So this is kind of old news… but never-the-less I really wanted to spotlight these sweet chairs that I picked up off the side of the road. Oh I remember it just like it was yesterday… I was just finishing an amazing run through the neighborhood when I chanced to pass by a family hauling “junk” out of their garage and local passersby digging through it. Wanting to discover what all the hype was about I also approached the yard. I was very pleasantly surprised to discover that the man who lived there with his family was one of my old bus buddies from route 25. He is actually also a member of my church and him, Melinda, and I used to have the best chats on the way to work about all sorts of things. Anyway, I noticed that he had these old beat up white chairs… he has three small children so you can imagine the condition of anything “white” in his home. Immediately my mind caught vision of these chairs with a beautiful crackle finish… and I loaded them up and headed to Home Depot. I told the man that I would take pictures of them for him when they were done so he could see them in their new form… we jokingly decided that this would be an “Open Adoption.”
The above picture was in the middle of the process of refinishing them. They are really nice wood chairs when all the paint was stripped off. Which was the most tedious and difficult part… if you have never stripped paint before here is just a small explanation of the mess it creates. So first you get the stripper, which is like paint thinner on steroids…. it is pretty intense, you have to wear gloves or it might melt your fingers right off (ok so that is a slight exaggeration… but really be careful with it). I was using cheap-o plastic gloves and I think I had to change them 5 or 6 times because it would eat holes right through them. Also because of it’s volatile nature I recommend NOT using paint stripper in a small enclosed area (like your dads garage with the door shut… I could have sworn I saw penguins dancing around after awhile). This potent chemical has the ability to pull paint off its surface , but instead of being able to peel it nicely away it turns it into this sludgy goop that sticks to everything. It was an interesting challenge to get the paint off all of the things it came in contact with (There was no hope for the jeans I wore during this project… they have been deemed paint pants).
However I must admit that my dad is a sucker for a project… and since I had set up shop in HIS garage (also known as my fathers piece of heaven on earth) he spent a lot of time assisting me in my efforts. It was pretty tender bonding time, we jammed out and laughed about stuff. After watching me struggle through the stripping of one chair he did the other two for me. One of the chairs is not pictured above… which will be explained momentarily.
I hope you are all not frightfully bored with this story of chairs… pictures have been included for those who don’t enjoy reading.
After the paint was stripped off the chairs had to be sanded, primered, and lightly sanded again… now they were ready for the crackle finish. Now crackle painting was something I first witnessed on TLC’s Trading Spaces and was always curious to see if I would be able to do such a thing. You have to purchase two different colors… one main color that will cover most of the surface and the color for the cracks. You also need to purchase the crackle finish. When I purchased all my goods at the Home Depot the helpful man informed me that this was a very tedious and tricky process… then he rang me up, took my money which he grasped onto tightly in his palms with a devious look on his face, as I slowly backed out the door he began to laugh in a diabolical cackle…. the lights all dimmed and a lightning bolt struck the bathroom fixture isle behind him… my slow creep out the door turned to a run as the magnitude of what I had gotten myself into sunk in. (Alright… so that didn’t really happen, I just really want to keep you reading this!!!)
I don’t know if you can completely capture the color from my pictures, but the chairs are a burgundy red, with cream cracks. First I painted the crack color, let it dry overnight… then you put the crackle finish on (Which is seriously like painting Elmer’s Glue on something… it doesn’t flow very nicely on your brush). That has to dry a little more than an hour and then immediately you have to paint on the main color. This is the tricky part because you can not go back over your brush strokes once you have painted an area or you will disrupt the cracks… there is definitely a skill to getting it on right the first time. However the cool part is that you can’t really tell too much when you screw up.
I was soooooo excited when it was finally time to put the last coat on and to see the magic of the crackle take place. I nervously wet my brush and began… my dad was helping me out on the first one. As the cracks began to form, I exclaimed with absolute joy… “IT IS WORKING!!!” My father however was not thrilled at all… he likes things like paint to be much simpler (no fancy stuff). He remarked, “Well if you wanted them to look like crap it’s working.” I just laughed… I didn’t even care that he was a “hater” of the chairs. When we finished one I ran to get my mother who is a very artistic women… I knew that she would have an appreciation for the look I was going for. I pulled her up the stairs to the garage and gave her a triumphant “TADA!!!!” She looked puzzled, and told me that she didn’t like Crackle finish.
Well… good thing that they are MY chairs and I LOVE THEM!!!!! You can judge yourselves. They look great in my dinning room and my roommates butts seem to be very happy in comparison to some of the old chairs we had.
The third chair is not finished yet because my Dad had the idea that we could save ourselves a lot of time if we just sprayed the paint on instead of using a brush. I was apprehensive and for good reason… it doesn’t work. So in the future if you should delight in the crackle painting of something avoid the temptation to cut corners. It takes some good old fashioned elbow grease, but definitely worth it in the end… if you enjoy taking something that looks old and beat up, and turning it into something that looks old and beat up, then crackle finish is for you.