Friday, September 26, 2014

Trying Martha Stewart's Chalk-y Paint

Martha Stewart has come out with her version of the popular
chalk-y finish paint.  She calls it "Vintage Decor Paint" with a
subtitle of "matte chalk finish". The instructions say that you 
can "create a matte, chalk finish with this no-prep paint". 

It is readily available at craft stores in a variety of colors for
about $10 for 8 ounces.  Of course if you use coupons, you 
can get the paint at a lower price. Michael's Craft Store had a
 coupon for 25% off of this new paint product line so I used
 that  to purchase two colors of paint and a container of
 the clear vintage decor wax. The line also has a dark wax. 

My original plan was to have a base of the green (Eucalyptus)
with a top coat of blue (River Rock) and distress the finish so
that some of each color would show on the chairs. 

The main subjects of my experimenting with MS Vintage Decor
Paint are two rocking chairs that were given to me by a neighbor.

They are wooden chairs with fibre rush woven seats and backs. 
They had been painted white, then black and now they need
a new coat of paint.

The black paint is ready to just fall off in some places. 

I lightly sanded the rocking chairs outside (even though the paint
said it was no-prep, common sense tells you to go on and sand
off the flaking paint so your new paint won't fall off too). 

After sanding, some interesting places started showing up on 
the chairs. It seems a shame to entirely cover up the other 
colors (wood, white and black) that were emerging. 

For the first coat with the MS Vintage Paint in Eucalyptus, I put 
it on in a dry brush manner in some places letting the original
colors show through also.  Another technique that was used was
more of a wiping distressing where the green paint was painted on
and allowed to dry for about five minutes and then wiped off. 

If the green paint dried too long, it did not wipe off easily so more
of a wet distressing technique was used.  Since the chalk paint is
water-soluble, if you use a damp rag to wipe over it after it has 
dried, some of the paint will come off of the rag.  Some places
this worked well and some places too much (for my taste) of the
paint came off like in the photos below.

To fix this (if that bothers you), you can just put more paint over
the over-distressed part, let it dry, and then try lightly sanding  
with actual sand paper the next time to distress it.  The MS web-
 site suggests using 220 grit sandpaper to distress the paint with. 

When I got the first color on the first chair's wood parts, I realized
that I had to decide if I wanted to continue with the distressed look
(swapping one peeling paint look for another one) or to freshen
up the chairs with more of a one color look. 

I was just too in love with some of the multi-color places that
were developing to cover them up with more paint (even though
the distressed look takes longer to achieve). 

Here is a side-by-side comparison of one chair with some paint
on it and the other chair in it's original (to me) condition:
Opps! This picture reveals that I would rather drink beverages and paint chairs
than clean up my house.

I decided to ditch the cushions even though there were in good
condition because they were now too much of a blue-grey color
to look good on the green/blue chairs. 

Here are the chairs in progress:
yes, my husband is putting up with me painting in the house 'cause it is still hot outside in Alabama 
AND we still have mosquitos too. 

The green paint went on first and then the blue (River Rock)
paint was dry brushed on top of the green.  Also in some places
it was distressed by wiping or sanding to let the paint layers
 below come through and be seen. 

OK. So the paints are doing great and acting like other chalk
paints that I have used.  When I got through with painting, I 
tried the MS wax.  At first I though that it was easy to put on
because it was more like a paint consistency BUT it started to
take the paint off of the chairs even though I was using a soft 
brush to put it on. This is horrifying when you have worked to
get a certain distressed/layered paint look.  

I went to the MS Vintage Decor Paint website and on there it 
says not to put the wax on until the paint has dried for 24 hours.
The bottle does not mention this time frame. Then I repainted 
the portions where the wax took the paint off and waited 24 hours. 

The liquid wax took so long to dry.  The bottle said to put on a 
thin layer and remove the excess with a damp cloth.  Then you 
are supposed to wait another 24 hours if you want a second coat.

I thought this was too much time and trouble so I just went
 back to waxing with my cheap Johnson's paste wax that is
available even in grocery stores. Minwax Finishing Wax is
also inexpensive and is available at home improvement stores 
and Walmart. There are also premium waxes you can get in
the paint sections of home improvement stores.  They all seem
to work fine to me to seal the chalk paint finish. 

Just be aware that when painting a piece with chalk paint,
you do need to seal it with some type of wax or it will not 
hold up well.  I have never had a problem waxing a chalk
paint project as long as the paint is dry but it dries pretty
quickly. The chalk paint soaks up the wax so much that it
some times hard to see where you have waxed.  You can add
more coats (of the paste waxes) if you want it to have sheen.

Here are the rocking chairs after being painted and waxed. 

In the end, one chair ended up being more blue than the other. 
Each chair had its own unique places that emerged during the
sanding/painting/distressing process.  

With the fibre (paper) rush weaving I decided to go with 
alternating the blue and green colors but not in a definate
pattern.  The rush ended up looking kind of like blue and
green yarn to me.  I didn't try to cover the black completly.
I wasn't sure whether to wax the rush or not but I did and
after it soaked in to the paint, it did not feel waxy or like it
would get on people's clothes that sat on the chairs. 

Here are the chairs from behind.  Just like us, they have their 
quirks and differences so I'm not that concerned over them 
ending up slightly different colors overall. 

Not everyone trying the MS Vintage Decor Paint will want a 
layered or distressed look.  I pulled some old plastic pots out of 
the back back yard and gave them the "painting plastic" test
with the new line of paints. 

The smallest pot got painted a solid coat of River Rock blue and 
the largest post got a coat of Eucalyptus green.  The paint covered
the plastic well and stayed on even during the planting process.

Here are the painted and waxed pots:

The medium sized pot got a two-toned paint job of the green 
AND the blue and then got sanded lightly to expose the 
details on the pot. 

The two smaller pots got a coat of clear paste wax when 
their paint dried and the larger pot got a slightly tinted wax.

  I had read from Sherry at No Minimalist Here blog that you 
can add a little paint or stain to clear wax to make dark wax.  
This was the first time I had tried it making my own dark wax.

I just added a little dark brown acrylic
paint to a small amount of clear wax and worked. 

 I will be braver about adding more color next time. 
It did not add much color to the pot when it was wiped on.

I like oranges and blues together so I got orange zinnas, mums
and marigolds to go in the chalk-y painted pots.  The pots,
 flowers and newly-painted rocking chairs will be a bright
                addition to the porch at my parent's apartment.                  

I would give an endorsement to the Martha Stewart Vintage 
Decor paints.  They covered well and also were pretty easy
to distress if you wanted to.  They were a reasonable price
(very reasonable if you have a coupon you can use).
  I still had paint left over in each bottle after these projects. 

The MS wax seemed overly complicated as to drying times, 
having  to wipe off excess with a damp rag, etc. but it did even-
tually dry and had a nice slight sheen to the places I had used it. 

(I purchased the products myself and have no association with the Martha Stewart or 
Plaid Paint companies...this is not a sponsored post.)

I am sharing this post over at 
Tatertots and Jello's Link Party Palooza
Chic On A Shoestring's Flaunt It Friday
The Dedicated House's Anything Blue 
Natasha In Oz's Say G'Day Link Party
Boogieboard Cottage's Masterpiece Monday
Under the Table & Dreaming's Sunday Showcase
Dwelling's Amaze Me Monday
Between Naps On The Porch's Metamorphosis Monday

Monday, September 8, 2014

Peek Behind the Scenes at Miss Kopy Kat Blog

A big "thank you" to Lori from "Stonybrook House" blog
 for inviting me to join the DIY Blogland Tour!

I met Lori at the first Haven Conference for bloggers. She has been
an inspiration for me ever since then.  She lets me call her to ask
her opinion about blogging.  I think she is gorgeous inside and out. 

Lori likes to put a little bit of everything on her blog...DIYing, 
recipes, thrifting, organization and so much more!
 Recently she added a feature on her blog called 
"(My) Fashion After Forty" where she shares stylish but
 age-appropriate outfits and also inspiration thoughts.

Her most viewed blog post is one that she did on how to
 cleverly organize drawers with items you probably have on hand. 

My personal favorite project that Lori has done is wall art
done from pallet wood.  It has a line from a hymn on it "It is well
with my soul". She used power tools to make it! I'm impressed. 

OK. Now onto the required questions for bloggers on the
DIY Blogland Tour...

 1. What are you working on right now? 
Right now I am working on decorating my house and 
front yard/porch going from Summer into Fall.
 Although usually I am like the last blogger alive 
 getting a seasonal post  done, I had an early deadline 
for some Fall decorating  because a local magazine
 was coming to my house in August  to take some photos
 of me for a September issue.  I wasn't sure where in the
 house they would want the photos so I got some
 bare bones Fall decorating done.

I couldn't find ANY real mums, pumpkins, etc. for the photo 
shoot so I used all faux Fall stuff from my attic to decorate the
house for the shoot.  If you want to see the result of that exercise
you can click on "Go Faux It Fall Decorating" blog post. 

The local magazine came out!  I feel like "Miss September"!

Click here for a link to the "Boom!" magazine. 
It is a magazine for the "over 50" folks of which I am! 
 My husband nominated me to be in the magazine totally 
without my knowledge.  He told the editor about my blog,
the editor thought it would be a good story and then my
husband had to talk me into doing the feature. 

 My husband didn't even want me to start a blog in
 the beginning.  His first wife left him for someone she
 met on the internet so he was reluctant for me to have
 an internet presence.  He agreed if I would have an "alias". 

Are any of you old enough to remember the
 TV show "Gunsmoke"? 
 There was a character on the  show named  "Miss Kitty".
 I thought that alias name would go well with the name
 I had selected for my blog "Miss Kopy Kat". 
 Of course the magazine wanted to use my real name
 for the September article so now I can "come out of
the closet' and say that my real name is "Gayle".  

Actually I still AM in the closet 'cause that is where my 
computer is!  We turned a bedroom into an office/guest room
 and my computer where I write the blog is in that room. 

An example of what I am doing now is out by the mailbox.
Here is a photo of the mailbox area with planting bed at 
Labor Day:

Kinda scraggly with overgrown Green Envy zinnas (which 
were way too tall and not all that green).  Even though I had
 added some red coleus and orange blanket flowers to 
replace flowers that had died back from the Spring/Summer, 
they were not helping much in this hot sunny area.  

Some zinnas with lots of buds, mums and a pot of gerbera
daisies were added to the bed to start a Fall "vibe" to the bed. 

Pumpkins arrived in my local grocery store this weekend too so
I was able to add a few to the planting beds in the front yard to 
start the faux pumpkin patches for this year. 

Hopefully the orange zinnas will get over the shock 
of being planted and start letting all those buds
 start blooming to add Fall color. 

On the front porch I have started adding Fall colored coleus
in the urns to "fall-i-fy" them.  There is only so much room 
in the urns for planting and I don't want to rip out the things
that are still growing so I gradually add faux Autumn-colored
stems to the mix. 

I'm going to keep the hose wreath with Fall-ish
flowers on it up for a couple more weeks. It makes dragging out
the real hose everyday to water the plants in the front yard a little
more fun to look over and see it. Alabama stays hot even now.

In October I will put Halloween items out on the porch.
In November Halloween will come down and I will
 probably pile up pumpkins around the urns
 (with even more Fall faux stems by then) like I did last year.

2. How does my work differ from others?
I started my blog as a way to share ideas on how to make
inexpensive but classy-looking things for home decorating,
parties and even weddings so most of my posts are tutorials.
I look back on my early posts and they have 5-6 pictures in
them.  It has kind of evolved that now most of my posts have
LOTS (maybe too many?) of pictures to show detailed steps.
It seems that I post more pictures than other bloggers have 
and that may be a bad thing (it makes the post quite long)
 but that is what I have the urge to do right now. 

I don't expect readers to stop and stare at each picture when
scrolling down the post the first time but if they want to 
use the post to make something in the tutorial later, they 
will have lots of "go by" pictures to refer to. 

3. Why do I write/create what I do?
Oops! I answered part of this question in question 2...I like
to share what I know how to do and also my attempts at
learning how to do new things.  Maybe others out there would
like to know how to do them too and can use my experiments 
with crafting, etc. to achieve a high end look on a budget.

I'm not gonna is also gratifying to me to be able to 
share things that I have made with a larger "audience". 
On my front door this wreath maybe would have been seen
by 100 folks or so who drive by my house.

was posted two years ago over 600,000 folks have looked at it.

Some of my posts are not tutorials but vignettes or mantle
arrangements to seasonally decorate the house.  If we have 
company maybe 25 or so folks would see the arrangements.
 Putting them on a blog shares the work with more people.

It's a "win-win"...I get to share my efforts with others and they 
in turn might get some ideas that they can use in their homes. 

4. How does your writing/creative process work?
When I see something in a magazine, in a store or online that
I really like but can't afford, I try to figure out a Do-It-Yourself
way to achieve a similar look. 
(But I'm talking about something within my skill level...
like I don't try to build my own furniture, etc.)

Between Hobby Lobby, Jo Anne's, Michaels, Hancock Fabric,
Home Depot or Lowe's, I can usually find the supplies that I
need to make the object.  Sometimes I buy the stuff to make
something and then never get around to it....I have more ideas
and intentions than I have time for!

I take lots of pictures of the item as it is being made then 
even more pictures of the object in the setting that it is going
to be used in.  Then I have oodles of pictures to decide which
ones to edit and use in the post. I would say that I write text
to go along with the pictures more than the other way around.

It takes me hours to do a blog post...wish I was quicker...
maybe I could get more posts done!  I still work full-time
as a nurse at a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and have most 
of the responsibility of taking care of my elderly parents so
blogging has to take a back seat to those priorities. 

Sometimes I get discouraged about not having more time
for my blog and doing creative things.  I saw a quote about
happiness in life by Mandy Hale.  I have taken the liberty
to adapt it to happiness in blogging:

Now I want to introduce you to a blogging friend of mine,
Martina with the blog Northern Nesting.  She does a 
beautiful job decorating her home with great "finds" that
she shares with her readers and shows us how to incorporate
newly acquired things in with things we already have.

She has also posted wonderful projects that involve chalk
paint. We must have the same taste 'cause we have done
a couple of chalk paint projects that look almost identical!

My pieces are in my master bedroom; Martina's are in her 
daughter's bedroom.  Now we are both ready to paint another
piece of furniture to go in these rooms...wonder if we will 
pick the same color again?  

Thanks for stopping by Miss Kopy Kat blog on the tour!
Please go see Lori's and Martina's blogs too!

I'm sharing this post over at
Between Naps On the Porch's Metamorphosis Monday
Boogieboard Cottage's Masterpiece Monday
A Stroll Thru Life's Inspire Me Tuesday
Savvy Southern Style's Wow Us Wednesday 
Bloom Design's Link Party
Ivy and Elephant's What's Up Wednesday

Saturday, August 30, 2014

"Go Faux It" Fall Decorating

Recently a local magazine, "Boom" was coming to my
 house to take pictures for its September issue. 

 I wanted to have Fall decorations in place to fit in with the
  the time that the magazine would be published but no real
 pumpkins, no mums or even crotons were for sale at
 any store for decorating the house. 

Usually I like to mix some real items in with artificial ones for
decorating to try to "fool the eye" of the beholder but this early
Fall decorating had to be strictly "faux" items.

Faux is the French word for "fake".  Some nicer words used
might be "artificial", "simulated", or "imitation". 
Faux in pronounced like "foe". 

I love decorating for Fall so I have quite a stash of faux
Fall things to decorate with in the attic. 

When you come in my front door, there isn't much of a foyer.
You are actually in the dining room.  This big white faux 
pumpkin sits between two lamps (which happen to be a good
Fall color) on top of a buffet in this area. 

The vines coming out of the pumpkin's stem actually are real
ones gathered from the woods. A grapevine wreath was placed
on top of the urn and decorated with artificial Fall leaves,
berries, and acorns then the pumpkin placed on top. 

To your right when you come in the front door is the dining
 room table and chairs with a hutch along the wall. 

The hutch is one that I have had for about twenty-five years.
It's one of the true antiques that I have.  I got tired of the dark

When the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint line came to America, I 
did decide to try paint on it.  It is a layered technique of her
Old Ochre and Coco colors.  Click here if you want to see
how that painting process went. 

The faux pumpkins for the hutch had to be skinny to fit 
inside.  They were held together with wooden skewers 
that you can get in the kitchen supply area in the grocery store.

The glass in the hutch is wavy so it is hard to see through.
Here is one stack of faux pumpkins with the door open. 

To make my "faux antique chandy" have some Fall flair I 
added a cut grapevine wreath onto the arms and started adding
artificial fruit, leaves and berries to the wreath.

If you want to see more details how to add the wreath to a
chandy, you can look at this tutorial where I did a similar 
decoration on the chandy in the Spring. 

The other eating area of the house is adjacent to the kitchen.
I normally don't buy black furniture but this table and chairs
was such a good deal, I couldn't pass it up.  I thought I might
paint it but it looks good in the Fall with these black candlesticks
with pumpkins on top.  

The candlesticks make the faux pumpkins have more impact
than they would just sitting on the table.  Most of the candlesticks
were from the clearance shelf at Hobby Lobby and painted black
to use at a friend's wedding reception.  

I guess I must like pumpkins on candlesticks...I did it again in
 the living room area. Because the faux pumpkins are so light,
they are easy to stack up.  These actually don't have anything
holding them together but you could use wooden skewers if 
you wanted to. 

This vignette could use some more embellishment but you 
get the idea.

These acorns are too big to be considered trying to fool someone
into thinking they are real but they make for a fun table display.
"Every great oak tree was once a nut that stood its ground."

The living room also has a faux painting over the mantle.

I've had fun adding artist gel to art prints and changing out the
out the pictures in the frame with the seasons. To see the details
of how this Fall colored print was made to look like a painting
you can click here

If you like to decorate the outside of your house for Fall, you
can also use faux things out there too provided they are
weatherproof.  Even if you don't do a lot of outside decorating
you might at least put a wreath on your front door. 

I bought a faux berry wreath but when it actually got on the 
door, it looked too skimpy.  To make it look fuller I wired the
  top of the berry wreath onto a grapevine wreath about 
the same size.  The grapevine wreath also made  good place
 to add faux  leaves and other interesting elements.
"X" marks the place the two wreaths are wired together. 

Here is a side view of the two wreaths together in a test 
shot from the magazine shoot.
After seeing this shot, more items were added to the side
of the wreath to hide the grapevine wreath a little more. 

Outside of the front door there is an urn on each side of 
the porch.  This past Spring I planted the urns with pink
Mandevilla and other sun-tolerant plants.  Most of the 
plants have survived with regular watering but not all.
I replaced the wimpy plants with Fall colored coleus.

The urns were still needing some "filler" height plants to replace
the ones that "couldn't take the heat". Instead of getting all new
live plants, I got a couple of real-looking plastic greenery bunches
at Hobby Lobby too.  They were 50% off so $4 each.

They have a tinge of Fall look to them...not super bright green.
Even though I will still need to water the urns every day for the 
live plants, I know that these faux plants will keep their height
and be good fillers for the next few months. 

Where I live in Alabama, not many of the trees have
 started changing into their Fall colors but a few have.
So for me, it is not too early to start sneaking faux Fall colors
into the urns and planting beds in the front yard.   If you do it
a little at a time (and when they are not looking), your neighbors 
will probably think that your Fall accents are real.

Mixed in with the real coleus and morning glory are the faux
greenery, little orange mums and a stem of orange and red berries.

This is another picture angle of that same group but the faux
plants don't show very much...I just think it is a pretty shot.

Right now the urns are still mostly Summery-looking.

The vines did not fill out the trellis as much as I would have liked.
 They also mostly wait till they get to the top to bloom so there are not many blooms along the way.

I'll keep adding  faux Fall stems to the urns gradually and then 
pile up pumpkins at the base so the urns will look something
like this later in the Fall:

I was hoping that I would have real pumpkin patches in the 
planting beds in the front yard this year. Sadly, all but one
of the once-flourshing pumpkin vines has died. 

Here is the last pumpkin greenery left.  See the shriveled up stem
beside it?  I don't know what I did wrong. A little faux pumpkin
sits under the lone surviving plant to give the illusion that it
is growing there.  It will be replaced by a bigger pumpkin later. 

After most of the pumpkin plants died I put out green sweet potato
vines to try to act like pumpkin vines.  Under some of the sweet
potato vines, I put little fake pumpkins so folks passing by might
think the vine and the pumpkin are the real thing. 

Here is one of the pumpkin patches from last year using a mix
of real and faux pumpkins.

The mailbox has a small planting bed around it also.  It has real
plants and flowers that go through seasonal changes but I tuck
some faux stems out there too when it gets sparse. I only use
faux flowers that are really real-looking for this. 

Here's how the mailbox area looked at Memorial Day 2014:

It was all lush with purple clematis flowers on the vine 
and day lillies and cone flowers getting ready to bloom. 
See the twine on the  side of the post to give the morning
 glory seedlings a place to climb? 

Now at Labor Day 2014 the mailbox has a different look:

The clematis vine has been joined by the passion vine 
 (that comes back on its own every year) and morning
 glory vines to make an impressive topper for the mailbox.

 It is so hot that not much is blooming on the vines now.

These passion vine flowers have found a shady spot on the backside
of the mailbox to bloom. When the weather cools down usually the
vines' flowers bloom more...the clematis even makes a comeback.

The real vines will start being joined by faux Fall leaves pretty
soon now.  They also are added a little at a time to give the 
illusion that the vines are changing colors like the trees. 
Here's a photo of the mailbox from a past Fall:

The bed at the mailbox base looks pretty scraggly even though I 
have put out some red coleus and orange blanket flowers to try to
replace the plants that have died back.
Oh yeah, those purple and pink flowers are Summer fakies...I'll pull them out soon.

Even the pumpkin vine that was out here died.  I'm trying the 
sweet potato vine and faux pumpkin look out here too.

Some orange and red faux flowers are tucked into the real
 plants to start giving this bed a Fall look and to fill in blank spaces.
If you pull some real greenery around the flowers and keep them
kinda low, most folks will not realize they are artificial. 
Pretty soon Fall mums will be available to be planted and
 the mailbox bed will look full again and ready for a new season. 

I hope you have a REAL fun Labor Day Weekend!

I'm sharing this post at
Natasha In Oz's Say G'day Link Party
Be Different/Act Normal's Show & Tell Saturday
Tatertots and Jello's Link Party Palooza
Meatloaf & Melodrama's Snickerdoodle Sunday
Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom's Inspiration Monday
Savvy Southern Style's Wow Us Wednesday


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