Sorry folks, but no “how to’s” or clever DIY excitement in this post. Instead, I’m going to share a little bit on the question I get asked the most, “How do you do it all?”
First, let me share a little background. I am a full time teacher, I am a wife, I am a mom of 3 small children (plus one heavenly angel) with another on the way, and I am a small business owner. I think so often we see other women “doing it all” and we feel so pressured to do it all. We compare ourselves, expect so much of ourselves, and exhaust ourselves trying to be “super mom”, or “super painter”, etc. I will fully admit that has been me for years. I’ve put so much pressure on myself that I ran myself into the ground. Here’s how I explain finding my way home.
When Kade died, I was lost. My sole reason for getting out of bed was Ms. Kinsley, who was still just a baby and needed her mommy to be strong. So I found an outlet and that was painting. I began painting on a small scale…frames, canvas’, etc. Then I became brave enough to branch out to furniture and grew Southern Charm Designs from there. Then came the “demons” as I call them. Those thoughts that enter your head as you view other’s work….”they are so much better”, “they get so much more done than me,” “wow, their stuff sells so much faster,” and so on. Once it got into my head, I couldn’t uncloud my vision. I started painting in other artist’s styles, I started spending way too much time online “getting inspiration.” The part that I kept forgetting was that yes, I loved painting, but that I also worked full time and had a growing family to take care of as well. I was constantly juggling and beating myself up when I let a ball drop.
When I quit my job as we were expecting baby #4, I began painting full time and started taking on more custom work. I thought this would solve everything…more time to paint right?? Ha! With a 2 year old and new born at home? Who was I kidding!! And something very strange happened….I began resenting painting. I stopped getting motivated to paint. Once it became a “JOB” and I HAD to do it, it took all the fun out of it…sucked the passion for it right out of me. All the custom work began frustrating me in that I was painting someone else’s vision instead of MY vision (not that I wasn’t thankful for it!!! Lord knows that’s how many bills got paid So, some decisions had to be made.
After much soul searching and heart felt decision making, I decided to go back to teaching full time. Oh, how hard it was at first…leaving my kiddos all day, trying to figure out how to keep Southern Charm Designs going, and how to keep my sanity all at the same time. I failed miserably there at first. I spent so much time focusing on my classroom and trying to make it up to my kiddos, that my furniture business plummeted miserably. I had to completely fall on my rear before I got that wake up call that I needed to find myself. And, I did. I not only found myself, but I found how to live with all my imperfections as well. I began carrying two amazing paint lines, which helped me fall in love with painting furniture all over again. I’ve had SO MUCH motivation from some great friends in this industry and instead of comparing myself to them, I’ve instead taught myself how to admire their work and at the same time, love my own.
The greatest lesson I’ve learned?? That it’s okay not to be perfect. I’m going to burn dinner, there will be a week or two that I have go without painting, and there will be days I’m exhausted from being up all night with baby #4 who loves to boycott sleep! I no longer dislike myself when I don’t get it all done and with that enlightenment came so much stress off my shoulders. The reason for this post? To let all of you out there know that I DON’T do it all…I work hard and each day I do the best I can, but I also let some balls drop now and then and I hope you still feel great about yourself when you do the same. BE YOU, paint (dance, sing, sew, or whatever your thing is) often and love the fact that each of life’s dances teach us something…even when we feel like it’s stepping on our toes.
Happy Painting Friends!
The most common question I receive these days is “What is milk Paint?” and “How do I use it?” Most people don’t know that milk paint has been around for ages. It is an organic paint containing basic ingredients including milk protein, limestone, clay, and natural pigments. When absorbed into the surface, Milk paint will never chip or peel. It is suitable for both interior and exterior applications and is naturally mold resistant. Milk paint is ideal for painting a variety of surfaces. Laymen’s terms….completely safe to use around your kids, your pets, etc. I often paint with my kids right next to me (or should I say right in the middle of my paint??). I solely use Ms. Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint. I have used many and it is my favorite. I believe it to be the best and the easiest to use, so that is why I chose to carry this line of Milk Paint.
A few of the benefits of Milk Paint include: 100% natural and biodegradable, NO VOC’s or harmful chemicals, NO PRIMING required (oh yeah), it is quick to dry, ideal for interior or exterior use, durable, and once you are comfortable using it, it is easy to use! It can be intimidating at first (see prior blogs), however, it only takes once to get the hang of it.
How to use milk paint:
1. First you need to decide if you want the naturally chippy look or if you want it to be complete coverage. If you DO NOT WANT CHIPPINESS, you will need to have the bonding agent on hand. Shown below is a piece by Miss Mustard Seed, demonstrating the natural chippy look of milk paint.
2. Mix 1 part water to 1 part Milk Paint powder. 1 part can be anything (1 Table spoon, 1 cup, etc….remembering a little goes a long way). Add in the bonding agent if you desire a non-chippy finish. Mix the Milk Paint with water in a blender, mason jar, or by hand with a paint stick or whisk until there is an even consistency like milk. PAINTERS TIP…I like to mix mine in a mason jar with a frother (yes, a frother…like you’d use to make a latte’…they work perfectly!!). If the consistency is too thick, add 1/2 part more water adn mix again.
3. Apply the Milk Paint evenly onto yoru project. Darker colors require one to two coats for even coverage while lighter coats can take up to three coats (again, this will depend on what you are painting on and over). I recommend you stir every 5-10 minutes. Each coat will dry right about 3o minutes, making it easy to finish a piece quickly.
4. Once you are happy with your application of Milk Paint, you can lightly (a.k.a. gently) sand your piece with 220-300 grit sand paper to smooth out any raised wood grain (again, the larger the grain, the less it will pull paint off of your piece. Do this GENTLY). Apply extra pressure to the areas you would like distressed. For the natural chippy look you can also take a paint scraper and lightly go over the Milk Paint…if you did not use the bonding agent, it will gently flake off in its own random way. There is no rhyme or reason, it just does it where it will. If you do not want this, you need to add the bonding agent in step 1/2!!!!
5. You can seal with furniture wax or hemp oil. I use both often…they are excellent top coat finishes that are 100% natural and safe. The oil helps protect the surface and to saturate the Milk Paint so it appears vibrant and not chalky. MY ALL TIME FAVORITE finish is Ms. Mustard Seed’s Furniture Wax. I love its smoothness and overall finish. I recommend letting that cure overnight (or 24 hours) just to let the piece settle and absorb. It will feel dry to the touch, but I have learned my lesson a few too many times on moving stuff too quickly. Learn from my mistakes!
There are so many cool tricks like layering, using hemp oil to do color resisting, etc. but that could be too much for one “how to” post, so I will save that for another day! And I promise not to make it a month this time! Well..I will try to not make it a month anyway…this full time teacher, plus running my own business, PLUS 3 kids under the age of 7 stuff sometimes gets in the way
You can also find MANY helpful Milk Paint tutorials at: www.missmustardseed.com
Happy Painting Friends!
Okay, Okay…so the title may be a bit dramatic, but this one is near and dear to my heart. It seems as though furniture refurbishing has become the things all the “cool kids” are doing. I think it is great, however, I have also seen a large amount of pieces that should have been left in a scrap pile being up for sale for $200+ and it frustrates me so! Anyone can go to Goodwill and buy a piece of furniture, slap some paint on, and call it refurbished. That is great if the piece is going into the refurbishers own home, however, if you are selling pieces for profit, I sincerely believe you have a responsibility to make sure you are buying quality pieces…not perfect pieces, but quality pieces.
So as a buyer, what to look for? Veneer. If the veneer has a small chip, that is fixable. However, if the veneer is peeling off in large strips, or is missing in multiple spots, this is a MUCH harder fix. Replacing an entire strip of veneer can be time consuming and costly. The last roll I bought was $32.95 and only covered half of one side of a dresser. I bought my roll at Lowe’s and they only had one color, so I had to roll out, cut to fit, iron it on, and paint to match…which is not too easy. Now, small chips…totally doable! You can glue the loose ends down and putty over the small chip…however, this is only truly doable and durable if you have a small area. Small as in quarter, half dollar size.
Second, durability. If something is fabulous, but is junk, it is just fabulous junk. Some lucky refurbishers have mad carpentry skills and can whip up a piece of junk into a new rockin’ beauty without the blink of an eye. Most, though, are not that skilled and end up buying a piece only to get it home and realize that it is wobbly, falling apart, and not worth putting the time, energy, and money into. Exceptions: dove tail drawers that are coming loose. Easy fix…wood glue and a hammer. They were cut to interlock, so if all pieces are in tact, they will fit right back together. Dresser or desk tops that have popped up…unless they are warped, you can easily nail them back down. Simply hammer on each corner, and lightly on the edges. Still not cooperating? You can use a small electric nail gun and nail down the corners. Yes, the nail head will be visible, however, you can putty over them.
And finally…particle board and laminate. Particle board is particle board. You can paint it, you can bling it…you can even cover it in 4 karat gold if you like, but it is still particle board. This is absolutely fine if you know going in what to expect. Most particle board pieces have laminate. Laminate can be hard to paint over. If you are using Latex or spray paint, you will need to sand, prime, put on at least 2 coats of paint, and seal with polyurethane. If you are using CeCe’s Clay and Chalk Paint, it is normally not necessary to prime…however, there are some instances where laminate is simply too stubborn for even chalk paint and so you may have to prime. Laminate is like a Wildcard; you just never know what you are going to get. Most importantly, anything that is not solid wood is not going to hold up as long or as well and it sure is not as fun (a.k.a. easy) to paint. That said, I have done many laminate French Provincial style desks and I’ve loved each and every one.
Here is one of my favorite imperfect finds:
This piece used to be part of a vanity. It belonged to my husband’s grandmother and it was NOT PRETTY at all when I first found it. But it was raw wood and just screamed vintage greatness to me. Here is why it was not in perfect condition: You can see on the bottom left leg that it used to be attached to something else. It does not match the leg on the right. Also, on the top left, you can see where the top corner is nicked from where they cut it to separate it from the middle of the vanity. The veneer was also chipping on the bottom of the left side. The defects simply added character to me. To fix the veneer, I glued down the loose veneer at the bottom and secured it with wood putty (always sand down the putty after it dries to make a smooth surface). I threw on two coats of CeCe Caldwell’s Dover White, sanded, and sealed with clear wax. Imperfect Perfection.
Happy Painting Friends!
Oh what fun I had coming up with a title for this one! Being a product of the 80′s, I couldn’t help but toy with “wax on…wax off”…ok, enough of showing my age. There are MANY ways to finish a refurbished piece. I’ve had people question why I choose to finish my pieces with wax instead of polyurethane or lacquer. It’s easy…I prefer to use SAFE, non-toxic products as well as I like the look wax gives my pieces. Poly, nor lacquer, push paint into the wood as wax does. Wax actually pushes into the piece, giving your piece that natural-looking distressed finish. See example below.
You can see where the Miss Mustard Seed’s Kitchen Scale is actually blended, or pushed, into the CeCe Caldwell’s Vintage White. It’s not just sitting on top of the first layer. It’s “mushed” together for lack of better terminology On the corners that are distressed down to the natural wood, it looks so authentic….as if the paint just pulled away from the corners. No other finish with give you this desired effect.
I choose to use CeCe Caldwell’s Clear or Aging Wax. It has zero odor and it goes on smooth. Other brands are also available, but tend to be a hard wax, and have an odor than is dangerous and require a mask to use. I don’t have the time or patience for that!
You can apply wax with a rag, old t-shirt, etc. I choose to use a wax brush. Why invest in a wax brush (most popular question number 2)? Because it gives me more range of motion in waxing a piece. It allows me more control and pushes the wax into all the little crevices, scrolls, etc. They are perfect for detailed pieces. CeCe’s even offers one you can attach to the end of your electric drill and wax your piece quickly and efficiently. You can find a really helpful how-to tutorial at RefunkMyJunk.com!! No idea what a wax brush looks like? See these beauties below:
CeCe’s wax comes in Clear or Aging Wax. Clear wax simply goes on as a clear top coat. It does alter the color of CeCe Caldwell’s paints as it makes the color a little brighter. Aging wax is THE BEST invention ever…painting invention that is. It is a brown wax that makes the piece appear to be aged. It can take the place of glazing, as if used properly, it can give the appearance of a glaze. Again, I use my wax brush to apply.
Now, the how-to. Take your can of wax and either dab your rag or wax brush into the can. Go easy as a little bit goes a long way! Begin rubbing or brushing it on. Makes your strokes even and really work the wax in…you don’t want it to appear streaky. You can always start over. That is the beauty of CeCe Caldwell’s Wax. Many times I apply a coat of clear wax, let it cure, and then apply a coat of the dark wax. If I get too heavy handed with the dark wax, I can simply wipe it off or dab some clear wax on my brush and rub the dark wax right out. It is so simple!!! It hardens and leaves a thick coat of protection over your piece. Be sure to let it cure 24-48 hours!!! Now, if a piece is going to be used in high-traffic area (kitchen island, kitchen table, etc), I recommend waxing then using CeCe Caldwell’s Satin Finish over your piece. It is a harder finish and makes your piece more “user friendly.” I will follow up with a how-to on this product soon.
I hope this helps solve some of the great waxing mysteries! As always, shoot me an email if you have any questions
Happy Painting friends!