On the Quiltart mailing list, fellow artist Maggie Winfield http://funkydiva2cute.blogspot.com/ asked if anyone has experience painting furniture. In my life before becoming physically disabled, I painted furniture. I sent her these photos of a piece I made for the battered women’s shelter fund raising auction in Sarasota, Florida. It really was a Chairity auction and all the artwork was upcycled chairs.
Here is the process I used for painting upcycled furniture.
1. Wash the piece down with TSP [ trisodium phosphate] while wearing gloves and following the directions on the box. This will take off all the grease and dirt that may have accumulated and will even strip off any varnish that isn’t adhering. Do this outside or in a well ventilated area. Let the wood dry overnight
2. Prime the surface with Gesso. Don’t use house paint or acrylic gesso since these will make a plastic coating on the wood. Old fashioned white wash housepaint had lead in it to make it durable but the modern paints don’t have this additive. If you have ever seen a house peel of acrylic paint you know what I mean about plastic coatings.
3. I use Golden tube acrylics with along matte medium. I have also used Golden fluid acrylics. Golden paints have a higher concentration of pigment molecules than paint labeled as craft paint. The reason you have to use multiple coats of craft paint is that they have fewer pigment molecules and are heavy on the medium extender. Golden or other high quality artist paints are more expensive, but save money and time in the long run. Any paint marketed as a student paint is of lesser quality and you will have to use more paint.
4. If you have the time, let the piece completely dry for 7-10 days. If it is dry to the touch it may still have paint below the surface that is not dry. slow and steady wins the race.
5. I use a satin or low gloss varnish on furniture. I use artist quality varnishes because I know they will not change the colors or integrity of the painting beneath. Use thin coats and build up a surface.
6. Just like the painted areas, the varnish must have the time to dry properly and cure for a durable finish. How the finished piece is going to be used determines how many coats of varnish are applied. After the coats of varnish are dry and cured, you may apply a coating of paste wax and buff it up for a nice final coat if you like.