Monday, May 21, 2012

beautiful faux concrete wall: a tutorial

I've gotten lots of notes recently about my life as a muralist.
SO today, I thought it would be fun to give you a little peek at what I have been doing to my own bathroom and give a little tutorial.
Part of my job when creating a mural was to create a feeling for the entire room, not just the main mural wall.
Most of the time, the way I did this was through faux finishes.
I am going to be very blunt for a second.
A bad faux finish is AWFUL.
BUT, with the right tools and a light touch they can transform a space like nothing else.
So, I am in the process of adding an entire small wall of glass tiles to my bathroom.
I wanted the wall behind it to have as much interest, without the price of the tiles (or the overkill).
Since it is the master bathroom, I wanted to play with feminine and masculine.
I decided on a pretty fleur-de-lis pattern {the feminine}
on what looked like a concrete wall. {the masculine}
I actually wanted the fleur-de-lis to look like concrete as well {concrete all poured together}
not two separates.
The best way to do this was to create a 3D mold that came out of the wall.
SO, you want to try this?
Let's begin.
{I wish the photos could show you how truly beautiful this finish is. There is not a good light in the bathroom and I had to rely mostly on opening up the windows to get some natural light in there}
(oh and a putty knife. forgot that!)
DAY 1:
You can start the wall with prepping any holes.
As you can see from the photos I had a little trouble removing my towel bar, so it's in the before picture. You can see the spots that I spackled.
don't skip this step because the final glaze will only draw attention to wall imperfections that you ignored.
Next, find a stencil.
They do sell thicker stencils that will make this project easier, but you can use any stencil you wish.
Then, figure out how you want the pattern to lay out.
I used a yard stick and marked off 12 x 12 inch squares on my wall with a pencil.
(don't use a pen, they will bleed into your paint. Use a pencil. No worries, the paint will cover it completely!)
Next, as you can see, I used blue tape to mark where I planned to stencil. As I would stencil, I would remove the tape piece, and use it to tape my stencil to the wall.

Okay, this part is super easy. tape your stencil to the wall, and use a putty knife and carefully spread the spackle (putty, what ever you call it) across the stencil. Go back and forth to even it out and smooth it out. If you mess up, just scrap it off and start over. If you spackle a little over your stencil, just wipe it off. Believe it or not this went really fast. I locked the door {to keep curious children and animals from touching} and left it to dry till the next day.

DAY 2:
Okay, so the next day, I painted the wall with my base coat paint.
The color I used is called rope, but it's just a light, soft grey.
I actually painted the entire bathroom this color.
(great way to guarantee your accent wall will match the whole room)
I again locked the door and left it to dry until the next day.
You might feel a little sad at this point because your stencils will look like they have disappeared.
But don't worry, the next step will make them come back like magic.

DAY 3:
Yay! we are at our final step here!!
This one is the one you really have to know that you have the time to do the whole wall.
That you are as free from distractions as you can be. 
You will move and finish quick... it really is best to just do it with out stopping so that the entire wall maintains the same look.

I picked up a mixing container with a lid at Lowes (pictured above) but you can use what ever you want.
I like the idea of having a lid, so I can save the glaze if I ever need to use it down the road.

since I only was doing one wall I made sure to tape off the walls that butt next to it. I also taped off the ceiling and the floor boards. It's definitely worth the step. This glaze is watery and it's much easier to make a mistake if you don't.

I only needed to buy a sample size of the paint I choose for the glaze. 
It is called "chimney sweep" and is perfect for the dark overtones I was trying to create.
Perfect to settle into those pretty Fluer- de-lis molds.

I mixed 1 part paint (the entire sample container) to
3 parts clear glaze and stirred with a free wooden paint stick for several minutes to be sure it was completely mixed.
I usually start in a hidden corner of the room, in this case, inside the wall ceiling of the shower.
It just helps me get my bearings, and flow going. 
Dip your big paint brush into the glaze mixture using just the tip of the brush, scrapping off drips/excess as you pull it out.  brush the wall in patches. (you aren't trying to paint it solid. You are trying to get it on the wall so you can spread it with your blending brush. random is good.)
I am usually up on a ladder holding a brush in each hand. 
Use your blending brush to blend the entire area out. You will see the thin layer transform the wall instantly. 
Use your blending brush in every direction, like your cleaning a window.
You will see how much or how little you need quickly. 
Try to apply the paint from your big brush a little away from where you just finished so that you can blend into it, not from it.  This way you will have even areas of light and dark on your wall.
It is better to go light with this. It will dry darker.
If you decide you want it darker, wait till the next day to apply the next coat of glaze.
In my case, I only wanted the one light layer.
That's it.
Pat yourself on the back!!
If you read through all this, I PAT YOU ON THE BACK!
This whole thing probably sounds much harder than it actually is.
Each step goes pretty quick. You just have to be patient for the dry times.

NOTE: if you want to practice. Do the whole thing on a big poster board.
If it looks good on the poster, it will look amazing as the real thing on the wall.
If you make a mistake for some reason, during the last glaze step, stop.
It really will need to get a fresh coat of base paint, and a restart there.
Otherwise it will always drive you crazy and will never look right.

Also, this technique can be done in just about any color. terracotta? leather? you name it.
Just pick a base color 2-3 shades lighter than the glaze color. (using a color family from the same paint strip insures the colors will all match as well.

This technique would be GORGEOUS as a back splash in a kitchen as well. and WAY cheaper than the cost of tiles, but giving you the same look.
good luck!!

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