We recently had the pleasure of collaborating with a client on up-cycling a piece of furniture they wanted to bring new life to. The request was to create a antique and rustic appearance to their hand carved mirror that’s finish was too dark for their current renovation but had fallen in love with the delicate wood details.
• 2 Paint brushes
• Sanding block
• Paint Cloth
• Wax Cloth
• 2 Sample Pots of Farrow and Ball Paint
• Finishing Wax
Before painting went underway, we started by removing the glass mirror and backing from the wood frame. Alternatively, if the mirror is unable to be removed from the frame, you can line along the edge where the frame and glass meet with painters tape to avoid any specks of materials to the glass. Once the mirror was removed we began to lightly sand the wood to prep for its base coat.
The mirrors original frame was quite dark and ornately carved with various intricately designed curves and scrolls around. Our objective was to highlight and accentuate these details. In order to brighten the frame we began a light layer of Farrow & Ball “Old White No.4”. A traditional neutral that can read as a subdued green in north facing rooms but embodies a classic grey in well lit spaces.
Once the paint dried we started our phase one of distressing. Carefully scraping along the frame with a utility knife we began to remove areas of paint being able to expose the wood finish underneath. The utility knife allowed a variation in scrapes and scuffs to replicate aged wear and tear. Using such a sharp blade we were able to remove even more of the original wood stain resulting in layers of raw wood to be exposed. Rotating between the utility knife and smaller tools such as small screw drivers and drill bits for the tighter creases and grooves.
After achieving the style of distressed desired we began the second coat of paint. For our top coat we stuck with the Farrow & Ball family and by using a dry brush technique we applied the “French Gray No. 18”. Taking inspiration from French decoration and wallpapers used in the 19th century, French Gray is really much more green than grey, but characterfully flits between the two depending on the light and time of day. As we dry brushed the frame areas that had chipped away were now faintly covered creating a layered aged look. For this phase not having a strategy was the best strategy. When painting for an aged look, forget the idea of perfection painting. Brush stokes that are visible and uneven colouring create a custom creative touch. Our approach was to make the mirror look quite aged but also retaining the integrity to its original likeness. During this process we juggled dry brushing as well as dipping a cloth in paint and rubbing the entire frame.
After applying the French Gray came the second phase of distressing, same technique as the first, we went over the frame with the utility knife and contouring with the smaller tools. During the distressing we added more “damage” by taking a sanding block and lightly brushing away debris from removing the paint. This created a blended texture amongst the layers of paint as well as softening any harsh ridges.
Finally for our concluding stage we completed the mirror by applying a light layer of Finishing Wax. If you want to give the piece an antiqued look, you can apply a stain to the piece you’re working on. In our case, we applied one coat of the wax by using a clean rag to wipe the frame in order to achieve a uniform finish. Once the frame was completed as desired it was time to instal the glass mirror and backing panel of wood.
Resetting the wood panel was tricky due to lining up the original nails but nonetheless safely slid into place. Once the backing was secure our mirror was done! The goal of accentuating the mirrors original details of delicate botanical motifs, deep carved contours and curving scrolls had come to an end with a pleasing result. Although having a plan of attack is always key, by combining various techniques, materials, & making changes throughout the project -- we resulted in a beautifully distressed mirror for a happy client.
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