19 January 2012
Jane Harrop examines techniques which can be used to imitate age and wear & tear to painted and stained miniature wooden surfaces. ...
Dusty and dirty paintwork technique
- Before constructing your item, paint the wood pieces sparing using acrylic or emulsion paint, and if necessary reapply and leave to dry.
- Once dry, assemble your item (if making from a kit or from scratch) and sand in places where wear and tear would natrually occur to reveal a hint of bare wood underneath.
- Apply a small amount of dirty coloured acrylic paint onto a medium sized paint brush and remove most of the paint on a piece of scrap paper.
- Lightly brush over the item to produce a subtle dust or whisper of colour in areas where dust and dirt would settle.
- This process is most effective if it is repeated several times.
- Layers of cream, grey, brown and black acrylic paint can achieve excellent 'dirty and dusty' results.
Technique for layered, worn and grubby distressed paint
- After making your item, paint it using acrylic or emulsion paint and leave to dry.
- Take a wax candle and roll it over parts of the painted surface where flaking paint may naturally occur.
- Re-paint using a contrasting colour
- When dry, take a piece of fine-grade sandpaper and lightly sand the surface.
- The top layer of paint will easily be sanded away in the areas of wax revealing the original colour beneath.
- Repeat this process several times to create the effect of years of re-painting.
- Add grubby techniques from Part 1 to the painted surface.
Distressing stained wood
- Water based wood stain can sometimes dry slightly patchy which is not always ideal, but great for a slightly distressed or outdoor look.
- A single application of water based wood stain and a little bit of sanding here and there is often all that's required to get the look.
- Try some of the distressing techniques from Part 1 over the wood stain to experiment and find the one you like the best.
Bleached or scrubbed distressed effect 1
- Stain the pieces of wood.
- When dry, assemble the item.
- Cover the entire piece with a white/pale grey water based acrylic paint and leave to dry.
- Sand the piece gently using fine sanpaper.
- This can produce lighter and darker coloured areas and flatten the raised grain of the wood.
- Please see the photo of the mangle above for this effect.
Bleached of scrubbed distressed effect 2
- Stain the pieces of wood, and assemble the item.
- Apply a small amount of pale grey or whit acrylic paint onto a dry paintbrush.
- Remove most of the paint on a piece of paper or cloth
- Dry brush the item giving a subtle dusting of paint.
- Please see the washboard below showing this effect.
Outdoor/weathered distressed stained finish
- Stain the pieces as before and assemble the item.
- Sand in areas where natural wear and tear would occur
- Apply shades of browns and greens from block watercolour paints to create the look of weathered wood.
- Darken the colours (less water) for cracks, crevices and corners where a build up of grime would occur.
- Extra idea: once the paint is dry, dry brush using the dirty and dusty paintwork technique above.
- The garden dresser above and greenhouse below are both showing these techniques.
Distressing polished wood
- In general, if you have made a model or bought a piece made from a wood like mahogany, it is unlikely that you will want to distress it.
- However, if you do, use a coloured beeswax polish which enriches the colour and tones of the wood.
- Please see the first photo below.
Creating a plished wood patina technique
- Apply a coloured wax polish or shoe polish to either an unfinished or stained wooden item using fine wire wool.
- Apply a darker coloured phlish on top in areas whhere you want to produce a shaded, subtle patina.
- Leave for at least 10 minutes to penetrate.
- Buff to a sheen with a clean piece of fine wire wool or a piece of paper towel.
- The darker coloured polish will settle in the grain of the wood, the remainder gently blending into the original coloured polish.
- Please see the delightful effect on the table above.
- Ideal technique for floorboards, please see photo below.
Using craft chalks
- Decorative craft chalks can be applied to wood using a soft brush to subtly accentuate shaded, dusty and dirty areas.
- Artists' chalk based pastels work in the same way by shaving a little off the stick with a craft knive and applying in the same way with a brush.
- The joy of using chalks is that you don't like the finish you've created, you can wipe it off and try again.
- Once happy, these chalks must be fixed with a spray fixative/varnish to make sure the colours remain secure.
- The chair below has been distressed using this technique.
The second photo above is of the table in both 12th and 24th scale that we will be making in the 3rd and final part of this series
This feature was originally published in Dolls House and Miniature Scene magazine. If you love making miniatures why not buy yourself a copy of the magazine, or better still take out a subscription so you never miss an issue. For fans of Facebook and Twitter, please use the buttons at the top of the page to share this with your friends.