Well well well...... what do we have here? It looks like a harlequin bombay chest. A chest that dreams are made of..... and I'm here to tell you all about it!
I've painted many harlequin pieces over the years but this is my first "all over" harlequin.... AND my first curved surface harlequin...... and this finish is NOT for sissies! I consider this a NEXT LEVEL advanced piece! It doesn't really require any FANCY skills...... but it does require a lot of measuring, massive amounts of brain power (LOL), a very steady hand, a high level of patience, the ability to adapt...... and a boat load of determination! I know many of you are always up for a good challenge..... so this one is for you!
As you can see..... this bombay chest was gorgeous in it's original finish. However, the dark brown tuscan finish is not always conducive to a light and airy room design. My client requested this black and white harlequin design and the shape of this chest was perfect for her space.
I cleaned really well with White Lightning which serves as a degreaser and de-glosser. You must rinse your furniture really well after the White Lightening to make sure all traces of cleaner have been removed. I then chose BOSS primer in Gray to prepare my piece for paint. BOSS is an acronym that stands for Block Odors Stops Stains (and bleed through). I wanted to make sure I didn't have any issue with bleed through since every other diamond shape would be white..... which was prime property for bleed through to show up. When in doubt.....ALWAYS prime!!!
I chose to use the "brush-roller" method to apply my primer for an ultra smooth finish.... since I knew a lot of hand painted precise lines were in the near future and I didn't want to be working around brush strokes. This is done by using a brush to apply the primer in the seams where the wood meets.... or other hard to reach areas..... and then using the roller to roll the rest of the surface. Or you can use a brush to liberally apply on the surface and immediately follow with the roller to roll out the brush strokes. I applied a single layer of BOSS.... as I knew the SILK paint I would be using also has the equivalent of a single coat of BOSS in it as well... which gives me TWO coats of primer.
Once the primer was dry I began applying my first coat of Endless Shore (SILK all-in-one paint) using the same brush and roller method for ZERO brush strokes. I applied two coats of Endless Shore. And then I began the challenging work of measuring and drawing out my harlequin grid. This part of the process is very difficult to type out in a blog. I did make a video that you can see on You Tube here.......that explains how I measure and tape this process. I can tell you this:
choose how tall and wide you'd like you diamond pattern to be
mark the center of the surface you will be painting on and draw a vertical and horizontal line to measure from
measure out and place the center of your harlequin directly in the center of your surface
continue measuring across your horizontal line marking the width of each diamond with dot
continue measuring across your vertical line making the height of each diamond with a dot~do this row by row
then use a long ruler to connect your dots diagonally each direction
SERIOUSLY difficult to explain!!!
The most difficult part of this entire project was drawing my pattern on the curved surface of the drawers. Working my lines over the trim and bowed out shape was challenging to say the least. Working with a flexible ruler was very helpful! I drew it in pencil first...... and then used sharpie marker over the pencil just to make it easier for me to see when painting..... and to keep the pencil lines from smearing while I worked with my hands all over the piece.
The first side panel was a hot mess! I drew it out..... had to erase and start over! It was very difficult to bring the continued harlequin on the front around to the sides and have them match up with the top surface too. I finally decided to add a section of stripes (which you will see soon) to break up the pattern and this made it so much easier. The second side panel went very smoothly once I made that decision.
I have free-handed my harlequin for years.... but decided to try the tape method again.....so I could help others to learn this process. I did that in the video I mention.... and this is the result of the "first pass". You then must repeat the same method as a "second pass" to complete the final look. I lost patience (way too much taping) and chose to paint the rest of this top surface free hand. I just don't enjoy the tape method.... but this is what it looks like half way through that process. I used Black Sands for my contrasting "black" color. Endless Shore is NOT white.... it is a very soft off-white..... and Black Sands is NOT a true black.... it is a soft graphite color. I think they work beautifully together to soften the hard lines of this pattern.
Here you can see the entire top has been done as have the drawers. Once I get going in the free-hand zone..... I am able to get so much more done! This photo is after two coats on all diamonds.... and where I called it a night. Many ask how long this process takes..... and all I can say is..... I need a massage! My YouTube video has clips of ALL the detail painting and tiny brushes involved and how many coats are required..... it's a lot!
I came back the next day rested and ready to knock out the side panels. I was able to draw and paint both side panels in two coats, clean up all fine lines with a detail brush...... add the stripes to the sides and spray the hardware in gold! The beauty of using SILK all-in-one paint..... it doesn't require a top coat! The top coat is built in and is the equivalent of one coat of Gator Hide!!! So.... considering this piece already has a coat of primer, two coats of Endless Shore and two coats of Black Sands...... I'm THRILLED to not have to add one more coat to finish it off!
I couldn't get this harlequin bombay chest onto the staging wall fast enough! It represents HOURS of my work..... and completely encompasses my whimsical style! I wanted to pose with it..... stage it for Halloween.... Christmas...... Spring....... allllll the seasons! It's so versatile like that! But to be honest.... I am just to tired! LOL! It completely drained me in a very satisfying way! So I photographed it just like this...... and I couldn't be more pleased!
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