Nobody likes cleaning up messes, faffing about if you like, dithering, and not making progress. Right now, I am cleaning up a mess of my own making. Paint on wood can be the most delicate thing. What? You say, just slather it on. Can’t do that. A good paint-on-wood finish is much more complicated than varnishing or French polishing. In the current case, I was finishing up the portrait of the Ada Bailey schooner, and things “went south” with the paint on the sails. Not on the carved sea highlights or the hull but on the sails. Being that the sails are about 80 percent of what you see, that’s a big problem.
On cherry, I’m inclined to leave the wood finished with wax or varnish; no paint except on an added detail part like a stanchion. On pine, though, it can go either way, varnish or paint on the carving with the background varnished. My forte is carving and not painting. I tend to keep the painting basic over a well-prepared base. Usually, this works fine. And it seemed to on this carving…until it didn’t.
Instead of a smooth application, it seemed crusty. The irregularity of the paint on the sails pulled your attention. Your gaze is supposed to be on the scene of the vessel sailing on the water, not on the irregularity of the sails. So the word was passed, and the paint had to come off.
Have you ever had to strip paint from a carving? It’s more than something that will bother you a bit. It’s a real annoyance – scrape, scrub, brush, neutralize, sand, and re-prep.
Why did it happen? I was probably faffing about the shop ( there’s that word again) and got preoccupied. Not being careful, I muffed the prep.
Here is some advice: an excellent paint-on-wood finish is all about the prep. Do a lousy prep, and wind up with an awful finish—so sand, smooth, and seal. Ensure the coats cover smoothly with enough surface depth, but don’t fill the depressions or detail.
It’s that or get out the stripper. Oy.
I am much too embarrassed to post a picture of the current mess. So, do as I suggest, not as I did.