Thursday, 14 February 2013

Painting that cardboard furniture

Now that I have a nice elephant foot shaped cardboard stool, it needs an appropriate paint job.  I'm not using any special paint here, just the garden variety artists' acrylic I use on all my projects.  The base coat is dark chocolate brown, with a slosh of Janola in the paint mix.  This is a trick commercial painters use to prevent mould developing on walls, and it works just as well in any other context where mould prevention is important.  Wherever you use flour glue, mould prevention is important*.  You could, of course, use wallpaper paste with a fungicide in it, but flour is what I used because I have a big sack of it in the kitchen anyway.
That's Arwen the cat on the chair in the background.  She's still in bed, the lucky sod.

The top coat of paint is brown-grey with plenty of colour variation.  I've used black and white, but also burnt umber, raw umber and even a touch of burnt sienna.  The toenails also have a little yellow ochre and burnt sienna to give them that lighter, horn-like colour that you see in photos.

Elephant skin is a fairly dark grey-brown - the lighter colour you often see is a result of the elephant smearing mud on itself to act as sunscreen.  For that reason I went with a fairly dark paint job.  It lightened up a lot as it dried, because when titanium white is involved you're never really sure what the final colour will be.

So if you have made some cardboard furniture and you want to paint it, what paint should you use?  Well, anything you've got should be fine.  House paint is good, artists' paints are good, spray paint is good.  Just don't be gulled into thinking you have to pay extra for "higher quality" artists' paints.  In my experience the difference in quality is not great enough to justify the increased price.  You'll want to put a coat of protective varnish over the top anyway.  Do make sure you varnish with a good quality polyurethane or epoxy.
While we're at it, here's an interesting little diversion about colour and lighting.  The photos up top there were taken in daylight, but this one was taken at night with a flash.  You can see how different the colour looks when a flash is used.  That's certainly not what it looked like to the naked eye at the time the photo was taken, but once the flash comes into play we get this very pale colour. 

* I understand that if you're following the progress of my cardboard chair you probably feel like I'm harping on about bleach quite a lot, but I really do think it bears repeating.  I've experienced some truly vile student flats in my time, and my significant other used to repair leaky houses for a living.  I live in Wellington.  If you picked Wellington up and squeezed all the water out you'd have enough to keep the Sonora irrigated for a year.  I know about mould prevention, is what I'm saying here.  And trust me on this, it basically just comes down to using plenty of bleach.

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