Hannah – The Vintage Sea Chest

I scored in this little beauty as a bonus when I went to pick up another project piece.  The owner had set this old steamer trunk out on the curb in the rain and I was like… 😲.  I wanted this more than I wanted the piece I went to pick up!  I love everything about it!

The inside had the original paper still intact but unfortunately, it was wet from the rain and a lot of it came loose and peeled off.  There was also a wood drawer inside but I took that out and will repurpose it for some other project.  The leather handles are missing but all of the decorative corner bumpers and edge clamps are still in place and there is very little rust on the metal that covers the wood on this chest.  Considering its age I’d say it’s in great condition.

I wanted to do something fun with this piece!  I could just imagine it being hauled up from the ocean floor, covered in barnacles and dripping with patina!  I have to say, this was a really fun project.  I think it would be right at home in someone’s beach house!

I started on the interior by removing all the loose paper on the inside, vacuuming and then wiping clean with soap and water.  I re-papered it with brown craft paper and then painted it in shades of blue with a fish scale pattern in metallic soft gold on the lid.  I added a vintage looking treasure map that I cut out of some gift wrapping paper.

I knew I wanted to go with a nautical theme using a few shades of blue to create a deep-sea look.  After cleaning the exterior I applied some DAP spackle randomly on the trunk that hopefully, after some creative painting, will give the appearance of seaweed floating in the water.  I used a deep blue for the bottom section of the trunk, working my way up to the lightest blue towards the top and some white and yellow around the edges.  I used a blending brush and a water mister where each layer meets to make the colors melt together.

I wanted the corner bumpers and latches to be a beautiful metallic bronze with an aged patina and I think Dixie Belle Patina Paint gave me that!  This was a little trickier to achieve than I anticipated due to the fact that the entire chest is covered with metal.  Dixie Belle recommends using a primer on metal prior to applying the patina spray otherwise the metal will rust.  I hadn’t thought about that until I had already painted all my beautiful blue layers.  I certainly didn’t want to cover them with primer and start all over but I also didn’t want the whole chest to start rusting!  I found a product by Rustoleum called Rust Stop spray sealer in clear, and I applied two coats to the entire piece to prevent the patina from getting through to the metal.

Finally, it was time to paint the corner bumpers and latches.  Dixie Belle sells a patina primer to use prior to the patina paint but I happened to have some Rustoleum Rust Stop brown primer on hand so I went ahead and used that for my primer.  When that had fully dried, I applied a coat of the bronze patina paint and let it dry.  The metallic paint actually has pieces of metal in it that work with the spray to create the patina.  After the second coat is applied, while it is still wet you spray it with the patina spray.  I kept a rag handy and wiped the patina spray off of any surrounding metal just to make double sure I didn’t get any rusting on my blue areas.  Then I just waited for the patina to perform its magic!  I love the results!  After the patina had cured for a few days I did go back over it with a few touches of bronze just to make sure some of that rich bronze color would shine through the patina.

Let’s talk about the mermaid in the room!  I thought she added a little whimsey to the piece and I’m hoping she doesn’t automatically put this piece in the “kids” category!  I found this stencil on Etsy from a shop named Onemouth.  I love how intricate it is.  I used metallic gold on the tips of her hair and fins to give her a little glitz!  I think she just adds to the whole nautical theme!

The final step was rubbing some brown wax into the textured areas and wiping the excess off with a clean cloth.  This gives the “seaweed” a little depth and changes the color just enough to make it noticeable.

I staged this piece with driftwood and seashells that are part of my dad’s collection.  The mermaid painting and the vintage-look fish net I got at Hobby Lobby, the net came in a roll with the little starfish attached.  I named this piece Hannah after my beautiful, soon-to-be daughter-in-law, who looks just like this mystical painting… except for the fishtail, she does not have one of those! 😄

Products Used:

  • Folk Art Home Decor Chalk – Nautical
  • Dixie Belle chalk mineral paint – Antebellum
  • Dixie Belle chalk mineral paint – Mermaid Tail
  • Dixie Belle Patina Paint – Bronze
  • Dixie Belle Patina Spray – Green
  • Rustoleum Rust Stop Primer – Brown
  • Rustoleum Rust Stop spray paint – Clear
  • Rustoleum Metallic – Soft Gold
  • Waverly Wax – Antique
  • DAP spackle
  • Brown craft paper
  • Mod Podge
  • Mermaid stencil
  • Fish scale stencil
  • Vintage map gift wrapping paper

Please leave me a comment, I’d love to know what you think of Hannah!  Thanks for stopping by!  Here is a peek at an upcoming project:


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