How to Paint a Harlequin Diamond

What do you get when you cross a timeless harlequin diamond pattern...
C151-91-342 By Sterling Lighting Table Lamp

...with the vibe of 1920s mens swimwear?
The newest addition to my vintage (read: thrifted, dirt cheap) furniture collection.

I know it's not exactly super trendy or fashionable right now, but I've been in love with harlequin diamonds for many moons. (Yep. Moons. Many.) And I've been NOT in love with the color of this mid-century-modern table for quite a while as well.

I thought I'd take a stab at painting harlequins. Tougher than one might think, especially if you want to get it done in one fell swoop like me (rather than wait for paint to dry before re-taping and re-painting a bunch of times).
So. I cleaned the table and eyeballed the size of diamond. I wanted irony and whimsy here (translation: oversized), what with the random mix of styles and time periods and colors and patterns. Started taping out the bottom part of the first two diamonds.
(This table actually made recreating the pattern fairly easy, as I was able to follow the grooves.)
To avoid having to re-tape and re-paint, I simply cut the tape to the exact size on all diamonds from the get-go.

Using a right-angle was key for horizontally lining up the diamond corners. Also, it was important throughout this taping process to keep in mind inside-of-diamond versus outside-of-diamond. Sometimes I started going, and what "should" have been the outside edge of the tape actually was the inside edge of the diamond, so just keep checking yourself.

(This is making no sense, is it. Sighhh...)
I measured the height of first (bottom) half of the diamond (mine was 6.75"), then measured that length again for what would be the top half of the diamond (total diamond height = 13.5"). I laid the right-angle down at the 13.5" mark.
Taped from the side angle/corner up to the center point at the right-angle height.

It took me a while to figure out where and when to cut tape. Fortunately for my sanity, I had an adorable cheering section.

Like I said, keep in mind inner- and outer-edges. The tape is a little like an optical illusion. Basically, the overall aim was to tape one diamond at a time and then trim the tape where necessary to be able to paint neighboring diamonds.

Done taping. Phew and phew. (I did medium-width horizontal stripes on the upper table sides to maintain a pattern but keep it less busy overall than what a perpendicular harlequin diamond would have been.)

Next up: paint. This was pretty easy. I used some leftover from this project. Make sure you maintain clean paint edges. (Tips for how to paint a crisp line here.)

Peel off the tape, let paint dry. If you want a crisp, clean harlequin pattern, I'd go ahead and wipe on some polyurethane (or sealant of your choice) and call it good. As for me, I wanted a vintage 1920s circus-meets-ocean-front vibe. I wanted age. And a false sense of history.
Break out the electric sander and go to town.

Wash all surfaces of sawdust, then seal with wipe-on poly.

Now it sits at the corners of the two ugly yet ridiculously comfy sofas in our basement FamCave. I couldn't love the thing more. So unique!

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  1. You totally lost me on the how to. Much too complex for my simple mind. But it's darling. I love it. Can we drop in this Sunday...say 4ish just for a sec? We may be headed that way this weekend.

  2. Sorry it was confusing... And even sorrier that we won't be around Sunday afternoon! Nooooo!

  3. Awesome, I love Harlequin diamonds! But so difficult with all the taping and measurement :)

    1. Agreed. It's such a simple, direct pattern...but not the easiest to replicate.

  4. Brittney--love how you updated the table! great colors!

  5. I just salvaged very similar tables from our neighbors trash! This is a cute update on a classic shape.


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