I’ve told you a million times, I am not a crafter. I despise glitter, I can’t use a glue gun without burning myself, and I can’t cut a straight line with a pair of scissors no matter how hard I try. The only thing that puts me in the “craft club” is the fact that I own a Cricut. And I’m slightly obsessed with it. I use it to cut vinyl decals for coffee mugs, water bottles, journal covers, car windows...I make iron on designs for shirts and pillows and tote bags...custom stencils for wooden signs, fabric, and furniture. It’s the most useful tool in my office and has been a huge part of my business the last few years.
If you’ve got one in your craft room collecting dust because you are too intimidated to try it out, if you’ve been wanting to get one but don’t know where to start, or you use one but you could use a little helping hand...here are some of tips and tricks that have worked well for me. These aren’t basics about how to use your machine….these are just some things that I’ve learned by trial and error that make using the machine a heck of a lot easier. (I own a Cricut, but most of these will apply to any at home die cutting machine, like a Silhouette or whatever brand you’ve got). If you are looking for a full rundown on how to get up and running with your cutter, Payne Hollow Painted has a Cricut crash course, and there are a couple FB groups where you can ask questions from fellow crafters, too.
Ready?? Let's jump in!
-Skip the Cricut vinyl. I’ve used it, and I know I’m not the only one to say this...it’s kinda crappy. It doesn’t like to stick for the long haul and the iron on stuff is just as frustrating. I buy my vinyl online and I’m loyal to the brands I love. For iron on vinyl (for making permanent designs on fabric) I use Siser Easyweed HTV. The name is no lie, its super easy to weed your design, it irons on easily, and stays put. I buy these in large rolls in individual colors (I always try to have at least 5 yards of black and white on hand) to get the biggest bang for my buck. For all other projects, I use Oracal 651. It’s an outdoor grade vinyl that has a durability rating of 6 years (which I believe is for outdoor or high usage...so your average items can last a lot longer). I use this for mugs and windows and water bottles, but I also use this to create my stencils. I find it to be a lot stickier than the actual stencil vinyl, making it less likely to have bleed thru on wood and fabric. When I was just starting out, I made the bulk purchase of all the colors and it saved me a ton of money. I use the less popular colors for my stencils (yellows and browns) and save my more common colors for actual decals. Both of these brands can be found in some big name craft stores, but the cost is quite a bit less online. (Grab HTV here https://amzn.to/2UFOwUS and Oracal 651 here https://amzn.to/2WNUG83)
-Don’t waste money on the name brand tools. Cricut sells fancy picks, tweezers, and scissors at a premium price. Skip those! Go to Harbor Freight or head online and grab a set of picks for a fraction of the price. All you need to weed your vinyl is something with a small, sharp, point. You can even use a simple sewing needle or exacto knife. I like to have a few angled picks for certain projects, but you don’t need anything special to weed your design, I promise. (These are my favorite!! https://amzn.to/3dFTZUr)
-All fonts are not created equal. Your computer likely came with a handful of fonts pre programmed, and they are fine...but you’ll want more soon, trust me. But where do you get the best selection? Skip your Cricut premium fonts and purchase or download your own. If you are just doing projects for yourself, head over to Dafont * com and check out the insane selection. Most are available for personal use with no issues. If you are working on commercial projects, you can usually purchase commercial licenses for your fav fonts on that same site...but I find much better deals on FontBundles * net. They have great deals and you can often get a dozen or more fonts for the price of one. (If you are having a hard time getting your downloaded fonts to show up in your design space, unzip the file and install them, then close your design space out and reopen).
-Connect your letters! If you are using a script or handwriting font….scoot those letters together!! This is the biggest tip I can give to make your work look professional. Cursive letters are meant to connect, but they don’t always link up in your design program. You can adjust the distance between the letters to bring them closer, but often times this doesn’t work perfectly. I prefer to detach the letters and manually move them together, and then weld to remove any cut lines in between.
-Buy extra mats. I started with the 12” x 12” mat. Then I quickly realized I needed the 12” x 24” one. Then a few weeks later I realized I needed more than one. If you are cutting stencils for multiple signs or you are doing designs for multiple projects, you’ll save a ton of time by having a few mats loaded up with vinyl, ready to cut in an assembly line fashion.
-Clean your mats. They are sticky. They are made that way. They hang on to the vinyl by being sticky. Ya wanna know what else will stick to them? EVERYTHING. After a week, you’ll realize they aren’t sticky at all anymore because they are coated in dirt and dog hair and lint and glitter. Grab some Awesome cleaner from the dollar store and spray them down in the bath tub. Let them soak for 20 minutes or so and then wash off with clean water. Let them air dry and then they will be back in action in no time.
-Don’t spend a ton of money on the specialty pens and markers for your Cricut. (Yep, your cutting machine can write for you too!!) If you have some awesome markers that you love but they don’t fit into the pen holder, try wrapping them in rubber bands or those squishy pencil holders that your kiddo uses in school. This will make them larger and then they’ll fit more snug in the clasp that holds the pen.
-If you buy specialty printed vinyl (I prefer to buy mine from Etsy to get the best quality and unique designs), be sure to read the description to see if you need to reverse the image and to see what setting you should cut on. Not all printed vinyl is created equal and some have different thicknesses and need to be cut on various settings, but usually all the info you need will be listed in the description. (Also be sure to read the description to see if the printed vinyl requires a separate transfer sheet or if it comes with one!)
-Skip the expensive transfer tape and get clear, permanent shelf liner instead. It works just as well and is a fraction of the price. I even use shelf liner as a stencil medium when I’m running low on vinyl. It cuts on the same setting as your window decal vinyl and works just as well.
Sooooo, if that was too long, didn't read:
Get yourself a fancy Cricut. Skip all the fancy Cricut add ons. 😆
Does that help?? Think maybe you are ready to dust that old machine off and get your craft on?? Start with a simple design and jump in! And then lemme see what you are working on!
***If you are still on the fence about getting a cutting machine, I have the Cricut Air 2 (Not the newest version, but it does a ton and is almost half the price of the newest model) https://amzn.to/2UFTG37
Or there is the Cricut Maker (If you want the newest model, because it does all the thangs and also comes in champagne gold) https://amzn.to/2UnEjgC
(This post contains affiliate links. These help keep my business afloat and don't cost you a dime! I only link products I truly love!!)
We went on a walk at a nearby reservoir the other day to get some fresh air and exercise and were hoping to spot some owls. My mom has been visiting the same area for a few years now and she’s seen a family of owls there every time. But this year? This year was different. As we got closer to the cluster of trees that the nest is usually in, my mom slowed down and went silent. Half the trees had been cut down since she last visited a few months ago. Giant piles of logs were piled up next to the embankment and not a bird in sight. There’s a lot of construction happening nearby, bulldozers growling in the distance, smoke clouds puffing into the sky...and no owls. The birds that had called these trees home for years were displaced. In an instant, their entire lives were pulled out from under them and they had no choice but to leave, begin again somewhere new, and try to put all the pieces back together….
There are a lot of us feeling overwhelmed by the financial impact of what is happening right now. Many that are afraid of losing their homes, their businesses, their everything. And unlike other economic crashes of the past...this one is hitting all demographics. For the wealthy with substantial amounts of money in the stock market, the loss is mind boggling. If you were living paycheck to paycheck while working at a restaurant, this is catastrophic. Own a small business in town that was just closed down? Gut wrenching. These aren’t slight inconveniences or mild discomforts...these are monumental losses. And while it’s easy to be completely engulfed in all the terror, I think it’s important to remember that the owls survived. They found some other cluster of trees on another side of the lake and, branch by branch, they rebuilt.
I’m not a financial expert. Not by any stretch. But you know what I am? I’m resilient. I’m creative. I’m practical. And I’m resourceful. And right now? I’m leaning on all of those traits to silence out the fear and panic. My heart tends to spiral and focus on the loss and the devastation, but my brain is putting on the brakes. Because we don’t have time to panic...we’ve got work to do. I can’t give you advice that will magically make this all go away, but there are things that some of us can do that will maybe lessen the blow. Maybe one or two of these will hit home for you or spark an idea that can work for your business, maybe something in here will help put some fast cash into your pockets, or maybe it’ll all be rubbish. Take it or leave it, adapt what you can, and remember to keep moving forward.
Take Your Business Online
-I can’t begin to tell you how many small business owners I know that have refused to take the leap into the online world. You’ve got to be in front of folks now more than ever. Social media and a website allow you to sell items when your brick and mortar is closed, be that during a worldwide pandemic or just your normal days off. At the bare minimum, you can list items for sale on marketplace right now. But to truly set yourself up for success, get a simple website running so customers can check out and complete their purchases in a professional setting. I don’t recommend setting up an entire website with thousands of new items listed overnight. That’s way too overwhelming and your odds of quitting are sky high. Start small and build steadily. Get a basic website up and running, choose a simple template that is easy to add to when needed, and list a few items. When you are feeling up to it, add a couple more items. It’s that simple. Keep yourself from being overwhelmed and you will build slowly and steadily. And check out a few different website hosts and find one that you feel comfortable with. I use Weebly and I’ve been soooo happy with it. Start with their free package, choose a template, and customize it to make it feel like home. Then when you are ready to make the leap, upgrade to get all the extra features. They also have rockstar support so if you have any issues adding a shopping tab or integrating with a previously owned domain or anything in between, they can talk you through it via chat windows (or if you aren’t an anxious weirdo like me, you can just call them). If you end up going this route, click below and you can save 10% off your package. (Affiliate links help keep this business afloat! Thank you!)
-Times are changing, drastically...and your approach has to as well. Can you offer free delivery and drop purchases off on doorsteps? Can you teach online classes for a small fee? Can you start a subscription box to ship to clients? Would one on one web conference calls benefit your clients? Think outside the box!! Look at the world from your customers’ perspectives and see if there’s something you can do to make things easier for them. We are all adapting to a new way of life right now and business is no exception to that!
Find Money In New Places
-If your hours got cut, you got laid off, or your whole world came crashing down...start looking for additional sources of income. I’ve noticed things are still selling on marketplace like crazy. Go through your house and clean out anything you aren’t using. Have an old treadmill in the basement you haven’t touched in years? They are a hot seller right now! Have a ton of clothes in your closet that no longer fit? Throw them on Poshmark. Need something more steady? Can you sign up to be a grocery delivery driver?? How about GrubHub? I’m also hearing tons of ads for grocery stores and warehouses right now that include good pay and great benefits.
Turn Your Hobby Into A Business
-Have you been making jewelry for gifts? Do you crochet while you watch tv? Paint furniture for fun?? THIS is your time to turn those hobbies into money makers. If you’ve been thinking about it but never had the time to make the jump...well guess what?? You may have a little extra time now. If you aren't sure what you could do, ask yourself "what do you have to offer the world??". We all have talents, and most of them can bring income if played right. Is there something you make for your friends that they love? Is there something people ask you for all the time? If your friends and family love it, so will others.
Invest, Invest, Invest
-I said earlier, I’m not a financial expert. But I know that investing when the market is low is smart. I’ve wanted to join the investment world for a long time, but I could never quite time my entry and it was too scary to take the leap. (Picture me swaying back and forth at a double dutch game for the last decade) But if you’ve had the news on at all in the last week, you know things are looking pretty gloomy. So now is the time. I don’t have a fancy financial advisor to move my money around, and I honestly don’t know enough to go at it completely on my own….so I found something that worked for me and my comfort level (and finances). I downloaded an app and finally made the leap. I’ll be honest, my first leap was more like a teeny tiny bounce, but then I decided to add in a little more a few days later. I signed up for the cheapest monthly plan (only a dollar a month) and skipped the option of recurring deposits. This made it the absolutely lowest risk investment option I could find. ($12 a year is totally manageable to me for what they provide) I also used a referral link from my sister that gave me twenty bucks to play with, so my initial investment of $20 was already covered in case I totally screwed things up. It’s super easy, kinda fun, and hopefully will set me up to have a bit of a silver lining when the world feels normal again.
-Tons of guidelines are changing every single day to help us through the financial side of this pandemic. Mortgage companies are pushing payments to the back end of loans, school loans are now able to be deferred for 60 days, utility companies are backing off and forgiving late payments...you’ve just got to ask. If you are facing a financial crisis right now, it’s time to make some phone calls. I’ve read a bunch of posts saying that companies will only cut you slack if you specifically say you are in money troubles due to coronavirus (vs just saying you are laid off or strapped for cash for any other reason). I’m not sure if there’s any truth to that, but it’s not gonna hurt. Pick up the phone and ask for help.
Make Some Changes
-This is the one that I hope sticks with us long after this virus is gone. Take some time to really look at your life. What can you be doing differently?? You’ve likely already cut back your spending due to social distancing...but what else? Are there ways you can reduce even more? Can you switch to generic brands for your grocery shopping? Can you plant a garden with your kids to save money on veggies this summer? Can you bike to work to save the gas? Can you link up with a friend or neighbor to split memberships? Can you start filling a reusable water bottle and ditch the plastic? (Ok, for real, you should be doing this one already.) Maybe now is the time you needed to quit that expensive smoking habit. Whatever it may be, if there’s something that you can change to save money, and it also happens to be a change that will be better for your health or the environment?? Get on that! And stick with it in the years to come.
The owls in the park rebuilt. And so will we. I’m not saying it’s gonna be easy, but if we do it together, it’ll sting a little less. Take some time to breathe, assess your situation, and then make some major moves in the right direction. This was just a short list of ideas...but I want more!! What are you doing to survive this? What changes have you made to ensure the lights stay on? Any tips we should hear????
I’ve put blood, sweat, and tears into my work in the past. I’ve struggled. I’ve been overwhelmed with frustration. I’ve cried tears of joy when things sell. I’ve felt connected to my incredible clients and longed to see how their pieces are fitting into their new homes.
But I don’t know that I’ve ever felt a connection to my actual work. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt like I was creating a representation of me. That my hands were actually molding my heart, my soul, my existence. Until tonight.
Tonight, I cried with this girl. Maybe it’s because we’ve known each other for so long. She’s been hanging out in my office with her sisters for months and months. She’s become a constant, a comfort, a norm. But tonight, she underwent a transformation that punched me in the gut and tore me right open.
Tonight, she stopped pretending. She broke out of her polished existence and dared to be her true self. She showed all her flaws, her pain, her history, her scars. She showed her growth and evolution. And just as important, she showed her beauty despite it all. Her beauty beside it all. Her beauty because of it all.
This piece will not please the masses. She’s ragged and worn down. She’s rough and true and real. She’s turned off the filters and shown her skin...blemishes, wrinkles, bruises and all. She’s not a beauty queen, but fuck, she is real. She has lived. She has loved. She has fallen. She has risen. She’s far from perfect but she’s learning to shine through the imperfections and for the first time in her life, she’s learning to love herself. She’s learning to live without a constant string of apologies. She’s learning to find value in herself when she’s been told for decades that none existed. She’s gasping for air in a world where she’s been told she doesn’t belong. She’s standing tall when she’s been told to sit down. She’s learning to be.
And she’s terrified. But maybe, just maybe, there’s a little beauty in that, too. Maybe, just maybe, her scars will serve her well. Maybe, just maybe, all that pain was worth it. And maybe, just maybe, she’s exactly where she’s meant to be.
This piece was a ton of fun to paint and I was able to document it from start to finish. I don't do a lot of farmhouse finishes, but this modern take on the style was right up my alley. Finished in Wise Owl's Black, Inkwell, and Abyss for a sleek but dimensional look.
I sure wish we had scratch and sniff on the internet so you could experience these salves in all their delicious glory...but alas, you are stuck with words and hopefully I can come up with the right words to properly describe them. My descriptions are far from professional (although I’ve been told they are insanely accurate) so I’m also including the “official” descriptions as well. Do with them as you wish.
Lemon Verbena: Clean. Not clean like chemicals, but clean like clean USED to smell before all the chemicals took over. Clean like your grandma’s homemade solutions used to scrub the counter tops. This one is stronger than most, but dissipates gently. (Lemongrass and floral verbena with a base of vanilla/musk. Hints of lavender, geranium rose, and musk)
Lavender: You got a gift certificate to a fancy spa for an hour long massage. When you walk in, they lead you to a dressing room, hand you the softest robe you’ve ever touched, a brand new pair of slippers, and a mimosa. This salve? Smells exactly like this incredible spa. (Lavender, orange, lemon, and cedarwood, with bergamot)
Noir Moon: Literally smells like a maple donut. Every single thing about a maple donut. Nothing more, nothing less. In terms of strong scents, this one is among the strongest. (Coriander, spice, and undertones of tonka bean)
Riotous Rain: Floral flowery flowers in a field full of flowers. But it’s relatively mild. Its soft and delicate and feminine. (Sage, lavender, grapefruit, and orange with a base of sandalwood and amber)
White Tea: Smells like a hot guy who drives an Audi to work. He wears a tie every day, but rolls his sleeves up. Your mom LOVES him. He’s kind and courteous and safe. This one is more mild and delicate while still being masculine. (Bergamot, lavender, mandarin, with thyme, ginger, and lemon)
Tobacco Flower: White Tea’s even hotter friend. This friend is covered in incredible tattoos and has an impressive beard. He rides a chopped Harley, has dirt under his fingernails, but oh my is he fun. Your mama does not approve. Probably because she is wiser than you. This is my favorite for all things leather. (Black tea, ginger, bergomot, and cedarwood with spices, vetiver, and sandalwood)
Black Sea: Jason Momoa in Aqua Man. Salty, sweet, masculine, fun. Goes great on absolutely everything. (Plum and aromatic ozone with a base of vanilla and amber)
Foxtrot: Picture a Hallmark movie where the girl gets dumped by the Wall Street slickster, goes back to her hometown for the holidays, and falls for the understated but handsome guy working at the Christmas tree farm. This is him. Its clean and fresh, but smells like the holidays in the safest way. Like he’s hugged a few pine trees today, but had a nice hot shower before hand. (Cypress, vetiver, and bayberry with notes of moss, fir, and eucalyptus)
Teakwood & Amber: Warm, soft, mild, and universally welcomed. Smells like fresh cut wood but in the least offensive way. There’s earthiness and comfort all mixed in one. I’d say this one is the most gentle of all the scents, the least “in your face”, just a beautiful scent that lingers in the background in all the right ways. (Ginger, peppercorn, vanilla, and spice with amber, Himalayan sea salt, and teakwood)
(Originally posted to Facebook on October 12th)
This vintage Ethan Allen cog table is probably the single most important piece I’ve ever done. And not for any of the reasons that you’d likely guess. Yes, it required a ton of repairs and a lot of work....but the timing of this piece and what it did to my heart and soul are why it will likely stick out to me for the rest of my career.
This was a custom refinish presented to me by my ex-husbands best friend. I accepted the job when life seemed to be running smoothly, family in tact, smiles on faces...and by the time the table was delivered to my home and work was to begin, my life was in absolute turmoil.
Here was a table, once beautiful, laying in front of me with a broken base, an unbalanced and unhinged exterior, blemishes too dramatic to ever hide from the world. And here was a girl who matched it perfectly. The first day it was in my possession, we sat on the floor together and shed so many tears. How would I ever repair the damage? The breaks were too lethal. The scars were too visible. We were weak. So incredibly weak.
I was told that trauma and heartache act as a roller coaster. The drops are incredibly steep in the beginning, gut wrenching, nauseating. But there are still ups amongst the downs, however few. As time goes on, as the ride continues, those ups become easier to climb, and the downs become less debilitating, and the calm between the two becomes more steady and more comfortable.
And so I started with the base. I cleaned her splinters, I sanded her rough edges, I drilled new, sometimes excruciating holes in her interior so I’d have space to add the dowels that would give her strength. I glued and bound and clamped her together....and I gave her time to heal. I puttied her wounds till they became invisible to passerbys, but still cast the tiniest shadow of her past to those who knew her best. And once the base was secure and capable of supporting her crown, I worked my way up. And then I got tired. So, so, tired. I wanted to be finished with the entire project and skip forward to the final reveal, the finished project where she could just smile again...so I cut corners and overlooked issues and skipped steps that were so incredibly crucial. And it showed. Her stained top was unevenly sanded, jumping from one grit to another without care or concern for the wounds left behind. And the stain made it obvious. In some places it soaked in like a sponge, becoming a dark, ugly mess...and in others it didn’t take at all, only showing her old self, her old scars, her old tones.
And so I began again. I stripped her down, and did the work the way I knew in my soul it needed to be done. I spent countless hours sanding her top, starting with the roughest, most damaging of grits....and slowly graduated through the ranks, getting her softer, more beautiful, with every pass. Never completely hiding her scars, but blending them into her new existence and letting them guide her path, but not shape her destiny.
When I finished this table, we shed more tears together. She was strong, oh my god was she strong. But she wasn’t new. And she never would be. She had structure and reinforcements and a newfound beauty amongst the blemishes. She could function, and she could flourish. And she did.
My work has always been a reflection of my soul, an outlet for my emotions, a diary of my state. I can show you pieces that are blended and wild and adventurous and I can map out the emotional turmoil I was enduring. I can show you pieces that are clean and sleek and rigid, and point out the events that led me to need structure. And I can show you pauses. Weeks where I haven’t picked up a brush. Weeks where it seemed crippling to put art on canvas. And that’s not something to be ashamed of. I haven’t been painting lately. Not at all. And that’s ok. I have been writing a lot, however. Filling notebooks with rambles that the world will never see. And that’s ok, too.
But today I stumbled upon these photos and I took a moment to be grateful...for the ability to let my soul out here and there, to be able to connect with a piece of furniture and allow its healing to guide my own. And this one did in so many ways. I’m thankful for the roller coaster, I’m thankful for the scars, and I’m thankful for anyone who crosses my path who can appreciate them without judgement.
Find your outlet, do the repairs, shed the tears....but always look back with grace and gratitude. Find the beauty in your scars and be proud of the ride. You’re still buckled in and that is monumental.
Which Top Coat Should I Pick!?!?!
You did your homework and picked out a rockstar paint product, you went above and beyond completing your prep work, you painted that furniture up in the most gorgeous color….now it’s time to protect your work. Wise Owl Chalk Synthesis Paint (like most chalk style paints) is extremely porous. While that is awesome for adhesion purposes because it’s going to stick to most things, it also means most things are gonna stick to it...so you’ve gotta protect it! You’ve got four options with Wise Owl when it comes to clear coating your paint: salve, wax, hemp seed oil, or varnish. Which is best? What sets them apart? Which should you choose? Let’s jump in…
Furniture Salve: Gives a smooth, water resistant finish, that is strong enough to hold up to average wear and tear. Super easy to apply (brush or wipe on, lightly wipe off excess). Contains hemp seed oil, which adds to its durability, but can cause slight yellowing over white paint. Has a million additional uses beyond painted furniture. Comes in seven scents.
Wax: Comes in three options- natural hemp wax, clear wax, and colored wax. The hemp wax is a beeswax base with hemp seed oil which provides additional durability. It has a slight yellow color due to the hemp addition, so it may cause yellowing to white paints. The clear wax is actually our furniture salve formula with no hemp seed oil and no essential oils. It is clear so it will not alter your paint colors, and it is food grade so it is perfect for cutting boards, butcher blocks, and cheese boards. The colored wax has a hemp seed oil base that currently comes in black or black walnut. It can be used as a sealant over an entire piece, or as an accent color to create depth and dimension. It also works great as a stain alternative on raw wood.
Hemp Seed Oil: Comes in a liquid form that is easy to apply and provides a durable, water resistant finish that rivals many polyurethanes. Food safe formula, perfect for cutting boards and butcher blocks. Provides a true matte finish, which is perfect if you love the look of chalk style paint! Can be used to wet sand your paint to a velvety soft finish and goes beautifully over raw or stained wood.
Varnish: Comes in matte and satin options. Is water proof when fully cured, outdoor grade, and incredibly durable. Made with crystal clear resins (as opposed to most top coats that utilize amber resins) so it is chemically incapable of yellowing your paint over time. It is our only water based top coat, but provides an industrial strength finish, suitable for high traffic areas, floors, and cabinets.
Have you tried any of them? Or all four? Do you have a favorite?? In my painting classes, we primarily stick with furniture salve because it is so easy to apply and doesn’t require extended dry time, so students can take their piece home with them at the end of the class. But for my business practices, I varnish every single piece to ensure the highest level of durability possible. (Although, I typically salve as well because its just so amazing and gives a clean, soft look.)
Coming up soon, we will break down each of the four options individually, going over ingredients, application processes, and tips & tricks to getting a perfect finish. Stay tuned!!
Want to know the key to getting perfect coverage, seamless blending, and a flawless finish? Let’s chat…
(This post is specifically about the chalk line, not the One Hour Enamel. That series of posts is coming soon! Before you paint, you’ll need to properly assess your piece and prep accordingly. I’ve done a full series on prepping, priming, and the reasons behind choosing Wise Owl...check the categories over to the right to catch up!)
-First things, first. You need paint. Wise Owl Chalk Synthesis Paint currently comes in 67 highly pigmented, off the charts, gorgeous colors...with a new seasonal launch of 9 additional options coming in just a few days! This isn’t your grandma’s paint line...yes, we’ve got plenty of neutrals, grays, off whites, and beiges...but there’s also every shade of blue you can fathom, hot raspberry pinks, neon yellows, deep jewels, and chameleon colors that defy pigmenting logic. If you like to experiment, the colors mix beautifully and expand your options indefinitely. So, figure out what direction you want to take your project, snag a beautiful color, and jump in. (Quick tip...once you get your paint, you may notice little black metal tabs securing the lid. Grab a small flat head screw driver or even your car key and pry the tab off, twisting from the inside of the can outward to remove. I’ll drop a video down below if you want to see it in action!)
-Give your paint a quick stir and pour it into a separate container. Wise Owl is made completely from scratch (it’s not a box store brand of latex paint with chalk additives poured in), so the minerals and chalk are incorporated from the very beginning of the manufacturing process and truly become part of the grind. This means you won’t have that sediment of minerals sinking to the bottom of your paint can like you’ll see with lots of brands...which means less stirring is required, shelf life is extended, and it helps immensely with self leveling. Give it a quick stir just to be extra sure everything is fully incorporated after shipping and then pour some into a separate container. Because Wise Owl doesn’t have the harsh chemicals and preservatives in it like the more toxic brands, it can be somewhat sensitive to bacteria and contaminants. So, instead of dipping a paint brush into your paint and risking contaminating the entire pint with potential ick that was on your brush (even just minerals from your tap water from the last time you rinsed your brush), pour some off into a separate container and keep the remainder of your pint pure.
-Get a good brush and soak it in water before using. You know I love Cling On. Like, I love, love, love them and will never go back to another brand. I’m going to do an entire post just about how amazing they are, but for the purposes of today’s chat, I’ll sum it up quickly...The Cling On brushes are made with synthetic bristles, attached with concrete resin so you will never deal with shedding. They are made with DuPont filaments, which means your paint will glide off the bristles with ease and clean up in a jiffy (just suspend the bristles in clean water and watch the paint fall right out!). And if you use the brush damp (not dripping! Soak it for an hour before your first use, and then squeeze all the excess water out) it will drastically help with the self leveling properties of the paint and give you a flawless finish.
-Once your piece is properly prepped, you’ve picked your color, and you’ve got a good quality brush, jump in with paint. With the chalk synthesis paint, your coverage will be amazing in just one to two coats...but I personally PREFER to do multiple, thinner coats, for a couple reasons. First, is dry time. The paint dries incredibly fast, which is awesome because it means you can complete your project in less time….but if you lay your paint on too thick, it can cause issues. Let’s say you apply one super thick coat instead of two thin ones. The surface area of your paint will be in contact with the air around it and dry faster than the underlayer that is adhering to your furniture. As the lower portion dries, the moisture will be released THROUGH the already dried upper layer and can cause quite a bit of crackling. Sometimes this is awesome, but if you are like me and prefer a sleek, modern, finish...this is a total headache. So be sure that your first coat is nice and thin, even, and has ample dry time before hitting it with a second coat. (Typically I suggest 4-6 hours between coats, but that can vary a bit depending on your temperature, humidity, and thickness of coats). The second reason I prefer two thinner coats is because it creates better adhesion. That first thin coat won’t necessarily be the prettiest (I call it the awkward teenage stage), but it will adhere much stronger than a thicker coat can….and that means the longevity and strength of your work will be drastically improved. Plus, it makes that second coat go on like a dream and the beauty of it over that first ugly coat is extra satisfying.
-Assess your work between coats. The paint is self leveling and because of that, nine times out of ten, I don’t need to do any additional work to smooth out my finish between coats. On occasion, if you find a brush stroke, a fuzzy stuck to your paint, or some other blemish, approach it before moving further. You can easily sand your paint to a smooth finish with fine sandpaper, but for most situations, a quick swipe with a baby wipe will actually do the trick without damaging your paint or causing any discoloring. The moisture in the wipe will reactivate the paint and allow it to smooth over, move around where needed, and level out again while drying. If you are blending colors, a quick light spritz with water is all you need to open up the dry time once again and allow the paint to blend flawlessly. (This is hugely thanks to the clay aspects of the paint, making it a dream to blend). You’ve got a decent window to play with (about 24 hours) before the paint starts the curing process...so within that window, you can easily reactivate the paint and adjust anything needed.
-Once you are satisfied with your coverage (typically two coats, on very rare occasion you may need three especially if using oranges or reds which are notorious for being tricky), allow it to dry completely (4 hours before waxing or salving, 24 hours before varnishing if you are worried about tannin bleed thru) and then apply a top coat. We will dive into all the ins and outs of Wise Owl top coats in a future post, but here is a quick run down: You’ve got three options - salve, wax, or varnish. Decide how much durability you need, how much water resistance your piece requires, the sheen you’d prefer, and how much dry time you can allow and then pick your weapon. The paint itself cures in 28 days and will actually provide a fairly durable level of protection all on its own. But due to its porous nature, I HIGHLY recommend protecting it further with a clear coat.
-Sit back and look at what you just created. It really is that simple. For me, prep work takes far longer than paint time, no matter how crazy of a finish I’m going for. The paint makes the work a piece of cake, as long as you give it a good surface to adhere to. When painting with Wise Owl, the hardest part is picking a color. And don’t ever forget...it’s just paint. If you aren’t thrilled, you can fix it. Spray some water on it and blend that bad boy up, or just paint right over it. Nothing is locked in until the paint cures so don’t let the nerves take over just yet.
Too Long; Didn’t Read:
-Pick your color
-Pour your paint into a second container to avoid contamination
-Get a good brush and dampen it
-Paint two thin coats, with ample dry time in between
-Add a clear coat to protect your finish
Up next? We’ll talk about all the options for clear coating your work. Why Wise Owl top coats are the best of the best, which option is best for every scenario, and how to properly apply for the best results.
And as always, if you have questions about the products, would like a custom color consultation, need a partner for trouble shooting...send me a note! That's what I'm here for! And if you are ready to jump in, click the "Shop" tab at the top of the page to swing and snag all your goodies. Every order ships for just five bucks, and every fifty dollars you spend gets you entered into my monthly drawing to win some cash to use on more paint!
(Originally posted to Facebook on September 27)
I’ve had to write two self bios this week...and while that feels uncomfortably strange, even for this girl who writes about pretty personal shit on a regular basis, it made me realize it’s been a really long time since I actually introduced myself here. I think the last time I did this, I had a few hundred people following along and most of them were already my friends and knew far more about me than I could fit in a few paragraphs. There’ve been quite a few new faces around lately and I’m going to step outside my little box and say hello....
So, uh, hello. 😘 I’m Sam...I’m the owner, designer, builder, and artist behind The Copper Elm. I have lived around the world, but for quite a few years have called Colorado my home. I’ve got two shops here, one in the incredible RiNo District of Denver and one in my quaint little town of Castle Rock. I sell paint (Wise Owl 💗🦉💗), refinished furniture, repurposed home decor, and odds and ends that I find beautiful, fascinating, or both.
I have a passion for teaching, but was recently told by a student/friend/human being that I admire incredibly that my teaching skills play a far second to my mentoring skills....and that was probably the biggest compliment I’ve ever received in this business. I get a rush from selling my own furniture but it doesn’t even compare to the thrill when one of my friends or clients sells a piece of theirs. I love nothing more than watching and (if I’m lucky enough) helping someone see their true potential, unlock their hidden artistic talents, and become the creative person they always dreamed they could.
My life is absolutely centered around the most important person on earth...my four year old son. He’s a spit fire, smarter than I can handle, funnier than he thinks, and cuter than anything in my world. He’s the reason I created this business and the reason I continue every single day. I’m a work from home mom who wakes up every morning and hustles from dawn to dusk so that I can support this teeny family of ours and watch him grow on the daily.
I’m a girl who wears her heart on her sleeve and that gets me into more trouble than anything else. (Well, besides maybe my mouth...that gets me into quite a bit of trouble too....) I love incredibly hard, even when people don’t deserve it. I’m one that forgives easily, and instead of harboring anger, I tend to put all my emotions back into helping those who hurt me. Often times, that leaves me with very little left for myself and that’s something I’m working on...
I’m in my mid thirties and it’s beginning to show in all the best ways. Ive got wrinkles near my eyes because when I laugh, I laugh with my entire soul and it tends to contort my face in ways that don’t show up so cute in photos. I’ve got scars on my body from the things I’ve conquered, and I wear them with pride because they remind me just how much I have survived and just how much more I can endure. I spent a lot of years apologizing for who I was, conforming to what others found to be appealing, and hiding behind lies that made me more attractive to the world. I’ve spent the last twelve months of my life changing that. I was hurt in ways that are somewhat unimaginable, even to myself, and they’ve taught me such a great deal about where I truly stand on this earth. If I love, I say so. If I’m hurt, I say so. If I feel indifferent, I walk away. It’s incredibly cliche, but life is too short to hold back and so, I don’t.
This is me. I’m just a girl trying to do something good in this world, hoping to find some folks to do that good with, while having a few good drinks and a lot of good laughs along the way....
If you’d care to share, I’d love to be formally introduced...who are you? Where are you? Are your wrinkles from smiles or frowns? Do you drink whiskey or wine (I switch back and forth depending on the day)? What brings you here?