Thursday, June 21, 2012

Dresser makeover

Moo-ve over socks and undies...herd on in the DVD's-

 This is how I made over a faux "leather" dresser into a media storage chest

We had a dresser that we were using for DVD storage but it was really sad and in need of a face lift.
This is the poor thing before. The sprig of a girl is our youngest and this is the best picture I have of the dresser before. It is a grey blue color and see all those chips and scratches?

The dresser is really, really old. I got it from my Great Grandmother who got it from her neighbor who had it for many  years before the many, many years ago that my Grandmother purchased it. So it's REALLY old.

 The dresser is covered in a super thin laminate and some of those chips are the laminate actually breaking off as it is old and brittle. The top is really pretty. The top has a graceful bow or curve in the front edge, I promise, you will get a look at it.  So pretty and graceful that it really makes the whole piece.

I started by washing the whole thing down with soap and water, removed all the drawers and took the drawer pulls off. I really do not like the drawer pulls but I will keep them for another project. Then I applied a thick coat of Gesso. Gesso is my favorite. ( In my editing I noticed I am having a Buddy the Elf moment there) Gesso covers pretty well and gives a great light super fine sandy texture so that other layers grab and hold on really well.  Gesso is also relatively inexpensive, readily available at most discount stores and hobby stores and cleans up with soap and water and has a light smell but nothing industrial strength or toxic and it dries very fast. Like I said, Gesso is my favorite. The dresser got about three coats total but the sides got one extra coat. I used a pad painter it is very handy and coats well.

After allowing that base coat to dry the real fun begins.

 Rally the troops! 

My husband and I have two little girls who have a strange compulsion to tear paper into tiny pieces. I understand this is pretty common in little ones (tactile stimulation and learning cause and effect) so this project is perfect for them and they enjoyed every second of it.   Here is the bonus part, the girls haven't torn up any paper since we did this project. Maybe it is out of their system? Whatever it is, I will take it! 
I stacked the paper bag's in front of the girls and told them to think about what I was going to ask them to do with them. There was a lot of smoke rolling out of those little ears.
Then I told them and they both squealed!

I think they enjoyed themselves, don't you? They also might have some unresolved anger issues..... : )

Save one paper bag, more about that in a minute. Take the paper bags and tear them up. Some in large and some in small pieces. For larger pieces you will want to find the bags seam and cut open the bag so it will fold out flat. My lovely little assistants tore the bags into random shapes approximately 4" by 3" or larger. No measuring just eye ball it. You don't want them too small.Then once the pieces are torn, wrinkle or ball them up and then throw them in the bag you saved. It is best to leave these all balled up for at least a night. This draws out your project but it allows those wrinkles to set in the paper well.

Rise and Shine!

I know you waited a day to read the rest right, ok well I hope you waited at least a day to let those wrinkles set. It really does make a difference, trust me on this.

Let's apply the pieces of paper. Grab your sponge brush and mod podge. It really doesn't matter what finish you chose for the mod podge we will be putting a glossy sealer over the top. Take each piece and apply the paste to the back and then place it on the top of the dresser or whatever you are covering. My bags had some ink advertising on one side you do not want that to show so watch what your doing. Once you lay one piece down wipe over the piece with your sponge brush again. My bags varied in color, some darker than others. So I tried to watch and keep it varied so that there wasn't too much dark or light in any one color.  Fit the pieces together overlapping them like a puzzle. Let that dry completely. Some pieces will curl up as they dry and that is ok. When you seal it they aren't too rough and add texture.
To dry, I turned a fan on and went to bed. I started the top at 7pm and finished it about 9pm. Yep it takes awhile. Once it was dry the next day it was time for the age.  See the graceful curve on the front? Pretty, huh? I told ya!

VARIATION: If you prefer a less "piecey" look use a full folded open wrinkled bag and layer that with another fitting the pieces together like a puzzle again. Make sure you put a light coat of paste over the entire top once you are done.  I wish I had done this on the top but of course hindsight is 20/20.  I used this larger piece technique on the smaller drawers and to create the larger spots on the sides and drawers.

AGE is your friend!

This is the one time you want your wrinkles to show and make themselves the center of attention. I used a Stazon Ink pad in black, a pad in Chocolate Brown and Sunny Yellow all from Close to My Heart . Their ink pads are color coordinated to their lovely papers.

This age process is all about layering and adding some color, dimension and texture with color.
Start with the darkest color (black) and then the medium and finally the lightest.  Use any three colors you like but these lent a very leather look and that is what I was after here. I used the pad and very,very lightly swiped the ink pad over the paper.

Between each layer let the first color dry completely. Again I put a fan on and let the ink dry for at least an hour.
 I kept pressing my hand over the the ink as the warmth and moisture in your hand will make the still wet ink activate and print on your hand. So do not swipe your hand across it as if it is still wet it will smudge, unless you like the way that turns out. As I checked a color I smudged areas with my index finger, the areas that were too strong or looked to much like a stamp pad.
The black took the longest to dry, it took about 3 hours. I applied the yellow sparingly as I didn't want bright yellow just hints here and there.
Once all your age ink is dry grab that sponge brush a cup of water and a Burnt umber acrylic paint or some reddish brown paint. I dipped my sponge brush in the water, squeezed out the excess water and then dabbed the brush into the paint straight from the tube. then I quickly dabbed a small area of the top with the paint and started the truly technical part of smushing and spreading the paint all over that area.  Really just smear it around, you want the whole area covered but too much water as it can make your Mod Podge paste start to lift. Work in small areas all over the top until it is all pretty consistent and completely covered. This gives the rich tanned look to the "leather".

 The brown and yellow ink is water based and it will dilute a little in this and again in the sealing process, that is ok, you want that as it creates a more cohesive look. The black is the darkest age effect and it won't dilute, you also want this as it gives dimension.

So now that all the ink has been applied and the paint is smeared to your hearts content hurry up and turn on that fan and wait.

I was unsure If I was going to paint the edges and therefore the front and sides of the top were left undone and aged separately the next day. You can see that in a few pictures. One picture has the edges un-aged and you can really see the difference and dimension in the two differing areas.

The front of the dresser was painted a rich brown, the sides I left with the four coats of white gesso. The larger spots with the faux leather (aka paper bags) were then applied again with the Mod podge paste and aged. While I aged the spots and the drawers. My poor finger took a beating on this project. The laminate on this piece had very sharp edges that I was not aware of as I blended the still wet ink and paint with my bare finger. I didn't feel it happen but I noticed a really REALLY red spot on the gesso. I stopped investigated it's mysterious appearance and found the cut. See the red spot near the tip of my index finger there and the lovely black brown red stain? Yes it hurt like a deep paper cut by a manila folder and yes the stain was there for days even with vigilant scrubbing.

I added age to the edges all the way around the sides and bottom of the dresser. This gives the distressed look.
Once again I turned on that old fan and let it all dry.  A coat of clear glossy Polyacrylic by Minwax (I think) sealed the deal and gave it a pretty glossy shine. Again do not panic when the ink smears as you apply the poly. It really is ok. This piece is not to be perfect but distressed a little smear adds character.

Drawer Pulls-

I really didn't like those drawer pulls that came with the dresser. They grabbed your clothes and dug into your skin when you rubbed them.  I found some great new knobs but couldn't bare to pay $6 a piece for them even for this beauty. In keeping with the "leather" or "western" look I went with just un-raveled rope.
HOW to:

The rope was twisted and taped tightly to get through the original holes in the drawers. Once my poor husband used a pointy edge to gently poke a hole through the faux leather and pulled all those pieces through the holes he knotted them and checked with his larger hand to be sure the pulls would fit most hands and pulled those knots TIGHT!
The tape will slide off the end with a little effort and a pair of Leatherman pliers. If you go this route with the rope put a drop of glue on the end of the rope just before you knot. It helps to keep it all good and snug.  The rope is working for now and the best part if it breaks or falls apart is that I can easily replace it. Or should I say the hubs can replace it.

We are using this pretty lady and it's mirror in our living/ family room to store our DVD's and remotes. We can fit many movies in those big middle drawers!

If it had one more big drawer it could also house or video game and accessories.
Maybe this dresser needs a friend? Hmmm sounds like a new project. ; )

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