This week I transformed a small, nondescript oak side table into a prize suitable for a daring buccaneer.
This project let me test out a new technique: transferring a printed image onto a painted surface. The Graphics Fairy’s website is a wondrous place, where I’ve read about miraculous things created by a variety of techniques. Maison Decor, however, walked me through a project using Transfer Gel by Artisan Enhancements. It sounded straight forward and easy to use, something that appealed to me greatly. Confident in my decision, I ordered a jar of Transfer Gel from Robyn Story Designs.
After a bit of searching I found a promising picture online and used the Block Posters app on my Mac to enlarge it. Four 8″ x 10.5″ pages would fit my table, with a little room to spare. Before printing the picture to transfer, make sure you’ve set the control to mirror image mode. I used 100 lb. card stock, but in retrospect, I think that’s a little too heavy. I’ll try the 67 lb. stock next time.
I wanted to use two Annie Sloan paint colors for distressing later on. Of the colors on hand, Old Ochre would be the primary color. I chose Scandinavian Pink for underneath because it matched a subtle hue in the image. Apparently I’m the only one in my house who could see that.
I cut the white edges off the prints and taped the four pages together to form a single, large image. Using a chip brush, I applied the transfer gel both on the table and on the printed image. Press and smooth. I found a clean paint mixing stick admirable for the task of smoothing. Then let it sit overnight. I knew the oozing gel would cause a halo around the image, but a little paint would easily correct that.
There’s a learning curve to removing the paper from the image. In my case, it was steep. I think the thick paper was the source of my problems. Using a spray bottle, I spritzed a quarter of the image and began gently rubbing the paper away. Whenever I began to feel good about my efforts, I’d accidently tear a piece away. I became frustrated and cautious. And tried again. I’d make a little more progress, feel encouraged, and endure another tear. How like life.
David would walk by and reassure me by saying things like, “We can just sand the whole thing down and try again, you know.” Grrrrrr. I walked away but came back throughout the day. David took a crack at it and seemed to have a better technique. My learning curve remained steep, while his quickly flattened. Once we finished the table, it looked pretty spotty. Literally. Visible holes stared back at us.
But we’re talking about a picture of an old map. They’re supposed to be dirty and holey. I could live with the holes if I handled this next part successfully. Annie Sloan’s Dark Wax would be the key.
I covered the entire table with Annie Sloan’s Clear Wax and then picked up the Dark Wax. If this didn’t work, I’d be forced to sand the image off and start over. I slathered the dark wax all over the top of the table, especially in the holes. I worked hard on this step, knowing it would make or break this effort. The result was outstanding. The wax gave the map a weathered look and turned my holey mistakes into interesting features. When I presented the table to David and Michael, my son and fiercest critic, they nodded appreciatively. On to the legs.
I made a few attempts at distressing down to the Scandinavian Pink but quickly decided against it. This table needed to stay masculine. I think it will be perfect for a young boy — or an adventurous girl — to use as a play table. It will also work quite nicely as a grown swashbuckler’s side table.
Ann Marie and David