At one time when graining was at its height, walnut graining was next to oak, the main wood which grainers had to imitate, and some of them attained to such skill as entitled their work to be called art.
It is not used nearly to the same extent that it used to be, but as the prevailing sorts of woods that are grained are subject to changes caused by fashion, there is no telling how soon walnut graining may take the lead among the dark wood imitations.
The color of the various specimens of walnut vary greatly. The general tone of American black walnut is darker than that of the European species variously known as English, Italian, etc., they all being the same.
But aside of the fact that American black walnut is darker, the degree of darkness varies considerably in various specimens.
Walnut, especially black walnut, is a rather coarse, open-pored wood, with a heart growth which is well defined and of pleasing forms. The veneers which are sawed from walnut roots and forks of limbs, as in the crotch walnut, are very intricate and beautiful when all the details are well brought out by polishing.
The Background Colors For Walnut Graining
As may be well supposed, the colors will vary greatly,according to the desired finish.
The average European walnut ground is made from ochre, burnt umber and a trifle of Venetianred added to a white base, and will be deeper or lighter according to the finish desired. It will be more yellow in tone than the ground that is used for the darker American species.
For the American Walnut the same colors are used in preparing the ground, only that it is made deeper on the average, and that it should not be quite as yellow toned as the ground used for the European variety.
The openness of the wood represented by the pores is easily reproduced by the stippling it should receive before the heart growth is either wiped out in oil graining or lined on in water based glazes.
The stippling color is best made from some Vandyke brown, and it may also be made from burnt umber.
It should be flogged on evenly and rather coarse, as it will not look good if flogged too fine.
After the stippling the graining may be done in oil by wiping out. It can be rubbed in with a tool and mottler, then mottled in the manner described in the first process for Maple, and well softened.
The color used for graining may be either Vandyke brown, which has the addition of an extra quantity of good drying Japan, or from burnt umber, to either of which enough megilp has been added to keep them from running when sufficiently thinned out for wiping.
The easiest way of graining plain growth walnut of either the European or American varieties is in distemper, and while it may not be as good in the estimation of some, it is much more quickly performed, and when well done will look fairly natural.
With a light tint of this mixture, just sufficient to show, and a hog’s hair over-grainer – sketch the general design of the grain, and soften.
When dry, with the same tools, the over-grainer being divided by a comb, and with a darker shade of the same colour, work up the graining to the required design, softening continually during work.
After this, a good effect can be produced by dabbing the work with a damp piece of coarse sponge, and then softening upwards, or in the direction taken by the grain.
For the graining of it in water based materials, the same colors should be used in that medium as noted for oil work, and the veining lined on the stippled surface and well blended out while still wet.
The overgraining of plain walnut graining will add much to its naturalness of looks.
This consists mainly of the darkening of some of the parts. It should be done with the oil color used in graining it in oil for either oil or distemper work. In the latter case the color should be sufficiently thinned and well rubbed out as to give it a coat all over and afterward it should be wiped out from all parts where it is not wanted with soft cotton rags.
The above must be varnished, and, when dry, the whole project should be washed over with Vandyke Brown or Burnt Sienna and water; it is then to be mottled and well softened; after this it is to be varnished again.