This side-by-side look was the first technique I learned a few years ago from Unicorn SPiT’s Awesome Creative Inventor Michelle—and it is still my favorite!
(We also teach this technique at our Intro to Unicorn SPiT class at our shop, All Things New Again in Leesburg, VA.)
I love how you can do the same thing over and over, but it looks different every single time. I also love applying Unicorn SPiT with my hands. There’s just something therapeutic about smearing beautiful, vibrant colors around with your hands to create pretty designs!
Here’s a step-by-step tutorial on how to
create this side-by-side look with Unicorn SPiT.
Sand it down to bare wood and use it as a stain —OR— paint it first with chalk-type paint and use it as a glaze.
My Red Fire Table (above) was pressed wood with a laminate top (think Ikea furniture). There was no pretty wood grain underneath so sanding wouldn’t work. Instead, I painted it first to give the Unicorn SPiT something to stick to. This vintage drop-leaf table is real wood with very nice wood grain—so I sanded.
Your final product will look different depending on how you prep. As a stain, you will see wood grain coming through, but the colors will be darker and more jewel-toned. Over paint, there will not be any wood grain to see, but the colors will be brighter. It’s a trade-off. Both looks are awesome!
The way I decide how to prep is simple.
If I have nice wood grain, I sand. If I don’t, I paint.
STEP 2: APPLYING UNICORN SPiT
This is the fun part!
For this technique, I think you need at least 3 colors for it to look good. I usually end up adding more. I started this project with: Blue Thunder, Dragonsbelly and Zia Teal. Then decided it also needed a little Navajo Jewel.
Squeeze a few drops of your first color down the side of your piece. I started with Blue Thunder. Try to space the drops out evenly, but just eyeball it. You don’t need to measure anything. Remember—this is art, not engineering!
Next, spread each drop straight across your tabletop. I use my hand. If you really, really hate getting so messy—or if you are working on rough wood and might get splinters—then use a paint brush. I always use my hands. I also use a lot of water to help the Unicorn SPiT move across the surface smoothly. I spray the tabletop lightly and spray my hands frequently before spreading each little drop of SPiT.
Spread all of your little drops across one side of the tabletop. Then come back and squirt more drops down the other side. I try not to squirt directly across from my original drops. This will create stripes. I’m going for a more offset look. The next picture shows what I’m talking about.
Look at the three bands of Unicorn SPiT at the bottom of the table. The right side is in between the two bands on the left side, more like a checkerboard. I got off-track towards the top of the table. I squirted the Unicorn SPiT directly across from the original bands and it made stripes. If that happens, it’s OK. You’re going to be building layers of color so it will all look cool in the end. I just wanted to show you the difference.After you are finished spreading your first color across both sides of the tabletop, come back and do the exact same process with your second color, squirting your drops in between the bands of your first color. I used Dragonsbelly. Continue to spray the surface and/or your hands to help spread out the Unicorn SPiT.
Don’t worry about covering the entire surface of the table at this point. You should still have some bare spots. You are going to continue to fill in the bare spots with more colors until the entire surface is covered.
Here’s what my table looked like after the first two colors.
Next, I came back with Zia Teal and Navajo Jewel and just kept doing the same thing: squirting a drop and spreading. This is where you become An Artist! Fill in bare spots. Layer colors on top of each other. Blend two colors together to make an entirely new color. Have fun! Don’t think about it. Just squirt and spread and step back and admire your work. And repeat until you think it is awesome.
You don’t have to start at the edge of the table each time either. If there is a bare spot in the middle or a place where you think it needs more blue, then squirt it right there and spread out from either side. Play around with it until it looks amazing to you.
THIS IS IMPORTANT! If your colors start to blend too much and look muddied—stop. Let everything dry. Then come back and add more colors on top of where you left off. You can overwork the product and lose the definition between the colors and it will look like a blobby mess. This can be very frustrating when you are just starting out and think you have ruined your project. You haven’t! Just let it dry then add more colors on top. Do this as many times as you need to until it looks wonderful to YOU.
I can’t tell you how many layers of Unicorn SPiT colors I added on top of each other on this table. I didn’t count. I just kept playing around with it until I loved it.
SPiT TiP: Because I apply the Unicorn SPiT with my hands, I always leave behind grubby little fingerprints across my project. (I’m also messy and usually have a few drips here and there.) When I have my design exactly how I love it, I like to come back with a dry paintbrush and ever-so-lightly brush over any weird spots. I call this the Featherdusting Step. It smooths out any blemishes on your project and also helps blend the colors just a bit to give it a really beautiful look.
On this table, I did something special. I came back with some Unicorn SPiT Sparkling Stain and spread it on top of my colors like a glaze. This was a limited edition product, and unfortunately, we are sold out here at All Things New Again. You can’t see the sparkle in this photo, but you will after I poly everything in the end.
Here’s my tabletop after I finished applying the Unicorn SPiT and feather-dusted everything with my dry paint brush. (Also, my awesome garage!) Then I let everything dry.
STEP 3: SEALING YOUR PROJECT
THIS IS ALSO IMPORTANT! You MUST seal your design with an OIL-BASED SEALER. I use MinWax high gloss polyurethane. I apply 4 coats. After each coat dries, I rub the entire tabletop with a paper bag. This makes it nice and smooth and shiny. The poly does something magical to Unicorn SPiT. It makes the colors “pop” in a super-cool almost 3D way I can not fully describe with words or accurately photograph. In person, this baby is so pretty.
Why not use water-based sealer? Because Unicorn SPiT is water-based. If you really, really hated your design, you could spray it with water, wipe it off and have a clean slate to start over. (I never do this. See my earlier tip. If I hate my design, I let it dry and keep going right on top of it.)
If you apply a water-based sealer over a side-by-side design, you run the risk of “re-activating” the Unicorn SPiT. The colors often blend together too much and you lose the whole awesome look. Only you won’t be able to add more SPiT on top to fix it this time because Unicorn SPiTt won’t absorb into the wood anymore after sealer is applied. Once you seal it, you are done—so be sure you love your design and be sure to use an oil-based sealer.
THE BIG REVEAL!
Thank you for reading my Unicorn SPiT DIY Tutorial! It was long, but I think it is important to see each step in the process so you don’t think your project is ugly when, really, it just isn’t finished yet. My best advice is to just turn your brain off and let you hands—and the Unicorn SPiT—do what they want to do.
Have fun and your project will look gorgeous. Every time!
All Things New Again is a family-owned furniture and paint boutique in Leesburg, Virginia, about an hour or so west of Washington, D.C. We offer our own eclectic brand of hand painted furniture, several lines of paint for your next DIY project, and fun painting classes and workshops.
All Things New Again is an authorized retailer of Unicorn SPiT and the only store in the Northern Virginia/metro DC area to offer an Introduction to Unicorn SPiT class taught by Master SPiTTers. Here’s the link with details on our class.
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