Etsy Shop: Alchemy Home Decor

How to un-crackle a paint job!

It's been a while; but I'm back! With my first "how to" blog post!!

So, normally when I'm refinishing a piece of furniture and I run into a problem, my first instinct is to go to Google and find out what others have done to correct it.  This is how I've learned basically everything I know about furniture refinishing, Google and Pintrest! However, I recently ran into an issue when refinishing a custom dresser and couldn't find any info on how to correct it, or even where I went wrong. Yikes!

Here's the rub: When refinishing furniture, particularly antiques, sometimes you don't quite know what's going to happen until after its in process, even until you put the finish coat on; there are always surprises.  Normally easy fixes, but not this one.

I found this Antique 5 drawer dresser at a flea market- bought for $5.00!! Yep. That's what I said, $5.00!!
Gorgeous, right?!
So, I listed it on Etsy for a custom order, and after about a month or so, I got a local buyer for it. 
She wanted it refinished using a specific color of Valspar paint that she already had in her bedroom at her new place, City Storm.  A gorgeous almost charcoal grey color, with the drawers done in white.
Sounded easy enough, so I got started.  I used my "chalk paint recipe" for the Valspar paint, and Annie Sloan "Old White" for the drawers.
My favorite thing about chalk paint, or should I say, ONE of my many favorite things about chalk paint, is that it doesn't require sanding or priming, allowing me to (usually) skip a few steps in the refinishing process. Mistake #1.

 I've learned that skipping the sanding and priming sometimes causes problems with antique pieces, so I normally will coat the piece in a clear shellac before painting, just to seal the wood.  After coating this piece with the shellac, I painted the shell of the dresser in the City Storm, and then did the drawers in Old White.  Leaving it to dry overnight and feeling confident in my work.  Mistake #2. This is what I found in the morning:
crackled drawers. ugh.
Now, many people (myself included) have worked hard to achieve this kind of crackle on a piece of shabby chic furniture and it rarely turns out this nice! Problem is, my client wanted a sleek, modern look with no distressing. Very un-shabby chic. So I took to Google. 
Of course, all i could find after about an hour of research was how to make paint crackle. NOTHING on how to get it to un-crackle. The only thing I could find of any interest at all, were a few reasons why paint could peel and crack (mostly due to an antique piece not being sanded or primed, i.e. Mistake #1).

Then, I remembered, I'd recently done a nightstand with an embossed stencil on the drawer using spackle. Sounds crazy, I know...but I'll do a tutorial on that another time. 
embossed drawer front of nightstand
So, I had the bright idea that since coating the piece with the shellac didn't work, I could use the same concept to cover these cracks in the drawer.  Mistake #3 was that I first used an old jar of spackle that didn't go on smoothly and I ended up doing a trip to Home Depot to purchase a new can.
I used "DryDex" spackle in pink, dries white
with my new jar of spackle and my fingers (it was a VERY messy process), I spread it on as smoothly as possible over all of the drawer fronts.  Once that was done and really dry, I sanded it down as much as I could to try to take out all of the ridges and bumps.  I found that putting it on with my hands was much easier than trying to spread it using any kind of tool, and although messy, the job was accomplished.

Once it was sanded down as best I could, I painted two more coats of Annie Sloan "Old White" over the drawer fronts and finished them off with the clear wax.  The result was amazing!! No more crackles!
clean, sleek, and modern on a vintage piece

It was definitely a learning experience, and I'm sure there's a better way out there to re-do this mistake...I mean, if it's happened to me, it must have happened to others, right? But, this was my fix and it turned out un-crackled and clean. Whew!

Flowers in a Mason Jar

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