Thursday, April 10, 2014

Mimicking Old Beams

New beams in an addition

Though most of what I work on is historic furniture, I sometimes get called into specialty finishing situations where this expertise is required. In my neighborhood this often means coloring new rough exposed timbers installed in an addition to a 100-200 year old house. Though the texture of the beams is at least 50% of the aesthetic, the color often must at least blend with the rest of the exposed beams. Often the builders apply an off-the-shelf oil stain to scrap wood to try and match the color. This is when I get a phone call.

The original frame looks like this

See… age aesthetic and patination is all about layers. No one color is going to reproduce hundreds of years of wear, soiling, abuse, etc. This patina develops unevenly and over time. In these situations, Mitch Kohanek, at the Institute, taught us to “promise low and deliver high”. It’s important to inform the client that the finished product will never fool anyone from a couple feet away. Rather, the goal is to have the beams blend in with the environment so as not to be distracting.

Orangey base color

This was achieved with three different oil stains applied unevenly to mimic age. The first stain was an orangey color applied thoroughly and evenly for base color. The second was a red umber color applied in streaks and blended with a wide brush. The third color was a dark “walnut” brown applied selectively and mottled.

Red umber 2nd stain

Final dark mottling

After drying overnight, I made a few nail holes with a hand wrought nail and applied black TransTint dye around the hole to mimic rust stains.

Brand new patinated nail hole

Ideas or comments to share? How have you achieved this effect on your projects?

1 comment:

  1. Great information, very cool way of "mocking" the nail holes. Looks like the real deal. Ryan

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