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1st August – John Davis

3 August, 2011

If John was feeling fragile after his operation he did a good job of disguising it in a very busy evening.

Opinions about colouring wood divide into 3 – don’t like it at all, love it and tolerate it.

There are various reasons for such decoration from adding an interesting visual dimension to simply disguising plain wood. Anyway, John enjoys the “anything goes” experimenting and the fact that there are few rules about what works and what doesn’t.

John divided colouring into 3 categories, translucent, involving dyes which allow the grain of the wood to show through; crackling, involving multiple opaque layers designed to crack and shrink allowing the deeper layers to show though and marbling, also opaque where various coloured paints are randomly mixed and transferred to the surface.

John had an example of translucent work but his demo was about the opaque methods. He had prepared some bowls and demonstrated both methods in parallel whilst waiting for the other to dry.

The crackle finish is achieved by first painting on a base coat (acrylic) and when dry, adding a coat of crackle paint. The latter shrinks showing the base coat through the gaps. Shrinkage can be enhanced by a top coat of crackle medium. The whole lot can be protected with a lacquer.

The marbling starts the same way with a base coat. The fun starts when coloured paints are squirted onto a foamy surface and slightly intermixed with a spatula. John used shaving foam but wallpaper paste was suggested as a less smelly alternative. The paint was acrylic and included iridescent colours. The surface to be treated (in this case a bowl rim) is lowered into the mess and left for a while before removing. It then needs to be left for the paint to dry before scraping off the foam. Pressure of time during the demo meant that John smudged the paint but had brought along a nice example of one he did under less pressure.

After tea John turned a myrtle vase with grooves on the outside which he decorated. The steps were:

  1. spraying with ebonising lacquer
  2. applying metallic paste (copper)
  3. then Liberon verdigris wax.

The result was a metallic looking outside contrasting with the wood inside.

If you feel like having a go, John sells all the materials at his shop near Stockbridge ( They can also be ordered via Geoff at the HWA shop.

John rounded off the evening by doing a critique of the members’ gallery – pictures on our website.

Dave Gibbard

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