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Wednesday, February 12, 2014


You know, someone should really put me on their payroll....

I'm at my happiest testing new products, figuring out new ways to use them
and teaching others how to do it

I'd like nothing better than to get paid to play with paint all day,
then write all about it!

Today, between waiting for custom orders to dry 
and prepping pieces for shipping
I had some time to play around a bit

I really wanted to just mix it up and not follow any specific "rules"
for the way the products are meant to be used

My product list?

 One Step Paint in Luxe Grey
Toscana Powder Paint in Riviera Blue
Dark Wax
Dust of Ages
Antiquing Glaze
(all from Amy Howard Home)
Carnauba Wax
(from Real Milk Paint Co)

I wanted to see how the Toscana would react over One Step,
so I applied one coat of Luxe Grey right over the existing finish
(typical old French Provincial creamy colored enamel)

Next, I mixed up some Toscana paint and applied in thin coats, 
over the One Step

I typically mix my powdered paint on the thicker side, 
but I want to do lots of layers of color so I mixed it fairly thin

I used a cheapie chip brush for this, so I could really work the paint into 
every recess without worrying about damaging my nice brushes
(I was not looking for a smooth finish)

After the second coat, the color is really starting to come through
I didn't fuss about the little bubbles and bumps 
because I wanted  the finish to have some cool texture
I knew when I burnished this and the bumps wore down,
 it would leave great character

I applied about six thin coats of Toscana, 
and followed that up with a messy application
of Antiquing Glaze
(it adds a very subtle hint of  warmth)

Once dry, I applied Carnauba wax
and then haphazardly applied some dark wax here and there
followed by Dust of Ages

Once I was sure it was all dry, I burnished the surface to a gorgeous glow

The finish has a gorgeous, aged patina but is smooth as glass

And although it looks delicate, it's SO durable
(I flipped this chair onto it's back to work on the underside,
fully expecting to have to do some touch up when I flipped it back over
and there wasn't a single scratch or scuff...pretty impressive!)

Next stop?  The upholsterer's for a new seat and back...

Stay tuned for this chair's new look!


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Dust of Ages How To

It took me awhile to 'warm up' to Dust of Ages...

The first piece I tried it on was similar in color/tone to the shade of the dust...
so it didn't really show up well

I've played with it LOTS more since then, and I now ADORE it!
I love it so much, in fact, that it's virtually replaced dark wax for me

The biggest plus for me is the color...
it adds a gorgeous grey shade instead of the yellowish brown of dark wax

I also really love that it doesn't dramatically alter
 the color of the piece I use it on the way dark wax does
(dark wax warms things up quite a lot, often turning blues green and whites to cream)

Dust of Ages allows me to add a charming, believable patina
while maintaining the original shade

So how does one apply Dust of Ages?

So simple...

Paint your piece
(we used One Step Paint in Nottoway...the perfect pale blue)

After the paint is dry, I lightly apply clear wax
(I use Carnauba, use whatever brand you like best)
working in sections
Don't try to wax a large piece then go back and apply dust...
the dust sticks to the still-damp wax, and the wax will dry before you get to the dust
if you try to wax a large piece first

I wipe away the wax from the raised areas gently w a clean rag

Then, the fun really starts...

I load up a big, fluffy brush, and literally just pounce the dust all over the area,
making sure I get it in the crevices

You can wipe away the excess dust away as you work, 
or you can wipe it all off when you're done,
up to you!
I prefer to dust off the extra as I go, using a big, clean brush

Once I've completed my piece, I take a clean rag and really rub over the surface, 
removing any loose bits of dust

I like to buff all my waxed pieces with a firm-bristle brush to produce a gorgeous glow

I wanted a bit of the original gold to peek out,
so the final step for this mirror was a quick scuffing with fine grit sanding block
using VERY gently pressure

Be will make a mess!
Dust of Ages is, well...DUST... therefore it's dusty!

I always apply on my worktable, and when I'm done, I grab the hand broom and dustpan
(and I turn off the ceiling fans before I start!)

I'm crazy about the versatility of this product
and of course, the finish it creates is simply stunning...

If you haven't tried Dust of Ages yet, trust me, you will LOVE IT!

Have FUN and Happy Painting!

Game Changer

We won't ever forget the second year we were vendors at Fancy Flea

If you are not familiar, Fancy Flea is a twice a year outdoor vintage market

We were so pleased it was a warm, sunny day

It was the first year we used *insert wax/paint combo here*

We set up our goods, and enjoyed the morning

As the day progressed, something unusual happened

Our furniture started to melt...
or at least, the wax started to melt

If anyone touched it, the wax streaked...wiped right off!

We spent the rest of the day rotating pieces in and out of the shade
(if you use the same products, you know exactly what we mean!)
Lesson learned!

That was the day we started hunting for a better option

After much trial and error,
we found Carnauba Wax from Real Milk Paint Co


We use it over everything now...

The best part? 


These pieces are painted with Amy Howard One Step Paint
and are sealed with Carnauba Wax

These pieces get pulled outside the shop each morning,
and spend all day in the sun (today was 74)

I can drag my fingers across the surface and guess what?
It isn't even a LITTLE bit sticky!

Talk about a game changer...

The pink vanity display has been dripped on, had hot coffee set on it, 
even had hot chocolate spilled on it
without even a HINT of a mark
(and it was painted last week...none of this "let it cure for 30-60 days" business!)

The combo of Amy Howard One Step Paint
(which doesn't require sealing!)
with Carnauba Wax is UNBEATABLE...
nothing we have ever tried even comes close...
and we've tried them all

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Dear Stiltskin,

We get tons of emails similar to this one
(received today)
people new to painting, looking for advice

Comments: Hi. I enjoy your blog and admire your painting but o have questions about Amy Howard 1-step paint. I find a new can very hard to mix and my first coat is often very thin despite much stirring. It also seems to take at least 3 coats for a solid color. I like the finish but wonderr if you wax over it? Wasn't sure of the durability. And what bout distressing? Can you wet distress like chalk paint or must you sand? Appreciate any help or advice you can give!  Thanks.

We used to feel we just feel tired!
Much as we'd love to individually assist
 each and every person that requests assistance,
we just can't

Normally, I'd direct this person to contact the retailer 
they purchased the paint from for guidance, 
but we've heard more than a few comments about One Step Paint
being thin, we thought we'd address that here, on the blog

One Step Paint, like most chalk and mineral paints we've used,separates 
All the "good stuff" sinks to the bottom
forcing the watery bits to rise to the top

This is what you can expect when you pop open a can
No, the color is NOT cobalt blue!
The pigments have just separated, which is normal
Reds might appear magenta, whites might look greyish

As you can see, it's quite watery

If you dip your brush in a bit deeper, this is what you'll see
The consistency of the "good stuff" at the bottom reminds us of clay
As you see, the color is more true but it's still much too runny

Mixing it up can be tricky...
it's our one complaint...
but then, when we mix up all that loveliness to a velvety smooth paint,
all is forgiven!

So how do we mix it up?
Just shaking won't do it. 

We store our NEW UNOPENED CANS upside down prior to use
This way, when you flip it over, you aren't fighting gravity to mix up all that goodness
(we don't advise this w previously opened cans unless you are SURE that lid is sealed down tight!)

When we're ready to use, we shake them up a bit so it's not all think and sticking to the lid

We have a handy little attachment for our drill that mixes the paint up perfectly,
but sometimes, one of us is LAZY and we use a wooden spoon

A spoon works better than a stir-stick because the rounded end really scoops 
all the thick matter up and helps it blend

This won't be a shake, shake, stir for a second deal...
it will probably take you a solid five minutes of stirring the first time you open a can
(I know five minutes sounds like NOTHING 
but it seems like an eternity when all you want to do it get busy painting!)

You'll know you're done mixing when you don't feel anymore resistance
 from the clay-like matter at the bottom of the can,
the consistency is smooth
and the color is consistent throughout

One Step Paint will flow freely without being runny
and you won't have the dreaded "drag" on subsequent coats

On average, we use two coats for opaque coverage
typical of most paints we use, some colors require a third coat
White (any brand) is the only color we've had to move on to four or more coats for opacity

Not properly mixing will lead to poor coverage, thus requiring more coats
Take the time and do it thoroughly, it's worth it!

Unless the paint sits for an extended period of time, 
you probably won't have to mix so thoroughly every time 
We've found that a quick shake is often enough after that initial mixing

Couple of things:
Your first coat is NOT going to be opaque...the second coat is when the magic happens!
This is true of virtually EVERY paint we've used, chalk, mineral, oil, milk...

Distress however you'd like. 
Water vs sanding is completely up to you 
and is dependent on what look you're hoping to achieve.  
There is not one "right" way

One Step Paint does NOT require wax or other sealants
I've found the "naked" One Step Finish to be more durable 
than other brands we've used with their "required" wax finish
One Step Paint does, however, take wax beautifully

To wax or not to wax...again, up to you 
no right or wrong way

We hope you find this useful!

Still need help?  
Contact the retailer you purchased the products from...they are there to help you! 

Have fun, and happy painting!

Kenny and Michele

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Cool Places, Treasures, and Food Trucks...

As a child, my grandparents brought me to Tarpon Springs every weekend
to eat at Hella's or Pappas'
(My grandfather was from Greece)

If you aren't familar with Tarpon,  
it presently has the highest percentage of Greek Americans in the US
Greek families settled here in the late 1800's, working as sponge divers and shrimpers

The area is gorgeous, and rich in history
Everyone visits the Sponge Docks, down by the water
but so many miss the charm of Downtown
even all the trips to Tarpon as a kid rarely resulted in a stroll down Tarpon Ave

So I thought I'd share with you our favorite places to go
We'll start from our shop, of course, because that's always my first stop!

Walk across the street and have a look at St. Nicholas Cathederal 
They do allow visitors, so if there isnt' an event going on, 
pop your head inside and ogle the awe-inspiring interior

They don't offer retail sales, but peek in and check it out!
If you catch them at the Auction House, they are happy to let you browse
and of course, they'd LOVE to auction your treasures!
(plus, Erin and Rob are flat out awesome peeps)

You'll find Tarpon Avenue is packed with antique shops...
One of our favorites is Court of Two Sisters

and right next door, the eclectic, super fun 
I challenge you to leave empty handed!

Hungry yet?  
To your right, our favorite breakfast and lunch spot
Toula's Trailside Cafe
Their banana bread makes me weak in the knees!

...or turn left to grab a beer and some elevated bar grub
at Tarpon Tavern
(Kenny LOVES their corned beef)

Keep on walking down the trail,
and you'll discover Pistachio's and their sister shop, Off the Beaten Path

From there, head towards Pinellas Avenue and pay a visit to 
Unique Finds for, well, some unique finds!

A few steps north sits Tampa Bay Salvage
their amazing selection will have your brain working in overdrive
to think of new ways to use all their great salvage items

Across the street, you'll find Eco Bean
the perfect stop for a cup of organic joe or a smoothie
Downtown Tarpon hosts a litany of events throughout the year...
Next up? 

A Treasure Sale AND a food truck rally
on February 8th from 9a until 4p
(food trucks open at 11a)

We'll have a tent set up across from our shop on Hibiscus
(we'll be demo-ing paint!)
so come out and enjoy the history, architecture, cool shops, and great food!