Category Archives: Art History

PITCH PINE WOOD GRAINING WITH DONAL QUIGLEY

Donal Quigley is an Irish painter and decorator who has a passion for wood graining and tells us about his process and techniques for reproducing pitch pine.

ABOUT DONAL

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Donal Quigley is a third generation painter and decorator from County Kilkenny in Ireland.  His apprenticeship was served under the guidance of his father in the eighties and after completing his training, Donal founded his own decorating business in 1992.

Besides the standard painting and decorating work, Donal found himself working in more and more specialized areas such as hand painted signs, gilded hand-carved signs and sandblasted glass signs as well as different wall finishes.

In 2014, Donal studied at the SWR Decart Studio in Dublin under the tutelage of Michel Nadai, the respected French decorative painting artist.

For the past five years, Donal has found himself focusing on wall panelling systems due to their growing popularity in Ireland.

WHAT IS PITCH PINE?

pitch-pine-floorboards

Indigenous to the United States and the eastern seaboard in particular, the Pitch Pine can grow upwards of 60 feet and has a lifespan of some 200 years.  A hardy species, not even fire or severe trauma can destroy it.

The reason for its centuries old popularity is due to its high resin content.  Indeed, as well as being used for woodwork, the pitch pine is a source for turpentine and tar, otherwise known as pitch!

These days it has a less glamorous purpose, being used for fuel, pulping and making crates.  In the past however, it was used to create anything from railroads and wooden ships to church pews, panels and flooring.

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Pitch pine is not a strong wood and has a rough texture to the grain, however the high resin content leaves it resistant to decay, hence its popularity.  The resinous nature of the wood has its down side however, as it makes it difficult to machine and sand.

Previously pitch pine was sought after due to the vibrant shades and figuring of the grain, however since the boom of railroads and mass planting and forced early foresting of the trees, the quality of the grain began to suffer which is why it is currently used for less elegant tasks.

As a result, the only way to obtain finer specimens is through reclamation, which means in turn that demand has outweighed supply causing a worldwide shortage and rising prices.

This has led to a resurgence in demand for painted reproductions to match already present architectural elements.

DONAL’S PROCESS

Materials and Tools

Colours Used: Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber

Water Based System:

Base colour B.S. 06.C.33.

Johnstone’s pine woodstain.  

Floetrol paint conditioner

Tint with powder colour.  

Work into a paste and thin as required with water.

Tools required

tools

To start brush on a wash  of the above and obliterate all brush marks to leave a translucent effect.   Allow to dry.

  1. Use a S.1210L. Duck Signwriter’s brush to pencil in figure.

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  1. Begin to form the figure.

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  1. Join the sap and continue up.

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  1. Main figure is now formed.  It is important to soften after each line is drawn to avoid smudging into the next line.

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  1. Now using some burlap begin to do the side grain.

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  1. Glaze the other side.

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  1. Then burlap to form tight side grain effect.

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  1. Finished central panel.

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  1. Next tape off top rail.

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  1. Pencil in figure and soften as you go.

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  1. Finish rail.

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  1. Repeat process on lower rail.

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  1. Last two styles to do.  These can be plain straight grain if you prefer.

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  1. Same process, pencil in grain and burlap side.

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  1. And same on other side.

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  1. Allow to dry.

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  1. Add a thin line of colour to emphasise the joints.

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  1. Overglaze with same colour, adding some Vandyke brown to create      highlights and moirés.  Then badger lightly.

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  1. Panel overglazed.

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  1. Finished panel varnished.

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For more examples of his work and to contact Donal, please click the following Facebook link: Donal Quigley Painting and Decorating

 

 

 

 

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CARVING A NICHE – PATRICK DAMIAENS, ORNAMENTAL WOODCARVER

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ABOUT PATRICK

Paddy

When Belgian woodcarver Patrick Damiaens was a child, his parents took him to the castles and museums of Europe where he encountered and began his love-affair with ornate, hand carved furniture.  The intricate centuries old craftwork inspired young Patrick and he took the first steps towards his goal of being able to imitate the old craftsmen of previous generations and to be able to produce unique and breath-taking wood carvings for bespoke furniture in the Liège style that he adores.

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Patrick studied ornamental carving for three years at the prestigious Don Bosco Institute in Liège.  But first the dedicated student undertook six years of instruction in furniture making at the Sint-Jansberg College in Masseik followed by one year of training in woodcarving.

Now Patrick Damiaens’ Liège style woodcarvings are highly sought after ever since he began working for himself in 1992 and he is the only full-time ornamental wood carver and sculptor in Flanders, Belgium.

A dying craft, Patrick may soon be as unique as the exceptional carvings and sculptures he produces.  It is a privilege therefore to have access to the methods and imagery of the outstanding wood carvings of Patrick Damiaens.

INTRODUCTION TO PATRICK’S WORK

When you commission a piece of furniture from Patrick Damiaens, you are guaranteed three things – remarkable work, a unique item in a definitive style and the knowledge that there is no one producing work quite like him.

Although trained in furniture making himself, Patrick has such a dedication to his craft that he works in conjunction with cabinet makers, a furniture restorer and stair maker, in order that he can give his undivided attention to his exquisite wood carving.

Patrick’s work is in the Liège style, where the finest quality wood panels are painstakingly carved in an elaborate and ornate style dating back to the 17th Century.

A Patrick Damiaens original is identifiable by his signature dragonfly, carved into every piece of work.

DESIGN

The first thing to note in Patrick’s process, is that there is no design to pick from the shelf.  All of Patrick’s designs are tailored to each client from scratch.  As a result each piece takes time and patience and this is reflected in his waiting lists, costs and production times.

Technical drawings are produced with meticulous attention to detail.  Dependent on the level of intricacy, these preliminary designs can take up to a month to produce.

Patrick Damiaens

Patrick Damiaens

An initial pattern is made up which can be based on a Patrick Damiaens Liege-style original or an alternative piece selected by the client.

Once the client has examined the preliminary design, any changes are made as necessary and a final draft is produced on tracing paper, ready to be transferred to the piece of furniture in question.

stage1

CREATION

Although almost every aspect of Patrick’s work is carried out painstakingly by hand, the start off process for any piece involves the use of machinery.

The finalised design is transferred onto the item of furniture and then an electric milling machine is used to eliminate a large proportion of the excess wood from the project.

Once this has been done, Patrick removes any rough edges and remaining surplus wood with his own custom scraper.

stage2

Patrick uses his prized collection of Swiss and German chisels to delicately begin the process of carving intricate and exquisite detail into his subject.

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stage10

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Once the lengthy process is completed to Patrick’s high standards, the piece is handed back to the cabinetmaker to treat the wood and integrate the carved panel into the final item of furniture.

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RECOGNITION

As well as producing extraordinary furniture, Patrick teaches his craft and writes a blog detailing his work and accomplishments, as well as inspiring future generations of wood carvers.

In honour of his exceptional craftsmanship, the Belgian Federal Government awarded Patrick with The Golden Badge of Honour – “The Elites of Labour”.

Patrick tells us more about the award and what it means.

“Every year hundreds of Belgians from various industries are given the badge of honour for the “Eliten van de Arbeid” (Elites of Labour), to praise them for their professional efforts and merits. This nomination is awarded by royal decree and is published in the Belgian Bulletin of Acts, Orders and Decrees.

On the one hand, a badge of honour is awarded during an official event, and on the other hand, a certificate is traditionally presented by the mayor of your municipality.

For 25 years now, my activities as a woodcarver have been a constant source of pleasure and satisfaction, and I even consider my work to be a personal quest, wherein my goal consists of bringing quality work to my environment, as an ambassador of sorts, who wishes to introduce the next generations to the complexity of my profession

This passion and attitude towards my profession has not gone by unnoticed by a number of technical committees, experts and jury members of the “Elites of Labour”(Eliten van de Arbeid) from the wood industry.”

Golden Medal of the Elites of Labour.

Golden Medal of the Elites of Labour.

Patrick  also restores pieces, creates unique panels and specialises in heraldry.  Here are some more examples of his incredible work.

Custom made family coat of arms

Custom made family coat of arms

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PD 005 ok   architectural woodcarving

More information about Patrick and details of his work can be found here:

https://www.facebook.com/patrick.damiaens.ornamental.woodcarver

http://www.patrickdamiaens.be/eng/index.html

ATMOSPHERIC PERSPECTIVE IN TUSCAN MURAL by Jeff Raum

As someone who has created their own murals for clients, I often look for inspiration and guidance from respected peers.  I was delighted therefore that renowned muralist Jeff Raum has agreed to give us a mini-tutorial on ‘Atmospheric Perspective’ despite his hectic schedule.

Mike

Venus and Adonis (detail) 11' diameter ceiling medallion.

Venus and Adonis (detail) 11′ diameter ceiling medallion by Jeff Raum

” When Jeff Raum’s kindergarten teacher wrote a note to his mom saying that he had talent and should be encouraged, he knew that he had found his calling. He won a national poster competition in first grade and three of his paintings were displayed at the Baltimore Museum of Art that same year. In eighth grade, he became the youngest person ever to win the National Plastercraft Competition.

Jeff’s long string of charmed art achievements came to an abrupt end when he was exposed to the college art arena. He was unhappy with how the professors looked down their noses at realism. He formed a professional fraternity, Alpha Gamma Tao and started student meetings to discuss what was needed for a satisfactory commercial design program. Jeff presented his findings to the dean and facility, and in his senior year, the new program was implemented. After he graduated with a B.F.A. in commercial design, the entire art faculty was fired.

Jeff Raum

Jeff Raum

In 1983, Jeff began his career as a medical illustrator for hospitals. He soon tired of creating images of diseased organs and moved to Manhattan to work as a scenic artist for 3-D animated TV commercials, eventually being promoted to art director. When creating art to sell product grew tiring as well, he moved on to Broadway, spending three years as a make-up designer for the productions of I’m Not Rappaport and Into The Woods.

Wanting to leave the frantic energy of New York behind, Jeff moved to Los Angeles. Unable to get into the scenic artists union, he began his own decorative painting business, Jeff Raum Studios. His clients include Gucci, the Las Vegas Hilton, the Luxor, and Macy’s.

In 1998, Jeff began his stencil line, Jeff Raum Stencils, after the overwhelming response of SALI members to an article in the Artistic Stenciler. Jan Dressler became familiar with Jeff’s work and recommended him to appear on “The Christopher Lowell Show” and Jeff went on to appear in eight episodes.

Jeff was a part-time instructor of Interior Design at Moorpark College for nine years. His work has been published in Better Homes and Gardens and Traditional Home magazines as well as an Italian book on stenciling. Jeff is featured in the book Mural Painting Secrets for Success by Gary Lord.”

How to create atmospheric perspective in a Tuscan Mural.

This demo is showing only the middle ground of the finished piece and as I paint, I always keep in mind where this is in relation to the viewer. I start at the top of the mural and work my way down for a couple of reasons –  a) Keeps me from dripping on finished work and b) allows me to slowly change my palette as I go. In atmospheric perspective, objects are cooler, have less contrast, and the intensity, or chroma of the color is less as the objects recede. I try to keep my work sedate in the back and middle grounds so that I can “pull out all the stops” in the foreground and make it pop.

Step 1.  Layout and Background

Step 1

Step 1

The background in atmospheric perspective should be very blue (or cool), so the distant hills are done in grey-blues and blue-greens. Very simply and quickly. To push them back more, I put a wash of my sky color over them. I pencil in the layout of the buildings next.

Step 2.  Laying in the village

Step 2

I lay in my village, always keeping in mind the light source and keeping the colors cool and low key. Just to get rid of all the white, I base in the ground, making the distant ground cooler and lighter.

Step 3. Adding detail

  

Step 3

Step 3

 I Add detail to my buildings, but keeping it simple to imply detail. I’m painting for humans, not hawks! Then I add detail to the ground and lay out my rows of grape vines by painting the shadows they cast first.

Step 4 Enhancing detail

Step 4

Step 4

Now I block in the foliage, using a darker, but still cool, color around the village to make the light buildings pop a bit and help focus the viewer’s attention on the focal point. Using “ratty” brushes, I scumble in the distant trees and as I move forward darken the green. The foreground trees are based-in a darker, warmer shade of green

Step 5. Highlighting

Step 5

Step 5

Now I go in and add highlights to all the foliage, keeping it concentrated on the left side of the forms. In the foreground, I add a lighter highlight to create more contrast and make them pop more than the background trees. In creating the rows of grapevines, I have to keep in mind my perspective. They get larger as the come nearer and as the vine go up the hill, the view of them changes from looking down on them to seeing them from the side. Last thing is to add some occasional posts to support the vines.

Completed Mural

Completed Mural

Below are a few more examples of Jeff’s extraordinary work and more information can be found at:

http://www.jeffraumart.com/index.html

Italian Arch

Italian Arch

Tuscany Dining

Tuscany Dining

Statue with Fruit

Statue with Fruit

FANLIGHTS – A BRIEF HISTORY AND RESTORATION OF A FANLIGHT AT GRADE 1 LISTED GATEHOUSE, BUCKINGHAMSHIRE

Fanlight commission for Grade I listed Gatehouse, Buckinghamshire.

David R Agnew, respected Craftsman Decorator from Newport Pagnell in the UK is back to tell us about the history of the fanlight and the work involved when he was commissioned to restore one in a Listed Gatehouse.

Introduction by Client/Architect

Tyringham Gateway was built in 1794 to the design of the eminent architect Sir John Soane and despite its small size it is acclaimed worldwide as a monument of European importance.  Indeed, the late poet and renowned architectural historian Sir John Betjeman considered the Gateway and its close neighbour Tyringham Bridge as “the most perfect small buildings I know in England” Unsurprisingly they are both Grade I listed buildings.

By the mid/late 19th century – less than 100 years after its completion – the Gateway stood uninhabited and unloved with its sash windows and entrance doorways blocked up with stonework.  Fortunately in 1909 the building underwent general repairs and improvements when the original late Georgian entrance doors and fanlights were removed and replaced with new.  Sadly no photographs of the originals have been discovered however it can be safely assumed that the semicircular fanlights would have had very narrow astragals or glazing-bars, which were fashionable in the late Georgian and Regency eras.  Regrettably the Edwardian replacements were crude and heavy-handed, totally alien to Soane’s refined joinery detailing.

Precedent studies of other Soane buildings show that he frequently created metal (rather than wood) fanlights.  These involved the workshop fabrication of compound glazing-bars or astragals, in which narrow moulded ribs of malleable cast iron or lead were crimped onto thin webs of flat iron or brass, resulting in a very fine and delicate appearance.  One manufacturer of these astragals in the late 18th century was the Eldorado Company in London.

Knowing that David Agnew was an experienced craftsman accomplished at creating present-day leaded lights, I asked him whether he would consider making three fanlights based upon the Eldorado pattern for me, assuming that (as the Eldorado Company was no longer in existence) we could source the essential malleable iron or lead ribs.  Soane frequently used pale yellow or amber stained glass in his fanlights and rooflights and a joint decision was taken to do the same in order to increase “authenticity”. 

Barry Clayton,

Retired conservation Architect.

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Fanlight commission for Grade I listed Gatehouse, Buckinghamshire.

Fanlights are not particularly unusual, even leaded glass panels – each displays a certain uniqueness.  The thing most unusual about these fanlights is the system employed.  For craftspeople working on old buildings, this system was only employed for a generation and was left to obscurity some two hundred years ago!  I feel it is important that fellow craftspeople will be able to identify surviving fanlights and afford the recognition and respect they deserve through passing on this knowledge.

The following project is by no means the protocol in the manufacture of these special windows, I merely wanted to document the way I went about making these ones, to achieve the desired results and would hope it is helpful to anyone else taking on something similar.

Further reading & information can be found within this excellent book – Fanlights – an architectural History by Alexander Stuart Grey & John Sambrook. ISBN 07136430779

A GENERAL AND POTTED HISTORY ABOUT THE FANLIGHT

Fanlights have nearly always been a feature above front doors, never more so, during the Georgian and Victorian period. They were designed particularly to allow natural light into narrow entrances.

The early examples, had very thick glazing bars, but during the late mid and late Georgian periods 1760 – 1810, there was almost a competition between designers and architects, on who could come up with the most elaborate designs & with the thinnest glazing bars.

Timber, having limitations as to the elaborate patterns that could be achieved within a curved aperture for example, persuaded innovation to dictate manufacture, from a malleable material, a thin profile from lead. These are sometimes known as ‘Eldorado’ glazing bars.

The profile is an ‘Astragal’ and is just 10mm at it’s widest point, the webs, which are inserted into the back are brass in a lot of cases, as this is malleable and can follow intricate shapes. It is not uncommon to find steel ones, but this is mainly confined to straight bars or pre-formed shapes.

Something else worthy of note, is on some really elaborate and decorative fanlights, you can see garlands of wreaths and ‘Adam’ stile urns etc. one famous fanlight, would be 10 Downing Street, London. If you look carefully, you can see in the middle, some curved leaves, these are made of cast lead.

Anyway, a potted & brief history.

Here is quite an elaborate example, featuring garlands and floral motifs. Circa 1780. Before and after restoration.

Here is quite an elaborate example, featuring garlands and floral motifs. Circa 1780. Before and after restoration.

Another example in for repair and again showing floral motifs

Another example in for repair and again showing floral motifs

I was commissioned to produce three fanlight windows for a grade one listed Gatehouse, Buckinghamshire, England. Built in 1794 and designed by Sir John Soane. One of the fanlights commissioned is an internal feature, dividing a bedroom and ensuite above a mahogany door. The glass consists of two different shades of amber, with blue slips around the perimeter – which is a typical Soane feature. The other two fanlights are above external entrance doors where I had to make alterations to the frame, more on that later.

Having being briefed & then commissioned with this project, I then had to source the material, as lead glazing bars are not commonly available. Stumped on how to find the obscure materials needed, I thought I would explore the idea of making my own and to see if I could. I first of all would need a mould, I used my router and suitable profile bits to rout grooves in a peace of maple wood – I had read somewhere that maple is quite resilient to heat, which would be ideal for a mould.

Router bits  and the resulting astragal cast lead profile in maple wood mould.

Router bits and the resulting astragal cast lead profile in
maple wood mould.

Router bits and  the resulting astragal cast lead profile in maple wood mould.  The results of the casting were reasonably okay. However, I had a problem with trying to work out how I could get a groove in the back for the brass webs. Whilst I was casting and having a dabble with lead, I thought I would try my hand at some of the ornaments which are found on fanlights. I did not have any elaborate moulds made from maple, so I used air drying clay to make my moulds because it is unaffected by the molten material. I simply found various applique ornaments kicking around the workshop, some were wood and some were plaster, I just pressed them into the clay and allowed the clay to dry over several days. It is important that the clay is not damp because the lead can explode. I used a propane gas torch, normally used for burning paint off, wedged between bricks and rested the iron ladle on top to heat and cut small pieces of lead until I filled the ladle and melted enough to fill the moulds. I have in the past, also used fine sand to cast ornament.

Should a new ornament be needed to repair a missing or damaged one on a fanlight in situ, then my method would be to take a latex mould from the existing pattern. I would then fill the latex and make a plaster proto type, then use this either press in sand or a clay mould prior to casting in lead.

However, I believe there are other moulding materials, which could be explored, such as resin. But for me, lead would be the honest route in order to restore.

Practice cast lead and clay moulds together with the iron ladle for melting the lead.

Practice cast lead and clay moulds together with the iron
ladle for melting the lead.

Anyway, apart from all the experimenting, amusing as it was, Indeed to get on with the project in hand  to execute it as professionally as possible. So………….we move on to the task.

I had the beads extruded by special order and to my specifications by a company specializing in the manufacture of lead came for the ‘stained glass’ industry – to which I also dabble.

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Photo 1

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Photo 2

The lead arrived in 1000mm lengths all coiled up. The brass is 0.9mm thick and 18mm width, which I managed to source from a trade stall dealing with scrap metal at a country show and steam rally. I think it might have been used for the decorative banding used to go round the boilers on the steam engines!!

Photo 2 shows the brass inserted into the groove, in the back of the lead bar. The lead itself, shown coiled up in photo 1, is 10mm in width. However, once it is uncoiled from manufacture, I hold one end in a vice and then pull the lead to straighten it. This also stiffens and as a consequence reduces its width to 8mm.

We now move on to making the window to fit its intended aperture. This starts with a full size working drawing, which has been checked for fitment.  The lead, after having been uncoiled and stiffened, is manipulated and placed over the lines of the drawing. It is held temporarily with horseshoe nails – because these have a flat side – until the whole lead skeleton of the window bars are laid out.

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Photo 3

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Photo 6

To fix the lead joints, I cleaned the joints with a wire brush and rubbed a tallow candle over the joints as a flux prior to soldering.  Once this procedure is complete, the whole window is turned over so that the brass strips can be inserted into the groove to form the webs for the rebate. I use plumbers acid flux at each joint prior to soldering with lead/tin solder. This really does stiffen the whole window panel considerably. All the joints are then cleaned up; a certain amount of delicate cutting back is needed in order to maintain the lead profile – Photo 7. The glazing bars and the brass webs are then thoroughly degreased prior to the application of cellulose primer.

Photo 7

Photo 7

We now move on to prepare for the glazing of our new window. The glass needs to be cut accurately as there is little margin for error, with the rebates being so very narrow, plus, cutting concave sections can have its risks too, as this has to be done by hand and not against a straight edge.

Turning over the window and working from the back, I lay the glass over for each section. I am able to see through the glass and proceed to run the cutter just inside the web line, making a ‘score’. A consistent score is required for the glass to then be taken aside, where pressure is placed on the score to which it will break – hopefully! I cut all the glass for each individual section, and then number each piece.

Photo 8

Photo 8

Photo 9

Photo 9

We are now able to proceed with fitting the already cut glass. Using ordinary linseed oil putty, the rebates are run with a bead to bed the glass in. photo 8 & 9.

Photo 10

Photo 10

Photo 11

Photo 11

Having bed all the glass in each aperture, we proceed with running a bead to create a face putty. This wedge shaped fillet will hold the glass in position. The rebate each side of the brass web is less than 3.5mm. When facing the putty it is extremely important that the putty line next to the glass, is kept back from the rebate by about 1mm, or it will be seen when viewed from the front, which is unsightly and undesirable.

The whole panel has been designed to fit in a ply sub frame or a kind of sash, which will fit snugly into the rebate of the main doorframe. Photo 12 may demonstrate this, by showing the outer perimeter from the inside, where it has been fitted to the sub frame by the use of escutcheon nails through the outer brass webbing and into the sub frame.

Photo 12

Photo 12

After installation, I applied mid brown eggshell finish to both sides, followed by a translucent dark brown eggshell to simulate the colour of the door and to achieve a ‘woody’ effect.

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Photo 13

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Photo 14

The finished window now installed as an internal feature to divide two rooms.  We now move on to the other two fanlights, which will be above two external doors. Built in exactly the same way as the internal fanlight previously. The only difference is that the main door frame had to have subtle alterations to accommodate the fanlight panel.

Previously, there was an existing fanlight, which had four divisions and was installed during the Edwardian period.   Inappropriately thick glazing bars and completely out of kilter with the refined design details of the building. Unfortunately, I have no pictures of this, but I altered the head of the frame above the door to incorporate a nameplate for each Gatehouse Lodge. A design detail by way of applied reeded moulding, which is contemporary for the building as there is evidence on other buildings designed by the same architect. Here is a clearer picture of the sub frame, mentioned earlier. Photo 15

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Photo 15

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Photo 17

Photos 16 & 17 show the fanlights in their external position, facing all the weather can throw at them.  They have been protected with several coats of Sikkens Cetol BL, a water-based hybrid satin finish  BS 12, B29.  The signs are of course, gold leaf.

Photo 18

Photo 18

A shot from inside looking out.  Amber glass, this time in monochrome with no varying shades or blue perimeter slips.

Here is the overall picture, complete with door and masonry to frame the effect.

Here is the overall picture, complete
with door and masonry
to frame the effect.

 

VERT DE MER FAUX MARBLE – A TUTORIAL BY LAURENT HISSIER

 

Laurent Hissier

Laurent Hissier

Laurent Hissier was born into a musical family in 1965, in Périgueux in the Dordogne in France.  He began working at the Palace of Versailles in 1990 as a night security man. In the ten years that followed, he developed a deep fascination with the painted and gilded panels and furnishings that surrounded him on his nightly rounds.

In his spare time, between playing in various blues bands, Laurent began to practice painting small panels, teaching himself and figuring out the techniques and finishes that appealed to him so much.

On a visit to the gilding and restoration workshop in the palace to seek advice on a panel he was working on, Laurent met Daniel Sievert, the head of the restoration department, who freely shared his knowledge. During one of Laurent’s many visits, Mr. Sievert mentioned that he could do with an extra pair of hands and after applying for a transfer from the security department, Laurent began work as a gilder and painter in 2003. His duties included making pedestals and frames for works of art in the palace and restoring the existing furnishings, all under the watchful eye and tuition of Daniel Sievert, who trained him in the traditional gilding technique used throughout the palace.

In 2004, Laurent met Pierre Lefumat, who trained him in the techniques of marbling, faux stone and patina. Laurent published a book along with Daniel Sievert in 2011, ‘Gilding at Versailles’ which is an invaluable resource for anyone with an interest in the subject. When Daniel Sievert retired, Laurent was promoted to the position of head of gilding restoration.

After reading Laurent’s inspirational story on Pierre Finkelstein’s website, I contacted him online some years ago and a firm friendship developed. He is always very generous with his knowledge and here he takes us through his method for creating Vert de Mer, or sea green marble.

Palette

Palette

 Sea Green Imitation – by Laurent Hissier

I use the technique of Acrylic and Oil on a black background.  The materials required are as follows:

Acrylics:

Palette: Chrome Oxide Green, Titanium white

Other materials:

Natural Sponge, Spalter medium, small, Twin head brush http://www.boesner.fr/pinceaux-art-du-faux/7364-leonard-chiqueteur-2-meches-petit-gris-3660599030276.html, Small pointed brushes, Badger

Oils:

Palette:  Green English 1, Ivory Black, Titanium white, Red Ochre, Prussian Blue, Blue overseas, Natural Siena, Bitumen

Other materials:

Badger, Spalter, Three strands or chiqueteur, sable brushes flat, sharp Brushes: medium and fine

Toothbrush, Glaze: 2/3 turpentine – 1/3 linseed oil, a few drops of dryers

DAY 1

ACRYLIC WORK

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 Degrease the surface with whiting and a damp sponge

  • Rinse and dry the surface
  • Make a mixture of white and green and begin to glaze the surface with the sponge very lightly and soften with the badger
  • With twin header start fundamental work with a slightly white glaze, and layout the marble.
  • This work is long, varied; use sponge to break these veins and smooth.
  • Wash the twin header before creating different shades.
  • Gradually add white to the colour and continue.
  • Make effects with small Spalters, sponge, soften
  • Using fine brushes and always with the glaze begin to realize the veins of varying size.
  • Create thicker veins in places
  • Marble is built at this stage, think about making very light veins that will sometimes be chopped, cut, broken, etc.
  • Vary how the brush is held.

OIL WORK:

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  • Mix bitumen with the oil glaze and achieve effects, soften
  • Allow to dry

DAY 2

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  • Glaze the surface, spread well with a spalter
  • Take white, green and repeat the same work as acrylic, sometimes on painted veins, sometimes not, using flat brush or pointed.
  • Build colour always very gradually
  • The direction of the grain may have a different meaning or overlapping with the veins made with acrylic.
  • With a very dilute Prussian blue create subtle stones.
  • Take a sable brush and work with the tip, alternating very thin veins and thicker.
  • With another flat brush create black pebbles sparingly.
  • Do the same thing but with pure white.
  • Spatter with a toothbrush with a mixture of turpentine and pure white or slightly tinted, but also with pure black.
  • Using the twin header, making a discreet cobblestone effect and only in places with red ocher
  • Let dry and varnish

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Some examples of sea green marble painted by Laurent Hissier

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Laurent Hissier is currently working as a freelance gilder and decorative painter at the Articuci workshop in the south of France, and teaches courses in order to pass on his craft.

More details of Laurent’s work can be found here: Atelier Articuci

Methods and Techniques for the Ecclesiastical Restoration of a Statue of St. Joseph

ECC

Raimonds Karveckis has completed advanced gilding at FlorenceArt studio of decorative arts in Florence, Italy and studied restoration techniques under the tutelage of Laurent Hissier, former restoration specialist at the Palace of Versailles in France and now a freelance master craftsman. Originally from Latvia, Raimonds has been based in Ballina, Co.Tipperary, Ireland since 2001, where he is well known in the area for his artistic abilities and he is the owner of Ecclesiastical Restoration Workshop.

http://ecclesiastical-restoration.ie/

ECCLESIASTICAL RESTORATIONS WORKSHOP

Using restoration techniques and materials sympathetic to the period in which the objects were made, the creative team in the workshop can undertake the repair and restoration of religious artefacts.

This includes specialist paint effects on walls such as frescos and gilding on dados and plaster trims as well as repairs to paintings and frames, furniture, metal ware, gilded objects, candelabras and other furnishings.

Of particular interest is the restoration of Church Statuary which includes nativity sets, statues, saints, altars and more.

Ecclesiastical Restorations is also an associate member of a network of antique restorers who work throughout Europe and America on government and privately backed restoration projects.

EXTENSIVE RESTORATION OF A STATUE OF ST. JOSEPH – METHODS AND TECHNIQUES

A local priest found this statue in a shed, where it had been neglected for 20 years and brought it to Raimonds for repair and restoration. Raimonds immediately saw the quality of the statue, only a high quality of plaster and workmanship could have resulted in its survival in such conditions. He puts the age of the piece at between 100 and 150 years old.

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The biggest repair job was to reattach the head. Raimonds first had to gain access into the statue, this was accomplished by cutting a section out from the rear, and he then made a wire armature and attached this first to the head and then the body after seating the head correctly with a two part epoxy resin.

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While working inside the statue, the chest area was found to be extremely thin. This was reinforced with plaster of paris and the gaps around the repaired head were filled out, taping the outside to hold the plaster in place.

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The panel was then replaced in the back of the statue and plastered in.

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The statue was missing a hand, so Raimonds commissioned a local sculptor to create a mold, from which a replacement was cast and attached using an armature and epoxy. The repair was again made good with plaster of paris.  The flower had a replacement stem made of plaster over a wire armature attached and was fixed to the statue.

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Cleaning, Painting and Gilding

After cleaning the statue with a specially made solution it was discovered that the paint on both faces could be saved. The rest of the statue was carefully sanded and hoovered before priming in a white basecoat.

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The paintwork on the heads and faces was touched up with casein paint as this was the paint most likely to have been used originally, unfortunately at the time casein paint proved hard to source so Raimonds used chalk paints on the main body of the statue. As the statue was to be placed up high on the wall of the church it was not necessary to seal the chalk paint.

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Raimonds moved onto the gold leaf ornamentation of the statues, a process that was to take a month to complete. The designs were laboriously hand painted in yellow ochre casein paint before being sized and gilded, a testament to the patience of the craftsman!

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To finish, a wooden base was commissioned from a local carpenter and this was finished in an old master technique by Raimonds. The wood was sealed with hot rabbit skin glue, then 12 coats of gesso were applied and carefully sanded before painting with casein paint, distressing, hand painting the ornament and sealing with shellac.  The base was then attached to the statue with evo bond universal pva.

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From start to finish the entire restoration process took a total of three months. The statue can now be seen on display in Our Lady & St. Lua church, Ballina, Co. Tipperary, Ireland.

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DECORATIVE SANDBLASTED AND REVERSE PAINTED MIRRORS

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Mike O’Regan fitting the reverse painted pub mirror!

 

As a natural progression from the traditional sign writing side of my business, I developed an interest in reverse painted and gilded glasswork and have been honing techniques and styles ever since.

Here is a brief introduction into some of the work I have been commissioned to produce and an insight into the skills and methods I am learning and developing while doing so.

SANDBLASTED AND REVERSE PAINTED MIRROR

I was commissioned by a local public house to produce a vintage style oval mirror featuring the name of the establishment.  As I had produced many pieces for them previously, I was given a free reign with the design, the only condition being that it featured green and gold.

The first step was to come up with the design, ensuring that it both kept to the client brief and was a workable design using the method I had selected.

Initial Concept

Initial Concept

Approved Design

Approved Design

 

Once approved, the design was vectorized and produced on my plotter to cut a vinyl mask in reverse for the back of the mirror.

Stencil being applied

Stencil being applied

Fully applied stencil

Fully applied stencil

The mirror itself was then completely masked for protection so that only the cut away parts of my design were visible.  I then sandblasted the design into the mirror using a standard glass etching abrasive and fortunately I have the use of an industrial sandblasting cabinet for good measure!

The masking was then removed and the mirror cleaned with methylated spirits before painting.

Removal of stencil

Removal of stencil

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Clean and ready for painting!

Clean and ready for painting!

At this point, the mirror could be framed and reverse lit if one so wished, however this one was for painting so I decided to use metallic gold paint sparingly on the shadows of the lettering and some of the minor details.  Hammerite was used in this case as it is has a thick consistency so a single application gives the required coverage.

A golden tone of gloss paint was used on the acanthus design and of course the required green was applied – ordinary oil based gloss paints are fine for this. My trusty mahl stick came in handy for the detailed picking out process, both to steady my hand and to keep it out of the wet paint.

Painting in progress

Painting in progress

Once completely dry, the painting was backed up with an oil based undercoat and the mirror framed and fitted onsite.

 

Finished!

Finished!

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STRIPPED PAINT AND CHEMICALLY REMOVED SILVERING

This is a slightly more tedious process due to modern strippers taking on average two days to remove the backing paint from the mirror in order for you to work directly on the silvering.

It does however, open up a whole new choice of techniques as you can oxidize, antique or completely remove the silvering once you have it exposed. An added bonus is that Gold leaf can be applied to stripped areas without losing any of its lustre as it would with a sandblasted piece.

Here is an early experimental project that was distressed a bit more than I would have liked, however you can see how sharp the graphics look and the effect of the gold leaf.

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For this example I produced a ‘sea shanty’ mirror using a graphic that I liked the look of so I just vectorized in a sign program to make it useable.  I wanted this piece to have an antique rustic appearance about it, and was very pleased at how it came out.

The backing paint was removed from the mirror using paint stripper – it is important to let it soften completely, then carefully scrape it off using a plastic scraper to prevent the silvering underneath becoming damaged.

Once the paint is off and the glass is cleaned with methylated spirits, a cut vinyl stencil is applied as in the previous project.  All other exposed areas are masked off for protection.

Stencil on glass

Stencil on glass

I removed the silvering through the stencil using household bleach at full strength.  This is best done with a cotton bud and wearing gloves of course!  In a matter of seconds, the silver dissolves.

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Once the area has been de-silvered the glass is thoroughly rinsed under cold running water to remove all traces of bleach. The stencil can then be removed.

Removal of stencil

Removal of stencil

I decided to antique the piece at the edges and this was accomplished by gently dabbing wrinkled newspaper in bleach then applying to the silvering.  Again, rinse immediately in cold water.

The glass was then backed up with a chestnut brown spray paint (Painters Touch) to add colour to the clear areas and protect the remaining silvering.  I then made my own frame as detailed below.

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A BRIEF NOTE ON ANTIQUING THE FRAME

The frame for this piece was made of pine which was then whacked about and beaten and bruised with a wire brush and other implements.  A rough coat of black satin was lashed on and force dried with a heat gun to make it blister.

Crackle glaze was then applied and dried before top coating in powder blue. The heat gun was then applied immediately which caused the dramatic cracking effect.

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A wash of walnut wood stain was then applied and sanded when dry.  The wash reactivated the crackle glaze and some of the powder blue flaked off to reveal the black.

When completely dry I applied a coat of oil based matt varnish to strap down the layers.

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As an afterthought I added patinated corner brackets to give the look of an aged frame that had been reinforced.

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I hope you enjoyed following these processes, more to come!

MIKE