The Provenance of Marie - A French Provincial Chest Clay & Chalk Painted Tutorial

Meet “Marie”

DIY Clay & Chalk Paint, JRV Rice Papers and Artisan Enhancements

We’ve named her Marie after Marie Antionette.  

The Provenance of Marie - Johnson-Handley-Johnson Co. – Grand Rapids, MI (furniture makers) - Three Swedish immigrant brothers founded the Johnson Furniture Co. in Grand Rapids, MI in 1908. Their designer, Tom Handley, who got his start at the prestigious firm of Waring and Gillow in London, became their in-house designer in 1908 and joined them as an officer in 1922.  From its founding in 1922 until about 1935, Johnson-Handley-Johnson produced high-quality period European and American revival residential furniture.

Their logo symbol appears as a metal tag inside the right-hand drawer and consists of teardrops spiraling around a common center, a sort of three-part yin and yang.  This commode was produced ca early 1930s in a European revival style.

This French Provincial commode was purchased from an estate sale and was in excellent shape (solid, sturdy) but had a rough exterior, so I researched this piece and hand painted it as it may have appeared in a French country home during the reign of Louis XV.


The Louis XV style in from the mid-18th century and is characterized by the rococo style.  This commode (chest) has elegant lines, asymmetry with nature inspired motifs like the coquille or shell along with flowers and scrolls. These motifs are a symbol of welcome. The silhouette of this commode is dominated by the S and C curves with its cabriole legs.

Historically, these pieces were often painted many times over in whites, greys, soft greens and faded blues and violets.  Stencils were sometimes used in the design as well as images of royalty; hence, our depiction of Marie Antoinette.

The gold raised motifs were often covered in paint and then partially rubbed away.

First Layer of Paint  – This piece was first painted with a mixture of DIY Paint Cottage Colors (collaborated with JRV) in Vintage Mint and Haint Blue (approximately 2/3rds and 1/3rd). 


Art Mediums – Artisan Enhancements Crackle Tex and Fine Stone. DIY Paint Chrystal Clear Liquid Patina (seals & decoupage medium) a/k/a Our Secret Sauce.  DIY Paint Gold Liquid Patina a/k/a Golden Ticket.

Decoupaged Image - We used our DIY "Secret Sauce" to decoupage the JRV Rice Paper "Marie Antoinette."  JRV Rice Papers are printed with Archival Ink and this is a must! She is on both sides of the commode. To make the rice paper resemble a painting even more, we highlighted some areas with paint.  We highlighted her hat feathers and dress with DIY Paint Bead Board, her hat with DIY Paint Cake Batter and/or Sandy Blonde.  Her flowers were highlighted with DIY Paint Cowgirl Coral and Petticoat Pink and her ribbons were highlighted in Sea Glass and Prom Queen.  The crustiness framing her was created with Artisan Enhancements Fine Stone mixed with DIY Paint Layered Chocolate and Weathered Wood.  We also used some DIY Paint Dark & Decrepit Patina. 

To make her a little worn, we purposely scratched up some of the rice paper, so she looked more distressed.  She was cracked after sealing again with DIY Crystal Clear Liquid Patina.

Second & Third Layers of Paint - She was painted in DIY Paint Gravel Road (Dove Grey) and wet distressed.  And her third layer of paint was a mixture of DIY Paint Sea Glass and Old School (approximately 3/4ths and 1/4th).  We wanted a smoky French blue-grey.

It is so easy to built up layers and create old world patina with DIY Clay & Chalk Paint.  You can built up the layers of paint after paint has thickened once opened.  You can put it on with a palette knife and automatically get variations of paint showing through and you can wet distress. We also used Artisan Enhancement Crackle Tex in some areas.

You can easily see the first layer of paint, DIY Paint Cottage Colors with JRV in Vintage Mint and Haint Blue.

You can also see the DIY Paint Gravel Road in the two images above peeking through.  We highlighted her shell, scrolls and flower motifs with DIY Gold Liquid Patina "Golden Ticket."

Backside - (not pictured) We painted her backside in the same overall manner She is for sale at Booth 24 at Pineville Treasure Chest Too.

Drawer Interior –  For a beautiful pop of color, we used her first coat color of Vintage Mint and Haint Blue. (All products from DIY Paint, JRV Co. & Artisan Enhancements can be found here on our website and in Booth 65 at above location in Pineville, LA.)

Finishing – She’s Totally Protected! She's displayed at our booth and for sale.  So we put three thin coats of DIY Paint Big Top Topcoat on the top and two on the sides due to the amount of paint and layering we did.  Then we used DIY Paint Clear Wax & Dark Wax with a light touch of Golden Rule, our gold gilding wax to complete the look.  These finishes are hands down the best! Not only does DIY Paint continue to harden like baked clay under the sun, but the topcoat and waxes will cure to protect her even more.

TIP - Take your time with the processes.  I waited 24 hours to paint the third and final coat of paint after the second coat.  I waited 48 hours to use the topcoat and I waited another 24 hours before adding the waxes.

Cleaning – Wipe with clean, dry, lint-free rag.  For a lifetime of years of enjoyment, please do not put beverages or floral arrangements that contain water (liquid) directly on the surface without first protecting the top with a coaster or a riser.

 ENJOY!  Please let me know what you think about this process and if you found it helpful - Merry Christmas - Terri

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published