Tuesday, January 31, 2017

An Empire Chest in Midnight Blue

Every New Englander worth their salt knows what a snow sky looks like. It's an opaque unbroken sheet of opaline white across the whole sky. And I swear you can smell snow long before it arrives. Snow on the air smells kind of metallic, and blue if blue had a scent.
            We have a snow sky right now, and the air indeed smells hard of snow. The little storm is going to plow through the state this afternoon and dump a few inches in a matter of hours. Sadly it's supposed to stay cold the rest of the foreseeable future, so this bit is going to stick around for a while, and turn crusty brown and trampled. I hate winter, and I hate snow. It makes my job SO much more complicated and unpleasant, but there again, Spring is only a month and a half away. almost there.
             This morning I spent an unpleasant hour trying to replace the wick in my kerosene heater in my workshop. I failed miserably and managed to wreck the heater in the process, and now I have a chilly workshop. After giving up the whole kero-catastrophy as a bad job, I zipped up to the grocery store to buy some flowers. At that point the sun was still weakly leaching through thin clouds on the southeastern horizon, and it was juuuuuuust enough natural light to quickly photograph this wonderful 19th century empire chest of drawers.
               Empire furniture was popular in American from about 1830 to 1915. This piece dates to the last quarter of the 19th century, maybe about 1880. It's beautifully built, but as the pine secondary wood dried out and shrunk over time, the mahogany veneer applied to it cracked and chipped (because mahogany, a denser wood, does not shrink at the same rate as pine does). Though the piece was still sturdy as a rock, and the drawers all still worked perfectly, it was an unsightly mess of chips, and loss. Had it been in better condition, I would have left it be, as I did with a very similar one this past Autumn. This one, being such a surface train wreck, was the perfect candidate for a paint-y rejuvenation!
                 I wanted to give the paint surface a layered, time-worn look, so it wouldn't be jarring against the elegant lines of the chest. I mixed up a batch of a brand new color, the deepest darkest shade of midnight blue, and layered it over several initial coats of a powdery blue. I then distressed the final paint coat with 220 and 80 grit sandpaper by hand, to allow the light blue to peek through, especially at the edges and angles. I sealed the whole thing with dark wax for a luminescent satin-y finish. I LOVE how this piece turned out! And now it's ready for a new home!

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful piece of furniture and I love that color!