Would Mama Be Happy, or Not?

Pamela Field
by Pamela Field
12 Materials
I picked up this old chest from a sweet lady that wasn't in much better shape herself. I met with her in her bedroom because she is disabled, and lives in her bed. With tears in her eyes, she tells me the story of this old chest she's got as a wedding present from her mama. She says her mama was really poor, and sacrificed this chest so she could give a gift to her only daughter on her wedding day. This was all she had left from her mother, and the sentimental value was priceless to her. I knew I just had to help her keep it out of the dump where it was headed.
oh my! She's seen better days!
I love it most when my clients give me free reign to design whatever I want. I thought I'd really surprise her and give this an extra special treatment, with a raised stencil, shown here.

I use wall spackling and rub it across the stencil with an old credit card to apply. This old chest was so out of whack, I had to do one drawer at a time.
Lightly sanded the dried stencil when all the drawers were done. Cleaned off all the dust with a damp towel, careful not to wipe away any of the spackling.
Painted the drawers gold, then used a polyurethane topcoat to protect it.
oil based top coat is important step here.
Made some homemade chalk paint out of some left over paints, and painted the drawer fronts and the body of the dresser. Using a chore boy sponge, I carefully rubbed the stencil to remove the turquoise paint and show the gold stencil underneath. This is why it was important to apply a coat of polyurethane over the gold, so I wouldn't rub it off during this process.
Applied Pearl Glaze, wiping straight across. I did not use a protective coat of poly before doing this, so I did it in small sections quickly. I wanted it to seep down into the grain of that old oak wood.
The drawers were in really bad shape, so I painted the sides, inside and out before sealing the whole chest and drawers with a semi gloss High Performance Top Coat. Cut a piece of cardboard and using spray adhesive, attached fabric to the cardboard form.
This created a liner and stabilized the drawer, as well as dressing up the drawers inside too.
Dressed her up with new hardware knobs and keyholes.
While I was visiting with that sweet lady, she'd told me her mama's favorite color was turquoise. I'd like to think Mama would be happy with it today, all dressed up.
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3 of 30 questions
  • Flipturn Flipturn on Feb 14, 2021

    I see it's been about 5 years now since the original posting of this project. 'Just wondering, who has the dresser now?

  • 34354174 34354174 on Dec 30, 2021

    Very beautiful and so glad she was happy. I just wonder how she would have reacted if the piece had been restored to it's original glory?

    You just cannot beat restoring a piece regardless of how beautiful the paint job is.

    All the dings and scars are part of the history.

  • Fran Fran on Dec 30, 2021

    The dresser is just beautiful. I think I’m understanding the directions but just don’t get how the spackling sticks to the wood. Thank you.

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4 of 315 comments
  • Pamela Pamela on Dec 27, 2022

    What a beautiful labor of love for a disabled woman!

    You made it better than the original!

  • Lois Buchanan Lois Buchanan on Jan 09, 2023

    It is wonderful! I love it, and I'm a keep it wood nut, but it is so pretty!

    • Pamela Field Pamela Field on Jan 13, 2023

      Thank you!

      I love wood too, but sometimes it's not as salvageable as I'd like it to be.