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Review of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint ™

Thin, High Pigmented Coats of Paint For Finishing Layers With Fine Detail

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Chalk Paint ™ and furniture wax used to finish a dollhouse scale miniature display cabinet.

Two shades of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint ™ (Paloma and French Linen) used to refinish a dollhouse miniature display cabinet. Finished with clear Wax.

Photo © 2012 Lesley Shepherd

Chalk Paint ™, by Annie Sloan, was developed twenty years ago as a formulation of paint designed to be used for walls and on furniture and accessories with furniture wax, to create traditional period and distressed paint effects . The high pigment, low Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) paint blends and sands with very fine definition, unlike many latex paints which can clump or roll when sanded. The paint adheres to walls, metal, wood and other surfaces easily, allowing it to be used across a range of materials commonly used for miniatures. Although the paint can be difficult to source, it is designed in a range of historic colors and the particular formulation makes it work well for application over tiny details.

All colors, except the whites, are available in sampler sizes of 4 ounces (118 mls) for between $12 and $15 dollars per colour, through online sites and official store distributors.

Advantages of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint ™ For Finishing Miniatures

At up to $15 for a four ounce sampler jar, these paints are not an inexpensive option for a miniaturist, but for the price there are some clear advantages. They are generally cheaper for the volume than quality fluid artist's acrylic paints and chalk inks, although they are above the cost of craft store liquid acrylics and home made versions of the paint which generally rely on adaptations to interior house paint samples. Annie Sloan's Chalk Paint™ is one of a number of lime based or 'chalky' paints traditionally used for lime wash exteriors and interiors in Europe.

Chalk Paint ™ Advantages

  • Very High Level of Finely Ground Pigment - These paints cover most materials in a single coat without clogging fine detail.
  • Covers Most Surfaces with a Single Coat - no surface preparation (other than cleaning) or priming is required. This paint adheres equally well to metal miniatures as well as finished, even waxed wood, and tiny detailed layers of gesso.
  • Easily Distressed in a Small Scale - This paint comes off in fine dust particles when sanded, there are no 'strips' of paint to gum up sandpaper or distressing tools. For miniatures, this allows very fine detailed effects, similar to true wear.
  • Easily Thinned for "Lime Wash" effects on Wood Grain - to mimic antique staining effects. These paints are exceptionally easy to use on full size or miniature projects.
  • Range of Period Colors - The color range is very carefully worked out to allow modern and period finishes. The colors can be blended to extend the range further.
  • Indoor and Outdoor Use - the paint is generally sealed with furniture wax for interior use where the piece is exposed to wear, or it can be used outdoors without waxing. The paint finish is very similar to a colored traditional lime paint, and as such, makes an excellent exterior 'white wash' finish for miniature buildings. Wear and variable staining (mildew, dirt) are very easy to mimic for realistic model exteriors.
  • Dries Quickly - This helps prevent small items and details from warping as the paint dries.

Applying Chalk Paint to Miniatures - The formulation of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint ™ works best when applied with a blunt soft brush that can be worked into small details. Soft Filbert Paint Brushes work well, and are a close small scale version of the brushes sold by Annie Sloan to apply these paints. The paints dry quickly, so a brush which carries a fair amount of paint in a single stoke is what you are aiming for.

Can You Mimic The Effects of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™ With Other Materials?

Two layers of chalk paint as well as wax do not obscure fine details on a metal dolls house frame.

Despite two coats of Chalk Paint ™, as well as a coat of gilding and a dark wax finish, the fine details on this miniature metal frame still retain their crisp shapes.

Photo © 2012 Lesley Shepherd

The unique formulation of the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™ allows for deep pigmentation in many of the paint colors with a velvety chalk like surface, similar to a pastel application but much more resilient for surfaces which will be handled. You can find similar paints sold as 'chalky' paints or 'lime wash' paints, although these are much more common in Europe than in North America. In North America, traditional 'milk paints' sold as premixed paint or in powdered form, and lime and plaster paints are the closest formulation. "Milk" paints tend to have more of an eggshell like sheen than the Chalk Paint™.

If you live where the paints are not easy to source, you can make small amounts of lime and chalk style paints for your miniatures using regular house paint and artist's gesso. This works best for lighter colors. It is very difficult to get dark colors of lime wash style paints using a latex house paint as a base.

Finish Waxing Over Annie Sloan Chalk Paints™

For furniture, Annie Sloan produces a clear and a dark wax to apply over the paints for a protective soft sheen finish. These are excellent waxes, but as they are only sold in furniture finishing quantities, miniaturists may find it easier to use the traditional fall back of clear paste wax for furniture, and a dark shoe polish wax for distressing over the clear wax application. If shoe polish is unavailable for dark wax, furniture finishing sections of hardware shops may sell small containers of 'scratch repair' compounds which are usually dark colored paste wax formulations. The dark wax should be very soft. Most shoe polish (and paste furniture waxes) can be mixed with mineral spirits (white spirit, paint thinner) to create a softer formulation. Some can be mixed with oil (vegetable or olive oil) to thin them. Check the wax container for ingredients.

Applying Wax to Miniatures

Clean, used toothbrushes or stencil pouncing brushes work well for applying the darker finishing and furniture waxes to small details on miniatures. Once set, the wax should be rubbed off and buffed with a soft polishing cloth or cheesecloth.

Other suggestions for waxes

About.com has a good recipe for non toxic home made furniture wax without mineral spirits this is found on the Flea Markets and Yard Sales site.

Dark wax applied over chalk paint ™ on a dollhouse miniature metal picture frame.

A toothbrush is used to apply a layer of dark finishing wax over a metal miniature picture frame coated with two layers of Chalk Paint ™.

Photo © 2012 Lesley Shepherd

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