Monday, March 12, 2012

Dark Lux DIY Part One: Loft Obsidian

The past few weeks have been very busy at Surfaces. Lots of  scheduled classes, new samples, new projects, and new products to keep me busy.  In the middle of all that, I'm contributing some articles to Artisphere on Design Trends 2012-2013.  Artisphere is the on-line magazine for the professional organization IDAL (International Decorative Artisans League). Check this out if you haven't yet and learn more about IDAL too. Convention this year is in Reno, Nevada-You know "The Little Vegas" or as I like to think of it: Where Johnny Cash shot a man to watch him die because his daddy named him Sue.  I digress.

My first article was on a design trend called Dark Lux.  This is a change from years of Tuscan finishes which tend to a neutral palette and chunkier material application.  Here the finish is a rich saturated tone with accents of metallic in a smoother polished application.  For this trend I love using Venetian Plaster and Palette Deco because of the thickness of the product, the sheen, and the deep color tones.  The two samples I show above are perfect for ceilings where you want some reflection, product that won't drip on your head, and few steps-who wants to trowel over their head longer then you have to?

Let's start with the black finish: Loft Obsidian. Your surface should be painted black or a similar dark color. I use Black Setcoat to make sure the substrate is well sealed. Putting a Venetian Plaster over a poorly sealed surface will cause your plaster to crack.

I am using Black Onyx Venetian Gem from Faux Effects. I butter my trowel (I will show this in the next sample) and pop it over the black background.  You can see the Spider Web look in the above photo. This layer will determine the texture in the finish so don't be afraid of creating peaks and spikes.  Work several 3'x 3' area-this will give the plaster some time to set up.

After working ahead several feet, return to the original area to lightly compress the spikes.  The trowel should be barely at an angel and with gentle pressure, pull the trowel both across and up/down over the plaster.  It should look like this when done:

In general, this layer dries in an hour-longer if you apply a thick coat.  When the Black Onyx Venetian Plaster is dry, trowel on a layer of Palette Deco Silver. The Palette Deco Silver should be pulled tightly into the underlying texture.

When you tightly pull a plaster over a texture it will leave the finish looking choppy. Use a damp cloth to pat the surface and soften the finish. The cloth will also move the Palette Deco and help you create soft edges to lesson lap lines when working over large areas.

I like the thickness and reflective nature of the Palette Deco but if cost is an issue, you could also use Silver Stain & Seal thinned with FX Thinner. The effect is more subtle using stain but is still very pretty.  The FX Thinner (or other glaze medium by Faux Effects) may be used to thin the Palette Deco. This layer also needs only an hour to dry.
I brushed a mix of 3 parts FX Thinner + 1 Part American Walnut Stain & Seal + 1/2 Part Van Dyke Stain & Seal over the dried silver. The stain glaze will bead slightly but pads out with a dry cloth. I love using stains on shiny surfaces because they give me more color build then a regular colorant mixed glaze.  Using a paint based glaze in this treatment will kill the beauty of the metallic under layers.

This is a ceiling that Ashley and I completed using the Loft Obsidian Technique but the Venetian Plaster is Faux Effect's Venetian Gem Tiger's Eye and the stain glaze is mixed with Antique Mahogany Stain & Seal replacing the Van Dyke Stain & Seal.

Later this week I will post Part Two: Clayton Copper.

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