Typography! How does she do it?!
Yes, I get asked that often with pieces that I do. So, although this post is all over the place when it comes to topics, I am sharing with you:
1. a great website source for getting free images and typography from. (yes, I wrote FREE!)
2. my approach to doing projects like this.
3. information on applying Dark Wax
4. And a new product called Transfer Gel by Artisan Enhancements® that I am selling – which is another option to help you make amazing pieces also. Click HERE to see this product.
I am always scheming and thinking about how I want to paint my next piece, but sometimes I need inspiration. So, what’s a girl to do, except for to call on her Fairy Godmother! Well, who I actually am referring to is The Graphics Fairy LLC ! She has never let me down!
Here is what the dresser looked like before I did anything. Not too pretty- but I knew it had the perfect front surface for some fun to be painted on it! Not to mention it is all wood and well made. So…of course I first painted it with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® Decorative Paints. I used the color Coco- which is a beautiful color – especially with Dark Wax applied to it!
If interested in purchasing Coco Chalk Paint®- click HERE.
For this project, it took 1 1/2 coats total. NO sanding or priming prior. And what do I mean by 1/2 coats?
Well, after your first coat of Chalk Paint® dries- if you are applying a second coat with a brush – sometimes I will thin the paint by placing only a ¼ inch of water in a plastic cup. I dip my paint brush in the SMALL AMOUNT of water and then dip the tips of the brush into the quart of the paint. I am not gobbing my brush with paint here. This extra bit of water allows the paint to be a little thinner and smoother and it will glide on easier and you will use less paint. (I will sometimes refer to it as a 1/2 coat.
Once I finished painting the dresser – I knew I wanted to jazz it up. I did not want to use a stencil and actually could not find one the size or in the style I wanted. Now when it comes to stencils- some are a necessity when doing a replicating pattern. But in general I have found that they can be quite expensive and depending on what I am doing- I do not need one. And to have a custom stencil created- FORGET IT…very expensive$$$. More importantly- I want to have a variety- not just do the same stencil over and over again or create pieces that others can easily do. I like to personalize an image and if you are savvy with using Paint Shop Pro (or some image editing software) you can. So for the project I am going to step through below, a big stencil to accommodate my design in this size- would easily run a minimum of $100 to perhaps $200 retail- if you could find one that matched this type of design. Instead, I suggest that you buy a projector and print your transparencies on a laser printer. You will not regret it! And that is what I did….I just made a transparency and pushed the image up and traced it. I used Chalk Paint® decorative paint by Annie Sloan to color within the lines. What makes Chalk Paint® so awesome is that it is very forgiving. Meaning when I paint in the traced lettering on the piece below – I am not concerned about uniform coverage of paint since I am going to “age” this piece with Dark Wax and do some distressing once done. With a little 200 to 400 to even 800 grit sandpaper…I will make the front of this piece as smooth as glass! And ….make the uneven paint work to my advantage!
1. So, where do I go to get inspiration? Please allow me to introduce you to my Fairy Godmother! Visit The Graphics Fairy LLC website and browse. Karen – my Fairy Godmother (although she is probably much younger than me!) always has an infinite supply of the most incredible – inspirational images for me to choose from. And get this…all of her site- IS FREE! Crazy right?!
Search for whatever you might have in mind. If you have no ideas, just browse some of the folders she has on her main menu. I guarantee, something will appeal to you!
USING A PROJECTOR
2. Once I find the perfect image (which there will be 100′s of!) I make a screen shot of the image and then create a PowerPoint image and save it to my hard drive. I then print that image on to a transparency from my laser printer. If you have a basic ink jet – make sure to buy transparencies specifically for your printer type. Otherwise your ink will stay wet and will just smear. Kinkos or Copy Max can make transparencies for you if you cannot.
3. Using my ancient overhead projector, I push the image onto my furniture piece. Make sure to only begin this step when you have ample time to do the whole layout. Don’t plan on starting the lay out on one day and finishing it another because if you move your piece by accident or the projector gets shifted – nothing will line up and you will have a fun time (sarcasm) trying to align it all again! Using painter’s tape- tape the transparency in place once you have it aligned, otherwise a nice breeze will come by and blow it off (Murphy’s Law.)
I align my design by eye. Always step back a good few feet and look at your piece from a distance. Make sure to leave ample room between your piece and the projector so that you can comfortably stretch out or lay down on the ground without touching either, or you risk moving one! For this image, I gauged the distance from the top of the letters from a drawer seam to make sure that it looks uniformed before I start to trace my projection. As for the projector- find one on Craigslist for a minimal amount of money. Unless a projector was relatively new or came with a large inventory of bulbs- I would not pay more than $60 for one. (and for $60, I am looking for a top of the line projector) The most expensive part of a projector is the bulbs. Make sure to ask the current owner if they have any extra bulbs that they will give you with the purchase or confirm that the bulbs are still available to buy!
4. Using a WATERCOLOR pencil- trace your image in a coordinated colored pencil. Since I knew I was going to paint the lettering with Annie Sloan’s Graphite Chalk Paint® Decorative Paint- I used a dark colored pencil. However, if I was going to use Annie Sloan’s Old White or Pure White, I would have selected the white or lighter colored watercolor pencil. The difference between regular “traditional” pencils that your kids use in school versus a water-soluble pencil is
what the material inside the pencil is made of. Typically when an artist who paints with watercolors (which I think you all understand what I mean by watercolor) …the person sketches out a drawing with a special kind of pencil as so when they apply water and paint – the outline from the watercolor pencil blends in versus just being an outline. Regular lead or graphite pencils just smear and contaminate your watercolor paint- or for that matter any type of paint. Even Latex! So- when I, The Purple Painted Lady paints a mural on a wall- I ALWAYS use a pencil made for watercolor art. Again the lead – have a water soluble material that blends when painting. Here is a LINK to some available. Color pencil leads are either wax or oil based, whereas watercolor pencils have a water soluble base. Again- (apologizing for the redundancy here) do not use a traditional lead pencil. The lead will only smear and depending on the color of paint you will be using- the lead will bleed through. Some people may suggest using a piece of chalk, but I do NOT. Do NOT use a Sharpie either. A customer of mine tried that, and the Sharpie seemed to smear when she applied the wax top coat. So, I like watercolor pencils and they must have a tight tip to make fine detailed lines, which is why I also have an electric sharpener that I use a lot! I have found that a piece of chalk is too bulky to draw in details. (and I like the details!)
When you begin to trace, be strategic. Meaning start on the top of the image and work your way down. This will prevent you from smearing your lines. This is especially important if working on a project when it is hot and humid. The moisture on your skin will smudge the water color lines.
I use artist’s paint brushes that I purchase at Hobby Lobby or Michaels Stores. For this project, I used a straight top brush that was about 1/3 of an inch wide and then two other fine tipped brushes for detailing and making whimsical lines. I also have a bunch of styrofoam plates around that I use to hold a little water and to remove some paint from my brushes when I get too much on them.
Begin painting in a strategic way. Since I am right handed, I always start applying paint on the top left of the image. That way- I can rest my hand that is holding the paint brush on the piece without worry of laying it in wet paint. This is important since you will create a nicer, straighter – more controlled brush stroke when your hand is resting on the surface, versus floating in mid-air.
6. I would like to detail the rest of this post, but I need to finish painting the piece before I can. I will share that the amount of time to complete what I have done so far is relative to your experience as a painter. The more you paint- the faster you will be. The old saying- practice makes perfect is very true! I completed what you see done in the photo ABOVE in about one hour and 15 minutes, and that includes painting the dresser (it does exclude drying time.) But don’t worry about the time if you are slower than me because it is not a race and in the end- what matters is you creating a beautiful piece. : ) Painting, detailing, waxing…in the end I will have about 2 hours vested in this. Again- the more you paint- the faster you will be. I have been professionally painting pieces and murals for about 10 years now.
When I apply the Dark Wax- I often will wear plastic gloves so the stain doesn’t transfer to my hands. Some people don’t, but I do. : ) I also chose to not put down a Clear Wax coat prior. Often it is recommended to first put a Clear Wax layer down and let dry prior to the Dark Wax so the Dark Wax does not “stain” your paint. This is really important if using Old White or a lighter color of paint and you do not want that much intensity of darkness. However, again on this project, I did want that deepness for the dresser….so I applied my Dark Wax directly after all my painting was dry. (just a side note- that there are other application ways to apply Dark Wax. I like to think of Dark Wax and the result of it as being very artistic. To read more information about applying Dark Wax, please click HERE.)
I brushed on the Dark Wax over to give an aged effect. I let the Dark Wax sit for about 30 seconds…literally almost applying it – then wiped it off. I took my lint free rag (use an old t-shirt cutting it up in pieces…you will go through a few rags for this project) Using your rag, remove the excess dark wax. We are not icing a cake and we only want the residual staining effect. (again – feel free to visit this other post HERE to learn more about Dark Wax)
I made sure to push Dark Wax into the little cracks and dents of the dresser so to really gave the dresser that “Pottery Barn” aged look.
Before you tackle a sacred piece of furniture that you inherited from your favorite great aunt, I suggest you “practice” with Dark Wax on a small piece or a cheap garage sale find. This way you can get some experience and understand the approach on how to make your piece look aged, and not dirty. : ) Please make sure to read my post HERE to learn more about Dark Wax.
Below is a photo of the dresser finished and with the hardware installed. What do you think?
If you try this idea at home – please email me some BEFORE & AFTER images of what you did. firstname.lastname@example.org
Now, if you are not into purchasing a projector and sketching out your image- here is a another amazing option that streamlines this process. It is a product called product called Transfer Gel by Artisan Enhancements® that I am selling – which is another option to help you make amazing pieces also. Click HERE to see this product.
So what is Transfer Gel by Artisan Enhancements®?
Transfer Gel by Artisan Enhancements® is a product that enables you to make funky pieces that others have done by hand in the past. It is a transparent fibrous gel that you apply over an image that you printed from either a laser jet printer or professional printed image from your local CopyMax or copying store. Both black & white images and color images work perfectly with this gel.
So, how does the Transfer Gel work?
Well, first you find an image you love, print it to the correct size and remember to make it in the reverse that you want to see it. This is especially important if transferring lettering otherwise the wording will be backwards! Then, you lay your printed image onto your painted piece.
If you can lay your furniture down so the image is facing up ~ for example, if doing a dresser front- consider laying the dresser on its back. This is not necessary, but if you have a small piece- do it.
Apply the Transfer Gel by brush and use quite a bit of it covering the whole image in a uniform way.
Again, your image is face down so the printed image is facing the furniture, not you. And one last reminder- make sure print is mirror imaged.
Use a smoothing tool to adhere paper evenly to surface. I like the plastic scraper that I received with my Pamper Chef baking stone, but even an old plastic library card works.
Allow your printed paper to dry to assure the image has transferred. It is best to leave it overnight- or even 24 hours depending on the temperature and moisture in your area. (Don’t try to rush this – otherwise it will be like taking a cake out of the over after half the time it needs.) Some have shared that you can rush it by using a hairdryer- but I suggest you be patient and only use a hair dryer at the very end
Ok, now comes the best part…I like to say, “the Christmas Morning moment!”
Spritz the paper with water liberally, then using a sponge or cloth remove/rub away paper the image. Now it is VERY IMPORTANT that you do not over work the removal of the paper since you could start to remove the transfer. So, approach this carefully and slowly.
As always, it is best to test a small spot to make sure that the drying was totally completed.
Some have shared that if you get a funny outside haze circle- that may be called a halo – after you have removed the paper- just lightly sand the edges of the image with a fine grit paper like 300 or 400 grit. Just like dark cars show more dirt, dings and scratches- this halo effect seems more evident on darker colored painted pieces.
Last, use the Artisan Enhancements® Clear Topcoat to seal. To access the Clear Topcoat in our on-line store click HERE.
I hope what I have shared has been helpful. Please feel free to email me questions if there is something you do not understand.
Thanks so much for reading my post and hopefully liking by Facebook page. And a BIG thank you to Karen at The Graphics Fairy LLC
DARK WAX BASIC INFORMATION:
DARK Wax Information
Rule number one when applying dark wax over a light colored Chalk Paint® like Old White or Louis Blue, you should apply a layer of Clear Wax first in the correct way. Visit this link HERE to watch a video I made about applying clear wax. Let the clear wax dry first. This additional layer of wax also adds to the protection. Then when you apply the Dark Wax- it will prevent the Dark Wax from staining the Chalk Paint and you will have better control over your toning layer or antiquing effect. That is unless- you intentionally want the piece to be much darker. For example- many of you wish we had a pure black….so when you have a piece painted in Graphite and want to really richen the hue- apply the Dark Wax directly- skipping that clear wax suggestion above! Sometimes if I am unsure on how I want the piece to look- I will do a test spot on the back of the piece with only Dark Wax and no clear to determine if I like the look.
When using Dark Wax- make sure to PUSH the DARK Wax into the little cracks or dents in the furniture so to capture the dark wax in the unique characteristics of your piece.
A BIG HELPFUL HINT that many stockists do- is that they cut the Dark Wax with Clear Wax. Mixing it in a separate container- you can do a 50:50 ratio or less or more- depending on how dark you want the wax. By adding Clear Wax – it smooths out the consistency and allows for better application and control. I sometimes say- that the Dark Wax seems less “gunky”- for a lack of a better word! Or, we will cut the Dark Wax with some regular Mineral Spirits. (not the “GREEN” Mineral Spirits)
Now…these are basic waxing instructions and depending on your project and the end result you are trying to achieve- directions for you specifically may be different! We teach more detailed techniques in our Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® Workshops and I highly recommend you attend a workshop to really learn all you can do with the wax, distressing, all the various Chalk Painting techniques in order to take your furniture pieces to the next level.
As always, please email me, Tricia at email@example.com with any of your questions.
And Happy Painting!