Sunday, April 25, 2010

Skip Pool Trowel

Recently, I have added over 500 pounds of plaster to my walls. The task is arduous but the end result is fabulous and well worth the painful and daunting efforts made throughout the process.

I wanted to approach my home with a somewhat soft, warm, and inviting overall decor. I am eclectic and enjoy mixing and matching furniture, accessories, and eras. For the whole concept to shape, it is imperative that we provide a cohesive base to work from. In this respect, I am alluding to the core walls throughout the house. came the skip pool trowel concept. Skip-pool troweling is a method used to establish deep nooks and crannies adjacent to soft pool troweled sweeps in the plaster. The over all look will lend itself to the old world classic look. Most people contemplate Tuscany when regarding skip-pool troweling. Since, in my home, we have many religious icons...i.e. a beautiful hand painted depiction of the San Jose Y San Miguel D Aguayo from Ben Carter, a variety of Santos picked up on visits to Mexico, and a plethora of different crosses...I leaned towards replicating a mission feel.

Here is the process:
Plaster (mud found in a hardware store...dry wall mud will suffice)
Pool Trowel (found in a hardware store like Lowe's or Home Depot. Smooth oval)
A Variety of different sized flat trowels which will offer the skip effect.
Masking paper
Roslin Paper (the red rolls found in hardware stores)
Scaffolding (depending on the height of the walls)
Sand Paper
Shop Vac
Base coat paint
Glaze...Use an oil based NOT..use a water base...not the effect wanted.
Linseed oil
Japan Dryer
Oil base pigment

Begin from the top of the wall and work your way across and then down. If you don't like the pattern of which you are creating, then smooth it over and do it again. Working with plaster, you cannot mess up...even if it has can sand it and begin again.

The application is individualistic. I utilize the pool trowel loaded with mud and apply to the wall. Then taking a larger trowel, filled with mud and underneath the pool troweled mud, I apply a staccato of mud then quickly and lightly smooth it over. Play with this method and perhaps invent your own...Only you can define the rhythm that you will be able to produce and sustain throughout the entire area to be in and day out.

Next phase, once all of the mud is applied to the walls, you will sand lightly eliminating rough peaks on the staccato mudded surface. Clean seams in corners and where ceiling meets walls. Smooth roughed troweled areas. Envision what each raise will look like once glaze is applied. The glaze will accentuate any imperfection, nook and cranny, and lip established while having troweled on the mud. If you don't like what you see, now is the time to get rid of it by sanding it away.
*Make certain you are wearing a mask and all areas are viscuined. I usually use a heavy duty masking tape and a heavier gauged plastic. The dust will sift into every crevasse, every page on a book, every fibrous thread on your upholstery....EVERYWHERE!!!!!!!!

Next, brush off all of the dust, vacuum, and eliminate. The dust is your enemy and is horribly toxic to have sifting into your lungs. This extracting of dust is a constant....but essential for maintaining a healthy working environment and sustaining a livable space for those residing in the home or working in the commercial environment.

Next, primer. Brush and Roll primer on every square inch of your textured surfaces. Please babysit your efforts...and look carefully for drips. Drips will ruin your hours and hours of laborious lathering of mud......Drips are easy to establish when dealing with heavily textured walls. You have a tendency to overload your brush and roller....since it is imperative to get into each nook and cranny....if not careful, you will have a wall filled with drips. UGLY and AWFUL! Once you have brushed and rolled....let it set for a couple of minutes and go back to double check for the inevitable drips.

Base painting is next. It is key to pick out a light color for your troweled walls. The glaze will darken the overall effect. In this example: we selected a very light cream base color. Carefully replicate the priming process utilizing your base color....again babysit the drips.

After two coats of base coat have been applied and have cured, you are ready to glaze! Glazing is fun and fast....and the wow factor while applying pushes you on to completion.

For the glaze:
Mix an oil base pigment...I chose burnt umber, burnt sienna, and a chocolate brown.
Mix in linseed oil
Japan Dryer

There is no exact formula for making a glaze. Play around with the consistency and take notes. You will want a glaze that is 1/2 oil and 1/2 turp with some Japan Dryer to expedite the drying time....just play around and see what you like. You can always apply samples onto your wall...then immediately erase with clear turpentine.

Voila! You have just given birth to a lovely Tuscan village or a mission style environment. The effect is warm, inviting, and awe inspiring.

Note: For those young entrepreneurs who would like to Faux finish for a living: this application should never be sold for less than $18.00/sqft no matter the size of the walls. This is a very labor intensive method and only skilled finishers can execute this to perfection.