I’ve been sitting on my duff since the holidays wondering if I should attempt to decorate for Winter or just wait until Spring when I can let loose with color. I see beautiful things on blogs and Pinterest every day, which I bookmark and pin, but rationalize I can’t do because I don’t have this thing or that thing.
Works for me.
Until I saw Gina’s white winter mantle at the Shabby Creek Cottage. Oh, it’s gorgeous – big white star, white potted plants and more – but that wasn’t what stopped me. It was her ‘birch’ candles. She wrapped a sheet of birch scrapbook paper around some candles and got instant cuteness.
Gina’s birch candles have been on my mind for two weeks now. Birch! I love birch. I love scrapbook paper. I don’t happen to have birch scrapbook paper though and I’m not driving 30 minutes to get some. And then I thought, I was pretty sure, I thought that just maybe that I could paint some ‘faux’ birch.
On watercolor paper. That would wrap around, I dunno, somethin’.
I took pictures to show you how I painted faux birch, just in case you’re like me and are in love with birch but are too lazy busy to go the craft store for a couple sheets of scrapbook paper.
- Watercolor paper (inexpensive is fine. Better, really.)
- Cylinder, candle or vase to wrap paper around.
- Cast Shadow by FolkArt (medium grey)
- Bamboo by Ceramcoat (light tan)
- Summer Linen by Martha Stewart Crafts (ivory or off-white)
- Wedding Cake by Martha Stewart Crafts (bright white)
(I didn’t use the medium brown in the pic, btw.)
Oh, and one more thing – water. That’s the first thing you’ll ‘paint’ with. Watercolor paper has a smooth side (the back) and a textured side (the front). Moisten the back side with water so it’ll form around your cylinder.
Affix it with tape and let it dry.
We’ll talk about the big oatmeal cylinder on another day. That one got a little . . . involved. (Me and my bright ideas.)
After the watercolor paper dried I unwrapped one so I could paint it flat but I left the other one shaped around the candle. I don’t think it makes much difference which way you do it though, but I’ll show you both.
Okay, now, stay with me here. If you’ve never done a faux finish or seen me do one, these pics might be a bit . . . shocking. Just hang in there ‘til the end.
First, paint the medium grey (Cast Shadow) in horizontal strokes. Don’t worry about completely covering the paper. In fact, it’s really better if you leave some spaces unpainted.
Don’t try to be all neat and tidy with this either. The more uneven and random, the better – as always with faux finishes.
Next paint the light tan (Bamboo). Just here and there. This just adds a layer of dimension.
Now that I’m looking at these pics, I could’ve added a bit of the medium brown. Of course, every single time I look at pics I’m posting I always see things I could do differently.
Tell me I’m not alone. Are you ever 100% satisfied with one of your pieces?
Anyway, remember what I said – stay with me until the end of this. It’s about to get pretty messy-looking.
Now you want to paint the ivory (Summer Linen). Rather than using the full square of the brush, I turned it so I used it more as a chisel edge so more of the grey and tan would show thru. I applied two coats so some of the grey shows thru but isn’t so dominant.
Just play with it. If you add too much ivory, go back and add some more grey and start over. But before you over-analyze it, do the last step below.
The last coat is the bright white (Wedding Cake) applied in the same chisel edge fashion. If the paint builds up into ridges, that’s fine. It’ll add some texture which is kinda cool.
Here’s a close up after all the colors have dried.
I almost went back and added some grey. But I didn’t. I resisted my OCD-ish tendencies and just wrapped the thing around the vase.
See how the one on the left looks rougher and the one on the right looks smooth? Yeah, well, remember how I said that there are two sides to watercolor paper? Unh-huh. Miss Cheapo here took a scrap piece of paper that she’d already painted on the ‘good’ side and painted the birch on the back.
Of course, if you like the one on the right better than the one on the left, then that was my plan the entire time, okay?
What d’ya think? Do they look like birch to you? They were so much fun to paint – almost like finger painting. Faux finishes are always fun. Faux is very freeing for me.
I’m thinking I need to do a lot more faux this year.
I plopped them up on the mantel and stood back (resisting the urge to throw some more grey paint on there). I kinda like the jute twine around the one because it pulls more of the tan out. My mantel is dark brown and the wall behind it has a warm glaze on it. So just white and grey has too much contrast.
I’ll play around with it tomorrow, after I finish the oatmeal container, and after I dig around in all my stuff. I haven’t decorated the mantel for winter in this house so this ought to be interesting.
What’s on your mantel right now? Or your front door? Winter? Spring? Valentine’s Day?
One more thing – don’t forget Tuesday nights at 6 pm PST are my live painting demonstrations. This week I’m painting a coffee cup (like the one in my sidebar). It uses “under” painting, just like this birch. Drop by for a half hour or so!