Monday, June 30, 2014

Duck Egg Blue Coffee table

I have been working with a lovely couple recently to furnish their new house. It's been great business for me and easy for them, especially as they just live around the corner. One piece they bought is this gorgeous french style coffee table. I gave them first option to purchase it before sharing it on facebook and they immediately snapped it up and asked me to paint it ASCP Duck Egg. However this weekend they went sofa shopping and fell in love with a new sofa that doesn't suit the coffee table at all so now I'm offering it for sale. Please contact me if you are interested. It's now sold

The shape is just stunning and it's a nice low height.

My clients wanted it a little antiqued to bring out the pretty details so I achieved that in two ways - how I used the brush over all the details and also a little dark wax after I had painted and sealed the piece.

I love how it is in my lounge room!  But just how many coffee tables does one person need so I'm back to my other coffee table that I made from my BBQ table and hopefully someone else will snap up this beauty.

The table was lovely unpainted but the top had been scratched with pen - someone's kid had a great time on it I think! So I sanded it right back to bare timber and then painted it with ASCP Duck Egg for my clients.  The coffee table has been sealed with a beautiful Porter's sealer for extra durability and easy cleaning. 

From now on I will have a policy of no returns on custom painted pieces but this couple are lovely and I'd like to help them so I've said I'll resell it.

I'm off to paint their bedside tables now.
have a good day
Fiona x

sharing with MMS

Why does everybody hate sanding? My tips for ROS use

(the PEX 400 AE Expert Sander 
was sent to me by Bosch Australia 
to keep, however all opinions
are my own and
of course the tips are my own!)

I love paints that allow you to not sand and prime but I will often almost always still sand when using these paints, not to ensure that the paint sticks, but to ensure my finished piece of furniture is very smooth. I know there are lots of different ways to paint furniture and some people like a lot of texture but I have to be true to myself and I like the smoothness.

So I sand...and sand...and sand.
Because sanding makes a huge difference to the end result.

I sand before I paint as part of my cleaning process. It's nothing major unless I am stripping off an old finish that is chipped or flaky or I am wanting to leave the timber unpainted. If I am sanding a good surface to paint I will usually just hand sand with a light grain/grit to create a key. If I am sanding to create a smooth surface, or remove the old finish or strip then I almost always use a random orbital sander

I often sand between coats - and I always sand after I finish painting with a very fine grade sandpaper. I will often just hand sand with either sandpaper or a sanding sponge.  If I want a heavily distressed finish, I will use a power sander.

Recently my old random orbital sander broke and it meant that dust was going everywhere, creating a huge mess and making sanding very difficult. When Bosch asked if I needed any new power tools I asked them for a good sander with excellent dust extraction. They sent me the Bosch PEX 400 AE which was just great as I was about to buy one for myself anyway. It's a good DIY level sander. They retail for around $200. 

Firstly I can tell you that this sander is very smooth to operate. 

it's no longer this clean!!
There are three different sanding backing pads you can use depending what you are sanding. This is perfect as you require a different pressure for finishing a piece as to stripping a piece (as well as different sand paper grade obviously). There is a removable microfilter box but you can also buy a small attachment that connects the sander to your vacuum cleaner for superior dust extraction. Although saying that, the standard filter box works well and (depending on what you are sanding) you can sand with minimal dust in your work space. I actually sanded my white dresser top to repaint and wax without even moving it out of my bedroom and it was perfect. I would never have trusted the dust extraction of my old sander doing this. However, I will definitely buy the attachment to the vacuum cleaner soon as that will make the whole process even cleaner.

I know sanding is very unpopular but it will really make a difference to your furniture and I think the small effort involved make a huge difference.  Over the years I have spent a fair amount of time talking to master wood workers, painters and even car spray-painters about sanding, wet/dry sanding, sanders, dust extraction, sand papers etc all in the name of improving my own painted finishes. It's always good to learn from other craftsmen and industries that are aligned with your own. I'm a big believer that that cross pollination of ideas and learning will only benefit your work and improve your (my) painted furniture finishes.

My tips for using an Random Orbital Sander

The fast and random motion of a ROS will allow you to sand without leaving scuff marks on your surface, however you can do a few things to assist this. Here are my tips for using this versatile sander:

  1. Wear a dust mask
  2. Clean out the dust box regularly
  3. Keep the sander moving with the grain of the wood
  4. Be careful near the edges to not sand them too far down and go over the edge
  5. Don't apply too much downward force, let the sander do the work, you are really just guiding it.
  6. Start with a lower grit disc and work through the grits until your desired finish (smoothness) is achieved (ie Don't skip grit grades)
  7. Wipe down your sanded surface regularly as you work
  8. and my last tip is when buying power tools, buy the best one you can afford/justify as you generally get what you pay for and when I buy tools I'd prefer to buy once and have it last a long time.

So do you sand? or do you just think it's a big hassle?

Fiona xx

Friday, June 27, 2014

Selling and A French Style Console

I could have easily titled this blog post "How not to style furniture for sale" but then again I like it when I find furniture not styled or photographed well, or not dusted, or the name incorrectly spelled as that usually means I can buy it at a very good price.

I bought this console online via classified ads and there was only one tiny out of focus badly lit photo. I could just make out enough of the shape to take a risk to buy it and drive the distance to pick it up. The buyers were a lovely couple who had lots of quite ornate furniture in their house and the husband thought this console table wasn't ornate enough. (The wife loved it though and was a bit sad about letting it go) but they sold it to me at a very good price as they hadn't had any other interest in it.

the sellers only photo
It was extremely shiny, high gloss varnish in brown , but the console is solidly made, a lovely shape, with three dovetailed drawers on runners.

I knew that ASCP French Linen would make it all much better! I gave this piece a very good sanding. While Annie Sloan Chalk Paint is capable to adhering to furniture with no sanding required, it works much better on rougher, less glossy pieces. Paint needs a little key to adhere. Sanding will provide that key. You do not need to fully strip the piece though, just a good light sanding is required. I will post more about sanding furniture tomorrow. I gave the piece two coats of ASCP French Linen and then when it was dry and the paint had cured for a day I waxed it first with ASCP Clear Wax and then gave it a white washed look with Miss Mustard Seed White Wax. This toned down the French Linen and gave it a bit of a coastal feel. I then distressed the edges of the console and drawers. Once the wax had dried enough I buffed the piece for a lovely sheen.

The day I finished it and had it in my room to photograph, my husband threw a surprise birthday party for me and one of my friends saw it and bought it. They have been looking for a console for their lounge room for over a year so I am happy they loved this one enough to buy it.

Tips for online selling

So when you are selling your old furniture online, I have a couple of points to remember to maximise your sales price:
  • dust and clean it (a little Mr Sheen can work wonders)
  • good even lighting for photographs (natural light is best)
  • make sure you photos are in focus, (try using a tripod)
  • pretty styling
  • no background junk
  • correct spelling of item name
  • correct category insertion (on ebay, gumtree etc)
  • you can always come down in price, but you can't go up

cheers Fiona

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Annie Sloan Media Launch, Chalk Paint

Annie Sloan is in Sydney this week to launch her chalk paint in the media. I was honoured to attend an event yesterday at Elements in Leichhardt yesterday (so close to me also!) It was wonderful finally meeting Annie face to face after four years of corresponding with her on email, social media and skype. I have a lot of admiration for her understanding of and use of colour,  her entrepreneurship and her tenacity in developing her business. Of course, you know I love her paint and waxes.

It was good to hear her thoughts on mixing colour, the influence of her fine arts background on the development of her paint, and also to see her in action with her paint and paint rushes. She lets that paint fly! Sandy (Paint Me White) and I were laughing that Annie and I pretty much have the opposite approach to painting. I'm probably a little bit too neat and careful. LOL.

She is as lovely and animated in real life as I expected. Her passion for paint and colour are evident as she talks and she has a wealth of knowledge and a relaxed attitude to it all that I would love to tap into. I feel as though I could talk to her for hours.

It was wonderful catching up with my lovely friend, Sandy (PaintMeWhite) who is another painter and furniture business owner (and generally nice person) whom I admire. We had some great talks over lunch about blogging, painting, business and our families.

If you want to meet Annie Sloan yourself on Saturday afternoon she will be there doing a book signing. I will be taking my books there (and my kids) so come say hi if you see me.

cheers Fiona xx

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


This morning I am sorting through an amazing load of furniture that I bought this week. Oh my lord, I have some beautiful pieces ready to paint and sell (and perhaps one to keep). 

Then this afternoon, this is happening!!

A painting session with Annie Sloan!! I'm very excited! Especially as my lovely friend  Sandy from Paint Me White is also in Sydney to attend the event so it will be lovely catching up with her. 

As my mum used to say "I am full of can't waiting". I'll tell you all about it tomorrow

Cheers Fiona 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Old Oak Table

I often get asked how I get so much painting done. I am not a quick paint at all but I am a steady one. I paint almost every single day and fit work in when I can. Last night a friend called and it ended up being quite a long chat so while we were chatting I popped the phone under my chin and painted the inside of a cabinet. only one coat but it's one coat I don't have to do today. I also find I am much more productive when I have several pieces on the go at once. You save time by painting one piece when another is drying. Obvious I know, but it will explain how I am quite productive with my work. I think the biggest thing is, that I'm wildly passionate about painting furniture and never feel like I need a break. 

Some pieces however take a long time and I'm extra slow. This old oak table sat in my storage shed for months and then sat primed in my carport for another month.

I finally finished it last week. In the photo below it is primed and has one coat of ASCP Old White. I then gave it two more and two coats of wax. I primed the desk even though using chalk paint for two reasons. The first is I knew I wanted this table to be white so I always use two to three coats of primer when painting white for a good opaque coverage. The second reason is that old oak can bleed so I used Zinsser to help with that.

When it was half finished a customer saw it on facebook and bought it. I was trying to decide to distress or not, but my client made the decision to distress and I love it. The light distressing really brings out the features.

My customer is using the table as a desk in her study and it looks fabulous. Much neater than my desk which is always loaded with paper, tools and other stuff. 

Below is another page from my great grandmother's exercise book. I love having these.

I'm on the hunt for some more pieces to paint today, Wish me luck!

Fiona xx

Monday, June 23, 2014

I just love these drawers

When one of my lovely regular customers showed me these sweet little drawers to quote for painting, I just fell in love with them. Designed to sit at the base of a bed, they are about knee high. I was thrilled to paint them, to experience them even just to work on. They are really lovely.

They were a honey oak colour, nice enough, but no good in my clients bedroom. We decided to paint them with a lightened mix of ASCP Paris Grey. Below you can see them after two even coats of the grey.

I thought that in order to look authentic, they needed some antiquing in the form of dark wax. I applied clear wax first and then dark wax on the detail and the corners of the drawers. To read my tutorials on dark waxing click though to these links:  

You can see how the dark wax subtlety highlights the grooves and adds a depth and patina. If you find that you have added too much dark wax for your liking, just take a little clear wax on a cloth and wipe across the area that is too dark and it will lighten it up by removing the the dark wax. It's always good to stand back from your work regularly as you go to see how it is progressing from a more natural distance. What looks good (or doesn't look good) from your working distance of 20-30 cm may look the opposite from a normally viewing distance of a metre or so.

You can see the dark wax below on the grooves and where I feel that the paint would have aged and darkened naturally: on the corners, grooves and around the handles.

To photograph the finished chest of drawers, I decided to style next to my bed (where I'd been waxing it) and with some lovely cushions on top.

The cushions were hiding my sleeping pup! He likes to sit near me while I work and was sleeping on the bed. Such a gorgeous little soul. Notice the pink mark on his ear. The other day the kids were sitting in the lounge room with Charlie and were colouring in. I noticed the pink texta mark on Charlie and the pink texta was right next to the kids, so I asked who had drawn on the dog. They both denied it but I didn't believe them and was upset with them for lying to me.  Well that night, Phil came home and I was telling him about our afternoon and how I was a bit upset about the kids not owning up to drawing on the dog. Phil looked at me and said "oh no I did that!" What?? How old is my husband? LOL. I had to apologise to me kids the next morning :)

The chest of drawers is now back in my client's bedroom at the foot of her bad and it all looks very gorgeous. She also has one of my painted sideboards as her dresser and I feel very honoured she likes my furniture so much.

The texta is still on the dog. I'll bath him later today...
Fiona xx

Saturday, June 21, 2014

In store

I hope you are having a good start to the weekend. It's such beautiful weather in Sydney although chilly at night but it's hard to believe it's the winter solistice. 

Sydney certainly is beautiful!

This week as well as several pieces of furniture, (that I'll share soon) I finished two coat hooks that will be used in Bella Emporio Rozelle to display scarves etc. The first one was a backing board for a cupboard and I love how shabby chic it turned out. 

The other coat hooks are ones I made a while ago from the side of a hutch that I pulled apart. Painted in Duck Egg Blue with white trim and dark wax. 

Neither of these, I was that keen to sell as I love them but we have no where to hang them in our hallway as our walls are old lime plaster and drilling into it is difficult.

I thought you might like to see some photos of my furniture in Meshea Lifestyle. 

Fingers crossed for some good sales though this avenue. It really does make me want my own space for selling and workshops! So many ideas in my head!! 

Have a lovely weekend, enjoy the sunshine