It’s Really Not Hard to Do!
Giving items an ‘antique look’ is somewhat in the eye of the beholder. There are various techniques which present equally various results; all with their own interesting appeal.
I’ve dabbled a little with giving furniture that antique look, and it really isn’t so hard to do.
Here, I’d like to offer a few simple tips that I have used to help give furniture and other pieces that look:
For wooden items:
1. Using the ball end of a ball-pein-hammer, gently tap the wood in random patterns to create ‘dimple’ impressions. Caution: hitting TOO hard will detract from the look, so gently as you go!
2. Using a flat-blade screwdriver and hammer, create small, shallow ‘cuts’. They should be deep enough to be noticeable, but not so deep that they look like cracks! Use sparingly…these will darken considerably if and when the piece is stained.
3. Using a large lag-screw (1/4″ diameter works well), long enough to hold in one hand and hammer the threads against the wood, to create a series of mysterious bony ‘fossil-like’ impressions.
There are literally hundreds of other similar “tools” that could be used to give furniture that antique appeal…the key is to use something that isn’t immediately recognizable, of course.
For other items:
I have also done some antique-look tricks on other items, such as metal wall hangings, frames, shelves, plant stands, and the like. The technique I’ve found to give the most realistic look is the simple “SPRAY ‘N’ BRUSH” method, briefly explained below.
“SPRAY ‘N’ BRUSH” is just what it sounds like.
1. SPRAY-paint the item first (in a well-ventilated area or outside), with a “base” color of your choice; typically, chosen to accent and compliment other colors in use where the item is intended to be placed.
2. BRUSH-paint (using small artists brush) a contrasting, darker water-color (craft paints work well) in random, very light (but be sure to leave some paint), short strokes across the surface of the item; not in any particular pattern…the more ‘random’, the better. Be creative! Allow to dry for only a few minutes.
3. Using an “only-very-slightly-moist” cotton-swab or similarly moist paper towel wrapped forefinger, lightly rub across the just applied contrasting paint in a back and forth motion to pick up some of the paint just applied minutes ago. Use that pick up paint to smear the surface of the piece. If the color seems difficult to pick up, try applying a bit more pressure as you rub back and forth. Or, add a bit more moisture, to re-liquefy the paint. Try to make the smearing look like it has no edges, but blends with the background color.
With any of these techniques, much of the ultimate success will come from how your imagination is allowed to govern the outcome. Try to visualize in your mind what you think an antique look SHOULD be for the item you’re working with…then just set your mind to doing it.