I tip toe into this lamp makeover lightly. My last thrifted lamp makeover received a lot of flack from vintage lamp lovers......so I'm a little apprehensive!
Except that I absolutely LOVE the whimsical outcome of this pair and I'd gladly do it all over again!
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Before Thrifted Lamp Makeover
I fell in love with these lamps the moment I laid eyes on them! They were gold, chunky, gaudy and a little bit hideous...and right up my alley!
Apparently my daughter-in-law's mother found them a few years back at her local Salvation Army. She loved them...and her husband loathed them.
She mentioned to her daughter (my daughter-in-law Tiffany) that she could have them.
Tiffany is a teacher and her classroom theme is Wonderland so she asked me if I'd be willing to paint them and make them more fantastical ....more colorful.....and less scary for her third grade classroom. See all of her Wonderland classroom decor projects HERE!
Whimsical Thrifted Lamp Makeover
Y'all, this is like asking if a toddler likes donuts! OF COURSE I can paint them...and I will paint them...and we will love them!
Painting the Base Coat...with Brody
My son Brody and I painted the original base coat on my Wednesday night live broadcast.
We enjoyed ourselves and we always love visiting with the Dixie Belle audience but I quickly realized that it would have been much easier to base coat these lamps with a spray paint.
They are extremely ornate with lots of hard to reach details. So if you decide to paint something similar at home, use a spray paint for your base coat. I would recommend a flat finish as it is the most like chalk paint finish to do detail painting and blending on top of.
But if you'd like to paint as we did....we used Fluff by Dixie Belle...and it took two coats to fully cover.
I actually LOVED them in solid white....they looked like wedding cakes....which is second on my favorite sugar rush just behind those toddler donuts!
Time to Make it Whimsical...and Colorful!!
I completed the rest of the lamps on my own and worked on them a little each night and I honestly don't remember the particular order. But I do remember exactly what paints and what techniques I used and I'd like to share those with you here.
Oh wait...I completely forgot that Brody did paint the small black details around the largest outer ring of the lamps as well. He made it very clear that his detail painting days ended right there. He plans to stick with large pieces of furniture. LOL!
The tiny harlequin pattern was just that.....TINY! I attempted a few of those tiny diamonds with paint and a detail brush but I very quickly decided that paint pens would be much easier.
So i used my Posca pens to add all the tiny bits of color! This made this process go by quickly and way less painful than brush painting would have been.
I do recommend good lighting and a lot of breaks when working on such tiny detail....as it can really be a strain on your eyes!
PRO TIP: When working on small home decor pieces.....using a lazy susan/turn-table is a life saver!
This type of detail work isn't new for me. I was reminded of all the fancy gumball machines I've created over the years and the excitement to see the dramatic transformation. Learn more HERE about this fun gift idea!
Shades of Blue
PRO TIP: When I'm working with multiple colors on one piece, whether its furniture or home decor, I try to choose my main accent color and place it at the top, bottom and middle of the piece. I feel like this really keeps the weight of the piece balanced and grounded.
The fill-in color (or third main color) that I chose was Soft Pink. This really brought home the Alice vibe but in all honesty it also has a Marie Antionette thing going on too!
Let's Talk about "Dry Brushing"
Dry brushing is when you use VERY little paint on a dry brush...and you offload as much paint as possible onto a cloth...leaving just a faint amount on your bristles to lightly graze the surface of your project.
Very often when using multiple colors on a small piece it can look chaotic with lots of hard line divisions and color breaks. One way to soften this look is to dry brush over everything....to sort of blur out those hard lines.
Dry brushing is also a fabulous technique to consider when working on a heavily detailed piece since the dry brushed color catches on the top surface of all the detail...bringing it to life!
You can see where I dry brushed white over every surface and all the raised carvings and edges of the lamp are frosted in a white haze!
Bringing Back a Touch of Gold
The last addition to the lamp base was to bring back in a bit of gold.
I used Gold Gilding Wax and fluffy well used craft brush.....and the dry brush technique again.
Just lightly dusting any area that I wanted a bit of gold shimmer.....with a heavier focus on the carved faces.
Sealing for a High Gloss Shine
Once both lamps were completed I chose Triple Thick Top Coat (which is in a spray can) to seal these and add a high gloss shine. It was so much easier and faster than trying to brush on a top coat!
PRO TIP: I'd also like to add, I'm never completely comfortable brushing on a top coat over areas that I've used a paint pen. I've had so many projects that I've used paint pens on then when brushing on the top coat, the pen areas have smeared. Maybe this is user error....maybe I haven't allowed them to cure properly....but just to be safe....I spray!
Lastly.....the lamp shades
Tiffany purchased these two drum shades at Target. We simply added a double trim of pink ribbon fringe and a black and white twisted cording....by using hot glue. It was the perfect addition and a beautiful finishing touch!
The Final Reveal: Whimsical Thrifted Lamps
I am CAH-RAZY about these lamps and would have done anything to keep them for myself!
But Tiffany was just as crazy about them.....and that makes me so very happy!
She's a brand new teacher and I'm honored to have been given the opportunity to help make her first classroom a magical place of curiosity and wonder!
So who has crazy gaudy lamps that would be willing to try something like this?? I'd love to know!
Welcome to Mrs. Johnson's Wonderland!
This is Tiffanys first year of teaching. She accepted a third grade teaching position at a school where her classroom offers some of the children the only inviting space they know.
She's worked hard to provide them a safe place to feel loved, inspired and creative! She calls it their Wonderland. Check out some of our wonderland classroom decor projects.
Wonderland Classroom Door - welcoming hand-painted classroom door
Wonderland Demi Lune Table - a quick makeover for a eye-catching classroom table
Book Lectern ***coming soon***
Click on any photo below for more up-close photos and all the design details
Even More Inspiration!!
Here are more unique project ideas for your inspiration:
Textured Sea Spray Lamps - from orange to subtile neutral expensive texture
Rocking Zebra Pony - vintage rocking horse turned...zebra?? a must see design!
Whimsical Urn - high-dollar topiary urn (or two) on a budget
Whimsical Painted Heirloom - the teeniest tiniest checks ever painted
Click on any photo below for more up-close photos and all the design details
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