By Nancy Brumback, Contributing Writer
North Grafton“My first love is knowing how to create unique furniture. My second love is teaching others how to do it,” said Maureen Bane.
Her charming shop in North Grafton, Signature Finishes, combines both loves with an array of one-of-a-kind furniture and decorative accessories, classes on how to refinish furniture, and the supplies needed to achieve special effects.
In addition, Signature Finishes is a marketplace for other local artisans. Bane reserves half the 3,000-sq.-ft. space for her own merchandise and paints, and the other half features the work of about 35 craftspeople, chosen through a carefully curated system, who rent space.
Customers will find a broad selection of furniture, decorative accessories, art, jewelry, pottery, custom prints and signs, handmade purses and totes, planters, soaps, greeting cards and more. The craftspeople who sell through the shop often take custom orders as well, she said.
Bane started taking commissions for customized wall finishes from home when her children were young, starting with orders from friends impressed by the work she had done with her own home.
“I invested a lot of time and effort to become a professional in this area,” she said, attending the New England Institute of Faux Finishing and taking classes elsewhere as well. When she took classes at the Faux Finish School in Louisville, Ky. and then later with Annie Sloan in New Jersey, who developed a product under the trademark “chalk paint,” Bane switched from finishing walls to refinishing furniture and “never looked back.” She carries Sloan’s line of chalk paint and another line, Miss Mustard Seed milk paint.
To show customers what different painted finishes and colors look like, Bane has pieces of wood molding refinished in a variety of ways, and she can help choose the finish and technique to achieve a desired look.
She described the Annie Sloan chalk paint as “more than paint,” suitable for wood, glass and metal and durable enough for outdoor uses.
“Chalk paint is easy and versatile to use, and often pieces do not require sanding or priming. You can usually just clean the piece and you’re ready to go.
“Milk paint is an ancient product; it’s been around since the pyramids, and it’s all-natural with no toxic chemicals,” she noted. Milk paint is sold as a powder and mixed with water before use. “A little goes a long way and you only mix as much as you’ll need.”
Milk paint is absorbed by wood’s porous surface and creates a very durable finish. “Once applied to a porous surface, it will never chip or peel, making it difficult to strip it off as the paint binds with the fibers of the wood. You can paint over it.”
Bane decided to open a retail store two years ago, in a 600-sq.-ft. storefront next door to the current location, a spot she quickly outgrew. The current space, five times larger, opened last September.
In addition to selling the paints and related supplies, Bane conducts weekly classes in two backroom spaces. Every month, her class schedule features three popular sessions: bring your own furniture, with the participants each bringing a small piece to refinish; creative painting techniques; and furniture embellishment, featuring decoupage techniques and decorative furniture appliques. Other classes are offered on a rotating basis.
Many of the artisans whose work is sold in the shop offer classes there, including a class to make greeting cards and a children’s class in canvas painting. Those classes are also listed on the store’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/SignatureFinishesGrafton?fref=nf.
Signature Finishes is located at 204 Worcester St. (Rt. 122) in North Grafton. The store is open Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday noon to 4 p.m. It is closed Mondays. For more information, call 508-839-9900 or see the website, www.SignatureFinishesGrafton.com, or Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SignatureFinishesGrafton?fref=nf.