Guest blog – my experience of a Petit Miracles Upcycling Workshop

1888e80 Petit Miracle Workshop – Guest Blog

Kindly written by Christina @cbtravelbug

Take some tired brown furniture, five willing participants and a few hours on a Saturday afternoon and you’ll get… five transformed chairs in a paintbox palette ready to go on sale for a good cause. Here’s how it was done:

Workshop manager Iyoub explained our goal for the the afternoon: a brief introduction to upcycling. We’d learn a new skill and Petit Miracles would get some new furniture for their treasure trove of a shop in West 12 Shopping Centre.

20150418_124954 The upcycling process:

First step: Pick a chair. These were old oak ones, probably from a school or a church hall. Check it is sturdy and sound before you start. There’s no point in painstakingly transforming a rickety old wreck, until it has been mended.


Wash it down with sugar soap. It’s really important to remove all grease, grime and dust to give the paint the best chance of adhering. Make sure the cloth is damp but not drenched, because the wood will absorb the moisture.

The difficult bit: choose a colour. We were using Annie Sloane’s chalk paint. The advantage here is that it doesn’t need a primer or base coat, compared to emulsion, which can be a much more laborious process. The boys went for bright colours, the girls went neutral and classy… just saying.

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Shake the paint can so the colour is even, open it up carefully and give it a good stir. Mix in a tiny bit of water if necessary, so the consistency is like double cream.

Flip the chair over and start painting the underside first. Start on the part furthest away from you so you aren’t leaning over your work and getting splodges of paint on your clothes. Don’t go overboard with the paint. Start near the edge and work paint to the ends carefully. Try not to let it bleed over the sides, that will just mean more sanding later.

Once the whole underside is done, flip the chair back over and finish the top side. Some colours will need more coats than others. To get to this stage took around two hours.

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Next, you need to sand to get the smoothest finish you possibly can. This can take minutes or hours. We were going for a shabby chic look, so as well as sanding the paint down everywhere, the areas which would naturally get the most wear and tear needed a bit of extra attention.

On chalk paint, we used P240 sandpaper. It’s really fine, and you work gently, applying pressure in the direction of the grain of the wood. The paint goes as soft as silk once it is done: check your work by touch. I sanded a bit extra on the raised part of the seat to give a slightly more worn look.

Gently wipe away the chalk dust with a damp cloth.


closeupchair The next stage is to apply the wax. This helps seal in the paint and protect it. It also darkens the colour slightly. Again, we used Annie Sloan wax. With a brush or a cloth, you get a tiny dab on your finger and rub it into the paint. Work in small sections and make sure it spreads consistently across the wood. You don’t need as much as you think you do. The left section has been done here: you can see how it makes the colour darker and shinier.

Final stage: buffing

With a clean cloth, you rub that wax until it shines and all the excess has been absorbed. It’s elbow grease that’s required, no two ways about it. Check it with the back of your hand: you shouldn’t feel any residue if it is properly absorbed.

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image2 Finished products:

I loved my afternoon at Petit Miracles: I saw how with a little care and effort you can transform drab old furniture into something contemporary and personal. What’s more, this social enterprise provides work for the long-term unemployed and teaches new skills to those who want to learn. I thoroughly recommend getting involved.

Workshops run on the first and second Saturdays of each month. The three hour session including all materials and tuition costs £45 per person.

Thank you for writing and sharing your blog and photos Christina!

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