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Home > Craft Topics > Projects > Tortoiseshell Paint Effect

Colour Projects - Tortoiseshell Paint Effects

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Colour Projects - Tortoiseshell Paint Effects from www.walkaboutcrafts.comMaterials and equipment


Base coat

Use two coats of an oil based paint with an eggshell or similar soft sheen finish. Gloss paint is too shiny for tortoiseshelling. The colours used depend on the final colouring you want to achieve; the base coat is usually quite a strong chrome or acid yellow. Bare wood needs sealing first with a primer / undercoat product

Top Coat
For a realistic tortoiseshell effect, make the first layer of glaze from 70 per cent scumble, 20 per cent white spirit and 10per cent artists oil in raw sienna. The markings are made by tinting the glaze with artists oils in progressively darker shades of burnt umber and black.

Clear polyurethane varnish is essential to protect your finish. Choose a mid sheen varnish for a natural look and add a trace of white gloss to prevent yellowing.

For the best results use specialist brushes. You need an ordinary paint brush for applying the base coat, an arist's 'fitch' for the glaze, a softening brush for blending and a small stencil crush for spattering. A piece of lint free cloth is also needed for softening the surface of the glaze to give a more natural looking finished result.

Preparing the surface
Strip the piece clean of any polish using white spirit and wire wool followed by detergent solution. Metal or wood items must be sanded down. Treat bare wood with a coat of primer / undercoat. For metal, use an appropriate primer followed by undercoat.

Colour Projects - Tortoiseshell Paint Effects from www.walkaboutcrafts.com 1. Apply two coats of buff colour eggshell paint, sanding lightly with dampened silicon carbide paper between each coat, then wiping clean to give a fine finish. Work diagonally throughout.

2. Apply a coat of glaze with the fitch, working back and forth to give a dragged effect.

Colour Projects - Tortoiseshell Paint Effects from www.walkaboutcrafts.com3. Still working diagonally, soften the lines by dabbing the glaze with a lint free cloth.

4. To create the characteristic tortoiseshell markings, add more raw sienna to the glaze to darken it and apply with the fitch in oval shaped patches about 5-7 cm long. Keep the outline random, overlapping it from time to time.

5. Add burnt umber to the mix to darken it again and make further marks inside the patches. Then add more bunt umber and a touch of black for the darkest markings and apply in the centre of the previous burnt umber marks.

Colour Projects - Tortoiseshell Paint Effects from www.walkaboutcrafts.comColour Projects - Tortoiseshell Paint Effects from www.walkaboutcrafts.com6. Blur the outlines with a softening brush, working the colours well so that they merge into each other. Finish by blending away any remaining hard outlines with a random movement of the bush. If the glaze is still wet you can repeat this process to give an even more realistic effect.

7. Spatter tiny dots of the darkest glaze over the surface using a small stencil brush. Dip no more than one third of the bristle length into the paint. Tap the base of the handle against a straight edge held over the work and aim to create a fine shower of paint.

8. If you want to break up the pattern you can ciss the surface while it is still wet, giving an antique effect. Load an artists brush with white spirit and tap against a stick held over the surface of the work. It takes a few moments for the effect to become noticeable. Tap lightly and leave for half a minute.

9. Allow the glaze to dry and then apply polyurethane varnish for protection. Rub this down with fine glass paper and clean between coats. Several coats of varnish create a deep, protective sheen, enhancing the effect.

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