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Astar's Craft - 2 July

French wash or antiquing

Vintage flowers into a French antique/ concrete paint effect urn

Elongated table flowers. Basically the design is round - which I have demonstrated often over the years, with a slight extension left and right of completed design.

Things to gather:

Paint finished urn -

Wet green floral foam to fill container
5 standard white chrysanthemums
4 white cymbidium orchid spikes 2 cut slightly longer than width of container, the other two shorter again.
NZ leather leaf x 1 bunch
Several branches of budding pussy willow or mossy fruit tree branches - cut to the width or depth of container


- Place foam into container.
- Take the pussy willow or mossy branches and extend these out both sides - horizontally.
- Take a second much shorter branch and place beside first.
- Take the NZ leather leaf or camellia and cut to half the width or depth of container and insert to ring - like a circular collar around rim of container.
- Take the longest orchids and place these to almost rest on top of branches.
- Take the shorter orchids, come in towards the middle of foam a couple of cms and lay these beside first. 
- Take more of the NZ leather leaf and cover any foam that is showing.  Don't worry if you still see a little foam as this should be covered after the placement of the chrysanthemums.
- Cut the chrysanthemums to a stem length of 15cm - or thereabouts.  Place these to fill central area with the middle one being slightly higher.
- Once again, use the NZ leather leaf to cover any foam that may still be evident.
- This is a lovely long lasting design that should be misted with fresh water daily to keep flowers hydrated.
- To further extend the life of your flowers, a good watering and left outside overnight works a treat?

French wash

I have been after the correct method to achieve this paint finish for years.  For my 50th birthday last year the Engineer gave me a beautiful period or antique piece of French furniture and I nearly died when I discovered how much it had cost. I knew he loved me but, didn't know how much!

In being the girl that likes things matching, there are now other pieces of furniture in urgent need of a paint. Today's paint technique will therefore establish the state I seek.

Also the finish being created today is almost like concrete which is what I desired. In a few weeks we will look at a different approach as applied to furniture washes which is even easier than today's method.

Things to gather:

Object to be painted
Muslin cloth
Gloves to keep your hands paint free - if desired!

From my new best friends at Porter's Paints 90 Anzac Ave Auckland 09 3776008 you can purchase -

Base colour coat - called 'Stone'
French wash coat - called 'Fresco'
French wash coat - called 'Stella'
French wash coat - called 'Dark Brown'

Several paint brushes


- Apply a good application of Stone base colour which is a low sheen acrylic paint. Note - the beauty of all paint used is that it is acrylic and all clean up is water based& so easy!
- Allow to completely dry. Then next day repeat process. To speed up the process use a hair dryer.
- 1 coat of French wash - 'Fresco' and allow to dry. Note - paints are very transparent.  Those that are watered down don't give the true finish as they dry too quickly.
- Allow above to completely dry. This process of completely drying is important as over laying over wet paint will give a muddy finish.
- Using a dabbing method of application apply French wash - dark brown paint - then a very small amount of Stella wash.  This adds warmth to work.  I liken it to applying blusher; too much is just too much - just a little is all that is required.- Soften applied paint with a damp piece of muslin fabric rounded into a ball shape dabbing each process as you proceed.
- Final stages - back to an application of Fresco which will lighten up the finish and as indicated above, dab with wetted muslin cloth.
- Sometimes I use an old tooth brush - dip brush into paint, then flick over dampish paint to give a KIND of speckled effect.
- Allow to completely dry.  If painted surface is to go outside ensure work is sealed with a couple of coats of sealing vanish.