Albert Einstein Had it Right
Do you love yard sales? Rummage sales, garage sales, estate sales, tag sales. If there’s a handmade sign with some semblance of “Sale” scrawled on it on any given weekend, I am going to spot it. Actually, who needs a sign? In fact I think my peripheral vision has greatly improved with age to which my husband and son can attest after we were merrily driving home two weekends ago from a trip to the home improvement store in my husband’s pick-up (Never pass up a chance to take a pick-up on any given trip!), and I suddenly yelled, “Dresser!” I never really saw a dresser for sure, but that vague but familiar size, shape, and old brown aura tripped my left-field vision (you see I’ve trained my brain for these things), and with a silent – well maybe not entirely silent – exchange of my pleading eyes and his eyes full of ‘Really??’, my husband reluctantly slowed down. (Lesson: always offer to drive on these random spontaneous trips!)
Well, what happened with that dresser is a story for another day. But I did attend an awesome estate sale a few weeks ago and actually went back the second day when the asking prices were lowered by half. It was then that I decided that the vintage Lane cedar hope chest had to come home with me. I loved its charming shape and the fact that it was elevated on a built-in stand. The question of why this fantastic piece was still around the second day further solidified my belief that it was begging for a change – from me! And some pieces just seem to tell you right away how they would like to be redesigned.
I knew it would look beautiful in The Old Fashioned Milk Paint Company’s Bayberry Green, the same I had used on the Bayberry Dresser. As can be seen, Hope (as I call her) was in very good condition with just a few scratches on the front and top. The inside was pristine with that wonderful cedar aroma. I researched on-line for its date of manufacture, but the model number on the underside did not link up with any information or images.
The base was a different wood than the body of the chest, so when I applied the milk paint, it adhered very differently to each wood, the base chipping much more extensively than the sides and top. However, the front panel required quite a bit more attention, and it took a couple more coats in specific areas to create a more opaque finish.
Then the time came to decide on what to do with the original very pretty flowers on the octagonal raised front plaque. I initially thought its background shade of green might work with the Bayberry, but it just wasn’t right, and the delicate flowers were not fitting in with my overall anticipation for design. So with a somewhat tentative but go-for-it-there’s-no-turning-back-now-it’ll-be-alright swipe of my brush, loaded with a mixture of Bayberry and Buttermilk (don’t you love those gutsy liberating moments??), those flowers vanished…….where did that “moment” go??…. But then my old friend milk-paint slowly took over and set my mind at ease as it dried and chipped beautifully, taking on a “been here for a hundred years” very soft look. I always told my students to go with their gut when it came to being a little indecisive on how to proceed with a given problem’s solution, and my own gut has never steered me wrong. I was very happy with the background results and knew that I wanted to hand-paint over it a well-known quote involving the word Hope.
After all, this was a hope chest, and I guess I’ve come to accept the fact that in the creatively-naming area of life, my decisions are pretty straightforward and obvious – Case in point: our beloved goldfish we named Goldie, my son’s teddy bear we named Teddy…you get the point. Here’s where Albert Einstein came to the rescue. I came across a quote by him and decided to take his advice: “Learn from yesterday. Live for today. Hope for tomorrow.” Well, I’ve learned from all my yesterdays that simpler is better, that living for today has brought me to this new discovery of carrying out my dream, and that my goal in painting such pieces is for them to bring or be connected with some sort of future happiness for their new owners.
And with that, I decided to simply letter one word – Hope – in a soft sepia tone which would reflect the wood tone peeking through the body’s Bayberry milk paint. I transferred the outline of Hope with carbon paper and went about painting it with a mix of acrylic paints and a liner brush. The final step was to oil the entire piece with hemp oil, wet sand it with a fine-grade sanding paper, and rub off the excess oil. This deepens the hue of the milk-paint and seals the piece beautifully.
Thank you for following along, and I hope you enjoyed this latest redesign! My next piece to share will be an old oak side table with some beautiful lines.
Enjoy your day!