Chalk Painting: Repurposing With Passion

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Pam Hertenstein and Mary Long can accurately be described as “passionate re-purposers,” if I may coin a term, and are using a very special kind of paint to make their “point” with a brush. They operate out of Cotton Warehouse Antiques, located at 111 N. Jefferson in Athens, on the Square.

The paint, known as Chalk Paint, ® was developed by Annie Sloan, and here is a description of the paint and its history:
Annie Sloan has long since been known as one of the world’s most respected experts in the field of decorative painting. In 1990, she took the world of interior design by storm when she developed her specially formulated decorative paint, Chalk Paint ®. This unique paint was instrumental in the painted furniture revolution. Chalk Paint ® comes in more than 30 European, historic and modern colors, from neutral to bright. Paint your walls, paint your floors, paint your furniture—Chalk Paint ®is even great on outdoor projects!”

Before we talk more about the impact Annie Sloan has had on the world of interior design, let me tell you a little bit about the two women who are making a thriving new career by “chalk painting.”

1-17-2014 2-05-04 PMPam Hertenstein was born and raised in Memphis, spent the bulk of her corporate career in the golf industry, and lived in New Jersey. She came back to the South to be with her family and opened Kindred Spirits. During her Kindred Spirits and Craftsman Cottage days, she collected around 30 local artisans who produced everything from furniture to soap to quilts and fashions. She is a member of Friendship Church and has a heart for feeding the hungry here in Athens.

Mary Long is a retired principal and educator from Madison. Like Pam, she loves antiques and decorating, and has been involved with Annie Sloan paints for about three years. Pam describes her has having “fabulous people skills, a great instructor, never met a stranger, encouraging, supportive, and a fellow “re-purposer.” Together they are offering classes for people who want to paint their own furniture, or will do it for them.

1-17-2014 2-05-28 PMTeresa Daniel has a shop in Cullman known as Vintage West, and she is the area “stockist” for Annie Sloan, essentially functioning as the local Chalk Paint ® franchisee. She supplies the paints for the store and for the classes.

The classes have taken off, the shop is busy, and Pam and Mary are having a blast teaching people how to paint, while empowering them to use their newly acquired skills on other projects. Pam says, “We are having the best time with our workshops. They are fun, relaxing and inspiring. We teach some really cool techniques using Chalk Paint ® and the soft waxes by Annie Sloan. All our students leave inspired and ready to put the techniques to use on their own projects and pieces. They leave with the confidence and skill to do so.”

So, what is it about Chalk Paint®? Why is it responsible for the “paint revolution?” The formula is a closely guarded secret, but this paint has some features that are unheard of. For openers, it dries in 20 minutes, yet has the ability to be very forgiving. Unlike acrylics or oil based paints, there is no need to sand your piece before you paint. As the Annie Sloan site says, the techniques for painting and finishing do not follow the rules, but allow you to work in an independent, intuitive and creative way.”

In the course of the workshops, Mary and Pam draw forth that creativity that you don’t think you have, and help you bring color back into your environs on your terms. That is why everyone is enjoying themselves so immensely.

1-17-2014 2-05-40 PMAnother feature of the Annie Sloan paints is that they are earth friendly. They have little to no odor, and the level of VOCs, or Volatile Organic Compound is very low. VOCs make up a large part of the contents of oil based paint, and are known to trigger asthma, respiratory problems and eye irritation.

Pam and Mary have workshops for all skill levels, and at various times throughout the week. Pam told me that she learned of a dazzling example of how knowing how to paint with Chalk Paint ® can turn a tidy and speedy profit for someone who wants to pursue furniture painting as more than a hobby. A woman on Facebook posted that she had painted, distressed and sold a piece of furniture in just two hours using Chalk Paint ®. Now me, I’ll be content to paint a cute but beat up bookcase and my dad’s wooden WWII Navy sea chest. Hope to see you at a class!
Chalk Paint ® Workshops at Cotton Warehouse Antiques on the Square
111 N. Jefferson, Athens, AL, 35613
Phone: 256-444-2400 (shop) and 256-998-2486 (Pam’s cell)

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner