Monday, 29 February 2016

Chippendale three-drawer chest

As I was writing the previous post I realised that I had only shared my three-drawer chest project in a closed FB group, a group specifically dedicated to Chippendale furniture kits from the House of Miniatures. Browsing through other people's pictures, I noticed that some imaginative people used the kits for making something other than conventional mahogany pieces, stained and polished. I guess I had never even contemplated the option because I was in awe of these kits and couldn't conceive of them being used for anything other than their original purpose. Maybe because they are rather expensive (for instance, as compared to Poundland furniture that I have happily upcycled). But maybe just because I lacked imagination.

However, in my two recent bundles I have a number of duplicates, and I am not particularly interested in making the same thing twice. I thought I could make a piece and give it away or even give away a kit, but the idea of making something less conventional was liberating. So I started with a nightstand.


It is a very straightforward piece that I had made before, but this time I assembled it first and then painted antique white and aged by painting brown and immediately wiping off the paint. I used to have a different night stand in this room that I won't even show because it was completely wrong style. It has now found a good home.

A couple of weeks ago, my Chippendale group decided to run a weekend challenge: we would all do the same piece.  Well, not all, but some of us. We decided on a piece that many people were likely to have, a three-drawer chest. I had made it before, and I had a duplicate which I wanted to do something different with.

In the group, I showed everything step by step, but here I will just share the interesting features I made when painting and decorating. For instance, because I didn't stain the parts before assembling, I had to consider whether the chest itself should be painted on the inside, so I had to go and check my 1:1 antique chests, and they are all unpainted. Which makes sense, because paint was expensive so why waste it on surfaces that won't be visible. Likewise, the outside of the drawers is unpainted. But the inside of drawers is painted - in a colour different from the outside of the chest! Imagine, I open these chests several times a day, and I had never noticed that they were painted inside!

So I painted the inside of my drawers. (Yes, I use a chopping board as work surface. It is good because I can just lift it and move elsewhere when I need my desk for my regular work).

The chest itself, I painted antique white.  I had to do three coats before I was satisfied. This wood just soaks up paint, as opposed to stain.

However, I wasn't happy with this plain look, so I wanted to distress it, and more radically than I did with the night stand. I rubbed the surface with a candle, then painted with brown acrylic and immediately wiped it off with a cloth. You can see the difference on a drawer front where I tested it first: 

This sequence explains it better. First paint over, on a completely dry previous coat, rubbed with a candle. Then wipe. The result is a much more natural-looking surface. 

For knobs, I used bead caps. 

Here it is in its room, the servants' room. It looks old and worn out, just as I wanted. I am very pleased with it and I glad I experimented.

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