Painting things with Chalk Paint is a quick and easy job, right? It is the holy grail of paint for the impatient, yes?… Err, well… sorry to disappoint you, but no. Whatever it says on the tin of your well-known brand, or even if you have read my last blog and are now making your own, the truth about chalk paint is, if you want a good end result, it DOES need some preparation and it DOES need time to dry off well between coats. I spoke about preparation in my last blog but this short article is about, well — watching paint dry!
One of the biggest lessons I have learned over the past year of doing up furniture is patience! Now, this has never, ever been one of my noted virtues, and it hasn’t come easy, but numerous tear-inducing disasters have taught me that letting things dry thoroughly and not rushing it definitely pays off in the end. I was, without a doubt, far too impetuous and impatient with my early projects — not only with the paint but with decoupage and varnishes too — and boy, have I paid the price many times. There is nothing more soul-destroying than lifting a mask to find you laid it far too early and it simply takes the base layer of paint off with it. Or for the varnish to bubble, because you didn’t give the layer beneath time to dry thoroughly.
At the moment I am working on a Bohemian-inspired chest of drawers, it is a very intricate project involving lots of paint and decoupage techniques in layers, and it is taking weeks and weeks because I am now at a point with my creations where I have learned, the excruciatingly hard way, to paint a layer and walk away… walk away and leave it for at least 24 hours – if not 48… or even more sometimes, especially when masking. I have learned to go off and do something else, and completely forget about the object. I used to be absolutely hopeless, going back every 10 minutes to poke and prod to see if the paint was dry, and if it was no longer wet, on I would rush with the second coat, or the varnish! The thing is, although the paint may be dry on the surface. it probably won’t be thoroughly dry, or in any way hardened; I estimate chalk paint takes at the very least 2 weeks to harden off properly – and drying is always dependent upon the atmospheric conditions at the time. Exactly the same goes for decoupage, and my major nemesis — varnish! So much can go wrong with varnish, as I know too well, and you are left with a perfect piece ruined in the last stages because you rushed the varnish!
I once rushed a sign which had white lettering with a red foreground, the paint had been left to dry for days but wasn’t completely hard, and when I brushed the varnish on it immediately picked up the red pigment in the paint and I watched in horror as it merrily turned my lovely white lettering pink! I know it is frustrating to have to wait when you are so excited about your latest creation and you just want to see it done, and I know I am lucky, I have a workroom where I can leave a piece drying undisturbed, but my advice to any of you doing what I do, time and patience are your greatest allies in your quest for that perfect, well-finished piece.