I’m just back from an event run on behalf of Frenchic Furniture Paint, and am now feeling totally inspired to start all kinds of upcycling and customisation projects around the home and garden. I’d heard of Frenchic before and thought their shade range was very attractive, but I hadn’t realised how broad their range of products is, or how versatile they could be in their usage.
There was a chance to get hands on and experiment with the different paints, shades and finishes, but what really sold it to me was the scope for decoration and customisation. That’s where the true magic lies, and it gives you the opportunity to create something completely unique, from one-off furniture to small ornaments and gifts.
Frenchic are best known for their chalk and mineral based paints, but the range is broader than that, including:
- Original Furniture Paint
- The Lazy Range of paint
- Al Fresco outdoor paint
- Easy Crackle
- Frensheen metallic finishing powder
- Finishing coat
- Paint brushes
All the paints are tested to high safety standards, and are solvent and VOC free. They don’t have a nasty odour when you’re working with them, making them easier to work with indoors, and the low toxicity means they be painted onto children’s toys and cribs.
The shade range is lovely, ranging from shabby chic pastels through eye-catching brights to soothing neutrals. Most people will be able to find something they like that will suit their home and personality.
The Lazy Range has a smaller collection of colours, and costs about £3 more per can, but it has the advantage of already containing wax so you don’t need a top coat. You can allow it to dry to a matte finish and leave it like that, or buff it up to get more of a shine.
Their Al Fresco paints are hard wearing and dry to a chalky finish. I’m pretty sure they don’t need a top coat, unless you wanted a high gloss appearance. There are six shades, and I’m very tempted to get upcycling with some of these as it’s the summer and we’re spending more time outdoors.
All of the paints I tried were very easy to work with, needing no stirring and applying smoothly and easily. I’d definitely work with them again on different projects. What I liked best was that you don’t have to stick to painting on wood, as it also sticks to glass, fabric, terracotta and plastic. Now on to the decoration, which is where it gets really interesting.
Using Frenchic to create special decorative effects
There were some excellent examples of upcycling to look at, including renovated oilcloth tablecloths that woud otherwise have been thrown away, decorated bottles and vases from the household recycling box, and upcycled lampshades that had originally been bought for 50p in a charity shop. From trash to treasure in two or three easy steps.
For starters, Frenchic make an Easy Crackle product, and if you want to create a really easy aged or vintage effect on anything then this is worth a look. Quickly apply a generous coat and set it aside to dry for an hour or so, then apply a layer of paint over the top – it will start to crack as it dries. For the most striking effect, use contrasting paints, one under the Easy Crackle and the other over the top so that the colour underneath clearly shows through the cracks. For a more subtle crackle effect just use a thinner layer of Easy Crackle, working it more into the paint or wood.
You can also paint one shade of The Lazy Range over a coat or two of a different colour in the Original Frenchic Furniture Paint, and distress parts of the paint back with some sandpaper once it’s dry. This gives a great two-tone, lived-in effect.
To finish your project you can use one of their waxes, or try the shinier Frenchic Finishing Coat (I’ve been looking for a good one like this for ages, now I’ve finally found one). I was particularly taken with the Finishing Coat because it allows some very versatile customisation, perfect for making something unique. For example, you can apply a layer of Finishing Coat to your item, then quickly overlay pictures cut out from printed paper napkins for a collage effect. You can get all kinds of designs on napkins now, from chintzy florals to cartoon monsters, and all you need to do is use the top ply of the paper in the shape you want, press it down gently and add a little more Finishing Coat over the top of the paper if needed.
My favourite use for the Finishing Coat is an ink transfer process to create prints on the paint below. Paint your item and leave it to dry fully, then print off any image you like using a laser printer (remembering to reverse the image first as it goes on back-to-front) and cut it out. Coat the surface of the item with a good layer of Finishing Coat, then press the printed paper onto it ink-side down. Gently smooth out to prevent bubbles or wrinkles and put aside to dry. Next, wet the upper side of the paper with water and gently start rolling it away with your wet fingertips in a circular motion. The paper will eventually wear away, leaving just the ink behind.
If you’d like to see me putting them to use in an upcycling project or two, let me know and I’ll see what I can do!