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As Seen In The faux Finisher
A Learning Experience at Pro-Faux Workshops
Feature from The Faux Finisher, Summer 2000
In this featured
section, Diane Capuano gets her hands a little dirty and writes about her experience at Pro Faux Workshops

John and Greg work well together like experienced musicians or a comedy team.

Editor Diane Capuano tries her hand at an Autumn Leaves effect.    Greg demonstrates a technique.

John shows a board nearing completion to the students.

A Learning Experience at Pro Faux Workshops

Somewhere along the line, some poor misguided soul coined the well-known adage: "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach.

I used the term "misguided" because the faux-finishing profession is populated by people who do the work and teach the work. And certainly, that's got to be the case in other professions. The best teachers often also were very active in "doing" the very thing they are teaching.

As executive editor of this magazine, I would propose a more appropriate statement that applies to my own situation: "Those who can't, write." But actually isn't fair to the many quality writers we have filling these pages -- in many cases, I have found, professional faux finishers can write, teach as well as do -- multitalented individuals indeed.

To do my best for this publication, it's important that I learn as much as possible about the faux-finishing profession -- and that means not only reading books, watching videos and interviewing experts but also getting paint on my hands on a regular basis.

An opportunity for hands-on experience came about recently when John Catalanotto and Greg Frohnapfel of Pro-Faux Workshops extended a gracious invitation to me to take their class on European Textures and Metallic Finishes. So, I headed to Akron, Ohio, to further my faux-finishing education.

The first thing I found out when I entered the class room was that I was overdressed. I thought I was casual enough in my olive -green pants, shirt and a light embroidered sweater, but John immediately look at me and said, "You're going to get paint all over your clothes".

And sure enough, a glance around showed me that those who faux-finish for a living knew how to dress for the activity -- since it was summer, shorts and casual shirts, or in some cases, blue jeans. I immediately took off the sweater, and since it was a two-day class, the next day I would wear the jeans and casual top I had brought. John and Greg also provided aprons for those who wanted them, and a few dollops of paint on my paints later, I was wearing the apron.

It was going to be a busy class -- 10 finishes in two days using a comprehensive texturing product line for which Pro Faux is exclusive US distributor. We did the base work on the first day, following up with the color work on the second day.

The dynamic of having two instructors rather than one made the class extremely enjoyable. Through out the day, John and Greg played off each other like two experienced musician -- or maybe a better description would be like an experienced comedy team. They poked good-natured fun at each other, but just as frequently told jokes at their own expense (mostly about golf -- it must be a "guy" thing.) John and Greg could trade off in showing us various aspects of the techniques -- an excellent method for keeping everyone awake and attentive.

Since there were only nine of us, John and Greg could give each of us individualized attention. They'd call us up to the front of the class to demonstrate a technique, then we'd head back to the table to try it out. When I was having trouble mastering a given step in the process, they would offer constructive advice. And when I actually did something well, they were generous with their compliments.

During the class, John also lamented this "Those who can't, teach" adage. He and Greg were so adamant to prove it wasn't true that they entered their finishes into a competition and won several major awards. While John and Greg have taught literally all over the world -- from Las Vegas to Italy, from dry land to cruise ships -- they also have created decorative finishes for a multitude of clients.

What was great about the class was getting to know the other students. Some of them were strictly involved in faux finishing, while others were painting contractors who were discovering the fun and profits of adding decorative finishes to their professional repertoire.

After the first day of class, we all gathered for dinner at a local eatery. I sat near a couple of painting contractors who enthused about the addition of faux finishing to their livelihood. One painter remarked that his traditional painting jobs were like driving down a highway, but faux finishing was like taking a detour onto a scenic side road -- less harried, more enjoyable.

Certainly, the camaraderie with the teachers and students was one of the most worthwhile aspects of taking a course of this nature. Learning new techniques and ways to expand your livelihood are also big advantages.

There are many great schools, studios and teachers in this profession. Check out our Resource Guide for a partial list. Talk to your colleagues to see which ones they might recommend. If you want to "do" your best, then learn from the best. Those who teach can be very good at what they do, and their capacity for sharing will be a big benefit to you.


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