In Part I of the Antique Upright Piano Challenge you met "Lovely Rita," an upright grand piano likely crafted in the early 1900s. Bearing scars from her former life in a Fort Worth honkytonk, she was in need of some tender loving care. Rita was given to us by a new-found friend who wanted nothing more than for this rescued piano to find a forever home. We were glad to take her in.
After moving her to our garage, I began to really look her over. The cabinet top had lovely details despite what I believed to be a mouse hole between the cabinet door and frame. I found it charming; call me crazy.
Other areas were heavily scarred.
But she played.
All the strings were intact, the keys worked, and she sounded..."playable."
I decided she was well-worth my time and effort to fix her up.
She had potential!
Perhaps in a somewhat unorthodox manner I started the project off by giving her a good dusting using...the leaf blower! I'm sure professional piano restorers and musical instrument lovers are gasping right now, but in my defense, I never claimed to know what I was doing.
All I knew is that I had a huge job to do, and I needed a big tool.
Judge me if you must but just know...It worked.
Lots of dust and spider webs and "stuff" came out.
I found an old stamp and a ticket stub!
I also cleaned every nook and cranny with warm water and mild soap.
I purchased a tub of wood filler and began to fill the many nicks, scratches, and gouges, leaving just enough of her "worry lines" to maintain her charm and character.
And then I sanded
...and sanded some more.
I then wiped her down several times with a tack cloth.
And then here's where the magic happened.
I had heard about the amazing Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and read in detail about it in Reloved magazine. The Annie Sloan Source Book was a bonus feature in the April 2014 issue.
(Perhaps you may remember...THAT'S THE SAME ISSUE I WAS IN!
I KNOW! How fantastic is that?! VERY! is the answer.)
OK. So I knew I wanted to use the Annie Sloan chalk paint, but when I saw the color options I knew I was in trouble.
Have you seen the color options?
THEY'RE BEYOND FAB!
I had a very difficult time deciding what color to choose.
I often say, and that's because I really believe it, that if you listen carefully a piece will tell you what it wants.
And Rita wanted RED!
The darling floral embellishment and the serial number found on the inside of the piano cabinet revealed Rita's desire.
So Primer Red it was to be!
Here she is after a couple coats of paint! Note that I didn't really even need a drip cloth, as the paint doesn't run. Also, I covered each painted surface with 2 - 3 coats with 1 QUART!
After allowing the paint to dry I applied clear wax and then dark wax.
In between steps I had to return to work. I stole away during my lunch hour just to come home and rub the dark wax on, as I was so excited!
I returned to work with wax under my fingernails (my gloves tore and I didn't want to stop!) and more than a little sweat dripping down my neck, but I was HAPPY!
After completing the "wax on, wax off" process I buffed all surfaces by wiping with a clean, lint-free cloth in a circular motion. Oooooo, just look at that luster!
This was quite literally a hands-on project.
Through this whole process "Lovely Rita" received the ultimate spa treatment.
She's been bathed, massaged, rubbed-down, petted and soothed! And I think it shows...
Here she is! "Lovely Rita" the Antique Upright Grand Piano in all her new-found glory!
And that's just her body.
As soon as my sons come home to visit, we're moving her inside.
After she's settled in we'll replace the missing piano key veneers and get her tuned.
And then her soul shall sing!
All photographs taken by Paulette Rodriguez.