Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tool Chest - Burnt Umber Graining

Burnt umber today. I think it looks less like a zebra now. I'll stop here for now so that it has a few days to dry before it gets packed up for the weekend. When I get back, I'll fine tune the graining and add the banding details.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Grain Painting the Tool Chest

Step Two: the first layer of graining. I used burnt sienna pigment mixed in the same linseed oil mix.

After I got this far I was so tempted to do more layering of color. If I’ve learned anything from the little experience I have with grain painting, though, it’s very easy to do too much and muddle the whole thing up. Period examples are not usually very realistic… they’re more stylistic than anything. (And occasionally it seems that the painter had pretty strange ideasabout how wood grain grows.) The normal viewing distance is 5-10 feet away or so. You’re not supposed to look too close. (Not to say there aren’t incredible examples of grain painting, because there are.)

I didn’t want to smear the wet paint I have on there so I left that to dry. Maybe tomorrow I’ll be able to finish up the next layer of color to complete the graining. Then it’s the faux banding work. Come to think of it, I’m not going to be completing this in time for Leonard’s Mills this weekend. This linseed oil paint dries too slow to get all these layers on in time. Maybe the banding will have to wait until next week.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Tool Chest - Paint Day 1

I finally decided on the paint for my tool chest. Since I’ve wanted more experience with traditional linseed oil paint and to try my hand at decorative grain painting, my options were thankfully narrowed. After searching through a ton of period examples, I decided to focus on Maine pieces. One of my favorites was this chest of drawers with an inscription reading, “Made by E. Morse/Livermore/June 7th 1814”. This is apparently the earliest documented Maine made piece. There are others attributed to Maine makers but this is the earliest signed one I know of.

So I’ve decided to use this paint scheme on the Morse chest for my tool chest. What I like about it is that it’s a good example of early 19th century “mahogany” grain painting of the more conservative and subtle variety. Some of that stuff can get pretty psychedelic. (I just don’t yet have the nerve to ornament my everyday tool chest with such a bold look.)

The first step is to make the raw sienna basecoat paint. I started with a ½ cup of boiled linseed oil and added about 3 or 4 ml japan drier to it. (This works out to 15 drops per half cup.) Then on a glass plate I laid out some raw sienna pigment with some of my linseed oil to begin grinding it into a paste.

 To do the grinding I made a simple muller from a piece of a broken mallet: I cut the broken handle off and sanded the bottom surface flat. After I coated that with epoxy, I was able to sand and polish the surface flat and smooth for paint mixing.

After the pigment was ground into some oil I used a squeegee to deliver the thick paint into a dish. Once I had done this a few times, I added more linseed oil to the dish to get the desired opacity. Then it was simple brush work.

So here we have the base coat. My sample board took a few days to dry so with the fan on it and the heat on in my studio I should be able to get to the next layer by Monday or Tuesday. Can’t wait to play around with the graining!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Our Weekend with Don and Carolyn

Photo credit: Don's camera propped on Don's car with a timer

The first time I met Don Williams was seven years ago when he guest lectured at the National Institute of Wood Finishing where I was a student. We had crossed paths a few times since but it wasn’t until the past year or two that our friendship had grown much beyond casual acquaintance. Though I’ve been down to his place a couple times and he’s been up here before, our wives hadn't met each other yet.

This past weekend that changed. Don and his wife, Carolyn, came up for a quick New England research trip.  We were fortunate enough to have them crash at our place a couple of nights. The ladies hit it off right away. We all had a really great time of conversation, fellowship, and entertainment. Carolyn was interested in the Fisher House, so I took them through on Friday. The last time Don was up I had barely begun my research. His response to what’s been uncovered since that visit was encouraging to say the least.

A demonstrator at Common Ground
Saturday we made our way up to the Common Ground Fair in Unity, ME. We are all homesteader junkies so this was pretty amazing. Don and I spent most of our time looking at wood craft demonstrations like spring pole turning, hand hewing timbers, etc. The ladies spent time with textiles, animals, wagon ride, and such like.

Sunday morning, the Williams’ joined us for worship at our church, Pilgrim Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Bangor, ME. Our pastor is working through Proverbs right now. I am particularly enjoying this series. After lunch, they had to move on to their next stop.

I got Don to sign the bottom of my tool chest. (I want all my woodworking buddies to do this!)

We had such a great time talking goats, firewood, veggies, fermentation, church, tools, furniture, etc. Thanks Don and Carolyn for being so generous to us throughout the weekend. We had such a great time.