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For Derry, N.H.-based nail tech Darlene Donovan, decorating chairs with popular children’s characters is a fun, therapeutic break from the salon. She’s been painting children’s rockers for the past few years, after seeing a Mickey Mouse chair online inspired her to make one of her own to give to her grandson, Elias, for Easter. “I found a used wooden rocker on the Facebook Marketplace and used all the old paint I had in my house,” she says. “It came out great!” 

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Finding that she enjoyed the process, Donovan continued to make chairs as gifts, creating them for a friend’s baby shower and a nail tech friend whose daughter is going through chemo. “I love to know it makes the kids smile,” she says. She plans to auction a chair themed around Elsa from Frozen at a Fragile X fundraiser she is organizing, and is currently working on Buzz Lightyear and Woody chairs from Toy Story. She decides on the designs based on what’s popular. Although she hasn’t begun selling the chairs yet, “People are asking for them,” she says. “I may start selling them and using the money for restocking my paints and brushes.” 

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Donovan finds painting the chairs relaxing. “The most challenging part is figuring out what section of the chair is the character’s parts,” she explains. “The details need to be just right to bring it all together.” She’s planning to branch out into other children’s furniture: “I am in search of children’s three-drawer dressers to paint. I’d like to make them look like the front of different cars or trucks!”

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