A wash with Colour: Updating your home with paint
Story by Katie Ryalen
Paint can not only add life to any room but it can also renew an older piece of furniture. While two brands of paint have been on the market for some time, and both have their proponents, they both continue to make a splash for artistic homeowners. Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan and Fusion™ Mineral Paint offer two completely distinct options with uniquely transformative results, yet both make it easier for the do-it-yourselfer to update and preserve their well-loved furniture or add a vibrant splash of colour to a staid room.
Whether you’re new to the idea of painting furniture, updating kitchen cabinetry, modernizing a room, or we’ve just inspired you to give it a try, we’ve got all you need to know about these two brands of paint, from two Durham Region stores who carry the respective lines exclusively.
If a chalk paint doesn’t carry the Annie Sloan brand name, then it isn’t chalk paint. That’s a patented term. Any other product has to call itself “chalky finish” or “chalk-like” or some other variation. Arguably considered the world’s most respected expert in decorative paint, colours and techniques, Annie Sloan created her unique brand of paint over 25 years ago, and now sells the Annie Sloane’s Chalk Paint® line around the globe—including at BA Vintage in Whitby.
Given that it is not a latex or clay-based paint, Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® doesn’t require the same kind of prep-work that other paints do. “It adheres to wood, melamine, laminate, glass, particle board—you name it,” says Tricia Hyatt, who operates BA Vintage. “It has extremely low VOCs, it’s non-toxic, there is no odour and it dries in under an hour. You can literally paint a piece in one afternoon and it will be finished.”
The secret to the Annie Sloan signature look is its wax finishing. Chalk Paint® Wax, according to the website, adds depth to the colour, and will either give the paint a mellow finish or a high sheen if buffed. “The wax is really the miracle to the whole line,” Tricia emphasizes.
It was Tricia’s mother, Betty Stapleton, who founded BA Vintage in Newtonville five years ago. A year later, Tricia opened the Whitby location and has been running it ever since. “We just love the painting,” she says. “We love the do-it-yourself world, and we found that we were buying the paint so much, we decided we might as well carry it.” BA Vintage is now one of approximately 1,700 stockists around the globe that carry Annie Sloan’s range of products, including her brushes, waxes, and books.
Tricia is familiar with the auction world—her father is an auctioneer. Over time, she and her mother, Betty, noticed that the value of antiques and old furniture had gone down. “Nobody wanted these pieces in their natural wood state,” she says. “But if you paint them, they come back to life. They’re made so much better, the craftsmanship and the detailing. Once you add colour to them, it brings out all those details that you didn’t really see when they were dark wood.”
“And it’s just paint,” she adds. “The piece might have meaning for you, so you can feel good about keeping it rather than throwing it into the dumpster. Somewhere down the line if somebody feels it needs another update, they can strip and sand and restore it again because it’s just paint.
For those that are interested in trying Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® themselves, Tricia and her staff are on hand to help by either assisting with colour palate or walking them through the process. BA Vintage also holds workshops twice a month. Tricia says “In our workshops, you’ll learn up to four different finishes using the Annie Sloan method which we’ve been trained on. It’s a hands-on workshop. You get to practice on different wood boards and trim that we provide, and then there’s usually a project that we throw in towards the end which you can take home.”
But the upcycling is what makes the effort worth it, in Tricia’s view. “It may be a sentimental piece, or a practical piece that you’ve pulled out of storage which doesn’t go with anything in your home. Don’t go out and buy something new. You can come into our store, buy the paint, and finish it yourself. When you’re done, you’re going to be so proud of the way it looks. That’s what this is all about: repurposing what you have rather than just throwing it away.”
Fusion Mineral Paints at The Dark Horse
Created by Jennylyn Pringle, president of the Homestead House Paint Company, Fusion™ Mineral Paint is a Canadian product. It is carried as the exclusive paint line by The Dark Horse in Sunderland and offers a range of over 50 colours from which to choose.
All of The Dark Horse’s painted antique and vintage furniture uses Fusion™ Mineral Paints, and owner and operator Lianne Megarry cannot say enough good things about the line. “You’d think they’re paying me to advertise for them, the way I talk about it,” she laughs. “But when I bring a product into my store, it’s my reputation on the line. This is one brand I know I can stand behind.”
A veteran furniture painter, Lianne has experimented with (as she puts it) just about everything out there on the market, including homemade chalk-finish paint. “There is absolutely nothing that compares to this paint,” she insists. “The durability is unbelievable, for one. For another, it’s water-based so it washes up with soap and water. It also has a built-in base coat and top coat. Where other products with chalk finishes require a top coat, Fusion ™ Mineral Paint does not. So you get to skip that step.”
For Lianne, who suffers from chronic sinus issues, one of the many appealing characteristics of this product is that it is no VOC. “I work with very few chemicals, and I’m even careful with my cleaning products,” she explains. “But I can paint with this paint all day, every day, and have no issues at all.”
Lianne has been a lifelong collector of antiques and has been around auctions since she was a little girl, so the idea of combining antiques and upcycling was the perfect way to bring her passions together as a business. When she opened her store eight-and-a-half years ago, the price of antiques was remarkably low—and getting lower. “The younger generation doesn’t want stuff the way it was back then,” she says. “But the minute you paint it, you reinvent it. It’s half the price and twice the quality to paint something that’s older.”
“We really have become a disposable society,” she adds. “I think we’re just starting to become aware of that. If you go to the high-end stores with their high-end prices, often the quality is just appalling. Instead of these pieces being recreated in ten years, they’re going to end up in the dumpster.”
This is why Lianne not only sells upcycled furniture and the paint that she uses, she also holds classes and workshops at The Dark Horse which teach Fusion™ Mineral Paint and other furniture painting techniques. Her goal is to empower people to grow and learn, in an environment where they can be comfortable progressing. “I’ve spent a lot of my life in different workshops,” she says, “and there is a real science to putting together a good workshop.
I will not teach more than six people at a time.”
Where to buy
Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan
Fusion Mineral Paint
Pottery NEVER GOES OUT OF STYLE
Story by Katie Ryalen | Photos by Wynne Feret
You don’t need to be a renowned critic to appreciate the art of pottery. Ceramics, earthen and stoneware today can be used as anything from functional items in your kitchen to focal pieces in your home. Whether you are purchasing handmade pieces from local artists or you are getting your own hands dirty during a workshop, there is one thing that is for certain: pottery is experiencing a resurgence.
Pottery’s popularity on the rise
There is some debate amongst experts over whether pottery is an emerging trend or whether it is simply a resurgence in a centuries-old tradition that has never truly gone away. One thing they do agree on is that social media has helped pottery become more visible to the public. “With the internet, it helps open up that world of local and handmade to people,” says Derek Chung, president of the Durham Potters’ Guild. “After all, without social media, if you never went out to look then how would you know that any of this existed?”
The Durham Potters’ Guild (DPG) has been in Durham Region for more than 30 years, so it is not surprising that Derek is not convinced that pottery itself is a new trend. “Pottery has been around for a long time,” he says. “I think there are a lot of people out there who have always appreciated artisan work and who support it. But I do think there is a trend in the younger generations becoming interested. That is something I’ve heard second-hand.”
The social media theory is one that Tanya Leblanc, owner of Ceramics Canada in Oshawa, echoes. Many of her clients come through the doors of her studio with ideas they’ve collected from the internet and want replicated. “There are so many things trending out there through Pinterest,” she notes.
“Beautiful pottery has never gone out of style,” states Birgitta MacLeod, co-owner of Meta4 Contemporary Craft Gallery in Port Perry. “Ontario has a long history of talented ceramic artists. But I think new audiences are discovering the joy of handmade. There are so many beautiful glazes, and a lot of potters now are using a variety of different decorating techniques. You get really cool graphic qualities that are very contemporary. I also think that we live in this digital world where so many things are not necessarily tangible. There is a real pleasure in using something that has the hand of the maker in it, that is connected with a real person.”
If making your own pottery sounds like something you would be interested in trying, then Ceramics Canada and Meta4 Gallery have everything you need to get started. Whether it’s paint-your-own, clay hand building, glass fusing or pottery wheel, all the tools you need—even the kiln firing at the end—is included in the purchase of your item. “Pottery today is not like the olden days,” says owner Tanya Leblanc. “It’s still therapeutic, but today’s trend is more about people making memories while spending time together. It’s about families unplugging from the internet and their phones, and just being present with one another.”
Like Ceramics Canada, Meta4 Gallery offers workshops and classes to all levels of potters, and Birgitta MacLeod and her co-owners have noticed an upswing in the popularity of these events. “Our pottery classes sell out so quickly,” she says. “It’s definitely something that people are interested in, making something with their own hands. And it’s not just the making, it’s the joy of the time spent doing it. Whether you take the class on your own and you meet a whole bunch of new people, or you sign up with a friend or two and you spend a day together—it’s the time spent with other people that is really invigorating.”
“All classes at Meta4 are put together with the mindset that attendants are complete beginners,” she adds. “If you’ve done it before and you’re just getting reacquainted with it, that works too. But it’s really fun. You get your hands dirty. I’m always impressed by what beginners do.”
The appeal about taking on pottery is being involved in the process of making something tangible, something that can be held. In the end, the student leaves with an appreciation for what goes into a piece that hasn’t been factory-made. “Pottery is demanding,” points out Derek Chung of the DPG. “It’s a challenging craft. There is something to be said about people trying it for themselves and realizing how much skill goes into the finished product. It makes them appreciate something even more, and understand why it’s more than the amount you’d pay for a mass-produced item.”
Pottery as home decor
One of the advantages of making a piece of pottery the focal point in the home is that it is easily interchangeable. As your tastes evolve, so can your accent pieces. And if you’ve made the piece yourself, your fashion statement means so much more than if you had purchased it off a shelf from a franchised home décor store. “There is so much pride that comes along with decorating the home with a piece that someone has created themselves,” says Tanya Leblanc. “It’s not a mass-produced product that thousands of other people are going to have in their home. It’s unique and distinct, and represents their own personal style.”
An added benefit of buying a piece of pottery directly from a maker or gallery is that you are likely to get first-hand information about the artist and what their inspiration was for the piece. “At Meta4, we love to share information,” Birgitta MacLeod says. “If you want to know how something is made or how the artist did something in particular, we’ll take the time to explain that.” She points to the example of one of their potters who trained as a print maker. As a result, the artist’s pottery has a distinct and interesting decorative style that speaks to her original training.
Derek Chung points out that pottery is also affordable for collectors. One can certainly pay upwards of five thousand dollars for a piece depending on what it is and who the artist is, but in general, pottery is accessible for those who don’t want to break the bank to make a statement. “Pottery is also functional,” he continues. “Casserole dishes and teapots and serving dishes are affordable and useful, and they look good sitting on the counter.”