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Aztec Sun

The Decorative Painter - March/April 2004

Photo 1

Step 1
Basecoat your surface with any flat or eggshell paint in a light value of either latex or oil-based paint. Let dry. Use a spray adhesive on the back of your stencil then press the stencil into place.

Trowel on a heavy-bodied medium that won't run or sag on the surface after the stencil is removed. I used White Palette Art, a thick acrylic product. You also could use thick gesso or heavy molding paste, but don't use drywall mud since it's too fragile. Apply the medium over the stencil, lightly layering it on like you would ice a hot cake. Don't force material under the stencil edges; you want the material raised about 1/8 to 1/4 inch off the surface. A good way to tell if the material is high enough is when you can barely see the stencil image below. It's also OK if the material is a little uneven; it doesn't need to be smooth on top.

Once the material is applied, lift the stencil straight up so you don't disturb the raised image. If you want to repeat the image more than once, tack the stencil in place immediately and trowel the excess material into the open stenciled area. Then fill it up again to the desired height, repeating this process around the area until all images are complete. After a while you may need to clean the stencil because of the material bleeding underneath it. Once your stenciling is complete, let dry.

Photo 2

Step 2
Apply three colors blended wet-into-wet over your surface in a dark, medium and light golden metallic value. I used Aquacolor Dutch Metal Gold for the lightest value then mixed it 30 percent with 70 percent Stain and Seal Rich Brown for the mid-value color. The darkest value was mixed with 30 percent Dutch Metal Gold and 70 percent Stain and Seal American Walnut.

Using the 2Y2-inch brush for each color, start at the top of your area and crosshatch the darkest value one-third of the way down. While the paint is wet (you can mist your surface with water before and during this step to keep your paint wet), crosshatch the mid-value color into the darker value then down another one-third of the area. Crosshatch where the colors meet for a pleasing transition. Apply the lightest color and fade it into the mid-value in the same crosshatch blending process. Let dry.

Photo 4

Step 3
With the Whizz roller (or foam roller), apply the Rolco Slow Set Size in a north-south-east-west pattern so you don't miss any areas. The size needs to be applied with 100 percent coverage in a sheer-to-medium density. It's very shiny, so look for dull spots to see if any areas have been skipped. It will have slight bubbles in it when first applied, but it will even itself out to a glass-like finish.

Don't follow the instructions on the can for the length of time before applying your leaf. For this project you'll use a synthetic gold foil that needs a more aggressive tack to release the foil from its clear plastic backing. This tack is dependent on weather conditions but is normally ready in an hour. Once the size reaches an aggressive tack (when your finger will make a noticeable snapping noise when pulled off the surface), you're ready to transfer the foil.

Cut off a manageable piece of foil. Crumple the foil, then uncrumple it. With the shiny side of the foil facing up, press the foil into the size while slightly pushing it into itself to create a pleated pattern. With the firm pressure of your hand, press the foil into the size.

Photo 4

Step 4
Remove the foil. The foil won't transfer 100 percent and this is OK; you want a fractured look. Repeat this process throughout the surface. The size will stay aggressively tacky for up to six hours, depending on weather conditions. When completed, let the area dry for about 24 hours, or until the size is no longer tacky to the touch.

Introduction | Steps 1-4 | Steps 5-7