Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Today's Little Crafty Project

My friend over at "At Home With A Country Lady" posted some refinishing projects she did on some accessories that looked fab!  She used Gel Stain-a product I'm totally unfamiliar with-to antique or change the color of some things.  They turned out great and I thought about a little project I've been considering for a while but never got around to doing.

We'd been looking for something to set on the newel posts in the stair hall since we bought the place.  One day while scrounging the Nashville Flea Market, there was a guy pulling things out of a tangle of stuff in the back of a truck.  It wasn't what I would call a high-class booth by any means.  BUT, as we were passing by, one of these ladies caught my eye.  Happily, after digging through boxes of what-not, another one was unearthed.  Hey!  We've got a pair and they'd be perfect for the newel posts!  While we paid $20 each for the Plaster of Paris statues-probably $15 more than they were actually worth, we were tickled to death with our find and indeed, they were just the thing for the posts.  So, the base is wider than the top of the posts and I didn't care for the dead-looking finish color, but it was a small compromise given that they were perfect otherwise.

We didn't want to drill holes in the posts to mount them, but the solution presented itself in the form of a roll of stick clay-like stuff I found in the shop that had been used to adhere/insulate the storm windows by whoever installed them.  Works like a charm.  The only problem is that I had planned to do some other kind of finish on them which I had been putting off because I mounted them for the historic home tour this spring and now they really don't want to come off.  I'm tellin' ya, the stuff is sticky!

My thought was that I'd like to try to make them a bronze color but was having trouble getting up the initiative to start using a thin stain with the likelihood of drips while they're mounted.  Rita's post provided a solution I thought would work, so I picked up some red mahogany (if you haven't noticed, I'm addicted to this color stain)  and thought I'd give it a whirl.

I thought I'd just start a section and see how it worked then wipe it off if it looked terrible.  One thing lead to another and I had the skirt finished out.  I'll mention at this point that it is much easier to work from the top down, but I wasn't expecting to be happy with the results on a first try, so I didn't figure it mattered.  So, above the waist is the original finish and below the waste is a thin coat of red mahogany over the metallic gold which maintains some of the illusion of metal.

The second one went more quickly as I worked it from top to bottom and had learned what to expect from playing with the first one.  I used an old, weathered chip brush that was pretty stiff and worn halfway down to the nub so I could get the minimum about of stain shoved into the cracks and crevices, apply a thin layer overall, and allow for striations-think brushed nickel and the like.  Once the stain started to cure, barely stroking the brush over the surface helped smooth the finish even more, but still left faint striations.  I brushed the whole thing out in straight lines like something that might have been cast in a mold, and tried to resist following the flowing lines. For the bases, I just created a textured effect by tamping the brush randomly over the surface, allowing it time to set-up then diffusing the texture by tamping some more.  I they turned out pretty good, but now I want to work on restoring the tired-looking newel post they're sitting on!  I'm going to try to behave.


  1. Oh my word! They turned out fabulously!! I would love to have those but since they're stuck forever now, I suppose you can keep them. It's amazing what a little stain and elbow grease will do to "age" things. Great job!

  2. Christine,

    How fabulous! I love the statues. Thanks for sharing your techniques. You achieved an expensive look for a small amount of money--that's so cool. You got me ga-ga & drooling to try a project with the metallic paint, followed with a gel stain.

    I love learning from you. I never get tired of reading your posts. Wonderful stuff!

    While you sleep, your mind must still be calculating--working out details of your next project.

    You have a gorgeous house, and your posts are always beautifully photographed. Best wishes to you and Don.

    Mrs. D

  3. These look fantastic, just like bronze! You have such talent and a great eye for detail. Thanks for sharing your techniques and tips, and for letting us take a peek at your gorgeous home!


  4. Thanks ya'll! Donnie came in from work and just kept looking at them. He couldn't believe they looked so much better. Now he's rolling his eyes because I've dragged out half a dozen other things to "experiment" with.

    Mrs. D-you're so funny. Somewhere around here there's a "dreams" post about what happens when I'm sleeping. There are plenty of details though!

    Thank you for the compliment. I'm kind of speechless since it comes from someone with your talent.

    I'm looking forward to seeing your next painting!