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Work experience Changing Perceptions

They gave me a chair and an old school desk to teach me the basics, such as sanding and how to apply the paint, before giving me a larger project of my own, which they had previously offered to do.

With the chair and desk they gave me guidance about what colours would work in a home environment as most pieces would be sold as home furnishings. With homes generally being creamy white in colour light, subtle colours, rather than bright in-your-face colours, were recommended. With my own project I decided to go with the recommendations as well as using some of ‘my’ bright red.

I had to choose 2 colours for the exterior of the cabinet for the distressing process later. It was a grey for the bottom coat and the top coat was called ‘sugar puff’, which I would describe as a cream colour.

When painting the outside there was no need to mask off the glass areas as the paint was easily lifted off afterwards with a sharp knife.

After I had painted the outside I realised something important – do not paint with the door shut. I painted it one day and when I came back the next time the door was glued shut. The paint had dripped through the cracks and when it dried it ‘glued’ the door shut. I had to ask for help to get the door open again (large poke-y things were used) and then had to sand back the edge so the door would smoothly shut.

Processes I used: Painting, sanding, distressing, waxing.

I loved distressing, it was probably one of my favourite processes, along with scraping the paint off the glass.

Once the 2 colours, painted onto the cabinet, had dried it was time to do the distressing, which is a process that involves sanding the different layers off around parts of the cabinet to give it a vintage or antique look. I chose the areas to distress and focused on the places that traditionally would get used, or knocked, a lot, like round the keyhole and the edges of the cabinet.

In some bits I sanded down to the grey layer but in other bits I sanded down to the varnished, or even the bare, wood so it ended up being 4 colours (wood, varnished wood, grey and ‘sugar puff’).

I did the outside with the distressing then I did the inside.

I painted the inside with Emperors Silk, which is a red

I wanted to use my signature colour (cadmium red) somewhere on the cabinet but they didn’t have the right colour so I painted the interior, including the shelves, in the brightest red I could find – ‘Emperors Silk’ red chalk paint.

I had to do a final sanding round the edges of the door, where the paint had sealed through the cracks and then had to touch up the paint in those areas too.

The final process was waxing. One of the Changing Perceptions staff waxed the shelves to show me the process and the outcome of waxing before leaving me to do the rest of the cabinet. I didn’t like doing it as much as some of the other processes because wax was see-through so I couldn’t tell what I had done, although I checked with them so I knew I was doing it right. I tried putting the wax on with both a brush and a cloth, as I didn’t know which one I would prefer. In the end I stayed with the cloth.

Overall I enjoyed the experience and by the end of the summer it was clear they liked what I was doing and they are keen for me to return later. I know I can walk in there and they all know me and I will feel comfortable working there, which is nice.

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