The following story appeared in The Artistic Stenciler, Spring 2007BY GARY LORD
Being the first to try something brings risk with it. I must be willing to fail if I want to succeed in things I have never tried before. When I fail, I make it a learning experience. Many of my better finishes were created while I was trying to fix a mistake. Sometimes success comes from recognizing a trend before the crowd does. Sometimes I guess wrong, but I am always looking for what is new and different.
I want to share the innovation and creativity that I am currently experiencing with Wood lcing®, Metallic Foils®, and JaDecor®.
I first saw Wood Icing when creator Rose Wilde entered a piece in the 2002 FauxAcademy competition where I was a judge. She entered what now is known as her signature piece of furniture, Cracklin' Rose. Rose took first place for furniture because of her creative use of a brand new product.
I asked Rose to demo Wood Icing in a class I was teaching. She mainly taught how to use the product on furniture. I took this knowledge, bought the product, and showed it to my staff.
Each year my company holds an three-day competition where we create new samples with new and older products. We create 100 plus samples and then vote for whose work we feel is the best, most unique, and creative. The winner gets a dinner for two at a restaurant of their choice. More importantly they have bragging rights for the whole year.
In the five years we have been doing this, I won once. A good 75% of the samples never make it to the sales area, but we learn from them. Only one takes first place but I sell and teach with these sample boards for years.
The talented Kris Hampton, who works with me, created the Wood Icing technique on the cover and pictured below. It starts with hanging 60 lb. craft paper on the walls for the base. Trowel the Wood Icing using a 4" plastic trowel in a vertical drag/lift motion. Do this over the surface in vertical sections next to each other. Allow some of the craft paper to show through by letting the towel skip over some areas. Let the material dry completely. Kris applied Stain and Seal® Rich Brown with a Leon Neon® for the overall tonality of the piece. We added in a touch of Antique Cherry Stain and Seal dry brushed on the high areas for a minor accent in the room at left.
I became interested in the Metallic Foils when Andrejs Ritins taught a class for me in the mid 1990's. I loved the ease of application and low cost.
This was also when Old World finishes were very popular and Dave Schmidt created the finish called Medieval Metal by using a crackle finish over the metal and then staining it. I have continued to use the foils in my work but the techniques have evolved as metallics have replaced Old World finishes. The two treatments pictured use foils in an updated way.
The lace technique was executed in Chicago's House That Faux Built with the help of Kathy Carroll and some of her students. This is a spin off of a lace design Dave and I did called Shimmer and Lace. A size is applied to the surface and allowed to become tacky. Copper, Gold, and Blue foil colors are transferred onto the tacky size. Lace is placed over the foil and Brown Suede LusterStone® is tightly trowled through the openings. The lace is removed, cleaned, and tacked on the next area and the process repeated until the area is complete.
The diamond technique (right) is completed by using Palette Deco® White to pipe the diamond pattern onto the wall using a cake decorator. Apply the size and transfer three foil colors (Celadon, Gold and Bronze) as above. Then apply a full-bodied coat of Aqua Size® over 100% of the surface and allow it to become tacky. Roll a thick coat of AquaCrackle® Clear over 100% of the surface in a random criss-cross motions. Let it crack. Let dry. Apply Stain and Seal Van Dyke Brown with a rag and wipe off as much as you can. When dry, apply glass beads using YES Paste®.
Another product I am using more of recently is JaDecor. One of my staff, Micah Ballard, saw this at the Detroit SALI convention and convinced me to look into it. I met Tim Bell (owner of JaDecor USA) and he gave me samples. I showed these to designers in my market and was able to put it into my Home Show that year. That designer said that he had more inquiries about JaDecor than anything he had shown in showcase homes for years.
I have since shown JaDecor in six different home shows, each with the same results and the added boom of commissions. JaDecor is a wonderful alternative to the standards decorative painting techniques. It is an environmentally friendly, all natural cotton wall covering that contains other natural material, such as mica and plant fibers.
I have installed this in high end commercial and residential projects. It can be applies over moist surfaces. With the right prep, it is great for disgusting damaged plaster, cinder block, paneling and concrete. It is also considered a green industry product. Many of my clients like the metallic elements in the materials but for those who do not there is a new line called US Cotton that is made of silk and is beautiful.
I am developing a line of 3D Black Light paints. These have been around in the scenic industry for years. I did a daytime sprayed sky with a pirate theme in a room. I used invisible black light paint that can only be seen under UV light and painted a planetary system on top of the day sky. During the day these invisible paints are difficult to see. When lit with UV light, they suddenly appear. When the viewer applies the special 3D glasses the whole solar system floats in different levels depending on the color of the paint spectrum you are viewing. I am showing this in my booth at the SALI Convention this year and am teaching a class using these new products.
To stay on the cutting edge is difficult and takes time and commitment. It is where I find my most enjoyment and is what keeps me interested and loving what I do.