The Making of A Modern Gossip (Telephone) Bench

Here it is! Our first project for the new year. This is going to be a process so keep checking back.

I thought I would be clever and do a sneak peek of this project on my Facebook page. ( I won’t tell you the time I wasted using an app to cut out this image, but I will tell you that I had a bad head cold and with all the talk on the news about the “2020” race, I typed 2020 instead of 2019 and then posted the image. Those are both good excuses, I think, so I am using them.ðŸĪŠ

A couple of my friends noticed and kindly let me know. One said it looked like I had a year to get it done. She could be right. Lol

So, after fixing the sneak peek, we got busy.

First things first. Preparation is the most important part when painting and refinishing furniture. Yes, you do need to prep to get lasting results.

1. We did a major cleaning on the piece and then my husband rough sanded the whole piece to break up the slick finish. Sometimes a piece will be so dirty, we will go through many rags before we start getting a clean rag. And we definitely don’t want to sand the disgusting dirt and grime into the wood. It is important to scuff up the existing finish if it looks a little shiny. This will help your paint bond. But it is true that you don’t have to sand or strip the furniture completely to use chalk-style paint. He did remove the desk top piece and completely sanded it down because I wanted to stain that piece. Then we cleaned again. We use a 50/50 mix of vinegar and distilled water for most projects.

2. Just to be on the safe side, we generally shellac pieces that are going to be painted a lighter color. We use Zinsser Bulls Eye Shellac. It prevents bleed through. It also acts as an odor blocker. We use the spray version frequently to spray the whole inside and outside of pieces, just to make sure. We will take out drawers and spray away. The inside of drawers, too. This works great to block out musty smells and that old cigarette smell. Since this was a small piece, we used spray shellac all over. I recommend spraying outside and using a mask. When painting it on, I use a cheap brush and throw it away. Shellac also has an added feature of drying quickly. It also creates a good bond for chalk-style paint.

I couldn’t wait to stain that top! I made sure the last sanding was with 220 then cleaned it well and used a wood conditioner. The stain was a fast drying oil based stain by Varathane with a one hour dry time. Usually, with oil based stains, I wait at least 3 days to apply my Varathane water-based Polyurethane to make sure it is thoroughly dry. With this miracle oil stain, you only need to wait an hour and then you can use any Varathane Polyurethane. Since I am impatient, I liked that idea! It went on easily and evenly with a rag. I wiped it down with a clean rag, but there wasn’t much need. I did wait overnight to use Varathane Crystal Clear water-based Polyurethane in Satin Finish, but only because we were leaving for the evening. Otherwise, I definitely only would have waited the hour. I am very impatient. 😊 I applied the polyurethane with a slightly dampened car sponge (my applicator of choice right now) and it went on like a dream, using very thin coats! The water -based polyurethane dries quickly. I did one coat on the bottom and 5 coats on the rest.

And just look at this gorgeous piece of wood!

Now, before anyone says, “Since that turned out so well, why didn’t you just refinish the whole thing?” That would be a good question. I do try to save the wood when I can. But some pieces are just not in a good enough condition to save. This top was. The rest of the bench wasn’t. Plus, have you ever tried to remove old finishes from spindles and legs? That alone would have kept me from restoring this bench. We are not in the antique restoration business. We are in the furniture refurbish business. We sell a brand of chalk-style paint and love taking a piece of good quality, solid wood furniture that has seen better days and make it new again. We love offering our furniture for sale at a fraction of the cost of a new solid wood piece that I’m positive isn’t as well built as these older pieces were. That’s why they have been around as long as they have, even if they aren’t pretty anymore.

So, I will hop down off my soapbox now and get started painting the rest of the bench. My husband took it outside to spray the shellac and it should now be dry.

Just look at the gorgeous color I am using. We own a franchise and distribute this brand of chalk-style paint that originated in the Ozarks of Missouri. We are now authorized to produce it, too, and to come up with new colors. This is a custom color we created and named “MO Duck Egg!” I love this color!

My plans right now are to use a black chiffon glaze over it to give the piece dimension and bring out the detail. That could change, so stay tuned!

Did I mention I was impatient? I couldn’t wait to see how the glaze would look, so I tried it on the spindle that will go back under the desk top.

An important hint about glaze. Chalk-style paint is very porous and will quickly absorb the glaze. You then will not be able to move it around or wipe it off. You will first want to put a coat of poly over the paint. It will act as a barrier and allow you to manipulate the glaze. If you get too much somewhere, you can use a baby wipe (the kind without lotion) or a damp rag and wipe it off. After the glaze dries, you will need to seal it with a poly or wax or a sealer of some kind.

Oh, yeah! I will be using this glaze for sure. The brand is Glaze Couture – Black Chiffon

Now to start on the bench. I turned it upside down to start. I decided the bottom looked really nice so I am not painting it. I am painting just the edge. Note: the secret to no brush strokes when painting with chalk-style paint is thin coats. It will look like it is not covering. That is the way it should look. Also thin coats dry fast. Most people think it should cover just like one coat latex paint does. So remember: thin coats!

I will give everything I can reach two coats, then turn it over to do the rest. It looks like two coats will do it. Sometimes you will need to do more. Whites and reds tend to take more coats. It may take more coats than latex but with a drying time of about 15 minutes, by the time you finish the one coat, you are ready for another. You are rewarded with a brush free finish, that when sealed will look like it came straight from Pottery Barn. See my spindle again. You do need to seal most inside furniture. Chalk-style paint leaves a dull matte finish. Sealing it protects and finishes it off.

I don’t paint from my jars. You don’t want to leave chalk-style paint exposed to the air too long as it dries quickly and will start to thicken up. You also don’t want to contaminate it by dipping your brush in and not using the paint all at one time. So I pour it into another container. I usually use throw away plastic cups or paper plates. I also have started using something called FIFO bottles. These are self sealing plastic bottles restaurants typically use for things like salad dressings. They work well for me.

You will also see I wrap my brushes in aluminum foil so they don’t dry out whenever I am not using them for awhile.

The following photo shows what one coat should look like. You can see it isn’t covering at all.

That’s all I have for tonight. But keep watching this page for updates.

Back to painting – I have just finished the second coat of the MO Duck Egg. Two coats is covering just fine on this piece. I will be using a glaze so all is well. I’d this we’re to be a piece that I wanted to be sharp with no distressing, I would do a third coat. As soon as this dries in about 15 minutes, I will turn it over to finish painting.

I like to turn pieces upside down and do the legs first. That way I can see them better to paint and do not have to practically lay on the floor to paint them. I also like to raise the pieces up when I can. This one is sitting on an end table.

I use different brushes for different purposes, but for basic painting, you can’t beat the cheap 2″ chippy brush that I am using on this piece. The only problem is that it has natural bristles that shed easily, so you have to watch you aren’t painting bristles onto your piece. For new brushes, I pull on the bristles and fan the out several times. That seems to help.

And from this closeup you can see the 2nd coat has covered well with no brush strokes. I can get a look of textured brush strokes, but didn’t want to on this piece.

I turned the bench over and then put the two coats on the rest.

As you can see in the closeup photo below, two coats covered well. I also put the spindle that had been glazed next to the final coat and you can see how a glaze technique can give a piece an entirely different look. This is exactly the look I was envisioning.

It took about 6 ounces of paint to paint two coats on this bench. Tomorrow I will apply one coat of Polyurethane and then glaze the whole piece with the Black Chiffon glaze. I will let it dry well overnight and then seal it with two coats of polyurethane the next day. On some pieces that will get a lot of hard use, like the stained desk top or a table top, etc. I apply 3-5 coats for durability. But the bench won’t need that many.

That’s all for tonight.

Update: 1/8/19

I gathered my supplies yesterday for adding a coat of poly before glazing and then got to work.

I left one sponge intact and then cut the other up into smaller pieces. This will help get into the smaller areas of the bench with the polyurethane.

I ended up using the smallest piece of sponge on all the spindle areas and legs. I used the half sponge on the rest. The smaller pieces worked out well. Note: before using, I dampened the sponges, wringing them out well. I didn’t want them very wet. Just damp. The sponge brush, I used to wipe away any glaze that tried to pool around the spindles.

When the glaze dried, I then used a lint free rag to wipe on the glaze and then wiped it off with baby wipes how I wanted, blending it in as I went to get the look I wanted. I again turned the bench upside down to get to the legs easily.

Once the glaze dried, late last night, I sealed it all again with another coat of polyurethane.

The Gossip Bench is now ready and available for purchase. I have named her Ernestine, in honor of Laugh In’s telephone operator. One ringy dingy…..😂 The younger generation will not get that so here is a YouTube video just for them or anyone else that cares to reminisce. Lol

I hope you enjoyed following along and maybe learned a trick or two along the way.

3 thoughts on “The Making of A Modern Gossip (Telephone) Bench

  1. Awesome job…..where do you purchase the glaze couture. Black chiffon. Wanda and I are hoping to get to the flea market at the half crooked antique store on Saturday.
    Will you be there selling your paint


    • I ordered the glaze couture online. I will look it up and send it to you. The Half Crocked Flea Market days are really good.
      I think you will find some goodies. We will be there off and on, but won’t be there all day. We do have a booth there along with our paint display. We are putting some things on sale in our booth. When you go in the door, turn right at the first aisle and go to the end, then turn right again. And we are the first booth there. #25. Let me know when you will be there and we will make sure we are there then..


  2. Pingback: A Gossip/Telephone/Device Bench | SharSum Paint

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