Today I thought I would take the time to show you all how to get an antiqued or aged effect with L’essentiel’s dark wax that we both stock and love to use! Dark wax can be a real game changer for painted furniture. In my opinion I think that dark wax can either make or break your piece depending on how it is used. I know there will be a lot of you out there that want to know what dark wax is all about and why you should use it. So let me show you the transformation you can achieve through using dark wax.
If you are a beginner when it comes to dark wax then I would definitely recommend that you give L’essentiel’s Dark wax a go. The reason being is that they have formulated a lovely, natural dark wax that is very user friendly. Unlike solvent based dark wax L’essentiel’s dark wax has a long ‘open’ time meaning that it has plenty of workability making it easier to get used to and learn with. It also is a lot milder and requires that to get a very dark look, you build your dark wax layers up gradually. Don’t get me wrong, I am not poo pooing other dark waxes out there, in fact I use a range of dark waxes including the very dark solvent based dark waxes and I know that you can achieve some AMAZING results with them and love working with them when I want a heavy dark aged look. However they do have a shorter work time and go on very thick and dark so if you are inexperienced with using dark wax I feel that you have more of a chance of frightening yourself by making some of the mistakes that I made when I first started.
I will do a post on how to use other dark waxes soon but for today I wanted to ease you into the dark wax department with a subtle and gentle wax that will make your learning a dream. My candidate today is a ornate frame that my mother in law painted in my most recent paint class using Websters Chalk Paint Powder … You can see the painted frame pictured below with no wax on it at all! Now the very first thing I did was lightly distress and sand my finish to give it a smooth but porous surface for the wax to soak into. Now your first step when waxing generally is
CLEAR WAX YOUR PIECE FIRST – I generally recommend that you give your piece a light rub over with clear wax BEFORE you dark wax. Why? Well the clear wax soaks into your paint and acts as a barrier and gives you control over the dark wax. That way if you apply the dark wax and then want to remove some without staining your paint you can by simply rubbing it back with a clean cloth or even a little clear wax if necessary. If you don’t clear wax first then you run the risk of the dark wax staining your paint permanently, which takes away your control of the finished look.
THAT BEING SAID I have found that some chalk style paints with a latex base such as Websters have a smooth relatively non porous surface, on these pieces it is vital to lightly sand your surface first with a fine grit paper to give you a porous surface for your wax to soak into. Over these type of surfaces you can generally get away with dark waxing your piece WITHOUT clear waxing first buffing off the dark with a little clear after to get the look you like. Just make sure that you test this in an inconspicuous spot to make sure you have sufficient control over the dark wax.
For the piece above I did very lightly clear wax my surface first, only over the smooth areas, buffing as much of the clear wax off after so that my dark wax would grab.
APPLYING THE DARK WAX – Now it’s time for my favorite part, applying the dark wax. Make sure that you have wiped all excess clear wax off your surface otherwise the dark wax wont stick. You may have to give your piece a good rub with a clean lint free cloth till the surface feels smooth, it shouldn’t feel oily or tacky. Now for this piece I applied the dark wax in two ways. First using a corner of a lint free cloth (or waxing brush) I poked my finger into the dark wax and rubbed it lightly all over the frame working in sections at a time, this is to get my base layer of wax down. Don’t be afraid to dig down into the wax a bit as some of the really dark pigment may have settled beneath the surface of the wax. Even scoop some wax aside so that you can access the heavier pigmented wax below.
If your wax is cold you can sit it near a heater (not too close, you don’t want to make it runny) to warm it ever so slightly if you like. I let the first coat of dark wax soak in for 30 seconds and then lightly rubbed it back, making sure that the distribution of wax was even but the effect was only a very light tinting to the paint. Then I grabbed a toothbrush to help me get into all the fine nooks and cracks on the piece and really heavily loaded the brush and applied the wax in a thick layer really pushing it into all the cracks and creases and fine detail.
I worked the wax in with circular motions over the carved areas where I really wanted it to gather. Then I let it sit for a good 3 to 5 minutes… At this point it looked like this
WIPE THE EXCESS WAX OFF – Now all that’s left to do is wipe the excess wax off, particularly over the smooth flat areas leaving it collected in all the grooves, edges and carving. I did this without using any clear wax. I just took a section of the clean cloth and wiped away the excess wax from the areas where it wouldn’t gather and that’s it. It is as easy as that!! Now have a look at the difference between the clear wax only and the dark wax..
Adriana 🙂 X