Let me just say; I LOVE paint! It's been my medium of choice for an entire lifetime and a career as an illustrator. 'And I am always pushing the limits of it's use; especially this project!
After many years of choosing fabrics for upholstery and sewing projects I am so tired of the usual ‘prints’; enough of that already! I want to see something fresh and something unique! So my inner 'control freak’ decided to make her own. Nature gives me the inspiration and this 100% painted chair was an easy project. These Geode Painted UpCycled chairs are like a piece of modern art…
This post explains some of the testing that I did before attempting this.
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Step 1: A New Colour for the Wood
Sometimes I just sit back and wonder how I got to this point? I suppose it’s just about what catches our interest… All those years of painting perfect landscapes and commercial work now has me even more fascinated with the designs that nature just produces by chance. ‘So came about my adoration of the designs in stone. And then finding a canvas to paint it on – priceless!
Getting them ready:
I don’t take on a project like these unless they are sturdy enough, and not damaged. Check √, I gave them a good washing a cleaning of all surfaces and crevices. I even tore off the bottom cover, just in case someone stashed their life’s savings in there… nope, darn. As a good precaution for paint adherence I like to scuff-sand the edges as those would be the first to chip if bumped. No need to completely sand off the old finish. Do clean all dust off.
For the Colour of the Wood:
It was a toss up; black or white? I sometimes still think I may switch. But the ‘colour gods’ have stated that ‘black is back’! But I don’t like a drab dusty-looking matt black, I like some sheen. As I make my own chalk paint, I combined about 1 part of calcium carbonate (from the wine making store) to 4 parts Gloss Acrylic Enamel. It’s much like when I painted the Shibori chair.
It covers quickly and once cured has a pretty hard finish. Even though acrylic paint may seem dry to the touch, it is said that it takes quite a while to properly cure to full hardness. The chalk additive will take the sheen down a bit from gloss, perfect. Any places where fabric and wood meet, I press the fabric back a bit to get the brush into the crevice.
Looking good in such a classic design; another reason I wanted a modern take on a antique piece.
Step 2: Colour Choices for Geode Designs
Mixing some warm grey with black and white and a bit of orange… I just can’t help but admire the designs found in swirling paint. There is currently a huge art movement that involves the pouring paints of various densities and creating some amazing ‘Fluid Art’. I have tried it but it’s one of those things that does not always just work out right. And, it goes against my grain to just pour so much paint in the garbage.
My controlled method allows me to take some inspiration from fluid art and enhance the size and design.
I am trying to get a good coverage on this very smooth tight woven fabric that is probably polyester. Thankfully it is not a fuzzy velvet so it finishes quite smooth, somewhat like a vinyl. I always default to my soft artist brushes as well. It is best NOT to paint a fabric that is really fuzzy or textured. To make it simpler, a good solid grey gives a good starting point.
I will address the edging later…
The Geode Pattern:
I mostly just winged this part… (taking inspiration from found images of geodes)
- But do think of it like a bunch of ‘squiggly rivers’.
- They get wider and thinner but they still run similar directions to the one next to it.
- Some bends and bumps add character
- Use a brush dipped in a different shade on one side to get it done fasterWiggle the brush
- Don’t worry of you don’t think it looks ‘good’, more can be added…
- Bands/rivers of various shades (colours with black added)/tints (colours with white added)
I find it almost like a doodling therapy. ‘Follow along… in and out… It always looks a bit worse before better…
There are plenty of images of agates and geodes all over the net. Keep the colour choices simple and close, as it should not look like a crazy rainbow of vivid colours.
Step 3: Squiggly Geode Lines
Ya, I know… I tend to be a fussy detail artist! I ALWAYS need to bring out the fine brushes. To make some of the edges more precise, a fine brush can help. Also still be very random with the thicknesses of line and curve.
Another obsession of mine is just add a bit of metallics. I little vein of gold or copper against the grey is wonderful. Random, remember! Less is more, as they say. Turn the chairs often and look from multiple directions.
The Edging on these were a nice simple roll of fabric which made painting it easy as well. I just kept it a simple grey.
Step 4: The Back
The back did get a similar treatment but with a slightly darker palette of colours. The frame could be taped or if any mistakes happen you can touch up with the black paint again.
Step 5: Have Some Design Fun!
Turn the chairs to make sure to get the pattern on all the sides continuous. Another reason a chair is great; you can lift it to put it on a table.
Now, Isn’t that much more interesting than a typical floral pattern… blech! It's kinda mesmerizing!
Step 6: Enjoy!
They are still in the mode of moving from one spot to another… But I can imagine them with modern or traditional furniture; don't be afraid to create some tension in design by mixing styles. It does not take much to pull pieces together. A bit of gold on a table and now they feel like ‘family’.
The Feel of Painted Fabric:
Generally speaking, painting upholstery can have it’s problems. Choose the piece wisely. In my opinion I would look for pieces that are mainly wood, have good ‘bones’, are sturdy and not expected to be soft and comfy like a couch for lounging. Sitting on these is like a vinyl, smooth and slightly sheened. They will not be hard to dust, that’s for sure. Or wipe any spill off of. They are an art piece; an amazing canvas to sit on… If not for my rescue they would probably be sitting in a landfill right now.
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