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Re: pigment vs dye stains

Posted By: Paul staniforth <esme-paul@esme-paul.demon.co.uk> (esme-paul.demon.co.uk)
Date: 1/13/2 16:42

In Response To: Re: pigment vs dye stains (Jim Cole)

Hi Mauro

I admire the tenacity with which you have tried to solve your problem but I can see why it is not working for you. In the uk we have many antique furniture restorers but there are very few who can achieve what you are aiming for, Colour matching as we call it is the hardest skill to acquire for any cabinet restorer. That said it is possible but requires immense patience which you may have. Professionals acquire the skill after years and years of trial and error. There are no set rules.

One has really got to be an artist and be able to see in the timbers you have, how much red, black, blue etc are in the colours you are trying to match.Then using the colour triangle one can kill certain colours e.g.green dye fades out red for instance in order to get the colours to blend in. One thing is for certain you are highly unlikely to buy a pot of stain/dye or pigment, slap it on and get a match.

I am not familiar with the woods you are working with so my advice complex as it is, is general.

Wood finishes come in three types. Pigments, Oil based stains and Dyes mostly spirit based.

Pigments are suspended solids and are akin to paint in heavy applications. They obscure the grain and in my experience they are not the products you should be using. They apply almost like a thin paste. Examples would be raw umber, burnt sienna, yellow ochre.

Oil based stains are better known and are marketed as say light oak, antique pine, walnut, mahogany but their stated colour is only approximate and based on an application to a light coloured wood. Applied to an already richly coloured wood and one gets totally different results.I suggest you use these products diluted slightly if necessary [use naptha] to get as close as you can to the timber to be matched.

Spirit based dyes are powders which are dissolved in meths and added usually to a superfine white french polish and applied with a polishing rubber. The quantities of dye used are minute. Each wiping with a rubber applies a minute tint of polish and over an hour the colour of the work gradually changes. Just like an artist one can slowly change the shade of the wood by making it more yellow, more red or more blue and achieve very close matches to almost anything.

Selecting the correct dyes to add to your meths is the hardest part of all. Very, very hard. Of the 30 or so dyes available those i carry recommended by a time served antique restorer are:-

black,blue,d.oak,limed oak,mahogany,oak,orange,rosewood,walnut,bismark brown,light green,and yellow.

I expect by now you are considering abandoning the project all together. I can't blame you. What is so frustrating is that there is no quick fix answer. Anyway I've tried to give you a taste of how the professionals do it.Here in UK we have plenty of old furniture by which I mean 100-150 years old to go at.

I hope of the many people world wide who may read this text, some will derive some help.

Good luck to all.

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