How-To Paint a Ceiling Medallion

painting tutorialI have always wanted to paint one of these decorative ceiling medallions and last week an old client of mine handed me an unfinished one simply asking me to “do my magic.” I was all over it.

unfinished medallionIf you haven’t seen these you can find them almost anywhere that sells lighting. This one came from Home Depot and is made of foam. They come primed and ready to paint.

metallic paintI chose to use Modern Masters metallic paint in the color Brass which coordinates with the other fixtures in the room where this will be installed. The glazing brush I’m using came from Pierre Finkelstein’s collection and is perfect for getting into the nooks and crannies on this piece.

stipplingMetallic paint will show brush marks if you try to simply brush it on, making it look streaky. It’s best to use a stippling, pouncing motion to not only get the paint in the crevices but to also give the paint a more even finish. This paint is a little transparent so it required three coats.

painting finishedWhen the three coats of brass were on I painted the inside and outside rings with two coats of an off white latex paint. The latex was in a satin finish which is important because I planned on glazing it. If I had painted it with craft paints or matte latex the glaze wouldn’t work properly and the piece would end up too dark and splotchy.

painter's tapeThe chandelier that will hang under this medallion is chrome and glass, so I decided to add aluminum leaf on one part of the molding and on a couple small pieces on the inside carving. The first step in applying leaf is applying a liquid size which is very runny so I taped off the ring to prevent the size from dripping where I didn’t want it to go.

Leafing sizeI use Rolco Aquasize because it’s water based and dries faster. Traditional oil-based size takes forever to tack up. I buy the metal leaf from Royal Design Studio, which is really close to my house and has a great selection. You can buy online from them as well.

Apply the size in thin layers with a soft brush. The size is the consistency of water so there’s really no way to put on a thick coat. It takes 25 minutes to dry and get tacky. If after 25 minutes it’s not tacky enough, put on one more thin coat.

A quick note on metal leafing: True metal leafing is an art form that takes years to master and pristine tools and environments. What I’m describing here is what I call Crafter’s Leafing. I’m just gluing on shiny metal. I’m breaking every rule of leafing, and I’m fully aware, so there’s no need to point it out.

aluminum leafMetal leaf comes in square sheets and is lighter than air, so don’t do this outside or near an open window, or while you’re blow drying your hair. Simply lay a piece of leaf over an area with size. It will stick immediately.

small soft brushI used a small soft brush to press the leaf into the crevices. Don’t press it with your fingers because the oil on your hands can discolor the leaf.

sheepskin padWhen all the leaf is on, burnish or rub softly with a sheepskin pad. This will even out the sheen and remove any little flakes lying around.

missing leafIf there are places where the leaf is missing, it just means you missed a spot when you were applying size. That’s easy to do when working with light colors because the size is transparent. Apply more size to the spot and add leaf when it’s tacky. It will blend in when you burnish it.

burnish marksAfter I burnished the leaf I noticed that it had left grey smudges along the edges. I touched it up with the latex paint before moving on to the next step.

glaze applicationI wanted to age the whole piece so I mixed up a very dark glaze and applied it heavily in small sections. Don’t glaze the whole piece at once or the glaze will dry before you can rag it off.

The glaze I use isn’t readily available to DIY people, but if I could give you a recipe I would tell you to  go to an art supply store and pick up Golden’s Acrylic glaze and Van Dyke Brown fluid acrylic. I would mix one part pigment to six parts glaze. Always test it before slopping it on the whole piece.

ragging offOnce you get the glaze on a section, remove it from the high points with a soft rag. Leave the glaze in the crevices.

hake brushI use a soft hake brush to stipple the glaze in the low flat areas. It evens out the glaze, blends it with the adjoining section and gets rid of smears. Work in small sections around the piece, glazing the outside molding last. Acrylic glazes take 24 hours to dry completely and may take even longer where the glaze puddles in the crevices.

finished medallionI love how the glaze settled in the outside molding. It took just enough shine off the aluminum leaf to make it pretty and not garish.

Beautiful medallionSo there it is. I’ll post a picture of it when it gets hung with the chandelier. They’re really happy with it and I had a lot of fun painting it. Now it’s your turn!

A small note: this didn’t end up being the final product thanks to the client’s wanting more metal leafing. Please go to this post to see the real final product.


Are you The Queen of Washi Tape?

Washi tape cabinetWashi tape is all the rage right now and if you haven’t bought a roll to play with I’d like to know what you’re doing with your time. Seriously! Washi tape is almost like post-it tape on a roll. You can tape something up with it, pull it off and it doesn’t harm the surface.

Washi Tape mural

Washi tape mural

The mural above was made using washi tape and when Rosa gets tired of it she can pull it down without leaving a trace of tape behind it. Great if you’re renting or in a dorm.

washi tape inspiration

washi tape inspiration

As you can see, the ideas are endless and the craft companies are coming out with new tape designs every day. I’ve even seen people striping their walls with the stuff, which totally beats painting stripes, striping with paint totally sucks.

washi tape storage

In response to the need to contain a person’s obsession, I created this washi tape cabinet.

salvaged wine boxI found this box at a yard sale. I’m guessing it was a wine box, based on it’s size and the imprinted graphic.

drilling holes for dowelsI drilled four holes on each side, big enough to insert four wood dowels. Easy peasy. Next I embellished it a little.

washi tape rackOkay, so I embellished it a lot. I wallpapered the insides with this cool grey, green and copper paper, painted the side a matching green, painted the dowels copper (Royal Design Studio Copper Stencil Creme), and glazed the whole box.

The collage on the front was a ton of fun to do. I painted in the castle, added a Queen, some flowers and two angels flying with bouquets of hydrangeas. Perfect.

lots of washi tapeThis cabinet can hold 80 standard washi tape rolls. Can you even imagine?! Now, obviously, I am not The Queen of Washi Tape. This is all the tape that my daughter and I own, and to be honest, we went out and bought a few more just so this photo didn’t look pathetic (that’s the kind of sacrifice I’m willing to make for my art). But for a serious taper (not a tapir, they don’t have thumbs, just hooves) this cabinet would give them the ability to not only contain their collection, but also add to it. Nirvana!

This was a really fun piece to make and I love how it came out. If you think you might be the Queen, or know someone who is, the cabinet is for sale in my Etsy Shop now.

Inventory used: acrylic craft paints, Stain & Seal

Office Supply Organizer

vintage supply boxI picked up two of these little boxes at Matilda’s Mouse sale in December. They look like leather boxes, but they are actually made out of cardboard with a faux leather covering. I have no idea what they were made for, but I just loved all the little boxes in the drawers.

I did think they could use a little freshening up though. I just new some fresh paint would liven them up.

craft supply organizerThis one I stenciled an Asian inspired design from Royal Design Studio. I also used Royal Design Stencil Cremes because they’re my favorite paint to work with right now. The paints I used are metallic and show up brilliantly on black backgrounds.

desktop organizerI used the same paints on the second box, but a Martha Stewart stencil, mostly because it fit easily on the box. Here you can see the little boxes inside the drawers.

They’re both for sale at my Etsy shop for anyone looking to get their work space organized. I just reorganized my shop with new photos so please visit when you get a chance. Happy New Year!

Inventory used: metallic paint


How-To Refinish a Metal File Box

metal file boxThis metal file box is something you can pick up at flea markets and thrift stores for next to nothing. Usually, as was with this piece, the insides are in really good condition but the outside may have some peeling paint and rust. Buy it anyway and trust me, you can easily turn it into a beautiful, functional piece.

scraping off rustStart by taking a taping knife and scraping off any paint or rust that’s loose. Don’t go crazy, just knock off the loose bits.

sanding off rustNext, take a coarse grit sandpaper (80-100) and sand it smooth. How smooth your paint finish ends up is based on how well you sand your piece. Don’t try to convince yourself that paint covers flaws….it really doesn’t. Do the work, you’ll be glad you did. Give the whole piece a quick sanding with a 200 grit sandpaper just to prep it for painting.

rust removerTreat the rust spots with a basic rust remover like Lime-A-Way.

rust removedThis photo was taken after the piece has been treated with rust remover and then washed down with really diluted soap. You won’t be able to get rid of all the rust. You just want to get it to the point that the rust isn’t rubbing off on the cloth anymore. Make sure all grease and dust is removed before priming or the primer won’t stick.

priming metal drawersA primer with a sealer will prevent new rust from forming and old rust from bleeding through the new finish. I like Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer. I sprayed the bottom of the drawers, where most of the rust was, with three good coats and let it dry for several hours before turning it over to do the top. Spray two coats and let it dry for several hours before painting it with regular paint.

Now that it’s primed, the options are endless. This is how I finished mine:

painted metal drawersI base painted my drawers with Faux Effects Set Coat in Off White; two even coats.

handpainted metal drawersI stenciled the majority of this piece with a design from Royal Design Studio. I used a Martha Stewart stencil on the drawer fronts, which I didn’t end up liking. The design is fine, but the registration marks didn’t match up which pissed me off. That’s what I get for trying to use something other than Royal Design products. Never again, I promise. I antiqued the whole thing after I stenciled it, just to warm it up.

The paints I used are Royal Design Studio Stencil Cremes in Renaissance Red, Smoked Oyster and Copper Kettle. These Stencil Cremes are the bomb and what’s even better is they’ve just introduced a bunch of new colors. I got to play with them last week and they’re so beautiful I was getting a little teary-eyed. (Definitely buy the Peacock and the Pink……and the Lime and the Orange and the Teal and the Lilac and the Royal Blue……….just buy them all and thank me later)

So there you have it, an awesome storage piece for the ultimate craft room. Have fun making your own, or indulge your desires quickly and buy this one from my Etsy shop. Come on, you know you want it.

Inventory used: metallic paints


Moroccan Jewelry Armoire

This is a piece I picked up at an estate sale about a month ago. I saw it in a corner and just swooned over the paint possibilities. The original price was more than I wanted to spend, so I went home without it. At home I told my husband about what I’d passed up and he said I’d made a huge mistake (I’m sure none of you have husbands who tell you to get back out there and spend money, but my husband is strange, and I’m incredibly cheap). So I ran back to the sale to see if it was still there and it was there, just waiting for me. I asked what their lowest price was and since it was an hour before they closed they cut the price 50%! Just put it in the car, Mister Sir! It originally had a dark brown finish, typical of anything from the 70’s. I forgot to take a “before” photo so help me out by trying to remember the dining room table you grew up with (can you see it on the blue shag carpet, with an orange macrame owl on the wall….the one with the scary glass eyes……..remember?) Now you have the idea. When I buy a piece like this I get a lot of ideas, so I wait for something to push me in the right direction. What directed this one was several sheets of leftover Modellos from a previous job that were just sitting in my studio. Modellos are adhesive stencils that are used to apply pattern to nearly any surface. Because they are adhesive you aren’t limited to stenciling with paint. You can use all kinds of liquid products without the fear of the material bleeding under. For these patterns I used a metallic plaster called Lusterstone. I have a lot of this in The Stash and am going to have trouble using it all I’m sure. I love the product for it’s ease of use and slight shimmer and on this piece it looks just like velvet. I just love the carved shell and the little feet. I ‘m a sucker for feet on anything especially ones with toenails.

The color palette I used came from a pin I saw on Pinterest. I’ve found a lot of cool color palettes on Pinterest encouraging me to try new schemes. I haven’t used these colors together before but I love the way they look together. I have a board on Pinterest that’s just for color palettes if you want to check it out.

I’m completely thrilled with how it came out. I can see it being the centerpiece of a really glamorous closet, or a great storage piece in the ultimate craft room. It’s now for sale in my Etsy shop if you want to take her home.

Inventory used: latex paint, metallic plaster


O’Farrell Charter School Project – Finished

I am now enjoying a well deserved glass of wine and smiling at my photos of this week’s makeover. To fully appreciate it, let’s take a look at the before pictures…..

Ewwwwwwwwwww…..grody! This school has gone through a lot of changes since it was built in the 50’s, and I believe this color scheme was left over from when it was an elementary school. Now the school serves middle schoolers, but they are planning for the school to serve K-12 in the near future, so it definitely needed a more mature palette.

This room is the lobby of Family Social Services which is an incredibly busy place.  This room hosts the community’s families and all the many needs they have. O’Farrell staff just wanted a place that conveyed security and warmth. So let’s see how we did…..

This is a work station and library. It’s a great piece donated by Pottery Barn, and they make good use of it. The artwork above was sitting in my studio. I had made them for a home show years ago and they were just collecting dust. I looked at them last night and realized they would be perfect, both in color and material. They’re plaster samples embellished with stencils from Royal Design Studio. The samples were mounted on foam core board which is really light weight so I was able to mount them with 3M velcro strips instead of nailing them to the plaster wall.

This is an interior window that was sadly covered in butcher paper. Apparently the room is used for meetings with students in crisis, so privacy is very important. I pulled down the butcher paper and replaced it with a scrapbook paper quilt. What I really like is that most scrapbook paper is double sided nowadays so it’s as pretty on the inside as it is on the outside, unlike butcher paper, that’s ugly on both sides.

The cabinet and bulletin board makeovers were the most fun to do. My idea for the bulletin board was to put up “frames” for all the important notices that go up there. These metallic rectangles make it easier to differentiate between all the similar pieces of paper, since each piece is framed in a different color. Even if you put something on the green background it shows up better because the color is broken up. The green spaces are for bigger posters and things.

The cabinet was fancified with a fantastic painted pattern thanks to my awesome stencil from Royal Design Studio (the only place to get stencils). Both of these projects were painted with metallic Royal Stencil Cremes from, you guessed it, Royal Design Studio (I’m sure you’re wondering if I get a commission from them, but I don’t, they’re just the best decorative paint resource in the world, I’m serious). These stencil cremes are awesome. If you’ve ever painted with metallics, you know they are notoriously transparent, so you have to paint 10 layers to get them to show up, and stenciling with them is a huge drag. Royal Stencil Cremes have fixed this problem. I am not lying when I say that this stencil was created with one coat. NOT LYING! Run out and buy one in every color (I swear I don’t get commissions).

Last, but not least, the conference table is stunning. Now that it’s been sanded, stained and declared profanity-free, it’s open for business. I’m not so naive as to believe that the students will be so taken with the restoration that they’ll no longer feel compelled to carve an F word on to it’s virgin surface, but for this moment, it’s beautiful. That has to be enough.

Thanks again to my family for helping me out on this project. Your potty-mouthed stories made the time go by more quickly and helped me ignore the sweat running down my back.

I’d also like to thank O’Farrell Charter School for giving me the opportunity to pay them back for all the good they do every day for the children of this community. I’m sure if there are levels in Heaven you will be far above me, so it was nice to get to hang out with you all before the afterlife.

Inventory used: Latex paint (one gallon and two quarts more from The Stash)