I bought an old cedar chest at an auction the other night. I had no plan for it…the purchase was an act of mercy. It wasn’t getting any bids, so I felt sorry for it. It was heading to the dumpster. Who remembers not getting picked for a team in elementary school? Most people “rescue” animals that no one else wants. I rescue sad, left behind furniture. I have yet to have furniture that poops in the living room. Anyway, someone had tried to sand it, and had gouged through the veneer on the curved top. But the hardware all still worked flawlessly, and it did not stink like a lot of regular old wood and metal travel trunks do. It called to me, so to the East Brainerd store it went. Sometimes I just have a feeling about a piece. This has a art deco sort of top, and it has a really old feel to it. It definately isn’t a fake reproduction! I can imagine someone working and saving during the Great Depression in order to afford this. It meant a lot to someone once, and that makes it mean a lot to me now. The aromatic red cedar (that is the official name for what we in the South call “seeder”) is so old that it has lost most of it’s scent.
It got a quick coat of Graphite Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan. Normally with veneers I try to refinish the prettiest wood and paint around it. Painting areas makes them recede in the background and causes the pretty natural finished wood to “pop”. In this case the original wood could not be saved, much to my disappointment. So bring on the paint! This was a really good opportunity for Chelle to get her feet wet, so to speak, so she took the lead. We painted and finished the back side of the chest so that it could be used as a stand alone piece, maybe even as a coffee table, in the middle of a room. The Pearl Plaster is hardy enough to set a lamp or vase on, no sweat.
After the paint dried, we broke out some Pearl Plaster by Artisan Enhancements. I like it with Graphite, whether it is dry brushed, sponged, or pushed through a stencil. In its natural state right out of the can it is a silver metallic. Pearl Plaster can be tinted with Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan to give the paint a metallic sheen, and it can be mixed with Scumble by Artisan Enhancements to make it more liquid and workable. It is also a hardy finish by itself: it is really tough stuff. I teach it in my advance class (my Chalk Paint 201). I also love it with dark wax, which gives it a bronze patina kind of look. I am going to “splatter” it on a piece one day.
The question left to answer was what type of application I wanted for the Pearl. I have my advanced class samples handy, so we were able to look at several examples of drybrushing and sponging. I dipped out a little on a paper plate, dampened an artist sponge, and went at it. After I did a side, Chelle took over and did the rest. Hit the Too Easy button. The more casual you are with the sponge, the better it looks. Random is good. Also it is important to use a natural sponge. A synthetic sponge like you buy at Lowe’s to wash the car with will just leave a smudged look. Pearl Plaster dries almost as quickly as Chalk Paint®, and can be waxed over or varnished with Artisan Enhancements Clear Finish (a very high quality fast drying acrylic).
Stenciling with thick mediums like Pearl Plaster or Fine Stone is easier than dry brush stenciling with paint. I have an incredible stencil from Artisan Enhancements called Illegible Script that fit just right on the top of the trunk. Chelle’s first time to stencil went pretty good, I think. Since this chest had a travel trunk look to it, we added a London Postmark stencil and a Paris Eiffel Tower Stencil. The key to a clean lined image is to clean the stencil each time you stencil with it. I love Artisan Enhancements stencils.
Originally I had planned to dark wax, but after looking at the final result, I think we will leave this one silvery. As a matter of fact, it currently has no finish on it. I can always go back and add dark wax later. I think it would fit in many different decorating styles like it is now. If no one has bought it by July, I will display it in our booth at the She Expo. I don’t feel sorry for it anymore. It is a really showy chest. It won’t be picked last now!