The finished "ship's beam" mantle decorated and ready for Christmas.
This painting by Frank Vining Smith was the inspiration for my mantle project. I decided I wanted my mantle to look like an old ship's beam weathered by wind and sea, burnt by sun and seasoned with smoke, perhaps adrift in the sea for several years before washing ashore. That was the look I wanted to create!
Blue-taped and ready to paint, this is my mantle in its "before" condition.
Plain. Blah. Ho Hum. A closer look reveals the "why" of this project!
After taping to protect the walls and granite tiles, I cleaned the mantle of grime, dust, and oil. I used Murphy's oil soap for this job and despite the name "oil soap" it cleans without residue or the need to rinse afterward.
Murphy's is diluted with water at the rate of 1/4-cup to one gallon of water, or 1 TBS per pint.
I dry brushed on white Zinsser waterbase primer leaving some of the original wood finish showing through. The primer usually takes about an hour to dry, however, as it was applied thinly, it was dry in about 10 minutes.
I wanted some of the original wood finish to show through my various layers of color hoping it would add dimension to my aging techniques.
Next, I decided to apply dabs of black, acrylic craft paint - the kind used for stenciling.
To do this, I wet a small sea sponge then squeezed out all the excess water. I expressed even more water by wrapping the sponge in a clean, dry rag and squeezing some more.
I dipped the sponge in the paint lightly, then "pounced" the sponge on a paper towel to remove a bit more paint. Then I dabbed and swiped here and there over the primer. I wanted to create the impression of knotholes, wood grain, smoke, and dried mold - many of the aspects and color effects of truly aged wood.
After the black craft paint dried - about five minutes. I dry brushed on gray chalk paint. This muted the black for a more subtle look and added the look of bleached and aged wood.
While the chalk paint was still damp I took a serrated "spatula" knife and chipped away some of the paint, then used the serrated side of the knife to scrape through the chalk paint and primer to create the effect of wood grain that was "opened" due to aging and expansion.
I use the rounded tip of this knife to gouge chips into the paint for an aged look, then laid the serrated edge along the project and dragged it to create an "open-grain" look.
Effects I created with the knife. The project is almost done but there's one more step needed to complete the look.
To add depth and soften the paint effects and knife-aging and bring it all together, I rubbed on a thin layer of golden oak stain, immediately wiping most of it off with a second rag.
The stain pulled everything together softening and harmonizing the colors and techniques. It also added a feeling of depth that was lacking with only the paint layers.
Small sea sponge
Zinsser Bulls Eye brand 1-2-3 Waterbase - Interior & Exterior Primer
Apple Barrel brand Multi-Surface Satin Acrylic Paint - black
DecoArt brand Americana Decor Chalky Finish Acrylic Paint - light gray
Minwax brand Penetrating Stain - Golden Oak
This project was very frugally done. I borrowed the primer, black acrylic craft paint, and Minwax stain from my Mom. I already had the knife, sea sponges, and chalk paint left from previous projects so nothing was purchased specifically for this project.
NOTE: The fleur de lis design on the fireplace was stenciled on several months ago - again borrowing my Mom's black craft paint and her fleur de lis stencil. This was done to add a bit of style and interest to the polished granite tiles that surround the firebox.
There's one more project I'll be doing in the near future to finish my fireplace redux! Can you guess what it is?
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