OAK WOODGRAINING WITH TROMPE L’OEIL MOLDINGS

OAK WOOD GRAINING WITH JEREMY TAYLOR

Wood has been imitated with paint and pigments for at least 3000 years, indeed the grainers of ancient Egypt were among the higher classes of artisans. Wood is imitated for several reasons, whether it is to make a cheaper wood look like an expensive wood, to paint a substance that is not wood to resemble wood or to match new work to existing wood. Oak is very often imitated, in particular quarter sawn oak as it is expensive and has a very distinctive grain pattern.

Jeremy Taylor

Jeremy Taylor

About Jeremy Taylor

Jeremy started a Painting and Decorating apprenticeship in 1983 under the tutelage of Robert Black who was a highly regarded local decorator and a part time enthusiastic artist.  After 4 years he then moved on to a local decorating firm until 1991 at which point he moved to the South West of England and worked for a decorating firm.  Whilst living in Devon, he first learned of the late Bill Hollgate from Clithero who ran graining and marbling courses.  Jeremy attended his first course in 1991, going on to attend four more classes, the last one being in 1999.  Bill was totally inspiring, a true master of the craft of graining and marbling and he was a proud member of the salon.  Jeremy was hooked.

3 years after moving to England Jeremy returned to his native Scotland to start up his own business.  In 2002 he went back to college to pursue another passion of his which is Traditional Signwriting.  He attended Edinburgh’s Telford College one day a week for 2 years and gained qualifications in Signwork at HNC level.  Jeremy‘s diversity and extreme attention to detail have allowed him over the years to build up a wonderful client base.  He also carries out work on a contract basis for Historic Scotland since 2002 which has meant working at many of their castles and monuments in the Grampian Region.

In the summer of 2012 Jeremy travelled to Sweden Palm Fine Arts to attend a one week Wood Graining and Trompe L’oeil course ran by Mats Carlson.  Jeremy was hugely impressed by Mats’ talent at decorative painting thinking him to be one of the very finest in his field.  It was an amazing week and it allowed him to learn new skills to develop and grow as a decorative painter.

More recently Jeremy has trained with Michel Nadia, Gert- Jan Nijsse and Patrick Laheyne, who are all world class decorative painters!

Real Quarter Sawn Oak

A Brief note on Quarter Sawn Oak

Labelled either “Quarter Sawn Oak”, or simply “Quartered Oak” this wood is oak lumber that is riven or sawn along a radius of the annual rings or at an angle less than 45 degrees so that the radius is edge-grained. The slower growing hardwoods may require 75 years to yield good saw timber and 100 or more years to produce quartered lumber or high grade. What is known as quarter-sawn lumber is the best for pattern-work and all wood-work, because it is not so likely to warp as is the regular, or bastard-sawn. Quarter-sawn lumber is wood that is sawn approximately parallel with the medullary ray. The trunk of a tree is made up of concentric cylindrical layers, bound together with radial fibres, which are known as medullary rays. It is the exposure of these rays that gives to quartered oak the beauty that is so much prized.

Quartering is a very wasteful way of sawing lumber, and involves an extra cost, however for pattern work that must be made thin, it pays to use quarter-sawn lumber, even if it does cost more. The grades in quartered oak are “Clear”, “Sap Clear”, and “Select”. In contrast, the grades in plain-sawn oak are “Clear”, “Select”, and “No. 1”. The shrinkage or swelling in the width of a flat-grained board is nearly twice that of a quartered or edge-grained board of the same dimensions. As a rule, it takes quartered oak two years longer to dry in the shade than it takes plain oak, walnut, chestnut, and the like. Quartered oak veneer is usually obtained by sawing, not slicing, for the latter procedure destroys the effectiveness of the ray fleck. Quartered wood dries more slowly than plain-sawn.

 

Sawn Oak Diagram 1

Sawn Oak Diagram 1

Sawn Oak Diagram 2

Sawn Oak Diagram 2

Jeremy’s Process

Colours used for this panel are: Raw Sienna, Raw Umber, Black, White and Proceed Low Viscosity Glaze.

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Below are the tools required to complete the panel.

Tools

Tools

Mix raw sienna, raw umber and black with low viscosity glaze.  Brush on the panel and use a hog hair brush to create the grain, pulling from top of panel, sometimes in a wavy motion to the bottom.

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With a fine tooth steel comb, start at the bottom of the panel and crosshatch the grain at a 45 degree angle – this produces the pore marks in the oak.

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To wipe out the silver grain, I use an old plastic credit card shaped to resemble your thumb nail.  A lint free cloth is wrapped over the graining horn as it is known.

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Starting at the top, begin to wipe out the silver grain, it is very important to keep moving the cloth so you keep the figuring nice and crisp.  The bigger markings, known as dapples, are generally found at the centre of the panel with fine supporting grain at the sides, which just fades away.

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Progress of the silver grain.

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Using a folded cloth, create half tones under the big dapples – these often take on the same shape.

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Using the graining horn with the cloth, start to wipe out the annual rings, known as heart grain.

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Joining of the two saps.

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More heart grain progress.

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The heart grain is completed using steel or rubber combs to carefully finish the sides.

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Once the initial figuring is completed and dry, mix up the same colours and brush over the panel, creating mottles with the mottler brush  and wiping out highlights around knots – the knots were created with a small sable brush.

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When overglazing the silver grain a flogging brush can be used by dragging down the panel to create streaks over the silver grain and can then be broken up using the crosshatch method with a one inch steel comb.

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Creating the Trompe L’oeil moulding

Mitre the corners using low tack tape for a sharp finish.

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Complete the next stage of the moulding in the same manner and let dry.

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Using a striping brush and a mahl stick, start creating the profiles of the moulding by adding black to the base glaze.

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Progression of profiles.

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More progress.

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The profiles are blended by stippling them, softening with a badger brush.

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Progression of the mouldings; note the chosen light source is from the top left.

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Highlights are added with the base glaze mixed with white.

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The centre raised panel and the round ornaments are marked out with a stabilo water based crayon.

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Close up of marked out Trompe.

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When shading the panel and ornaments remember all the time that the light source is from the top left.  For highlights add white to the base glaze and for shadows add black.

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Once the panel is dry, overglaze with burnt umber for depth of colour and soften with a badger brush.

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Finished Panel.

Finished panel

Finished panel

Jeremy Taylor and some examples of his completed work, including his Pierre Finkelstein Oak Contest winning piece.

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Winning entry for the Pierre Finkelstein Oak Contest.

Winning entry for the Pierre Finkelstein Oak Contest.

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7 thoughts on “OAK WOODGRAINING WITH TROMPE L’OEIL MOLDINGS

      1. Jeremy P Taylor

        It was a pleasure believe me , I love the craft ,and this blog rocks ,one of the best put together blogs on promoting this wonderful art , thank YOU Michael 🙂

  1. David Agnew

    Jeremy, your wonderful article was well worth the wait my friend. Fantastic & extraordinary detail, in explaining the processes you use to achieve the desired results. It’s so helpful to have step by step tutorials to aid the lesser ordained in this craft – Thank you!!

    Reply
  2. David Agnew

    Am still enjoying the tutorial Jeremey. I wanted to ask if checking rollers are now thought of as redundant. Do you still use them at all, or only in certain situations, where maybe a more purist approach is needed to say copy or blend in to existing oak for example?
    Also, I would imagine it is quite tedious to be doing oak on large areas, such as paneling etc. Do you have any secrets as to how one can make the grain in each panel different from the last! A door for example, I was taught that as a rule of thumb……..panels would be quarter sawn, or silver grain. Mouldings usually stippled, stiles & muntins straight grain whilst the bottom, middle & top rails were generally heat grain. Even with this, it can be quite tedious to be a bit quirky, shall we say!

    Reply
    1. Jeremy P Taylor

      Hi David , I think check rollers are still useful , some would argue they are a bit mechanical but I certainly use them occasionally .
      Good question on graining big areas , yes this can be a challenge , knowing and understanding the wood you are about to grain is so very important .
      Last year I had the challenge of graining a big room in Oak , ceiling . walls . woodwork , the ceiling was marked out in 2 & a half foot boards , this made the graining of the ceiling more manageable, and also more natural looking as you will not normally find Oak cut any wider.
      The ceiling was all wiped out in silver grain (Quarter sawn) Knowing and understanding the nature and flow of the silver grain and its beautiful markings or Dapples as they are known helps the grainer to make each panel slightly different .
      Your theory on how to grain an Oak door is how I was taught also , from the great man himself ..William Holgate .

      Reply

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