Roger's Hen Den

This is how an old wooden chest covered in chicken 'matter', the letter 'R' engraved roughly on its side became 'Roger's hen den'. Not a step-by-step tutorial as such because it was done some time before this blog was born, but hopefully inspiring enough. When I picked this up in a barn near my dad's in rural France, he just thought I was out of my mind. Fair enough. Who in their right mind would want to take this 'thing' home! Well I did, and it was the first piece I ever sold, it went within minutes of setting up my stall. I knew then I wasn't mad, or at least that I could share my madness with others!

Letter R

It was in a rather sorry state, and very dirty indeed, but its blue-grey paint had caught my eye and the whole piece tickled my imagination. I cleaned it using a very fine 000-grade wire wool and methylated spirits. This efficiently removed excrement and dirt, yet it was gentle enough to keep the paint intact and reveal the lovely patina.

Varnished Led Paint

However, like any piece of this grand age, I could be fairly sure that I was dealing with led paint. So, not only to preserve the patina but also to protect people from led poisoning, I gave it three coats of thinned down satin finish clear varnish. Thinning down varnish helps achieve a waxed rather than varnished appearance. I like to dilute varnish with white spirit or water (as the case may be, check the tin) between 20 and 30 percent, something similar to the consistency of milk is good. I gave it a light sand between each thin coat. I turned it upright and fitted a shelf half-way up.

Kraft Paper Lining

For the inside, I chose plain Kraft paper, which stayed in keeping with the rustic feel of the trunk. Finally, I adorned the latch with an 'evil eye' cross and feathers tied with a suede ribbon in honour of its previous life as a chicken den. Roger's hen den was ready to go and be cherished. 

Evil Eye Cross And Feathers

Roger's Hen Den

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