Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. It is all the buzz in faux painting circles.
The newest paint. The latest and greatest. There is nothing like it they say. Certainly a lot of excitement. Once somewhat difficult to obtain because you had to order it from England [but I think it was manufactured in Belgium], but now no more waiting, converting from pounds to dollars and shipping issues. It is manufactured in the United States to Annie Sloan's exacting specifications and available from the distributor through stockists. I ordered several quarts from The Southern Institute of Faux Finishing in Brandon, MS and had it shipped to me. You can also take their Chalk Paint classes.
This is where I first learned about Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. I fell in luvvvvv with it when I saw Virginia Weathersby's samples at the Institute. My favorite was Chateau Grey on top of Duck Egg Blue. The cost is $35 a quart. I used less than a pint on my chair.
Duck Egg underneath Chateau Grey is the sample on the right.
My trial of the paint [unscientific, of course since there was no control batch] is done on a French chair I purchased at a neighborhood garage sale. Since I like Swedish and French furnishings, I chose Paris Grey for the color of the chalk paint. The chair has a lot of detailed carvings which I thought would look good in gold metallic. For the upholstery, I chose a cleanable white fabric that I seem to use on everything. The cost of the upholstery work is always the most expensive part of the project. I love white but I also need any spots to be easily cleanable with water and soap. This fabric is one of my best decorating secrets. This is a new, made in China, reproduction chair that has a gloss seal on it which I presume is varnish.
The test that I was most curious about was the claim on the AS website that you don't have to sand or strip the current finish. Just paint the chalk paint right over the top. So I wanted to see if that really worked and if the paint did stick, but further, did it stay on. In Annie's book, "Creating the French Look", on page 83, she also states that the surfaces do not need to be prepared or primed. Would it stick to my varnished surface?
First step: Apply the Chalk Paint. I like working with an artist's brush on small surfaces like these instead of a regular paint brush for better control and neatness. I applied two coats. To keep track of which surface I had painted, I rolled the chair in a clockwise motion and painted only the side that was face up and letting each painted side dry before rolling the chair to the next position. I knew if I didn't do that I would not be able to tell what had a second coat and what didn't.
The second step: Apply the gold to the detailed carvings. I decided to try a new product I learned about at The Institute called gilding wax. It is made in France and costs about $16 for a 30 ml jar. It comes in about five colors and I chose King Gold since I wanted a lot of metallic contrast between the gold and the Paris Grey. I applied it with a tiny artist's brush and then rubbed it with my index finger. The rubbing effect is what makes it glow. I luvvvvvvvvvv this stuff. Finding out about it was worth the entire tuition to my last class.
Here is a collage of the painted details:
Next step: Apply two coats of Faux Effects Dead Flat Varnish. I wanted the surfaces to look more antique Swedish with no gloss. The varnish did "grey-out" my paint with a hazy cast. It knocked down the gloss of the gold paint. I am debating whether next time I would use Faux Effects Varnish Plus product instead.
Last step: Take it to the upholstery shop. I tried a different one this time as I wasn't satisfied with the last one I used. So here is the end result. These photos are taken outside on my front sidewalk in the sun to get better light than I have indoors.
So what do you think? I'm pretty happy with the results.
My star system for evaluation on a 1 star to 5 star scale of what I look for in a paint are:
1) Odor - this gets 5 stars for no offensive odor or smell
2) Ease of Application - 5 stars here. It went on very nicely.
3) Thickness/Coverage - I always do two coats anyway, so I'll give it 5.
4) Clean Up - easy here with water, so 5 stars.
5) Sandability - light sanding resulted in "smooth as a baby's bottom" so 5 stars.
6) Green - see website. Good here.
7) Cost - at $35 a quart, it is pricey, so 3 stars.
8) Durability - does the paint stay on? My jury is still out on this as my chair legs came back from the upholstery shop with the paint rubbed off in several places down to the wood that I had to retouch. Not sure how this happened because I transported it on a white soft blanket. This is definitely something that I will continue to evaluate.
9) Looks - 5 stars here. It just has a beautiful "euro" look when it is sanded smooth and the touch of the finished paint is just wonderful.
For my unscientific summary, the question is would I use it again? My answer is Yes, but on selected pieces. I would like to get brave and paint my 1983 Henredon dining room table a light color - Old White or a beige with a gilded edge. Do I trust this paint for that project? I would not want the paint to scratch off from use of china and flatware. My sweet husband who occasionally reads my blog just fainted with that sentence. I would use the chalk paint on an antique, new or vintage piece of little value to give it an entirely new look without ruining an important piece if the piece was for my own household. Would I use it in manufacturing new Swedish/French furniture pieces, No. But I would on a custom painted individual piece for a client. Production finishers do not like working with water-based paints. Long-term durability is a key issue.
Here is another look at the before and after:
All the best,
Photo Credits: All Swede