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EEEEEE-KAHT!  Now that we got the pronunciation out of the way, let’s have a quick history lesson before we get to the DIY goodness.  Ikat is an ancient resist-dyeing (think tie-dyeing) and weaving process that results in uniquely patterned textiles.  The process involves the binding of threads in interesting patterns with dye resistant material.  The bound threads are then dyed with one or several colors.  After the bindings are removed, the threads are woven on a back-strap loom into elaborate patterns.  While it is unclear how far back ikat dates, we do know that the textiles were a hot item on the Afro-Eurasian Silk Road in the 1800s.

Ikat and ikat-inspired textiles have been translated into modern-day glamour and can be found on the pages of Vogue and Elle Decor.  While ikat textiles have been used for decades in interior design, master class textile designer Madeline Weinrib kicked ikat up a notch over the past few years with her fresh and modern color combos.

But why should textiles get to have all the fun?  I recently decided to tackle an out of the box furniture upgrade using a form of this centuries old design.  Even though all ikats have a unique look, a distinguishing element shared by all ikats is a distressed or blurred repeating pattern.  Blurred and repeating patterns = DIYer friendly!

It all started with this little beauty; a dresser that my mother-in-law asked me to upgrade.  Unfortunately, I committed the sin of all DIY blogger sins and accidentally erased the real “before” photo.  This makes me really sad because before the dresser was stripped down to its rawest form it was sporting a rainbow.  You heard me, ROY G. BIV.  The befores and afters would have been amazing.  I actually was going to play a trick on you guys and pretend like the “before” was the “after.”  Alas, that ship sailed with my accidental erasing of the photo.     Every great project starts with (some semblance of) a plan.  This was mine.  Who is Annie Sloan you ask?  Well, she’s this really cool lady who essentially started the furniture painting movement with her creative techniques and, recently, created her own glorious paint.  (Read more about Annie here.)  I first learned about Annie Sloan and her paint over at the Miss Mustard Seed blog.  Miss Mustard Seed, based out of Gettysburg, PA, is the QUEEN of shabby chic furniture makeovers.  You should certainly check out her blog if you are a fan of this style because her work is amazing and her tutorials are top-notch.  Miss Mustard Seed convinced me to try Annie Sloan paint for this DIY project.

So I picked up two quarts of Annie Sloan paint (at $40 a pop, ouch) and a few other supplies.

I’ve painted furniture a few times before and decided for this project that I wanted to try staining for a change.  Also, I wanted to modernize the dresser by moving the hardware so I picked up a tube of stainable wood filler to plug up the old hardware holes.  The blue painters’ tape was to help me tape out my ikat design.

The first thing I did was remove the hardware and squeezed a big glob of wood filler into each existing hole.  As you can see from the photo, the wood filler is not flush with the surface of the dresser.  I always do the wood filler in two steps because if you try to use too much at first it will take forever to dry.  I let the first set of globs dry for a few hours before adding a second glob that filled each hole completely.

There’s that rainbow I was talking about.  In the below photo you can see how the wood filler is now flush with the surface of the dresser.  After the second application of wood filler dried I took the belt sander to the old paint job.  Ugh.  It was as bad as it looks.  It took FOR.EV.ER. to sand.  Forever.  But I did it.  Matt helped, too.  (Note the photo-bombing kitty “playing” with my extension cord in this photo.  I was using him to keep my drop cloth from blowing around.)

After the dresser was free of its rainbow paint job, I stained it with Rustoleum ultimate wood stain in Kona.  I applied the first coat of stain with a paint brush.  What a mistake.  The stain was so sticky and I could not get it off of the brush after I applied the first coat.  Although it says nothing on the can about the stain being oil-based, my only assumption is that it was oil-based.  Thus, my paint brush nightmare.  I applied two additional coats of stain using an old t-shirt, while wearing yellow kitchen gloves.  That was better.      

As you can see from the above photo, the “stainable” wood filler doesn’t stain very well.  You can see where the wood grain is interrupted by the wood filler.  Honestly, it didn’t bother me that much because I was going to apply a pattern over it.  Just a heads up if you are planning to stain a piece of furniture and want to move the hardware.  I asked a few contractors and experts if there is any way to solve this problem.  No one had a great solution, so if anyone out there has one I’d love to know about it!

After the stain dried I sketched out the beginning of my pattern.  As you saw in my “plan,” I decided to use a diamond pattern because I thought that would be the easiest.  Starting in the center of the dresser, I marked out one diamond with a pencil. 

My next step was to tape out the pattern with blue painters’ tape.  The pattern is not perfect, but that’s okay because ikat is not about perfection! 

At this point I was so extremely exhausted with this process that I forgot to take photos.  After my pattern was all taped out I used my stippling brush to apply the base paint of the ikat pattern, which was Duck Egg by Annie Sloan.  After that dried I removed the tape, which left me with tons of light blue diamonds. Next, I added the accent colors, Barcelona Orange by Annie Sloan and Teal Zeal by Olympic, using a toothbrush of all things.  I brushed the teal on around the edges of each diamond to really distress them, giving them that ikat feel.  Finally, I put a blob of orange in the center of each diamond to give the pattern some more dimension and ikat-ness.  Here’s how it turned out.

I used a screwdriver to chip some of the paint off in certain spots to create a more distressed look.  Now that the ikat pattern is on the dresser you can’t even see the filled spots where the old hardware lived.  Speaking of hardware, I got these mercury glass beauties from AnthropologieOur carpenter who is working on the basement makeover was kind enough to drill the new hardware holes for me.  I was relieved that he agreed to help me because I don’t think I could have handled making a measuring error after all the time it took me to paint this design.

Now for the fun part, figuring out where this ikat dresser will live!  I’ll be sure to update you once he’s found a home.  Happy Friday everyone!