Paint Glaze, Using Glazes
Glazing can be used to enhance the appearance of any paintable surface. Wall treatments can help break up solid color, adding interest to an otherwise ordinary room.
by Mollie Conklin Eckardt
and one that has stood the test of time, is a simple one: glazing. “Glazing” is a term loosely used to describe the various techniques of applying this transparent colored liquid. Glazing techniques can be divided into two distinct categories: positive glazing, which is a process of applying glaze for an effect, and negative glazing, which removes glaze from a surface leaving a textured appearance. Many of the more complex faux treatments, such as marbles, rely on many layers of transparent, colored glaze to give the stone depth and realism.
Glazing can be used to enhance the appearance of any paintable surface. Wall treatments can help break up solid color, adding interest to an otherwise ordinary room. Stippling in an umber glaze can antique walls, giving a tea- or smoke-stained patina. By applying heavily in corners and little crevices you can add “years” to a room’s decor in just minutes. These types of finishes lend themselves especially well to country styled interiors.
For a more sophisticated room, a ragged finish in a deep color can easily emulate the look of leather. This would work well in libraries, foyers, and dining rooms. For a formal setting, glaze can be dragged on in a strie effect, creating an elegant background for fine furnishings. Possible color schemes that would work well in this situation are corals and eggshell blues with lighter tones dragged over the surface in a downward motion.
Walls are just the beginning! Antiquing glazes on painted furniture have been all the rage for nearly ten years. Any type of carved decoration will “pop” with a bit of glaze stippled on to enhance the tooling. A few more ideas of places to use glaze would be concrete, light fixtures, woodwork, and decorative accessories. Use your imagination, and don’t be afraid to experiment.
In recent years the market for faux finishes has exploded, resulting in a market swamped with “magic” faux finishing tools and equally “Magic Gordo Sauce.” (This is a fun term used by many old timers referring to the newfangled glazes!) It’s easy for DIY’ers and beginners to get swept off their feet into buying all these things. But most of the time the tools that are used by professionals are simple, basic tools that have been around forever.
Even the glaze mixture can be improvised, depending on the surface and technique. I’ve used everything from stale beer, Sprite, and water to expensive prepared commercial mixes.
Glaze needs to consist of three properties: color (universal tint), vehicle (water), and binder (acrylic, sugar solution or beer, to name a few). One effective technique that I have used many times with great success is making a simple color wash glaze from a quart of paint. The wall should be painted in eggshell latex, about three shades lighter then the quart of paint you have purchased. Simply pour about half of the paint into a bucket and mix with four times the amount of water. Add about a half a cup of Floetrol and mix well, then continue to mix frequently during use. Simply wash the color on with a large brush and gently rag it off with lint-free cloth. This technique seems to work especially well in newly constructed homes with knockdown walls. Simple, inexpensive, and effective!
“The Art of Faux,” by Pierre Finkelstein, and “Professional Painted Finishes,” by Ina Marx, are two wonderful examples of books that show the step-by-step process of layering glazes to create these complex faux finishes. Perfect for both beginners and professionals alike, these two books contain excellent photography and instruction in making and applying glaze.
And for the painting contractor who wants to explore glazing further, here is a list of supplies to get you practicing. Most things you probably have in your shop already!
- Poster board or drywall samples painted in latex eggshell base
- Scott Rags In a Box
- Natural sea sponge
- 4- or 5-inch-wide staining brush
- Quarts of paint in eggshell or satin
- Quart of commercial glaze (Polyvine Scumble works well in most cases)
- Universal Tints
As well as the two books mentioned above, the following have also been a good investment:
“The Handbook of Painted Decoration,” by Yannick Guegan
“Recipes for Surfaces,” by Mindy Drucker
“Paint Recipes, Paint Effects and Special Finishes,” by Sacha Cohen
“The New Paint Magic,” by Jocasta Innes
And for inspiration…
“Sophisticated Surfaces,” by Karen Aude
“Decorative Style,” by Kevin McCloud
Artist and designer Mollie Conklin Eckardt is the owner of Morning Star Artworks. She can be reached at (920) 783-0215, or visit her Web site.