April 30, 2012

Reimagined Monday: Summoning Blue Skies

We're doing something a little different today at Reimagined Monday. It has been a bit grey lately, and we're hoping that surrounding ourselves with summery colours might shoo the clouds away and summon blue skies.

Here are some "reimaginings" that have perked us up here at the boutique -- Get your own beachy, seasidey, cottagey look using the lovely array of blue chalk paint by Annie Sloan.

Annie Sloan summery blue chalk paints...
Aubusson Blue

Duck Egg Blue

Greek Blue

Louis Blue

Napoleonic Blue

 Mix them with Old White for variations of shades, or mix them together for custom colours.

One more breath of fresh air...

Happy painting!

Here is how to share your reimagined paint project at On the Apple Box:

Send us a description of how you used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint to get from your vision to the reimagined piece, before and after pictures, pictures of your project in progress or a couple of it in its finished state, and you may be highlighted on our blog!

*Where not noted on images, original sources are unknown.  Please let us know if credit can be provided!

April 27, 2012

Project Personality: Me Like Chalk Paint (and Why)

Project Personality
with Apple Box Boutique founder Leanne Playter Korsos

Hello!  And thank you for stopping in.

A couple of weeks ago I alluded to some changes I've made to the way I paint. But to explain my landing place I will have to start at the take-off point.  Here goes!

Once upon a time, long, looooong ago...
kidding!  Was just curious to see if you'd hang in there with me (especially after that awful post title) and here you are.  So, let me begin by saying that I have always loved to paint.  Whether it was a jewellery box, barn doors, my bedroom wall or my hair (not kidding), if it meant picking up a paint brush, I was all in.  I love the fine arts, but when it comes to that I am more of a paint-by-numbers kind of gal, so I focussed on refreshing big things and painting props and sets during college and for several years afterward in my career in theatre.

When I started painting furniture it was borne of being frugal and wanting to upcycle items for my own home.  When friends and family started asking me to refinish pieces for them as well it became a hobby, and when complete strangers started asking, it became a business.

My training in stagecraft taught me some interesting techniques, but the bulk of what I know was learned from trial and error.  Up until last fall, I used oils and latex paints on all of my client projects as well as in remodelling my own home.  I loved milk paint but found it inconsistent in colour and finish from mix to mix or can to can.

Day 1 Spraying.  Day 2 a respirator was purchased!

In 2010, I moved from hand-painting everything to spraying using a paint gun and a compressor. This meant that I also needed a place to work that had more space and I began working from my studio... a remodelled oversized garage/shop. A paint bay was built, a larger compressor was purchased, as well as several sanders and other equipment, power tools and all the accoutrements, shelving, lighting, supplies like sandpaper, lacquers, and strippers (the liquid kind, not the Thunder from Down Under, though the latter would have brought in their own lighting).  Toxic disposal concerns were addressed as well as pick-up and delivery assistance.

A respirator became one of my key items, which I mentioned in the first Project Personality post leaves an unsightly impression.  It is also hot (not in the good way), uncomfortable and doesn't match any of my outfits.
It didn't take me long to consider that if I need all the ventilation, respirators and toxic disposal that this can't be good for the environment or for me. I love refinishing furniture, but the whole eco-responsibility of upcycling was quickly lost in a chemical fog.  And that needed to change.

Enter Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.  I'd been looking for something to work with that was kind to the world and to my conscience, and after months of research I felt I may have found a product that would do everything I need it to do as a paint and live up to my new and lofty eco-expectations.  The discovery was made just as it was time to tie the knot with my lovely fiancĂ© in his grandfather's village in Greece, so ordering the paint was put on the back burner until our return to the real world a couple of months later.

While in the Mediterranean lounging beside the sea, I noticed a restaurant owner nearby was painting his chairs with a perfect matte paint.  When I asked him about it, he showed me the container... much to my surprise it was Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (ASCP).  The laugh came later when I realized he wasn't using Greek Blue.  Ahh well, I've used Chateau Grey on some of my furniture at home and I live in a bungalow.

Upon our return there was some work to do on the studio, so I spent the time perusing blogs that had projects using ASCPAficionados like Patty Seaman and countless designers, refinishers and magazines gave it rave reviews, and still I wondered if it is too good to be true.  That meant just one thing: Time to order a few cans and give it a try.  Now if I could just overcome the price!

In Canada, ASCP wasn't readily available and I had misgivings about having paint shipped in the midst of an Alberta winter, but it had been fairly mild, so I went for it!  Sure enough, the first cold snap arrived and to make matters worse Greyhound misplaced the package.  Ugh!  Not a good feeling at that cost.

When it did arrive, it was just fine, but that event started another ball rolling.  I knew that if it lived up to the hype, I would be using A LOT of it in the studio and I'd have to find a shipping method that was a little more climate-friendly!

The first colour I tried was Provence and it was love at first lid.  As soon as I opened the can, I knew that if things went well I would be using that colour repeatedly.

Painting with it was so easy that I don't doubt people disbelieve what they hear, as I did before trying it.  It dried fast and when I finished the first coat, I was able to go back and start again with the second.  Then it was time to use the clear wax, and that went on like buttering a baking pan.  The only thing left was to test its durability after it cured.  I was happily surprised to find that it held up to the wear and tear I intentionally inflicted.

The most surprising thing was how little paint and wax was used for my project.  Factoring in the time and cost for sandpaper, primer, latex, lacquer and above all, time and energy required for my previous works, using ASCP ended up being a BIG savings.  Go figure!

No wonder Annie Sloan looks so happy!

I still find myself feeling pretty gleeful when I step back from a completed project.  I love the velvety finish and the fact that it is not just "one paint".  In the past I was able to use latex with glazes but for versatility, the chalk paint wins hands-down.  It is aqua-based, so I can water it down to make a wash, use it at canned consistency as an authentic chalk paint, leave it out for a couple of hours to use it as an impasto for a chunkier farmhouse or chateau finish or for a bit longer to use it for cleaner stenciling, painting on mirrors, metal or windows or for arts and crafts.

Distressing is easier than anything I've done in the past with plenty of options for how to go about it.

Finished with clear wax, the paint is even richer and followed with dark wax you can add as much or as little as you like to find just the right patina.  The new Annie Sloan lacquer means even high-wear areas like floors can be painted with it.

This was painted in the showroom without worry.

I used to haul everything out to the studio when I needed a change in the house, but now I paint in the kitchen, the living room, the foyer... wherever a piece of furniture has landed.  Why?  Because clean-up is a breeze; it takes so little time that I find it hard now to be patient with messier mediums.

After reeling off a list of "pros" like that, you'd think that's all there is, but it is also odorless, eco-friendly and I can paint without the big fighter-pilot respirator or the concern I feel with other paints.

I know this is starting to sound like a late night infomercial for Annie Sloan Chalk Paint but the closest it comes to anything ShamWow is that you could use one of those to wipe up if need be.  All I can say is that it turned my doubt into relief, because I paint with so little stress now that I can't wait to get in to the studio... it just doesn't feel like "work" anymore.

I love being able to return to a traditional method of painting.  Paints from earth pigments (minerals like chalk) have been in existence for centuries plus brush painting is a sort-of Zen experience for me... very relaxing as opposed to all the prep and getting into the gear for my previous methods.  I'm not a chalk-snob and will paint with latex or oils if a client insists, but once people see the depth and richness of this chalk paint, most end up choosing it over the finish you get with the others.  And that makes me happy.

If there is a "con" to the chalk paint, I will say this:  It is addictive. There is a running joke that if my husband stood still long enough he'd be Duck Egg Blue.  I warn people about the relationship that will develop with this paint, but to no avail.  Every customer is a repeat customer and I like that, because part of my dream in starting Apple Box Boutique was that it be part of a community, where people feel comfortable shopping or just stopping in to say hi.

So, for those of you still hanging in there with me, thank you for reading all of this.  I likely could have stopped at the title "me like chalk paint" and been done with it, but where is the fun in that?

Happy Friday!

April 24, 2012

Now Available! Three Works of Art by Joseph Cross

A few weeks ago, we excitedly announced that in April we would be featuring the artwork of Joseph Cross at the boutique.  It has arrived!

Three limited edition prints are now installed in the boutique.  They are so beautiful that it's been hard for all of us here not to take them home... best to get in to purchase before they are gone!

“Treasures At Turquoise Bay”
A limited edition giclee, hand signed and numbered.  This painting won second place in an international Seascape competition and was featured in International Artist Magazine issue #19.

"Cotton Lace"
A limited edition  giclee, hand signed and numbered. This is one of Sharon’s favourite irises in our garden.  It blooms early summer, and it is a ritual to examine the buds daily in anticipation of its first bloom. 

The ruffled edges lend such a delicacy as it slowly unfurls into all of its splendour and grace.

The Bloomin’ View”
A limited edition giclee, hand signed and numbered.  This painting was featured in Pastel Artist International Magazine issue #13 as the demonstration piece for a seven page article on Joseph Cross’ work.

Joseph Cross is not only highly acclaimed and awarded.  He is a genuinely nice person who paints from the heart, loves his country and keeps it real with his accomplished wife Sharon Cross acting as Studio Manager.

He writes: "1978 was the start of my professional career as an artist.  Inspiration is all around me and often in the simplest form.  Capturing the essence of a moment is my desire.  Creating art that inspires others is my dream."

Each piece at the boutique is framed and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity.  
Don't miss this opportunity... they won't last long!

April 23, 2012

Reimagined Monday: Apple Box Boutique's TV Cabinet

Last week I was fortunate to have the opportunity to write a guest blog for To A Pretty Life.  I wasn't expecting the influx of notes and FB messages, but what a nice suprise... thank you so much for your support!

In that blog, there was an image of my family room from when we were in the throes of remodeling. It seems to have taken on a life of its own, and I've been asked repeatedly about the cabinet seen in the picture.  So today I've decided to focus Reimagined Monday on how it went from a fairly hideous brown behemoth to the shabby chic "wonder" that has garnered its own fans.

Here is the picture that was posted on To A Pretty Life:

In seeking out a new console for our big screen TV, I wouldn't have guessed that the answer would be a 1970s oversized gazillion pound dresser in the ick brown so popular in that era.

But here it is, as it looked when it first arrived at the studio, in several parts:

One of the things that caught my eye about the dresser was the detail on the drawers, and the fact that they were floral.  I thought that would fit well with the Regency look I was going for (think Jane Austen) but the colour and the gold knobs had to go!

"Back in the day" when I finished this piece I hadn't yet discovered Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.  If only I'd known I could have saved myself a LOT of time and trouble!  More on this later!  For now... here is the painstaking process of reimagining this dresser:

I started by washing the dresser well with TSP (it was pretty filthy), then primed the cabinet and each of the drawers.  I used Kilz Original stainblocker.  It smells AWFUL, which is why I carry Kilz Original Ordorless at the boutique... anything to help a fellow DIYer avoid that ordeal!

After it dried, the Kilz left a 'bumpy' finish so I sanded afterward.  If you use more than one coat of primer, it is best to sand between coats as well, wiping it down afterward with a lint-free cloth.

Next, all pieces were sprayed with two coats of cream paint.  I wish I could tell you what colour it is, but it was a magic concoction of several I had on my paint bench.  All of it was Behr latex, though.

On to distressing.  I sanded with heavy and light sandpapers in areas I knew would have been worn by use. Because of the primer and the latex, this took a crazy amount of effort and time.  Then I wiped it all down again, making sure not to leave any dust or other particles.

Then came time to lacquer.  I prefer a spray and with latex I like a matt varathane finish.  Two coats with a sanding in betwen gave just the right amount of lustre and durability.

I was so excited about getting this into the space that it came in without the hardware, so that was the next project.  I didn't like the original gold knobs, so I painted them to match the pulls I purchased for the centre column of drawers.

The following pics show the some of the distressing in more detail (a bit blurry... I had a sketchy camera back then).

And finally, after it was finished and we could stand back and get that thrill one always gets when a big project is finally finished.

Here's "the big picture":

We love it, but I have to say this... before I started using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (ASCP), I spent an inordinate amount of time and money on things like priming and primer, sanding (before, after and often between coats) and sandpaper, waiting, waiting waiting for paint to dry between coats and distressing, trying to get the lacquer right, sanding between coats of lacquer, final distressing with LOTS of elbow grease and lacquering again... you get the picture.

This dresser took me 2 full days to finish, and that was without stopping for lunch.  Grant it, I'd only painted a half-dozen furniture pieces before this so some of it might be attributed to learning curve.

Now that I know better, I use ASCP.  No priming, no sanding, no lengthy wait-time, and just a velvety wax to finish.  Having completed many similar pieces with it, I know that even back then I could have finished this dresser in a matter of a few hours and had everything set up to watch Oprah the same afternoon.

That is why we carry the chalk paint at the boutique... I know what it means to a DIYer to get a project completed quickly, have a beautiful end result and get on to the next creative idea.

Ahhhh, live and learn!

Here is how to share your reimagined paint project at On the Apple Box:

Send us a description of how you used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint to get from your vision to the reimagined piece, before and after pictures, pictures of your project in progress or a couple of it in its finished state, and you may be highlighted on our blog!

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