Painted Furniture: Ombré Cabinet Tips & Tricks

When I found this old solid oak mail-box slot unlovingly tossed to the curb, I knew it would be the perfect piece to add a touch of ombré to my decor. I’ve painted a lot of things and furniture is a big project. Here are some of my best tips and tricks in this DIY ombré tutorial.

DIY: OMBRÉ PAINTED CABINET

PREP WORK:
– remove hardware
– sand
– wood filler & putty
– remove dust and clean surface

Remove the Hardware: Seriously, I know there are tutorials that have you painting right over the hinges, knobs and pulls, but painting over these can hinder functionality and because knobs n’ such are high traffic areas, the paint will chip. Plus, if you ever want to change the hardware, you’ll have marks where the old hardware was. Remove all hardware and put it aside in labeled containers. This will ensure a clean, professional finish

Sanding: As tempting as it may be, don’t skip sanding. Use a 150-220 grit paper. The object is to give the wood a tooth for the paint to grab onto ( if it has many layers of paint, you don’t need to take it down to the wood, just scuff it up and smooth out old blobs)  A random orbital sander is great for getting through the large areas and a triangular shaped palm sander will get into tight corners. I like to use small rectangular blocks of wood with sand paper wrapped around it for tricky areas that need a finer touch.

DIY sanding block out of scrap wood…just wrap the sand paper around the wood and you’ve got better pressure control

Wood fill/putty: after you’ve sanded, fill undesirable holes, chunks or gouges with wood filler using a putty knife. If you’ve got major repairs to do on edges or corners, tape off the area, making a framework for your wood putty to dry in. Fill with putty and let dry as your package directs, usually 24h. When dry sand with 220 grit paper until the transition from filler to wood is barely noticeable.

The entire corner was gauged on this cabinet. I made a jig/gutter for the wood filler out of painters tape ( you can use flat pieces of wood or cardboard and clamp them on too, but I was good with the lazy-mans way for this project as it is very knotty and grainy naturally….don’t fight your finish too much☺️ Because it was over 1cm of filler, I let it dry for 2 days. If it is a high traffic corner you are fixing, use a wood-putty which is much stronger.

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Remove dust and clean surface: Even if your surface looks clean, it’s probably not. And if it’s a piece you’ve scavenged, you don’t know where it’s been. Oil, dirt or grease will bleed through your beautiful paint job! So use a microfibre cloth with a good degreaser to clean and remove any sawdust that might clump up your paint job.

Prep Materials:
-Tools for removing hardware ( screwdriver set, hammer, crow bar etc)
-150 & 220 grit sand paper
-Random orbital & palm sander
– square piece of wood for support with hand sanding
-Wood fill and/or wood putty
-Putty knife ( I’m an artist so I repurposed my palette knife🎨)
-Microfibre cloth or paper towel
-Cleaner/degrease ( I like TSP for tough jobs or plain old dish detergent)

Prepping is a lot of work but it totally pays off when your paint glides on smooth and totally transforms your piece!

PAINTING OMBRÉ:

– Prime: if you’ve used wood filler, if your wood has a very textured grain, or if it has a warm-colour, like oak, it is always important to prime. You’ll notice that where you put wood filler, paint looks more matte, priming helps even out a surfaces appearance. It also helps to stop bleed through of the woods colour; this is particularly important if your base colour is white or light. If your using white as a base colour, it’s easy to get a paint & primer in one. I prefer latex paint for furniture but always go for a zero VOC paint ( VOCs are volatile organic compounds, they give paint it’s smell and their off gassing is toxic )
Brushes: I hate sanding in between coats of paint. Plus, I live in a small apartment and can only drag large pieces outside for the major initial sand. One way to avoid sanding between coats of paint is to get a good brush. You’ll find the best brushes in the art isles. Opt to get large synthetic acrylic brushes that have more bristles ( closer together)  are flexible and finer; these give a silky smooth finish.
I use the brushes on the right. If your piece has lots of little cubbies, like this cabinet, pull the handle off your brush for more maneuverability

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Cat knows…these ones, right?

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Accept Some Imperfections: you’re painting wood, so your finish isn’t going to look machine made. Your wood may be grainy and painting it will make the grain more visible than stain alone. Embrace the hand-painted look of your material and don’t stress over minor imperfections – it is the material that gives your pieces their charm

– Buying the Paint: Always shell out the mouhlah for a good quality paint. The better paints have more opacity, which means more pigment, which translates into less work for you!

-You will need 2 colours to create your ombré: a base colour and a main colour. You will be mixing increasing amounts of your main colour into your base to make your ombré. I’m using white to paint the base of my cabinet, so white is my base colour. I’m using turquoise to make a gradient for my ombré, So turquoise is my main colour.

If you wish to use a dark colour such as black or dark grey for your base colour, then buy a light colour such as white or French linen as your main colour; you will mix the white into your dark base to make your ombré, it’s a nice dramatic look!
YOU WILL NEED MORE BASE COLOUR THAN PRIMARY COLOUR, so buy a larger amount of it.
I mixed turquoise ( my main colour ) into white ( my base colour) to make a gradation of 5 colours for my cabinet doors. Make sure to have lidded containers, or tinfoil as you’ll need to paint in multiple coats and you don’t want your paint drying out.

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Looking good, right cat? It’s important to have a big-ass drop cloth to protect your floor…

P.S. If you find a way to keep the cat out of the paint….let me know 😉

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– Colour Mixing: Have containers handy, 1 container to mix each colour. I used old plastic food and takeout tubs. Add measured amounts of colour to your base. It’s best to start light and add dark as needed. Remember, paint dries slightly darker than it looks wet! Have fun, just go for it! And ALWAYS mix more paint than you need to avoid running out of a hue and having to try and colour match it later. I started with about 1.5 cups of white ( base colour) and added roughly 1tbs of colour. Mix all of your colours before you start. Aim for nice gradual steps between colours. If your paint dries and you notice too big a jump between hues, just lighten or darken a cabinet door/drawer.

-Remember paint always dries. Shade or 2 darker than it looks wet. Here is a cabinet painted with its second coat … See how much lighter it looks wet?!

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Painting Techniques: Another way to avoid sanding in between coats is to add a bit of water to your paint. Add little bits at a time, starting with 1tbs. If you can smooth out your paint relatively streak less, you’re golden. you’re basically working in washes of paint, it takes a bit longer, with more coats, but means no sanding to get a smooth painted finish; if it regularly takes 2-3 coats, this method will take you 4-5.
If you have a nice garage or shop, or don’t mind sanding, by all means, use your favourite method. Of course, if you choose to sand to buff out your brush strokes, remember to use a 220 grit paper in between coats ( let coats dry overnight) and DO NOT sand the last coat.
TIPS

– Don’t rush putting your piece back together or putting stuff in or on it. I can’t stress this enough. Paint needs a good 1-3 weeks to cure to full hardness….

– after removing hardware, save time by putting it in labeled containers….trust me….I know from painstaking experience.

– when using old hardware, rub a bit of soap onto screws. They’ll slide in like butter.

– when choosing between water and oil based paints and stains: REMEMBER: oil based paints can go over acrylic/latex
But
Latex/acrylic can never go over oil based paints or wax

– To ease cleaning up your hands and fingernails, I suggest rubbing a bit of coconut oil on. I add a thin layer of it to my hands and upper arms to act as a barrier.

– I only use a clear top coat in areas of high traffic or if it’s a bathroom/kitchen piece that is likely to get wet or need frequent washing. If using chalk paint you must always clear coat or wax!

-If your piece has drawers, don’t paint the sides of the drawers unless you sand the sides waaaay down as the extra thickness added by the paint will make them stick
( latex paint, while very durable is also a sticky paint by nature) you can also rub baby powder or corn starch on sticky drawers

Project success, cat approved.

if you have any questions or tips of your own, let me know, us crafty peeps have got to stick together.

xoxo

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A Knitters Synesthesia

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to experience synesthesia? People with Synethesia ( synethetes ) have linked cognitive pathways, so that objects such as people’s names, numbers, places, letters and shapes are involuntarily experienced with another sense suchs as smell, colour or taste. A name could always be perceived as red or the number 2 could sound like a snake….

while I don’t have synesthesia, I do have strong reactions to colour. Sometimes I design knits based upon images and sensations evoked by colour. Like when I saw this light-turquoise cotton-yarn, I saw it from across the store and my entire surroundings melted away and reformed into crystal waters dancing with light and endless sand. I was possessed, I had to own that particular pool blue shade as I loved the way it made me feel…like a tropical breeze….

Synesthete or not, we all have attachments to colours. Attachments that link colours to feelings, spaces, places and people; it will always be a powerful inspiration.

🍎🍓🍉🍊🍋🍐🍏

Have a colourful day

Gender in Art: How I Unwittingly Participated in Perpetuating Gender Norms

Until a few months ago, I hadn’t noticed that I chose not to show pictures of myself in my online presence as an artist. Or that I chose the sexually ambiguous name “Jesse” over my birth name “Jessica”. Or that in my series “Imponderable Something”, a group of paintings and sculptures exploring cognition and perception, I unwittingly used all male models. I realized that I felt a need to hide my gender and started paying attention to the small but convincing voice inside me saying that my observations and artistic output would be valued more if they came from a man…. It sounds ridiculous to say out loud “in this day and age” and in the face of female successes whose names are known: Georgia O’Keeffe, Tracey Emin, Yayoi Kusama, Eva Hesse, etc. …. Still, in my own experience, galleries are dominated by males ( some I looked into represent only 1 or 2 women out of 80 artists). And More often than not people express a surprise at my artwork or technical capabilities, a shock that is not there for my male counterparts and is inherently patronizing. The attitude I run from comes in from my painting heroes too, male painters who openly speak of the inherent inferiority of female painters, here’s look’n at you Dali …Georg Baselitz….

When I realized I was inadvertently perpetuating images of inequality ( male thinkers ) I asked a few contemporaries how they thought my paintings would read if I used female figures. Overwhelmingly, the subject of how “people” perceive immediately changed to a feminist reading of how “women” perceive and “feel” I’m not interested in making feminist paintings…I want to make paintings about “human” phenomenon and experience…but the unfortunate fact that males register as “humans” and women register as “women” is a place I suppose I’ll have to muddle through if I intend to start treating my subject matter with the lens of equality.
I rarely feel like my gender. Growing up a child with sever pain and disfigurement from rheumatoid arthritis, I rarely feel like I am my body at all. It is my heart and my intellect, my ability to listen, observe, think and share … That’s what I identify with…

DIY: Antique Jam Cupboard Painted White

I’ve got a few loves…. things I toggle between to satisfy creative whims, and fill my life-spaces with comfortable beauty: knitting (of course) modern art and beautiful furniture….I’m particularly fond of button tufted anything and painted antiques added to airy spaces.

I’ve been slowly realizing my dream of an all white decor, a light filled space filled with old pieces of furniture ( ones with a unique history ) and filled with inviting, big, squishy knits….Ah, it’s a serene dream-space of mine. Spaces like these are particularly inspiring:

Image 1- reupholstered antique chaise Image 2- tufted loveseat from Wayfair  Image 3- patons cabled pillow & bed spread Image 4- winter decor ideas by lushome

I’ve got the perfect little antique jam cupboard to add to my collection of shabby-chic treasures. It’s from rural Ontario and over 100 years old. Moving to a fabulous new apartment was just the spark I needed to tackle it’s whiting.

I sanded 4 layers of old paint off the interior and sides using a random orbital sander with 80-100 grit paper, blasting through the bulk, and a palm sander for the corners, finishing with 220 grit for smoothing ( be sure to wear a mask if you try this at home since old paints were made with lead) The front door has a natural, time-worn crackle that I left and dry brushed over, hitting the raised wood and leaving the dark-walnut recesses. This was excruciatingly exciting since you only get one shot with this technique. I’m thinking of glazing the recesses to bring out it’s natural texture even more….I’m going to sleep on it. Forgive the photo quality, I’m using an iPad 📷

I think it will look great next to the antique wash stand I slathered in white and black glaze last week☺️

Happy DIYing Ya’ll

The Beautifull Lavallette in Linen & Lace: A Free Ravelry Pattern

I don’t usually knit from other people’s patterns. For me, the joy of knitting has a lot to do with learning old techniques to crelate something new ( and with a bit of edegree) …. However, on  a journey to add to my stash, I stumbled upon the Pima Lino Lace yarn in an electric-fuscia that  tickled the eyeballs; a colour they underwhelmingly called, Cranberry.  I knew it was for the beautiful Lavalette Shawl by Kristen Kapur (follow the link to her free Ravelry pattern). It’s constructed of simple bands of yarn-overs and stockinette, knitted loosely, and it drapes beautifully. This shawl is perfect understated elegance. The recommended  yarn is a silk/cashmere, but, to me there is nothing like linen. Linen is crisp and absorbent and, being made from hearty flax fibres, it’s one of the most environmentally friendly fibres out there ( aside from hemp of course). Linen can be tricky for even seasoned knitters as there is no stretch and it can be splity without the right needles ( bust out your addis for this pattern lace lovers ! ) but it’s defiantly worth the headache for its temperature regulating qualities and natural bloom with washing.

Happy Knitting

How I Overcame Creative- Job-Burnout by Developing Complementary Practices

Before I started knitting, I was a full time painter. At a point near graduating with a BFA on the deans honour roll, during  exhibits, gallery openings, university critiques, and a new demand for custom commissions, painting became my job. My artistic success had been redefined and became based on painting things that pleased others and their motives. That’s when I lost art. You see, for me, art came from a profound desire to express and communicate things of emotional power and intellectual stimulation. Art was a vehicle through which I attained meaningfulness ….when I painted for meaning, even though it was not easy, it was a pure joy.

When I make paintings, every minute is filled with decisions and I enter a hyper-aware yet intuitive state that is mentally and physically demanding. After building up an idea for months, I pour it onto a canvas in one comprehensive go. These energetic creative bursts are as exhilarating as they are exhausting.

When art became my job, it was less spontaneous expression and more ‘aiming to please’. While there is a place for art as a commodity, trying to fit myself into that role was like forcing a rabbit to eat meatloaf. My entire being suffered. I began to dread waking up to face the canvas and I was as moody as one quitting smoking. I turned to my favourite vices: eating to avoid work and forced-focusing to the point I wouldn’t leave the house for weeks at a time until I made progress. In a desperate attempt to re-create the relaxed but active head-space needed for me to create genuinely, I decided to follow the advice written on a herbal tea-bag-tag ( like a fortune cookie for yogis and modern day hippies ). The tag urged “meditate, and let things come to you” …. I was willing to try anything. Never being good at classical style meditation,  I’d heard that knitting was the-new-yoga, so I dusted off an old pair of needles that slept in my junk drawer.

The slow, steady rhythm of repeating stitch patterns occupied my mind and stilled my body. I embraced the knitters mantra: knit 1, purl 1, knit 1, purl 1 … With a soy-milk latte, a cat and my new skill I’d head out into the early morning sun or late night stars. I’d take my knitting to forests and cafes and I’d listen to intriguing news, lectures new music and books on tape. I was discovering outside for what felt like the first time in years and a healthy blush returned to my cheeks. My eating improved too upon slowing down. And there was excitement in learning the techniques: cables, fair isle, double knitting, lace….jumbo knitting ….. within a year I’d tried it all and more. I was hooked. I was healthy once more, inside and out and bursting with new inspiration.

I now juggle both a painting career and knitting business. In a half-hazard assembly line fashion, I use high energy times to fuel artworks and knitting days are used to generate products while recharging. The disciplines are unexpectedly complementary for me; the knitting, Inspired by colour and comfort, nature and the places of memory and imagination. The painting inspired by science, current events and all things mentally and emotionally fascinating and both disciplines cross pollinate from time to time. As my own job creator I am able to work with myself as a whole and unique being. I learned to maximize my output by testing my limits and respecting my creative process.

For those of us in the arts or crafts business, it’s vital to understand how we work, what makes us tick and what we need to keep going when things get tough. For some, that’s becoming a master within a single discipline, for others, it’s developing complementary disciplines etc. While some say I’m a dreamer for letting happiness be my North Star, in an age where heart disease brought on by job related stress is rampant and can end our journey altogether, it seems pragmatic.

To all who’ve made their vocation an occupation, I hope you find your knitting.

You can see all of my work as a visual artist here: jesserobertson.com

☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️

Find Inspiration for your Art/Craft Everywhere

One of the best ways to stay inspired in your craft is to get out there and look around. Look at food and art, nature, design…go to carnivals and travel…most of all, talk to everyone you meet. Ask them what they love to do and I guarantee you’ll meet the most extraordinary, inspiring people whose sparkle will rub off on you. I like to think of ideas as separate entities, that when mingling with each individual give rise to an infinite number of new and unique creations.
Personally, I’m inspired by food far more than I care to admit. A while back I found this orange ombré cake by Lydia Bakes 
and I was hypnotized by the juicy ombré. 
You can find here cake here: http://www.lydiabakes.co.nz/2011/11/orange-ombre-cake.html
Hence, I mace the tropical-breeze shawlette. I knit this shawlette in a romantic style with delicate lace fringe to contrast the punky, creamsicle orange yarn with metallic accent. It’s pretty whimsical.🍊🍑🍊🍑🍊🍑🍊🍑🍊🍑🍊🍑🍊🍑🍊🍑🍊🍑🍊🍑🍊🍑🍊🍑

Yes, The inspiration fairy can hit anytime ( for me, that time is usually mealtime😉) It visits those most who put themselves out there and watch for it.

Transitional Pieces # 3 The Katniss Cowl

I saw The Hunger Games: Catching Fire in 2013. Like any true lover of unique fashion and knits, I spent the duration of the film dreaming up how to recreate the beautiful, woven cowl/vest Katniss wore in the opening sequence. And I wasn’t alone. A gaggle of knitters and crocheters were soon producing variations, patterns and write-ups about the now staple “Katniss Cowl” originally  designed by Maria Dora for the post apocalyptic block-buster.

I’ve knit several of the patterns out there along with writing my own. The design is thick and rustic and warm. It fits loosely over a long sleeve shirt or jacket making it incredibly versatile as a transitional accessory. Mainly, it looks super edgy and badass, like its namesake.

These cowls hold a lot of heat in the upper body and neck. Wear it over your favourite summery shirt/sweater to transit into Fall temps or pair it with a Fall jacket to winterize it. These pieces are knit texture at its finest.

Transitional Pieces #2 Cowls

I’m from Canada. South-western Ontario to be exact. So, I know unpredictable Fall weather. It can go from Summer like temps to frost in a matter of a day…hours really. Yesterday I had dinner on a patio, it went form a sunny 17 Celcius to 4 … Which is preeeeeety nippy. Good thing I brought my Marshmallowy soft cowl…

My transitional piece #2 is, that’s right folks, the almighty cowl. Cowls are a great way to feel insta cozy. I knit my cowls wide enough so they can be pulled over the head like a hood and thick enough they can be propped up in front of the face to ward of frosty air. Having a big cozy cowl is like having a wearable pillow around your neck. And, yes, I’ve used mine as a pillow on long bus/train/plane adventures….pull it over your face for a bit of sleeping privacy too😉

People often cling to their favourite neutral, but cowls are a creat way to go for a pop of brilliant colour. Hailey ( my esteemed model today) chose this lovely green cowl to match her green peepers and a lovely one in brilliant radiant orchid, which is a double- wrap I whipped up in Madeline Tosh..it’s possibly the most vivid purple I’ve ever seen.

So, grab a colw for your Fall/Winter prowl….lol….whatever….they’re cute as heck.

Transitional Pieces #1 :Cozy Headbands/Earwarmers

There’s something about feeling that first nip in September’s air that makes me want to grab a hot chocolate or pumpkin- spice anything slurpy and warm, pull on a poncho and head out into the last bit of sunshine to knit.

September is all about transitional knitwear, the indispensable pieces that let us wear our summer outfits into Fall and our Fall outfits into Winter. My #1 favourite transitional piece is the Headband/Earwarmer. These stylish little bands hold in a lot of heat, for cool weather transit to and from work, finding frost after hitting the gym, or puttering around  putting the garden to sleep …. heck you may even have one of those Landloards or Ladies who refuse to turn on your heat before November even though it’s 4 degrees out.

You can fit these beautiful bands in your pocket or purse, they are great at warding off frost without ruining your hair. Conversely, if you haven’t washed your hair ( too busy creating fabulous things of course!) they’ll  hide your  greasy roots😉