It is important to understand how the layout of wood in an interior space should dictate your woodgraining. Knowing and abiding by these rules will show that you are a professional who respects the laws of fabrication.
When dealing with a large panel area, it is important to research the type of wood you are graining and the size of the tree. The dimensions of a board or plank of wood are limited by the size of the tree trunk from which it is cut. For example, a tree that is 4 feet in diameter will yield at its widest point, a a 2.1/2 to 3 foot-wide board (after the sapwood and bark have been removed). As a result, a large panel must be divided up into several smaller boards, usually of equal width. Sometimes a smaller area, such as a panel within a door, is divided into two unequal-sized boards whose dimensions are generally equivalent to 2/3 and 1/3 of the width of the space. I like to divide my panels into an odd number of boards, if possible. I believe it is more pleasing to the eye.
As far as the length of the wood – though there are no standard lengths of wood, a maximum of 12 feet is recommended. Some types of wood are available in smaller dimensions. For example, BURL is generally cut into veneers no larger than 1.5 foot squares. It is important your woodgraining reflect these natural installation parameters.
See this drawing of an interior space constructed of wood.
In general, the central panels should feature figure graining, while the stiles and rails should be composed almost exclusively of straight graining with only partial figure grain visible. In contrast to marble, the stiles frame the rails. On the panels below the chair rail, the woodgrain looks best horizontal when the panel is wide. Or vertical if the panel is square or narrow.
Know your species of wood, how it is cut, and how a carpenter would install it.
See also our previous post on Nantucket blue oak.
This featured video is of faux crotch mahogany done on a door. Many of our jobs require us to match doors and millwork to existing wood in a residence. As seen in my last post Faux Marble Baseboard to Match a Mantel, matching an existing substrate is a common task, and a great way to enrich a room.
At this years 2014 IDAL convention in Fort Worth, TX, I am teaching a faux wood baseboard class. Students will learn up to 8 different woods that are perfect for this application. See our current schedule for details.
A fantastic way to improve a living space is to paint a faux marble baseboard to match an existing mantel.
On many interior projects that we do, there is an existing mantel that is the centerpiece of the room. Oftentimes, the marble or stone mantel has a variety of colors and character that must be respected.
In my experience, the painted finishes on the walls and millwork must work with the mantel – especially if it is dramatic and outstanding. One of my favorite ways to bring a marble or stone mantel into the room is to paint the baseboard to match the mantel.
On all of these pictures below, the mantel is real marble and the baseboard is painted to match.
Here is a work in progress. Working on the floor is not fun, but the result is gratifying.
These next photos are from the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. This was a huge job for us and we did miles of faux marble baseboard.
I love how the painted baseboard give a visual weight to the room. Also, it can be a lovely transition of the wall to the floor.
At IDAL convention in Fort Worth, TX, I am teaching a faux marble baseboard class. Students will learn up to 8 finishes that are perfect for this type of application. See our current schedule for details.
All painted finishes are completed by my company, Grand Illusion Decorative Painting, Inc.
The Deerhoof is the ultimate striping brush! Much like the Rondin brush, the deerhoof is ideal for striping color or size on small, and tight spaces. However, the deerhoof’s shape offers a distinct slant which allows for optimum surface contact. It’s densely-packed skunk hair makes this a great brush to use over rough surfaces. A must have for sign painters and gilders.
Click TL-31 to purchase or learn more about this brush
TL-30 Striping Edge
At a showroom event in Brooklyn, we created this faux rust patina door for a captive audience. We completed the door in less than 45 minutes. Therefore, the materials we used were fast-drying for the purpose of re-recoating within minutes.
We watched the drying time of the primer (didn’t take long) and as it was 80% dry, Jon knocked the stipple down with a putty knife.
I mixed a transparent glaze with fast-drying acrylic, matte medium, and water. I added colors from my palette to add more tonality. Usually, I don’t use such a fast drying glaze – it was purely for the interest of demonstration.
Next, I made a drippy mixure of Vat Orange, Hansa Yellow, and water to act as the “rust” effect. I let the color run in certain areas.
Lastly, I dry-brushed with a spalter to graze the texture with more vibrant colors in certain areas.
The demonstration went well. We were happy with the result. I didn’t use any metallic paint, flakes, or other additives to give the illusion of rust. It was done with simple ingredients and choice colors.
A drop shadow for lettering illustrates a 3-dimensional quality of an object. When a light source is introduced, the drop shadow falls on the opposite side.
The drop shadow is usually a much darker color than the letter, in order to create a contrast.
However, if the letters are dark, a lighter color can be used for contrast.
When using a pounce pattern, it is easy to just drop the template to create the border of the drop shadow. The thickness of your drop shadow is a judgement call on the artist and the desired effect. A few common reasons for a very thick drop shadow would be: To create the illusion of a very thick letter; or a light source that comes from a dramatic angle.
Use the right tools and brushes to paint the drop shadow. Use a striping edge and striping brush to quickly and accurately block in the straight shadows. Use a lettering brush for the curves and flat edges.
Back to my roots! I started as a sign painter and I thoroughly enjoy this sort of work. This was a great job my crew and I had the pleasure of doing in Soho this spring.
My task was to re-create the exact sign that was previously existing and damaged. This is the finished work.
First, we applied a primer with texture. The general formula was a tinted, latex primer (Styx) plus Rough Regular texture by Proceed plus keraset powdered setting plaster. We rolled it on and stippled with a codtail. We did two coats of this technique.
We knocked down the stippled texture with a trowel for a natural effect.
Then, I dry-brushed a few tonalities in rust tones with a size 80 spalter.
Using a flat, 2-header, I added a verdigris green color over 80% of the surface, working from a palette.
This is the close up of the large pounce pattern we used for the letters.
Here we are placing the pattern after we had already snapped some lines for registering the design.
Using a large pounce pad, we transferred the design.
To get the drop shadow, we simply shifted the design and re-pounced.
With the deerhoof brush, you have unbelievable control of your line while dispersing a long stroke of opaque paint. It’s a dream to use and makes for fast coverage.
For the rounded areas, the samina lettering brush was the best tool.
After the lettering was finished, we scuffed up the letters with a coarse sandpaper.
To add the aging, we dry-brushed a rust color and softened any harsh lines with the oil badger.
The final decorative painting step involved a final overglazing with raw umber and full-bodied Proceed glaze.
The sign was varnished with 2 coats of GOLDEN MSA flat varnish for protection.
This was a fun project that was a great success, in my opinion. Sign painting jobs are few and far between for my clientele. I love the diversity of projects such as these.
Our recent project of repairing this sculpture and aging it, was an example of an ODD JOB. The finished look is very raw and unfinished. The fragile plaster head was shattered in a recent move.
Our job was to put humpty dumpty back together again. This was the photo we had to go by:
I put the big pieces back together using a well-bond glue.
We supported the mask by using masking tape to keep it together. I didn’t worry too much about the little pieces as I was planning on using a filler.
First, we needed to work on the back to strengthen the piece. We mixed a small batch of plaster of paris.
I used my palette knife to shove as much mixture in the cracks as possible.
Then we added fiberglass mesh squares added and mixture smeared to cover the back very well.
On the front of the bust, we filled the big cracks with 2 types of plaster putty (casting and molding refined putty)
Because of the different products I used, it was important that the bust had a consistent substrate in preparation for the aging. Using a rondin brush, I painted on a very chalky latex paint, thoroughly.
In preparation for the aging, I needed to seal the sculpture. I used Gum Arabic as a binder. Another great binder is milk. I mixed it with Raw Umber gouache, to give an aging tonality.
Using a size 4 domed glazing brush, I generously applied the mixture.
Using the same brush, I continued to work the mixture into all areas while removing some of the mixture.
The large codtail is a fantastic stippler on small pieces. It pushes glaze into the correct crevices. I repeated this process a second time — being sure to concentrate on the more sunken in areas that need aging. For that, I used the rondin brush again.
I used Rotten Earth powdered pigment (rotten earth is the color name) for the final aging step.
I used a dry domed glazing brush to apply the powder.
I wiped off excess with a cotton rag. Then I repeated the process on the back.
The piece was back to the original state and probably a lot more structurally sound.
I’ve always said that it’s the decorative painter who can do it all — that is the most successful. This is a good example of providing a complete service. Don’t be afraid of any project — show confidence and learn as you go!!
Here is the proper paint preparation that I spec for millwork. This is especially important for wood graining.
2) 2 coats of oil based primer, I recommend brushing on the stiles and rails and “criss-crossing” the panels or even spraying if the painter is set up for that. The painter should again, check the surface for small imperfections and patch them, sand and spot prime before putting the 2nd coat of primer
3) Application of the base coat should only start after the primer has been sanded with a 220 sandpaper, dusted and the room completely vacuumed.
4) Apply 2 coats of base coat (most likely a Satin Oil basecoat). I recommend brushing on the stiles and rails and “criss-crossing” the panels, finishing in the direction of the longer side. I do not recommend spraying the final coat just for cosmetic reason, because I think a brushed coat looks more natural and interesting than a sprayed look.
Criss-crossing: This is the most even and natural application of paint in preparation for a decorative finish. Apply a small area of the millwork with a whizz roller or large basecoat brush. Then, using a spalter (size 100 to 200) that is not dipped in paint, and brush against the grain softly.
Finally, using the absolute tip of the same spalter, brush with the grain to finish the section. This will allow for an even distribution of the paint and a very natural final mark that goes with the grain. Watch this video on how to use a spalter.
After the basecoat is cured, my crew will take over, sand the surface with 320 sandpaper and degrease the basecoat with whiting.
After a good vacuuming, we’re ready for the decorative finish!
I just finished my latest NYC session of a 3-day wood graining class. We had scheduled one and the demand was so high, we added a second class right after. I enjoyed the students, but after a solid week of teaching, I’m wiped out!
I’m sure all students walked away with an intense amount of knowledge. As usual, I try to fit it all in and gently force my students into my “boot camp” style of teaching. We were putting in very full days and I’m sure the students wished they had more time. We decided to add Oak to the curriculum, which made 5 samples the students completed (mahogany, walnut, burl, tiger maple, and oak).
Each student spent some hours practicing techniques on these boards. We used a beer glaze so we could wipe off and start again.
Each student received 5, pre-painted boards to create their panels.
Students are practicing moiré’s.
Students practicing flogging.
There’s so much to know about woodgraining. Here I’m giving a lecture on mixing the right glaze for your project.
Students are starting the tiger maple which has a powerful impact, right from the start.
My burl lecture and demonstration.
The walnut figure is probably the most challenging part of the class. That’s why it was good to practice first.
My pickled oak demonstration.
These classes were very successful. Thanks to all the dedicated, patient, and focused students! After I take a bit of a break, I hope to list some new classes soon.
If you are interested in taking a NYC class with Pierre Finkelstein, please send us an email at email@example.com. Tell us what subjects you would like to learn.