The Difficult Child – Learning How To Frottage

when I grow upWe’ve all had one, right?  And if you haven’t (and you paint furniture)  trust me, it’s just a matter of time.  It’s the non-communicating piece of furniture.  The piece that refuses to ‘talk’ to you.  It won’t give you a clue of what it wants to be when it grows up. So you have to try and figure it out yourself.  A good analogy would be: if it were a child, it would be the one that decides to drop out of  high school to roam around Europe.  She probably dreams of becoming a pseudo-Bohemian for a year or so – maybe longer.  Can you really put a time limit on ‘finding yourself’?  And yes, duh, of course she should be able to use daddy’s emergency credit cards.  If trying to find yourself isn’t an emergency, then what is?

Me in another life
Me in another life

Yes, it would be that child.

My ‘lost’ child, apparently, came from an Ashram in Portland.  So it needed to be funky, off-kilter. Unique.  Yeah, Baby.  If any piece of furniture could carry stripes,  this would be the one.  I mean, c’mon – an ASHRAM in PORTLAND.  Does it get any hippier? And so –  I gave it stripes. A lot of them, actually.  I used SIXTEEN different Annie Sloan Chalk Paint colors.  I was in paint heaven, and I loved my stripped baby child.  OneBut alas, no-one else did.

And so, I was sad because I thought I had ‘nailed’ it. But, you know what?  You raise them and they still go on to disappoint you.  C’est la vie.

So, it sat in my garage for months.  And then I figured out a new approach.  I would just paint over those beautiful stripes, and  then we’d find its ‘true’ self.

And I did.  But the paint didn’t stick.   Oh Buggering Hell!  Seriously!  seriously?  I totally spaced out on the wax thing.  Don’t even think about using another type of paint over Annie Sloan wax. Even though I ‘washed’ it down with mineral spirits, the paint would not stick.  Bag of lost hopeI call this photo, the ‘Bag of Lost Hope and Broken Dreams’. (The garbage collectors must think I’m one sad puppy, because ‘that lady sure does have a lot of bags full of lost hope and broken dreams. hmm hmm, ‘aint that the truth).  Yes, sir-ee.

STupid, stew-pid, stuuuuuuuuuupid piece of junk, piece of rubbish furniture.

So I decided I would just wait.  Take a step back.  And while waiting for the ‘difficult’ child to figure itself out, I did what most parents do.  I turned to the sweet relief of alcohol.

wineAnd so it stayed in my garage for a few more months.  The problem is, when you have a big unwanted piece of crappy furniture in your garage, it just seems to grow – I mean like really grow.  It begins to fester.   Finally, I stripped the sucker back. (and trust me, there isn’t enough booze in the world to make that a pleasurable experience).  And I went back to Annie Sloan Chalk Paint: Emperor Silk and Primer Red.  (I just can’t quit her).

I had already used a pull-off technique using Artisan Enhancements Crackle Tex on the buffet, and so I knew I wanted a textured finish.   (Crackle Tex is a medium that you put on between coats of paint, and it allows you to play with the top coat – so you can ‘pull’ it away, and it creates lots of lovely texture to your piece.  I wanted the texture, but I wanted to try something new.  This is a technique Polyvine and Annie Sloan calls Frottage. I prefer to call it ‘putting on perfectly good paint, and then taking perfectly good paint  off again’.  Go figure.  On a side note,  I meticulously do research for all of my posts,  and according to the Urban Dictonary:

frot, tribadism, dry humping, or any other no-penetration body grinding done with or without clothes in public or in private
Oh the delicious frottage! I’m still tender all over.
by annonymous July 10, 2004

I’m almost quite certain, she didn’t mean this.  I think she meant  the frottage technique where you layer your paint colors, and then remove the top one with paper to gain a sense of depth.  It works best if you use two colors close in tone to each other (hence the Emperor Silk and Primer Red).  Yes, I’m quite sure.  I think.  I dunno.

Annie does it with old newspaper.  You grab a big piece, scrunch it up, and pull it back out. The paper should have lots of creases on it.    Then you put it over the topcoat, put a little pressure to it and pull it off.  The creased paper will lift random areas of the paint off; you’ll get the base coat showing through – plus variations on the smoothness of the top coat.   I only wanted deep variations in small areas, so I didn’t use a big piece of paper (OK, here’s the inside scope: the photo below was done a little later – just to show you the technique).


What REALLY happened was this:  I was in the garage and I didn’t have any newspaper to use.  But – I was near my recycling bin, and in my bin was the McDonalds bag from the night before (you may recall that when my husband left me, I refused to feed the kids).  So, how very fortuitous for me, because I figured something out.  If you use an old McDonalds paper bag to do this technique – you manage to release a fabulous aroma of Mickey D’s french fries.

mcdonalds perfume

Now, I don’t have to tell you that being able to smell french fries without having to actually eat them, in my estimation, is a win-win situation.  Right? I should seriously email Annie Sloan and tell her she’s been doing it wrong all this time. We need an addictive to the paint – food flavor.  And I would want royalties.

Brilliant idea, if I say so myself.

Here’s a short (and very vintage) tutorial from Polyvine.  It seems very fitting because the old British newspaper they’re using has TEARS as the running headline.  


staging - Copy
This truly has been a piece that has tested me; but it’s been a great learning experience, so I really can’t knock it.   We raise them the best we can, all the while thinking that we know them.

But we don’t.  Not really.  We just have to wait and sit it out.


{insert catchy ending phrase here}

Diane aka The Paint Factory

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