Revealing the Past

The more I work with this little table, the more deeply I fall in love with it. The details are just beautiful.

I got started with the Cistristrip by using all the precautions listed – chemical-resistant gloves, goggles, well-ventilated area, drop cloth, etc. But, I have to say, the Citristrip is absolutely a dream to work with! I could almost forget I’m working with a strong chemical! There is a light orange scent, but definitely not anything toxic smelling. I did get a bit on some clothing and on my skin. I washed both immediately and noticed no long-term effects from it. Again, I wouldn’t push it, because this is a powerful chemical, but it’s definitely a great product to work with and a huge step forward from chemical furniture strippers of the past!

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I started out cautiously with a fairly thin coat and left it on the shortest amount of time – barely over 30 minutes.

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I knew that this table had been painted at least twice before; the green latex that was showing and a pink latex that was peeking through here and there (and that I remembered from my youth). But even with this super cautious application of the Cistristrip, I started to see some indications of a coat of ivory below the pink.

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Obviously, it was going to take more than half an hour to get through three layers of paint! I went ahead and coated this same section again and gave it a couple of hours. This time I got some serious results.

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One of the truly remarkable discoveries is how well preserved these routed motifs are! The wood edges are crisp – almost as if they had been cut yesterday! And as the Cistristrip works to remove the layers of paint, it is definitely pulling up some paint that was inlaid in the motifs as well. The interior “flower” was a reddish color, but it’s hard to tell just yet what color the surrounding lines had been. I’m hoping as I continue to gently work the latex out of the grooves, I will be able to solve the mystery of what colors were in there.

I’ve already started trying to decide how in the world I can possibly do this sweet table justice in it’s new life. Somehow I want to honor it’s past and yet carry it forward. It’s a huge weight.

Turning Over a New Leaf

I have a few memories in my life that I can almost “watch” like I’m watching a favorite movie again. Do you have those? The moments are so vivid! I can remember the colors and surroundings extraordinarily well. I suppose these aren’t always ‘favorite’ moments – sometimes they aren’t the best memories. But the bulk of these vivid memories are happy ones for me.

One of these is centered around watching my Mom paint an oldĀ table she owned. I have always been a lover of history and family and, in particular, family history. So my love for this table came naturally. I remembered that the table was pink and she painted it light green. And I can remember – vividly – watching her brush flow over the table. I could tell she loved the table and that was enough to make me love the table. Once I got a bit older and could appreciate such things simply for what they are, I fell even more in love with it.

Now the table is in my possession. It has had many years of just sitting in one corner or another. I won’t say it has been neglected because each person who has had current possession of it has recognized it’s value and appreciated it. But it has just not reached it’s full potential for quite some time. I have long had the dream of removing the layers of paint to see what lays beneath and possibly unleashing some new potential for it’s future.

I’m happy to say that I finally started that project this week!

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The drop-leaf table before refinishing began. It has probably been about forty years since it was painted green. Both leaves still work, but there is some wood damage at the seams. For the most part, however, dents and cracks on the surfaces are at a minimum.

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All four sides of the table top have these lovely motifs routed into them. I’m guessing they give us some idea of the age of the table – maybe 1920 – 1940? I really hope someone with way more knowledge than me about such things will be able to give me an idea. At any rate, I’m anxious to get the paint off and see what kind of shape the motifs are in. Have they been preserved by the paint? Or are they damaged under there?

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I have purchased and gathered all my supplies and I am excited to get started. I specifically selected the Citristrip Stripping Gel* to try first because everything I read in my research said it was gentle even while being very effective. Even though I realize this is a piece of wood furniture, it is an old piece and I’d like to do whatever I can to protect it. I figure I’ll start with the most gentle product and work my way to more serious products only if I have to.

I do not expect this to be a quick project. This is a labor of love and I want to give this baby the care she deserves. But I will keep you posted!

*This is not a sponsored post. None of the products mentioned or pictured in this post were provided to me for free or in exchange for an endorsement. All opinions are my own.