I've had a couple of busy weeks here with lots of folks in the shop. First, I had the pleasure of finally meeting Jameel Abraham, whom I've been working with long distance all year to get the Drawsharp completed.
Here is Jameel carving the front of his seat.
post and tell the story of him calling me a fence builder compared to the guitar maker. All week long, as I guided Jameel through his first chair, I couldn't get Eddies raspy voice out of my head. If you don't know what I am talking about, look at what Jameel can do.
Luckily, chairmaking is very different from Oud making and I think Jameel picked up a thing or two.
When I had a little down time, I continued my quest to master the Real Milk paint.
A little background...I stopped using the Old Fashioned Milk paint because of the issues that I, and lots of others ran into with white powdery flecks, adhesion and color shifting. It's a fine product, but to get the consistent results that I want easily takes some effort, and even then, can be elusive.
I think that I have finally latched onto a way to make the results of the Real Milk paint product as good as the Old Fashioned at its best, at least with the black over red finish.
I have been using a very very thin coat of blonde shellac to aid in the process and doing so, I was able to get this finish within a 6 hour period from the raw wood.
First of all, the best way that I've found to mix this paint is to combine the paint and some warm water in a cup and then to swirl the cup like you would an icy drink until the powder is all wet, then use a stick to mix it further. Then let it set and mix it more over a period of a couple of hours, this gives the particles a chance to absorb all the moisture they can.
In this instance, I mixed the red paint 2 parts to 3 parts water. Then I applied the red to the piece. I put it on thin, but at that mix, it covered great.
Once it dried for a couple of hours, I rubbed it lightly with a xfine mirlon pad to get any excess paint build up off. This step seems to be the key to getting the thin finish that I like,really allowing the wood texture show through. If any of the steps would benefit from a longer drying time, it would be this first one.
Then, I padded the piece with the super thin shellac. Don't let the shellac harden before the next step. This seems to do a few things. The next coat of black paint (mixed 3 to 5 H20) adheres a bit better and it keeps the black from dissolving the red and mixing in with it, which just creates a dull muddy appearance. After an hour or two, I rubbed the piece again with the xfine mirlon pad to remove the excess paint. This step gives me the opportunity to even out the saturation of the paint. The piece had an ox blood color at this point.
Then another coat of shellac and black. One lovely benefit of this process is that the shellac allows you to see exactly what the piece will look like if you simply finished at that point. The second coat of black dried for a couple of hours and then I rubbed it to get just the look that I wanted, which doesn't take much effort and then a final coat of shellac to seal it up. After that, I rubbed out the shellac with the mirlon lightly and did a topcoat of Waterlox to finish it off.
It may sound like a lot of steps, but each one is quick and there isn't that moment of fear right before oiling that something might not look right.
With the Old Fashion Milk paint, I found that the mixing, filtering and application were the keys to getting a successful finish, but if you screwed up any one of them, then the results were compromised. With the Real Milk paint, you do want a good consistency, but the translucence of the final finish comes more from sealing in what you like with the shellac and rubbing each subsequent layer to a thickness that you want. It's much more controllable in my opinion.
I will be finishing and documenting a c arm that I have in the works, but I wanted to get the ball rolling. If you are interested, do some samples and let me know what you find, thanks!