I'm now in my eighth week of a 10-week decorative arts course and I'm finally getting a chance to apply some of the techniques I've been learning at my studio. Its great to be a student again (after too many years to count), although my class schedule has made it hard to find as much time as I would like to have to work on my furniture. In the time I've managed to carve out I've been experimenting with some different painting approaches that I've been learning—particularly the use of glazes, rather than standard paint. Glazes, which I create by thinning latex paints with water and urethane, allow me to use layers to get much more interesting tones and dimension with my painted finishes.
Two recent pieces really benefitted from glazing. I was able to take a very "weathered" mid-century modern side table that had been used for years as a sort of workbench and bring in back to life while not losing its great aged quality. By applying a thin glaze in a hip blue color the piece looks fresh and unified but the distress I liked in the wood underneath shows through just enough to give the table great character. With this piece, the glaze was a great alternative to a "broken" finish technique like crackling because the color remains sleek and consistent, while still letting the weathered wood show through. You don't just get a flat color, but dimension, tone, and variation.
I took a different approach to glazing on a Deco-style coffee table I just completed. With this piece I used several layers of glaze to build a finish on the coffee table's wood top that combines several colors—a bold coat of pink paint was used as a base and was softened with several layers of a yellow/orange glaze with slight color variations, then a sheer burnt umber was applied. I then added the geometric pattern using layers of off-white glaze and a thin glaze of the same yellow/orange from the base. With a final coat of polyurethane the top was complete. The color of the table top reads as a muted and warm peach with an inlay of creamy yellow.
I also glazed the metal legs—refinishing the original black metal with off-white, a layer of burnt umber, then a thin coat of eggshell, followed by two specially sponged coats of a thin burnt umber. The layers of glaze create patina effect—an off-white aged metal look that compliments the umber glaze on the wood top. You have to see this table in person to appreciate the cool tones of the finish.