That's me that is.
I have fallen dramatically out of love with the bureau cabinet and no amount of pictures on Pinterest of beautifully executed upcycled cabinets have been able to reignite it.
Admittedly, there have been a series of unfortunate events, which have added to my malaise, not least the fact that I haven't been able to take a proper run at it. Then there's all the advice I've garnered on painting dark mahogany furniture, which basically boils down to "DON'T"!!!!
I've used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint on all of my previous upcycling projects, which have been various shades of organgey pine, and despite applying several coats, I did experience some 'bleed through', either from the varnish, or sap in the wood. According to knowledgeable sources, experienced in such things, dark mahogany is an absolute bugger, with almost inevitable pink stains appearing after painting. This rather invalidates the 'negligible prep' feature of chalk paint, so I'm resigned to doing some rather unedifying work, prior to getting to the fun bits.
If there are ever going to be any actual fun bits.
Which I'm beginning to seriously doubt.
Anyway..... choice of paint aside, I have come to the conclusion that irrespective of claims of 'maximum coverage' they are all going to struggle with mahogany. Also taking into account the complicated nature of the painting, I really want to avoid having to apply multiple top coats.
So I've bought a pot of this....
.... which according to upcycling aficionados is the 'gold standard' so hopefully it will do what it says on the tin.
Which is that it's a 'high performance, white pigmented, shellac based primer/sealer/stain killer/bond coat that combines the convenience of lightning-fast drying time with outstanding adhesion and the best stain killing power available'.
Bold claims indeed......
However, before I can take the plunge and start priming, I first have to strip the cabinet of decades of grime. It's not just a bit dusty... it's positively filthy!
I found a slip of paper down the back of one of the drawers with a name and address, which I looked up online, to find that its previous home was a pub in north Kent. Looking at the photos, I'm assuming that my cabinet may have been in the 'olde worlde' area of the bar, neglected and unloved, with only a passing acquaintance with a duster.
I've had a go at it, using a wood cleaning sugar soap solution, which rapidly turned to a sludge coloured greeny-brown soup as I washed away years of dirt and grease. I had to attack the dentil moulding along the top with a screwdriver, to prise out an accumulation of some sort of hardened paste, which might have been furniture wax but probably wasn't.
The glazed doors were a nightmare. I was tempted to leave them till after I'd painted but they were almost opaque and I didn't want to smear the dirt over newly painted glazing bars so I tackled them with a glass cleaning solution and they've come up not too bad.
However, I'll need to go over all the wooden surfaces again, just to make sure it's thoroughly clean.
Then there was the leather inset in the drop-down desk flap.
Scuffed, scratched and dented, it had to come off.....
It took me FOUR hours, during which time I invented a whole new lexicon of swear words, as the ones I already knew just weren't sweary enough.
I wasn't naive enough to think that it would come off all in one piece but I was unprepared for its stubborn resistance and dogged refusal to yield to any number of scraping/scribing/stripping tools so I eventually gave up and attacked it with a small screwdriver which proved marginally more effective. When I eventually got the top layer off, I viewed the bottom layer with suspicion. No amount of scraping or poking seemed to affect it so I decided to try a range of solvents, which I hoped would soak through and dissolve the glue underneath.
White spirit/turpentine had no effect at all, and neither did Isopropyl Alcohol, although they did join forces to create interestingly potent fumes.
Eventually, having run through my entire arsenal of solutions, in desperation I tried nail varnish remover. While it didn't miraculously loosen the remaining leather, it did dissolve it just enough that I could finally scrape and scrub it off. The resulting surface is still, over a week later, slightly tacky, so it will need more cleaning.
No surprise there then.....
Back to the subject of which paint to use.....
I've heard good things about Fusion Mineral Paint, which apparently is superior to chalk paint as it doesn't scuff and doesn't require a wax finish. It claims to be easy to apply and self-levelling (so hopefully no brush strokes!) It's also available in small tester pots, which means I can use several different colours inside the desk area without having to buy a whole litre. It's also the only one with all the colours I want. Still not fully decided but I'm a week or so away from being able to do the colourful stuff so there's no rush to purchase.
However.... remember I said I'd found a wonderful paper to decorate the drawer fronts and inside the glazed doors?
It arrived last week, and it is lovely, but the design is much bigger than I'd anticipated, and just won't work for the cabinet.
So I've been trawling the internet, looking for something in the right colours/pattern and drawing a complete blank. You would think, wouldn't you, that with the papers of the entire world at my fingertips I could find something perfect?
I've tried looking at wallpapers, wrapping papers, decoupage papers, scrapbooking papers and many more, but nothing is quite right.
I've even toyed with the idea of designing my own and having it printed, but can't face the many hours entailed in making sure it was suitable. Not to mention the cost.
However, I'm exploring a possible alternative and am waiting to hear if what I want is cost effective. *fingers crossed* I'm mindful of the fact that although the cabinet itself only cost £25, I'm in danger of spending an unconscionable amount on upcycling it!
However, until I've settled on the paint and paper I can't decide on the replacement handles for the drawers, but I have found the website I'll be buying them from.... the amazing Knobbles & Bobbles.
And..... d'you know what? Writing all this down has revealed that far from being stalled, the project IS progressing, and ideas are coalescing. I might even have fallen just a little bit in love with it again..... *sigh*