Faux bone inlay drawers

I recently worked on a faux bone inlay effect as a collaboration with Annie Sloan for the release of her new Pearlescent Glaze. It was to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the brand, and my piece was to be used on all advertising material, so no pressure... It Pushed me out of my comfort zone but it was a dream experience with the thoroughly vibrant and inspiring queen of Chalk Paint. In addition to the advertising, we also created a step-by-step tutorial for Annie's Bookazine The Colourist, as after all, our passion is not only to create beautiful pieces but also to inspire you to create your own.

Faux bone inlay drawers by Malphor

Give a tired piece of furniture the look of an intricate decorative pattern used in traditional Indian furniture. Annie Sloan’s Pearlescent Glaze is painted in pretty floral designs embellished with leaves and geometric patterns against a grey background to mimic the sheen of bone and mother-of-pearl inlay. Bone inlay, also known as intarsia, is most commonly used on flat surfaces – such as the sides and tops of tables, or the front of a sideboard. The design wraps around the sides of the chest for a luxe, boho look that adds dimension.

And now my lucky readers, you get the step-by-step home-delivered right onto your screen! I do hope it will inspire you to create something similar. I free hand-painted this but you could also use a stencil, although I believe all the charm of this chest lies in its imperfections. So do have a go.

Below is a photo of the required materials. Details brushes are really key in achieving the shapes.

Materials you'll need for bone inlay

Remove all the handles from the drawers, then mix four parts Graphite to one part Old White to lighten the deep grey colour a touch. Apply two coats using a large flat brush. 

Painting two coats of Graphite

I first roughly drew the design with chalk, so I had a guideline but also so I could just wipe it away if I wasn't happy with it.

Find the middle of each drawer using a tape measure and mark with chalk.

Marking the centre of the drawers

To sketch the central flower design, make four dots 4 cm from the center chalk mark. Draw a semi circle to create the first petals.

Drawing the pattern with chalk

Draw in the gaps with chalk to create more petals for the central flower design.

Drawing the central flower

Using the chalk, draw in the stems.

drawing the stems

Mix Chalk Paint® in Old White with a little water on a paint tray. Paint the flower with a large flat detail brush.

Paint the flower

Press gently with a large round detail brush to create the pattern and motifs. Let the brush make the shape.

Painting the leaves

Use a small flat detail brush to paint the edging and the tip of a large round detail brush for the edge leaves.

Painting the edges

Ensure the Pearlescent Glaze is thoroughly mixed before use, apply with a detail brush.
Once dry, paint over the Old White with the Pearlescent Glaze for a subtle shimmer reminiscent of bone inlay.

Apply the Pearlescent Glaze

Apply two coats of Clear Chalk Paint® Wax once the paint is dry on the piece, then remove any excess with a lint-free cloth.

Clear wax to seal

Bone inlay offers a symmetrical look that keeps furniture pieces from being too busy, and this style suits almost every type of decor. 

 Paint all sides and top

This kind of intricate freehand brushwork is so rewarding, but it can be pretty intense, so take your time and regular breaks! I’d say a perfect project during the lockdown. Are you game?

Faux bone inlay chest

These drawers are now for sale via my online shop.


Photographer: Jesse Wild

Words: Dominique Malacarne and Wendy Jacobs



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