Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Hand-carved Stamps on Furniture

When we bought our house we inherited some pieces of furniture from the previous owners including the rustic shelves in the basement (shown below).  For twelve years now I have wanted to paint these shelves and I finally did it!  And not only did I paint them but I stamped them and added cupboard doors to the top shelf with matching stamped curtains!  Sometimes I get a vision in my head of what I want to do and come hell or high water I am going to do it.  This was one of those occasions. 

I began by priming and painting the shelves with a white semi-gloss.  While waiting for paint to dry I worked on coming up with a design in Illustrator.  (For those graphic designers out there I used the polar grid to draw the seven petaled flower and it worked great.)  After printing out the design I transferred it to the Safety-Kut carving material.

Next I carved my design into the Safety-Kut.

I then cut the designs out to form my individual stamps.

Below you can see I rolled out the paint onto plexi-glass and used my brayer to roll the paint onto my stamp.  I used the same acrylic semi-gloss paint that I used to paint the white base of the shelves and I had to keep rolling fairly often because the paint would start to dry if I let it go too long. 

As you can see below the stamp gives a rough effect.  I wasn't so sure I liked it in the beginning and was very nervous to continue. 

But after I added the blue leaves it started to look better. 

I also stamped fabric for the cupboard curtains.  I used cotton and it took the stamp beautifully.

The hard part was making sure I stamped my design to perfectly fit inside my cupboard windows.  I ended up drawing the windows in Illustrator to scale which then helped me figure out where to place my stamps.  Even though I meticulously measured and used my specially-made template, it took me about four times measuring and re-measuring out from the prints for me to end up with a rectangle with the same dimensions top and bottom.  I was ready to pull my hair out.  Then my bobbin thread ran out and I couldn't unscrew the sewing arm.  At times like that I start to question my sanity but I just keep pushing through. 

I had to be extra careful when sewing the curtains to allow enough room for dowel rod pockets.  I carefully measured around the dowel and gave myself extra for the seam.  I always carefully figure it all out on paper and then somehow reality is never quite the same.  This time, after I sewed the dowel rod pocket I had a little too much extra fabric and was worried you could see the extra seam through the fabric.  But luckily it stopped right above the window.  

I planned on hanging the dowel rods from cupboard hooks both at the top and bottom.  I was a bit frazzled after my sewing experience and was not very happy when I realized I didn't buy enough hooks.  And on top of that the drill broke.  So after another run to Home Depot I was super thankful that George attached the hinges, cupboard hooks and magnetic closures.  I also want to thank my neighbor John for giving me these doors.  They have been sitting in the basement for a decade waiting to be used for some project and it makes me super happy to finally use them.

Below you can see a close-up of the final shelves.  The shelves are still full of pock marks, old nail holes, hinge depressions, and gloppy paint but the painting and stamping has breathed new life into these old shelves.  When we attached the final door and stood back I was grinning from ear to ear.  

As you can see I went a little crazy with the stamping on the piece of furniture shown below.  This was another inherited piece from the previous owners.  Luckily I had painted it white years ago so all I had to do was stamp it.  If I had to do it again I would probably only stamp the top. 

I also ended up stamping a bench we have on the back porch.  It is dangerous to have a wet stamp in your hand!  You start to wander around the house looking for anything that might take a stamp!

I don't know why I started obsessing about painting the crappiest piece of furniture in the house.  I think I liked the idea of it being crappy because I wasn't afraid to ruin it.  I started off wanting to try rosemaling (the art of Scandinavian folk painting) and decided it would be easier to carve some stamps since I had all the tools from my printmaking projects.  Although I didn't know how the stamps would work on furniture it was a good experiment and I am happy with the rough-looking result.  This was also a test project because I would like to do some folk painting on our basement stairs.  Give me enough time and the whole house will be covered in joyful folk designs!

“Be brave enough to live creatively. The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You cannot get there by bus, only by hard work, risking and by not quite knowing what you are doing. What you will discover will be wonderful: What you will discover is Yourself.”  ― Alan Alda

1 comment:

Jodi Christiansen said...

Oh, this is just delightful! Don't your toes just curl up with pleasure to see your long-held ideas become manifest? That is the magic of this Earth I do believe! George is lucky he doesn't have your beautiful design stamped on his behind. I wouldn't mind a stamp on some of my clothes, tho... Thanks for sharing your process and your joy! XO