that rumble you've been hearing?
rumble is a band wagon passing by called Faux Finishing. Have
you felt like jumping aboard? Maybe you lost a job because a prospective
customer asked you to marbleize a fireplace mantel, and you said,
"What?" Maybe you've heard how faux finishers make twice as much
money as ordinary painters. Maybe you what to raise the level
of your craft beyond spraying apartments eight hours a day. So
where do you learn how to literally fake it?
have plenty of faux educational opportunities to choose from,
ranging from free, two-hour demos at your local paint store to
two-week courses costing $2,000 or more. The variety of choices,
however, demand that you do some homework. Some courses stress
faithful duplication of natural objects. Others teach less realistic
"fantasy finishes." You may get your own tools for hands-on learning
You may not.
Deux, Three, Faux:
the French word for "false," is an encompassing term that refers
to glazes, finishes that imitate stone and wood, and fantasy finishes.
Paint is applied with sponges, feathers, rags, squeegees, and
ordinary brushes as well as special tools, like check rollers,
newspapers,and potatoes. Faux finish workshops and schools have
proliferated in recent years, reflecting the revival of this decorative
art after decades of dormancy.
marbleizing might save a customer money, such finishes can represent
an economical bonanza for contractors. A normal faux finisher
can make $50 an hour because their doing art work. The Majority
of contractors are "informationally starved" when it comes to
faux, said Greg Frohnapfel, artistic director of the Ohio School
of Specialist Decoration (now ProFaux) in Akron. "Half couldn't
pronounce the word a year ago." (Fo, by the way.)
at paint stores serve rather like taste tests before going on
to the more elaborate faux educational possibilities. Dealers
for Martin Senour Paints, for example, hold workshops on sponging,
ragging, rag-rolling, and stenciling (graining and marbleizing
are excluded). Attendees try their hands at the finishes after
a slide presentation. The workshops last several hours and admission
is free. Some paint store workshops are more ambitious.
contractor Joe Kuhn in Lexington, MA, has attended several day-long
faux classes at a local paint store to sharpen skills that he
originally acquired as an apprentice in his native country. "Some
things I didn't know," said Kuhn, a residential contractor. "Some
of it was basic." The workshops, held on Saturdays, cost him $125
a piece. Then, of course, there are the specialized schools for
those who are really, really serious about it. They typically
stress hand-on learning and the creation of sample boards that
will help students market their new found skill. Tuition covers
tools and materials.
you spend $300 or $3000 on a faux finishing degree, you want to
get your money's worth. How do the schools compare in terms of
the quality of the instruction? It's hard to tell from what schools
have to say; most were not shy about pointing out others' perceived
shortcomings. Greg Frohnapfel came down hard on classes sponsored
by paint companies: "Some companies are doing irreparable damage
to their reputation by sponsoring poor workshops. All they know
is faux is hot, and they're trying to beat their competition to
views do suggest some helpful criteria, though. Take credentials,
for example. An instructor should be a certified journeyman painter
as opposed to an artist or hobbyist. That way, the instructor
is sure to approach the subject from a contractor's point of view.
That may be an important point, given that the contractors comprise
about half of the students at the faux finishing schools. Similarly,
contractors should note if a school emphasizes faux finishes for
furniture as opposed to those for walls and other architectural
students should also ask to see color photographs of the work
produced at the schools. If you receive black and white photographs,
consider it a bad sign. You should request names and phone numbers
of Alumni and ask them about their experience. And while they're
at it, prospective students should checkout these items:
- Does the
school teach you how to market your faux finishing abilities
and estimate jobs?
- Do students
have their own separate work tables?
- Is literature
provided that will walk through faux finishing techniques after
you go home?
- Does the
school emphasizes traditional faux finishes that faithfully
duplicate stone and wood, or does it stress the fantasy finishes
that only suggest stone or wood?