Imitation of Burled Walnut

by THAT Painter Lady


The European varieties  of burled walnut are usually lighter toned than the American sort, and the contorted course of the veining is somewhat more regular in appearance, otherwise the burling and knots are very much the same.

There is a long and considerable system in the seemingly wild growth of walnut burls.

Their representation requires study in order to represent them naturally, not that it is very hard to do, but in order rather that it be not overdone. There is nothing that has a more vulgar look than an overdone imitation of burled walnut.

You should familiarize yourself with the growth of many specimens. By studying the burled walnut – you will no doubt have noted that the background color or the lighter parts in the natural wood does not run uniform as in the plain wood.

Some parts will require a much lighter ground than others, and good grainer’s take advantage of that knowledge and prepare the baclgrounds in various shades in order to produce the effects desired.

Some try to obtain these by overgraining, but while that improves the graining it will not produce the realistic effects possible by the varied colored grounds.

The graining is almost always done with water based paints and glazes.

The colors used are raw and burnt sienna, raw and burnt umber and ivory black. To these may be added Vandyke brown.

The background is first laid out with a sponge. A different sponge should be used in each color.

After all the principal features have been put on and blended properly, the work proper of putting in the details starts and is done with camel’s hair brush liners, fan overgrainers, etc.

It is presumed that you have practiced these before  – nothing but practice makes one perfect at this work. Yet many who have practiced it for years fail to do as good work sometimes as a novice would – so don’t fear the project.

It is not difficult to create faux walnut burled wood, but it cannot be done right in a haphazard manner any more than by making lines and curves  in any graining project would product good results.

Some grainers expect to do too much with the overgraining.

They try to correct a faulty background work and to put in many details which properly belong to the graining stage.

It is possible, of course, to help in the correction of many faults, especially in those of  the mottlings, but if the graining has not been laidout nor grained pretty near right, no amount of overgraining will make it right, and more work that would have been passable is rendered worthless by overdone overgraining than from any other one cause.

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