Weathered lamps


These weathered lamps were painted to match a wall finish that we previously had done in a rustic ranch in the Hampton’s, Long Island.


The lamps arrived at the shop.  They had a natural wood look, but unfortunately, they were waxed.  So the first step is to remove the wax.  Good old baking soda mixed with water acts as a wax remover.  The abrasive nature tends to cut through the layer pretty well.


Then we used a wax wash to remove the last bits of wax residue.


Using 120 grit sandpaper, we cut through the surface over every inch to ensure a solid grip for the paint.


Here it is after sanding – lots of labor before even a drop of paint is applied!


The next step:  Shellac.  Here is the mixture I made.  Half amber shellac and half sanding sealer (sealer adds a comfortable open time to the quick drying shellac) plus 5% of denatured alcohol to thin down the mixture.


This mixture is applied methodically and quickly.  Shellac will seal the surface of any remaining wax and prime the piece for painting.


The base coat is a grey, flat, latex paint.



Dry brushing is next.  We have specific tooth spalters that are used for dry brushing.  When a brush has spent years in the field and the bristles are worn, it graduates to becoming a “dry brush.”  These brushes are perfect because they’re stiff and irregular.  From a palette, I load up the brush with a very conservative amount of paint.


The key to dry brushing is a light touch.  Gently drag the brush over areas to create a quick weathering effect.



Usually I would use a spatter brush, but I used a tooth spalter and a palette knife to spatter some color to the lamp


By using a round badger (which is the perfect brush for smoothing small spaces), I softened the spatters so they don’t look like drops of paint


Using a tone that would mimic raw wood, I dry brushed the edges and other areas that would be worn with a medium flat brush


Using a long, pointed liner, I created cracks.


Then, to really punch up the drama, I added a shadow and highlight to the cracks and chips.


Here it is finished. Both lamps were done at my shop and shipped back to the room I did in the Hampton’s 2 months prior.  How did I know the lamps would be spot on?


This is the answer – my notes.  This recipe card was all I needed to recreate the finish off site and with confidence.  That’s a lesson that saves beaucoup $ in times like these.


  1. Great info Pierre. I always enjoy your blog- Very informative and I always learn something from the master of the brush. Thanks again.

  2. Pierre Finkelstein says

    I got this product called a “wash-away wax” alcohol based product – found in an auto body shop in Florida about 10 years ago. Naptha is a great solvent to use as a substitute, but it’s very strong.

  3. Thanks for sharing, I love to see what others do. I am sure the final result will be superb.

  4. Beautiful, Pierre! Everything around me here seems to be Chalk Painted & Waxed now days! Nice to see something done the “Old World” way by someone like you…thank you!

    Curious,…what is in the Wax Wash ? Some kind of solvent to cut the wax residue…?

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