Sunday, December 15, 2013

Colorwash Sugarplums

If you have been reading our blog, you probably have recognized a pattern in our work- Andy builds and I paint.  The new bookcase Andy built for the bedroom was no different.  A couple of months ago, I took a basic furniture painting class at Adourn, a fantastic furniture rehab shop in Chatfield, Mn.  I have one of their pieces already- a farmhouse table which is now in our kitchen.

I love how the owner updates antique pieces with well placed paint and excellent distressing.  I learned three painting techniques in the class:

Basic Painting and Distressing with Sandpaper
My finished piece after the class
Colorwash Technique
Use a really wet brush and dip into paint to water out color
Practice board with colorwash
2 Color Technique
Paint one color and let dry, with a really dry brush, paint over with a complementary color
Practice board with 2 color technique
The gleaming-ly new wood of Andy's bookcase build was staring at me and calling out to me to try the colorwash technique.

This technique is great for fresh wood and lets a lot of the grain of the natural wood show through.  Since Andy ended up using a nice wood (as opposed to mdf), I thought it would be silly to paint completely over the wood.  I really liked the design idea from Lowes which had the inside of each box painted a different color with the outside of the boxes and the dividing shelves in white.  With this concept in mind, I headed to the cavern (our basement) and grabbed the random bits of paint we had in purples, blues and greens to complement our dark blue bedroom walls.

I covered my painting station (the coffee table in the living room) with plastic because the colorwash technique creates a lot of splattering and set out a paper plate, a bowl of water and a bowl of paint.

After wiping down the wood really well to get rid of any sawdust, I dipped my brush first in the water to get it really wet.  I dipped it then in the paint and then back in the water.  I checked my paint to water ratio by tapping the brush on the plate a few times.  Going in the same direction of the wood grain, I brushed over the wood.  In places that were not translucent enough, I used a paper towel to wipe away some of the paint.  When my brush got too dry, I went through the routine of water-paint-water again.  This technique was really fast and generally easier than basic painting- you just have to watch out for drips.
One coat of colorwash
Naked wood

Once the paint was dry (which takes longer than usual since there is so much water in the mix), the color was very translucent and showed all the grain and knots in the wood.  Choosing to be lazy as opposed to thorough, I decided not to clear coat the pieces.  I will probably go back later and give the bookcase a quick clear coat of satin sealer since all the water in the paint makes the wood more porous.

The complete result- an extremely functional bookcase with a lot of character added with the paint.  I am excited that the design of the bookcase makes it easy to move and alter the size depending on what room we want it in.  If our book collection grows, it is easy to add another level without building a completely new unit.
Now that I have successfully painted a piece of furniture with my new techniques, I can't help but eye a few older pieces of furniture with thoughts of rehab... The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of furniture rehab danced in their heads.

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