How to Paint Nesting Dolls

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  1. About the history of the Russian nesting doll
  2. Making a sketch (draft) for your future nesting doll
  3. General instructions to prepare your blank for painting
  4. Choosing paints and brushes
  5. Making your nesting doll
  6. Volokhov painting
  7. Lacquering
  8. Drying
  9. Glossary

About the history of the Russian nesting doll

    Before creating you own nesting doll we think you have to know some words about the history of the Russian nesting doll.
    The Matryoshka, or Russian nesting doll, is one of the most popular and endearing examples of Russian folk art. Fashioned entirely of natural products, each doll is hand painted and therefore completely unique.
    The attention to detail and creative skill of the Matryoshka artists will amaze you. Dolls can range in size from large, 15" masterpieces, containing 20 or more successively smaller versions within, to tiny creations that require a magnifying glass to paint them.
    The origins of the Matryoshka doll are unclear. It is believed that they first appeared some 100 years ago and were modeled after a wooden doll brought to Russia from the island of Honshu in Japan. Interestingly, the Japanese claim their dolls were inspired by the work of a Russian monk. This monk created a wooden figure depicting a good-natured, bald old man thought to represent a Buddhist sage. This first prototype still exists and can be seen in the Museum of Toys in Sergiev Posad, Russia.
    In Russian, the word Matryoshka is associated with fertility and motherhood. It's not surprising then that many of the first Matryoshka dolls utilized the image of a portly, chubby cheeked mother on the outside doll with the likenesses of her numerous children painted on the smaller, inner dolls. Even today, when artists are painting a variety of subjects, the image of the robust and cheerful mother is still one of the most popular.
    The reputation for exquisite craftsmanship that the Russian Matryoshka doll enjoys today is due in no small part to A.I. Mamontov. Mamontov was a true patron of Russian art. A print shop owner and publisher, he was so taken by the work of Matryoshka artists that he set up a studio where they could practice and perfect their art. Known as the "Children's Education Workshop", Mamontov's studio employed some of Russia's finest toy makers and painters, and is credited with developing what is known as the "Russian-style Matryoshka".
    In today's world of mass-produced products, it's easy to see why Matryoshka dolls are so popular. To hold one in your hands, admire its exquisite workmanship and feel the anticipation and thrill of discovering smaller and smaller dolls hidden one inside the other, is like nothing else you've ever experienced. When you own a Russian Matryoshka, you own not only a piece of Russian history, but a bit of its childlike wonder and magic as well.
    It may be interesting for you to know how the blank for the nesting doll is created. It is out of birch wood in Russia. The larger figure opens up to fit the smaller one inside it. It takes a lot of time to make these dolls. The tree is cut in the spring, stripped of its bark leaving a few rings to prevent the wood from cracking when dried. The logs are dried and kept in the open for several years. They are then cut in smaller pieces. All the operations do not involve any measurement and rely on intuition and require great skill. After the turning work on a lathe is done the dolls are cleaned, primed with starchy glue to make its surface smooth, polished and now are ready for painting. After having been hand-painted they are dried for several days. Then the dolls are ready for the lacquer to be applied. Many different coats are needed to give the doll the brilliant shine. The dolls are covered with 6 or 7 layers of lacquer.

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Making a sketch (draft) for your future nesting doll

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General instructions to prepare your blank for painting

    Careful preparation of the surface is the single most important factor in the success of your paint job. Even though it may take longer than the application step, it's worth the effort. A clean, continuous (filled), sound surface is the key to a successful paint job.
    If you are a beginner, you may find yourself wondering just what to do and how to prepare your nesting doll for painting. Here are some basic instructions to help you along.
    1). Look over your wood. Take sandpaper and polish the wooden surface of each doll in the nest. If there are hollows or cracks in the wood fill any holes or gouges with wood filler or sawdust and white glue, please, use a special putting substance for woodenware on the oil base. (Otherwise oil spots will be visible and the lacquer will be rolled up.) After drying you have to polish puttied place in order the putty to be only in the hollows but not to have knobs on the wooden surface.
    2). Sand the wood with 150 or 220 grit sandpaper. (The grit number refers to the size of the abrasive on the paper - i.e. 36 are the most abrasive and 600 is very fine). Sand the wood with the grain because going across the gain will leave scratches. If you are using an electric sander then follow the manufacturer instructions.
    3). Remove all the dust. Now you are ready to paint.

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Choosing paints and brushes


    You should use brushes made from Siberian Squirrel or Kolinsky Sable, #3, 4, 5 - for coloring your picture and #1 for trimming and outlining details of the your depiction.
    Kolinsky sable is the supreme hair in artists' brushes. It is a remarkably elastic soft hair that forms a beautifully shaped long, pointed tip and effortless control of paint flow. Brushes using kolinsky sable are adaptable for use in all paints. Squirrel hair is very soft and pliable with a long pointed tip. It is very absorbent and holds a great deal of liquid material. It is particularly suitable for use with watercolors, gouache and tempera in both professional and scholastic brushes.
    Brushes should be drop-shaped; their tips when moistened (wet) must be sharp and evenly gather (come together) in one point. Such brush will not irritate you in while working.
       Take care of your brushes!
  • Soak the brush immediately, following the recommendations on the container (water for latex, and solvent or paint thinner for alkyd).
  • Remove excess water or solvent by holding the handle between the palms and spinning the brush in an empty paint container.
  • Wash in warm, soapy water.
  • Rinse in clean water.
  • Gently pull the bristles back into shape.
  • Hang the brush up to dry.
  • Reshape the brush by replacing it in its packaging.
  • Store the dry brush in a sealed plastic bag in a dry place.

Historical Aspects of Egg Tempera

    Egg tempera painting is recognised as the second oldest medium after encaustic. It was used by the ancient Egyptians and Greeks and perfected by the icon painters during the last 100 years of the old Byzantine Empire (400 AD-1202 AD). After the fall of the Byzantine Empire, egg tempera flourished for about 200 years in the hands of the early Renaissance artists.
    In the 16th century, oil painting was perfected and nearly all painters embraced the new technique. However, icon painters of the Orthodox Church never broke the tradition and are still practicing egg tempera today.
    The first revival of secular egg tempera painting occurred in 1899, with the publication of the first usable translation, by Christiana J. Herringham of The Book of Art of Cennino Cennini- a painting manual of 14th century painting techniques.


    Egg yolk creates the binder for this type of painting. The yolk of the egg contains albumen, a substance which when applied to a surface creates a strong permanent transparent layer. Egg tempera works best on an oil gessoed or animal-skin glue primed panel. A product called Claybord, which has a slick, yet absorbent surface, is also quite good and easy to get at art and crafts stores. Masonite or plywood are good substitutes for the traditional solid wood panel used in earlier times.
    When applying egg tempera, it is imperative that you work quickly. Egg tempera is extremely quick-drying. An effective technique for creating the planes of color and value is hatching and cross-hatching.
    Hatching is the use of linear strokes laid closely to each other to create a value or color. Cross-hatching occurs when the strokes overlap, creating darker values and deeper color.

Some Tips of Advice

    Tempera paints can be used on most non-greasy absorbent surfaces, including colored construction, manila, drawing and bogus papers, cardboard tubes or boxes, plaster cloth, papier-mache paperboard, and paper plates and bags. These versatile paints are as ideal for use on large-scale stage sets as for small-scale dioramas.

Tips For Beginning Painters

  1. Before use, shake or stir paints to ensure an even, smooth consistency.
  2. Try a hard-edged style of painting by using a flat watercolour brush loaded with paint to create even strokes and to build up an even bead (thick edge) around the colour. To keep colours from blending, allow an area to dry before applying wet paint to adjacent areas.
  3. Create soft-edge effects. Lightly stroke a dampened brush across wet paint or paint adjacent colours onto damp paper to blend one colour into another. Apply a brush loaded with water to the wet paint surface to blur the edge. Try making a long stroke of one colour, then immediately paint a lighter or darker colour along the stroke edge to create a softly blended highlight or shadow effect.
  4. Decorate a previously painted area by overpainting the dry surface with fine dots or lines. Try creating dots by dipping the tip of a brush handle into paint and then onto the painted surface. This technique is usually more successful if the overpainting is a deeper colour than the underpainting.
  5. Double load a brush by dipping opposite sides of the brush hair in different colours. Use for unusual painting strokes or dab repeatedly for unusual textural effects.
  6. Vary the painted line width by pressing down harder during the middle of a brush stroke to create a "thick and thin" effect.

Tips For Advanced Painters

  1. Make a tempera wash-off painting on sturdy paper such as manila, bogus, watercolour or heavy drawing paper or paperboard.
  2. Fill in most of artwork with bright, thickly painted tempera. Leave some underpainted areas as narrow channels between colours. Let the paint dry. Brush over the entire painting with black ink. Allow the ink to dry. Gently run water over the painted surface or immerse in shallow water and brush gently. Rinse away most of the ink coating the paints, but do not try to wash away all of the ink deposit, as this gives a distinctive antique look to the artwork. If a painted area is too washed out, retouch with paint that has been thinned slightly with water.
  3. Create a "blotto" or mirror-image effect. The blottos can be used for a variety of creations, such as unusual symmetrical creatures, insects, plants, masks and hats.
  4. Fold a piece of paper or a paper plate in half, then open and paint on one side of the fold. While the paint is still wet, fold the sides together and rub over the outside of the unpainted side to transfer the paint. Open and observe the mirror-image effect. Add more paint and repeat the process to change the image or add details. Try looping a piece of string through the paint. Pull the string out as the paper layers are being rubbed to create unusual designs. Both ends of the string should protrude from one side of the folded paper sandwich so the ends can be pulled with one hand as the other is used to press the paper surfaces together.

General Tips

    Egg tempera is a fast drying medium that is fluid by nature and must be applied thinly in semi-opaque and trasparent layers. The binding qualities of the egg does not allow for impasto painting. Because of tempera's fluid, fast drying property, it is best suited for a more linear style rather than the thick, brushy and painterly technique of oil painting. Egg tempera has a clean, matte finish and a higher color key than oil. The subtle color variations so characteristic of egg tempera painting are unlke the deep saturated colors typical in oil paints. Therefore, the palette used in tempera only includes the colors which work best in tempera.
    The yellow of the egg has very little effect on a tempered color. Any initial discoloring will actually bleach out to a clear tone in time as opposed to oil's tendency to yellow with time.
    Underpainting is important. Egg tempera paint is applied thinly and each subsequent layer is affected by the former. While all colors may be thinned to a glaze-like consistency, certain colors, by nature, are more transparent.
    One proven method of painting is to alternete layers of warm and cool colors along with opaque and transparent layers. The layers may be applied quickly and safely over one another because egg tempera sets up fast enough to allow almost immediate overpainting.
    Egg tempera does not blend easly like oil because it dries so quickly. This can advantageous because tempera does not become 'muddy' when lighter colors are applied over darker ones. One can easily renew a color by working light over dark. In fact, a tempera painting becomes richer when more layers are applied, unlike oil's tendency to grow darker with each layer.
    Gradated tones are achieved by applying a progressively lighter, more opaque color to the base color, thereby gradually reducing the transparent nature of the paint while lightening the color with the introduction of white.
    Whites and highlights may be added at any time, followed by glazes to create rich and resonant tones.
    The richest colors are generally added towards the end of the painting process over the body color or an established underpainting. Pure color may be used for details or rich glazes. Glazing is an appropriate tool to modify colors and unify areas.
    Customarily, paint is applied through linear hatching, loose washes/floating with transparent glazes or solid color in-fills.
    To in-fill a large area with solid color, make a half paste color mixture. (A paint mixed with enough white to make the color semi-opaque) A semi-opaque color will help overcome some of tempera's tendencies to show brush strokes and to blend unevenly. Once a solid color has been laid down, several previously mentioned techniques may be applied to modify the color.
    Tempera painters use cross hatching brush strokes to enhance the feeling of volume by following the contours of the forms, instead of applying strokes as if the form were flat.
    While tempera may be varnished, historically, varnishes do not dry evenly. They tend to crack and modify the color harmony of the painting. Instad of varnishing, the surface may be polished to an even sheen with a piece of soft cloth after the painting has dried a few days. This does not have the same effect as the protective qualities of varnish.
    Although tempera dries to the touch in a few seconds, the paint does not fully cure for up to nearly a year. To protect the fragile surface from scratching or water damage, frame the piece under glass for the first year. Ensure that the glass does not come into contact the painting.

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Making your nesting doll

Putting a drawing on the wooden blank

    Put your sketch on the blank, pencil's lines should be hardly noticeable.
    OBLIGATORY prime a face, a neck and hands of the doll, everything that stays wooden and unpainted, with two layers of the white glue. You should dilute the white glue with water in the 1:10 proportion. Put a second layer of the white glue only when the first one is dried. Afdter this you may color the main parts of the doll.

Coloring of the doll

    a. Painting of the remote parts
    ~ You should take it as a rule to begin coloring the subject of your composition from the remote details. If it is a landscape let us begin with the sky, then mountains in far distance, the forest and step by step come to the foreground. If you are painting a simple picture, e.g. the cartoon personage, first you should color the background, against which your personage is painted, then it's body, it's clothes and at last you should make an outlining by the brush #1 with tempera of the necessary color.
    ~ There are some ways of coloring the background:
    Background here is a one-colored part of the picture.
    *Coloring over the dry wooden surface;
    *Coloring over the wet wooden surface;
    Coloring over the dry wooden surface is used mostly for those parts of the picture where the main depiction is. You should take a brush and a cup with water. Having moistened the brush #5 (made from squirrel or Siberian weasel) color the necessary surface with quick movements from the top down. If the color is not deep or bright enough, repeat it again. Then put the doll for drying.
    ~ If you want to put dots of different size on your picture, please, use the sharpened tip of the brush for it.
    ~ If you depict trees at the background, foliage can be painted with a brush#3-4 taking a little of the dense paint. You should train at first at the sheet of paper. The movements of the brush should be vertical, abrupt, up and down. To pain a green tree take tempera of green (both light and dark) and yellow colors, the yellow color should be used only for speck (patch of light). If you are depicting autumn, feel free to use red and orange colors together with yellow one.
    b. Coloring of the main parts of the doll
    Main backgrounds of the doll are a scarf, a skirt, a blouse, an apron etc.
    Each background is painted with the brush #3 or #4 (squirrel or kolinsky) with two layers of Tempera paints, moreover each following (subsequent) layer must be put after the previous one is dried. It is done to avoid errors, mistakes after lacquering. (errors- when parts of the wood are visible through painting)

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Volokhov painting

    Volokhov(stroking) painting is based on the original gathering of paints on the brush and on turning of the brush while stroke making.
    For making large strokes a kolinsky brush #3 is used. Making a choice at the shop ask a seller some water and carefully moistening the brush, look at its edge. The end of the working surface should remain and edge of a needle. There shouldn't be any hair stuck out.
    You should use only tempera paint. First let us make paints ready for work. Take a palette and squeeze out some of paints of the main color in it and add some pure water. The consistence of the paint should remain dense soured cream.
    The same way let us make ready titanium whiting in the next cell of the palette.
    NOTE: You should always have two containers with pure water, one is for cleaning brushes, the second one is for adding it to paints. This whiting is called "ozhivka".
    Now let us gather paint on the brush #3 for making the easiest stroke. Gather the general color on the TOTAL working surface of the brush, if you took too much take away unnecessary paint at the edge of the palette with the cell of this color.
    Then we will gather "oshivka" on this brush. Put come white paints on the saucer with the help of nail file or anything of this shape. The paint should be spread plane, without hillocks. ATTENTION! If you are a right-hander take a small quantity of white paint with the edge of the brush from right to left. Having done this please, turn the brush that white paint to be from the top but not from below.
    To train yourself please, make a first stroke on paper. Put the brush on paper, press smooth and put slightly to the direction of yourself. Take off the brush from the paper and smooth raise the brush up the same time directing the stroke under the angle you want.
    At the first time you may mark the direction of strokes with pencil, it will help you to train.
    Paints on the palette dry so add some drops of water from time to time.
    Beautiful spots (dots) you may make with the end of the wooden part of the brush, we can call it "tychok", "striking up" Dots will be perfect if you sharp the end of the brush with sand paper.
    If you finish coloring of your doll, itr is ready for lacquering.

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    Lacquer's place in Japanese history goes back to the Jomon period. The Tamamushizushi shrine in Horyugi Temple is widely recognized as the oldest lacquer painting in the country, and the Shosoin repository holds famous lacquer works from the Tang dynasty. A deep glossy splendor glistens from the layers of these lacquered pieces - a polish that confers suppleness, warmth, a feeling of weightlessness.


    The surface polish of an object can enhance that object's form, much as people express their individuality, or reveal who they are, through clothing or image preferences. Polished lacquer does not only affect our response to a form, it defines the form. A polish's relationship to form can be explored in the same way that an individual's feelings are expressed through language and movement, or timing and grace. Such combinations offer dialects, which surpass conventional language, and force a deeper emotional response from the observer.


    Lacquering requires precise surface preparation and a carefully followed schedule of application with constant examination and correction along the way. If correctly readied, a good lacquer finish has the quality of a mirror, if improperly prepared, it will unforgivingly reveal every irregularity in the surface. It is especially important to learn how to judge the quality of the wood surface before you apply any finish, by the time a surface defect manifests itself in the lacquer film, it's usually too late to correct it.
    Step 1: Preparing the surface - Looking straight into a surface you can pick out obvious flaws like scratches, nicks and holes, but if that is all you do, you miss most of what will become painfully obvious later. To find less pronounced defects you will need to position a light source and your eye so that shadows are created and observable. As you hand-planed the surface, there may be long, sharply defined ridges that follow the path of the edge of the plane iron. A machine sander will produce a more scalloped surface, the radius of the disk arc repeated. Sanding and scraping may yield more varied effects, especially as the density of the wood varies. Sanding removes softer areas more quickly than harder areas. If the wood grain is uneven you can expect the surface to be uneven although you have taken care to work consistently. Remove all sanding dust at the end.
    Step 2: Materials, Equipment & Application - Basically, there are three types of traditional Japanese lacquered finishes: shellac, lac and varnish.
    Shellac is gleaned from the solidifying secretions of insects that colony on trees in Thailand and India This material is liquefied, refined and broken into small pieces. It is marketed as "orange flake" or "French shellac". You can also obtain a bleached shellac.
    Lac is derived from the sap of the poisonous oriental tree, rhus vernicifera, and is refined several times to produce "flake lac", a glossy but brittle lacquer of varying degrees of purity.
    Both lac and shellac dry to a clear surface with a slight orange peel texture, and are soluble in denatured alcohol or turpentine.
    Varnish is a mixture of resin (copal, mastic, damar or sandarac) in a solvent. There are two types: oil varnishes, where the resin is melted with a drying oil and then thinned with a solvent; and spirit varnish, where the resin is dissolved directly in a solvent such as denatured alcohol or turpentine.
    These lacquers can be applied by brush, pad or spray, and in most cases the quality of the finished product will be the same. But because some of the materials used contain resins and oils that are dissolved by lacquer thinner, the finish can get muddy and the discoloration can get dragged around with a brush or pad. Otherwise, the steps in the finishing process are basically the same for brushing or spraying, the only differences being in the speed of application and the time involved in leveling the finish.
    Essentially, lacquering consists of three stages: filling, leveling and polishing.
    Throughout, you should be inspecting the surface for defects and correcting them.
    One chief concern of the novice is how many coats of lacquer should be applied. This consideration shouldn't be viewed in the same way as it is for painting: painting is accomplished when the surface is opaquely covered. Lacquering is not simply a covering job, for lacquer is not clear paint. On bad lacquer jobs you can actually see two surfaces, a thick layer of clear plastic and under that the surface of the base coat or wood. Done properly, however, you see one polished surface that emanates a uniform sense of depth. It is gotten that way not by the mere addition of clear stuff, but by a cyclic process of adding material and sanding it off until the surface being treated is truly flat, at least to the degree that the eye no longer distinguishes any texture. Only enough material must be left on the surface to enable you to polish it without breaking through to the base coat or wood. So the only answer to the question "How many coats?" must remain simply "Enough," that is, however many coats it takes to complete the job of leveling and polishing.
    Effective application technique is largely a matter of speed and consistency, graceful motion and thoroughness. You are trying as quickly as possible to coat a surface evenly and completely, with no unblended areas. In effect, you want to have the entire object wet at once. To do this, you must move quickly from surface to surface in a preconceived patten that will ensure thoroughness, with tightly spaced strokes that overlap each other and the objects edges.
    The process begins with the application of a sanding sealer diluted with an equal amount of lacquer thinner. Sanding sealer is a kind of lacquer specially formulated to raise the grain of the wood, to provide a base for better adhesion and to be easily sandable. It gives you a preview of the finished surface, allowing you to locate and repair any imperfections.
    After perhaps an hour's drying time a wood filler can be used on the open- pores of the wood. Most wood fillers consist of chalk, plus a touch of clay and pigment, carried in a mineral spirit or naphtha vehicle. The pigmented chalk is left in the pores of open- grained woods, where it fills most of the space. Thin the filler about 25% with naphtha and apply it with a rag, working the surface across the grain to clean off all excess filler. For woods with large-pores a second application may be necessary after three hours' drying time. Eight to twelve hours later, sand the surface clean with 320- grit paper to remove filler residue and raised grain. You will sand through the sealer coat in places, making an awful mess, but the next coat of sealer, applied just like the first, will blend perfectly.
    The surface will now appear improved but not yet truly flat, and it will take the remaining sealer coats, applied heavily but sanded almost completely off, along with the colored lacquer base and subsequent clear lacquer coats, to complete the leveling process. These will be spread out over a period of days, with no more than four coats applied per day. On the first day I stay with the sealer, applying three wet coats one to two hours apart. A wet coat means that the solution is applied so heavily that it floods the surface, leveling itself to a mirror gloss just one taste short of drooling. This welds the material to the previous coat and ensures adequate film thickness. As the lacquer coats build, a thoroughly wet application is necessary or a layered structure will result, which is prone to blistering and ghosting. Also, because of the low solids contents of both lac and shellac lacquers you need the thick coat just to have anything left after the thinner has evaporated. Straight from the can, the solids content is about 20%, and when mixed with equal amounts of thinner it is 10%. Compared to varnish, which is about 50% solids, this is like mixing one quart of varnish with one gallon of thinner.
    Perhaps the most important thing to understand about this low solids content is the fact that while the thinner is evaporating, the lacquer film is shrinking. Only one- tenth of what you spray will remain as a film on the wood. The rate of evaporation and shrinkage is extremely fast as first, so the surface can be touched within minutes of being drenched. But the evaporation rate decreases rapidly, and enough thinner is trapped with the film so that shrinkage is still perceptible after a week of drying. It is bad practice to apply more than three, at most four, coats of lacquer without allowing an overnight dry to let most of the trapped thinner escape. Otherwise, the thinner will be buried under so much lacquer that it may take weeks to evaporate completely.
    After the first three coats of sealer dry overnight, sand the surface thoroughly with 320-grit paper on a block. This dulls the shiny surface, but the low spots will still shine. The goal is a uniformly matte surface with no shiny spots, but may sand through to the wood in places. When this happens apply more sealer and sand again, until there are no shiny spots anywhere. Now employ one las coat of sealer to coat any wood that has been sanded bare, and begin applying the colored lacquer base.
    To color the lacquer base, use only Japan paints or dry poster paint (flat opaque pigments in an oil-free varnish), toning it down with lampblack and burnt umber to suit whatever effect you are trying to achieve. Keep in mind that when varying pigments are mixed, if the tonal value is below medium, it will appear darker when dry; if above medium value, it will appear lighter. The lacquer is usually diluted with an equal volume of thinner, and it's applied at the same rate as the sealer, a coat every hour or two, no more than three coats per day. Let dry over-night and sand with 320- grip paper the next day. Repeat this cycle until you can level- sand the entire surface without sanding through to the wood anywhere or until you can no longer see any details of the underlying wood. Then apply the final three coats of clear lacquer and allow the surface to stabilize and harden for about five days, before final leveling and polishing.
    Final sanding can be done with 600-grit paper wet. Use the paper with a soft sanding block behind it and with a reciprocating, in-line motion to prevent build- up of lacquer dust on the paper. The surface and paper must be constantly wiped clean, for this white powder clogs the paper and mars the surface. When free of all telltale shiny spots, wipe the surface clean and continue this abrasive action with the back side of the wet paper.
    Finally, with a fine abrasive polishing compound, such as Semichrome or Blue- magic, and a lamb's- wool or soft cotton pad, complete the polishing process. To avoid dirt scratching the surface, the compound should be applied to the pad, not to the surface. Use buffing compound sparingly and wet it frequently with water to create a slurry that helps to float the surface clean and keep the abrasive cutting. I usually buff in a circular pattern when using the fine abrasive compounds. When the surface has gained the desired luster, it is easiest to both clean and wax with regular furniture polish.
    The quality of the finished surface depends completely upon the success of each step, from the preparation of the wood to its final polish. Critical inspection will reveal when a flaw is created. Once you start lacquering, it is too late to repair the early stages, but if you need to relacquer once you've begun polishing, first wash the surface with alcohol and water, 50/50, to remove polishing residue and wax. The surface may be rebuffed at any time in the future with the fine compound to restore its original luster.


Coming soon

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    back priming Applying a coat of paint to the back of woodwork or exterior siding to prevent moisture from entering the wood and causing the grain to swell.
    base Tint base.
    binder Film-forming ingredient that binds the particles together in a paint.
    blistering The forming of bubbles or pimples on the painted surface. Blistering is caused by moisture in the wood, by paint having been applied before the previous coat was dry, and by excessive heat during or after application.
    blushing A gloss film turning flat or a clear lacquer turning white. Blushing is usually caused by moisture condensation during the drying process.
    body The thickness or thinness of a liquid paint.
    boxing Mixing paint by pouring from one container to another several times to ensure thorough mixing.
    coating A general term referring to any type of paint, stain, etc.
    colorant Colored pigment added in small proportions to prepared paints to tint them.
    combustible Able to burn.
    consistency Viscosity.
    coverage The area over which a given amount of paint will spread and completely hide the surface. Coverage, also known as spreading rate, is normally expressed in square feet per gallon or in square metres per litre
    cracking Breaks in the paint film wide enough to expose the underlying surface.
    feather sanding Sanding to taper the edge of dried paint film.
    filler A composition used for filling fine cracks and pores to make the surface smooth before paint is applied
    film A layer or coat of paint or other material applied to the surface. The layer remaining after the paint has dried is often called the dried film.
    flammable Easily set on fire.
    flat Practically no gloss even when the surface is viewed from an angle. A flat finish has even less gloss than an eggshell finish. Flat paint is less durable than higher gloss paint.
    flexibility The ability of a coating to expand and contract during temperature changes.
    flow The ability of a coating to level out and spread into a smooth film. Paints that have good flow usually level out uniformly with few brush or roller marks.
    Glaze Paint that has been diluted with any amount of water to provide varying degrees of transparency.
    grain raising Swelling and standing up of the wood grain caused by absorbed water or solvents.
    graining Simulating the grain of wood by means of specially prepared colors or stains and the use of graining tools or special brushing techniques.
    ground coat The base coat in an antiquing system. It is applied before the graining colors, glazing or other finish coat.
    Impasto Paint (usually oil or acrylic) that is applied in thick layers which stand proud of the ground.
    lacquer A clear or pigmented coating that dries quickly by evaporation of solvent.
    lacquer thinner Solvent such as ethyl alcohol, ethyl acetate and toluene that is used for thinning or cleaning up lacquer.
    masking paper A kraft paper that is held in position by a strip of masking tape and used to temporarily protect surfaces adjacent to those being painted.
    masking tape Easily removable tape used to temporarily cover bands or small areas next to the area to be painted. It is important to remove masking tape promptly, because it is likely to dry out and leave a troublesome residue if left for more than two days or exposed to sunlight and heat.
    masking Temporary covering of areas not to be painted.
    opacity The ability of a paint to hide the previous surface.
    opaque coating A coating that hides the previous surface.
    orange peel Film having the roughness of an orange due to poor roller or spray application.
    paint A pigmented liquid that dries to form an opaque, solid film and provide decoration and protection.
    paint remover A compound that softens old paint or varnish, permitting loosened material to be scraped off.
    paint thinner Thinner.
    peeling Detaching of a dried paint film in large pieces. Peeling is usually caused by moisture or grease under the painted surface.
    pigments Paint ingredients that are used mainly to provide color and opacity.
    prime coat Primer.
    primer The base coat, or first complete coat, of a paint system that is applied to an uncoated surface. Primer can be latex or alkyd (oil) paint.
    putty knife A flat-bladed tool for filling cracks and holes with spackling compound
    recoat time The period that must elapse between applications of coats of paint.
    resin A natural or synthetic material that is the main ingredient of paint. It binds the ingredients together and improves the coat's adhesion to the surface.
    roller A paint application tool consisting of a revolving cylinder covered with fabric, polyester foam, lamb's wool, etc.
    sandpaper A sheet of abrasive-coated paper that is used for smoothing rough surfaces
    spraying A method of application in which the paint is broken up into a fine mist that is directed onto the surface.
    stucco A masonry finish that is usually applied to the exterior surfaces of buildings in place of siding or other materials.
    substrate The surface that is being painted.
    Tempered From the ancient latin meaning to mix.
    Underpainting A number of layers of paint which establish forms and tones.
    viscosity The fluid thickness of a product. Viscosity is often referred to as consistency. The higher the viscosity, the thicker the fluid.
    wet edge The length of time during which a paint can be brushed before it becomes too dry to flow out and blend together.
    wrinkling Ridges and furrows that develop in a paint film when the paint dries.

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