Editor’s note by Anne: Welcome to the second edition of our design tips feature. Many of you have been desiring more lifestyle/decorating content and we hope this will offer ideas for your decorating projects. We will be working with area designers to showcase some of their ideas. For this month, we asked Antje Zwink of Bellallusions Decorative Finishes by Antje Zwink LLC to share with us a few of her projects. Antje takes us through a history of faux and decorative painting and shares with us a few possibilities of how faux painting can work in all types of homes and with all decorating styles.
My license plate reads I FAUX 4 U and that is what I have been doing for almost ten years: faux and decorative painting here in the Central Ohio region. Those vanity plates sometimes lead to some fun and interesting encounters at the gas station particularly in rural areas…”Excuse me Miss, what does I fox for you mean?” Come to think of it, it has always been men asking and was accompanied by many sheepish grins. No, it is not what you are thinking at all…
Faux (not fox) is the French word for false. It refers to the aspect of decorative painting when an artist replicates the look of marble, wood or like materials. It also includes creating trompe l’oeil effects. I’d like to describe how techniques have progressed from merely mimicking other wall surfaces into modern, stand-alone decorative techniques that can be applied to walls, ceilings, cabinetry, furniture and sometimes even floors, countertops and other surfaces.
Faux and decorative painting has been around for thousands of years. Cave drawings were its earliest beginnings and later the amazing painted decorations in ancient Egypt’s tombs. During the classical antiquity period in the Greek and Roman Empire, artists apprenticed for many years to become master finishers and decorative painting was widely recognized and utilized. In the Art Deco period of the 1920s, the neoclassical revival experienced a major come back for faux painting. With the decline of wallpaper in the 1980s and 90s, decorative painting had a resurgence of popularity again. Today, although many people are aware that the industry has come along way from sponge painting and grape stenciling, there is still a general lack of knowledge about what faux and decorative finishing entail and what possibilities exist.
It is a constantly changing and evolving art form. The advances in creating and manufacturing new plasters, glazes, waxes, metallic paints and other products, artists are able to produce amazing new finishes. There is always a new product, a new technique, or a new tool that can be utilized. By combining multiple products, an artist can achieve an endless amount of looks. For example, in the 2011 Parade of Homes I ended up using a curry brush for one of the finishes to create a very masculine and interesting geometrical texture. If it’s been a while since you were on the farm, a curry brush is a grooming tool used on horses.
If you live with a faux finisher, beware – nothing is safe and everything can and will be used to test samples and create new looks. I have at least 20 different plasters to choose from that each have different characteristics. Add foils, gold leaf, metallic paints, reactives, crackle, glass beads, colorants, glazes, stencils (and these are not your grandma’s grape or ivy stencils), or masking patterns to the mix and decorative artists can create anything that they dream up. There are many teaching institutions that focus solely on the craft of decorative painting and its developing suite of tools. When choosing a decorative painter, a trained and credentialed professional will give you access to the widest array of techniques and the most reliable product lines.
A faux finish can completely change the look of a room. It can help enhance design styles or achieve a certain feel. It can be a stunning focal point, a stand alone art piece or just a soft backdrop for your furnishings and artwork.
One of the biggest misconceptions I struggle to overcome is when people think faux finishing is a tool used to enhance only traditional homes. They fail to see the potential that decorative painting has for more recent styles (urban, transitional, bohemian, contemporary, eclectic/creative, retro, mod, swedish-functional etc). For example, if a client whose home reflects the modern Crate and Barrel/West Elm/Ikea style, I would focus on linear textures, recreating organic textiles, maybe using animal hide patterns (ostrich, alligator), incorporating metallic foils and plasters, using geometrics or a large scale graphic pattern all-over. Making a decorative finish work for different design styles includes picking the right color scheme, carefully choosing the placement of finishes and pairing with the right furnishings. A good finisher will always listen to your wishes and show you a range of samples (often customized) before the job begins to ensure you will be happy with the finished project.
If an alligator skin on your wall sounds a bit too bold, rest assured there is a host of more subtle and delicate techniques available. If you love patterns or organic textures, would love to mimic natural fibers and materials, add a soft glow to your walls, or are tired of just plain paint, consider a consultation with a decorative artist to add depth, richness and uniqueness to your home. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Bellallusions Decorative Finishes by Antje Zwink LLC
Antje Zwink moved to Columbus, Ohio in 2001 from Dresden, Germany. She discovered her passion for decorative painting while working as a faux finishing assistant which led her to start a two year apprenticeship. Antje has traveled extensively throughout Europe and is able to utilize these experiences in combination with her hands-on training to create visually stunning finishes. Her eye for detail and innate sense of color and texture have led her to build a very successful decorative painting business, Bellallusions Decorative Finishes by Antje Zwink LLC. Antje believes in the importance of continuing her education and does so by attending classes/workshops, national and international trade conventions as well as following current design trends. She has participated in five Central Ohio BIA Parade of Homes and her work is featured in Modello by Design Vol 1 by Melanie Royals as well as several newspaper and magazine articles. She is a Certified Faux Effects Professional, a PDRA Certified Faux Consultant, A Skimstone Preferred Applicator as well as a member of IDAL, the International Decorative Artisan League.
If you are interested in seeing more photos and reading more about Antje’s work, check out www.bellallusions.com and www.facebook.com/bellallusions.
Home Decor is a monthly column on Columbus Underground featuring Design Professionals’ design tips for your home. Have a suggestion? Please send an email to Anne@columbusunderground.com or leave a comment below.
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