The family at Faux Effects International, Inc. has been very generous in allowing me to tell some of my “Behind the Faux” stories of a few projects. Currently, I am celebrating 30 years in this awesome industry, and would like to express my sincere gratitude to Ray Sandor and Jane Koehler, the founders of Faux Effects®, along with their talented staff. If not for their revolutionary, groundbreaking water-based product line, I don’t know if I would even still be in this business. For years I made my morning cocktail of one part oil glaze, one part satin oil paint and one part paint thinner. Then, I spiced it up with a dash of boiled linseed oil and a pinch of kerosene, stirred not shaken. This recipe was used day in, day out. It’s a miracle I made it through that era! In the late 1980’s, I was taking a class with Bob Marx, and at the end of the class, he shared with us the new innovation in glaze he just learned about in Vero Beach. That day changed my life, and I am forever grateful to Ray for developing a water-base glazing medium that had more open time than my oil glaze. I have seen many changes, good and bad, in this industry through the years, but one thing I am most impressed with these days is how the faux finishing community has united through social media outlets to form so many support groups, from technical to business, or to just having a supportive place to blow off some steam about your latest project. I bring this up, because I learned many new finishes and ideas from generous artisans comfortable enough to share their ideas on these groups and forums. In the spirit of “Sharing it Forward,” I would like to share some of our projects, recipes, techniques and “Behind the Faux” stories with all of you. So, sit back, relax and “Enjoy the Faux.”
“All Aboard That’s Fauxing Aboard!”(100-foot Yacht Project)
I was approached by cabinet maker and finisher extraordinaire Randy Baker, who asked if I could help him on an interesting project. His firm was asked to strip and re-stain the wood work on a 100-foot yacht docked at the Naples Yacht Club on the Southwest coast of Florida. Areas throughout the interior of the boat, which are mahogany, were becoming cloudy and milky. They tried every stripping material and method available but could not seem to break the barrier of the finish. Randy asked me if it would be possible to basecoat and wood grain the clouded mahogany to look exactly like the existing mahogany.
I knew this was in my bag of tricks and was very excited for the challenge. We visited the project and went right to work making samples and planning our strategy. Randy Baker and his team would handle the prep work, including base coating and top coating, and Spiegel’s Decorative Finishes would handle the three-layer graining process.These were tight quarters and a difficult working environment, considering we had to spray the work in order to obtain that high-end manufacturer mahogany glass-like boat finish.
All systems went according to plan. Randy Baker’s team did a superb job. This was their first time using Faux Effects® coatings. It did not take them long to get comfortable with the products and admired how amazing these products were! These “good ole boys” were all used to spraying lacquers and conversion varnishes. They set up a Jet HEPA air filtration system and a dehumidifier that sucked in the overspray and blew out clean air. Faux Effects® Camel SetCoat® was wet sanded to a beautiful satin, furniture grade finish. Many people do not realize how wonderful SetCoat® wet sands out. My team and I started taping out all the panels and proceeded with the flogging process. Next, we laid in the main graining figures followed by a third toning layer to adjust the color to a perfect match with all the existing wood.
Once all the graining in the dining room area was completed, Randy Baker and his team came in and applied the Faux Effects® topcoats—ColorSeal™ followed by three coats of Satin Varnish Plus™. It’s a nice experience working on the yacht—the fresh smell of the salt air, the water, the company of the dolphins and the sound of the waves make for a very nice day to faux the world a little more beautiful.
We never saw the owner of the yacht during the whole process, but its crew was first-class all the way. They helped out with anything we could possibly want and more. We cleaned up and packed up our drop cloths, and a few days later, they were off to sea. We finally got word back that the owner loved the job. He wanted us to complete different sections of the yacht, planned on when it was back in Naples Harbor. In fact, we are back on the yacht at the writing of this article.
“A Taste of Tuscany”(Marco Island Project)
It is always a bonus when clients turn out to be such awesome people. This was one of those projects. Almost 100% of our work is by word of mouth, but this time I’ll have to thank Google for putting me in front of this client. This couple resides in New Jersey but has a second home on Marco Island, Florida. I went over to their home, and we clicked right away. They wanted a very Tuscany-style look. I made some suggestions that they never would have even thought of, such as turning all the builder white paint on the trim and doors to a beautiful walnut look. They took a chance, and the party began. This home has a very interesting foyer entry. There was in place a stone block look that was done by a talented finisher, which the client (who has a background in architecture and design) had laid out for them to execute. One of our missions was to add some more character to the existing finish.
The foyer ceiling was an opportunity in the waiting. We came up with the idea of a clouded sky, and painted cherubs to set the tone for this newly developing Tuscan Villa! We have collaborated with many different artists for various projects, and this one had the name of my good friend and incredibly talented Tim Davis, of Tim Davis Murals, written all over it.We brought in Tim, and he and the clients came up with a concept for the foyer. This particular art piece had a very personal meaning for them. Our client’s nine year old and only son, Arthur, was struck by a drunk driver as he rode his Big Wheel bicycle from the driveway to the street. One of the cherubs was created in the likeness of her son, whom she knows is watching down from Heaven on her. Tim and I spoke of how when there is such a strong message incorporated in the composition of an art piece, it makes for a much more soulful experience for the artist, and as in this case our client. All the walls were finished with a Crusty FauxStone Pull Off™ finish, creating a very authentic Old World look. The picture shown in the dining room was painted by our client when he was in high school. Now, the walls give this amazing painting a wonderful place to reside. The tray ceilings were all done with an organic gold leaf application, then antiqued to create an aged, oxidized look.
The doors, crown moldings, casings and baseboards were all faux finished to replicate walnut. This added to the richness and warmth of the space. The ceiling was glazed to add a soft tea stained patina to the room. The powder room was all based around a tapestry they had hanging in the bathroom. By this time we had won our clients trust in us. So, in his authentic New Jersey style tone, he said, “Spiegel, we’re going away for two months, SURPRISE ME.”
I asked if he was sure and if I could make some boards and discuss different options. He stopped me in my tracks and said again, “Spiegel, just surprise me, I trust you!” So, I thought this might be a good time to catch the latest buzz on the “Faux Streets” these days; time to try some of the new mica finishes. I had seen some mouthwatering posts from Diane Corso and Donna Phelps and thought this was a good time to try it out, especially since the clients wouldn’t be there and I could experiment with no one around. We embedded mica into Brown Suede LusterStone®, and it turned out great. The sheetrocked arch was wood grained to match the vanity, adding strength and architectural composition to the space.
The outside wet bar and barbecue areas were new challenges. The clients had a contractor install cast stone to create a beautiful bar and eat-in barbecue space. My client had called me and asked if I could add some more character to the stonework, so that it would tie into the Tuscany style of the interior space.With that, we started with Off White SetCoat®, and away we went. The blocks were all color toned to give them patina and depth. Then, to add more drama and richness, the lower portion of the bar and barbeque areas were faux finished to replicate travertine. This gave the whole area more class, strength and interest.
At the end of the day, the clients have their Tuscan Villa.They have told me on many occasions how their guests compliment them on how great it all looks, and that they can’t believe the doors are really painted and not real walnut. For me, at the end of the day, I had the chance to meet and become friends with two awesome people and feel very much rewarded—that I helped make their sanctuary a more special place for them.