Sitting on the runway in a plane leaving Albuquerque, heading toward Dallas, the flight attendants start their safety briefing. As usual, I hear the murmur, much like Charlie Brown’s teacher sounded, “wah wah wah wahhh wah.” I’m guilty. I don’t even listen anymore. I know to keep my seatbelt fastened, use my life vest in the case of an emergency water landing (would there be any other kind?), not to smoke, and to put my oxygen mask on first before helping others.
I’m the same way with painting. I don’t even look at the instructions. I just open the can, dip my brush in, and start painting… That’s the way you do it, right? Easy peasy. I can’t say that I have decades of painting under my belt, but it’s just slapping a little paint on a brush and putting it on a piece of furniture. How hard can it be?
That’s where I am wrong. I need to be mindful of what I am using, how I want the end result, and what the piece is going to be used for.
With our new, made in America formula, you may have noticed it is thicker. Because of this and our paints are all natural and don’t contain synthetic binders, I need to remember to always stir the paint very well for a few minutes with a clean utensil (stir stick, long handled spoon, etc). This is for a couple of reasons. It reincorporates the settled pigments into the paint and it loosens the paint back up into a more fluid consistency. If I don’t stir it up well, my coverage won’t be as opaque as I am used to.
Another “no no” is painting straight out of the can. Natural chalk + clay paints do not have chemical preservatives in it like traditional paints. Painting straight out the can introduces contaminates from my brush into the paint. Think about it… That piece you are painting? What all kinds of gunk and grime are on it? You don’t want your brush picking that up and putting it back into the can. After stirring, you can use a syringe to remove paint from the can to a smaller container or pour it directly out of the can (just remember to wipe the lip before replacing the lid to not have paint buildup).
So now it’s time to just start painting, right? Well, it depends. What kind of brush are you using? Did you know that different bristles will give you different results? A soft, synthetic bristled brush will give you less brush strokes. Natural bristles will absorb paint. Stiff bristles will give you more defined texture.
The type of brush stroke will also determine what your finished piece looks like. Long, even brush stokes will help eliminate texture. Shorter strokes will create it. Cross hatching brush strokes will provide a great texture that will pick up any aging techniques you may do later. Remember, whichever type of brush stroke you do, thin coats are better than thick. Much like fingernail polish application, two or three thin coats are better than one thick coat.
With the new formula, drying time has increased slightly in order to give you better adhesion to your piece. Allow each coat to dry thoroughly before moving to the next. Paint dries from the top to the bottom, so even though it may be dry on top, the base may still be wet. This is also why thin vs. thick coats are better, as well. If you try to apply your next coat too soon, you will move the paint around and it will seem to need more coats for coverage.
You will find that the paint has a much smoother finish, as well. I still like to lightly sand or burnish the paint before waxing. You can do this with a very fine piece of sandpaper or, even better, a piece of brown paper bag (or Kraft paper).
After allowing your paint to dry thoroughly, you can distress your piece if that’s the style you are wanting. A damp, lint free cloth or plain baby wipe (the cheap ones! no aloe, Shea butter, or other moisturizers) can be used to wipe back the paint in areas that would naturally receive wear and tear. Handles, corners, and raised embellishments are great places to distress.
So, it’s time to seal your piece…. What do you use? CeCe Caldwell’s Paints offers you a variety of finishes, based on the style and durability you need. Need an all-natural poly to give you heavy protection? Use Endurance. Want a satin sheen and the ease of a brush on? Use Satin Finish. Love the texture and feel of the paint, but need a protective coating? Flat Matte will do the trick. Want the look and feel of a hard wax? We have two waxes available – Clear Wax and Waxing Cream. Clear Wax is the traditional chalk + clay wax finish and Waxing Cream will give you a harder, shinier finish with less product and work.
Embellish that piece when you’re done if you’d like with a metallic wax in Eldorado Gold, Bingham Canyon Copper, Shelbyville Graphite, or Sierra Silver. Or maybe you want to age it a bit with the Dark Aging Cream or Aging Dust? Whatever you decide to do, have fun! It’s “just” paint, and you can always change the look later if you want.
I hope that these tips will help you on your next piece. Just remember to listen to it…hear what it is saying and work with the piece, not against it. Let it tell it’s story and you be the storyteller.