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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Aluminum (Silver) Leafed French Provincial Furniture... COMPLETED


So after purchasing my french provincial chest and nightstand, I NEW I wanted to do something with them as far as appearance goes... I just didn't know exactly what. They sat in my guest bedroom for quite some time. Then, me and husband found out we would be expecting another baby. (YIPPEEEE!) We decided that the guest bedroom will now be my 2 year old daughter's room and the new baby will get my daughter's old room that housed the baby bed etc. We purchased my 2 year old a twin bed and to save money I decided she would get the french provincial chest and nightstand I bought off of craigslist so long ago. This was my time to kick the idea process up a notch to bring an idea to fruition. So, I started searching the web and saw some fantastic ideas. Mostly ideas on different painting techniques to achieve different looks. Then I came across this beauty at Little Green Notebook's blog...

At first I thought, silver leafing may be a little over my head so maybe I should go with painting both pieces. They can still be beautiful. In the back of my mind, I REALLY wanted this look and when I really want something it's hard for me to stray from that. Anything else would just leave me unsatisfied. What solidified my decision on metal leafing my furniture pieces happened when I saw this french provincial dresser at My Champagne Taste's blog...

I finally got to see the outcome on a piece of furniture that looked like mine. My only problem was that at the time I made my decision, I was 5 months pregnant with a 2 year old and had little energy. So, I decided to get a couple of price quotes to see what people were charging to do this. You know what?... it's pretty darn expensive. The costs ranged from $750 - $1500. Soooo, I made up my mind to do it myself. Now, I'm 6 and a half months pregnant but motivated because you know what, I want what I want.

After short research I found that silver leaf could get pretty expensive and aluminum leaf is a great alternative to achieve the same look. I found lots of information at Gilded Planet including video on how to actually apply the leafing which was very helpful to actually see the texture. They sell lots of supplies there too but I decided to look on ebay (from the suggestions of other leafing bloggers) and found 500 sheets of aluminum leaf for $30. I also purchased the 3 hour sizing/adhesive (Rolco quick size, 8oz) from ebay as well. I spent some time trying to figure out which sizing to get because I didn't know which would be better for my project whether to use water vs oil based sizing. I went with oil based because I found out that oil based size dries hard and the water based...well...does not.
[Sidenote: Now, just so you know this can came with clips to keep the lid on (for shipping) that I had to use needle nose pliers to pry off... not fun. Also, it was pretty much impossible for me to get the lid back on so all of my unused sizing has been wasted. It's starting to look like caramelized pancake syrup. If I knew beforehand I would've been prepared for an alternate storing solution. Just FYI.]
The aluminum leaf I purchased came with tissue paper in between each leaf which made it a little difficult when picking up an individual leaf. I basically used the top tissue paper to lift the leaf like when you turn a page in a book, used my brush handle to lift it or just picked it up with my finger tips. I honestly couldn't believe how thin the box was. I was thinking to myself, did they only send me part of my order and forgot the rest of the leaf.


That's when I opened the box and read the sticker... Reality set in that this stuff is thinner than I imagined.


After getting my supplies I was ready to get started. Part of those supplies... primer. What to get? The blogging world suggested Zinsser and swore by its greatness to cover stained wood because I DID NOT want to sand either piece of furniture. I'd still be working on those things if I did. Although, I did sand down smalls portions of the chest because the shiny coating was laid on kinda thick in some places and you could see puddles and drips so I sanded those smooth. I went to Home Depot and the sales person suggested Glidden Gripper Primer. They told me it could stick to anything, had less of an odor that that of the Zinsser AND it was cheaper. When I saw that it came in grey, I was sold. So, I only bought 1 pint of it and was able to cover both pieces with it. I only used about half of it. I was amazed at how it stuck to the glossy surfaces of my chest and nightstand. FYI: I rolled this stuff on. Best route to go in my opinion because it gives your furniture a smooth appearance.





Since my primer was grey in color I decided not to paint it because I planned to paint it grey. There you have yet another skipped step in my process. I didn't have a problem with that. I also decided to spray paint (2 coats)  the sides of my drawers (Krylon Ballet Slipper) pink just to add a little interest when the drawers are open. 


I left my painted pieces for the day with my mind prepared to start leafing the very next day. The free time I used to do this project was a couple hours after work. So when I got home the next day, I decided to do a little test area on the top of my nightstand so that way I could see how long it would take for the sizing (adhesive) to get to the right tackiness and how long it would take for me to leaf a certain area... this WAS my first leafing project. I used the cheapest brushes I could find at Home Depot to apply my sizing. I bought a few because I didn't want to clean them... The sizing dries in a short amount of time and makes them hard and unusable. The sizing does have a thin consistency when you put it on your brush but goes on a surface very sticky (like pancake syrup) so it will drip from your brush if your brush is full. I only used the foam brushes once or twice because they hold the sizing TOO well and caused puddles (and frustration) when applying the sizing. You don't want puddles because those areas will take longer to become the tackiness you need.


The day I did this, it was pretty hot out with almost no wind or humidity. It took about an hour for my sizing to be ready for me to leaf. Sorry guys if I don't use all of the gilding/leafing language. It just gets too confusing for me since I'm not a "professional" at this. Anyhow, as far as testing for tack... I basically felt it at the initial application and tested it at the minimal testing time (about an hour later since it was hot out) to see if I felt a difference. Once I did, I started applying the leaf. Now, this stuff is VERY FRAGILE. You will need to use the tissue paper or whatever separates each sheet to aid in holding it because it will split and break at the slightess movement or smallest air flow (even you breathing on it). It gets everywhere and is so light that when you try to sweep it up it will float into the air. In this picture below you can see where it stuck to my finger tips after picking up a leaf...

On the plus side of things, it washes off pretty easily. I saw some cotton gloves that I wish I'd gotten to help with this issue because the slightest bit of moisture on your fingertips will cause this. So, think about finding some cotton gilding gloves if you think you'll have an issue with this. It's nothing major but fingertip moisture will cause the leaf to stick to your fingers.

Once the leaf is placed it is very forgiving because it will mold to whatever it falls on (that has sizing on it). I literally used a dry blush brush that I never used to pat my leaf into place. I saw on someone else's blog that said they did the same thing. I thought, what a way to save more money. :)

I let the little area on my nightstand dry overnight, ready to start the next day. Since my test area took me literally 3-5 minutes to complete I decided to apply my sizing to a large area of my chest... the top, top half of one side and most of the front along with the face of the top drawer... because I wanted to work on it for around an hour or so. Here's the finished product of a short evening's work. The first photo is without the flash and the other is with flash so you can see how I laid the leaf. You can also see that I had yet to brush the extra leaf away in a lot of spots.


Here's the top of the chest after I applied the leaf and removed the excess with my blush brush.

Here's the drawer front. I was exstatic about the outcome because it was turning out so beautifully. :)

I worked a little bit each day, and hour here and there after work. By the end of the week I was done and ready to seal. I used a rub on glossy polyurethane which was very easy to apply. I just used an old t-shirt to apply it. Here are some photos I took when I applied polyurethane to the chest alone...



I hadn't applied the polyurethane to my drawers just yet.
You can see how cracks are created throughout the process which add to the character of your furniture piece which I just love. The grey underneath creates a subtleness about the cracks. Different colors could create the drama that suites your taste. I've seen brown used a lot.
Now, adding polyurethane to the drawers (very slightly) dulled the super shiny-ness of the aluminum leaf but it still shined.

Now, back in its' room... I absolutely LOVE the outcome!





The drawer pulls and mirror shown above the chest were spray painted to match. I actually applied some rub 'n buff to the pulls after seeing the photo below. I thought it would add that little bit of umph. I think I may do the same to the mirror. Oh and the mirror was a $20 craigslist find. :)
Note: Be sure to wear gloves when applying Rub 'n Buff because it gets under your nails and can be hard to wash off.




So what do you guys think? My daughter's room is still in progress so I'll have to come back with an update once it's finished. Oh and I had to do some patching to my nightstand because I left my sizing to "tack" for a little too long and the leaf didn't stick in a lot of places. Thinking I could use Rub 'n Buff to fill these gaps I messed it up. The finish of the Rub 'n Buff is too matte in comparison to my shiny leaf and the difference was VERY noticable. It just looked a mess so I had to spend some time re-doing some of the leafing. I used the Rub 'n 'Buff to fill in the tiny details of both pieces where it was difficult to leaf. Below is a photo I took before removing the excess leaf off of the nightstand. My chest looked exactly the same way so don't be alarmed, it easily dusts off. Once flaked away, you'll only see what sticks to the nightstand. Oh and the rust color on the leaf is just a reflection.


Anyhow, I think the outcome is absolutely gorgeous. I actually lined a couple of drawers with paper using Mod Podge. This was my first time working with Mod Podge and I ended up having a few bubbles underneath my paper. Lesson learned. The photo shows the paper a little lighter than what it is in person. It's blue-green in color and complements the silver and pink quite well.

UPDATE: I finished the other drawers with vinyl. JoAnns had some on clearance so I snagged up a couple of rolls. It was easier to use since it already had a sticky back. I just cut to fit and layed them in the drawers. So much easier.

So what do you all think?! I LOVE IT!!!!!!!


Here's the nightstand...



Supplies Used (for both chest & nightstand):
About 250 aluminum leaf 5.5"x5.5" sheets
Rolco 8oz Quick Dry Sizing (I used about half)
1 pint Glidden Gripper Primer in Grey (I used about 1/2 pint total)
1 can Krylon Ballet Slipper spray paint (glossy)
Minwax Wipe On Polyurethane
Rub 'n Buff
Cheap bristle and sponge brushes
Soft blush brush
* Windless area to work that can get messy *

57 comments:

  1. I am sooooo in love with your page! Hope to find some time tomorrow to read your whole blog!
    Cheers from a new fan of yours!
    cindykay

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    1. Thank you SOOOOOO much! I definitely appreciate your comment. It made my day. ;)

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    2. Nina, You have given me the courage I need to right a wrong done by a refinisher on an antique sideboard! They offered to redo it, but... ah, no. I accepted a healthy compensation considering I got it in an auction years ago for $125. But that's not the point. It's going to be GREAT, if it's half as nice as your pieces are! Thanks!

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  2. That is AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!! love, Love, LOVE IT!!

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  3. It is looking superb... I really like it & Its looking real made of silver drawer.
    http://www.goldcraftstudio.com/

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  4. Yay! It turned out beautiful, Nina. I, like you, was inspired by the Little Green Notebook and the other blogger you featured, and now yours!

    Can't wait to find some cheap french provincial dresser or other piece on Craigslist and use the aluminum leafing.

    Beautiful! Can't wait to see what else you have up your sleeve!

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    1. Thank you! It's definitely a project worth doing. ;)

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    2. @design_fluff don't overlook your local Goodwill store as a source of inexpensive furniture.

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  5. I can't believe you don't have 100 comments, what's wrong with people? :D This came out GORGEOUS! I'm redoing my bedroom I'll post my intro about that here http://fairycafeandgarden.blogspot.com/2012/10/ethereal-white-bedroom-making-it-mine.html and I'm googling about rub n buff and somehow came across your picture in images and this is gorgeous. I had seen the original inspiration and wish I had the patience and space to do the leafing, but I don't, but the silver would be perfect because I'm redoing my room all whites and silver accents. Your post was well written, good photos and all those little descriptives and tiny details that make all the difference in the world! I'm 'following' now. :D many blessings to your elegance!

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    1. Thank you so much! You could always do it in the room that will house your furniture. Just lay down some drop cloth, or something to cover your floor. I thought it was going to take me forever to do but it didn't. You can do this if you really want to! Remember, I was pregnant when I did it and it still only took me a few days of an hour or so each time. Again thank you. I'm glad you liked my post.:D

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    2. Oh and sorry for my super late reply... for some reason I've stopped receiving notifications of responses to my blog postings.

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  6. Crazy! A few months ago I purchased literally *the exact same* set of nightstands and dresser from an antique shop, with the intention of leafing them. What are the odds of that. Yours came out beautifully, great job! I'm very happy I stumbled upon your post in my leafing research:-)

    Cheers!

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    1. Cool. I'd love to see pictures of the outcome!

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  7. I love it! I want to try this process now.

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    1. Please do! Please share pictures when you complete your own project. ;)

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  8. I am thinking of doing this with a buffet and hutch for my new dining room. What do you think this might cost me in supplies?

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    1. It really depends on what you spend on your leaf and size since those are the most expensive of all the needed supplies. Try ebay. I'd say less than $100. If I were you I'd buy a pack of 500 leaf sheets. I used about half the box of 500 on both my chest and nightstand. I may have spent $75 all together on my supplies.

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  9. been searching all night for the right blog to confirm that my idea to silver leaf my vintage bar cart is the right move, after seeing some good projects (and a couple of disasters) i stumbled across your blog and now my mind is made up, what a great job u have done and a fab post, thanks for all the tips i will be sure to mention you in my blog when i finish my project careen x

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    1. Awesome! I love it. I'm glad you found my posting helpful (and inspiring ;)...please let me know when you're done. I would love to see the outcome! :D

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  10. I've been reseaching using silver leaf and this was a great read-- the pieces look incredible (lucky daughter)! Can't wait to try this myself! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. You're right, lucky her! lol I'm glad I have girls because I can do girly stuff like this and do some of the stuff I'd do for myself (I gotta decorate with my husband in mind). Please share the outcome of your silver leafing project. I'd love to see it!

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  11. I've been researching silver leaf and this was a great read. Your pieces are stunning, I love them! (Lucky daughter!) Thanks for sharing!

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  12. This is so pretty. You are very creative. Thanks for sharing.

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  13. You did an amazing job...congratulations. Thanks too for the great step by step directions.

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    1. Thank you so much! I really do appreciate your positive feedback.

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  14. Hi Nina! Your projects are BEAUTIFUL, and I sooo appreciate your detailed instructions. Maybe you or other followers can help me with the old Pine Factory crate-style furniture I have, but which is no longer my "style." I bought a WHOLE apartment-full of it (every rm.) in '86 or '87 because I just HAD to have solid wood (throughout) furniture, but couldn't afford high end; I only stained and finished the dining room table. I would so love to modify and/or finish the Pine Factory pieces to "upstore" them enough that I don't have to get rid of them (eventually). (I have replaced the sofa with a beautiful, high quality rattan sofa, end tables and round dinette topped with glass.)
    I would love to silver leaf the nightstands (at least), and would consider combining that with a regular or antique mirrored top, sides, and back to eliminate the appearance of most of the "board"/plank construction "joints") and staples.
    My questions: How do you think that would look or work in light of its rougher or more rustic original style?
    Would you even recommend it (considering that I might forgo the mirrors for solid silver leaf--and based upon your recommendations/suggestions)?
    Do you think I should "woody putty" over the construction staples and/or the joints between the boards to smooth it out?
    Do any of you know whether anyone has attempted to actually "reshape" the arms/sides (say, into a "slipper" type profile of the furniture (ie. chair, loveseat, maybe bed's headboard/footboard), OR had them fully padded and upholstered? (I would likely have to have those processes done by professionals. And yes, I have great sentimental attachment to the pieces, and am considering "eco-sustainability," BUT am REALLY tired of their current look! :))
    I would so love your creative input, Nina (and followers)! Linda


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    1. It's really hard to say without actually seeing your pieces. Silver/aluminum leafing accent pieces is a great idea. That way you can leaf smaller items without committing to huge job. I personally think that aluminum leafing looks best on furniture pieces that have some shape and/or interesting details. I'm not sure about the puttying over staples. Sounds like it may make things look worst than what they are. I've rustic pieces that had been leafed and they were quite beautiful. Although, it's one of those things where it could look totally fabulous or a complete mess. I would definitely search the web for more photos, examples, etc before deciding. I'd hate for you to put in a lot of work on something and not like the outcome.

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  15. Oh, I saw a few bloggers using actual household aluminum foil as their "leaf." Any thoughts on that?

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    1. I just don't see how the foil can work long term. The aluminum leaf is SO much thinner than aluminum foil. The sizing and poly with the leaf to me gives an outcome that will last for years. The leaf becomes like a second skin or like a paint onto furniture. I've seen a couple of bloggers who have used foil and I personally don't like the look of it. I don't think you can achieve the same bond with foil as you do with using aluminum leaf.

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  16. Great Job!!!!!
    I was looking for Mirrored furniture for my bedroom.... but it was WAY TOO EXPENSIVE!! then i saw this alternative which i like a whole lot better!! and i get to save some money too. DOUBLE WIN!!!

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    1. Thank you! :) I totally agree. I LOVE mirrored furniture too... it sure doesn't come cheap. lol

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  17. This is great, thanks very much. This is actually a much better guide than the original article on Green Notebook that you say inspired you.
    I do have a question for you thou. The original article didn't mention using the primer but you have. Does that make a big difference? I want to try this method on an Ikea coffee table that is black. The reason why I ask is because I would rather have black paint come thru the cracks than grey primer. What do you think?

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    1. I'm not sure if the slick surface of that table will serve as a good surface for the leaf to bond to without at least a light sanding. You may want to apply primer first to ensure the leaf adheres well. I just don't want it to flake off too much over time. I know it would seem crazy to prime and paint it black, then leaf but I'm thinking of the long effect. Since you're thinking of trying this out on small project, you could have it done in no time... prime and paint one day, leaf the next.

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  18. I LOVE IT! I LOVE IT! I LOVE IT! It is absolutely beautiful! You did a marvelous job and thank you for taking us through your whole process, goofs and successes. You did a wonderful job in explaining what worked and didn't work along with the most economical way of doing it. This is a 5 star project that I will try myself.

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    1. Thank you SOOOO much!!!!! I hope your project turns out as beautiful as you envision. ;)

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  19. you are just an amazing. i don't have words to express my feeling at that moment. it is just so much amazing.
    Luxury Beds and Mattresses

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  20. I really enjoyed your step-by-step guide on how to silver-leaf large pieces of furniture. I found your blog via LittleGreenNotebook.com. You've done an amazing job on those pieces of furniture!

    I really like the use of the pink paint you applied to the sides of the drawers and the drawer pulls. I would like to offer you a suggestion to really bring out the beauty of the pieces ... shop locally or online to try to find liner paper printed with pink roses with green leaves or a large bold print ... either one would be soooo chic and sweet! :-)

    Over the past few months, I've been contemplating slipcovering or reupholstering two antique twin wood-framed headboards in my 15-year old daughter's room. I called around and got quotes for reupholstering them. My first choice for doing the work wants $150 for each headboard. Yikes!!!! :-( So, I think I'm going to tackle it myself.

    These antique Louis XV headboards have a raised carved area that was originally silver-leafed (has a slight light blue tint to the silver leaf) but quite a bit of it has worn off over the years. I would like to retouch them and freshen them up before I tackle the re-upholstery job.

    The wonderful job you've done on your pieces has given me the inspiration to do it!

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    1. That is awesome! Thank you so much!!! I know the exact headboard you're talking about too and you could totally do that yourself. Oh and the liner paper...I actually did that. I found some on clearance at JoAnns (for only $1.97 a roll) and thought I could use it for the drawers. I found a purple bold print and a green geometric print and used both alternating drawers. I love how it looks. I would love to know how your headboards turn out if you decide to do the project!

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  21. Fantastic! I know those bold prints make a great impact and are so unexpected.

    I love my antique headboards! I purchased them from an estate sale about 18 years ago. When I silver-leaf the headboards and re-upholster them, I will take lots of photos and share them with you here.

    What's next on your list of D-I-Y projects???

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    1. Great, I'd love to see how it all turns out. My next project is kinda major and will take some time to complete since I have a 13 month old and a 3 year old to chase after. I plan to make a wingback tufted headboard for my master bedroom. I got my feet wet with creating a diamond tufted headboard. Now I know exactly what to do to create what I want. I made the first step in purchasing several yards of fabric. Next step is starting making my buttons.

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  22. Good Job! I'm planning to renovate my old kitchen into such modern French provincial kitchens and I would like to do the same with kitchen cabinets as you done above.

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    1. Wow, for kitchen cabinets? I would LOVE to see pics of the outcome!

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  23. You are my hero!!! This is the exact guidance I was looking for as I'd like to gild 2 nightstands in a guest room but just couldn't find the right info on how to begin. Your pictures, information, products used list and room are all fantastic. I'm delighted to add your blog to my list of bookmarks! Now, go get your own HGTV show!!

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    1. I'm blushing! What a compliment! Thank you so very much!

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  24. Berit LinnerforsMay 11, 2014 at 3:53 AM

    Beautiful!

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  25. I have a couple of nightstands I am thinking of re-doing, and I am just wondering how you feel the finish is holding up after a couple of years? Thanks! :)

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    1. It is honestly still looking really good. I had a couple of small pieces (unnoticeable) fall away. I only noticed because I saw them on the floor. But, my pieces are still just as lovely as when I did them. :) Although, my toddler has just taken a crayon to the nightstand so now I have to devise a plan to wipe it off without damaging my work. The joys of motherhood! lol

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    2. Thanks Nina!

      As mother of a three year old I'm very familiar with crayon on furniture! I find that the washable ones just wipe off with a damp sponge--hopefully that is the case for you too!

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  26. Hi Nina,

    I'm doing a project like this now & I seem to be getting a lot of spaces in between the shhets even if I over lap. I was thinking the Rub & Buff would help too. But now Im worried that wont work bc of your comment about the shininess. Did you use the Silver leaf Rub & Buff?

    Thanks,
    Molly

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    1. I apologize for my late reply. I bought my Rub 'n Buff from Hobby Lobby and believe the silver color they sell is the Silver Lead Rub 'n Buff.

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  27. Will use this for my home office desk with a glass protective top. Thanks a mill!

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Let me know what you think!... and please be nice. ;) Unfortunately, my comments are moderated due to spammers.