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The Beauty of Dirty Work: painting my bookshelves...again


Things are coming along in my living room and I'm starting to see the finish line! This weekend, I painted the rest of my bookshelves. My goal was to show off my book collection without distracting from the graphics I painted on the walls above them. Of course, I rarely just paint a piece. I also had to employ my handy dandy wood grain rocker to give these simple boxes some texture. Now, Faux Bois (fohw bwah) is the real art of creating wood grain finishes. They can be detailed and magnificent, and there are many tools that artists employ to achieve these effects. The rocker is definitely one of them, but I just use it when I want to create something more cheeky than cherished. Know what I mean?

Here's what I did:

[caption id="attachment_377" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="The main wall color is Benjamin Moore 1004 Desert Light. I chose 1018 Shabby Chic for the basecoat of these shelves- a slightly darker driftwood sort of color to blend with, but not perfectly matching, my walls.. "][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_378" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="Work from back to front and top to bottom. After painting the backs of these boxes, I painted the inside tops, then the sides and so on... I painted the outside last. And here's a tip: use long even brush strokes and challenge yourself not to let the paint creep up the brush bristles more than about 1 1/2 inches. Managing the tool and the medium is a true sign of a seasoned painter."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_379" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="I finished with a small brush to paint the front edge then let everything dry while I prepared for the next step. I used water-based satin varnish tinted with a touch of burnt umber and added some extender to give me time for working my finish."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_382" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="This was the fun part: I quickly brushed an even layer of the varnish mixture on an entire panel then dragged the woodgrain rocker through the medium in even rows. I could've used a woodgrain comb to tidy up the edges, but I was more interested in a kitschy look than a true faux bois. Don't worry about being perfect, just work at being consistent. Even playful finishes need to have that thoughtful look."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_383" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="I briefly blow dried each section to prevent dripping and set the finish quickly as I complete each panel. Again, work from back to front and top to bottom, and move between the boxes giving the varnish a few minutes to set before you paint the panel next to your freshly grained section."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_384" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="Adding metallic touches dresses up almost everything. I like Modern Masters Metallics in Blackened Bronze and added it, carefully, to the front edge with a small artist brush."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_385" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="I topped everything off with an even coat of varnish to protect my finish. Here's a tip: I added a touch of raw sienna tint to the varnish for this last layer. A clear coat would've been fine, but I wanted one more layer of texture to soften the graining effect and "gray" the overall color just a bit."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_387" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="Et Voila! After letting these beauties cure for at least 24 hours I finally put my books back in place and hopped on the couch to enjoy them. Ah, this dirty work is so satisfying!"][/caption]

In Scandinavia most faux finishes are really stylized patterns inspired by natural materials like wood and stone. My ancestors are from Denmark and Norway would be so proud.

Next up, do something to dress up the hearth and make some decisions about my desk and sofa... stay tuned.


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