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A Lesson In Following Instructions (and the Difference That Dry-Brushing Can Make)

Have you ever actually read the instructions on the back of a can of spray paint? I know, I know…the writing is tiny, it’s not very interesting, and the “how to” of using a can of spray paint seems pretty elementary. But really, those directions are there for a reason.

Believe it or not, I read the directions on every brand that I use, because they’re all a little different. They tell you what the temperature should be when using their product. Use in temperatures between 50 degrees and 90 degrees. They tell you what the humidity should be. Use in humidity under 85%. They tell you how long to wait before re-coating. Recoat within one hour or after 24 hours. That one’s always seemed a little strange to me.

But what I’ve learned…the hard way…over the years is that those directions aren’t really put there for entertainment purposes. They really do serve an important purpose.

So what happens when you don’t follow the directions? Well yesterday, I learned the hard way (for about the 12th time). I was anxious to work on the green lamps for J & A’s bedroom. The weather was beautiful–sun shining, not too windy. It was perfect for spray painting. So I got the lamps all taped up, gathered my supplies, and went outside. Within a minute, the weather changed. The humidity rolled in, so thick you could cut it with a knife. Then came the little sprinkles, followed by a downpour about a minute later.

So what did I, master spray-painter who knows better than to paint in that kind of weather, decide to do? I moved my stuff under the covered walkway and painted. Want to see what happens when you get too anxious and don’t follow directions?


Yeah…isn’t that pretty? It didn’t do it immediately. It took about an hour to get to that point. But yeah…my impatience and thumbing my nose at the very clear directions cost me time and paint. And I knew better.

So, after about 30 minutes of scraping, peeling, and sanding, that left my countertop and floor like this…


I was ready to start again. I waited for the rain to clear out, then I checked the humidity online, and as soon as it was “all clear”, I painting again. This time, the result was great.


Wow, I love a matt black finish. I’m still going to do a little something to the shades today.

My next project was the special-buy mirror from Home Depot that I got for $30. It really was a fantastic bargain, but I absolutely couldn’t stand the finish that was on the frame. It was too factory-looking…too plastic-looking. I wish it really showed in the photo, but it doesn’t.


So I got set up outside, taped around the mirror…


And gave it a quick sanding, concentrating mostly on the raised spots–the areas that would naturally see wear over time.

Then I used a dry-brushing technique with some black and green paint to give it a not-so-perfect aged look. Here’s how it turned out.

So much better!! Now it looks less like a look-at-this-cheap-mirror-I-found-in-the-bargain-section-of-Home-Depot mirror, and more like a look-at-this-great-antique-that-I-found-in-grandma’s-attic kind of mirror. Don’t you think?





Here’s a side-by-side view of the original finish, and the aged finish.


Well, I better get busy! It’s Day 2 of my crazy busy week, and since I lost some time yesterday with this stupid spray paint thing, I have some major ground to cover today!!

Hope you have a great day!



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13 Comments

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kristi's mom
    August 17, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    I love the lamp and the mirror! Is that lamp something that would work for my project, too, or would the size or style be wrong? I can't tell much about the size. Wish I could have watched you do that mirror frame. 🙁 It is beautiful.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Janell @ Isabella and Max
    August 17, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    Oh, yes…I've learned the hard way that I should actually take a moment and read the directions before jumping in. Seems logical, right, but I really don't like reading directions!

    Your lamp and mirror look absolutely great, the finish on the mirror is really beautiful! Janell

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Rachel
    August 17, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    I don't like to read directions either! The finished lamp turned out great. Love the mirror frame too.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Anonymous
    August 17, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    Wow, I didn't realize the effect humidity can have on so many things we want to do in life. Like the time I wasted 3 pounds of butter trying to make english toffee; I thought I was doing it all wrong til my neighbor told me it won't work when the humidity levels are too high.

    I love both the lamp and mirror. I wish I could sit and watch you do what you do and learn in person!!!
    Laurie Moss

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kristi @ Addicted 2 Decorating
    August 17, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    Mom, I don't think that lamp would work for your table. The shade is too big. I really am keeping an eye out for one for you, though.

    Laurie, I'm saving up for a video camera so that I can start putting videos on here. Not only would that be so much easier than writing step-by-step instructions for these projects, but it would be like y'all are right there with me! I'm working on it…I promise! 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kim - A Creative Spirit
    August 17, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    I don't like reading directions – something about someone else telling me what to do… But it has bit me in the rear a couple of times too. I have been working on a piece in my garage and I agree that humidity can make a mess of any painting project. Fondant on cakes doesn't like humidity either – another hard lesson learned.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kathie
    August 17, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    I love the mirror frame. I would love your step by step directions for dry brush with 2 different colors. Is it as easy as it sounds?

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kristi @ Addicted 2 Decorating
    August 17, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    Kathie, yes, it really is super easy. I'll work on those instructions.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Eric - Looking For Interior Design Ideas
    August 17, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    I'll be sure to keep humidity in mind the next time I work on recoating. That sure looks fun to clean up :p

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Rose Duffy
    August 18, 2010 at 2:52 am

    Wow, what a difference some paint can make, I love the dry brush technique on the mirror. Does it matter what color goes on first?

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kristi @ Addicted 2 Decorating
    August 18, 2010 at 3:18 am

    Rose, I don't really think it matters. It just depends on the look you're trying to achieve. I started out with black, then added green on top. Then a bit more black, and a bit more green. There's no real right or wrong. It's just about adding layers until it looks like what you want.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Eric - Looking For Interior De
    April 10, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    I'll be sure to keep humidity in mind the next time I work on recoating. That sure looks fun to clean up :p

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kristi @ Addicted 2 Decorating
    April 10, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    Mom, I don't think that lamp would work for your table. The shade is too big. I really am keeping an eye out for one for you, though.

    Laurie, I'm saving up for a video camera so that I can start putting videos on here. Not only would that be so much easier than writing step-by-step instructions for these projects, but it would be like y'all are right there with me! I'm working on it…I promise! 🙂

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