Working With Glaze
Think of the thin, sugary layer on a glazed doughnut and you’ll
have a pretty good notion of what glaze is. In painting terms, it’s
a thin layer of oil or latex that varies from nearly transparent to
nearly opaque, depending on the ratio of paint to glaze. Glaze is
a liquid you mix with paint to get a translucent look, and is also
the name of the thin layer you’ll spread over the wall.
Mixing glaze isn’t difficult. Use a measuring cup to get the right
proportions, but don’t worry about being too exact. You can add
a little water to extend the working time and thin the glaze for
easier workability. Just make sure it doesn’t get so thin it runs
down the wall. Each of our techniques requires applying from
two to several coats of glaze on top of one another. To avoid
problems, it’s best to let each coat dry at least a few hours. It
should be dry to the touch. Test by applying a piece of masking
tape in an inconspicuous spot and removing it to make sure the
tape won’t pull partially dry glaze from the wall.
In each of the decorative techniques we’re showing, we’ve
mixed either latex paint or special metallic finishes with latex
glaze to create the finish. Both the “random rectangles” and the
“shimmery stripes” techniques look better with even coats of
glaze. There are several ways to avoid undesirable lap marks
that can show up when you pounce over dried glaze. Starting
out with a base coat layer of paint that has a little sheen helps
because the glaze won’t soak in and is easier to move around.
We used latex paint with an eggshell sheen. For extra working
time, buy “latex glaze extender” rather than plain latex glaze.
When you apply the glaze, work from one side to the other.
Work fast to avoid letting the leading edge dry out. It’s also
helpful to work in pairs, with one person dabbing on the glaze
and the second person working it to achieve the desired finish.
It’s better to err on the side of applying too little glaze, since you
can always add another coat.
Tools and techniques
The instructions for decorative painting often recommend sea
sponges, but we found that the inexpensive “hump-backed”
sponges available at paint stores work fine. They leave a soft, subtle texture that’s desirable for the
techniques we show here. Cheesecloth that’s unfolded and
lightly wadded is another good choice. In either case, the application
technique is similar. You apply a little glaze to the wall
with either a sponge or a brush, and then spread it out in a thin,
even layer with a second sponge or a wad of cheesecloth. If you
don’t mind the extra work, simply practice on the wall. Then
paint over it to prepare for the actual finish. Or you can practice
on a painted piece of drywall, MDF or hardboard.