Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tuscany Tables

I am still working on the other oak chair and it is taking rather a long time so I thought I would brighten my blog with some tables that I painted shortly after a visit to San Gimigiano in Tuscany.
I saw the most beautiful, hand painted ceramic tables there full of bright fruit and flowers. Of course they weighed a ton and cost a fortune so I decided to paint my own using stencils that I designed and cut.

To try and capture a little of the Italian flavour I painted this one with olives and lemons with a blue border. After I had finished I did a crackle effect to try to get a little more of the 'feel' of the ceramic tables.
Here is a closer look:

The other table is painted with our lovely South African arum lilies that are flowering at the moment. I included sprigs of lavender to add a little colour and a few pretty butterflies and bees, just for fun. Again I finished off with the crackle then a coat of varnish to provide an easy to wipe surface for outside dining.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Mr Dithers' chair - from office frump to office vamp!

While the next two coats of varnish were drying I cleaned and re-assembled the mechanism that rotates the chair.
(By the way - a little tip that I learned the hard way - don't be tempted to leave your varnish drying outside in the sun as every flying insect known to man will descend on it and be forever embedded. Then it will be back to stage one!)

The seat of the chair needed some reinforcing so I used hessian webbing strips to add some extra firmness before starting the process of building up the seat base. A layer of batting finishes off this process to give a comfortable yet firm seat.

The seat was then tightly covered in calico to provide a good smooth foundation for the final covering and I repeated the process with the chair back.

After all this preparation, finally the exciting part - putting on the final layer. I used a black piping round the seat base and studs at the corners to finish off. What do you think? Does it deserve a space in the office again?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Mr Dither's chair starts the makeover

I decided to start with the old office chair and used a paint remover to remove all vestiges of the old varnish. As a rule all old furniture has some sort of varnish on it and it needs to be removed before you can sand the wood.
This stuff is quite dangerous to work with so do make sure that you work in a well ventilated area, preferably with gloves as the gel burns if it gets on your skin. Using a paint scraper, scrape the dissolved gunk off about 5 minutes after application while it is still liquid. I normally wipe off the scraper on a piece of newspaper to clean it.
Now for the sanding - I started with an 80 grit sandpaper to get down to clean wood and then went on to finer 100 to smooth it down. Finish with a 200+ paper for a satin smooth touch.

There are always small areas that an electric sander cannot reach and these have to be finished off by hand, so after attending to this I gave the chair a brush down with a soft brush to remove all dust and then a wipe with a soft, dry cloth.
Then the lovely, exciting bit - applying the varnish or sealant and watching the wood come alive!
I decided I wanted a matt finish with the natural colour of the wood so I selected a matt polyurethane for interiors and applied it with a soft paint brush. See how the gorgeous grain of the wood starts to show through.

I have written this post literally while I wait for the varnish to dry - I will have to put on at least one more coat and then I will start on the covering and assembly - keep you posted!