Monday, March 29, 2010

Real Faux Finishing for Fake Housewives

I’m going to diverge here and begin this with a television show. But not just any show. I’m talking about that guilty pleasure-The Real Housewives franchise! There is nothing better then watching this trash-talking train wreck of social climbers socialites with a nice glass of wine to forget about work, politics, and world issues. After watching this Petri Dish of Dysfunction and Arrested High School Development, I feel more satisfied with my own normal life (although I do envy the shoes).

I know I am not alone in my passion. Many women (and men) that shop at Surfaces have revealed their weekly addiction with lively discussions on the backstabbing! The hypocrisy! The nails! The hair! The lack of income sources! So I thought, “What real finishes would I do for a fake housewife?”

(Photo: Bravo TV)
It seems right to begin with the “old ladies” of the series-those sun-kissed, heavily bedazzled, and anatomically enhanced Orange County wives. And who better then Tamara, that self-proclaimed “hottest OC Housewife,” to start our project. Poor Tamara. Even a finger tattoo homage to her love for Simon could not keep her marriage from going down in flames. The dream home combusted in the bottoming California real-estate market Then her younger and blonder nemesis, Gretchen, found hot publicity love with (yak) Slade. Do you sense a theme? For her, I’ve created “Tamara’s Tempest”, a perfect finish for the new condo powder room or dining room ceiling

Step 1: Paint the surface a bright orange or brown based red. I used Leather Red Setcoat. Palette Deco may crack over a surface that is not well-sealed. Trowel a layer of Palette Deco Gold Straight Out of the Bucket (SOB). Palette Deco dries fast. Don’t over-load your trowel with product and apply in short strokes. Keep the trowel clean as you work using a Japan Scraper to scrape the blade. There should be graceful trowel lines and some of the base color may shadow through in areas.

Step 2: Apply some Mandarin Red Lusterstone over the dried Palette Deco Gold and smooth with your trowel. While the area of Mandarin Red is still wet, apply some more Palette Deco Gold, and gently soften the two products into each other. Hold the trowel at a slight angle to the wall (not flat and not on edge). Think marble drifts or clouds. If you blend the products too much you will get a weird pinky gold.

It is better to under-blend and leave the surface more choppy. The product dries fast so you can also come back and tight trowel more Lusterstone and/or Palette Deco to create a more blended effect. So-Slow may be added to both products for more open time but the overall layer will dry slower.

Step 3: Trowel on Copper Faux Metal. Faux Metal has real metal shavings so don’t thin with a water-based product. Blend the alcohol with the solids in the container before and during application. Faux Metal sets very slowly.

Take a damp cloth or piece of cheesecloth to soften the copper color and blend the edges. Apply the Faux Metal in connecting areas covering 80% of the finish being careful to not over-power the underneath layers. Let this area set over-night. The finish may be completed at this step. I like to roll or trowel a layer of Varnish Plus Gloss or Satin 100% over the finish to pop the layers.

So Tamara, when you are dining by candlelight with your former husband’s former friend, and searching for a catch phrase that will finally stick next season, your room will have just as much sizzle as your hopes and dreams.

Friday, March 26, 2010


Brenda McPeek’s recent class featured the RS Line. These products vex finishers. “What does RS mean?” “Why is it different then the other products? How can RS Sandstone be that different from regular Sandstone?” “Why is the line Gold Label?” In later posts, I will compare a single RS product with its closest relative in the Silver Label line. But I thought it might be helpful to know a little about the RS line as a whole.

“Why is it called RS?” RS stands for Reactive Series and it is what makes the whole product line unique. An activator is used with the products that gives you the ability to tear, tighten, pop, and manipulate your finish all while the material sets very slow. RS also happens to be the initials of Faux Effects founder, Raymond Sandor.

“How many products are in the RS Line?” There is the RS Activator, RS Stone (in several different grades from coarse to extra fine), RS Plaster, RS Glaze, RS Low Viscosity Glaze, RS Crete (also in several grades), RS Sandstone, RS Sandstone with Flakes, RS Travertino, and RS Water Wax. There is a RS Granite but it looks more like speckled sandpaper then granite.

“Do all the products “react”?” No. We don’t use the RS Activator with the Water Wax or the Crete. The RS label was attached to expedite the copyright and patent process.

“Can you use the products without the RS Activator?” First, don’t get the RS Activator confused with our Activator II which smells strongly of alcohol. RS Activator has no smell or taste (I know because I drank some in Vero thinking it was water!) We use several of the products without the RS Activator. We like the RS Plaster for shaped finishes because it dries really slowly and the RS Stone finer grades make nice tight trowel backfills for many finishes. RS Travertino is another one that we don’t activate much.

“So why use the RS Activator?” This is what separates the line from everything else. It may take 3 coats of the regular Sandstone to create the depth achieved by 1 layer of RS Sandstone. You may manipulate the application method of the RS Activator to create a variety of effects just within one product.

While most products flatten on a wall while you work them, the RS products thicken with the RS Activator. This allows them to “stand” over the surface making them a good choice for orange peel or light knock-down surfaces.

I find that the RS Activator gives me a similar look as the addition of Lime Slag-where it cracks and crumbles. But my bottle of RS Activator has a longer shelf life then the Lime Slag and the RS mixed product has a 3-day shelf life (we’ve kept it alive longer) while my lime slag mixed stuff turns to rock within a day. I can use the RS Activator without mixing it into my product giving me more control then the Lime Slag mixes.

RS products are Gold Label because there are tricks and techniques to making the line work.

“If this is so great why would you use the Everything Else?” To our eyes, some of the RS products are not as “refined” looking as their counterparts. For example, the RS glaze doesn’t have the subtly of a Faux Crème Clear mix. None of the RS products come pre-tinted. Because of the slow dry time, it may take overnight to proceed to your next finish layer. This is very true working on an exterior facing wall in winter-we often had little cracks from the top drying faster then the underneath. Some people like the cracks or they can be back-filled with a tight skim. Because stuff dries slow, people that putz with a finish may not know when to stop-rub on/rub off. If you add too much RS Activator, you have a new bucket doorstop. The per gallon cost is the same as other FE plasters but you have the additional expense of the RS Activator (although a little goes a long way).

We love the RS Series for:

Unique Finishes like the Travertino and the RS Sandstone with Flake.

Crumbly Old Wall Treatments with cracks, pits, and tears.

The ability to float colors and powders in the Low Viscosity Glaze that create realistic ceramic, glass, and stone finishes.

Products used in combination with traditional FE products to enhance a finish.



We just returned from Faux Effects Dallas where Ray showed us the latest additions to the Gold Label line. There are several new metallic finishes, an expansion of Lusterstone, and an exciting plaster epoxy. Ashley and I will attend training the first of May and start our own testing-I already have ideas for my own home. Because I like to play in the real world before I teach a finish, these products won’t be added to our schedule until Mid-Summer. That means the product release doesn’t jive with the scheduled classes where they would naturally fit.

If you attended our recent RS Crete and Rock-Kote class, you will be invited to a Free Update this summer on the new epoxy plaster. You will do some samples to add to your countertop and floor portfolio.

If you are attending the Artistic Plasters class the end of this month, you will be invited to a Free Update, also this summer, on the new Lusterstone, Luna, and Sharkskin line. You will also complete samples.

Consider these free updates, your “gift with purchase.”  We will announce dates by the end of April.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Gary Lord's Open House 2010

The last few weeks were so busy.  Brenda McPeek taught her RS class for us and it was really inspiring.  I struggle with pretty light finishes-I don't want them to wash out over the surface or seem blah.  Well, her finishes have so much depth and her approach to using the RS products is better then mine!  I am doing three finishes for myself.  And I know 2 people from the class are bidding jobs right now.  I want to add this class again in the Fall.
This is my Florentine Tile.  I like that the marble effect is soft-I tend to make angry marble (and skies).  It is a good techinque for people that struggle with "wormy" granites and marbles. 
The sample below is by Emily Andrews-the class was a birthday gift-nice family!

I am doing the Riveria Sparkle in a lighter version on my floor tile that is ugly orange and set in concrete.
I love the Polished Damask.  We've all seen what I call DDD-Damask Done to Death-but this is so pretty and looks just like a bone china.  I am doing this at our lake home (which is for sale-any takers?) over orange peel walls.
Bomar gave me these great Bees.  I am doing our Wine cellar in the Crumbled Wall finish. I added metallics for a contemporary twist. A good sample is one where you can take it in lots of design styles.  The plaster is crackled and torn. It made me think of honeycomb-just silver and platinum.

These are just a few of the samples.  Brenda is a fun teacher and I am really proud she is also a friend. We also had Red Velevet Ice Cream Cake for Emily's birthday so let's hope someone in the next class has someting to celebrate.

Sue Hon, Ashley and I left the next week for Gary Lord's Open House in Ohio.  I am teaching a Makeover Class there the end of summer (and one here in early summer). Here we are in our booth with our tile, cabinet, and Bomar Mirror Surrounds.  By this time, we have been to a Michaels, Hyde Park district, Rookwood Plaza, Nordstroms Off  The Rack (which I saw from the middle of traffic behind us and could only get to by a mid lane u-turn. Remember what Ed Hardy says-"Fashion Kills" oh wait that is "Love Kills"-really the same thing!) and a rock quarry/nursery in Kentucky-but that was a GPS mistake.
At this point, I realize that I have the whole studio except MY MAIN DEMO BOARD-see the empty wine glass! Thank godness that Ashley and Sue have been with me from Dallas to Charleston and can talk me off the ledge.  But notice the nice samples to my left.  Karen and Liz are coming here-I saw some really good finishes-but back to panic at the Open House.

See the Panic!

This was the well thought-out demo board.  3 ways to use Low Viscosity Glaze for Raku, Shattered Paper, and Anitque Mirror Tile. 

This is Lucy and Ethyl us at the hotel trying to pull another sample out of the amenitites in the bathroom.
In the end, we got it together.  I just put on my Vegas Act during the demo and hoped the audience liked me more then the final sample.  My demo ended with the whole display behind me falling off-I think it will be on You-Tube, labeled-"Girl with Tourretts Faux Paints."

This is Cynthia Davis' booth for Wallsover. She is coming here to work on samples!!! We can't wait to get our hands on some of the new samples. She is very cool.

BUT THE BIG NEWS: Gary's New Book is ready and we saw the first copy. And SUE and Surfaces are both in it and we both have a little sample square on the cover. 
Here is Sue's Square!  We each posed with our fireplace. Scott did a great photo.  Bruce and I look like we live in Palm Desert-very Rat Pack.

Sue has her own chapter of a beautiful bathroom. Way to go!

The book has a diversity of finishes.  Donna Phelps has a very user friendly bathroom chapter and Deb Drager shows you how to apply finishing to canvas art with a colorful chapter-lots of prettty blues and greens.  Copies will be ready just in time for spring. 

I am leaving for Dallas today to catch the FE update and celebrate my birthday with my folks in Oklahoma.  Check us out next week for: 
Fake Housewives and Real Finishes. Faux Finishes for the OC Ladies (if they haven't been evicted or sold) These will be real step-by-step finishes using lots of different products.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Venetian Plaster One Day Class

One Day Classes: Venetian Plaster Portfolio
Blue Willow: Venetian Gem, Foil, Lusterstone, and Mad Stencilist Willow

Boxwood Shell: Venetian Gem, Crackle, and Stain

Glacier Ice:  Venetian Gem, Lusterstone, and Stain

Rhino Hide: Venetian Gem and Stain

Mannered Mesh: Venetian Gem, Lusterstone and Stain

Timberstone: Venetian Gem, Palette Deco, and Glaze

Verdi Shingles: Venetian Gem, Verdigris Kit, and Stain

White Washed Bark: Venetian Gem, Sandstone, and Glaze

The class went so well, Ashley added one more board.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Faux Finish Slate

Random Sample 2: Mary Walker’s Patina Project Part Two

Let’s go back to Mary’s project. She wanted a finish for the home office that would also compliment her deep olive carpet and the same navy cast black fabric. Mary also wanted to use a geometric stencil in a silver color over a patina surface. I decided to do a version of an oxidized Lusterstone I have in my own home.

Oxidized Lusterstone in my guestroom

I started the finish over a “slate” appropriate Setcoat color-Black, Dark Brown, Royal Taupe, or Sage will all work. I selected Ebony Frost and Weathered Bronze Lusterstones for my rock base. Butter the trowel blade with the Weathered Bronze and spot in connecting areas lightly knocking down the peaks. The Ebony Frost is applied in the same way. I alternated the colors using 80% Ebony Frost and 20% of the Weathered Bronze.
When the Lusterstone is dry, I used a sea sponge to spot in Magic Metallic Steel. The steel will give the Lusterstones a grayish cast. While the steel is still wet, I use another sponge to dab in Burnt Sienna Faux Crème Color thinned with glaze. You may work a 6’x6’ section at a time. Before a section dries, I spritz the surface with the Rapid Rust and then water to break and blend all my colors. Use a cloth to dab at any large runs and drips.

The Rapid Rust does not react immediately so don’t over do this product or the whole wall will be all rust hiding the other colors! You can always add more of each color later. Before my surface dries totally (the wall will feel cold but not wet), I rolled a coat of Varnish Plus Dull.

Quickly the Varnish Plus will frost and turn a pale blue green. I use a putty blade to scrape off areas creating the shale effect of slate. Wait overnight for these layers to dry and then seal the reaction with a coat of the Varnish Plus Dull.

For the subtle silver accent that Mary wanted, I used Wheat Metal Glow over the “Hudson” stencil from the Loft 101 line by Sheri Zeman. We love the pattern but the stencil is a little thick and heavy. Unless you have an extra set of hands, I would suggest hat-banding the room in the stencil color so you don’t have to deal with edges and corners. I lightly load a foam roller with the metallic and then off load onto a clean paper plate to evenly distribute the color. Alternating my roller pressure will create a varied faded effect.

The finish worked so well, we added it to our Makeover Class as a tile finish that we teach at Surfaces and our class for Gary Lord’s Studio this summer in Cincinnati.

(Sources:  Faux Effects, Magic Metallics, and Loft 101 Stencil)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Lusterstone One Day Class

Surfaces’ Savers: The Lusterstone Portfolio

What if you could update your portfolio in just 7 hours? We know that color and design trends change faster then most people can take classes to keep up. And the economy effects both the client (how many layers will someone pay for?) and the artist (opportunity and class costs). With these realities in mind, Ashley designed one day classes around one best selling product used in seven different ways. Class cost: $250.

Feedback so far is very positive and the series will be repeated this summer. Over the next few weeks, we will post samples from the class. And let us know what classes you would like to see in the future!

The Lusterstone Portfolio started the series.

Empire Suede: Lusterstone and Lustersuede
 Ice Flow: Lusterstone, Foil, and Wax.
Empress Willow:  Lusterstone, Wax, and Stencil (Loft 101 Fandango)

Savannah Suede: Lusterstone, Lustersuede, and Stencil (Royal Design Floral Medallion)
Midnight Glow: Lusterstone and Faux Metal

Summerhill Sepia: Lusterstone, Specialty Foil, and Wax
Skeleton Leaf: Lusterstone, Lustersuede, and Racing Tape

Monday, March 1, 2010

Product Smack-down: Venetian Gem vs. StucoLux

We built both Ashley’s Party Bath finish and Mary’s Lower Level sample on a dark based plaster (Dark Brown for Ashley and Black for Mary). In the Faux Effects line, we have two possible choices: Venetian Gem (Tiger’s Eye and Black Onyx) or StucoLux (Delta Brown and Midnight).
StucoLux is a mineral-based creamy smooth polish plaster. The lime and minerals are non-toxic, durable, and washable. It comes in a tint base, 21 colors, 10 metallics, and 5 Hi-Lite Colors. It comes in Quart and Gallon Sizes. Non-Metallic Colors are available in a 5 gallon.

Venetian Gem is an acrylic and ground marble polish plaster that is non-toxic, durable, and washable. It comes in a tint base, 19 colors, and 7 Hi-Lite Colors. It comes in Quart and Gallon Sizes. Non-Hi-Lite Colors are available in a 5 gallon.

So far the two products sound very similar. Here is how the two products stack up against each other based on our needs to achieve our particular finishes.

Need one: A plaster base that could go over a previously painted surface. Ashley’s walls needed Setcoat but Mary had a quality dark latex paint on her walls. In our experience, because of the lime in the Stuco Lux, we recommend either Setcoat or Quartz Primer under this product to avoid small eggshell cracks. We have great success applying Venetian Gem over 2 coats of quality paint so Mary could save a prep step by using the Venetian Gem.

Need Two: Opaque Deep Color. StucoLux dries about 20% lighter then the bucket color. If we were tight troweling the same StucoLux color over the base, we would get a pretty undulation of darker and lighter shades. For our projects, we just want to pull lighter colors over a darker base. The Venetian Gem will dry more opaque and true to the bucket color.

Need Three: A high/low base that is semi-thick. We may build the Venetian Gem with a sea sponge roller, a regular sea sponge, or a trowel without any cracking. StucoLux is best applied with a flat trowel technique and low graceful trowel lines.

Need Four: Only the plaster “tips” need to be polished. StucoLux has a more “glass-like” polish that would be buried by the glazes, Palette Deco, and Lusterstones, and Waxes we pulled over our finishes. It makes more sense for us to stack our products over the “denser” polish of the Venetian Gem.

Need Five: The base plaster is part of the finish-it is not the finish. StucoLux is slightly more expensive then the Venetian Gem. If we wanted a high shine plaster in a beautiful color then StucoLux is certainly worth the money-it gives a look similar to more pricey Italian Lime Plasters. The Venetian Gem is a more economical way to get the good solid base we needed for both finishes.

In the end, we selected the Venetian Gem Tiger’s Eye and Black Onyx. We have an easy to apply plaster that has color depth, is very durable, may be applied to a medium thickness in one coat, and is economical. Using the ‘rough roll” method, 1 gallon will cover 200 square feet (80% plaster and 20% of the base paint showing through) for one layer. We will show you other projects in the future where the StucoLux is the better option.