First “official” piece

Well, my online presence still needs a lot of work. I have assigned that to my teenager daughters: who better to manage my social media? So my Instagram is actually posting stuff now, yay! Go find me (phoenixnesthomedecor) and take a look, please.

So for the first project painted with “selling” in mind, I chose a small decorative shelf I picked up at a local thrift store for $3.

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If you are thinking, “But it’s already so pretty! Why would you paint that wood?” I promise you it will not be the last the time you think that following me. I have the same thought frequently myself. Sometimes I even listen and don’t paint. At least, I suspect that will happen at some point.

I thought about using some sample paints from Home Depot. I have a lot of those. But I ended up picking up 5 colors of my favorite paint: Debi’s Design Diary’s DIY Paint. I love using this paint for its colors, blend-ability, and coverage. Bonus: it doesn’t stink. At all. I can paint a full-sized hutched with a gallon of this stuff in a small closed room, no problems. But I mostly just buy it in the sample sizes. It’s pricey. Totally worth it, but pricey. Someday I’ll be a retailer…

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First thing I did was clean it. There are a lot of great cleaners specifically formulated for cleaning old dirty wood. They might even work better than the Clorox wipes I used. But this piece wasn’t terribly dirty and my wipes did just fine. Then I lightly sanded it, even though it probably wasn’t necessary. DIY Paint will adhere to any surface, including shiny wood. Still, a quick easy pass with a sanding sponge gives me a little peace of mind.

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After sanding I wiped it down again. Then I pulled out one of my samples of Weathered Wood (one of my samples? why do I have 2? Oops.) and started coating the shelf. Someday, maybe to celebrate my first sale, I’ll buy myself some nice brushes. Right now I’m using the cheapest ones I can get from Harbor Freight and Walmart. Are they great? No. Do they leave brush marks and shed bristles? Yes. But my paint is nice enough to cover a multitude of sins and I’m careful about the bristles. An advantage is I don’t have to spend a lot of time and water trying to clean them; when they get too gunky into the trash they go.

I painted everything but the back in Weathered Wood, a rich brown-black. I love it, but When I was done I felt a little sad at the loss of the wood.

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I was also having a little trouble getting the thick viscous paint into the little grooves that made up the carving. I kept dabbing it with more paint, but then I started wondering of the clay-based paint would simply fill in the groove, which I most certainly did not want. Then my daughter came over and peered over my shoulder, and asked, “Why don’t you just thin it with a little water?” Um. Yeah. I totally would have thought of that eventually. At first I tried mixing a teaspoon of water with a teaspoon of paint, but I found that just alternating the brush between water and paint worked much better.

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Another thing I love about this paint is how fast it dries. Very soon I was able to reach for Summer Crush, a soft orange, and start on the rose. In hindsight I should have done the deep red Marquee first. I’m still fixing that mistake, but it’s not a big deal. Just a fun part of the process. Then I added the Marquee, then more Summer Crush, and so on till it was a goopy overblended mess.

Oh well. I let it dry a bit and moved on to the leaves. I’d already learned a bit from the rose so using Fancy Farmgirl (a soft spring green) and then Mint Chip (almost white bluish-green) I colored in the leaves and stems. I kept a glass of water on hand for dipping my brush, not to clean the paint off but to keep the colors blending well.

You’ll notice that I continued making the rose a goopier mess. I’m a slow learner. I left it alone a bit and painted the top of the shelf Fancy Farmgirl, and then carefully with a small flat brush I painted the edge Marquee. After that the messy rose was dry enough I could use an orange stick to gently clear the paint out of the grooves, re-revealing the pretty rose carving. (Sorry, nails. Paint will just have to stay stuck up under you for a bit.)

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And that’s all I had time for today. Tomorrow I’ll fix the rose up better and wax it. Then maybe decide if I want to turn it into a bigger piece.

It’s not a big project and didn’t take much time, but I did it on my living room floor while my nine kids ran about me, showing me pictures they drew and asking technical questions about Transformers and giving advice and promising to buy stuff from me when they were all grown up and had money. It’s lovely, but I’m seeing already how this could become a full-time job, and I already have several of those just trying to care for my husband, kids, and home. I’ll have to find a way to carve out some “business time.”

I’ll still do it this way some, too. It was fun.

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