Faux Ceiling Design


Two summers ago a building contractor friend asked me if I could paint a dining room ceiling for him in his new home near Folly Beach. After discussing a preferred color scheme, we decided that a Damask stencil design would be most appropriate. The Damask pattern has often been thought of originating form Damascus, Spain however its true origin is from China during the Byzantine empire and made its way to Europe in the 14th century. A silk or twill fabric weave has now been sometimes replaced with a modern day replica that decorative painters use with paint. I often apply several layers of thin translucent paint glazes to the wall before i even get to the Damask stencil.

Once I apply the Damask stencil pattern I like to emulate the feeling of fabric. The undercoat layer of paint has a sheen similar to a satin finish, the damask stencil paint will be mixed with a dead flat finish so that once applied to the wall it will have a very authentic look of fabric.

The juxtaposition of the two sheens truly offsets the pattern so much that one wants to physically touch the wall to investigate its authenticity of being fabric … or not. It is a wonderful look and can be sanded to look more worn or not sanded to look new.

I have also used iridescent mica powders in the glaze undercoat to give an impression of wet silk fabric. It shimmers in different light throughout the course of the day. Although the faux painting is not inexpensive it does pale in comparison to the real fabric itself. Another aspect of benefits that faux painting has over fabric or real textiles is that the artisan is able to manipulate colors to accommodate the necessary color scheme in any room or decor’.

Mr. PicklesMr. Pickles had to wait in the bed of the truck during the days work schedule. Mr. Pickles had plenty of shade, water, snacks AND visitors.. But the construction site was a bit to loud and dirty for his liking. HE was a true champ !! and weathered the day just fine.

My clients ceiling was originally installed with a common raw pine wood. I first took measurements of the ceiling space to determine scale of the design. I then made a sketch on graph paper for a few preliminary visuals of how this design would look. I made a few 2 foot by 2 foot sample boards to get a visual to hold up to the ceiling for color and design. Painting a ceiling is always a beautiful endeavor, but getting there presents a more arduous effort. Gravity is not something I have to think about when painting a floor, but on a ceiling one almost needs four hands.

I use a six foot baker scaffold to roll myself around to access the ceiling. Paint also tends to want to drip so I am very careful to use just the right amount of paint on a brush so it does not splash back. At the end of the day after painting a ceiling a great desire for a massage and or chiropractic adjustment arises. Ceilings take a bit more time as one needs a break to readjust your neck fairly often but the end result is very rewarding.

I lightly pencilled in the design on the ceiling before painting in a bleached faux wood grain on the perimeter of the design. This can literally be any wood grain style and or color all depending on the overall composition of the room and personal taste. The body of the design was then stippled with two colors of a diluted metallic paint then a light paint glaze over that. The stencil was carefully measured so that it would be symmetrical as there is nothing worse than a design that is visually off to the eye. Stencils often do not accommodate an entire space, therefore hand painting the rest of the design in corners and empty spaces is necessary. The wood grain was then finished with hand painted borders of highlights and shadows to give the Impression of a “painterly’’ three dimensional boarder. We wanted a very subtle three dimensional look. A glaze over the stenciled portion and yet another wash on top of the faux wood grain helped achieve a weathered look. The acrylic paints I use are very durable and since the ceiling will not get any physical ware, a varnish was not necessary in this particular scenario. The end result was quite appealing and very satisfying to my clients and entirely worth all the added effort.