There was DIY element here I think. Oh right! Rotten stone. Remember that one of my pretentious-sounding goals for this year was 'refinement'? Goes for all my little crafting hen projects, too. I used to champion the paint-it-high-gloss-white! furniture makeover, which still works for simple chairs and dressers and such, but what of pieces that are a bit more ... refined? The shiny, too-bright white frame on my sofa now bugs the crap out of me, but its carvings aren't all that special. Louis XV by way of Tijuana. My precious little eBay mininature fauteuil is another story:
Rode hard and put away wet, you say? Yes but the bones are there: Narrow fluted legs, finely carved rosettes at the knees and delicate acanthus leaves under the arms. I left her tatty for a year but my place just isn't soigné enough (yet?) to pull off that good kind of tension.
Now for the how-to: First I ripped off the poor old green silk starting with the double welt (pet peeve alert), removing the extra staples with pliers. Also removed the horsehair, cotton batting and nylon webbing from the back panel completely, setting it aside for re-use. Then I cleaned the entire frame with Windex and an old toothbrush to get dust out of the crevices. Started to sand lightly with an extra fine grit paper, mainly to wear down a few freshly chipped bits, but didn't even touch the unscathed carvings. Then I traded in my oil-based high gloss white for flat latex -- chalky is key -- and painted the frame with a smallish artist's brush (latex dries quickly and I avoided doing two full coats that way). I thought about adding a little burnt umber acrylic paint to mitigate said blindingly white look, but figured some of the original brown stain would bleed through and do it for me. It did, but the carvings were now invisible.
So how do folks achieve that perfect, chalky-dirty, antique white finish? The kind that brings to mind Jansen, not Rachel Ashwell? The answer is rotten stone. Really no secret amongst furniture gurus (I think I first heard Mugatu mention it via our decorative painter), it's fine powdered rock usually used for polishing surfaces. But when you mix it with a little mineral oil -- picture me at the drugstore checkout with only that container in hand -- paint it on and wipe off the excess with a paper towel, it fills all the crevices to resemble 200 years of collected dirt. And makes the carvings sing! Bear witness:
The leafy bit right under the arm is pure white while the scrolly armrest has gotten, um, stoned. Subtle but so worth it. (I'm holding the chair out the window for natural light AND so you can't see my apartment! Muahaha!). Another angle:
And the fully finished leg:
I might seal the frame with a paste wax of some sort (to simulate 200 years of hand grease) and distress the legs and arms a little with sandpaper. Don't want to over shabbify my baby. And for upholstery? Craving green glove leather and nailhead trim. Since I performed the above while watching "Too Young To Kill" on E! at 1am, I'm saving that project for either a Manson Family documentary or the "Real Housewives of Orange County" marathon.