Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Part One~Milk Paint vs Chalk Paint vs Latex

Originally I was going to write a comparison of all 3 types of paints, with a couple finish treatments, in one post.  As I tried to do that, it became so long winded and I was tired of reading myself 'talk'.  So I am going to break them down as such:

Part One-Milk paint
Part Two-Chalk paint
Part Three-Latex 

I'll try to get all 3 up within the week and I will include some examples of glazing and waxing finishes as well.  There are many tutorials on all of these, in particular www.missmustardseed.com or www.perfectlyimperfectblog.com, have some great ones.  But I wanted to share some advice based on my own personal experiences with each. You can never have enough info when you are trying to learn this stuff yet sometimes simple tips are overlooked.  These are mine:

Milk Paint
As you've probably read before, Milk Paint has a mind of it's own and adheres differently on every piece.  I have used this a few times with COMPLETELY different results. I buy mine from John Miller Hardware but am anxious to try MMS own brand soon as it's out!  True milk paint comes in a powder form and needs to be mixed with water.  Simply follow the directions on the package, however my tips are these:

-Use HOT water (NOT boiling-just hot) and preferably filtered,  it will help dissolve the clumps that much easier.  It will take several minutes of stirring at minimum to get a fluid consistency, and the most for your money (I imagine every clump is another 1/4 oz of paint! lol) Inevitably there will be still be clumps, and that's fine since they seemingly disappear once your piece dries.  Just try to get as many out as you can.  Also, as I've learned, the color will not be consistent if you don't mix really well.

-DO NOT mix in a blender, do this by hand.  True Milk Paint has powdered lime in it which is like colored concrete when it decides to adhere to something!  Like they say; you NEVER know how this paint is going to react....so think twice before using anything you can't clean thoroughly within minutes afterward.  I mix mine in leftover cottage cheese or sour cream containers with the lids!  You can actually store it this way for a couple weeks after you've mixed it.

-You CAN use a sprayer to apply but just be sure to strain it through something disposable first :)  And strain it several times. It will save you lots of frustration to do that right off the bat, but again...hand-painting it with a brush works in favor of milk paints special effects.

-It does not discern and it does not listen to your plans :) One aggravation with milk paint is that sometimes it will chip or peel exactly where you don't want it to.  If you try to paint over those 'flaky' parts it will only make them flake more. If it's chipping somewhere you didn't want it too-the deed is done.  You really will save yourself the frustration if you just go with it.  However if it's really not what you want, you could try to sand down the spot with some extra margin around it and reapply the milk paint later.  That is why I always keep mine a for a week or so before tossing.  However be sure to remix the leftover paint really well so color stays consistent.

Here was my first Milk Paint piece, an unfinished oak dresser.  I brushed the paint on by hand, clumps and all.  This piece had no wax or barrier of a sealant, so the milk paint acted like a beautiful 'stain' that penetrated the wood to give it a subtle yet uniform color effect, that I loved.  You could see the wood grain through the color, so it didn't look 'painted' if that makes sense...
Before Milk Paint
Gorgeous sea-green color, no glazing on this one just the paint and coat of clear wax.
My most recent experience with milk paint was on a desk that had lots of 'gunk' and wax or surface oils on top of the wood.  I didn't use any mineral spirits or special prep products, but I washed it down with some hot water and a drop of dawn dish-washing liquid.  The simpler the better I say. Then I let it dry (in 101 degree weather that took about 20 minutes ;p)  I used the same Sea-Green color as I did on the previous dresser.

I didn't get a before pic with drawers in, but you can see the existing finish was really worn and uneven.
The backs were covered in veneer that was badly rippled, in this case I chose to rip it off and paint over.  Not worth the effort in saving and since it was in back-not a detractor.
This piece chipped beautifully!
I loved the way it flaked in a 'speckled' way-like an egg.

Here is an example of where I DIDN'T want it to chip but I've learned not to mess with it.
You can apply a glaze to darken up your color if you like too.  I did glaze the the top of this desk to give it more depth and blend it in with the dark wood chipping through the rest of the piece.  To seal Milk Paint pieces I like to work with a wax, it controls and stops the flaking well while still allowing it to look authentic and vintage.  I prefer Minwax Finishing Paste over Annie Sloan's myself, it feels more durable and dries quickly but use whatever you are most comfortable with.

So there is my 2 cents on working with Milk Paint:)  Up next in Part 2, Annie Sloan's Chalk Paint.......XO

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Just back from a little family vacay...my Mom was visiting for awhile and we hit the Fredericksburg Trade Days for some great 'fleaing' with the kids.  We scored lots of great old shutters, doors, window panes, statues and architectural pieces. After that we revamped our space at the antique mall. And when that was done, we took the kids and headed to San Antonio for a girls -get-away with my Grandmother and Aunt, who were visiting from Colorado.  It was such a great time, yet it feels like it was over in the blink of an eye. We stayed at the J.W. Marriott which is this amazing water park within a hotel.  Sea World and Knotts Berry Farm are minutes away but we couldn't pull ourselves out of the pool long enough to bother...it was the best of everything for the whole family!  Highly recommend :)  Anyhow, back to shop talk!

Here is what the space looked like when we first opened back in April:

Our first day. I was so proud-and a little exhausted!
We are down to our last two pairs of wings....act fast!

Loved this hutch, French Grey with a glaze-Sold.

And here is what the space looks like as of now:

Sorry for the blurry pic-only had my iphone.
I'll be getting back to some furniture make-overs in the next post.  A few of them are in the above pic, peeking out :) And I am almost done with my first upholstery project too, if I can get over my fear of the glue gun!  I've come so far with these chairs that this last step is a bit intimidating.  For now I'm gonna take a few days to do nothing-then I'll unpack us, and get back to business.  It appears I've got an apprentice in the making as well ;)  My daughter recently refurbished this side table for herself (with face mask, shower cap, gloves and ALL the protective gear carefully removed for this photo opp)  I don't know who was more proud, me or her!!
Till next time :)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Living on the Face of the Sun....

Summer is here!! No mistaking it where we live.  Where I am from however, is a different story.  My friends and family back in the Seattle area tell me how much rain and general overcast has been lingering still...they are patiently waiting for summer to arrive and it's already mid-July! :( And yet here in Austin, or anywhere in the central to east parts of the country, we are melting.  It's CRAZY hot.  Like, bottoms of your shoes start to melt a little as you walk on pavement- hot.  And I actually LIKE heat, always have.  If I'm sweating, I'm happy because because I feel like my thighs are shrinking, LOL! As of now, my husbands dream of some winter cabin out in the wilderness of the Rockies will NEVER happen ;)  I say this because I was born and raised there and as much as I love it, I do not like or miss the cold.  I'll take heat any day over freezing.  Of course, my dream is to move us to Maui, but until we can afford the cost of living in paradise; well...touché.

Fortunately for us, Austin has elements of both here. The people truly embrace the climate and so much activity is focused around it. There is a thriving 'something for everyone' downtown culture. It's a small city for certain but that is what keeps it charming while still offering so much to do regardless of weather. On any given day, no matter the temps you will see everyone jogging, sprinting, rowing, kayaking, paddle boarding, even doing one of tons of outdoor fitness boot-camps in the parks.  Austin-nites are HARD CORE and I have been truly inspired watching them.  There is a beautiful wide gravel trail called 'the hike and bike trail' that goes 7.2 miles around the lake downtown (with bridges that run across if you want to cut it shorter) and hundreds descend upon it every day, with their dogs or their jogging stroller or their iPod and they are unfazed.  I can't tell you how many hipsters, business people and long time residents you see mid-day, dining outdoors for lunch, wearing their jeans, or nice suits, hats and boots ...with a SMILE.  They are completely undaunted by the heat.  I feel like I'm on another planet sometimes, or in the midst of a science project.  I'm captivated.

With all that said, I can't last more than an hour in my garage right now :p  This is why I've had nothing to post for a while. The kids have been out of school since May and our routine of pools-daycamps-gym-groceries-errands and  'where else has AC?'  has taken precedent.  Yet I have so much to catch up on work wise.  In the meantime, just to fit something creative in (as well as time for myself), I have been taking an upholstery class that has been so much fun!  Every weekend, for 6-8 hours I have been working on two antique spring-seat chairs - yep just two chairs...but that is how labor intensive upholstery is.  I'll be lucky to complete them by the end of the class.  Upholsterers earn every dime they make, and I will never balk at the expense again!  My Grandfather and Aunt are both professional upholsterers and anytime I'd ask what something would cost to be redone the answer was 'aah just buy a new one!" LOL Now I get it.
I will be sure to share pics and some of the process when these are completed!

In the wings I have a great desk I plan to do with Milk Paint (where is Miss Mustard Seed's already?? I can't wait to try it) as well as a vanity in chalk paint, and then a tall dresser in regular old Latex (or maybe my own milk paint mixture, we'll see ;) It will make for a good visual comparison of the three types and I will be sure to share those as well.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful summer wherever you live and keeping cool!  Here are some pics I found on google just to share what an Austin summer looks like :)  Of course with 3 small kids we have yet to do some of these...but it WILL happen!! XOXO
A view of Lady Bird Lake that runs through downtown
You can rent kayaks or paddle boards or bring your own.
How about yoga on your paddle-board? I told you, hard-core!
Or just bring your best buddy :)
View of the 'Hike and Bike Trail' that runs around lake.
Yoga classes all over in the park...

As well as fitness boot-camps and training sessions.
 It could be 101 outside or it could be 35 degrees, they don't care.  They will be there with their gym shoes on!!