The gallery customer picked up the jewelry box, turning it in her hands.
“So, you’ll inlay any Lapis Lazuli initials in the oak?”
“Well”, I said, ”I’ll paint it in faux Lapis.”
She had bit of a distant look on her face.
“So the price is for faux Lapis?” –running her fingers over the design on the box– “How much to do it like this?”
“I’ll be doing it just like that, in any initials you choose.”
The distance turned to confusion. Fostering my own confused look, it started to dawn on me that we had a communication problem.
“But I want real Lapis, like this.”
This is the ultimate compliment for the Trompe L’Oeil (French for ‘to fool the eye’) artist. Absolute conviction that your work is “real,” not painted.
Long story short, I managed to clarify that the entire surface was faux paint: The Lapis Lazuli and the Oak.
Thankfully, I never really get used to this. It’s always a thrill.
Like the guy at the antique car show who kept finding ways to ask me how the “wood” dash board was finished.
“So…you painted the wood? Don’t you mean stained it? Did you carve it or did you have someone else do it?”
“It’s not carved? How did you shape the wood…?”
After a few minutes of this back and forth, I took a key out of my pocket and tapped it on the dash. It rang out like the early American Detroit steel that it is.
He turned a little red, grinned and yelled: “How the hell did you do that!?” He claimed to be an experienced woodworker.
It’s fascinating to me that people often react more strongly to convincing Trompe L’Oeil work than they do to the real thing. Like the jewelry box customer whose attitude went from a blasé “this lapis” to “Oh my God! It’s paint!”
It’s a kind of magic and (sappy or not) the power of magic is enduring because it gives people a wonderful combination of hope and surprise.
My interior projects typically go through a similar process. The customer comes home from work to freshly installed faux crown molding, flooring inlay or wood grained cabinet doors. The reactions vary, but not much.
One lady started crying. I don’t mean damp eyes; I’m saying she was sobbing. And smiling. I assured her everything would be okay and should we proceed with that fireplace mantel she’d mentioned.
But that’s only the jumping off point. The real fun begins when they get to mess with friends and family: “Well, yes Walnut is very expensive but I just had to have it for these French doors (giggle).”
Eventually they share the truth (or not) and in this way, for as long as they’re in the home, own the car…, they get to be the magician.
Thanks to advancements in painting techniques and materials, you can make amazing painted wood grain part of your interior design project and no one will be the wiser. But please, after they’re sufficiently impressed, let them in on the secret.
Does your painter know how to apply perfect wood grain? Would you like to learn breathtakingly realistic faux wood grain for your home, business and craft projects?
Either of those questions can be answered by clicking here for Perfect Wood Grain Mastery, a quick to start and easy to learn step-by-step home study course. It gives painters and crafters the skills to duplicate any wood using easy to find tools and materials.
As a decorative painting professional, Norman Petersen has been making things look like other things since 1994. Today he’s on a mission to teach wood grain super-powers to homeowners, faux finishers, craftspeople, fine artists and custom car painters. Learn more about (you guessed it!) faux wood grain at his blog, perfectwoodgrain.com/blog
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