Painting chairs has always been challenging to me. Not because of the covering of the wood grain, I like the unified silhouette of a painted chair. I see painted chairs as belonging to two different concepts. One, normally a layered black on red, seeks to give the impression of a patina or stain, which gives the impression of age and a stately "wood" appearance. The other is a distinct color choice, such as green, red or blue that shouts, "I've been painted".
Coming from a fine arts painting background, the latter choice has always been more difficult for me. Perhaps I know all too well the potential for drawing attention to a poor choice!
Recently, I have been continuing to develop my line of rod back chairs, and this little side chair seemed a perfect candidate for some risk taking in the paint department.
First, I used a few undercoats of the Real Milk Paint company's goldenrod and then a mix of reddish brown. I then finished it with the peacock mixed with a little of the conifer green. If you haven't tried the paint from this company, I recommend that you do. It is a very different paint. At first I was turned off by the more matte finish, but the wonderful colors, bullet proof results and ease of use drew me back. I've been promising myself that one day I'd work to find a way to use this paint for it's strengths, and here I am.
After achieving the color and finish that I wanted, something seemed to be missing. I have toyed with the idea of using decorative detailing on a chair ever since Curtis Buchanan's birdcage chair inspired me to become a chairmaker.
My resistance has been twofold, not knowing what to paint, and not being adept at decorative painting. But fools rush in right?! So I did some practice painting on some scrap with the goldenrod and found my confidence growing. I am pleased with the results, it really pulls the chair together and my wife said that it is her new favorite. Talk about a review that counts!
Here are some more details. Much like the surface shaping in my chairs that reveal the handwork as you look closer, I wanted the details to break down into simple almost crude strokes up close. However, from a few feet away they fall right in line.
I will go into more detail about the Real Milk Paint company product soon, it's a worthy topic.
On the syrup front, below is a photo of three jars. The middle one is the syrup that I made today, a little under a gallon in about 8 hours, not bad for a homemade rig. The two used pans that I picked up sped the process but more importantly, increased the quality of the syrup beyond my wildest expectations.
Syrup is graded by color. The lighter the syrup the higher the quality. On the right in the photo is store bought grade A amber. This is the best stuff you can get in the grocery store and is about $16 a quart. You'll notice that the bottles are always thin and wide, which makes the syrup look lighter. On the left in the photo is the syrup that I made in my previous deep pans. I think that the depth of the pans caused the heat to dissipate too slowly and the syrup to degrade slightly to a darker tone. I'll use this as cooking syrup. The success of the new pans seems to be due to their shallow depth (I kept about an inch or two maximum boiling) which allows the bubbles to reach the surface quickly and give off their steam without scorching the syrup.
It is hard to describe the difference in taste. Some folks prefer the heavier taste of the darker syrups, but the lighter, more delicate flavor of the higher grades has almost a buttery flavor. I am excited for the next batch, although, the quality of the syrup tends to degrade as the trees get closer to budding, but then of course, it is truly spring and you won't find me complaining.