Workshop: Grain Paint a Document Chest and Frame

In the 18th century, country cabinetmakers grain painted utilitarian objects to imitate the grain of wood. Softwoods were false grained to mimic expensive hardwoods often not available and the technique soon evolved into a folk art form. Homemade paints and tools were used to create finishes as varied as the minds and hands of imaginative folk artists. Antiques of great value today have wildly grained surfaces that in no way try to mimic the graining pattern of real woods.

Participants will learn to grain paint a softwood 10 x 10 frame and a 4”x5”x8 document box. A dark glaze is applied over yellow paint. Then while the glaze is wet a spontaneous texture is created using the traditional tools of a comb, corncob, putty, fingers, sponge, or brush.

Workshop instructor Jim King has a B.A. in art from Goshen College, Goshen, Indiana. He began studying vinegar painting in the 1980s when he became inspired by grain painting antiques he was collecting. He purchased blanket chests in disrepair at auctions and flea markets and then restored them and applied vinegar painted surfaces. He had difficulty finding smaller chests and started having Old Order cabinetmakers copy his antiques which he then grain painted using a variety of traditional techniques.

Preregistration is required as participation is limited. A workshop fee of $65 (60 for members) plus a materials fee of $65 for the frame and document box. The instructor will bring additional prepainted frames if participants wish to purchase them to paint. Tools will be provided for use and can easily be purchased at crafts stores later. The last step of a shellac final finish will need to be done at home after drying 24 hours. The pieces will be base coated yellow and be ready for graining by participants.

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