Tag Archives | decorative painting

How to Pickle Wash a Mother’s Day Recipe Box

I love playing with paint, and I love the distressed shabby and vintage look. Now a product has come along that has my creative soul doing a happy dance because it combines the two so perfectly and easily: Plaid FolkArt Pickling Wash!

(Disclosure: I am a member of the Plaid Ambassador Program, and some products I used were provided to me as part of the program. This is not a paid/sponsored post, nor is this post a requirement of my participation in the program. Some links in this article are affiliate links.]

Pickle Wash Mother's Day Recipe Box


Plaid’s new Pickling Wash is an easy to apply finish that gives a whitewashed appearance to wood surfaces. It goes on as a very thin liquid (with a watery consistency). After sitting for 30 seconds, the excess is then wiped off to achieve the distressed finish. The results  – and the ease of application – have to be seen to be believed. This truly is the vintage finish that I’ve been dreaming of being able to create on my projects! And it comes in a palette of a dozen vintage friendly colors like Gypsy Rose, Soleil, Sea Glass and Celadon. And of course…Cottage White! <swoon> Oh the possibilities…I apologize in advance for the Pickle Washing spree you are probably going to be subjected to on this site now.

I decided to start experimenting with my new Plaid Pickling Wash by making myself a new recipe card box for our kitchen. (A couple of decades is probably too long to be using a plastic index card box for them, right?) This recipe box would make a great Mother’s Day gift. So happy Mother’s Day to me!

Since the Pickling Wash is so thin and soaks into the grain, it really raises the grain and emphasizes any imperfections in the surface. Unlike a paint like chalk paint, which covers a multitude of sins in a surface, Pickling Wash is not nearly so forgiving. So a good quality surface is key to getting good results. Before I started painting, I sanded my recipe box down with 320 grit sandpaper, and then removed the sanding dust with a tack cloth.

Applying the Pickle Wash finish was easy. I started on the inside of the recipe box and applied the wash with a foam brush. (This is a great way to get a feel for a new finish, by applying it in an area that won’t be seen much first.) Then after 30 seconds, I used a sheet of blue shop towel to rub off the excess. After allowing it to dry awhile, I repeated the process on the outside of the recipe box.

Pickle Wash Mother's Day Recipe Box

After allowing the Plaid Pickle Wash to dry for the required time, I wanted to stencil on it. For stenciling I reached for classic FolkArt Acrylic, in – what else? – Vintage White! It was the perfect shade of not-quite-white to apply to make my stencil look vintage. True white would have been too stark against the the distressed Pickle Wash finish.

The stencil that I chose for the front of the box was large enough that it spans over the opening of the box lid. So to keep everything in place while I stenciled it, I taped the box lid shut with painter’s tape. Then, after sticking down the self-adhesive stencil, I also taped around the edges of the stencil, since the design went very close to the edges and I didn’t want to get any paint off the edges of the stencil.

Pickle Wash Mother's Day Recipe Box

I dd my stenciling with a super dry brush. I wasn’t worried about getting thick, solid color or about missing spots, since the whole idea is for a vintage, aged look anyway.

Once the stenciling was dry, I drilled a hole in the center of the recipe box’s lid with my drill. I selected a drill bit that was just a tiny bit smaller than the diameter of the screw for my decorative knob I was planning to use.

Pickle Wash Mother's Day Recipe Box

The finishing touch for the recipe box is the decorative knob that serves as a “handle” for the lid, and which emphasizes the vintage theme of the design. I chose this faux milk glass one because the vintage white look of the faux milk glass mimics the vintage white of the stenciled design.

Pickle Wash Mother's Day Recipe Box

The decorative knob came with a really long bolt on it, which would get in the way of storing recipes inside the box. So I got out my Dremel tool and cut it off very near the nut attaching the knob to the lid.

And that is it…my Mother’s Day recipe box was completed. Now that my recipes are stored so beautifully, I might actually have to cook and use some of them!

Pickle Wash Mother's Day Recipe Box

Books | The Brushstroke Handbook by Maureen McNaughton

Reported by Cassandra Darwin

Disclosure: This site participates in the affiliate program.

One of the reasons I was excited to review “The Brushstroke Handbook” was because I know nothing about fancy brushstroke painting. I can paint walls and furniture, and I can even use stencils. But I wanted to give my skills a little boost.

The Brushstroke Handbook

It turns out this is a great book for beginners because the author, Maureen McNaughton, is noted for her clear and concise directions. She also goes into detail on the supplies that she used for the book and why they work well for the techniques described. I used a different brand of acrylic paint and brushes (because it is what I had on hand) and I was missing the paint “extender” that she mixed with each color to change the paint’s consistency a bit. I will have to get this before I start any serious projects.

The Brushstroke Handbook

I started with a flat brush and used two shades of green to attempt the “Closed C Stroke” on page 102. The beginning of the book shows proper technique for loading paint onto the brush before you get started. This was very helpful and I referenced it many times.

The Brushstroke Handbook

I would not call these first attempts successful, and I had to change brush sizes a few times to even get close to the end results I was looking for.  But it was great practice! I had to resist the urge to follow along with the step by step pictures, and actually read the instructions too. The author does a great job of telling you what kind of brush pressure to use and how to move the brush for each of the different strokes described.

The Brushstroke Handbook

I decided to try a round brush next and did a variation of the “Pointed Pressure Stroke” on page 36. I have to say that the round brush techniques seemed easier to get a good result with (which is the opposite of what I expected). I tried to make some pumpkins that could be used for Halloween and fall gift tags.

The Brushstroke Handbook

As you can see I still need some practice before fall rolls around again because they are a bit onion-like. But I was happy with this one:

The Brushstroke Handbook

Overall, I had a lot of fun trying the new techniques and found this book to be a great reference guide. One of my favorite sections of the book shows common mistakes that you could make for each brushstroke. It shows a picture of what result you might have gotten, and then another picture of the result you actually wanted.  Then there are tips to improve your technique to fix those specific mistakes. It was just what I needed!


  • A great resource for decorative brushstrokes, with clear instructions for beginners and more experienced painters
  • Step by step photos for more than 50 different brushstroke techniques and patterns for each of the finished paintings
  • Two fully illustrated sections (one for round brushes and one for flat brushes) to help you fix any problems you may be having and improve your technique


  • If you are a beginner, like me, you will obviously need some practice before you can paint like the illustrations in this book
  • Unless you have a plethora of painting supplies you may need to purchase a few extra items to get the desired results in this book

The Brushstroke Handbook” by Maureen McNaughton is available for about $17 on It features quick reference photos, easy to follow worksheets for each of the 50 decorative brushstrokes and helpful guides to fix common mistakes.

Have you have read “The Brushstroke Handbook” and tried the brushstroke techniques it teaches? Let us know in the comments what you think!

Loew Cornell Style Stix

Reported by Lisa Fulmer

Style Stix by Loew Cornell are stiff tapered sponge brushes available in various widths and shapes for painting stripes, petals, and washes.

Disclosure: This site is a participant in the affiliate program.

When I was at the CHA Super Show, I picked up a couple of these Style Stix wedge brushes by Loew Cornell. It’s a stiff, tapered sponge brush available in various widths, good for “stripes, petals & swashes.” Style Stix also come in cone or dome shapes – in addition to painting, they are said to work nicely for shaping clay.

I started playing with stripes and found that the sponge does not pick up as much paint as I thought it would, perhaps because it is so much more dense that a cosmetic sponge or craft sponge brush. It does make a nice straight line, once you get the right amount of paint loaded on. It leaves a little ridge along the edge, which may or may not be desirable. I liked using the tip to make little stitch marks.

I used the ridges to my advantage and painted simple crisscross strokes to get an interesting abstract geometric pattern.

The tapered shape does make creating petal and leaf shapes really easy in just 2 curved strokes. I liked going back over it with the tip to create random ridges in my leaves and petals.

I worked with acrylic paints, both alone and with a little acrylic medium blended in. Style Stix releases the paint quite differently than brushes or sponges…takes a little getting used to, but once I did, I started having fun with the textures.

Then I wanted to play with the “swash” aspect, so I poured a puddle of shimmering ink on my paper and used the tip of the Style Stix to feather it all out. Now I liked that the Style Stix is not absorbent; I was able to move the ink around yet still keep it looking streaky. This will make an awesome background for an ATC!

After a lot of painting and rinsing and stubbing and squishing, my Style Stix really took a beating. But I was happy with how nicely the edges stayed sharp, they didn’t turn nappy at all.

I think my favorite way to use the Style Stix though, is as a blending tool for pastels and chalk powders. So much easier to work with than a paper stump – the tapered edge give lots of fine line control, and the texture and density of the sponge is perfect for gently moving the colors together.


  • Inexpensive and sturdy
  • Variety of widths
  • Interesting way to add curves, lines and texture
  • Perfect density for blending dry mediums


  • Tapered wedge shape is pretty limited to making flower parts
  • Takes some time to get used to how it loads and releases paint

Have you used the Style Stix by Loew Cornell? Were you able to use their unique properties to your advantage? Leave us a comment and let us know!