Oh how I long for tea in a Parisien Café!
As I write this, it is March 2021. This week the schools in England have re-opened and the end of lockdown is in sight (fingers crossed). It will still be a while before I can take my daughter on a promised trip to Paris, but hopefully soon we'll be able to enjoy a coffee in our local coffee shop. I am sure it will feel a little like a holiday.
This tea trolley has a lovely shape and size to it and it's original castors, which I love. It is made from oak, but sadly had some nasty looking water stains on the top tier, which were not going to be removed by simply sanding as they were ingrained into the wood. The only option to revive this piece was to paint it. My longing for a visit to Paris inspired the transformation of this beautiful tea trolley.
I'll describe here the process I followed to achieve this look.
Firstly, a little bit of preparation goes a long way. I wiped it down to get rid of dust and cobwebs (it had been in storage for a bit). I know this might sound silly to mention, but there is nothing worse than getting the dust and cobwebs sticking to your paintbrush and mixing into your paint. Turning the piece of furniture upside down ensures, you get to all the nooks and crannies. I also taped the castors, using masking tape, as I did not want to get any paint on them. They are old and slightly rusty. Simply beautiful and I wanted to preserve that vintage feel.
Secondly, I painted the entire piece with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Graphite. I knew that I was going to distress the piece and wanted the base coat to show through. Once the graphite had dried I painted over it in Old White, 2 coats. The trick with chalk paint is to paint in all different directions, so that you create texture by layering the paint. I then sanded the piece, paying specific attention to the areas where it would naturally wear; the edges and handles for instance and 'worked' those areas more than the flat surfaces to allow the graphite and odd bit of wood to show through to create a distressed look.
The next step, was to stencil the design onto the top tier, using the graphite again. I forgot to video this step, but here is a little video of the same design I stencilled onto a chair. The colours in this video are Aubusson on top of Old White.
Finally it is important to seal Chalk Paint. I used clear wax for the entire piece first.
I felt that the trolley needed a little more ageing and by using a little black wax I was able to add more depth and dimension to the piece. Always use the dark or black wax over clear wax, otherwise the paint will just absorb the colour of the wax and you will end up with a 'muddy' colour.
I find the process of painting, sanding, stencilling and waxing very therapeutic and this time and space working on a piece of furniture, often sends me into a bit of a contemplative or reflective mood. For this little piece, it was all about those very visible water stains. Just because an object has a few scratches, nicks or stains, does not mean that it has lost it's function. It is still a perfectly good, useable tea trolley that with a simple bit of paint and some age old TLC it can be revived and have a new lease on life.
Isn't it true also for us humans? As we go through life, perhaps get a little older, or life has simply dealt us a handful of tough situations to deal with, that sometimes we feel we are no good any longer, lost our worth, passion or purpose. Left in the loft to gather dust, so to speak. But there is so much more that we have to offer, when we simply take the decision to dust ourselves off, change our attitude and apply a fresh 'coat of paint' and say, here I am, ready for whatever life may hold. One of my favourite verse in the Bible says; 'Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind' (Romans 12:2)
My wish for all of us is that we may find our worth and purpose everyday, by transforming the way we think. Just like this tea trolley, we have so much more to give, people to serve and memories to make.