Proof things aren't always what they appear to be.
SHOP OWNER: Stephen Shepherd
LOCATION: Park City, UT
The French term tromp l'oeil dates back to the sixteenth century. Translated it means "to deceive the eye". It is artwork that attempts to be so realistic that the viewer is fooled into thinking that actual three-dimensional objects are being displayed rather than a two-dimensional representation of those objects.
Six years ago, I did some cabinet and woodwork for a friend in Park City; in an old house she had purchased and restored. She later sold the house and purchased one in Carmel, California. We did the kitchen for that house and another one in Pebble Beach. She has recently moved to Newport Beach and I will probably do another kitchen for her there.
She had pictures of the type of wooden doors she wanted on her house. The existing entry doors were the flat steel type. I assured her that it wouldn't be a problem to give them the look she wanted. I was able to remove the doors and work on them in the shop. They were cleaned, primed, and painted with oil-based paints.
When graining, the base coat is the lightest wood color that will be showing. It is brighter than you think when you start, but the graining will darken the overall look. Pigmented, exterior grade, marine spar varnish was used for the graining. Different graining techniques use combs, rollers, and other tools. On the "maple" doors, just brushes were used for the graining process. Although it takes several layers of graining to develop the artificial depth required for the look of real wood, it is possible. A couple of additional coats of spar varnish provided the doors with extra protection.
After six years, the "lion" door does have a little peeling varnish on the lower corner and could use another coat. The current owners of the house say everyone that comes to the front door thinks it is carved, until they knock on the door. These were fun to paint.. . . Stephen Shepherd
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