We have a client who would like a mantel with a marbling or faux type finish. The base color would be an off-white with grayish color to match the stone and granite that the mantel will be placed on and next to. I have never done decorative finishes and don't want to sub it out. Can you point me in the right direction for spraying this?
From contributor A:
You don't spray anything but the base and topcoats. Everything else is manipulating glazes.
Three good books on various levels:
The Art of Faux by Pierre Finkelstein, ISBN 0 8230 0858 4
Painting Techniques & Faux Finishes by Louise Hennings & Marina Niven, ISBN 0-86573-182-9
Decorative Paint and Faux Finishes, Sunset Books, ISBN 0-376-01388-5
They cover from simple to fairly complex. Takes practice to do it well.
The finish isn't very hard, but the way you perform it differs if you are using lacquer, urethanes or CV. Be sure to use a non-yellowing finish as marbles don't yellow like lacquers do. I could go on for pages about how to do it, but the system will vary depending on the look or sample you need to match. I like to use several glaze colors, sometimes up to four or five colors as real stone has many undertones to it. I would make plenty of samples and just play with the process till you get the look you want, also make sure your finish system is compatible. You don't need finish peeling off a few months down the road. Also, charge ungodly prices to do a finish like this. Why? Because we can.
I've done a number of these jobs, and Bob is right when he says to charge ungodly prices. These are time-consuming jobs, and to do it right there's a lot of on-site down time waiting for stuff to dry, and tweaking... there's nothing production-oriented about these jobs. You need to give the piece the appearance of depth, which means lots of seal coats between layers of glaze, or color.
This requires making sure that each layer has cured before applying the next layer (I've actually had 12 layers of sealer/glaze/color, before applying the finish. That's what was required to get the look the client would sign off on. Which gets to something else importantů samples, samples, samples!
A couple things I've learned from doing this work:
1) Document the hell out of each step used in making the sample (I even get sign offs every 3-4 steps just to be safe). 2) Get a carton of the Pre-Val handheld sprayers if this is being done on-site, since you usually can't/don't want to be spraying in somebody's den. 3) Target Coating's PSL is not good, but great, for faux work. Quick drying and dries clear. Though they state it shouldn't be brushed on, I've brushed it on and used the Pre Val spray bottles to apply it. You won't get an "off the gun" finish, but the stuff rubs out beautifully.
Most faux finishes are easy to do, and are very forgiving, because all natural organic materials vary in color, patterns, etc.
1. They all start with a base background color coat. I prefer applying a clear seal coat to maintain some of the base background color.
2. A colored glaze. It is the glaze that actually creates the faux finishes, each faux finish depends on how the glaze is manipulated (worked out). On some faux finishes, different color glazes or different effects are added using the glaze, and then seal coated into separate layers creating different stones, marbles, leathers, woods, etc.
3. Clear coats are then applied to protect and preserve the faux finishes.
Make up some samples, just by changing the background color and the color of the glaze you can make a multitude of other faux finishes.
I know at least one high-end contemporary furniture manufacturer who creates fantasy and marbled looks like this as part of their standard operating procedure. They use Ronan Japan colors thinned with either Naptha or mineral spirits. But any colored glaze will work.
The next time you are in the passenger seat of a car or an airplane and it is raining outside, watch the water as it is blown on the side window and notice the paths it takes and the shapes of its trails.
To create other effects, take a plastic bag and crumble it up, and then begin to dab and mottle over the glaze.
You can use these two techniques with either water or oil glazes. Make up some samples to get the feel before you try these on your work.
If you're using a water glaze, use water on the balled up cloth. This same softening technique can be used on a fast glaze that is made up with only mineral spirits and a paste colorant.
Apply the glaze, and then dab and mottle out with a dampened balled cloth with mineral spirits. This glaze is fast drying, and is not intended for doing all kinds of glazing.
Due to the different flashing rates and solvent properties, they all create different effects on the glaze.
Contributor D, great idea. Never thought of that, but makes a lot of sense.
That's true when you're doing some of the faux finishes. When working alone, I add different amounts of retarder to the glaze depending on the size of the work I am doing.
(In case you didn't get it, and I'm sure you did, the reference to wax on, wax off, is from the film, Karate Kid, where Pat Morita has the lad polishing the car with both hands; putting the wax on with one hand and taking it off with the other.)