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The Chair(s) Project(s)

April 13, 2011

I had these two old wooden chairs sitting (hehehe) around… perfectly fine in their structure, but horrible to behold, due to stained wood and scratched surface…. I just could not stand them (hehehe… this is the last one, i promise). So, I decided to clean and re-decorate them… at the begin, the idea was just to use a plain color, but I got carried away.

For the first chair, I decided to use decoupage… but not with the usual flowers/animals/angels  country-style images, but using newspapers.

Both the chair needed a good amount of sanding, I also removed some small cracks using some wood filler, and i was ready to go. For the decoupage chair, it is absolutely mandatory a hand (or two) of primer, possibly white… this will help the and give a more uniform background color (newspaper paper is a bit transparent). The decoupage process itself is simple enough: using diluted vynilic glue, paste pieces of newspaper. The piece should adhere completely to the underlying surface: cover with the diluted glue the entire back side of the paper, attach to the object and then smooth out the piece using the brush and more diluted glue on the front, until the entire piece is flatten out and covered by glue. Keep the pieces small to avoid problems on curved areas.

I experimented a bit on some scrap piece of wood and, in my opinion, words are much better than images, for a project like this. All the chair is covered by parts of articles and (small) titles: all the pieces are cut in order to keep the article structure intact (cut following the division of columns or sentences). I also tried to select only “happy news” articles: it is not very good to sit in a chair and read about some crazy guy on a killing spree. I then chose very large titles and cut out the letters for spelling CHAIR (SEDIA, in Italian) and applied them on the back rest… yes, the letter S is upside down, I did it on purpose, to add a bit of  “freak” factor. If possible, avoid using newspapers which uses lots of colors, the kind of ink they use is less resistant to water. Local news or financial pages are often printed on a different kind of paper.

After everything is covered up, let it dry for a day or two… Decoupage uses a lot of water, and it is necessary to let it dry completely before finishing it up. When it’s dry, apply 2-3 layers of hard (search for paints ). If possible, use a UV-resistant glossy finish, since the newspaper paper gets yellow over time if it receive sunlight. If, on the other hand, do like antique-looking yellow newspaper pages, after the decoupage is dry, with a sponge, gently apply some diluted coffee to the surface. This will give a yellow-brown tint to the paper; try to apply it non-uniformly on 2-3 passes, letting it dry after each pass. YES, it does work very well, NO, it will not produce mold and NO, it will not make your chair smell like a coffee house.

The second one, i went for something more “artistic”… I recently started learning how to draw Japanese-style and I wanted to experiment a bit on an unusual support for drawing. Cherry blossom and Koi carps are the simplest elements and I decided to use them to decorate this chair.

After the primer (it is always good to use a bit of primer, to obtain a more even painted surface) I painted two layers of solid color, on top of which I started drawing. The decoration has been done using tempera. Why tempera ? just because I happened to have it at home, while my acrilics were (for unknown reason) in my office. For the flowers and the the fish bodies, I firstly sketched the basic shape with a soft pencil. The details and the other elements are just freehanded using the brush.

To avoid damaging the brushwork, I used first layer of a clear coat spray paint (which is easier to lay without touching the underlying surface) and then, on this more uniform surface, I applied two more layers of non-glossy finish.

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