Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Three Little Birds

One of my favorite movies is “Signs” and I recommend it to many people. In fact it is bit of a running joke.  Sure it stars the rambling off-his rocker Mad Max and the future Man in Black. There are crop circles and aliens and tin foil hats.  But the real reason to see it is for one scene where the brothers (Mel and Joaquin) have the most succinct and reasonable discussion about faith:

What kind of person are you?  Do you believe things happen for a reason or are things nothing more than random chance?

As an artist, teacher, and generally curious person, I am always questioning the universe and my place in it.  Even as a kid when my Dad was lecturing me, I would interrupt him with my argument, “but wait…” And since I am a white, middle class, educated, smart, reasonably healthy and attractive American-my place in the universe should be pretty good. I have some talent. A great spouse, family, and friends. My business not only survived the recession but we have done relatively well. So why all of a sudden was I out of synch?  Maybe I was taking things for granted?  I was letting small things like petty business competition on Facebook bother me and larger issues like politics overwhelm me.  My body and mind were tired. Even as I pushed harder, I felt more behind.

What kind of person are you?  Do you believe things happen for a reason or are things nothing more than random chance?

My good friend Suzanne let me know that a mutual friend was diagnosed with ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease. Cindy is a designer that had taken a cabinet class with me and whenever I would see her (we travel in a lapping social circle) she would tell me how much fun it had been. She wanted to take another one.  Now that wouldn’t happen.  Suzanne had graciously offered to faux finish the new rooms in Cindy’s home that would accommodate her wheelchair and hospital bed. Our friend Julie was also helping. Was I in?

What kind of person are you?  Do you believe things happen for a reason or are things nothing more than random chance?

I had classes on-going and a new workout schedule (I thought I had the physical weakness at least figured out). How would being around a debilitated person help with my own depression?  But I went. I like Cindy and couldn’t imagine what it was like for her or her family.  Plus Suzanne had way more on her plate then me and she was willing to help.  So we troweled, and foiled, and glittered, and glazed.  Then Cindy wanted a mural. Something really simple. Three little birds.  Cardinals-my favorite.  On a Birch branch-also a favorite.  Could I paint it?

Rise up this morning. Smiled with the risin sun. Three little birds. Pitch by my doorstep.

Sure. It was simple.  She let me select the design which was two fat cardinals on the branch and one in flight.  We have a family of cardinals that have lived in our backyard for over 8 years.  In winter I see those bright red coats in the snow. They make me happy.  I painted the whole thing in less than 3 hours. She was thrilled. I felt bad-it had been so simple. I didn’t see her for a few weeks and then she texted me asking if I wanted to get some old cabinets from her home to use for class. Bruce and I picked them up. She couldn’t move any more.

Singin sweet songs. Of melodies pure and true. Sayin this is my message to you…

Suzanne texted me a few months later that Cindy had died.  I was sad but knew her suffering was over. Cindy was a person of faith and I knew her family had comfort in that. Was I going to the wake?  I was in the middle of a week- long class. I had a guest staying at our home.  It was hot and I was mentally and physically tired.  I didn't even know Cindy that well. Suzanne called after attending and said people asked about the cardinals.  In fact, that simple mural had meant a lot.  I should go.  The church was by my house. I should go. So I changed my clothes and I went-with stain on my hands.  There was only one parking spot in the shade, under a large tree.  I stood in the line to offer my condolences. And I spoke with her father and mother at length about the cardinals.  Her Mom shared with me that she enjoyed art and making things with her hands. I was thinking I was glad I went and relieved I could go home when I saw it sitting on the branch above my car.

One single large cardinal.

Don’t worry about a thing. ‘Cause everything little thing gonna be alright.

I don’t know the why or the how but I understood the what. Be open to the Universe. It is trying to lead  me to answers.

I am the person that believes things happen for a reason. And every little thing is gonna be alright.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Charred Gold The Chameleon Color Of Lusterstone: DIY Three and Four

So I said, "Look Charlene. If you don't want him to change, date a Leopard."
Before I beat this metaphor to death and you think I am trying the Thomas Friedman approach to writing let's wrap this one up, shall we?  Charred Gold Lusterstone/suede is a surprisingly good compliment to blues-especially blues with a grey undertone.
My first finish starts with Blue Sharkskin which is a velvet like base coat. To reach this color depth took 2 coats but since this is my blue color it was worth it to save the time/expense involved in rolling a blue paint and then troweling a blue plaster.

Next, I buttered my blade with Rich Gold Faux Metal which has real metal shavings in alcohol.  It is thick enough to trowel. For large walls, I roll it on using a sea sponge roller.  Don't add water or water-born products to this-it will patina. 

I only cover about 40% of the surface since only 10% -15% of this will show in the end.  I never understood why people teach a finish where they apply a coat of something 90% in a layer that will be 90% covered up by the next?

You will have more options for reveals on the next layer if you keep the gold connected in areas. The Faux Metal should dry overnight sine we area putting a slow set wet plaster on top of it for the next layer.

I buttered my blade with the Charred Gold Lusterstone and popped it over the blue and gold so the first 2 colors just peek out. In this application using Lustersuede may cause the Rich Gold to tarnish because it stay wet so much longer.  Super simple!

For my next finish, I started with a rolled coat of Bronze Metallic Setcoat and my blue is Cobalt Blue Lusterstone, which I popped on over the bronze.
While my blue is wet, I pop in the Charred Gold Lusterstone, lapping the two colors.
Gently move the trowel in both directions to blend the colors.  Only 15% of the bronze should peek through.

You could stop here but they don't call me "Becky the Blender" for nothing! Actually when I start juicing it will have a whole other meaning. Now I am confusing my blog stories. Anyhoo...

One way to tone a Lusterstone finish is to select one of the colors you used and apply the blend coat in Lustersuede. Then tight trowel this over the finish.  I used Lustersuede Charred Gold because I wanted to keep the finish light and this story is about Charred Gold. Cobalt Blue can get it's own post.

Use a damp cloth to soften the Lustersuede and reveal areas of the bronze.

Another way to tone a finish is to bring back the base tone.  In this case it is bronze but the Bronze Setcoat would be too opaque and kill the layers. Instead, I mixed 1 Cup Aquacreme with 1 TBSP Bronze Mica Powder.  I like Aquacreme for this because I can trowel it into my texture.  Then I use a damp cloth to soften.

3 different looks!

The final finish is a personal favorite and goes with lots of bedding people are using now.  Start with Royal Taupe or a mid mushroom colored paint.  I troweled a layer of Charred Gold Lusterstone working from the wall top to the bottom in a 1-2foot wide stripe.
As you can see, I don't worry about 100% coverage-90% is fine.  Add some Aquacreme or So-Slow if you need more trowel/rolling time.  Roll through with our Bark Specialty Roller.  I wipe the roller with a damp cloth after each pass.
Lusterstone is the better choice for this layer because it is thicker.  Next I pop in Frosted Denim Lustersuede over the dried pattern. Pull it tight in some areas and leave it thicker in others.
And since I already told you that I am Becky Blender, I pop in some Charred Gold Lustersuede while the denim is wet. I use Lustersuede because it flows nice and for this finish you usually need 2 gallons of Charred Gold anyway.  If you are Penny Pincher, you can use leftover Charred Gold Lusterstone. Just don't get it thick and bury out your texture.
A beautiful 2-step finish.
For an added twist, I mixed Aquacreme (2 cups) with 1/2 Cup Sea Spray Metal Glow and troweled this randomly over the finish using a damp cloth to soften edges.
This gives the finish a pretty sheen and protects the surface.

"Wait, That's it?"
Oh great, now the Geckos want their own post!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Charred Gold, The Chameleon Color of Lusterstone: Finish Two

"I'm an Artist. I not supposed to blend in."

We were playing last time with Charred Gold Lusterstone and using it with another Lusterstone, Silver Taupe.  For this finish, I will show the Charred Gold versatility and pair it with Venetian Plaster.  My finish is starting out with Royal Taupe Setcoat which is a really nice (and on trend) mushroom grey brown shade.

I am using a Sea Sponge Roller to apply Faux Effect's Moonstone Grey Venetian Gem.  Using the roller is a fast way to get this texture applied and hides bad walls with flaws/dry wall seams.  Dampen the roller first and load the plaster on.

Cover about 80% of the base working in 4'x4' sections.  When I have a section rolled, I use my blade to gently flatten the finish. It is gentle pressure like putting a smear on your bagel.  This layer should look like knockdown with larger flat areas.

The Moonstone Grey should be dry within an hour to 2 hours for the next layer.  I used Charred Gold Lustersuede this time and tight pulled it over the Venetian.  I opted for the Lustersuede because it is thinner and I didn't want to bury out my base layer.  For light back fills, Lustersuede is a great option and is about $5 less per gallon. That $5 will buy you a Latte to go with your smeared bagel.

Charred Gold also looks great over Brown Sapphire Venetian Gem and Tiger's Eye Venetian Gem.  Lustersuede dries slower then Lusterstone so allow for a little extra set time.  I taped off an area of this sample to show you a complimentary finish.  I do this often in class.  It gives your clients an actual visual of what they would get by paying for an additional layer and/or shows them a suitable finish for a ceiling or adjoining room.

I am tight blading Palette Deco Metallic Pearl using a Japan Blade.  Then I pat with a damp cloth to remove chatter and soften the finish.  You could stop here and have a great finish on either half of the board.  But I am a big believer in the "over-glaze."  Applying a warm brown glaze over most things makes it better.

Case in point:

I mixed 1 Cup Aquacreme + 2 TBSP Dark Brown Faux Crème Color + 1 TBSP Brown Faux Crème Color and brushed it over my entire sample.  I used a lightly damp cloth to pounce and soften the glaze.


And done!  I love finishes like this because the colors blend with so many other things and it works in traditional and contemporary settings. Plus all the products used here are super durable-no need to topcoat!  The finish with the Palette Deco is great for darker rooms with poor lighting-it gives an artificial light and glow.
I have to stop here. All this talk of bagels, lattes, and caramel ice cream has me hungry. But I have one more Charred Gold Lusterstone finish to share next time.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Charred Gold, The Chameleon Color of Lusterstone: Finish One


Don't you love the 80's? 
My go-to color when I am working with Lusterstone is Charred Gold. Why? Because it is the one color that seems to change depending on what is next to it.  Sometimes a little green. Other times a little gold.  It may even appear to turn grey. A regular little chameleon!
Let's play with some.

For this first finish, I started with one of the new Set Coat Metallic Colors: Toffee.

I buttered my blade with Charred Gold (I lead with the darkest shade) and popped this over the dried metallic base.

Then I buttered the blade with my second color, Silver Taupe Lusterstone for a slight grey and lighter contrast.

You should see the two colors.  Next, I gently used my blade almost flat to the surface and knocked the tips off.

You may pull the blade both ways. Don't over work the colors. Leave about 10%-20% of base showing.

When this is dry, you could be done and have an easy 2-step finish.  I taped over a corner and mixed 1 cup of Aquawax with 1 Tsp Bronze Mica Powder + 1 Tsp Hi-Light Gold Mica Powder.  You could also use Leo Gold Metal Glow in place of the powders.  I bladed the wax over the Lusterstone.

Soften the wax with a damp cloth to prevent chatter.  Now you have a coordinated ceiling and wall look.

But wait you say! My Client wants a feature wall too.  Easy.  Select a pattern (mine is from Cutting Edge) and tape it to the surface.  Use more of the Toffee Metallic Setcoat and roll it over the pattern.

This is what it looks over both of the versions of the finish.

That's all I have time for tonight. But I will post another finish this weekend!
"I come and go" "I come and go"