Light Fixture Revamp

Recently, a customer came into the shop looking for advice about an outdated light fixture in her kitchen. She had updated the space to achieve a more natural feel, and the look of the gold fixture against her beautiful black granite countertops didn’t match the color scheme of the space.

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Right away we knew the solution! Rust-Oleum Metallic Spray Paint (in oil rubbed bronze) would totally change the look of the light and give it a more modern and industrial feel!

Using painter’s tape, we covered the electrical components of the fixture, then proceeded to spray light coats of the paint. By doing several light layers we prevent the paint from dripping and looking uneven.

We finished the lamp by using small bits of Annie Sloan Gilding Wax. Just remember a little goes a long way with the gilding wax. Find sections of your piece to highlight, then apply the wax where you want with a finger or small brush, and rub it in with a paper towel.

We loved how the Annie Sloan Gilding Wax reflected the light off of the Rust-Oleum Metallic Spray Paint!   Our customer was thrilled and we are now off to find another project.

Hacking the French Cleat System

The French cleat system can be a helpful organizational tool for a garage or craft room, but also can be used in the home for an aesthetically pleasing vignette. The cleats allow you to have the flexibility to move pictures, wall decorations, baskets, etc. whenever you get bored with your current arrangement; it can be personalized to suit your own needs and taste.

After making your French cleat system from our directions in our prior post, you’re ready to embellish your cleats!!! We picked up some fun items from IKEA and Christmas Tree Shop to use. From IKEA we found baskets, metal hooks, small galvanized buckets and a watering can.

From Christmas Tree Shop we found a large gold clock.

As you can see, a little paint can transform an item! The gold finish didn’t match the decor of the room, so we spray painted it with Rust-Oleum metallic spray paint, then applied Annie Sloan warm gold gilding wax to help define the details in the metal. Just remember a little goes a long way with the gilding wax. Find sections of your piece to highlight, then apply the wax where you want with a finger or small brush, and rub it in with a paper towel.



To attach the items to the wall we cut an “attachment cleat” to fit the size of each item. We painted these attachment cleats the same color as our wall so they would be camouflaged and create an illusion of floating items on the wall. We then secured the attachment cleats to the different items with the 45° angle facing down so it would slide into the slot on the wall. Pre-drilling holes made this process a breeze. We also had some wooden antique boxes and a woven basket around the shop that we attached to the cleats as well.

We were very pleased with the finished products! Simply attaching cleats to various items from IKEA, Christmas Tree Shop, and around the shop was an easy hack that anyone can do! Stay tuned for our latest projects and ideas from Artisan’s Collective!

The Art of the French Cleat

In our shop we love working one-on-one with our customers. There’s so much to learn!  How to make a pocket hole, how to distress paint, how to use Saltwash, and more. Great projects deserve a great space. Our problem: the space for workshops and demos was too small. We had to run from our storage closet, to shelving across the store, to our paint cart and back again just to access all the items we needed. There had to be a better way to use our space!


Our solution was to use french cleats. The system is simple, take two boards of equal length and run through the table saw at a 45° angle. One board is fastened to the wall, with the angle facing up and toward the wall.  The other piece of wood is attached with the 45° angle facing down so it will slide into the slot you have created on the wall. The result is an adjustable system that disperses the weight evenly. Attach the loose wooden piece to any material - boxes, bags, buckets, hooks, jars - and arrange it any way!


Covering a 10 ft wall and a 5 ft wall with cleats for a reasonable price was our next challenge.  We found 1x3x8 boards for $1.38 each.  The 1x3 was just the right scale to ensure the cleats would be strong enough to hold the weight of the various paint cans and tools we planned to store on the wall. No need to worry about having a 10 ft board for the back wall, just ensure you match up the pieces so the boards appear to be continuous.


Back from the box store ready to cut our boards, can you guess what happened?  I set the table saw for the 45 ° angle and the fence on the table saw to remove just enough wood to get the full 45° angle cut. I had help standing by to guide the wood, and as we ripped through the first few pieces, we were feeling pretty good.  Then it happened, my table saw was part way through the third board when it just stopped.  That table saw and I go a long way back, in fact, it was older than my youngest daughter Olivia. It was definitely time for a new saw, so I hopped onto my trusty iPad and began searching for a new table saw.  We wanted something portable and sturdy, and I have to say, when we returned home from our trip to Home Depot with a brand new Ryobi 10 in. Portable Table Saw with a Quick Stand, boy did that saw rip! Olivia and I finished cutting 48 boards in under an hour. Best $199.00 investment ever.


Taking our time and clearly marking the studs was key to ensuring our french cleats would be securely fastened to the wall. Commercial construction can be tricky, the long back wall has wooden studs, so the Zircon Edge Finding tool worked well. But when it came to the small 5 ft wall, it has metal studs, and I loved using my C.H. Hanson Magnet STUD Finder! . Once the walls were marked, we drew vertical lines with our 72” ruler to ensure we had straight lines to follow for drilling in our screws. The end of our 8 ft boards did not hit a stud, so we needed to ensure we secured the boards with wall anchors and screws.


When going to put the boards up, we realized a few of the pieces were warped slightly, so we chose the straightest ones to drill into the wall, and we could use the others in small pieces to put our tool buckets on. We predrilled and countersunk all of the holes in our boards prior to installing. For the wooden studs, we used a 2 inch GRK R4 Multi-purpose screws to anchor the cleats. We pre-drilled the holes where we needed anchors, then hammered in anchors. The Triple Grip Heavy Duty Anchor Kit comes with screws,  so we used those on the ends of the boards. We started at the bottom with our first cleat, and worked our way up the wall. To keep the boards spaced evenly, we made a cardboard template, and marked where the next board would start. We suggest using a level to ensure the pieces are straight, but the cardboard template really did an amazing job!


Since the smaller wall had metal studs, we tried using self-tapping screws to attach the wood to the metal, but those didn’t seem to grab the stud the way we needed. We settled on Grip Rite 2-½ inch fine thread, sharp point drywall screws that go into steel studs, they drove right through the metal!  


With all the pieces up, we wood filled the holes to give the cleats a seamless look. We used an orbital sander with 220 grit sandpaper to sand back the wood fill, and make sure to wear a mask because it does get quite dusty. After sanding we sealed the cleats with Shallec to avoid the wood from absorbing and wasting our paint. We painted the whole wall in Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, we chose Duck Egg to give a beautiful finish to our walls!


What will we use to organize our shop??   We took a trip to Ikea and once again, we were not disappointed!  Our next post will have all of the Ikea Hacks we found for help with organizing our space.  Finally, we did cut up additional scrap wood, for shelving, but more on that to come!

Intro to Saltwash

When I discovered Salt Wash, I knew immediately it would become a game changer. I loved the idea of being able to add a unique texture or layering effect by simply mixing a few tablespoons of powder to my base coat of paint.


Saltwash powder can be added to any paint of your choice; however, we are fortunate to be Annie Sloan Stockists, so whenever possible, we use Chalk Paint.


To get started on a Saltwash project, select an item to work on. While the instructions say not to worry about rust or dust, I can not help myself, I always take my Home Depot HDX Wipes and clean off dirt etc. so there is no chance anything will show up in my final finish.


To create the texture, start by mixing the Saltwash with your paint. You can use a paint stirrer, or anything you have handy, just blend the Saltwash powder into your paint until it is the consistency similar to frosting. Adding the Saltwash to the paint creates a thick texture which barely falls off the stir stick or spoon.



Begin applying the Saltwash/Paint mixture with a paint or chip brush to your project. The best technique is to dab or glob the paint onto the surface, leaving thick tall peaks. As you apply the Saltwash mixture, play with the texture. Depending on the look you're trying to obtain, varying the technique can change the final appearance.To accomplish a smoother finish, we recommend lightly brushing over the peaks halfway through the drying process. If you are looking for a more textured or rustic finish, let the mixture dry as applied.


Wait until the coat of Saltwash dries completely, approximately one hour depending on the paint type and thickness of your application. Now is the opportunity to add one or more colors to the project. Apply paint over the textured surface. After your topcoat dries, sand back your project using any grit from 60 to 220 depending on the distress level you would like. The more you distress, the more chippy, weathered, or smooth your project will appear. Wear a mask when sanding back Saltwash, it generates a lot of dust.

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 Finally, wipe off all dust from the project and apply the sealer. Remember to use the correct sealer depending on interior or exterior use. We use Annie Sloan Clear or Colored Waxes or lacquer for unique effects. When projects will be for exterior use or come in contact with water, marine grade varnish and poly’s are the way to go.


In April, we participated in the Ryobi Challenge, and finished our Outdoor Oasis with Saltwash. There are many different surfaces you can use Saltwash on around the house. Think of the possibilities: planters and pots, gardening cans, wine bottles for deck decorations, frames, ceramic bottles, vases, candlestick holders, cocktail tables, wine racks, benches, baskets, or crates! Warning: once you start using Saltwash, you will find it addicting.


RYOBI Challenge Series - The Outdoor Oasis Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of our Ryobi Challenge – The Outdoor Oasis. So now that we have all of pieces prepped, the rest was like following a recipe. We made the side of the structure first. To do so, take the front (26.5in piece) and back (5 ft piece) post, screw 16“ board across the bottom, screw 3 sides of Pegboard tile to the front, base and side. Attach next 16” board, screw top of the 1st pegboard tile, and continue to attach 2nd pegboard tile, complete with final 16” board. Our first side was complete!

We repeated the process with the other side of the structure. Pay attention to making a left and right side! You want to make sure the proper side of peg board is facing out on all sides, and yes, in fact, we did start building the second side and realized we were putting together two right sides!

Then we needed to put it all together. Take (3) 16” boards and attach with tiles to join the sides together forming the front. To add a back Pegboard, attach (2) 16” and (2) 18 3/8” boards to tile, then add two hinges on top to allow access to back side of the front tile.  We wanted the back side to have a finished appearance and plan on placing the cart on wheels so it can be spun around for maximum efficiency.

Time for the finishing touches! We attached the reclaimed wood top by drilling holes through the base. Next, we sealed the entire project with coat of exterior SPAR Urethane. Drill holes into the mud pan, plant flowers and herbs, attach all flower pots and canning jars with zip ties. Install wine glass hangers on the inside and create a floating shelf with scrap wood. The project really came together when we attached an old bottle opener on the front!

I really enjoyed working on the Outdoor Oasis with my team at Artisans Workshop. While many of the projects we’re developing for our new workshop series will be far more simple than the Outdoor Oasis, it did help us focus on how to break down the recipe and take the project in small steps. 

We’re already in planning mode for our next project!! Stay tuned.

RYOBI Challenge Series - The Outdoor Oasis Part 1

In our small shop, we love to repurpose and upcycle.  When we saw the RYOBI Pegboard Challenge, we immediately knew we wanted to create a multifunctional “Outdoor Oasis”.  Plastic pegboard was key in creating an attractive outdoor rustic utility cart, which is pleasing to the eye and can be used for a variety of purposes.

This project was really all about the prep work.  We began by covering 6 flower pots with Saltwash and Old Ochre Chalk Paint, and once dry, sprayed the flower pots with a coat of copper spray paint.  While we had the spray-paint out, we also painted our canning jar lids and zip ties so they would be ready to go when we needed them.

Next, we prepped our 8 16x16 peg board tiles. The plan for the tiles was to have the appearance of worn copper, so we first applied a coat of copper spray-paint. After that we applied a coat of Saltwash, a powder you mix with paint to achieve a chippy, aged look. We have a separate post all about our obsession with Saltwash and the different kinds of projects it can be used on. After the Saltwash dried, we used Florence and Duck Egg Chalk Paint to create the patina effect we were looking for. We took an orbital sander to the side to quickly distress the pegboard. Finally, we cut away the plastic connectors from the sides of the Pegboard tiles, and drilled 3 holes in each side of the pegboard.

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As for the cut list, it is easy to have a home store cut up the wood, but if it that is not possible, or you already have the wood, a simple RYOBI Jigsaw can do the trick. The cut list is as follows:

6 2x3x8 Pine cut into:

            2 5ft pieces

            2 36.5in pieces

            13 16in pieces

One of my favorite things about creating projects from scratch is finding ways to make the final build appear clean and professional.  I even had Morgan and Hilary use the Kreg Jig for the first time, and both managed it with no problem!  The RYOBI Drill and Kreg Jig made quick pocket holes in both ends of all 13 cross bars. All of the wood in the cut list was sanded and then finished by applying a coat of Honfleur Chalk Paint and dry brushing Old Ochre Chalk Paint for a worn look. We finished the wood by distressing with 220 grit.  We used the sander to make the distress happen quickly.  The wood grain really came through, especially on our reclaimed wood top. With that, we are all prepped and ready to assemble our Outdoor Oasis!

Welcome to Artisans Workshops!

Welcome to Artisans Workshops!

Hello!  I’m Carol Still, the Creative Guru behind Artisan’s Boutique and Artisans Workshops.  As I launch this new blog, my mind has been swirling with ideas and excitement.  We are preparing to launch our new product line, Artisans Workshops, and there is a total sense of excitement and fear in the shop!  Over the next few months, I’ll be sharing our journey to get the products launched, along with our updated and expanded online store and a new Etsy Shop!

I think I should let you know a bit about me.  Hmm, I’m a bit clumsy, tend to forget where I put things, and I have a love of power tools!  Now that might seem like an odd combination, but for me, well, it’s just who I am and how I roll.

In 2015 I asked my oldest daughter Laura at her college graduation if she was interested in helping me launch a new business. As Laura pondered her next steps in life, she agreed to dig in and help get the business off the ground.  Photos of us gutting and building out the shop in Glastonbury, CT are so funny.  There were days we were covered in dust!  We recycled over 600 lbs of lead sheeting from the walls we tore down.  Hmm, note to self, think twice before leasing space that was once a Chiropractor’s office and housed X-ray equipment! Did I mention that we were installing flooring in August in Connecticut?  HOT, HUMID and MUGGY… we found ourselves rolling around on the floor thinking a nice cool wine slushy might have been the only answer when we were failing at installing our floating floor!  We managed to figure out the floor and a whole lot more.  The space came out lovely and we have been rolling forward ever since.

Fast forward to April 2017 and the business is ready to tackle a whole new chapter.  Laura is working on her Masters, so she will be around to help at times.  Olivia, my youngest is graduating from Emerson College in Boston in a few weeks, so she is taking control of the Social Media.  Dan, my amazing husband is at the shop a lot!  You will see many photos of Dan, he’s the muscle, he also has an amazing eye for cool antiques.  You never know what project he’ll be working on, but one thing is for certain, he loves color! Of course, no shop is complete without all of the amazing support we get from our staff and friends.  I call Morgan our “Artist in Residence”.  She graduated from college a year ago with an art degree.  We are so fortunate to have such a talented artist working in our shop.  Finally, we often receive the help of friends and fellow artists.  Hilary, Emma, oh, and another Hilary!!  Yep, they all keep us going.

As for me, I spent years in a corporate career, all the while maintaining a craft business on the side.  I finally reached the point where my creative side needed to take over.  So here I am today, ready to tackle the next chapter. 

Stay tuned…. there will be creative projects and how to instructions coming your way.  We look forward to rolling out our workshops along with seeing the incredible creativity from you, our fellow Creative Guru’s!