Thursday, September 22, 2011

West Elm Inspired DIY Part 1: Black Vases

Ever since West Elm appeared on the scene, I've admired their crisp, modern designs, but haven't found much to get me going. Their latest catalog was an exception. While giving it the obligatory flip-through before the recycling bin last week, I found myself pausing more than usual...and maybe even drooling a little. Here and there, I found things that really appealed to me, and while I still can't conscionably purchase decor at their prices, I can sure as heck create my own knockoff.

Okay, knockoff may be kind of a strong about "inspiration" instead?

The first thing that caught my eye was the Lombok Pottery Collection. I love the fact that they were simple in both shape and color, but still had enough shine to them to catch the light. And anything black is easy to fit into the decor in my house and easily appeals to my male roommates.

My first thought was the bric-a-brac shelves at the thrift store, so I took a quick trip to the Salvation Army during my lunch break. These three little vases are what I came home with.

They don't look much like a set as they came, and the pink one was particularly beat up. I like to imagine it sat in some little girls bathroom next to her toothbrush from kindergarten until she left for college.

First step was primer. I used the same primer I used on my Thrift Store Table Turned Custom Ottoman project. I used a foam brush instead of a regular paint brush because I wanted the finish to look at much like a glaze as possible. That means minimizing brush strokes.

But...the nature of primer is that brush strokes will show up.

Not to worry, a little paint will take care of that. I used the same black paint as I used in the ottoman project as well. I should note that this isn't craft paint, it's interior trim paint from the hardware store. The paint is semi-gloss, and if you've ever touched semi-gloss paint, you know it still feels kind of sticky even when it's dry. This meant that there was no question that this project would call for some kind of finish.

I chose a satin finish to try to match the inspirational Lombok pottery. I applied using a soft, natural fiber paintbrush, about 1/2-inch wide. Michaels sells a bargain variety pack of paintbrushes. I think it's 12 brushes of different sizes, fibers, etc., for about $7 or $8. A real bargain for a crafter who doesn't want to mess up fine art brushes!

The instructions for my Minwax urethane finish say to use fine grit sand paper between coats. I put three coats of black paint on each vase, but I was still afraid that even some light sanding would cause the white primer to show through. Unfortunately, I was right.

Luckily, I only tried it on one of the vases. Further coats of urethane finish went on just fine without sanding, and in the end, the damage to the little black vase didn't show up very much.

The vases I chose were smaller than the West Elm inspiration, and they were all different profiles, but with the same finish on all three, I think they were evocative of the original. Plus,  I like vases that don't take attention away from whatever flower or foliage I put in them.


  1. Great idea! Wouldn't have thought of it, but as soon as I move into a bigger place, by golly I'll be sure to give this one a try :)

  2. So cute! It's amazing what a little paint can do!