Small dent / Gesso

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123hackney
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Small dent / Gesso

Post by 123hackney » Thu 25 Mar, 2021 10:51 am

Hi folks.
I've got a small dent in the face of some bare wood (obeche). What can i repair it with? Is wood filler going to show through? I will be applying gesso and then a painted matt finish on top.

I haven't used gesso yet. So any tips on applying this too would be appreciated. The desired affect is just to lose the woodgrain.
Its a largish frame - over a metre square.

Thank you!

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Re: Small dent / Gesso

Post by vintage frames » Thu 25 Mar, 2021 12:37 pm

If it's a big ding, you could fill it with 2 part wood filler and then sand it level and smooth. A small ding could be repaired with several extra coats of gesso and then sanded level and smooth.

There is a free to view video on my web-site as Part 1 of a gilding course. It shows how to make and apply gesso.
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Re: Small dent / Gesso

Post by Tudor Rose » Thu 25 Mar, 2021 12:47 pm

If it is only a "bruise" or smallish dent and the fibres of the wood itself haven't been broken, you may be able to steam it out.

Wet a cotton rag, place it over the dent. Put a hot iron onto the wet rag, press down firmly and let it steam away. This will raise the fibres in the wood and in many cases the area is as good as new with no filling required.
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Re: Small dent / Gesso

Post by prospero » Thu 25 Mar, 2021 1:17 pm

Gesso will bury most types of defect, depending on how many coats you apply. I use the good old ripple paint
in lieu of Gesso (not for leafing). For water gilding you need trad Gesso but for painting you can fill the grain
with diluted Polyfilla scrubbed into the surface and wiped off. Two coats of ripple paint sanded smooth gives
a pretty good grain-free base for a lot of finishes. If you do extra coats and more sanding then a really smooth
base can be achieved, but there is a point where you start to gain less and less improvement. :D
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Re: Small dent / Gesso

Post by 123hackney » Thu 25 Mar, 2021 1:38 pm

Thank you everyone thats very helpful as always. I think it is too big to steam but I might give it a go just to see.

Dermot thank you. I have looked at your course before actually, it looks great. I might sign myself up one day later down the line.

Ripple paint. Good to know! I have to admit. I hadn't heard of it before, but its essentially the stuff used for that 'lovely' ripple wall finish of the 80's right?

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Re: Small dent / Gesso

Post by prospero » Fri 26 Mar, 2021 9:10 am

I've got though gallons of ripple paint over the years. It's hard to find now, but you can 'bulk up' ordinary emulsion
paint with something like poster paint in powder form. (The schools-type stuff). Or even gilder's whiting.
Don't add too much powder or it will reduce the adhesion of the paint.
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Re: Small dent / Gesso

Post by Not your average framer » Fri 26 Mar, 2021 12:55 pm

Even with a big dent, I still will steam out as much of the dent as I can, I general apply water to the inside of the dent withh a 1/2 inch glue brush and allow time for the cells of the wood to absorb some of the water and then heat it with a hot air gun. It's is often worth repeating this procedure more than once as a second, or third attempt to steam the dent out usually still produces a worthwhile effect. I am in an old fashioned building, so I need to cut the moulding down something to be able to stand it up in my moulding racks and quite often some of the dents are in the off cut bits. I mostly use these off cut bits to make ready made frames.' I don't think that it usually makes much sense to fill dents in off cuts, the off cut is more easily sliced up in to slips, fillets and spacers.

Off cuts are just waste and to get any money out of them, means not spending too time making them in to anything useable. Many of these slips, fillets and spacers get used in the more up market ready made frames to add some extra value to the frames and to help them to sell. Some of my ready made frames finishes are fairly quick, easy and basic, and a slip will often add extra interest to make them sell. I make up small co-ordinated sets of RMF's, which are often popular and tend to sell as impulse purchases and slips tend to reinforce the sense that these are part of a co-ordinated set. Sometimes a small dent can be made to look intentional If a few more dents are added, complete with a distressed and aged finish, but it's not worth spending much effort doing this.
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Re: Small dent / Gesso

Post by 123hackney » Sat 27 Mar, 2021 9:23 pm

Thanks. These particular pieces of wood are chops, so no waste here!
The dent actually came out fine steaming it. Didn't think it would.

I have applied so many layers of Gesso and still have woodgrain. I am definitely going to give this ripple paint a go as I have loads more of these to do. Thanks for the tip.

Out of interest has anyone used this Grain Filler?

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Re: Small dent / Gesso

Post by vintage frames » Sun 28 Mar, 2021 10:34 am

Are you able to say which type of 'gesso' you are using? If it's the stuff you can buy in a jar or otherwise called acrylic gesso, then good luck with that!
Even when you do build up enough on the surface, sanding it level will be like sanding concrete.

If you are using RSG gesso then to eliminate the wood grain entirely requires you to slop on at least 5 or six coats and with a fine quality soft water-colour brush. It will all look a sloppy mess when wet but the next day, after drying you can level the surface down to a smooth even finish with two sanding grits - 180 followed by 320.

The grain fillers you buy are meant for wood finishing procedures involving transparent varnishes. They are used to reduce the wood grain effect but not to eliminate it.

But it all hinges on how much of the wood-grain you want to hide.
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Re: Small dent / Gesso

Post by 123hackney » Sun 28 Mar, 2021 11:38 am

Thank you, yes I'm using acrylic gesso. I watched your video and it definitely is not the same texture, product, consistency or effect!
Can you buy rabbit skin glue gesso already prepared? I am assuming not from what I have found so far.
For the purpose of what I'm doing right now there is no time/money to be going to that sort of trouble in preparing it myself. As fun as it looks!

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Re: Small dent / Gesso

Post by Not your average framer » Sun 28 Mar, 2021 6:20 pm

Making your own gesso is very different from buying ready made in a glass jar. If you make your own gesso, you have full control over the ratio of the rabbit skin glue to the amount of whitting and you can't do this with ready made gesso at all. I'm not much in to making my own gesso, it takes a bit of time and I also don't like having the smell of gesso in my shop, Unfortunately it remains a fact that gesso has advantages that other material simple do not have! I really don't like making traditional gesso, but there are times when I have no choice. If you are repairing a frames which has been finished with real gesso, that's what you usually need to use to repair it.

I will be first to admit that I am not especially good at making gesso and that I really do not enjoy the smell of rabbit skin glue and all, but expecting something which is made from something synthetic to bond really well to old gesso and the transition between the original geeso and something synthetic to sand down evenly across the transition between the two very different materials, does not necessarily make things very easy, if you are aiming for a completely invisible repair. I like the Craig and Rose chalky emulsion, because it behaves a lot more like traditional gesso than normal acrylic paint when either sanding it down, or distressing it. I even mix it with acrylic paint to modify the qualities of the paint when distressing the paint.

Having said all that gesso, water gilding and shellac, don't look much like today's synthetic finishing materials, when you need to repair dents in frames. Sure you can often hide some repairs, but it's still best to repair existing finishes with like for like! Not only will you get a better match, but as the old and new finishes age together, the aging effect on similar materials should still remain a good match as the years go by. Some moulding profiles can be very difficult to sand down and to blend the old and new finishes at the site of the repair, and I often find myself wet sanding with very fine wet and dry abrasive and I need to be able the polish the repair surface and the original surface to get a well hidden repair.

It is not always possible to do this on all profiles with equal ease. Not all repairs are equally easy, or necessarily straight forward in know how long they are going to require to complete the repair. It gets better with experience, but I always quote a price before I undertake a repair and even after doing stuff like this for a very long time, I can still get it wrong and not make a worthwhile profit every now and then. Who said that life is simple?
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Re: Small dent / Gesso

Post by vintage frames » Mon 29 Mar, 2021 9:16 am

It's all about the Rabbit Skin Glue.
If you buy your RSG from the usual framing supplies wholesale, then making gesso will be a horrible experience - smelly, gummy and coarse.
It's where everyone goes first when they fancy having a go at gesso.

Whilst there are many specialist gilding suppliers, the Manetti RSG from Gold Leaf Supplies is a refined, reliable, and non smelly brand of RSG that will produce perfect results every time.
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Re: Small dent / Gesso

Post by 123hackney » Sat 15 May, 2021 8:20 am

I just thought I should follow up on this.
I never did get around to making my own gesso. I’ll get to that level of expertise one day!

I’ve actually been using watered down wood filler to fill the grain and then sanding it down with a 320 sandpaper. Seems to be working really well. Then I use a wood primer before two coats of paint.

I’ve also started using these great paint rollers (on the big/flat tray profiles) from a brand called ‘two fussy blokes’ which give a really great brushstroke free finish.

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Re: Small dent / Gesso

Post by prospero » Sat 15 May, 2021 10:07 am

You only really need to use trad Gesso if you are doing water-gilding.

You can get a nice smooth surface for painting by filling the grain and applying a couple of coats of ripple paint.
I tend to apply 2 coats, but you can get it smoother if you do more. It's a trade off between labour and results.
One coat - not really enough. Two coats - satisfactory. After two coats the subsequent coats produce less and less
improvement.

As for grain filling.... I use No-Nonsense brand (Screwfix) fine surface filler. Brush on with a wet brush in the manner
of shaving cream. Dip a knackered old brush in water, swirl about in the filler tub and scrub it into the wood. You don't
want it too thick and you don't want it too thin. Think condensed milk. As it dries, wipe it over vigorously with a 'J' type
cloth. Be thorough with this stage and it will only need minimal sanding once dry. At the same time, you can make good any
flaws/dings/gaps. I like to jam it into internal corners to smooth them out a bit. A quick sand to knock off any nobbly bits
that you may have missed and it's ready for the ripple coat. If you apply it too thick or put too much on then sanding it is a
bit irksome. :?

** I have a tub of water standing by. When the J Cloths get saturated I just dump then in the water and get a fresh one. When
I've finished I rinse them under the tap and let them dry. You can get quite a few uses from them. :D I also leave the brushes
in this tub permanently. The water needs changing daily. :lol:
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Re: Small dent / Gesso

Post by vintage frames » Sat 15 May, 2021 10:33 am

You only really need to use trad Gesso if you are doing water-gilding.
Just a quick 'harrumph!'

You should also use trad Gesso for Oil gilding or for any sort of leaf gilding. What you want is a perfectly smooth finish with no marks or grain showing on the surface.
Only Gesso will give you that sort of finish.

But for just painting the frame, I would go with Prospero's advice. It's better to have a little grain showing otherwise the painted surface can lack any sort of character.
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Re: Small dent / Gesso

Post by Not your average framer » Sat 15 May, 2021 11:19 am

It might surprise you,but I very rarely get asked to repair frames these days, it used to happen reasonably at one time, but this seems to be becoming a much more throwaway world than it ever used to be. I've even had customers come in with frames that they don't want repair, but would rather have a new frame instead. Now that I have some much equipment that enables me to repair just about everything, nobody seems to want things repaired anymore. I make more money out of providing them with a new frame, but some how I feel disapointed, that the original frame is already considered as only fit for the dust bin.

They usually don't want the original frame back and I ask they if the object to me converting it in to something usable and so far everyone says yes. I am often on a hidding to nothing fixing it, but often it will cut down and make a smaller frames, or frames. If it's a very nice character looking frame sometimes it will make a nice looking mirror frame, but these days mirrors are a bit of a lottery trying to sell them. I don't like to see anything of any worthwhile value going in to the dumpster, as I was brough up not to do that, so much of my waste gets cut up to be re-used as raw materials. It's quick, it's easy and gets re-used, saving me time and money.
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Re: Small dent / Gesso

Post by prospero » Sat 15 May, 2021 1:50 pm

vintage frames wrote:
Sat 15 May, 2021 10:33 am
Just a quick 'harrumph!'
just a reciprocal 'yerrrrbutnobut....'

Perfectly true. :D But you might be surprised just what a smooth surface you can build up with ripple paint. :wink:
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Re: Small dent / Gesso

Post by Not your average framer » Sat 15 May, 2021 2:02 pm

:giggle:
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Re: Small dent / Gesso

Post by vintage frames » Sat 15 May, 2021 3:26 pm

Yes, but ripple paint is just too convenient.
Pop a lid and away you go.

Shouldn't we all suffer for our art? - Soaking glues overnight, melting it in saucepans, mixing it up with dusty chalk, mess everywhere .. and it dribbles all over your shoes.
Bliss.
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Re: Small dent / Gesso

Post by Not your average framer » Sat 15 May, 2021 5:55 pm

Hi Dermt,

How come you didn't mention that smell as well. Especially the smell, it really sinks and it makes your clothes smell too! :roll: :Slap:

And what about all the trouble trying to clean brushes afterwards? :giggle:
Mark Lacey

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