Saturday, 16 March 2019


Spring is just around the corner. 

The birds know it and I can hear them singing outside even though the skies are grey and the wind chill is ridiculously cold at the moment.

I am anticipating the warmth and sunshine of Spring and it is invading all of my creative thoughts these days.  Thus, I created this lovely shabby chic vintage style wooden suitcase.

DecoArt is releasing a new product called Chalky Gesso.  It comes in several colors including White and Beige.  I chose White Chalky Gesso as the basecoat on my wooden suitcase.  This Chalky Gesso is amazing!  It is a cross between Gesso and Paint; thinner than gesso but thicker than paint.  It goes on smoothly and doesn't leave a lot of brush strokes or a need to sand. It works on all sorts of surfaces: wood, metal, paper and the results I have had with it are amazing!

First I removed all of the inexpensive bright fake silver "metallic" hardware and replaced it with my own antique bronze hardware at the end. Where I had removed the hardware, I used wood putty to fill the holes and then I sanded everything down to create a smooth surface.

Next I brushed the DecoArt White Chalky Gesso over the entire suitcase and let it dry.  Then I lightly sanded again to get a really smooth finish.

I wanted a darker color basecoat as I intended to crackle the surface.  So a coat of DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics Burnt Umber was applied followed by a generous coat of DecoArt Weathered Wood.  Let the Weathered Wood air dry so that the crackling will work correctly.

This petite suitcase was screaming "PINK!" for the top color.  So I mixed DecoArt Fluid Acrylics Quinacridone Red and Titan Buff to create a soft pink that I then brushed over all of the exterior and the interior walls and edges of the suitcase.  It did not take long at all for the crackling effect to begin.  Let the paint air dry.

 I did some sanding around the edges and randomly on the surface to scuff up the suitcase and give it a real weathered, worn, vintage look. I then poured more DecoArt Chalky White Gesso onto my craft mat and randomly wiped it onto the surface of the suitcase to tone down the pink and allow the wood grain, crackling and texture to really be revealed.

DecoArt Media Matte Medium is an excellent glue and sealer.  It dries clear and quickly.  I added some cardstock and dictionary torn scrap onto the top of the suitcase and brushed Matte Medium under it and over it to seal it.  You can heat set this.

One of my favorite Andy Skinner Stamp sets is Industrial because I love all three of the background texture stamps.  I stamped this one in a darker brown permanent ink randomly on the top of the suitcase.  Then I added a little bit of water to some DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics Burnt Umber, dipped my fingertip into the paint wash and rubbed it along the edges of the suitcase; blending it into the pinkish tones of the suitcase basecoat.  This defined the edges as well as added more of an aged appearance.

I then added a few more white highlights using the DecoArt Chalky Gesso and a baby wipe and randomly adding it to the top of the suitcase.

The next layer on the top of the suitcase was added with more stamps from more of my favorite Andy Skinner stamp sets; Shabby Chic and Textures.  I stamped the cafe stamp in the dark brown permanent ink.  The script stamp was stamped with a combination of black and dark brown ink.

Color! Color!  Now we need a POP of color!  I mixed DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics Cobalt Teal Hue and Titan Buff to create a soft teal color and stenciled it randomly onto the top of the suitcase through Andy Skinner's DecoArt Halftone Stencil. I then used this paint to edge the suitcase top using my finger just as I had done with the Burnt Umber Paint wash.

The teal pulls everything together.  It frames the top of the suitcase, give a real "upmf" to the top and provides the perfect contrast for the embellishments that I will now add to the top.

Time for the fabulous Matter Medium again!  I added some antique lace, washi tape, German Scrap, a big cut out bee (I had found while surfing the internet), paper scraps, scrunched up cheese cloth, and even some of Andy's Rusted Wire underneath the bee.  All were held in place using Matte Medium!  

I had a little plaster frame in my stash of stuff.  I painted it with DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics Cobalt Teal Hue followed some light wiping of DecoArt Chalky White Gesso to soften the color.  Next, using my finger I highlighted the raised areas of the frame using my finger to apply little touches of the DecoArt Metallic Gold Paint.  Then I added the rub on "B" to the frame and this embellishment was ready to put in place.

Just as I had done with the "B", I altered the appearance of the rub on letters by scratching some of the black lettering off.  This makes the letters look even more worn and really does change their appearance.  I love this technique!

I applied antique bronze metal corners to the top of the suitcase using DecoArt Media Matte Medium. I've seen crushed glass in some mediums you can buy.  It's expensive.  So I decided to try mixing some Silver Crushed Glass with some Matte Medium and brush it onto a couple of places on my suitcase top to see if it would stay and be a neat way to add some subtle shimmer and light to the top.  

IT WORKED PERFECTLY! I wish the camera could catch the sparkle of the Crushed Glass better but trust me, when the sun catches it, it's awesome!

Here is the hardware that I installed in place of the original fake silver "metallic" hardware.  This is so much more vintage looking and gives a wonderful, warm shabby chic vibe.

The interior was finished off much in the same was as the basic exterior.  Then I added appropriate card stock to the bottom and top of the suitcase.

This project was so much fun to transform from a plain little wooden suitcase into something beautiful and fun and worth to hold lovely little vintage laces, handkerchiefs or other prized trinkets. 

For this project, you will need the following supplies:

Miscellaneous Supplies

  • Paint Brushes
  • Baby Wipes
  • Small 1 3/4 x 2" Plaster Frame
  • Rub On Letters and something to scratch them with
  • German Scrap 
  • Washi Tape
  • Bee
  • Cheese Cloth
  • Antique Lace
  • Metal Corners
  • Metal Hardware Hinges and Handle
  • Sanding Block
  • Craft Mat
  • Permanent Dark Brown and Black Ink Pads

About the Artist: Candy Colwell


  1. Beeautiful Candy, love the layers and transformation xxx

    1. Thank you Brenda!! Vintage is still my passion.

  2. Oh Candy I am so in love with this fantastic transformation. I love the colours and amazing details you have incoporated. Thank You for sharing

    Hugs Annie xx

  3. Candy, thank you so much for sharing your 'Master Class', I have just bought a little wooden suitcase and now have some super ideas! Adding the bee, the real handle and corners just adds so much to the beautiful background you created - a stunning transformation! xx

    1. Oh Anne!! You are so seeet!! Thank you so much. You have GOt to post your suitcase when you finish it!! I know it will be stunning.

  4. Amazing, Candy! What a gorgeous class and fabulous tutorial! My new favorite!

    1. Aww...Susan. I love you, girl. Thank you so much! I will always love Vintage! I guess because that’s what I am! Ha

  5. Love this project and the tip to mix the glass with the matte medium - brilliant!

  6. Oh Candy so awesome... fun details , lovin' that lace and the Bee Still LOL


Your comments are always read and very much appreciated.