Tag Archives: Technique

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

received_1169987749695655

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.

pitch-pine-church-pew-256357

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.

1

  1. Begin to form the figure.

2

  1. Join the sap and continue up.

3

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

4

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

5

  1. Glaze the other side.

6

  1. Then burlap to form tight side grain effect.

7

  1. Finished central panel.

8

  1. Next tape off top rail.

9

  1. Pencil in figure and soften as you go.

10

  1. Finish rail.

11

  1. Repeat process on lower rail.

12

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

13

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

14

  1. And same on other side.

15

  1. Allow to dry.

16

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

17

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

18

  1. Panel overglazed.

19

  1. Finished panel varnished.

20

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

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Mahogany – Top 10 Graining Tips!

Cait Whitson is a self confessed paintgeek who has run her own company since the age of 20 and now based in Perth, Scotland happily working at producing and teaching great decorative paint finishes all over the country (and the world if given half a chance).  Here she gives her insights into the history and techniques of Mahogany wood graining.

I have always loved Mahogany and it is my favourite wood to imitate. The variety of tones and patterns are somewhat incredible. These enormous trees sometimes reaching 150 feet in height and 10-12 feet in diameter have been favoured by furniture makers and construction woodworkers since its introduction to Europe and North America and although good quality mahogany becomes rarer each year, the prized beautiful veneer and solid wood is still highly sought after.

While most of us think of mahogany being used in fine furniture, here you can see it used in construction in a house built on Petra Island to one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s original designs:

 

Mahogany used extensively in this house that was built using original drawings by Frank Lloyd Wright (credit http://www.privateislandsonline.com)

 

Mahogany has been a favourite of woodworkers and cabinet makers partly because of the freedom from waste. It is possible to supply figured timber from the mahogany tree in substantial quantities and at only a nominally more expensive rate than the plain timber; superiority in lengths and widths with fewer defects than other timbers mean that mahogany offers large clear cuttings that are free from sap and these are comparatively easy to finish to a smooth surface make it a much loved quality material. Alongside that Mahogany has a rare and permanent beauty and stability.
History

The Golden Age of Mahogany was during the 18th Century and the first quarter of the 19th Century as master craftsmen Chippendale, Hepplewhite, Sheraton and the brothers Adam shaped the furniture that most of us admire today and still live with.

Typical Georgian mahogany piece (credit http://www.wilkinsonantiques.co.uk)

None of us would find the Georgian room unfashionable today (credit http://theredlist.com)

Prior to that European furniture was heavier as a rule and made principally from native wood. Until about 1725 the cost of importing foreign lumber for furniture was a prohibitive luxury. Before that of course came the discovery of the timber and its introduction. The first recorded use of the timber outside of the forests in which it grew was near to its native home during the 16th Century and it was one of the New World treasures brought back to Europe and into North America by early explorers, pirates and buccaneers. When Cortez saw ships being made from mahogany in Santo Dominico he immediately commissioned his own and likewise Sir Walter Raleigh adopted it for his ships. There is a rather romantic tale of Raleigh returning to England with the first examples of the timber and because Queen Elizabeth admired it so much he, in his customary fashion, immediately commissioned the ships carpenters to fashion a table in the timber for her. If this is true it is the first example of the timber being used in England
 

 

 

Crotch Mahogany graining by Cait Whitson credit – Cait Whitson

Graining for me is always about looking at the real thing. Marble you can often have a bit of artists licence with but with woods you need to capture the character of the timber well and most often I find I am matching to something existing, so you need to get practice at some of the characteristics of the wood. Mahogany has a fleck in the background, usually quite regular,

Flat Cut Mahogany Credit – The Hobbit House Inc

and the heart wood of the flat cut tends to be regular and even unlike say walnut which has a much more wayward nature.

Flat Cut Heartwood Credit – The Hobbit House Inc

A great place to check out images of any timber is Hobbit House. (http://hobbithouseinc.com/personal/woodpics/)  There you will see all the different cuts displayed in untreated form. The common solid wood cuts used in construction are mainly plain flat cut with a narrow heart or wide heart and plain stripe cut quartered. Veneers used for decorative furniture and panels will be broken stripe, wide broken stripe, swirl and crotch cut as well as the flat cut heart wood. Occasionally you might see some plum pudding or blister figure. For instruments like violins and guitars the fiddle back and mottle and fiddle back are used. The Mahogany Association plates from their book “The Mahogany Book” are a great reference to the different types of figure http://thompsonmahogany.com/the-mahogany-book-plates/ It is worth getting this book as a handy reference.

One of the plates from the Mahogany Book Credit – (http://thompsonmahogany.com)

Mahogany comes from all over the tropical world and so colours and variations are many, likewise the methods of imitating mahogany in paint are numerous. I remember being told when I first started in the decorative painting world that the base coat colour for mahogany was British Standard 04D44 as if this was an immutable fact. This is a very red colour and I don’t believe I have used that colour again in all my days of imitating the timber. There is no “definitive” for any timber, it is all about what you are trying to imitate.

TIP #1 Finding the right tone for the base coat colour is dependent on how much work you are going to do – i.e. how many layers the budget can afford. If you are only doing one layer then choose a colour just slightly lighter than the finish you are matching, 2 layers look for the paler colours in the timber and choose one of those…3 layers go for the palest colour you can see or a little paler. I tend to start with golden brown and nutty peach colours and I tend to add red into the glaze rather than start with a red base if I want a redder. I use acrylic eggshell these days as a ground for my graining as a rule but oil based is fine, just remember to degrease with Fullers Earth or similar

TIP #2 My system of choice for mahogany has always been a beer or gouache glaze combined with an oil based glaze. The beer glaze is made with thinned “ale” and pigment; alternatively gouache or UK “poster colour” can be used. The same term in USA is not a suitable medium. You could also use a quick drying acrylic medium – even a thinned varnish to work the quicker layers in. These latter mediums can be tinted with powders, acrylic artists paints and Universal Stainers. The oil glaze that I make is a mix of 1 part raw linseed oil; 3 parts white (mineral) spirits; plus about 10% terebine driers (or Japan driers in USA) Your mixes will behave differently depending on your environment – I might make a very different mix should I live and work in Arizona, than the one I make in sunny Scotland. So play with what works for you and your area. There are many variations of these 2 recipes, it is worth hunting around to find what works for you best.
TIP#3 The graining colour added to the oil is usually made from Vandyke Brown, Black, Burnt Sienna and Burnt Umber; other colours that may be considered are Raw Umber, Venetian Red, and Crimson and I use a high quality artists oil colour – my preferred brand is Mussini Schminke.

TIP#4 Tools are as below – this is a selection of tools that would enable you to achieve most woods. The main ones you use in mahogany are – flogger, mottle, overgrainer, writer, softener (most usually a badger but a hogs hair I use too), along with some rubbing in brushes and a varnish brush (I prefer a glider for this to finish.

Tools for Graining and Marbling

Tools for Graining and Marbling

The layers of water and oil based material work and are efficient because the oil doesn’t work up the water based and vice versa, whereas working extensively oil over oil, may soften the layer below and results in an extended dry time making the project less commercial. The way you combine the layers is really down to the look desired and the budget. I will show you a few methods I have done in the past.

TIP #5 First of all flogging – flogging is what creates the open pore flecks that are characteristic of this type of wood. You use a flogging brush. Paint on the medium of your choice and then hold the flogger loosely as shown below. Do not grip it

Holding a flogging brush – this is a nifty little one useful for door edges and narrow areas

Rock the brush and firmly flap the bristle onto the surface to make the bristles imprint into the medium. Sometimes you need to let a medium ‘set up’ which means dry a little till it is less wet, and that way the medium will hold the imprint. Work in the direction that the bristle is pointing. So if you have the brush in the position that it is in the photograph you work bottom to top…which doesn’t feel intuitive I find for the beginner.

Here is a flogged surface in oil on hand rails and the finished product. The oil allows me to blend 2 colours together more easily and as seen on the LSs rail and the next two images show the water based layer over the top, finished and varnished. I degreased the oil surface with Fullers Earth to allow the oil layer to accept the gouache/beer layer and then I just varnished with a solvent borne gloss varnish

Oil flogged surface with gouache/beer overgraining

Oil flogged surface with gouache/beer overgraining

TIP#6 My next trick is to use flecks of paint rather than flogging – spatter the surface with a water based medium (water based for speed of drying – you could use anything that will not be reactivated by your next layer).

Flecks being softened

TIP #7 Soften with the badger in the direction of the grain. I find that holding the brush perpendicular to the surface allows huge control of any medium…try it. Keep the handle perpendicular to your surface and allow the bristles to do the work, you can be quite rough but if you maintain that perpendicular status of the handle, you will be able to manipulate the work with extreme skill.

TIP #8 Graining over the top – to create the figure. Whichever medium you use to create the heartwood the tool used is usually a mottler to create the fine heartwood lines. I find that holding the tool so the bristles lie at an angle that on a clock would be 1 o’clock and 7 o’clock and to keep it there from the start of the movement to the end. Move from the heart out through the figure and then soften from the heart out. This gives you  the foundation for the cathedral grain and you can tweak it and pick out individual lines to empahisise, soften some more than others.

Creating the figure graining

Creating the figure graining

Figuring after initial softening

Examples of figuring in real mahogany

Examples of figuring in real mahogany

TIP #9 When it comes to having one piece of wood cross another, try this little trick. Take some P80 grit sandpaper and lay it across the completed work, the grit side down. Then use this as a mask. You will get clean and realistic timber joints without leaving one to dry and doing the next at another time

Use P80 sandpaper as a mask

TIP #10 Keep it simple, not every piece of architectural mahogany has to have a heavy and complex figure to it. This tends to be the work on furniture or key pieces like doors, don’t overcomplicate the job, you need to make some money!!!

Example of Graining by Cait Whitson

Example of Graining by Cait Whitson

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Example of Graining by Cait Whitson

But when you get the opportunity to go for it……..

Book-matched grained panel in a department store by Cait Whitson

Book-matched grained panel in a department store by Cait Whitson

Happy Painting!!!
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ENAMELLED SLATE FIRE SURROUNDS – HISTORY, RESTORATION AND REPRODUCTION

HISTORY
The process of enamelling slate to resemble marble was patented in 1840 by George Eugene Magnus who had spent a portion of his youth in the potteries area of Staffordshire and indeed married an earthenware manufacturer’s daughter, Mary Boyle.

001_magnus

As a result Magnus would have been familiar with decorating, glazing and firing pottery. In 1838 Magnus acquired an interest in a slate quarry in North Wales and another on Valentia Island, off the west coast of Ireland, with a view to obtaining slate for billiard tables.

Soon after he perfected and patented the enamelling process and set up ‘The Pimlico Slate Company’ where he produced not only billiard tables but all manner of household items. Baths, clocks, chimney pieces, wall panels and doors were just a selection of what was on offer in all types of enamelled imitation marbles and inlays.

For this article we will focus on the enamel slate chimney pieces, which were available in a myriad of styles and colours – indeed in over twenty years of restoring and reproducing the finishes I have yet to come across two the same.

The slate chimney piece or fire surround as it is now more commonly known, was an immediate sensation, being more durable, less expensive and thus more accessible to discerning architects and clients. Catalogues began to spring up from different companies which illustrations of the various designs available.

slate catalogue

50_1997_6_003

PROCESS
The process patented by George Eugene Magnus was this:

A mixture of linseed oil, ground umber, spirit of tar and asphaltum was painted onto the slate, this was then fired in a kiln at two hundred degrees Fahrenheit for up to forty eight hours, creating a tough enamel layer on the slate. This was then hand polished into a rich lustre with pumice and rottenstone.

Different colours could be overlaid and with skilled application a variety of marbles could be replicated. A less expensive method and one I have come across most was to enamel in plain black, then dip the pieces into a water bath on which the craftsman floated a combination of oil colours. This was then hand veined and finished with a French polish.

untitled

RESTORATION

The restoration of these chimney pieces has several stages.

For a fitted surround in fair condition it can be as simple as identifying the finish, whether it is enamel or French polish. This can be done by testing an inconspicuous area with alcohol which will dissolve French polish.

If enamelled then careful colour matching with artist’s oil colours can be used to touch up the original finish. When dry a coat of protective varnish is applied to the whole piece.

French polish can darken over time, dulling the colours of the marbling. This can be completely removed with alcohol without damaging the underlying colours and the piece can be repolished.

Unfortunately most of the surrounds that arrive at my workshop are in a sorry state of disrepair, having been painted over, left outside or broken.

The only option available in this instance is to remove all of the paint or enamel, repair and start again. Major structural repairs are carried out by the fire place company, resetting the returns on the uprights and the corbels and filling cracks and chips with a two part epoxy filler.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The pieces are then sent to me for cosmetic restoration.

COSMETIC RESTORATION AND REPRODUCTION

The first stage is removing the old paint or enamelled finish, a process made more difficult by the banning of the active ingredient in most paint strippers, dichloromethane. Once the paint is off and the surface has been cleaned, any incised linework is cleaned out with a sharp awl. The slate is then lightly sanded.

I tend to finish them in a sprayed cellulous paint as it mimics the original enamel finish. A clear sealer is sprayed onto the slate, then two coats of black satin cellulose paint are applied.

30072008476

30072008478

For a grain effect, I use a tan coloured base (Dulux Heritage Gold Colour) for oak and a Burmese Ruby colour as a base for mahogany/rosewood grain. All graining is carried out in traditional oil scumbles. Grain surrounds are usually a straight brush grain, flogged to create pores. Sometimes a burl effect is employed using torn card and artist’s fan brushes.

DSC01064

Marble effects are done in artist’s oil colours mixed with a bit of homemade glaze (gilp) and a proprietary clear scumble. This are invariably fantasy marbles, going on a colour brief from the client.

The panels are taped off, colour glaze is applied either by brush and removed by various means or by sponge and softened with a badger softener. A flick of white spirit opens up the glaze to give a more organic appearance.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Veining is added when dry with a squirrel hair dagger brush or a feather. Any incised linework is then picked out in gold enamel paint. The finish is two to three coats of matt varnish, hand buffed with beeswax and 0000 grade wire wool to a deep lustre.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A further blog post will cover the reproduction of waterslide transfers found on most of the grained surrounds in the form of imitation inlays.

fireplace3fireplace4

fireplace5
By Michael O’Regan