Painted Leather Technique and Salvage yard Defeat

Salvage Yard Chronicles: A Tale of Upcycling, Perseverance, and Self-Discovery

Tanglewood Sue Here! So,I'm back at my old haunt, the salvage yard, the very place I'm kindainfamous in now. Funny how life circles back, right? There's this funky chair I've eyed, and while I'm hauling it out (mind the broken toe, folks!), let me tell you about this wild ride that's been my life in the world of upcycling and why I'm persona non grata at m yonce-favorite salvage yard.

My Completed Hot Pink Painted Leather Chair

Hot Pink Leather Painted Chair

The Backstory: More Than Just a Painted Leather Chair

Alright, so here's the deal: this isn't just about refurbishing a cool chair by painting the leather with Miss Lillian's Chock Paint and my Tanglewood Sue's Hues, it's about the whole shebang – how I got into this biz, the ups and downs, and why I've got a no-go sign at a place I once loved.

Dot-Com Bust to Salvage Yard Thrust

Let's rewind a bit. It all started with the dot-com bust in San Francisco. Man, that was rough! We tried everything – moving, renting, saving – but nothing worked. California basically gave us the boot. So, back to the East Coast we went, squeezed into a tiny space with my sister's family. Talk about tight quarters!

Finding Joy in Paint and Color

With no furniture to our name, I began scouring roadsides and, yes, salvage yards. Our new place looked sad with all the mismatched pieces. That's when I discovered my love for painting furniture. I was all over YouTube, learning, experimenting, and soon, every piece in our house was screaming color. It was my way of cheering up during those tough times. I leaned how to “chalk” leftover paints from the salvage yard, how to layer colors with an old candle, how to get the distressed look with vaseline and basically how to paint everything!

Tanglewood Sue

From Salvage to Showroom: The Birth of Tanglewood Works

Fast forward a bit, and I'm knee-deep in paint cans and ideas. Tanglewood Works was born out of necessity and a stroke of creativity. I named it after the street we were on – Tanglewood Drive. It started as a tiny booth in and grew into the anchor location for the whole salvage yard. Folks drove from all over the DC area just to wander my upcycled garden and see my newest creations.I was living the dream – meeting folks, sharing stories, and breathing new life into old stuff.

The Original   Tanglewood Works
Interior of Tanglewood Works flagship store

The Chair Project: A Symphony of Colors and Techniques

Back to this chair I'm wrestling with. It's going to be a masterpiece of colors and techniques. I'm talking “Martini Olive” from my Sue Hues Porcelain Paint collection, some “Sue's Wicked Wax” for that perfect finish, and let's not forget adding the sparkle with my Tanglewood Sue-per Shifting metallic Waxes. This chair isn't just a piece of furniture; it's a canvas for my story.

Tanglewood's Rise and My Unexpected Fall

Tanglewood Works was more than a store; it was a piece of me. I poured my heart into it, decorating, creating, upcycling. But here's the kicker – the more I succeeded, the more I felt resistance. The same place that gave me a start wasn't too keen on my growth. I was bringing color and life to their space, but it seemed like that wasn't what they wanted after all. Did you see Mean Girls and the manipulative games they played to undermine each other? Yeah, it was kinda like that.

The more the visitors enjoyed my work the more upper management planted seeds of doubt in my very naive brain.

Lessons Learned: The Price of Success

This whole saga taught me loads. Success isn't just about what you achieve; it's about handling the pushback you get. Some folks are all cheers until you start outshining them. Then, boom, you're the enemy. It's a weird world.

The Art of Resilience: Moving On and Up

So, what's a girl to do? I moved on, of course! Found a bigger place, kept both stores running for a while. But reality bites, and I had to shut down my first love – Tanglewood Works at the salvage yard. Hardest decision ever, but sometimes, you've gotta close one door for another to open.

The Hyattsville Tanglewood Works

The Chair as a Metaphor: Every Layer Tells a Story

This chair I'm working on – it's not just about the paint or the wax. It's about resilience. Each layer, each color, each stroke of the brush is a part of my journey. It's about finding beauty in the broken, potential in the discarded. I was broken. It took years to emerge from the depression of having lost everything that I had created. I had to leave the home I rebuilt right from the studs (This makeover was even featured on HGTV!). I had to leave my award winning cafe I also built from the ground up. I was too tired to take on a whole new business but painting furniture brought me back to life. I had no idea it would grow into what it is now!

Tanglewood's Legacy and My Personal Growth

In the end, Tanglewood Works and my whole upcycling journey have been about more than just furniture. It's been about growth, both personal and professional. It's been about pushing boundaries, handling setbacks, and always finding a way to add a little more color to life.

Tanglewood Sue

The Takeaway: Embrace Every Challenge

So, to anyone out there thinking of diving into their passion – be it upcycling, painting, or anything else – here's my two cents: Go for it! But be ready for the bumps along the way. Each challenge is a stepping stone, each setback a lesson. Keep your head high, your paintbrush ready, and never lose your spark.

Keep On Keeping On

As for me, I'll keep on keeping on. I'll keep visiting the salvage yard, keep finding treasures in the trash, and keep turning them into works of art. It's what I do, it's who I am. And hey, if you ever need a funky, upcycled chair with a story to tell, you know who to call!

First the Frame

I chose Martini Olive for the frame of this most funky chair. For all the tips and techniques for using my Sue's Hues Porcelain Paints check out this blog I've made for you HERE!

Once I painted and sealed using my Sue's Wicked Wax I decided on a bit more BLING!

For this chair I decided to experiment with my Tanglewood Sueper Shifting Waxes. For the frame I used DeMedici and I used different approaches in different areas of the frame.

In some areas I just hit the highlights, letting the Martini Olive Green have it's moment, and on the legs I went full strength Sue-per Shifter!

Painting Leather Tips and Techniques: Elevating Your Upcycling Game

Now, let's dive a bit deeper into the world of painting leather. If you're an upcycling enthusiast like me, you know that leather can be a tricky canvas. But fear not! I've got some tips and techniques up my sleeve to help you elevate your upcycling game and breathe new life into leather pieces.

1. Choose the Right Paint

When it comes to painting leather, not all paints are created equal. My paint of choice is Miss Lillian's original chock paint. This chalk paint has a built in topcoat that adheres perfectly to leather.

2. Prep the Leather Surface

Preparation is key! Before you start painting, make sure to clean the leather surface thoroughly. Use a leather cleaner to remove any dirt, oils, or residues. My favorite is First Step Prep by Miss Lillian's. This step ensures that the paint adheres better and results in a more professional finish.

3. Sanding for Better Adhesion

To enhance the paint's adhesion, lightly sand the leather surface. This helps create a slightly textured surface for the paint to grip onto. Use a fine-grit sandpaper and make sure not to overdo it – a gentle sanding will do the trick.

4. Use a Base Layer if Changing Value

If you are going from light to dark or vice versa, consider applying a basecoat color halfway in between. This will help covering up dark or light patches depending on your color choice.

5. Apply Thin Coats

When it's time to paint, remember the golden rule: thin coats are better than thick ones. Multiple thin coats allow for better control over the color intensity and prevent the paint from cracking or peeling over time. Let each coat dry thoroughly before applying the next and sand in between every layer.

8. Experiment with Techniques

Don't shy away from experimenting with different painting techniques. Whether it's distressing, stenciling, or creating unique patterns, leather can be a versatile canvas. Just ensure that the techniques you choose align with the item's purpose and style.

Embrace the challenges

Leather has its quirks, and embracing these challenges is part of the upcycling journey. Accept that leather may absorb paint differently in certain areas, creating a natural, distressed look. Sometimes, imperfections add character to the piece.

10. Learn and Evolve

Finally, every painted leather project is a learning opportunity. Pay attention to what works best for you, and don't be afraid to evolve your techniques. Whether it's trying new paint brands, experimenting with colors, or refining your brushwork, continuous learning is the key to mastery.

Conclusion: Transforming Leather, One Stroke at a Time

So, there you have it – a glimpse into my world of upcycling, the challenges faced, and the triumphs celebrated. From salvaging discarded pieces to navigating the intricacies of painting leather, it's been a colorful journey.

As I continue to explore the endless possibilities within the realms of upcycling, I invite you to embark on your own creative adventures. Whether you're drawn to painting leather, reviving old furniture, or discovering innovative ways to breathe new life into forgotten items, remember: every stroke, every layer, and every challenge is an opportunity for transformation.

So, gear up, grab your brushes, and let the colors unfold. Happy upcycling!

Sue-per Shifter Painted Leather Pink and Green Chair
Sue-per Shifter Painted Leather Pink and Green Chair
Sue-per Shifter Painted Leather Pink and Green Chair
Painted Leather Chair Hot
Sue-per Shifter Painted Leather Pink and Green Chair
Sue-per Shifter Painted Leather Pink and Green Chair
Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.