My new thing is painting furniture. I have begun with my own study table. As with most things in our house, it has a history and is older than I am. My mother got it when she was in school, shared it with her sister for a while and then handed it down to me when I was in school. I can’t remember whether my brother and I fought over it, but it seems probable since we did so over everything else in our shared room. (It was a time of a single tape recorder, so a phenomenal number of fragile tapes became collateral damage in the bitter battles for airspace.) Anyway, I asked my mom if she was sentimental about her table and she said not in the least, so I set to work on it.
Painting wood is not exactly flinging water colours on the nearest bit of paper. It involves preparing the surface first. It took an entire Sunday afternoon. Stripping veneer and sanding are work. Real work. Especially when you have a fifty-year-old surface with three layers because previous DIYers were not exactly conscientious about preparation. I found out that one of them was the above-mentioned brother, which is strange because I don’t remember receiving the requisite application in triplicate to mess with my table. The Line of Control was clearly crossed one time when I wasn’t looking. That happened all the time, both ways.
Being me, it began ambitiously. I was going to reproduce a painting by Vaco that I really like. I downloaded it and built a properly scaled grid over it so I could copy the design out faultlessly. Then I remembered that I would also need to reproduce the professional paint job, so I changed my design philosophy and did my own thing with flat colours. I call it “The Seeing Eye Sees And Having Seen, Moves On”. The catalogue copy will explain it all; the comma may be especially significant.
Enamel paint is semi-transparent and apparently needs to be “flowed on with a full brush”. So I made further downward adjustments to my ambitions. When I checked on the net later, it seemed as if most 14-year-olds know this already. Well, they didn’t teach it in school in my day. Another thing I wasn’t taught is that if you forget the masking tape and you notice two days later that some paint's trickled down the side, you can’t just take it off with turpentine – it’s not nail polish. But on the subject of beauty products, my years of experiments with eye shadow have given me a very steady hand with the finer brushes. It’s also given my some highly effective, though unorthodox, things in my workbox, such as ear buds and cotton balls.
My masterpiece has really become a practice project in how to do the thing. I’ve identified two other pieces in my room for fame and glory. One of them will not occasion much comment (apart from, maybe, “do you know how much that veneer cost me?”), but the other might involve some dispute with the owner.
My first attempt at painting furniture actually went rather well, mostly because my Dad has a full workbench and lots of advice. The brushes were my own (left over from the time I went through a clay-pot-painting phase), but I need to replace his sand paper.
The table’s not finished yet, though the painting part is over. I found a great rubbing technique that involves some complicated antics with pumice powder and linseed oil, which is supposed to turn glossy to matte. If not, I can always learn how to strip paint and start over.
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