One of the most frequently asked questions we get here at Pixie Dust Paints is “Can you Paint Fabric with Chalk like Paints?”
If you would have asked me 2 years ago the answer would have been NO, but today, it’s a YES..YES…YES and you should really try it soon!
So lets start this tutorial off with our victim. I purchased this chair for a whopping $20, some would say it was $19 too much and others would say that it was a great deal. I bought it from a friend so $20 was a great deal. While our paint subject might look good in great “golden hour” lighting, trust me great lighting can make anything (anyone) look amazing. (Tip: The golden hour is 1 hour before the sunsets, it creates a perfect hue of coloring on just about anything. Only problem is, I’m usually still at the office during this golden time..).
This chair was crazy dirty, dusty, and had water stains on the back of it. I tried at one time to clean and that was a no go! So if you can’t clean it…paint it!
Let’s talk brushes (probably the 2nd most asked question we get). I normally use chip brushes by “Plaid”, you can find them online or at Walmart, Joanns, etc. They are synthetic and cheap. They also clean well…that is if you clean them right away. I will admit that I’m the WORST at cleaning brushes. It’s not uncommon to find them hard and crusty. I have found that Klean Strip brush cleaner is my solution to laziness. Only problem with it, is the smell, it’s just awful, is highly toxic, and flammable. So clean your brushes right the first time and avoid it or suffer the consequences!
After my brushes were like new again time to round up supplies….
1 Quart of Olympic “Secret Passage” (The most beautiful grey on the market)
1 Sample Jar of Olympic One “Black Magic” (Icon is not available in samples, not sure why I would assume it’s because Olympic wouldn’t be able to handle the DIY chalk painters demands for the stuff. If you have not tried ICON, don’t just walk to your nearest lowes…RUN! It’s VOC free, and makes for the most amazing velvet finish when mixed with Pixie Dust)!
Various mason jars for mixing each color and your water/paint mixtures
400 grit sand paper/sanding block (I call him “Buff”)
Paint brushes in various sizes!
STEP ONE: Wood Trim…
I always start by washing wood surfaces down. Sanding in this case was not necessary, so just some dish soap and water was all it needed.
I started with the wood trim of the chair 1st. So I mixed the sample jar of paint with Pixie Dust and then applied a VERY light coat.
To Mix our Chalky Paint Powder it’s always best to add the powder to a mason jar, then the water, shake like crazy (with a lid on of course) and then add the paint. Make sure before adding the paint that there are no clay clumps. Sometimes the clay likes to stick together, but it can be easily smashed with a spoon and shake some more!
Then add your paint and shake some more. Because I’m using a sample jar of paint for the trim, I have added a little more of the powder, just a couple of pinches and a little more water. Sample paints are satin and to get the velvet look I like I need to tone down the satin finish to be more “matte”. Make sense???
I’m still not sure if I should have started with the trim 1st or the fabric first, no matter which way you go, touch ups to both will be required!
STEP TWO: Painting the fabric….
Ok so let me tell you the bad news first…if you think that you are going to be able to do this project in 1-2 days, not a chance (unless you sleep between coats). This chair required 5 coats of paint! YES FIVE!!!! Painting fabric requires different mixtures of paint and takes a lot of paint. Thankfully with a DIY option, we are not spending $80 for paint. I would mix a pint of paint at a time (1/2 qt) with the pixie dust and then use another jar for your water mixtures (you will see below).
Coat #1: 1/2 water x 1/2 chalky paint
Coat #1 will look like crap. You will see every stain mark, booty mark, and oil mark, don’t panic. It will get better. It will also take SEVERAL hours to dry. To start coat #1 spray your chair with water and then start applying the paint water mixture. Saturate your chair and let it sit.
After coat #1 above has dried (usually over night 12+ hours) it will feel hard and crispy. That’s ok. Take a sanding block to it 400 grit. I will refer to the sanding block as our buff block from here on out. This sandpaper is used to buff and it’s is ESSENTIAL to buff!!!
Coat #2: Same as above! 1/2 water and 1/2 paint! Repeat as above!!!
Coats #3 to #5: 100% Chalky paint! From this point forward the paint should go on with ease! Just like you were painting a dresser. Coats #1-2 were your “primer”, the foundation needed to keep painting. You will need to buff in between every coat, you can’t skip that step!
After the fabric was the texture I wanted (5 coats later) I went back to the trim of the chair and started working on that. Using wax paper in between the seat and scrape book paper as a barrier between the wood and the fabric. Painters tape didn’t work so well, it wouldn’t stick and wasn’t flexible enough. The trim took me 2 days. Me and my little tiny paint brushes. I decided before hand that all the piping on the chair would be a metallic silver. I don’t advise anyone with OCD to think that is a good idea…it’s time consuming and you will never win. I also don’t suggest a trip to starbucks at 10:30pm and then painting tiny little piping trim following. Your hands will shake and it will look like crap the next day after you wake from your coffee coma. I’m just trying to give some lesson learned tips here!
Step #3: WAX
Yes you heard me!!! WAX IT!! If you think you are going to do all this work and not seal it off, you are nuts. Also don’t even think about Poly or other top coats, sorry not going to work with this! Our one of a kind Hemp Paste was made for a project like this! I applied 3 light coats and it’s like butter! It doesn’t take much to apply, just an old t-shirt, a super cute pug watching you and it will be done before you know it. There is not a lot of buffing that needs to be done with the Hemp Paste, just a few light pass overs and then onto the next.
You might be wondering what does a chalk painted chair feel like??? It’s so amazing, soft, and feels like leather. I’m so impressed with it, I bought 2 wing back chairs this past weekend and guess what….they are about to get a make over!!!
Now I’m off to find the most perfect fabric to make a pillow for it and the other 2 chairs I’m working on! Here is a before and after….In case you are wondering….when you see the chair in person the stripes are still there. Also keep in mind that if your before chair had wrinkles in it…they will not be painted away. However I don’t mind the wrinkles it gives it that aged look!!!