As painters and embellishers, we are obsessed with making all things looking old and worn. Trying to figure out how to get that look with our tools in our paint box. We love looking at pictures like the one below and saying “ Sigh… I want that look” or “Get the look by mixing or layering this color or that.
But…Have you ever looked at a door and wondered how did it get that way? Let’s take this one picture and makeup, a believable story, about how the door got to look like this.
Today the door is a lovely interior decoration for a dining room. You can bet this door did not get all those lovely colors and age sitting indoors with that gorgeous chandelier.
Born of hand hewn hardwood this door was built by master craftsmen. Initially, this door was most likely stained and or varnished showing off the lovely wood. Being hand made, there would be differences in the grain between the styles and the panels. Lots of sanding occurred but by hand and never enough to make the entire surface exactly the same. It is these differences (not imperfections) that allow the patina process to begin.
Doors are exposed to all weather elements. Water pools at the bottom and drips off of the building above, the sun destroys the varnish and then the weather works it’s magic on those bare parts of the door.
The door and the inside panels contract and expand causing the paint on the edges to crack and peel. Water gets under the paint then freezes and thaws causing cracks, then the paint starts to chip and peel. Then the wood gets wet and starts to split.
Finally, a person paints the door. Most likely the next coat was the grey green shade. This coat of paint by now is all over different surfaces, old stain, raw wood, old scraped varnish. So it adheres differently.
As soon as the painting is done the weathering begins again, with a twist. Rain and snow and sun not only crack and peel but the paint starts to fade. Based on how much weather and what the subsurface is the paint fades differently over time.
Finally, a new coat of paint is applied, my guess is the white. Yet,over time the chemistry of the paint changes and it may or may not stick as well. I think the white on this might be relatively new: a failed coat of latex. When this door was moved inside to become decoration she had that white coat scraped off completely showing the grey green underneath.
Am I correct in this story? Maybe… but if not 100% accurate the process is still the same.
The trick question is…how many colors do you see in this door? Even though many of them are related (probably the second grey green coat that has faded) to imitate it you need more than three colors.
For more about patina we have a special treat on the blog. Over the next few weeks my friend Stacey of Faux Studio Designs will be sharing her trip to Florence where she is studing patina. For now…ponder how to imitate this door.
Do you love old patina? The kind Stacey Christensen and I found at the St. Ouen Flea Markets in Paris?
It’s that old world painting that just say “ bespoke and love forever”. Our Efex dealer Stacy Christensen at Faux Studio Designs has been a faux painter for years and now she is sharing her secrets with all of us.
This lovely example of aged copper patina using our Fleur di Lis number 4 is only one of her specialties.
To quote Stacey “This is one of my favorite patinas. It’s elegant and rustic, super easy to do, and looks really expensive. Use Chalk paint as a base, apply modern masters and the oxidizing solution and voila!”
Or how about this lovely Gustavian night stand. You can get two of these great patinas in your mailbox
every month for only 19.95. Plus each month you’ll get a special gift. Hint, here some of the gifts are efex!
This deal keeps getting better. Sign up now to receive a $5.00 discount on your monthly subscription and get an additional free recipe. Yup, your monthly cost is really only
Water and Oil Don’t Mix – Wax Resist
Every fifth grade art class teaches students that wax and water colors don’t mix. But… if you tell a five year old to use wax before painting furniture or walls they would look at you with that “you’re silly mummy” look that only a five year old can muster.
In this chapter of making patina we take advantage of this fact to give us one of the easiest painting techniques we know. Wax resist has been around for ages and is also used on fabric. The great indigo prints from 18th century France were all made with a wax resist on fabric using indigo dye.
We love this technique because it’s easy to control: not quite as messy as crud and a little more predictable than hemp oil.
Annie Sloan shows an excellent example in her book Color Recipes For Painted Furniture, so we decided to share in detail.
Speaking of Annie Sloan – the person not just the paint – she is all about figuring out “how-to” without the fuss. Her method of painting is to get a project done with the least amount of time for the best results. The wax resist method of aging and developing patina achieves this goal.
Did I mention it’s super easy to do on a large scale, like this bed Annie herself did.
Or this wall or this large bookcase and mirror. Last summer my friend Amy Chalmers and I did the bookcases and mirror using this technique. Photo by the divine Matthew Mead.
Step 1 – Pick your two colors and paint your base coat. As a general guideline use the color you want to dominate as your base coat. Paint one or two coats and let dry thoroughly. You can just clean a wooden surface and apply the wax if you want your wooden surface to show through, but you still need to thoroughly clean the surface first.
Some color combos we love are: Old White and French Linen Chalk Paint ® or Louis Blue and Aubusson used in our sample boards
Step 2 – When the base is dry, take your wax and apply it thickly using a damp cloth. (I know we’ve spent years saying don’t use too much wax, but now we’re saying glob it on!)
Rub the surface with the wax. If you’re working on a big piece of furniture or a flat wall, work in sections. Remember, the more you rub in the wax the less it will resist.
Step 3 – While the wax is still wet, apply a diluted layer of the second color of paint. You will see the wax resist the water in the paint. You need to do this while the wax is still wet, and not fully cured.
Especially with Chalk Paint, if you rub back the wax and let it cure the paint will adhere to the surface with out chipping. To dilute the second coat of paint mix approximately 1/3 water to 2/3 paint. The more water, the more resist and the more the base coat will show through.
Step 4 – Use a damp rag to rub off the excess wax and the second coat of paint will come with the wax, revealing your base coat underneath.
Once you’ve rubbed down the second coat – going with the grain of the wood – let it dry. If you get a hard line, as you may when working with large surfaces, just grab a damp rag and rub/wipe it to blend the line out.
See how the Louis blue base coat comes through with just hint of the Aubusson.
For the final step, finish with the top coat of your choice.
That’s it for resist methods. Next we’re going to look at layering techniques to create shadows and highlights.
Ciao until then