Realistic Chrysnbon “Wood” Part I

Hi! So, first, thank you so much for all the positive feedback! Several of you have reached out both here and on Instagram, sharing your opinions and–my favorite–asking questions! This is really awesome. Before we go on (and on, and on), I’d like to address a common concern by reminding you that, at least in my book, you can use whatever materials you like. Don’t have a Dremel? Don’t need one! Not everyone has new tools in the budget right now. Using craft paint, and worried as I keep talking about how much I hate craft paint? Ignore me! I used craft paint (mainly DecoArt), for years. The best process is the best process for YOU. If you’re getting the results you want, with what you’ve got on hand, then there’s absolutely no need to change anything.

My hope, for this blog, is the same as my hope for the first incarnation of Glorious Twelfth: that you’ll use whatever’s helpful, on here, and ignore the rest. I don’t care if you “copy” me, I’m teaching you! I want you to feel inspired, whatever that means for you. About a decade ago, I leant a friend of mine a recipe for apricot chicken (this is, natch, before I went vegan). She felt inspired enough to switch things up to…pork chops and prunes. None of us can predict when inspiration will strike, or what it’ll look like.

For the next phase of my kitchen hutch project, I’ll be using the following materials:

For brushes, I like AK Interactive. Specifically, I really like this set. A saw brush, which I’ll talk about later on, can be really great for replicating wood grain. BUT! Any brush, or brushes, will do! Some of my favorite brushes, over the years, have come from the bottom of the dollar bin at the craft store. Some friendos feel like brushes are an important investment, and should cost money. There’s nothing wrong with that point of view, but I abuse my brushes so badly (with hard use, not actual lack of care) that nothing lasts for more than a few months. Keep in mind, though, that I use them every day!

One final piece of advice I have, before we get going, is: if you can afford it, then please consider buying a backup kit. I was reminded, myself, of the wisdom in doing so after this last weekend’s disaster. Let’s just say that when you have a house full of kids and animals things happen. I also, in my own work, frequently make mistakes. The truth is, i wasn’t that happy with how the first hutch was coming out, painting-wise! Onward and upward, though, so…

Like I talked about before, I kept the smallest bits on their sprues. I’ll deal with them in the next post! For my base color, I’m using–creatively–“warm wood base color.” This is a water based liquid pigment. You can use any kind of paint you want, so long as it’s well diluted. For extra adhesion, though, I went through the extra step of giving all my sub assemblies a light coat of Mr. Super Clear. You can also use Testors Dullcote. This step isn’t necessarily critical, though and you can get good results without it.

That bottle off to the right is a mixture of the paint I’m using and water. My son was recently diagnosed with asthma, so in an abundance of caution I switched entirely to water based products. Whatever you use, though, and whether it’s enamel or water based or anything else, DILUTE IT. My recommendation for LifeColor products, specifically, is to start with about half and half, water and paint, then–if you need to–add in JUST enough paint so that the mixture doesn’t pill when you apply it to the surface. What I then tend to do is 1) apply it with an angle brush and then 2) pull the saw brush through in the direction of the stamped on grain. You can see the result of my first coat, above.

It took 2–3 coats to get to this point, on each piece. Note that I haven’t glued my sub assemblies together! Doing so now would only get in the way of a good paint job.

I’ll worry about shadows and highlights later; the goal for this first step is simply to achieve an even wash of color.

Here, as you can see, it’s coming along. Everything still looks a bit uneven, as I’m still working on the base coat. When everything looks like it came from the same grove, if not necessarily the same tree, I’ll know I’m ready for the next step. Thin, THIN washes of color help me build a depth of grain–and give me much more control in doing so.

This is…not a fast process. Chrysnbon kits, to look like anything, need a lot of work. Hopefully for a good payoff, though! Allowing for dry time, from opening the box on the second kit to this exact point took me about two days.

You can stop whenever you want! You don’t need to make your wood as dark as I’ve made mine. Every time I do one of these, in fact, it comes out slightly different! I like trying out different techniques, and going for different looks, every time I sit down with a new kit. Mass produced can mean boring…or it can mean possibilities! This is YOUR project!

I’m one of those people who has to be hyper organized, or I can’t think. For me, and maybe for you, too, it’s helpful to have a “done” area. Everything that’s where I want it, for right now, is over on the right. This hutch is one of the more complicated kits, and nothing fits together all that well, so it’s frustrating. Some areas, mainly those where I had to do a lot of sanding, needed quite careful attention. Nevertheless, I’m pleased with the results.

And…here we are! None of the sub assemblies are actually attached, yet, this is a dry fitting to make sure all the pieces work together. Sometimes, at this point, one area or the other turns out to be too light, too dark, etc. Because this kit is pretty…not easy, I feel like it’s easier to lean and create something out of this problem rather than ignore it. So, moving forward, I’ll be adding detail and, of course, weathering. Stay tuned!

And, as always, let me know what you think in the comments!

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