Craft a Country Finish
When the time came to apply an authentic-looking old-time country finish to our oak bedroom furniture set, we turned to Robby Pederson. Robby works as the hands-on demonstrator in the cabinet shop at Living History Farms in Des Moines, Iowa. That explains his 1800s attire shown in the photos. A student of things past, Robby proved to be the right person to show us how to create a time-worn country look using a modern-day approach.
Start the process by sanding and staining the furniture pieces as you would any fine-furniture project. We sanded through 220-grit and then applied Zar 137 White Oak stain. For better contrast between the stained areas and those you'll paint later, we applied the stain lightly.
Color the pieces by brushing on Zar Antiquing Wedgewood Blue latex paint. Almost immediately, use a clean cloth to wipe off enough of the paint so the stained grain shows through. Paint just one section at a time. If you wait too long to start wiping, the paint will dry and cannot be removed. Because you'll be finishing a large piece of furniture in small segments, watch closely that you remove the same amount of paint from each area.
Antiques usually show their fair share of wear. But before you rub through any paint, think about where the object would have received the greatest wear, and distress only those areas. Sand off paint at spots likely to have become worn, and then blend the surrounding areas with a ScotchBrite pad. To do this, we used 150-grit sandpaper and ScotchBrite medium pads (green in color). For a natural "worn" look, remember to rub the edges unevenly from spot to spot as shown in the photo above. For example, on the dresser, we scuffed the corners of the cabinet, the rail edges, and spots where the drawers rub against the carcase. Don't overdo it. If a surface would have received little wear over the years, leave it alone.
To simulate the aged, used look referred to as "patina," wipe on a coat of Zar Antiquing Glaze over the blue paint, and immediately wipe away most of it with a lint-free cloth, as shown in the photo below. Just as you do when staining, wipe with the grain. You'll get better results once the cloth is partially loaded with glaze than when it's completely clean. Leave deposits of glaze in crevices and other areas that wouldn't have received wear or been cleaned over the years.
Add a bit more character by spattering the surface. To achieve this accent (sometimes called "flyspecking"), pour a small amount of the Zar Black Antiquing Glaze in a shallow container. Then, dab an old toothbrush, or a paintbrush with its bristles trimmed to ?" long, into the black glaze. Practice your spattering technique on a piece of paper before trying it on your project. Hold the brush about 6" from the paper, and run your finger through the bristles to determine the amount of spattering produced. Once you have the right touch, add a uniform spattering of fine speckles to the piece as shown in the photo below. Again, don't overdo it. A little spattering goes a long way.
Finally, apply a clear, protective coat to all the pieces (painted and unpainted). Using a quality finish brush, we applied Zar satin polyurethane, rubbing between coats with ScotchBrite super-fine pads (grey in color). We repeated the process until we had three coats of the clear finish applied.
Zar products. 137 White Oak Stain, Black Glaze Coat Antiquing, 216 Wedgewood Blue Antiquing Base Coat, and Satin Polyure-thane. For the entire bedroom set, we used one quart of stain, three pints of Wedgewood Blue latex paint, and three half-pints of the Black Glaze. For more information on UGL ZAR products, call 1-800-272-3235 or 1-800-845-5227.