Day trip around Warsaw!

Yes, the one in Poland!  I have been living here for over 14 years!!  I can’t believe it myself.  I have really grown to love Warsaw.  It is a young, dynamic and vibrant city.  People are always out and active and there is a lot to do here.  Even if it is just for a walk!

My husband knows the city like the back of his hand- he is obsessed with history and he is in real estate- ask any question about Warsaw and the answer will involve the year and what happened…….and what will be happening.

And now my eldest daughter is also obsessed with history and art.  So last week end we were on the hunt for “beauty in the broken” architecture for a school assignment.  I thought it might be interesting to see what we saw. 🙂

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The above photo is what is happening in Warsaw at this moment.  Constant construction.  The below is the old with the new.IMG_1452

The below photos are all pre war Warsaw buildings that were bombed.  Some of these buildings will stay and some of them will be torn down but they have stayed like this since the war.

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Below is a piece of the ghetto wall -this will stay.  You can see the bullet holes.IMG_1465

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This is Warsaw today…..link  only the cranes must have been photo shopped out of this picture!  There is a mix of pre war, communist and new construction- it isn’t the most beautiful city in Europe but if you know the history you can appreciate how far we’ve come!!Warsaw-Poland-870x400

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Before I get around to the second Louis chair….

I needed to paint something.  I wonder if I will ever grow out of that feeling??  I hope not!

I bought this really cheap, ugly, horrible, mass produced mini cabinet because I wanted to experiment with milk paint.

I am sure you have probably seen many of the colour blend furniture pieces that are trending online…..these are typically done with chalk paints but I wanted to experiment a little….

I started with this horrible thing:

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I despise these front appliques and they are really easy to pop off.IMG_1477

After I removed the staples…btw- this thing is literally stapled together, how awful, I then sanded back then added an appliqué made by a friend of mine.IMG_1478

Then I mixed up a little milk paint colour Linen by Miss Mustard Seed and painted one coat. img_1479.jpgThen I lightly rubbed beeswax all over so the paint would not adhere in these places then I used embossing paste and a stencil at the base of the door to create a raised stencil.

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Embossing paste was spread on with a spatula and the stencil was pretty random.IMG_1481

Once the embossing paste had dried I lightly sanded just to removed any sharp edges.IMG_1482

Love this beeswax!  I could smell it all day 🙂IMG_1483

I mixed more milk paint- Eulalie’s Sky and Arabesque.  If you haven’t tried milk paint- it is really great for creating an authentic chippy look.  It can also be used as a stain because on raw wood it absorbs really well.  When mixing with water the ratio is 1:1.  I usually stir for a few minutes then let it sit for a few then mix it again.  Sometimes you have to add a touch more water- depending on how you like using it.

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In the above photo you can see how randomly I used the pink and blue.  Once this had dried- I painted the entire piece with a coat of Farmhouse white.IMG_1486

Then……I used a technique I learned in Belgium that creates a super smooth finish.

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I brushed on hemp oil….IMG_1488

Then with a very fine grit sandpaper I lightly sanded the edges, while the oil was still wet, to reveal the colour but also all over so that the sandpaper removed the wax to show the initial Linen colour.IMG_1489

The hemp oil is still slightly wet in the below photos but you can see the colour differences.  And speaking of hemp oil….it takes a few weeks to cure- then it is super hard and food safe.  It has a great smell to it- hard to describe but completely natural.  A word of caution- do not use hemp oil on a pure white because it changes the colour slightly.  The other colours are just deepened- not changed but a paint with very little pigment plus hemp oil could have a green or yellow tinge to it.

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I am thrilled with how this came out.  The piece was so cheap- basically, I had nothing to lose!IMG_1494

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Louis Chair skips a step…

But you can figure it out.  The last photo I added the felt layer.  So on top of that I added a layer of the cotton wool then the fabric.  I trimmed all the edges and I am at this point.

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I also added a layer of felt on the arms, more cotton wool then the same linen fabric as on the outside back.

My last step is to sew the double welting then glue it down.  Just as a reminder and to see how far it has come- here is the before and almost after.

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Louis chair part two….

…..and I forgot to take step by step photos- so I’ll do my best!

I made an edge roll and installed it along the front edge.  The sides and back don’t really need it on this style of chair because the arms prevent any wear on the sides.

What is an edge roll?

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This is.

I made one similar to this and installed it with my new pneumonic staple gun!!  I can’t believe it took me so long to buy this.  It is so worth the money.

Anyway……then I stapled down the coconut matting, put a layer of cotton wool and then stapled down the fabric.

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The fabric I am using is an upholstery weight linen from Belarus.  It is great to work with.IMG_1404

I started by stapling three times in the front and back and on the sides to make sure the fabric is in place.  Then I usually staple the front first but stoping a few centimetres away from the corner.  IMG_1407

To make cuts in the back- fold the fabric like this and cut at an angle to the chair back- then I cut a V.  Of course I forgot to do the side arm but basically same concept- cut a line then a V.

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I really love the feel of the cotton wool…..working with it can be a pain though- especially when it goes up your nose!IMG_1409

I have learned the hard way to cut in steps…..I have cut too far before 🙂IMG_1410

So this is the seat after all of it has been stapled.

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Then I stapled down the outside back.  The next step I forgot to take a photo of but basically I stapled down top to bottom rows of webbing for stability and then I added a layer of felt.IMG_1412

And this is where I left off today!IMG_1413

I am thinking of the check on the arm rests as well- we’ll see how that goes!

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Louis chair upholstery part 1

So I have stripped everything from this chair, sanded it down and added Miss Mustard Seed white wax.  —If you haven’t tried any of the wax products from Homestead House, which is the parent company for Miss Mustard Seed and Fusion, I really recommend them.  The wax goes on like butter and there is almost no odour – unless you get the lavender scented wax.  Many waxes on the market have turpentine or a mineral spirit in the wax so that it doesn’t form a solid block- like a candle would- MMS and Fusion waxes have something in it to keep it from going solid but it is something different than the norm.  Clapham’s  is the company that makes the wax- they have a great story about their products on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia.

Anyway…..back to the chair.  So white wax was applied then I left it for the night.  The next morning I started with the webbing.

I really need a pneumatic staple gun…..they really make the job a lot quicker……

I turned the chair upside down and did three rows from back to front and three rows from side to side, pulling taught with the webbing stretcher tool.  The tool is a must have- it isn’t possible to properly stretch the webbing without it.

 

Next I arranged the springs on the seat.  I used five springs  for this seat.  The pattern was two on the sides and one in the middle.  There are many great upholsterers that post this information on their blogs/sites so depending on the chair you may need a different pattern.

Then I sewed the springs to the webbing and then tied the springs down.

There are more ties than this- front to back, side to side and diagonally- I forgot to take a photo!

So then once the springs were all tied and secure I put a layer of hessian/ burlap on top and then filled the spaces with cotton wool.

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I am thinking about an edge roll here, but I will have to make that still.  The next step below was measuring the coconut matting- which is a modern day replacement for horse hair.

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This was my finishing point.

stay tuned!!

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Why I don’t paint upholstered furniture.

I know some people do and of course that is their choice!  I don’t ever recommend that people do it, either.  If somebody asks me about the process- of course I will tell them…..dilute paint with water, spray upholstery with water, two coats of paint at the minimum…..etc. etc…..but I would never say to a customer- “oh, you should paint that!!”

This is one of the reasons why…..

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I have two of these Louis XV chairs from Switzerland (the French side 🙂 ).  They are in great shape- maybe some may think all they need is a paint job to bring them back to life?  Well I removed one side of the fabric on the back piece…….and the foam had turned to dust.  You can just see it in the below photo at the bottom.  Pink coloured dust.  The arms and the back foam had disintegrated. What a mess.

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After I vacuumed it all out and removed the nails (nightmare) and staples I started with the seat.IMG_1347

This was where I left it….IMG_1348

……to be continued tomorrow.  The foam has turned into something like a petrified marshmallow.  The webbing is made from rubber- like an old tire…..can you imagine if I painted this??IMG_1349

My point is–unless you know exactly what is under your fabric……don’t paint it!!  I can’t even imagine the mess and the waste of paint this would be.

If you read my blog you may have seen this chair:

Yes, I painted it……This doesn’t have any foam or anything- it is literally two pieces of embossed leather on the chair- something like this is worth painting.  For one, the leather doesn’t absorb paint like fabric does and there is no hidden insides full of dirt.

So tomorrow I continue with the teardown of the yellow Louis…then the second one.

I have plans to do a step by step tutorial for these….so stay tuned!!

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Fusion Mineral Paint!! This is the stuff.

So I have been painting furniture for, ahem, 30 years.  I began when I was a teenager.  I started by using wall paint–you know the method…sanding, priming, painting and then lacquer….

Then I discovered chalk paint!  It was revolutionary……until it wasn’t.  The no prep paint?  Ya, no such thing.  Had me fooled too.

But….I still use chalk paint, however, I do a light sand and a clean before I paint and I always use Pure&Original- you can’t beat the quality.

And then came Fusion.  If you paint furniture then you have probably heard of this brand.  It is not a chalk paint- it is acrylic.  Similar to a water based latex paint but has a higher percentage of acrylic in it so when it cures the finish is super hard.  The best part?  No need to wax!  It has a built in top coat.  The paint line does offer glazes and waxes- but these are mostly for decorative purposes.

I mostly paint with Fusion now.  It goes on super smooth and has strong adhesive qualities.  Prep is still required -which usually means a quick go over with sandpaper to rough up the surface and then a wipe down to remove any dust or dirt.  Bleed through can still happen- just like any other paint.  There are a few products on the market that can help with this.

So…now on to my most recent project!

I bought this clock ages ago- it has been living in my garage for quite some time….finally during the January slowdown I decided to paint it.

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So the clock is not an antique, as you can clearly see.  The wood is oak- nothing special.  It was lacquered but a lot of it was worn away.  I just gave it a quick sanding then wiped it down to remove the dirt build up.

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Then painted.  This is a pretty great photo showing the coverage of Fusion.  It goes on super smooth too- with the help of my Cling On brush 😉 (it goes on smooth without the brush too and levels really well)IMG_1246

The above shows how great the coverage is.

The colour is Azure and the inside I painted with a white called Casement- then used the wallpaper to line the back.

Next I installed shelves which were also painted white.

And here it is!!

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I know this is crazy- but seriously, what is a person to do with an old grandfather clock?

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I didn’t do any distressing here.  I just wanted it to be fun.IMG_1256

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I know this is a bit wacky….but I think it is really happy and bold and a great example of up cycling and thinking outside of the box…..or the clock!

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Cling On brushes!

If you paint a lot of furniture- you will love these brushes.  Cling On brushes are manufactured by a company in Holland.  They are my brush of choice now.

So many reasons why…..

first of all they are a small company.  I mean- they are not manufactured in China -they are a niche brand.

There are five different types.  Round, oval, flat, a long handle with an angled brush(not in photo) and the new shorty.

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There is also a storage bucket.

These brushes are synthetic hairs coated in teflon.  They are also held in place with resin, not glue, so no bristles fall out.  This I can attest to!  I have all types at the ready- that I use every day and no hair has ever fallen out!

Because of the teflon coating the paint just glides off the brush.  Because the hairs are long and synthetic- they leave a super smooth finish.  (paint quality helps with that too.)

Why the bucket?

Once you are finished using the brush you can hang it in water for long periods of time without worrying about damage.  It is recommended only to hang up to the cord- which is there to keep the bristles in shape.  So the next time you use it- simply run it under the tap and the paint comes off so easily.

Here is an action shot 😉

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I use all of them but I think my favourite is the new shorty.  It is flat with rounded edges- which the one in the above photo.

I think you can buy these at many small business paint shops now.  The prices are not outrageous- especially when the brush should last you about five years……if not longer!

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It looks as though I have fallen off the face of the earth!!

I didn’t…..

If you have a blog you will know how much work is involved in keeping up with it.  Especially if you just do it as a hobby and not as an income- like me!!  I guess when somebody is paying you to write a post it gives you a bit of a push??

Anyway- my last post has me explaining my move from one shop to another.  I am so happy at my new location!  It is great!

I have brought in a few new lines of paint that many are familiar with.  If you remember I started out with Annie Sloan’s paint.  I used that for a while but then decided to switch to a premium quality brand called Pure&Original from Holland.  I also sell another chalk paint called Everlong–which just changed its name……to Sarah Jayne’s maybe?  Anyway- just selling of my existing stock of that brand.

I also started selling Fusion Mineral paint from Canada!  Yeah, Canada!!  This is an acrylic paint that is manufactured by Homestead House from Toronto.  IT is my new love!!  I also sell Miss Mustard Seed milk paint which is also manufactured by Homestead  House.  I am sure everybody has seen her blog!

So I have three types of paint now- which is amazing because I don’t believe that one paint can do everything……For example- if you want authentic chippy furniture- Mustard Seed is the brand to use…  If you want a super smooth finish then I will always recommend Fusion.  If you want to add a decorative finish then go with the chalk paint…..this is just my general rule- others may have different opinions 🙂

So….let’s see.  Here are a few photos.  This is Mustard Seed.

This is Fusion.

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I haven’t painted a lot with Mustard Seed- I did just finish a very large cabinet that I painted pink for my shop- I am very happy with it.  I love the look and surprisingly enough there are quite a few techniques that can be done with milk paint.

There are also waxes, top coats and a hemp oil as well as metallic paints and waxes……I think I am forgetting something!!

Anyway…..so this keeps me busy!

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It has been a while….again.

I have just moved my shop.  For the second time.  So this is a funny story…..about three months ago the landlord to my shop called my husband and said “we need to talk”.  Both of us knew I would be moving out.  Basically, somebody came into my shop, decided they liked the size of it and offered the landlord more rent per month.  So the landlord asked if we would match the offer and stay, if not we need to leave….so I left.  A week before a friend of mine, from South Africa but living here in Warsaw, came into my shop saying she wanted to get together and pick my brain about retail in Warsaw and she told me she was going to be opening a shop with decorative items just down the street.

This is going to be long…..

Anyway…..the place she was going to move to I had looked at for warehouse space about two years earlier when I was the country distributor for Annie Sloan, but since I stopped selling the brand it never panned out.  A lovely couple that lived in Detroit for 25 years own this group of warehouse spaces in Konstancin and she was taking over a space that sold fire extinguishers.  So after we gave the notice to move out- I contacted her and asked if there is space in the same complex and if she would mind if I moved there.  She was thrilled because she wants to change it from warehouse into something more community focused and artsy.

So new lease signed and I had three months to organize my stuff.  Last week I finally moved into the new space…..after some renovations and now I am digging myself out of painted furniture hell!!

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This last photo is from today.  I can finally see the floor.  After all this work I am so glad to be here.  As much as I loved being in the old place- I felt as though I was stuck in a bit of a rut.  Another thing- I sell Pure&Original paint which is marketed more for whole home and not just for furniture- I was finding it very hard explain how this new paint works- so now I have samples on the walls!  I will always sell painted furniture- in fact I have different paints for that—-Fusion and Miss Mustard Seed- both from Canada, but now I can show how Fresco and Marrakesh wall paints looks!

And here is a bit of karma for you.  The landlord and the new tenant couldn’t agree on the terms of their lease- so my old shop is sitting empty!

Anyway- signs going up on the outside tomorrow as I continue to “curate” my collections!

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