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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Art Room Re-Do and Asphaltum Varnish

The picture above is from our old house which is across the river from this town. We raised our children in that dear, 1898, Queen Anne Vernacular house. I was fortunate enough to have been in a magazine article, and therefore have scanned this picture so as to show you my woodwork.

I've not yet scraped or washed the windows on my balcony doors. I still have so very much to do before I can call this room finished.

These are my windows, and one can easily see the necessary indoor storm windows that keep the weather at bay. My photographic skills are indeed limited. For one barely notices the storm windows in reality. But the topic here is about asphaltum varnish as a woodwork treatment.

Again, something the photograph brings out that is not evident to the naked eye is the orangish color. It simply is not noticed except in this photograph.

What is asphaltum varnish? I Googled it and the answer to that question is too scientific. It is something that was used on woodwork in the late Victorian times. Although it dries very quickly, virtually in minutes, it will remain a bit tacky and therefore, one must coat it with clear shellac, and only then is it dry to the bone. It's easy to paint onto wood, as long as you mix in a little turpentine. You can successfully paint it over any color of paint. It leaves an elegant, rich dark and shiny woodwork which was very popular at the turn of the previous century. I have loved it for years, and used it in my other Victorian house that we sold in the year 2002. That first picture is from the magazine article from Country Collectibles, Spring/Summer, 2003, and there you can see my old dining room with the asphaltum varnish woodwork.

Incidentally, if anyone of you has ever read that article, it was not true that I coveted English collectibles. That was a slant the writer needed to put into the article in order to sell it. I did them a favor in letting them get away with this. My heart is primarily stolen by early American antiques of all kinds. I like the English things, but again, totally not a true sentiment of mine.

To finish my art room decorating I will next have to strip the paint off of the floors using my trusty old heat gun. That will take this week. Then I simply brush on a couple coats of the good old clear shellac. It dries in an hour. It is rock hard and voila, the fun will begin in returning my furnishings to the room.

I love my beautiful wall and ceiling paint by Devine from Miller paints. They are Spruce on the ceiling and Almond on the walls. I was totally blown away when it turned out to have just a hint of muted robin's egg blue in two different shades. I totally adore it.

Until this room is completely finished, no other kind of art work will be executed in it. Ah the joy of redecorating.