If you have spent any time watching HGTV or other home décor show you are probably familiar with 2 decorative painting terms: Glaze and Venetian Plaster. Everyone seems to know the words, but not when and where to use them. Let's talk about glaze. Glaze is tint or color suspended in a medium or material that is transparent or semi transparent. We use them on painted walls to show the texture of the wall or to give the illusion that there is texture. This can be done with rags, terry towels, plastic sheeting or specialty brushes. We use glaze on painted cabinets and furniture to create an antique look.
Have you seen the tinted cling wrap at Christmas? It’s used to wrap the cookie trays and such to give it a festive look. It looks red on the roll but pink when it’s unwrapped and placed around a goodie. That's what glaze does to walls or cabinets. It wraps the surface with sheer color. It doesn't change the surface. It doesn't add texture or hide flaws.
When I first started in the business 24 years ago we worked with very few options. We could create our finishes with oil base glazes, latex paint or sheetrock mud. That meant that in order to glaze large surfaces with a fast drying oil glaze, we had to mix the glaze with kerosene, linseed oil or penetrol...highly flammable and scary stuff. We did this to give ourselves enough time to manipulate the glaze. This is called "open time" – the more open time, the better. Dangerous, but better.
Oh, technology, how sweet you are! About 20 years ago, a couple of forward thinkers created a water base glaze along with many other products. (Faux Effects, Inc. and Ralph Lauren, Inc. are the first ones that come to mind.) You get the same look as oil base glazes but water based glazes are not dangerous to work with, not smelly, not bad for the environment...all sorts of wonderful things for both the artist and the earth. Plus, they have longer open time than oil. It can be used on most any painted surface, looks great and is user friendly. Hence, the popularity!
We glaze walls to give added dimension to a flat surface or to highlight the walls or molding with an existing texture. We use it over patterns to age them down or to soften a color that is too bright. We use glaze to create shadows on designs. We use glaze when stenciling to give the design a faded look. We also use glaze to create the graining of Faux Bois. We use metallic glazes to add shimmer to a surface. We glaze cabinets so that the grooves look darker for added depth, and to show off the trim detail. Glaze is used to give cabinetry an antique appearance. Glaze is like frosting for your cabinets and walls!
When I meet with a client who is new to faux finishing they usually ask, "Can we just glaze them?" Whatever "them" may be. I think I get this response, one, because they have heard that doing a glaze finish is usually a less expensive option (yes, normally it is cheaper.) And two, it's a word they have heard on TV to describe some sort of faux finishing technique. (yes, it is a faux finishing technique.) It may not be the end result that they were imagining, it's just a term. That's why we show samples of different finishes, as well as glaze. We want to educate our consumers to all the wonderful variety of faux finishes that are available to them.
Janie Ellis, RID, ASID-IP, CF,