But since the paint is on the expensive side, I was a little hesitant to jump right in with no experience. Luckily, there are chalk paint workshops offered all over the country (found here), and so I attended one on Tuesday night at a charming antique and thrift shop, Two Old Birds. I was so excited to get to try out the paint without a commitment, and learn some tips and techniques along the way!
The class was limited to eight people, and lasted a little over three hours. We used wooden baseboards to paint our samples on, which gave a nice flat surface, as well as some curved detail to work with the different effects.
We started with just a basic layer of paint on half of one of the boards, as the foundation for a two color distressed finish. Nothing special here, just regular old painting, but I really did like the oval Annie Sloan brushes we got to work with.
Next, we painted the other side, where we were trying out a smooth, more modern finish. For the smooth finish, you first dip your brush in water and shake it off, before putting it in the paint, to thin things out a little. We also learned that using synthetic brushes instead of natural bristle brushes tend to leave fewer brush strokes.
Next up, laying the foundation for a stipple finish. Basically we painted the board normally, then loaded up the brush with a lot of paint and dabbed it on to create a lot of texture. They also recommend leaving the paint out for a few hours or overnight before you apply it, so it has time to really thicken up.
Here's a better shot of the texture.
The final finish we tried was a rustic finish. For this technique you only dip one side of the brush in paint, and holding the brush at a 45 degree angle, you gently pull it across the wood. You want to leave a little of the wood exposed, but it's up to personal preference how much.
After finishing this second board, we went back to the first board, to apply a second coat of different colored paint to the two color distressed side.
Then, while we waited for the boards to dry (chalk paint dries super quick, most of the boards were dry in about 10 minutes, only the thicker stipple side took longer), we got to watch a few short instructional videos by Annie Sloan herself, have some refreshments and learn about finishing things with the different kinds of waxes (clear and dark), as well as how to make a glaze (equal parts clear wax, dark wax and mineral spirits) for a less intense dark effect.
Once all the boards were dry, we started back with the smooth finish. This one was easy, we just brushed the clear wax on with a wax brush and then rubbed it off with rags. You just want to be sure the wax is completely removed, so you drag your finger across the surface to make sure you don't see your finger print, otherwise you need to rub some more.
For the two color distressed side we also applied the clear wax and rubbed it off. Then we lightly sanded the edges and the curves to reveal the bottom cream colored layer to create the vintage worn look. You can also sand before you apply the clear wax, but sanding after applying the wax really cuts down on the dust.
Once the sanding was done, we went back over the cream parts with clear wax and rubbed it off. Personally, I preferred this look as it was with just the clear wax, but since we were learning, we took it a step further and applied a dark wax over the clear wax, and rubbed it off. I liked using cheesecloth to remove the dark wax, instead of paper rags, since it seemed to grab it better.
Here is the finished two color distressed with clear/dark wax. The dark wax really defines the imperfections and texture of the wood.
Next, we switched boards to the rustic side, and lightly sanded the green paint to reveal more exposed wood if we wanted. Again, we applied clear wax (always the first step in waxing, and you always wax chalk paint, although you can also use polyurethane, but you will lose the matte look of the paint with poly.) and rubbed it off.
Next came the dark wax (once again, I preferred the look before the dark wax). Here's what it looked like before I rubbed it off.
And rubbed off to finish this side. If you do get too much of the dark wax on though, you can always go back over it with clear wax, which will lighten it a bit.
And finally back to the stipple effect. You can see below how the paint dried in the textured pattern, although it did smooth out a bit during the drying process, which is why it is important to really make it textured to begin with.
Here we did the same clear wax + rub off + dark wax finish.
This is actually the only place were I liked the dark wax. It really made the texture of the stipple effect stand out and it almost looks like leather in person.
Once we were done with removing all of the excess wax, it was time to remove the tape separating the sides of our boards, before the wax completely hardened. 24 hours after applying the wax you're supposed to come back and lightly buff it again, and then it is completely done. You can use the painted furniture right away, although it takes 30 days for it to fully cure, so you have to be careful not to expose it to water until it is fully cured.
As a parting gift, we all received little gift bags with a wax brush, some cheesecloth and a painting tips sheet.
Overall, it was a great class and I'm really glad I took it. I'm so impressed with the look and feel of the chalk paint, and I can definitely tell it is so much more durable than the regular BM paint I used to paint and stencil our guest room bookshelves. And I really love the more matte finish that the chalk paint gives, which I think will be perfect for the dining chairs next to the walnut stained farmhouse table. Now to just figure out what shade of grey for the chairs, to match the larger end chairs that arrived this week.
Have you experimented with Annie Sloan chalk paint yet? Did you like it?