I was given an old headboard from my friend, April Meaney, that she had picked up off of Freecycle years ago in Washington State. I really wanted to upcycle it somehow, and thought of a bench.
About that time, I saw that Jane of Art Central (and Morning Dew Creations) was running a transfer contest on her Facebook page. Now, I had never applied a transfer, but decided I would enjoy the challenge. I had voted in several of the Art Central contests in the past, and saw that there were some extremely talented furniture artists there, way out of my league, to tell you the truth.
First, I thought I would find an old dresser or armoire to add a transfer to, but then I just decided to go for the bench. Why not, right? It wasn’t like I was “in it to win it”, I thought that just entering would get some exposure for my new business, and that I would enjoy the process.
First, I made sure that my husband Arick, of Stovall Millwork, LLC, was up to helping me, and once he (reluctantly) agreed, we went to Bearss’ Bargains looking for something to serve as arms and a front for the bench. We didn’t exactly find what we were looking for, but Suzette gave me a girgeous piece of moulding, in case we could use it.
I then went to the local flea market, and saw Dean Roshong of Dean’s Shabby Chic, and told him what I was up to. He showed me a few headboards and footboards, and I picked out what I thought would be nest for the project, gave him $20 bucks, and headed home with my score.
You would have to know Arick to understand the looks I got when I started hauling all of these old bed pieces out of my car. He likes everything perfect and new. Beds are beds, benches are benches, and straight lines and perfect cuts are the norm. He immediately began grabbing this piece and that piece and a 2 x 4 or two and started cutting and screwing faster than I could think. This is the point where I usually try not to cry because I get nervous that he is not taking enough time to “think” about what will make it perfect. This day was no different. I cried. He rolled his eyes and wiped the sweat from his brow, obviously frustrated, but trying not to be grouchy. He was not extremely successful on that part. I explained that I wanted him to look at Pinterest with me, before he started just building willy nilly.
He imagined, correctly, that I had pinned several ideas, and had no firm idea or plan, and that drives him crazy. The silent tears got a few pins looked at, silently, I might add, lol, and he unscrewed the first few screws he had already put in, and started over. I felt better, he felt better, and progress was about to be made. (Thank you, Pinterest!)
Before I knew what was really happening, the flea market headboard was cut in half and leaning on each side of the newly installed seat frame, and I could see that it was about to start taking shape. I was so proud, happy tears were about to start flowing. (Dang menopause!)
About the time I interrupted to tell him how good it was looking, he said “This is your project, don’t you tell anybody I had anything to do with building this thing.” That opposites attract thing sure is true when it comes to us and our ideas of beautiful designs. I loved it! He thought it was hideous. I said I thought it would end up being someone’s family heirloom. He said I was crazy, lol. (I still think I am right!)
Anyway, he finished framing it up just right, and we called it a night. Did I mention it was 106 degrees in late July in the Louisiana humidity, and that there isn’t so much as a fan in his workshop? I should have lost 10 lbs, that’s for sure. Man it was hot.
The next morning, before work, I cleaned decades of grease, grime and dirt off the old beds with TSP. It was some kind of nasty. I actually threw both of the rags away thst I used to clean it. It looked better, though. I had faith that it was going to turn out ok.
I knew I wanted to upholster the seat, and I had seen upholstery foam at JoAnn Fabrics in Beaumont, TX when my BFF Kaye and I had gone shopping there back in June. My daughter, Mandi and her husband, Alex, were in Houston, and offered to stop by on their way home and pick me up a piece. After about an hour of trying to get the right size, they headed to meet me in Lake Charles, LA, about an hour’s drive for both of us.
I had purchased some upholstery fabric when my daughter, Candi and I had visited Hobby Lobby, and decided to take a picture of it and send it to Office Depot in Lake Charles and have a laser poster made to use as a transfer. In my mind that was going to be what really tied the piece together.
The poster/transfer was a was trash. A waste of $20. It was the wrong color and highly pixelated. I did not realize how bad it was until I got it home and put it next to the fabric. Amazingly, I didn’t cry, lol.
I met Mandi and Alex and grabbed the foam, $89, more than everything else I had purchased. The fabric had been $50.
I tried applying the transfer on a sample board with DIY Liquid Patina, and while it worked fine, I was just too nervous about messing up all of the paint I was about to apply with the wonky transfer, so I ordered a rose Prima transfer on Amazon.
I put 2 coats of Zisser gray primer on the piece that night, hoping to hide the dark and red tones from the beds, and cover the new frame. Arick cut me out a piece of wood for the seat bottom. We used 3/4” MDF for the strength.
I used spray adhesive to attach the trimmed (with a bread knife) foam to the board, then stapled batting over that with my Paw-Paw’s old Montgomery Ward’s staple gun. I then centered and pulled the fabric taut over that, stapled and trimmed it. It tutned out great, if I say so myself. I couldn’t wait to try it on the bench, the fit was perfect.
The next two sweltering mornings and evenings, I put the first couple of coats of DIY clay-based paint on it. (Prairie Gray, Sandy Blonde, and Vintage Linen) I was sweating so bad that I honestly could not tell if I was doing a good job or not, and truly, at one piint was not sure if I cared. Arick bought me a fan, but it sried the paint so fast that it was more of a hindrance than a help. We finally moved the whole thing to our living room. Air conditioning is, without a doubt, my friend.
Over the next couple of days, I put on a coat of Junk Monkey Paint Company’s Banana Peel matte topcoat over the back of the bench to protect the paint, in case I messed up the transfer. In the back of my mind, I figured I could blow off the contest and save the piece, if nothing else. I got the transfer ready, read the instructions, and nearly had a panic attack, afraid I was going to do something wrong. I measured and marked the center (twice), but just could not make myself apply it. I froze. Arick is better than me at that kind of thing, so he jyst walked over and stuck it on as I tried not to cry. (yes, again)
It was pretty easy to rub the transfer onto the puece with the little woiden stick that Prima provided in the package. There were a bunch of French words, too, but I was not interested in using those. Maybe some other project, some other time. (doubtful). Anyway, it looked great, EXCEPT the outer roses were a mauve color that totally clashed with my blue cushion. Ugh. So, I did what any painter would do, I got out my artist brushes and tinted thise babies blue…BAM! It was gonna work! Woohoo!
I painted a large canvas to hang behind it in the photos, using the same paints that I had used on the bench, plus some copper ink, just for the heck of it.
I put a coat of DIY clear wax on that night with my big Paint Pixie wax brush, then tried to decide whether to use their dark wax, or to make a custom dark blue wax, or whether to try the Dixie Belle brown wax. I decided on the brown. I applied it in all of the crevices with a small artists brush, then soread it out in the larger areas with my Paint Pixie brush. I spent a couple of hours with the final wax touches, but I truly think it was worth it, and I wanted to make sure that the bench was well protected for whoever the new owners would be.
I sprang the “staged photo” requirement on Arick the next day, and we once again had to lug the bench into, out of and back into the back of our Ford F250.
I gathered a bunch of staging-looking things from the house, and loaded them in our side-by-side and started driving around the yard, looking for a pretty spot. (I had no idea most people just photo shopped the images-total newbie here) I finally picked a spot under a magnolia tree, and wiped the sweat from my eyes as I placed an old chair that belonged to my great-grandmother, the feather pen and candle sticks from Mandi’s wedding, nearly 2 decades earlier, my wedding dress that I forgot to pack when Arick and I eloped, my travel journal, some round boxes that my mother had given me before she passed away in 2005, and some other random trinkets. You can probably imagine Arick’s confusion by this time. He was a trooper, though. He even actually liked the bench by this time, and his photo angke ended up being the best choice. I was so thankful for his help.
That was July 28. The photo was due to Art Central on July 29. It started to rain, those HAD to be the photos. I chose a few pics, messaged them to my kids, and Alex helped me to edit and crop until I was too tired to do any more. I waited for the xall for entries and submitted, then waited some more.
Once the deadline passed, voting began. I am normally pretty shy and reserved, and don’t like to ask for anything, but I shared the post in a few of my groups and a coupke of my pages, and on my Facebook timeline. I asked for votes, and said to vote for who you think did best, but I hope that was me.
We had a triple burthday party at my house the next day, so I did not even get to check on how it was going, and that night, I decided I should look. I hoped that I would come in somewhere between 3rd and 5th. I thought that would really get my business name out there, and help me grow my page.
I had the most votes. By a lot. I didn’t even tell Arick or anybody. I was afraid I was looking at it wrong. I figure I would act the same way if I thought I won the lottery, afraid to be too excited. Inknow it is just a small (not to me) contest, but I just could not believe it. I looked again as I was going to bed and saw that a live video was announcing the winner. Sure enough, it was our bench! I was blown away. She said over 22,000 people saw the post, and that I had won by over 100 votes. That really made me feel good, and so surprised. There were some really beautiful pieces entered.
In the past couple of days, I have been interviewed live on the contest page (technologically inexperienced me, of course, lol) and received over 800 likes and comments on an Upcycling page. The funniest thing so far, though, other than having the drive-thru bank teller tell me she loved my bench she saw on Facebook, was having a friend from Texas say she saw my bench pisted on the page of a flea market in North Carolina. How about that! (I guess I should have watermarked my image, but I honestly had no idea anyone would care.)
So, there ya go. That’s how I became famous for about 3 minutes on Facebook. Oh, and the bench is available for sale at The Artisan Market at Get Healthy in DeRidder, LA, if anyone is interested!
I have a few videos of the process on my You Tube channel. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH1m7mVZMheNM9N721Z9j2A