Thursday, March 27, 2014

How to Paint a Compass Rose

Let's get right to it, and I will take you step-by-step through the process of how I painted the compass rose onto this tabletop.

I came up with the pattern by just fiddling with it.  The center portion of this table is 26 inches in diameter, and the compass rose is 22 inches from point to point.  (not counting the extended part of the outline on the points.) To make the pattern, I taped together some scrap paper, folded it into quarters, and played around with my ruler and a pencil until I liked what I had.  I wanted the sections of the pattern to be long and graceful, without being skinny and hard to paint.  I did a lot of erasing before I came up with the final pattern, which looks like this:

I use graphite transfer paper to get the pattern onto the tabletop.  You can buy it at any craft store.  (The kind that I have is HERE.  I think I got it at Michael's.)  Tape the pattern into position, slide the graphite paper underneath, use the yardstick and a ballpoint pen to trace the pattern onto the table.

Alice and Maggie are helping.

With a pencil, I put a small mark in every other area of the pattern to keep from getting confused as I tape off the pattern.

Speaking of tape, I use plain old Scotch transparent tape when I paint designs onto furniture.  There are all sorts of more expensive options, but I have found that Scotch tape works the best.  I get crisp lines and the tape rarely pulls off any of the base coat of paint when I pull it off.  (For doing this on canvas, I like to use regular masking tape.  Scotch tape and the specialty paint tapes aren't sticky enough for use on canvas.)

Now it's time for LOTS of taping.  Make sure that you accurately follow the margins of the areas that will be one of your colors.  (I painted the marked areas first.) 

Some of the ends of your pieces of tape will overlap into areas that you want to paint.  No worry ... use a craft knife to carefully cut and remove the tape in these spots.

First color ... Scandinavian Pink.  Two light coats.

When the paint is dry to the touch, carefully peel the tape.

I see a little piece of tape that I missed when I was trimming the overlapped parts.  No worry, just touch it up once the tape is removed.

When the first color is completely dry (you can speed up the process with a hair dryer), tape and paint the second color ... in this case, it's Chateau Grey.

Wasn't that easy?

To finish this off, I handpainted the grey outline using ASCP Graphite.  I put some paint into a paper cup, adding a little bit of water so the paint would flow better for a smooth outline.  This part of the process was tedious and stressful.  There's no easy way to hurry it ... I just had to sit there and carefully paint fine lines.  At least I had company while I was working.

Dorothy was trying to get my attention by being completely adorable.

I painted an outline around each section of the compass, and between the Country Grey background and the Old Violet edge of the tabletop.  It took about a half an hour to do this.

Didn't I tell you that it was easy?  So easy that I was crazy enough to do two of them at the same time.

The only part of the process that required any skill or ability was the outline.  Take your time, practice on scraps if you have to.  You can do it!

Next post ... revealing the finished tables.  Tomorrow, I hope.


  1. I'm so glad to see that Alice and Maggie assisted you in this painting project. Kitties are very helpful that way. xox

  2. Great tutorial, Connie. You did a fantastic job on those tables. I think I would just buy one of yours instead of doing my own!:>) xo Diana

  3. Thanks so much Connie! I'm thinking of using some decorative papers on the compass too.......should be interesting! :) Hugs! deb

  4. I don't have the patience to even consider this. But I could easily sit there and take photos of your kitties while you work.

  5. I hope it's easy cause I'm doing this!!! Thank you Connie, this couldn't have been more timely!


    and hugs to the kitties too!

  6. I'm really impressed; these came out beautifully. I especially like the gray/violet one.

    Is Dorothy the one that put up such a fuss about the new dog? She looks so sweet!

  7. Very impressive, Connie. There is NO way I will even try to do this. Totally beyond my ability.

  8. That was a great tutorial and you sure did a fantastic job, especially with your feline helpers. Did they every try to get on the tables while you were painting?

    Have a wonderful weekend ~ FlowerLady

  9. Connie, they both look fantastic! Love the color combinations.

  10. I love that Scandinavian Pink!
    You are incredibly patient with the scotch tape--I was thinking I'd take the easy way out and lay out a section of clear contact paper (twice), draw and cut out each section to paint. Lazy--huh? ; D


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