Here’s a tip off the top from the auctioneer’s kid: when you go to an auction (or antique store) park near their garbage.
It’s astonishing in this junk-friendly era with distribution mechanisms like curbsides and “Craigslist free” listing, but people still throw away stuff that is…well, “killing me with potential” as we used to say around the Crib board.
In this case the source was my antique auctioneer uncle. He bought a batch lot (a “Lot” at an auction is an item being sold. That item can, as in this instance, be a group of items. Usually they are items of low value grouped together in the hope of creating enough value to make it worth the auction house’s overhead costs of selling it.)
My uncle wanted one item in a batch lot being sold at a competitor auction and he did NOT want this seatless, scratched up chair frame and told his employee to haul it out to the garbage.
It never got there.
The frame was nearly 100 years old and perfectly solid. Someone had sanded one side – clearly intending to refinish the frame and probably upholster a new seat cushion (if that is your desire for a chair frame you come across, there are tons of cushion forms floating around for free or you can get one cut from scrap wood for a song!)
I had other plans. So on the way home I stopped by the recycling centre. I don’t know about where you live, but in British Columbia you can take your leftover paint to the provincially funded recycling depot in every community. They will either dispose of it in the most environmentally-safe manner possible or, if it is still usable, will put it in a bin where another member of the community can take it for free and use it up (THE most environmentally responsible disposal method). I picked up almost a full litre of off-white paint (colour selection is limited to what gets dropped off…of course).
But I was fortunate and found a good supply of cream colour latex – which I made into homemade chalk paint with the addition of some Plaster of Paris (about 30% which I mix in a separate container so I can play with the combination until I get it right.
I took advantage of the lovely summer weather to paint outdoors. Two coats.
I then distressed it by scraping with the blunt edge of a butter knife the parts that would be worn naturally (edges of the legs, back and seat, most elevated areas of carved section) and then lightly sanded with a sanding block.
It was pretty, but I wanted something a bit more so I looked through my vintage costume jewellery and found a brooch I thought perfect for the job.
I love pearls – and am quite fond of rhinestones.
I attached it with E6000- a good, strong glue.
I wiped the chair down and gave it a coat of clear outdoor Minwax.
The only planter I had that fit the chair was brown, so I gave it a quick spray with quick-drying Rustoleum matt white spray paint. Filled it and set it next to the front door.
The pink flowers brought out a pink tone in the pearls.
I’ve used it as porch décor, but it would make a nice piece of decoration for a backyard wedding, as well.