Sunday, October 3, 2010

Something in a Brown

For a long time now, I've tried different recipes and ideas to paint my chairs in a way that has that rich look of old brown patina. The first thing that comes to mind when you see the chair should be "wood", not "paint". While the black over red has always given a rich result, it still doesn't have that look of an old tool handle or banister that I've wanted.  And the brown paints offered by the milk paint companies have left me uninspired. So while tinkering with my new birdcage armchair, I figured I'd try something new, and from the results, I think that I'm on to something worth sharing.

Above is the chair in progress.

Now I think it's pretty obvious from this blog, that I don't have problem sharing information, but I am shy to admit that I had a brief moment where the notion of a "secret recipe" seemed appealing, but then I thought, "what if I get hit by a bus tomorrow?", it would be lost! 
 Then I thought, "wait a minute, Jeffesonville doesn't even have public transit!", anyway this went on for a few minutes and then I of course decided to share. 

First, a quick word about surface preparation. As much as I like not sanding on the lathe, the burnished surfaces of a skew won't hold the paint well enough to pull this off. So take that perfectly skewed turning that you always make (right?!) and rough it up with some sandpaper. I know, sacrilege.

Like I said, I haven't found just mixing brown paint to be very attractive,  layering a few colors is one of the keys. So here's what I did to get my results. First, the "secret" ingredient in the process is Van Dyke Crystals. These are basically processed walnut hull that dissolves in water to make a stain. I stained the entire chair with this first. Yes, I know, this is no breakthrough, lots of folks do that!


Here's where it gets different, mix some barn red paint from the Old Fashioned Milk Paint Company, but instead of water, use the stain. Yep, the stain. It makes sort of a rich, blood rich as a matter of fact, red. I thin the paint more than the direction recommend, basically just thin enough to pass through a paper cone paint strainer. Paint the chair as usual.

For the next coat, mix equal parts black and barn red, and once again, use the stain as the liquid. This is brown, not gorgeous, but a good brown. Paint as usual.

The third coat is plain old black, very thin. You can use the stain again or not. And here is where the subtleties of choice come in. You could use the stain and add some red to keep the chair a lighter brown. But I went for black. 

It's vital to let each coat dry thoroughly to retain it's contribution. I burnished the chair with steel wool as usual and here's the final difference. Oil it with the Dark Tung oil from the good folks at the Real Milk paint company. I love this stuff. It colors any pores that were reluctant to  take the paint, which is common in oak and gives a lovely warm cast to the paint. Also, it's not toxic, so you can use it with out a full hazmat suit. After a few coats, you might desire to use a harder finish, such as Minwax Antique Oil or just a varnish oil mix.

A little extra rubbing with steel wool warms the surface color

I haven't gotten that far because I can't stop rubbing it with the tung oil!

You can get the Van Dyke Crystals from Garrett Wade (I hope this makes up for my "gentleman gardener crack last year!). When viewed from across the room, the chair has a striking dark silhouette, but as you get closer, the variety of colors in the surface get warmer and more interesting.

Not my last experiment in the finishing arena, but a great start!


jack said...

Thank you for sharing.My wife is a school teacher and is always coming up with new things that she shares with both students and other teachers.I think it is a way to pass things learned and discovered to the next generation,to keep and improve on our past.
If I use this recipe, (and I will), I will give credit to you as the one who was willing to share!!
Thank you again I love your blog!
Paul Testoni

Peter Galbert said...

thanks, let me know if you need any tips, and be sure to do some samples first!

Andrew Jack said...

pete. what a stellar idea! i can't wait to see it in person. ttyl.

simple and southern said...

Pete,You really inspire me because you are trying something new to get
out of the box and it works beautifully.I have always used analine dyes on my chairs and as my chairs get worn they seem to look really old.Also do you have way to make a large wooden screw for a bench leg vise.They are very pricey in the catalogs.Thanks Kerry

Tico Vogt said...

That's a wonderful recipe and finished color.

You're the man.

Anonymous said...

Well done Pete. That warm color makes the chair look very inviting. Also, nice work on the seat. That gutter really grabs the eye and guides it around the curves.
Now go take a goat deserve it.
I hope all is well..
Dan from Boston

Peter Galbert said...

I'm not sure about the vise screw, I've always thought you just have to bite the bullet on that one!

Thanks, I hope you give it a try.

The gutter on the front was one of those last minute deals, I walked out of the shop thinking "what the hell did I just do!" but once painted, it works! And I just got back from goat time, it's raining, they're mad.
take care,

suggie said...

Pete,Thanks>>>>>>>>>I wish others would be so fourth comming with info>>>>>>>I find it hard to understand why they refuse to help those with less experance.....BOB LINDH

Peter Galbert said...

Thanks Bob,
I hope it helps! As far as the sharing goes, I've been fortunate to learn from some very generous folks, they set the bar, besides, I've gotten a lot back from sharing, so it's win/win.
good luck