for you.

Lilyfield Life Guide to Antiquing Painted Furniture with Dark Wax

Firstly you must give the entire piece a coat of clear wax. This is absolutely essential as your piece will be ruined by applying the dark wax without this step. This ensures the dark wax does not stain the paint and gives the dark wax the ability to be wiped off and easily manipulated.  While I used Annie Sloan Waxes for these pieces, you can substitute any brands. They will all be slightly different to apply and use depending on the ingredients but will all give a similar finish. I will often choose my wax on smell and consistency - preferring the buttery ones over hard waxes.

Lilyfield Life Guide to Antiquing Painted Furniture with Dark Wax

Once you have applied your clear wax, and while the clear wax is still wet:

  1. Work in small sections only, so the wax does not get too dry before you get to manipulate it
  2. Brush on dark wax, working it into crevices and cracks. You will only need a little wax. A little goes a long way.
  3. With a clean lint free rag, wipe the dark wax  to remove most of it.
  4. To remove even more of the dark wax, put a little clear wax on your rag and it will make more wax come off.
  5. If the wax is hard to remove try a clean cloth, if your cloth is full of dark wax then it is difficult to remove more off your piece.
  6. (BTW to clean my rags, I soak in napisan in hot water and then a hot wash, they are stained brown but clean to reuse)

Use your own judgement on how much wax you want to leave on the pieces. My natural style is pretty clean so I take a lot of the wax off to just leave the details highlighted with dark wax. Other people may leave more dark wax on the flat surfaces. Like all elements of painting, it really is up to how you want your furniture to look.

Lilyfield Life Guide to Antiquing Painted Furniture with Dark Wax

Here are more photos to show the process: I always find it easier to learn from photos than just a whole lot of words.

Lilyfield Life Guide to Antiquing Painted Furniture with Dark Wax
Lilyfield Life Guide to Antiquing Painted Furniture with Dark Wax

Dark waxing will seem scary at first. I still find it a mental battle to distress my furniture or apply dark wax to my clean crisply painted surface but I think it really finishes off a piece and adds depth and character. See these chair legs below for the before and after shots. The after does look much more natural and finished.

Lilyfield Life Guide to Antiquing Painted Furniture with Dark Wax

If you are antiquing large flat surfaces you will want to create some crevices and texture with your paint finish for the wax to settle in. My friend Karen, from Restyled Vintage offers this advice. 


"Dark wax antiquing is definitely something that requires a bit of practice, and the more ornate the piece the easier it is to get it looking right. Large flat areas are the hardest - what works for me is putting the paint on roughly then leaving it sit for a couple of minutes, then dragging and stippling the brush randomly on the surface to give the area some texture (and sanding lightly over these parts when distressing so as not to smooth it out too much)."

Karen's also been mixing ASCP to achieve her favourite vintage retro colours so go see what she's up to.

I used the cross-hatch and stippling methods of painting to create the texture on the side of the French Châteaux dresser I recently painted.  I've just zoomed in on a photo I already had as the dresser has already been delivered to its new home. I hope you can see the texture clearly enough to give you an idea.  I like Karen's idea of the drag as that will give you an organic ageing effect.

Lilyfield Life  Painted Furniture french Annie Sloan

Both the pieces in their finished state. 

Lilyfield Life Guide to Antiquing Painted Furniture with Dark Wax
Lilyfield Life Guide to Antiquing Painted Furniture with Dark Wax

on a personal note, last night I had a wonderful night catching up with some old friends who I worked with about 15 years ago. It was a great laugh and lovely to remember such good work times.  Back then we were managing huge and really exciting projects in the mobile telco hay days and it was crazy but so much fun. Such a long way from what I'm doing these days with my paint brush! LOL.

Have a great day and let me know how you get on with the dark wax.  Do you have any other tips you want to share below, feel free to link up a dark waxed piece you have created or a tutorial in the comments below, I'm sure we'd all love your input.

Fiona xx

PS Last day to enter my giveaway. I'll be announcing the winner tomorrow. Good luck!

Lilyfield Life Guide to Antiquing Painted Furniture with Dark Wax

41 comments:

  1. Hi Fiona, that is an excellent tutorial and you've made it very easy to follow...I hope it encourages many people to give it a go. You are so right about the waxing finishing off a piece, and your side by side photo of the chair leg illustrates that point beautifully. When I started out I was late to the party with glaze and only used wax to antique. Learnt the hard way about using clear first though, and some of my early attempts are pretty cringeworthy, lol!

    Thanks for the mention and I hope my advice helps people too :)

    xx Karen

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    1. My pleasure Karen, it was great advice. Have a great weekend
      Fiona x

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  2. I wish I had your patience and skill!

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    1. I'm sure you do have both Mel but having a small toddler around doesn't help any!

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  3. This is such a great tutorial. Thanks for following my blog. I have just popped over to follow yours and I'm in love with all your amazing pieces and the blog posts look great! I have just started using ASCP and their clear and dark wax. Yes, it pains me every time to seemingly "destroy" my piece with the muddy looking dark wax - so scary. But the finished effect is just lovely! I will try the link option below to link a recent blog about a dining chair I waxed. I used Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint on the chair, but finished with Annie Sloan's dark wax.
    Regards,
    Sharon.

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    1. thanks Sharon, much appreciated and thanks for following. I really like your stuff also. always good to be in contact with another furniture painter.

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  4. Oops I was looking at the wrong thing to link my post about the chair I finished. Here tis:
    http://irestorestuff.blogspot.com.au/2013/05/mms-miss-mustard-seed-ironstone-milk.html

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  5. what is napisan? i don't think we have that here. and you have it mastered, my friend!

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    1. It’s a washing product in powder form that you soak baby clothes in and it cleans everything – (but granulated not bleach) you’ll have the equivalent just different name –you put a scoop in your wash to boost the brightness

      Thanks love xx

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  6. Thanks Fiona for the tips on how to apply the dark wax. You did a piece the other day and talked about applying clear wax. I tried your technique and it worked like a charm. I've been painting furniture for less than a year, and this was the first piece I got a really smooth finish with a lovely sheen....Great, great tip! You rock!

    Here's the link to the article in the event someone reading my comment wants to take a peek:

    http://www.lilyfieldlife.com/2013/05/ascp-duck-egg-blue-chest-of-drawers.html

    Regards,
    Robin

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  7. Thanks for that, that was great. I have a carved piece I want to do. Do you really need matte paint underneath? why is chalk paint different to low sheen/matte paint?

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    1. Hi Marianne – you can do over latex paint but it’s just slightly different as latex or acrylic paint is less porous than milk or chalk paint. Why don’t you add some plaster of paris into your latex paint and try that. Get about 100 ml of wall paint, in a separate container mix 1 heaped teaspoon of plaster of paris with about 1 -2 teaspoons of water to form a paint – then mix into your paint. You will need to sand well after the clear wax to get rid of tiny bumps then rewax then dark wax. Hope that helps.

      Cheers fiona

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  8. a great tutorial Fiona, so clearly laid out and I love both your furniture and your photos. You even make DIY seem glamorous!
    Beth x

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    1. you should see how i dress! so far from glamourous! thanks Beth, you are very kind

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  9. Another generous post from you -thanks for taking the time to share your knowledge
    Brit

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  10. Hannah, BrisbaneJune 5, 2013 at 3:50 PM

    Tutorials like this make me want to jump right too it. I'll be pinning this to use next time i paint something. thanks so much for sharing Fiona. your furniture, blog xx Hannah

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    1. thanks Hannah, much appreciated. and yes get painting!

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  11. Great tutorial Fiona - I love the photos showing the work in progress. I found working on the underside or back of something first worked for me, that way I could get the rhythm of painting on and wiping off before doing the front. Not to mention I worked on something small and easy to re-work if I needed to!

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    1. hi Catherine. that's always a good trick - to finish on the most visible part so you've got your flow going. the waxing gets much easier with practice
      have a good weekend
      Fiona

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  12. Thanks for that Fiona. I like to look at photos too - helps me to remember and makes it more "real". :-)

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  13. You are amazingly generous with your knowledge Fiona. Ive used dark wax a few times but its definitely practise makes perfect!

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    1. my pleasure Alison. I've now done quite a few pieces with the dark wax and it gets much easier! stick with it
      Fiona

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  14. This is a wonderful post! I have been wanting to try dark wax, but unsure of how to go about it. Thank you for sharing. Pinning.

    Angela @ Number Fifty-Three

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    1. thanks! glad to have helped you Angela,
      love to hear how you've got on
      Fiona

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  15. Julie @ blackbird cottageJune 7, 2013 at 10:24 PM

    What a fantastic post. I've just started painting and this willbe a wonderful. Help. Thanks so much

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    1. thanks Julie, why don't you check out my other DIY tutorials, hopefully they can guide you also
      have fun!

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  16. Thanks Fiona! Armed with your tutorial I think I will try using the dark wax on my next piece- or some old projects! Your table and chair turned out beautiful. I wondered what to do on flat surfaces and now I know! The dark wax gives the chest such depth.

    Have a beautiful weekend!
    Jeannie and Linda at The French Hens Nest

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    1. Thanks Jeannie and Linda – I am glad to help you even if it’s just confidence. Would love to hear how you got on. I agree about the depth. It’s lovely isn’t it
      Have a good weekend
      Fiona

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  17. Thanks for sharing! I've been experimenting with AS Dark Wax and you gave some great advice. Most important one for me was to rewash the rags - I've been throwing them away and you go through a LOT of rags that way. (;

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    1. they will look terrible but definitely still be usable! thanks for commenting and stopping by
      Fiona

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  18. You have made nice description about antiquing process with dark wax. The vintage furniture is looking just amazing by using this wax.

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  19. Wax is an alternative way to vanish. It's the best choice if you want your furniture finished smooth and a slight shine. Wax will make the colour as if tell to every people who see it. Michel - Renownedfurniture.com.au

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  21. Lovely tutorial! Thank you !

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  22. Hello! I love you blog!!
    Not really sure how this blog thing works but I have started one and was wondering if you could give me a few pointers. Theinspiredchic.blogspot.com

    Thanks in advance!!

    Also, I waxed a desk with dark wax, let it cute and then wanted to rewax it. The new wax started to pull off the old wax. Is this common or did I apply to much? I wanted the heavy look of the dark wax for my finish. I actually blogged about this if you want to see it. :)

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    1. Cure! Not cute..big finger issues;)

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    2. Hi Jeanette
      Sorry but I’ve only just seen your email now. Yes Wax will pull off old wax. I will have to check out your blog post but I assume you have this sorted by now??
      Sorry for the delay in responding
      Fiona

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