Tag Archives: Furniture


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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.


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.


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.



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.


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









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.



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


P1050327patrick damiaens 1

PD 005 ok   architectural woodcarving

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






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.


Below are the tools required to complete the panel.



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.


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.


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.


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.


Progress of the silver grain.


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


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


Joining of the two saps.


More heart grain progress.


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


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.


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.


Creating the Trompe L’oeil moulding

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


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


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


Progression of profiles.


More progress.


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


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


Highlights are added with the base glaze mixed with white.


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


Close up of marked out Trompe.


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.


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


Finished Panel.

Finished panel

Finished panel

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



Winning entry for the Pierre Finkelstein Oak Contest.

Winning entry for the Pierre Finkelstein Oak Contest.

Hand Painted Kitchens- Interview with expert Neil Geraghty

An interview with Neil Geraghty, hand painted kitchen specialist.

Finished Neil Geraghty kitchen

Finished Neil Geraghty kitchen

Neil Geraghty is one of the finest kitchen painters working today and I caught up with him to discuss his processes and to try to get him to reveal some of his closely guarded secrets.

Tell us a bit about yourself Neil.

I have been Decorating since I left school in 1983, starting an apprenticeship with a company sadly no longer with us called F Rendall and sons, after completing my time as an apprentice and getting my city and guilds in basic and advanced craft.  I left and started up on my own at the age of 20, going on to build up a good client base while still working with other craftsmen learning and honing my skills.

I specialize in hand painted furniture, mainly kitchens working for some very good kitchen companies. This is what I now prefer to do as I find it a challenge but gives great satisfaction.  In my work I find I have to travel all over the country and have even worked abroad.

Although I mainly concentrate on the kitchen and furniture side of Decorating, I still do, and enjoy the usual side of decorating (and not so usual)!

For the purposes of this interview, we will deal with a new, factory primed kitchen, where do you start Neil?

I photograph the area, check for damage and photograph any that is there and at the first chance point it out. Allow any trades that need access to come in, once you have protected the area, but not once the paint starts to go on.

Speak to the decorators on site, ask for some wall paint, so you can touch up if need be.

Bring in as little kit as possible until the protection is down.

Talk us through your protection process Neil.

The floor first, run a good quality tape around where the painted surface meets the floor, once done lay corrugated cardboard down taping this to the already put down tape.

Now working up, protect the worktops, this will be a mix of corrugated cardboard below units you will be decorating and lining paper on the work tops with no work being performed above.

Mask up everything that is a painted surface to a surface that you will not be painting. Although you have masked up, the idea is protection, so don’t get any paint on the masking tape. Some masking will be done after the filling/caulking is done.


Now you have taped up and protected all surfaces, what’s the next stage?

Start the strip down, remove all the shelves and furniture. Take the drawers out marking each one in a way that is easy for other people not just yourself as to where they go.

With the drawers you will need to paint them somewhere. I use a couple of work platforms and also utilize some of the worktop space.

We will assume the primer is sound albeit full of bits, with runs and sags but sound.

If it is not sound then it will need to be sanded right back and reprimed. This is unusual but can happen, although I have heard of it, I have yet to have had primer that bad.

Before any primer, it will need to be rubbed down, 240 paper with a festool 400 and some hand sanding where the festool won’t go.


All rubbed down, hoover the whole thing down using the round brush attachment, then wipe down with tack rags, once done we will need to decide on which primer, easy I take no chances, Dulux super grip.

We now caulk up, we do this first as it will take the most time to dry. With the caulking, we want it sharp, not just wiped with the finger, no you want a newish flat head screw driver and use that to remove the excess caulk.

Try to cut the tip of the caulk nozzle to give a small hole for the caulk to come out, that way there will not be masses of excess caulk to form.

Filling, powder for normal size hole, two pack for large holes (shouldn’t really need that) fine surface for the minor imperfections.

You will need a halogen lamp to shine across the surface from different angles to show up the imperfections, if you can see it, fill it.

Ideally, you’ll be able to leave it over night before you go over it with a sander again, the caulk has to be dry.

So left over night, go over with 320, hoover and tack off.


Finally ready for paint then?

When it comes to paint, even with a new tin, strain it, only pour out about an inch into your Kettle (wipe kettle first) dampen brushes before use.

You want to thin it down with clean water and add Flotorol to it (I’m just about to try Zamix but not used yet).

With thinning you want it to flow out but not be too thin so it becomes weak, you’ll know if it is too thick, it will feel like it is “pulling”, just add small amounts of water until it feels right, sorry can’t be more precise there.

Paint every edge that you can possible get to first.

You will need to keep wet edges going so there are no shuts, with large areas, it may help to dampen down by wiping a clean, damp sponge over the area prior to paint.

You do not want any over laps of paint, even if you wipe the overlap off it can show a different level of sheen, once dry.

Laying off, left to right bottom to top, right to left, top to bottom, getting progressively lighter with each pass.

I apply three coats of the top coat as a rule, if it is a dark colour, tint the primer to match the finish colour.

While applying the first coat of finish you will, guaranteed, spot bits of filling you missed first time, get a small piece of masking tape and stick it on the imperfection. Once you have done the first coat, go round and second fill where the bits of tape are.


Between each coat a light rub with 400 grade paper, do this by hand , you will take too much off using mech’ sanding, hoovering and tacking as you go

Leave at least the recommended recoat time, if after that it feels like it is pulling then overnight.

Any paint that is left at the end of each day is put into a crap pot not back into the stock pot, this is always kept clean and fresh.

With some paints they will recommend you use their primer, F&B being one. If it is a dark colour I’ll use their recommend primer for that colour otherwise you’ll be putting up to 6-8 coats trying to get it to cover.

Once done and you have checked it over, check again.


Remove all masking tape, now hopefully there will be no splashes on the wall, even better the wall have yet to have the final coat applied. If neither is so, touch up.

Put everything back, refit all furniture, clean down and dust with a household polish the inside of the units

You want to leave it so the client can come in and put their stuff straight into the cupboards.


Tell us a bit about the paints you use Neil, you have mentioned Dulux super grip, what about finish paints?

I use predominantly water based paints, here are some observations based on direct experience.

Zoffany- Good opacity, quite a high sheen level, highly durable, same day recoat. Great flow

Earthbourne- A favourite of mine. Good opacity good sheen level, highly durable, same day recoat, great flow

F&B- Good opacity, good sheen level. Excellent durability, not same day recoat, good flow.

 Dulux Diamond- ok opacity, good sheen level, good durability, same day recoat, ok flow.

Mylands- good opacity, excellent sheen level, excellent durability, same day recoat, great flow.

Feelings- good opacity, good sheen level. Good durability, not same day recoat. Good flow over-hyped.

Little Greene- average opacity good sheen level. Average durability probably the worst for durability, same day recoat, good flow.

Sandersons- good opacity good sheen level, good durability, same day recoat, same day recoat. Good flow.

What application tools do you use on your kitchens Neil?

All painting is carried out with Purdy sprig elite beaver tail brushes.


Purdy Sprig Elite

Purdy Sprig Elite

What sundries and supplies do you prefer?





Masking tapes

Tesa precision Yellow http://www.tesa.com/craftsmen/products/tesa_4334_precision_mask,m.html

Tesa sensitive pink       http://www.tesa.com/industry/products/tesa_4333_pv1_precision_mask_sensitive,i.html

A big thank you to Neil Geraghty for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions.  An inspiration to all traditionally trained decorators that with careful preparation and application, mastery of water-based paint systems can be achieved.  We need only look at some finished work of Neil’s to be inspired!


Finished Kitchens

Finished Kitchens



Up close finish on door

Up close finish on door

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Work of Neil Geraghty

Work of Neil Geraghty