Sunday, May 27, 2012

How to Paint the Union Jack

Pin It
I am a big fan of red, white and blue, but less a fan of traditional Americana - likely the residue of all that stenciling, pewter and miniature apple wallpaper my mother decorated with in rural New England. Recently the Union Jack has been popping up all over the design world and I'm a fan.

I just happened to find a GREAT dresser last Saturday and had no plans for it, so I decided to use it as the focal point for the "map bedroom" I've been working on. I'm incorporating red, white and blue with maps from all over the world, so what a perfect way to use the palette, without going too "country." (Sorry, Mom.)

Here is the bureau as I found it. It's a solid piece, nicely built and hadn't seen a lot of wear and tear. 
I'm guessing by the vintage hair pins I found in the drawer that this belonged to an older woman who liked to look her best.

First, I cleaned the piece with my favorite Windex Multi-surface antibacterial spray. I LOVE the smell of this stuff! Then for good measure I scrubbed it down with Lysol wipes. 

Next I removed the drawer pulls and put them on the stove top to boil.

I boiled them for twenty minutes in solution of water, 1 cup vinegar and a teaspoon of salt. 
This treatment will get rid of any old crud on them and remove all those years of greasy fingerprints. 
(thank you Martha Stewart for this trick- I used this on every antique door knob in my house a few years back. If you try it, you will NEVER want to touch an old door knob again. They are NASTY).
These guys went from black and sticky to shiny and sterile.

Here's the "after," post vinegar bath and scrub down.
You need to give them a good scrubbing while they are still warm to really get the gunk out of the crevices, but be VERY careful as they are scalding when they come out.
 Next, I used Brasso to bring out the original shine. 
Army bootcamp introduced me to this magical product. It works beautifully but it is pretty toxic so use in a well ventilated area with gloves.
I only use it outside.

The Brasso makes a HUGE difference, doesn't it?
Next you make a "cross" with your 1" painter's tape. 
After you make the cross, go back in with scissors and snip out the middle. 
I could have painted the whole thing first, but I'm lazy and didn't want to have to paint extra layers of white over dark blue. 

Paint your base coat with three good coats.
Paint your red stripes.
I used the Annie Sloan chalk paint again for a few reasons.
One, I like instant gratification and this stuff dries FAST.
*I did this entire dresser from cleaning to photos in under five hours. I admit, I work quickly, but I can really fly with this stuff!
Two, the colors are vivid and beautiful
Three, Did I mention it dries FAST?
If I put blue tape over latex to do this I would have had to wait overnight or longer to get to the next step. If you are patient, by all means, use the paint you have in your garage, but patience is a virtue I do not possess.
(As you can see I did this in my dining room with no drop cloth- I would recommend a better work area, but this was an impulse project).

(Unfortunately I started this project at around 10pm and it was getting late now so I wasn't thinking about taking photos, but was drinking a glass of port instead..)
Next paint your diagonal lines. No photos of the next step, but I'll show you how I taped the end table I did a few weeks back.

Starting at the center, tape out to the corners and finish up your red cross making the "X" lines about 2/3 as think as the main cross lines. 
*I don't measure, I'm an "eye-baller." Perfect is for factories, this is ART!
 Next, the white outline. 
Just outline your red lines in tape. I work fast so I can get that tape off quick once I've got each line painted.
(with a steady hand and a good art brush you can just take the outside triangles and freehand the inside line)
The longer you leave the tape on, the more likely the tape will take your base coat off with it!

Once you have your white painted, I take a 1" flat artist's brush and go back to touch up any areas that need a little more work. 

For a child's room I'm a fan of the distressed look. 
(That way when they nick it up there are no hard feelings). 
On this one, I rubbed the entire piece with soft wax and then took a piece of 200 grit sandpaper to some high spots. 
Once I dusted it back off, I waxed those spots again to be sure the paint was sealed. I also added a touch of soft "gold" wax to really pick up the drawer pulls.

I love to paint and had a blast making this piece. Let me know what you think!

mop it up mondays feature

Pin It


  1. I just love this piece - I have made a couple of union jack dressers - but this one is a real beauty!
    Your newest follower would love for you to come by and follow back!

    1. Thank you Suzy! I'm looking forward to checking out your projects!

  2. Thuis is my first visit here and I love this piece. Wow! Thanks for all the detailed instructions.

  3. Gorgeous! Thanks so much for listening to my request for a tutorial! :) I'm definitely a fellow member of the "just-eyeball-it" club. Hopefully I'll get to my dresser soon-and I'll be sure to link to your directions when I do!

  4. My pleasure! I look forward to seeing it when you finish! Definitely send me a photo!

  5. Fab Job!!! You'd never know it was eyeballed! And to think I spent all that extra time carefully measuring my lines :(

  6. Measuring is overrated! Thank you Beth!

  7. Hey! I could have sworn I've been to this site before but after checking through some of the post I realized it's
    new to me. Anyhow, I'm definitely glad I found it and I'll be bookmarking
    and checking back frequently!

    Also visit my blog post ... Bench Craft Company top advertising agencies in atlanta

  8. Hello just wanted to give you a brief heads up and let you know a few of the pictures aren't loading correctly. I'm not sure why
    but I think its a linking issue. I've tried it in two different web browsers and both show the same outcome.

    Here is my homepage :: accident attorney houston

  9. No, but school/higher studying can provide the resources and training needed for you to make that right into a aspiration task.
    Sure, you'll be able to turn out to be self-taught, I actually? am a self-taught guitarist, however , you cannot declare that schools are worthless (paraphrasing) as a result of that.

    Also visit my website; premature ejaculation supplements

  10. awesome! It's true haven't seen you put much painting up here in a while, but really sweet!

    painters edmonton
    painting contractor edmonton

  11. Nice effort. However, that is not the proper union jack. The diagonals should not cross through the center cross.

  12. Buy and sell new and used modern, outdoor, office, bedroom and home furniture.
    Choose from a great selection of gently used furniture for every room in your home.
    More here furniture for sale


Designed with love by BDD