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!
We’ve talked about what’s NOT in Wise Owl Chalk Synthesis Paint, so now, let’s talk about what IS. What makes it so stellar? What benefits does it have over paint from a big box store? Why would you want to give it a try??
So first...what is it? You’ve likely heard the term “Chalk Paint”, and for most folks, that’s a blanket term that describes a pretty large group of paint….its fairly adhesive, dries to a chalky finish, and distresses with ease. But that term is actually trademarked by a pretty major paint brand in the industry. Yup, no other brands can actually use the term...which is why everyone else has a “chalk style” or “chalky finish” or in the case of WO, a “chalk synthesis”. So why “synthesis”? Because they’ve taken the best parts of mineral (chalk, which is a form of limestone), clay, and acrylic paints and combined them to create one rockstar product. But let’s break down some of those rockstar components, one by one….
-Adhesion: Wise Owl, on a molecular level, is incredibly porous. What does that mean to you? Most importantly, it means its going to stick to most surfaces, with little prep work required. Take note, I said “little”...you all KNOW I don’t believe in skipping prep work. But lots of pieces are ready to paint after a good cleaning. (Yes, you NEED to clean!!! Do not even think about painting over those cobwebs, no matter what any paint company tells you. Once your surface is super clean, give it one more wipe down with plain water to be sure you’ve got all the cleaning chemicals off! If your piece has a somewhat slick surface or has obvious scratches, give it a quick sanding to smooth out imperfections and give the wood a little more tooth for the paint to grip onto. If it’s super slick, then grab some primer for your best chance at adhesion. I can’t recommend Wise Owl primer enough...it’s the bee’s knees, for sure).
-Self Leveling: One of the biggest headaches in the painting world is trying to avoid brush marks/strokes. If you are using a natural bristle brush and a super thick or super runny paint, that headache just got even worse. Not with Wise Owl...it actually levels out beautifully as it dries. No ridges, no lumps and bumps, no frustrations. If you combine the self leveling paint with a damp Cling On brush?? Oh, baby, then you get that flawless finish that you’ve been striving for. It won’t matter if you are a seasoned pro or you’re picking up a brush for the first time, you’ll get a smooth, enviable finish every time.
-Water Based and Water Activated: The paint dries fairly fast, but thanks to its water based nature, it can be reactivated with a spritz of water, a damp brush, or even a baby wipe. As long as you approach it before the paint has begun curing (so within the first day or so) you can use a little bit of water to distress your finish, blend paint colors, remove drips, etc. Any imperfections or mistakes can be cleaned up with just a touch of water….and cleaning up any actual messes is a total dream. I am the sloppiest painter on earth, and when I’m finished with a paint job, I usually have paint all the way up to my elbows. A quick wipe down with a baby wipe is all I need to get every bit of paint off.
-Made From Scratch: All paint is most definitely not created equal. Did you know that a ton of paint brands actually use big box store brand paint and simply throw in a few additives and call it their own recipe? Why is this a big deal? Well, first, if they are using latex paint as a base, it likely contains crystalline silicates which can be extremely dangerous if inhaled (scroll back to my post about what is NOT in Wise Owl for a full rundown on this!). And second, when minerals are added into a premixed paint, they will never be flawlessly incorporated. Creating a recipe from scratch insures that all the components are evenly distributed and will stay that way. This extends the paint’s shelf life and also drastically aids in that self leveling aspect we just chatted about!
-Acrylic Binder: Paint needs a binder to help with adhesion and provide strength and durability. A lot of brands use a latex binder in their recipes, while Wise Owl chooses acrylic binders. The acrylic gives your paint a stronger finish that distresses beautifully. Distressing a latex based paint can lead to quite a few frustrations as the paint rolls and gums up under the friction of the sandpaper.
-Heavily Pigmented: Wise Owl doesn’t cut corners when it comes to pigments. They choose high quality, heavily saturated pigments which means your project will be completed in fewer coats. Most colors will see full coverage in just one to two coats. A pint of paint doesn’t look like much, but it will cover an average of 75-80 square feet. I can finish a decent sized dresser with just one pint.
When you combine all of these benefits, with all of the incredible lengths Wise Owl has taken to avoid causing harm to its users or the environment, and then throw in the two outstandingly talented and intelligent women that run this company….you’ve got a pretty damn stellar paint. Period.
Too Long; Didn’t Read:
-It will stick to most surfaces with minimal prep work
-It self levels so you’ll look like a pro
-You can reactivate the paint with water to correct imperfections and blend colors
-Its made from scratch so all the particles are fully incorporated and won’t separate
-It has a strong acrylic binder that promotes adhesion
-High quality pigments mean less coats to achieve full coverage
Next up??? We’ll break down the painting process, step by step, to fully transform your furniture with Wise Owl! Stay tuned
So your piece is prepped and now you are ready to paint….but why choose Wise Owl Paint??
Wise Owl Chalk Synthesis Paint is single handedly the easiest paint I’ve ever worked with. I’ve pushed it to its limits, and have only been able to truly mess it up once. Yup, once. (I’ll fill ya in on that big ‘womp womp’ moment soon, I promise!) It glides on like butter, self levels like a dream, and blends like nobody’s business. Add in the fact that it’s one of the most eco friendly paints on the market….and you’ve got a winner. We’re going to dive into all the incredible colors, the application process, and trouble shooting soon, but today I want to chat a bit about what actually makes the paint so impressive on an environmental standpoint.
I get asked quite often, “What’s in this paint that makes it so special?” but a far more important question to ask is “What’s NOT in this paint?” So, while the things that are IN the paint are impressive, today, let’s break down the things that are MISSING in Wise Owl Paint:
VOCs: You’ve heard the term, but do you know what it means? Volatile Organic Compounds. This is regulated by the EPA….but their decisions on what can be classified as a VOC is actually kind of ridiculous. In short, VOCs are compounds that cause or contribute to smog, which is why the EPA is involved. But in humans, they’ve been linked to everything from mild skin, nose, mouth, and throat irritation….all the way up to damage to the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system. VOCs can also leach out of your painted furniture long after you’ve finished painting. Some studies show off gassing for up to six months, and others are now saying that number is closer to five years. So painting a piece with a high VOC paint can actually cause damage for far longer than the time it takes you to paint! (So if you are painting furniture for other people, you can actually be putting your customers at risk) The problem with the EPA’s classification of VOCs is that it leaves A LOT of dangerous chemicals off the list. So simply finding a paint that is low or no VOCs is not enough!! You need to dig in and ask more questions to see what other dangers are lurking in your paint. (Also, be sure to question if the paint base AND the colorants are both ZERO VOC...there have been claims of companies advertising that their paint is Zero VOCs, because their base doesn’t contain any, while their colorants actually contain high levels.)
Crystalline Silicates: These are tiny crystals found in MANY paints on the market. When crystalline silicates stay in the paint, they don’t actually cause much of a risk. But if you distress that painted furniture, that’s when it becomes a major concern. Crystalline silicates become airborne when sanding...and these itty bitty microscopic bits get drawn into your respiratory system and cause SERIOUS and PERMANENT damage. Imagine tiny shards of glass scratching the inner lining of your lungs, and then scars forming to heal the damage. Sound familiar?? Probably because it’s similar to the damage caused by asbestos. Yup, that crazy crap that you wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole?? Does the same damage as that paint dust you are breathing in. This is typically a non issue when painting walls...because you typically don’t sand them. But if you like to sand your paint between coats or distress your finishes...you are putting yourself at risk!
Ammonia: Paint needs a preservative (called a ‘biocide’) to extend its shelf life. One of the cheapest, and most readily available biocides added to water based paint is….ammonia. Have you ever opened a gallon of latex paint and gotten that nose hair burning stench, also known as “fresh paint smell”? Yup, that would be thanks to the ammonia. Ammonia stinks. Bad. Low levels of ammonia can cause irritation to the nose, eyes, and throat...high levels can have a dangerous effect on the respiratory system and can even cause blindness. Typical levels used to preserve paint can cause asthma issues and migraines. The much safer alternative to ammonia costs around ten times the price, which is why tons of companies take the cheaper route. Wise Owl refuses to sacrifice the health of its consumers just to save a few bucks. So, yes, the paint may cost a bit more than the latex paint you buy at a big box store….but there’s a damn good reason. (And one more tidbit since we are talking about stinky paint….just because your paint doesn’t smell, doesn’t necessarily mean its non toxic. Lots of paint companies are now adding MASKING AGENTS to cover up the stench, making you think it’s safe to use indoors...so ask questions!!!)
Formaldehyde: This is an embalming agent and one of the most effective preservatives on the market. Unfortunately, it can cause chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath, allergies, asthma flare ups, nose and throat irritation….and even cancer. But, it does a darn good job of preventing the infection and growth of microorganisms, so paint companies add it to their mixture to extend their paint’s shelf life and avoid growth issues. Once again, this is a strong NO from Wise Owl. The risks far outweigh the benefits.
Ethylene Glycol: Anti-Freeze. Yup. Thanks to its low freezing point, ethylene glycol is commonly added to paint to prevent it from freezing. When exposed to skin, it can cause mild irritation, and when inhaled at high levels, it can cause irritation of the upper respiratory tract and mucous membranes. The real danger though? The real danger lies in ingesting ethylene glycol. Yes, we all know you shouldn’t eat paint, right? But what if you’ve got small kiddos or pets in your home? Ingestion of ethylene glycol produces similar effects of ethanol (alcohol) intoxication...dizziness, depression, nausea, vomiting, and in severe cases, coma and brain damage. Keeping it out of our paint is the safe choice...but it does put the paint at a higher risk of freezing! So, you stay safe, but you need to be a little more cautious of where you store your paint in the winter months!
So, those are the big dangers that are NOT present in Wise Owl’s chalk synthesis paint. Next up, we’ll discuss what is IN the paint, what makes it so fantastic, and the science behind why it rocks. (Yes, more science, and I won’t apologize for boring you....having a paint company owned by an environmental scientist is no small thaaang and should be truly honored and discussed! And so we shall!) Stay tuned!!
Too Long, Didn’t Read: (Yep, I see you!!! 😆)
Wise Owl Chalk Synthesis Paint contains NONE of the nasty stuff-
VOCs - compounds that contribute to smog and pose all sorts of health risks
Crystalline Silicates - airborne crystals that if inhaled can cause irreversible lung damage
Ammonia - cheap preservative in paint that triggers asthma attacks and migraines
Formaldehyde - preservative that prevents the growth of microorganisms, but causes cancer
Ethylene Glycol - Anti-freeze agent that can cause intoxication like symptoms
Last week we talked about primer...this week, it's all about paint, baby! You all know I'm a huge fan of Wise Owl Paint, so much so that I joined their team 💜🦉. But, what makes it so amazing? What makes it better than other paints? What makes it different than paint you can buy at the big box stores? This week, we are going to jump in and not just brag about how great it is....but what actually MAKES it great. (Hint: Its science)
But today? Today, I’d like to introduce you to the women behind the brand. Because I feel it’s just about impossible to truly pay homage to the products without giving you a peek behind the curtain. Knowing the women of Wise Owl, their background, their passions, and their drive...it gives everything else a purpose. This is not a company run by women who just wanted to make pretty paint. It’s not a company that was founded on a simple goal of financial freedom. It’s not just another paint line...not...even...close.
Without further ado:
Karen...The owner, creator, CEO, and the big beautiful brains behind the products. Karen is a scientist. And not in the “oh cute, she likes science” kinda way. She’s an actual environmental scientist with a focus on forestry. Growing up, Karen’s mom rehabilitated wild animals, specifically birds of prey (starting to see where the company name came from, huh??), so being aware of how our actions impact the world around us was ingrained at a young age. As an adult, she saw first hand how the products we use can negatively affect not just our environment, but the wildlife she was raised to protect….and she decided to build an entire career on reversing that impact. She has a beautiful talent of explaining things that are incredibly complex in a manner that simply makes sense to the masses, without ever making you feel less intelligent. She’s yet to ever fail me when I’ve asked her why a product works the way it does, what specific ingredients bring to the table, or to break down the science behind a concept. She’s the smartest gal I know, and yet you just want to hang out and have a beer with her….and to me? That’s probably the best personality trait a person can have.
Erin...The COO, runner of daily operations, artist, wrangler of retailers and all our chaos, and all around badass. Erin spent a large chunk of her adult life working in the finance industry with Merrill Lynch in Chicago (yep, she’s no dummy either), but her true passion was always art. She’s got the knowledge and insight needed to run a hugely successful business, but also sees the world in a constantly evolving series of color pallets. She is an absolutely rare breed of human that has a mathematically inclined mind, combined with insane artistic talent...she blows away theories that people are either right brain or left brain dominant, because this girl fires on all cylinders at all times. (Bonus fact: She also has an INCREDIBLE singing voice, like, she was actually a competitive vocalist, and she has the dirtiest sense of humor I’ve found besides my own).
These two women have been friends for over twenty years and their perfectly balanced relationship is a key part to the success of this company. They have the same vision for Wise Owl, but both bring separate, but equally integral, talents to the table. Years ago, they saw a need for change in the paint industry. There were plenty of professional grade paints. There were plenty of eco friendly paints. But there were no products on the market that were BOTH. They knew there was a need for a top quality product that wouldn’t sacrifice our health or the environment. And so, Wise Owl was born. First, in Karen’s kitchen…paint being poured into mason jars and sold on social media...and eventually, being produced under the eye of our very own chemist at a paint manufacturer that has been in business for over a century and has won awards for their dedication to creating green products.
This is not your average paint company. And these are not your average women. If you’ve ever wondered WHY I so proudly represent Wise Owl, these two women are it. I’m incredibly proud to be a part of this company, but even more importantly, I’m incredibly honored to call both of them my friends. They embody what it means to be strong, independent, successful women, both in business and in life. And we can always use more of that.