Posts Tagged ‘distressing’

A recent customer wrote to me:

I love your style, a perfect combination of texture, color, and form, that looks and feels gently worn, yet alive.

“Gently worn, yet alive” is exactly what I’m going for. My birds tell a story. The first story in the story of my experience with the bird. The second story is what I put into the bird through form, color and texture. The third story is the story revealed to the viewer what they hold a bird or whale or goat in their hand.

I study color and texture an experiment in ways to convey them in my work. The following pieces are from my collection of stuff and are textures that I cherish and work towards re-creating. These were created by the master of distressed and interesting surfaces — Time.

Tfullsizeoutput_8a7his is the tool box that I take to demonstrations. I bought it for the finish. It’s a simple well worn homemade plywood box with steel hasps and corners. It had a disintegrating wet formed leather handle that I recovered.

I love the pale green alligatored paint with subtle white splatter. Bare wood The circle is from my own shellac can. The single light blue drop is mine as well.

fullsizeoutput_8a8This is another side of the same box. I stenciled “50 Little Birds” across the side. One this side there are two layers of bright yellow-green paint. The top coat has alligatored into fine grains. The paint is worn to wood following the grain of the plywood veneer. The hardware is painted as well.
This is the top of the wooden stool that I sit on at my bench. It was left behind when a co-worker left the school where I was teaching. He always knew that I fullsizeoutput_8a9liked it and I suspect it was left on purpose.

It was once painted red over white and then alligatored. Decades of rear ends have worn much of it to bare wood that has been rubbed smooth. It has some splatter — black spot can be seen here.

fullsizeoutput_8a6This is one of the many white cedar lobster bouys that I picked up as a kid. Lobster bouys were so much more substantial and interesting when they were made of wood. These were made from massive blocks of wood and were turned on a lathe. This wasn’t fancy work and the gouge marks are still visible.

This bouy was primed in orange — often whatever house paint that could be aquired. The red with a green stripe indicate which fisherman owned the bouy. An identical one was displayed on the boat. I love these three colors together. I also love that the red exposed beneath the failing green paint has not faded. It’s also important to note that most of the red paint is missing from the surfaces that would make the most contact.


Years ago i got a bargain on a huge poplar dresser and cabinet. It’s almost 5′ tall and 6′ long. It contain 8 drawers (Three of which are larger than most dressers) and a hanging locker. It was so large that we had to remove the cap on my full sized pickup to load it.

It was to be put in my (then) upstairs studio — but it could not negotiate the turn in the stairs. It now sits in our living room with the TV atop.

It’s been painting — at least — three times. It has a few stories to tell and I’ve can’t make sense of them.

IMG_0810Looking at the door, It is clear that the green paint is under the grained red paint. This is counter to what would be expected. In general faux grained finishes pre-date “institutional” green. The hardware is painted with both colors indicating that there is — probably — at least another color (the original color) underneath.

Another mystery is the row of orange dots under each bin pull/drawer pull. They were painted when the piece was “institutional” green.

These are the finishes that I seek out. These are the finishes that I collect. These are the finishes I strive to re-create.

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Perfect Patination

I stumbled across this dollhouse today.  It is the epitome of patination.  I’ve written many times about honest distressing that tells a story.  This piece tells us layers and layers of stories.  You can see where furniture has rubbed walls and scraped floors.  You can picture dolls “walking” up and down the stairs.  The owner’s name is scribed across the back.  I could loose myself in here.

I found this posted Anonymous Works, one of my regular haunts.

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I’m hitting the road tomorrow for a grand road trip through the Adirondacks, the White and Green Mountains and then (my old stomping grounds) the Maine coast (We’re popping out at Pemaquid Point Light).

I’m tagging along with photographer Ernie Mills.  We’re looking at this as an artists retreat.  I plan to bring my field guides, scope and glasses and will find and get to know many birds that I’ve not seen in years.

Ernie has encouraged me to carve in his van.  He claims he’s not worried about chips and sawdust.  I’m not ready to carve and drop the chips in the seat and on the floor so I made a little lap box to carry a few tools and catch the droppings.

Yesterday I took a quick look at the scrap materials around the shop and put together this box.  I pulled the hardware from an antique fiddle case that was falling apart. (My Roy Smeck Vita Uke came in it.) I love the ratty handle and the spotty nickle plated hasp.

Inside there are four storage cases (old metal film-strip cans) for small parts — tacks, rivets and a small pencil sharpener.  The tool compartment is stocked with just a knife, pencil, pliers and awl.  The main compartment will accommodate a full sheet of sandpaper, a few bird blanks and a sketch book.

I gave it a quick been-around-the-shop-while-painting-and-bumped-a-bit-on-the-road distressing.  It’s a bit garish, but it’ll do.

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Class Title:  Creating an Interesting Finish –  Little Bird Carvings
Instructor:  Geoff Davis
Cost:  $60 including materials, $100 combined morning and afternoon sessions
Date and Time:  Saturday, August 7,  1:00 – 5:00
Location:  Judge Stone House – Woodworking Studio, 107 S. 8th Street,  Noblesville, Indiana
Registration:  Call (317) 565-7132 and leave a message.  You will receive a confirmation call.
Class Limit:  8 Students

Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate

Class Description:

Geoff Davis carves little birds.  Last year he pledged 50 to help the Folk School to raise money for construction and technology costs.  Since this time he’s carved and painted nearly 100 little birds.

In his unique style influenced by folk carvers such as Charles Hart and Wilhelm Schimmel, Geoff carves and paints the birds that are a part of his life using simple and inexpensive tools and materials.

Join Geoff for an afternoon discussing an exploring the many steps to producing a distressed finish using a combination of modern and traditional finishes. Geoff’s finishes have a rich depth and luster that invites observers to handle and rub his work.

Students may bring their own carved and unfinished birds to be decorated.  Students who do not have a carved bird may purchase flatties (unpainted 2-dimensional cutouts) for $5 each.

Combine this class with a carving class the same morning.  You will save money and have a bird ready to paint.

This class often fills quickly.  Register soon.

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