Adventures in Furniture Painting - Part 1

Like I mentioned before, I go thrifting a lot. Much of the time I go without any agenda. A thrift store is not a department store and is never very reliable when you are looking for something specific besides a Halloween costume (how thrift stores are UH-mazing around Halloween, we'll revisit another time). I mostly look around for any number of things I have a vague desire for or can use in a project.

Something I did sort of need a few months ago was a coffee table, but thrift store furniture is tricky. Much of it is cheap-end, mid-century, dented and wobbly junk. The stuff that isn't gets snapped up quickly or passed over. I saw an oval coffee table with cabriole legs that was a decent size and shape, but it was in this horrible scratched up maple...sort of like this but it poor condition:

More after the jump...

I took it home, anyway, and stopped at Home Depot on the way to pick up a few Martha Stewart Living paint samples. Martha Stewart and sample-sized wall paints both rock. I makes perfect sense that the two combined would be exactly what I needed:
Of course Martha would produce the sort of quality paint that could cover an entire table with fewer than 16 oz. I left the original varnish on when I painted it because I wanted to try scratching a design into the paint. The paint sits on top of the varnish and is easier to scratch off than paint on porous wood. Friends will remember my first attempt at this technique:
 I've been using snakes prominently in some of my other work and thought a coiled snake would work well in an oval...sort of like a snake in a giant egg. I use butter paper to map out everything I do so I drew out the snake and transferred it on the table to minimize pencil lines.
Butter paper on a roll, in case you're wondering:
Scratching into a surface produces a sketchy, raw line.  I started with a fairly thick outline to play up the graphic quality:
From there I winged a scale pattern, making the scales wider in the middle and narrower near the sides. The paint inside one of the scales came off completely at one point, so I ran with it. You gotta roll with the punches, right?
I am 2/3 of the way done with the snake. I work on it on and off but I hope to finish it in the next few weeks:
I haven't decided whether or not I'm going to add the bottom half of a bird flying away at the top left. Maybe I'll add a banner. Open space bothers me. On one hand, less is more. On the other, this is a snake table; It's over the top by nature. 

Stay tuned. Now that I've made a ruckus about it, I have to finish it. See how that works?

Your Sister in Craft,


October 12, 2010

2 responses to Adventures in Furniture Painting - Part 1

  1. Anonymous says:

    I've done something similar with tables from the local thrift stores. I enjoy using the "crackle" effect on furniture (
    I also found one of those cute little two-tiered tables, not sure what you call them. I picked up some carpet scraps and cull lumber from the hardware store and a few days later I had a fancy-pants cat tower!

  2. I love that look. Send me a photo and I'll post it.


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