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Home > Craft Topics > Projects > Porphyry

Colour Projects - Porphyry Paint Technique

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Porphyry is an igneous rock with a grainy appearance. Highly polished, and hard and cool to the touch, it is similar to marble, except that it has few or no veins. Although it is usually reddish purple, porphyry does occur in a range of colours, including green or violet; reddish orange; and brown, veined with quartz and speckled with pink, red and green. Some types of porphyry also contain tiny speckles of iron (fools gold).

The best effects are achieved by imitating the natural colours of real porphyry. A porphyry finish is created by splattering the base colour with three or more tones of the same colours.

The spattering should be dense enough to cover most of the base colour. The spatter effect can be made finer or coarser by tapping closer of farther away from the surface; alternatively, for larger spatters, thin the paint mixture with white spirit. Glaze is used for the base colour but it should not be added to the spatter mixture, as it will produce a lumpy, uneven finish.

You will need:

Artists oils: alizarin crimson, burnt sienna, burnt umber and titanium white.
Transparent oil glaze
White spirit (to thin the glaze slightly)
Large fitch and small fitch
mutton cloth
badger hair softening brush
gloss varnish
paint tray

Colour Projects - Porphyry Paint Technique from www.walkaboutcrafts.comColour Projects - Porphyry Paint Technique from www.walkaboutcrafts.comColour Projects - Porphyry Paint Technique from www.walkaboutcrafts.comColour Projects - Porphyry Paint Technique from www.walkaboutcrafts.com

If necessary prepare the surface by sanding rough areas with abrasive paper and then priming. Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands.

Make a deep, reddish purple coloured glaze by mixing the ingredients together in the following proportions: 45% alizarin crimson, 30% burnt sienna, 10% burnt umber, 10% glaze and 5% white spirit. Using the large fitch, apply it thinly and evenly to the surface; try to produce varying tones of colour.

Bunch the mutton cloth into a pad in your hand and gently pat the glazed surface to remove any brushstrokes and surplus paint

To remove any remaining marks, lightly touch over the surface with the softening brush, take care not to add any more brush marks.

Mix the artists oils separately with a little white spirit to make a red, dusky pink and red-brown colour (if necessary add a little titanium white)

Dip the small fitch in one of the mixtures and then wipe it against the side of the paint tray to test the consistency of the paint. For spattering, the paint should be quite runny.

To spatter the paint finely, hold the fitch in one hand and drag the index finger of the other hand through the bristle tips - remember that the thicker the mixture is, the smaller the spatters will be. If you want bigger blobs, thin the mixture first with white spirit.

Repeat the spattering technique with the other two colours.

Leave to dry overnight. Then for a polished finish, cover with two coats of gloss varnish.

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