Category Archives: Faux finishes

Mosaics a la Venice

Talk about patience! These intriguing mosiac photos are taken in the Venetian atelier of Angelo Orsoni. The company was founded in 1888 and is located close to the Cannaregio canal in the Cannaregio district, off of the Grand Canal.
These glass tiles, or smalti,  are made according to the original recipes with glass and pigments, poured into slabs, cooled and cut into miniature pieces. The Orsoni mosaics are really exquisite fine art and are shipped all over the world.
The following photos are courtesy of Maisons Cote Sud. Photography by Bernard Touillon.
Orsoni mosaic library

up close

Powder pigment

These last two mosaics were picked up at an antique sale. They were made in Italy by students at an art school in Venice.

I would love to see other mosaic examples. Care to share?

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Filed under color, Faux finishes, Mosaics

Veggies and fruits for your walls

I chuckled when I saw this ad for Tollens paint, but it demonstrates a great way to transform your color preferences and ideas into actual colors for your walls. Gather up those photos you’ve been setting aside and take them to the paint store for color matching. Or ask your decorative painter to create a special finish based on the fish you’ve got in your hands!

Tollens paint

I found these veggie images with great color:

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and when I saw the recent issue of New York Spaces magazine with the articles on using color in the home, the veggie and fruit colors just leaped out from the paper:

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New York Spaces Photo by Brian Park

This is a lime plaster sample I created on textured wallpaper.

Lime plaster on textured wallpaper

These fun peach colors…

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certainly made their way into this room!

New York Spaces Photo by Brian Park

Who can resist these luscious colors?

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They were my starting point for this sample of paint and water-based waxes.

Paint and water-based waxes

You can find color ideas everywhere, even in the kitchen!

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Filed under color, Faux finishes, Inspirations, paint

Rust Patina

Rust patina, whether it is an applied finish or the actual rusting of iron or steel, is beautiful in its own organic way. It is used in many commercial applications, but is also incorporated into home designs.  The fireplace is created with plates of rusted steel.

House Beautiful

Rust steel fireplace

chemetalco steel backdrop

The following are photos of the first designer gas station in Spain, just outside of Madrid. The curved canopies are made out of corten steel plates and left to rust naturally.

Repsol service station

Repsol service station, aerial view

In order to create a rust patina, there are several items to pay attention to. You must start out with special paints, whether iron, copper or bronze, that are specifically made for this purpose. These water-based, acrylic paints contain a large number of actual metal particles, rather than mica flakes or pigment. The finely ground metal flakes create the look of a true metal surface. One applies a solution that speeds up the natural oxidation of the metal to develop the rust patina.

When applying the rust solution, careful attention needs to be paid to the product’s instructions. Because the solution is usually a mild acid, proper precautions should be taken, such as gloves meant for chemical protection and a face mask.

The next photo is a class sample from the All Aglow: Patinas and Metallics class at my studio.

Rust patina

When I moved into the old warehouse studio, this is one of the doors I needed to finish:

After I filled in the texture of the wonderful “wood”, I primed and then painted two coats of iron paint. Then the fun began! Several rust patina solutions were applied in every which way. I think the door is touched more than any other door I’ve seen! One caveat: because the rust patina is a result of a very organic process, it is not possible to accurately predict a specific shade of rust. The results are based on many conditions, such as temperature, humidity and air quality. Samples are definitely a good idea before beginning the final finish.

And, yes, it is sealed. You should definitely seal a rust patina if it is going to be exposed to extreme weather or if folks will come into contact with the finish.

However, do not seal with a polyurethane. Seal your rust patina with a high quality acrylic or solvent-based sealer.

door before

Finished door

closeup

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Filed under Faux finishes, Inspirations, paint

Friday Favorites

Friday means fun and favorite things to me. Just knowing that soon you’ll have a couple days off automatically boosts my spirits!

Here are a few of my favorite images and inspirations.

What a fun way to create a focal point in the room and make your  bed’s headboard at the same time. This work of art could have been created with paints or Venetian plaster.

Painted headboard in French Style at Home

I saw this charming set of cafe doors in Paris, which inspired me…

Cafe doors in Paris

to create this plaster finish for a client’s powder room:

French Indochine finish

In France, this is a must see store to visit for me. I love their print ads!

Ressource Paints

In the book, French Style at Home by Sebastien Siraudeau, I saw this damask settee and

Damask settee in French Style at Home

actually based this finish on it for a living room. Six panels of varying widths were completed and framed (frames are not on yet here) with molding.

Metallic damask finish

My favorite way to choose a finish for a client is to have them bring me their inspirations;  I’ll take it from there and dream and experiment till we nail it!

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Filed under Design, Faux finishes, paint, Plasters

Beautiful lime plasters

Once you’ve seen an authentic lime washed wall, you’ll remember it. Touch a smooth lime plaster wall and you’ll remember it. There is something about its sleek, creamy feel…  If you’ve traveled in Italy or France or Mexico, chances are that you’ve seen these mottled, weathered, lime plaster walls.

They seem as hard as stone and that is because they are.

Orenzo Design

Lime based plasters and paints are mixed with natural pigments only. The pigments must be suitable to mix with the lime or they will not remain stable and fade over time.

Lime plaster has been used for thousands of years. The entire process is long and involved. Limestone is “cooked” until the chunks disintegrate and become a powder known as calcium oxide. This lime powder is then mixed with water and left to slowly age or “slake”. It is this slaked lime, in a putty form, that is mixed with varying amounts of marble dust and sand. The pigments are added at this time. In this day and age, other ingredients are often added to the lime plaster mix.

Generally, several layers are applied to the walls. As the lime dries, the water is absorbed into the wall and the carbon dioxide “slakes” the lime, rendering the material back to limestone. And it is as hard as stone.

Applying lime plasters directly to a latex or alkyd (otherwise known as oil based) painted wall will not work; lime plasters and paints need to have a special base that allows the lime to adhere to it.

Lime washes are created by mixing the lime putty with water to a milky consistency and applying the wash with a brush.  It has a faded, almost pastel look, that appears authentically weathered.  Lime based paints are generally used to let the walls “breathe” rather than locking in humidity. They are excellent for bathrooms and kitchens as they are a deterrent to mold.

Doors with blue lime wash Photo by Yann Monel

Photo by Ricardo Labougle

Lime wash on exterior Photo by Carlos Domenech

Photo by Carlos Domenech

Photo by Eric Piasecki

Photo by Carlos Domenech

Lime wash walls Photo by Simon McBride

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Filed under Faux finishes, paint, Plasters

An Italian groin vault ceiling… in America

How can one pass up a week in a Tuscan villa? Located just inside of Umbria, an hour from Florence, this to-die-for villa was all you’d expect it to be. (Villa pics coming later.) With the villa serving as our base, we roamed the surrounding areas and just soaked it all in.

While traveling through Arezzo (east of Florence), we fell in love with these groin vaulted ceilings in a non-descript deli. We walked in for lunch, looked up and that was it! So typical of Italy- there is such beauty at every turn.

Arezzo, Italy groin vault ceiling

A few years ago, my SO opened a boutique/cafe that was based on our passion of Italian design. We blew up our video frames of the dome ceiling that we loved in Arezzo to see the pattern and attempted to re-create those designs.

I started out with m-a-n-y sample boards to figure out the finishes; here is one of the final boards- I think I finally figured it out!

Sample board

The groin vault domes (formed by the intersection of two or more barrel vaults) began with a custom engineered metal frame.

Drywall was affixed to the metal frame and the entire ceiling, especially the many seams, was smoothed, filled, sanded, followed by filling and sanding and filling and sanding. The plasterer (Thanks, Dan!) did an AWESOME job.

Almost ready for us...

This is how the ceiling was when we received it. Gulp!

I first primed twice and basecoated twice before even thinking of the finish layers. Then I began applying the three plaster layers, using a custom mix for each layer. The first layer was ochre and lapis blue; the second and third layers were more of what you see- the whites and lapis blues.

Then we painted the designs, some freehand and some with a few specific designs cut in mylar to be consistent on site, trying to stay as close to the original ceiling design as possible.

Once the painting was complete, we added a layer of glaze to “knock back” and age the finish.

We only had 2 weeks to take the ceiling from the raw drywall and seams state to completion.

Still adding! These are the electrical guys for the chandelier installation.

Here we are at work...

The ceiling is 25 feet up there!

Adding details

Here is the beautiful Isola Bella groin vault ceiling, ready for the chandelier to be installed!

We're done! Just waiting for the chandelier

Closeup view of groin vault seam

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Filed under Ceilings, Design, Faux finishes, Inspirations, Plasters

Go For the Gold… As In Gold Leaf

An elegant addition to any décor is to add the touch of gold or silver leaf to furniture or accessories. Whether accenting the special molding on a table or gilding a picture frame, the gold surface adds a special opulence and shimmer that cannot be replicated with metallic paint. When held up to the light, the sheet of gold leaf is so thin that it is semi-transparent. As a result, gilding should be done in a draft free environment. Any drafts of air will cause the leaf to literally blow away.

My own gilded table

Gilded frame

Darnell Demilune Commode by Amy Howard in House Beautiful

Silver leaf table legs

There are two methods of gilding: oil gilding and water gilding. Oil gilding uses an oil size upon which, once it dries to a slight stickiness or “tack”, the gold leaf is gently laid on the surface and carefully pressed. Water gilding is a highly specialized craft used for applying gold on frames and furniture.

Create a screen like this with the fabulous stencils that are available now. An online search will bring up many stencil companies, such as Royal Design Studio or Cutting Edge Stencils.

Gilded screen Photographer: Erik Johnson

These arches were gilded with an oil size using Dutch (composite) leaf and sealed with Liberon wax.

Isola Bella gilded arches

Please join me again for Part two on gilding. I’ll explain the various types of gold leaf and offer reliable sources for supplies, books  and instruction. If you’d like any other facets of gold leaf gilding to be covered, please let me know.

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Filed under Design, Faux finishes, Gold leaf gilding