Glossary of Paint Terms
Aged Effect ~ a piant effect that has the patina and appearance of an old or antique finish. This can be acheived by various
meamns, such as a crackle medium, peeling paint, waxed finish, pigmemted varnish, textured paint, or distressed surface.
Bell Flower ~ a classic motif very popular in the eighteenth century, based on bell-shaped flowers hanging in a continuous chain, pendant or swag, and either the same size or graduated, It is similar to a husk motif.
Bleached Wood ~ originally, this was the result of decades, or even centuries, of scrubbing wood clean with green soap and somthimes with wet silver sand, or with soft soap and lye. Today this effect can be achieved using wood bleach or it can be simulated by applying white emulsion (possibly thickened with a plaster of paris for a more powder look) and then lightly washing it off; or by applying a white wax. Both of these techniques work best on woods that have a strong grain.
Bronze Powders ~ very fine metallic powders in a number of gold, silver and copper colours used on furniture over gold size.
Colour Washing ~ a glazing technique using a slow-drying coloured, semi-transparnet medium over a coloured base. The glaze is applied and then partkly wiped off to give a soft, blurred and cloudy textured effect.
Crackle Varnish ~ to acheive the effect of an Old Master painting on which the bvarnish has cracked over the years, a water based varnish is apppplied over an oil-based varnish when the oilkd based one has dried to the point of being a little sticky. A dark-coloured paint can be rubbed into the cracks to make them show up.
Découpage ~ is the art of decorating an object by gluing colored paper cutouts onto it in combination with special paint effects, gold leaf and so on. Commonly an object like a small box or an item of furniture is covered by cutouts from magazines or from purpose-manufactured papers. Each layer is sealed with varnishes (often multiple coats) until the stuck on appearance disappears and the result looks like painting or inlay work. The traditional technique used 30-40 layers of varnish which were then sanded to a polished finish. This was known in 18th century England as The Art of Japanning after its presumed origins.
Distressing ~ any methoid of acheiving an old, worn look on wood or paintwork, including waxing and crackle effects.
Faux ~ French word meaninmg false and referring to anything which is painted to look like another material such as bamboo, wood or marble.
Glaze or Glazing ~ a transparent, slow-drying medium, called glaze or scumble, which is coloured and then worked in certain ways to produce one of a large number of techniques, such as wood-graining, marbling, colour washing or stippling.
Hand-Painting ~ any decoration painted freehand without stencils or other devices.
Impasto ~ in English, the borrowed Italian word impasto most commonly refers to a technique used in painting, where paint is laid on an area of the surface very thickly, usually thickly enough that the brush or painting-knife strokes are visible.
Patina ~ the mellow look and feel of an old surface, caused by the build up of wax and dirt and the discolouration, cracking and flaking of paint and varnish over many years.
Patinate ~ to cover with a patina put a coat on; cover the surface of; furnish with a surface.
Pigments ~ a powdered substance coming from either natural materials (earth, burnt wood, chalk minerals) or synthetic sources.
Spirit Varnish ~ a varnish, usually sandarac or shellac, in which the thinner is an alcohol / methylated spirit.
Stencilling ~ a method of achieving a repeated pattern by wiping or brushing paint over a sheet of card or acetate from which a design has been cut out. The technique has been used on all styles of work, from formal to country pieces.
Stippling ~ a technique using a large stiff-bristled brush in a dabbing action to pounce a glazed and coloured surface while it is still wet, producing a fine, dotty texture.
Trompe loeil ~ from the French, meaning deceive the eye, this is a method of painting using perspective and shadows to achieve a highly realistic, three-dimensional look.
Upcycling ~ unlike recycling, this is the practice of taking something that is disposable and transforming it into something of greater use and value, often leading to higher material and energy benefits. The first recorded use of the term upcycling was by
Reiner Pilz of Pilz GmbH when he expressed some frustration with some aspects of recycling: Recycling, he said, I call it down-cycling. They smash bricks, they smash everything. What we need is up-cycling where old products are given more value not less.
Varnish ~ a protective coat over paint work. In the past an oil or spirit varnish was used, but today water-based varnishes are generally substituted.
Water-based Varnish ~ a varnish made from acrylic or vinyl; dries very quickly and completely clear.
Wax ~ beeswax or strong furniture waxes which may include mixtures of paraffin wax as well as carnauba wax obtained from plants.
Wood Graining ~ a paint technique using a coloured glaze over a painted used to imitate the appearance of either a particular wood or a stylized wood.
Glossary by Sweetpea & Betty