The Remaking of the French Bombe Commode

I’m not going to lie.  It was an impulse buy.

four before

I am prone to doing this, sometimes.

It was gaudy.  It was a Repro.  It had hideous bubbling veneer.  And I didn’t have space for another piece of furniture.

But

The bones.  Those sexy curvy lines.  My self-control was powerless to those lines.  And so I bought it.

And I did debate about painting it.  Should I just repair it?  

The ormolu brass side mounts were/are quite eye-catching.

But the flaws…Oh, don’t get me started.

The marble top had been repaired.  It’s actually quite a decent repair (fortunately the crack went along the vein) but for resale, it obviously would impact what I can ask for it.

Six

Plus, it’s a Reproduction.  There’s a stamp under the marble saying that it was made in Egypt, and imported to Washington.

And let’s not forget the hideous peeling veneer.  So I would say, in hindsight, it was an easy decision to make:  It would be painted.

Because the veneer was so ‘busy’, I decided to paint over it to really ‘see’ what state the veneer was in (the light paint coverage would, hopefully, highlight the problem areas).  Oh Boy!  A complete and utter mess.  My mental health was more stable than the veneer (and that’s not saying much.  Believe me).

So – off to work.  I brought out my industrial garment steamer.  (Before rumors start going crazy, I don’t steam garments.  I bought it because Joann Fabrics had it for sale for $29.95.  And I love a sale.  I use it more for steaming upholstery fabric and bringing life back to foam seats).

veneer

AND, with an industrial steamer, this was going to be easy.  I would steam the veneer (to make it pliable), splice it with a razor blade, add glue, clamp it and that would be it.  But not so fast, Sherlock.

Because it wasn’t easy.   Nothing in my life is easy.  Karma makes sure of that.  The more I lifted the veneer, the more it came apart.

I ended up removing the veneer of the ENTIRE body .  My hands.  My hands.  Oh, don’t let me talk about my hands.

I prayed to St. Vinny, Patron Saint of Crappy Veneer.  But to no avail.  It was just me, a steamer and then later a heat gun, until I got to this stage.  Once the veneer is lifted, you then have the chore of removing the glue.  (At this point, you start to think that buying from IKEA is a pretty good idea).

no veneerGreat lines, right?

 For some reason I have a really hard time doing a light base color.  I always tend to go dark.  I think it lends itself to a better patina.

For this piece, I used Pure and Original Classico Majestic Cloth (it’s a beautiful deep blue/purple), then I put a top coat of Sea Moss (grey/sage green) and added Barbedos Blue (a light blue/grey color) with a clear glaze in certain areas.  Adding clear glaze to a color gives you a more translucent finish, almost like a watercolor effect.

seamoss

I wanted to give the Bombe Commode the look of plaster.  There were so many nicks and imperfections that I decided to run with them.  I also have a problem filling in every nick on a piece of furniture.  I’d rather just accept the flaws  and put them down to ‘character’.

I love playing with glazes, both clear and dark based ones.  I think they give a more authentic patina than dark wax (which I really don’t use).

Bombe ChestIt took many many steps to get it to here.  The ormolu I gold leafed, as well as the handles and drawer edges.  I  sealed them with Pure & Original Dead Flat Eco Sealer.  I love gold leaf, but I hate the shine.  It can be too ‘blingy’, too new.  I want my gold leaf to be muted.  I have left some areas of the original brass finish to peek through.

FiveThe imperfections  of age I love.  I never set out to make my painted pieces look ‘new’.  I want them to have character, and so the detail work is my favorite part of doing a piece.  Here I’ve used four or five different glazes, and different paint consistencies to get this effect.  It’s all about thin layers.  Lots and lots of thin layers.  The Barbedos Blue glaze, gives the appearance of a greyish/blue hue over the Seamoss,  on this piece.

It helps pull out the bow shape in the piece.

TwoSee the dark lines going up the side?  It’s the seam of the wood planks glued together to get the bowing.  You could see it slightly, but I emphasized it by using a tiny artist brush and a dark glaze.   Pure & Original Classico doesn’t need a wax (it has a built-in finish) but,  because I use glazes (that do need to be sealed) I finished the piece off with P&O Italian gloss wax.  If you buy one thing from P&O, let it be the wax.  It is sublime.  

Here’s my affiliate link, click here

Sensational shine.  The glow is almost equivalent to my menopausal one.  Yes, it’s that shiny!!

 

Three

This is a piece that seriously tested my patience.  It was the proverbial ‘easy’ job that nearly ended up being my demise.My hands.  Oh, please don’t let me talk about my hands.

The splinters.  The blisters.  For what?

Well, for this.

PicMonkey Bombe chest

It’s da bombe.

{insert catchy ending phrase here}

Diane aka The Paint Factory

 

In all transparency, this post has an affiliate link to Pure & Original.  What does that mean exactly?  Well, if you click the link you go directly to the official P&O website.  If you choose to buy, I get a small commission.  Trust me, it’s not enough to sell my soul – or put red meat on the table.  But it helps me financial the maintenance of this amazing average blog.  

But (between you and me) I would promote/use this produce if they didn’t get me the affiliate link.  But don’t tell them.  They don’t need to know.

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23 thoughts on “The Remaking of the French Bombe Commode

  • November 12, 2015 at 7:56 pm
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    Wow! She’s a pretty blonde now!

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  • November 12, 2015 at 8:20 pm
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    seriously seriously SERIOUSLY beautiful! Just stunning work!

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    • November 12, 2015 at 8:26 pm
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      Thank you Alison! Such a beast to work with though :/

      Reply
  • November 12, 2015 at 8:36 pm
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    Wow! Your blood, sweat, and tears paid off! A gorgeous transformation!

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  • November 13, 2015 at 5:25 am
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    Incredible work as always and completely charmed by your journey and humor!

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  • November 13, 2015 at 11:54 am
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    Such a transformation!! All the pieces you work on are a true inspiration! Just beautiful!

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  • November 13, 2015 at 1:04 pm
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    Diane, I think the choice of Sea Moss for the body was a stroke of genius. As I’d commented earlier, I never was drawn to all the “goo-gah” on this piece, which I felt greatly cheapened its lines. However, going with the lighter body color plus toning down the gold really works! Nice, very nice.

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    • November 13, 2015 at 1:42 pm
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      Thanks Greg! It’s a beautiful color. Looking back on it, the veneer was truly just ‘too much’.

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  • November 14, 2015 at 8:41 am
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    I love your work so much. I am so envious, I want to paint things for my home to look like this but I just don’t have the same talent or knack for this.

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    • November 15, 2015 at 10:09 am
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      It’s just practice, Diane. Play with it!

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    • March 28, 2016 at 10:48 pm
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      I know how you feel – I would love to as well – but I just don’t have the talent!!

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      • March 29, 2016 at 9:58 am
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        I don’t believe that for one second, Nuri!! It’s paint, easy peasy πŸ™‚

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  • November 16, 2015 at 12:00 am
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    Diane, this is a delightful post on a few levels. Your writing is dynamic and funny. I laughed through it but understood the pathos — your hands! Beyond the eternal struggle of man (or woman), you blithely ran through steps on how to create a masterpiece. This girl was elevated to a level of transcendence — and you did it. Very well done, indeed.

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    • November 16, 2015 at 7:41 am
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      Thank you, Ann Marie! I did send you an email about glazes!

      Reply
  • November 26, 2015 at 9:23 am
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    A neophyte admirer of your work is curious about money. It is ugly to ask once you subtract materials & original cost of Mr Bombe, do you know roughly how much your work was worth on an hourly basis?
    Are there no gloves developed which would allow you the touch & flexibility you need?
    Sorry if this is out of line.

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    • November 26, 2015 at 3:31 pm
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      It’s hard to put a $ sign to the work. One hour of simple painting, is very different from spending an hour on detail work. At the end of the day, the $ amount doesn’t translate into much. I think you could only make a decent profit if you have a storefront and have good walking traffic.

      In terms of gloves, I just prefer to use my hands. I like the feel of the piece (splinters and all).

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  • March 21, 2016 at 5:40 am
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    Absolutely gorgeous work and I totally understand your process. πŸ˜‰ I am excited to share your prodigal pieces on my blog tomorrow! Thank you for sharing!

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  • June 2, 2017 at 10:01 pm
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    I’m currently doing the same thing with my French Bombe chest. Question: How did you get the glue removed?

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  • August 21, 2021 at 3:00 am
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    Hi. How did you remove the ormolu style corners ? I’m battling the same task but can’t seem to prise these darned mounts off…

    ThNks

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    • August 25, 2021 at 10:17 am
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      Oh man! It was tough!!! I just (eventually) pried them off, but it wasn’t easy. The nails that they used were super long.

      Reply
  • May 6, 2022 at 2:40 pm
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    Wow! This is stunning! You really did the damn thing 😍
    I have one so similar! Would you happen to know when it was made?

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    • May 11, 2022 at 3:39 pm
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      Thanks, Shay! I don’t know when it was made. I’m pretty sure it was a reproduction though.

      Reply

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