After several years with my bedroom set which is made up of different wooden dressers, nightstands and a homemade headboard, I wanted something different.
The problem was I didn’t have the money for the marble-topped bedroom set I found in a swanky high-priced store. Instead of getting upset, I spent some time studying different marbles on the internet.
Since my wooden pieces all came from different places, I simply changed feet and hardware to make it match. Any trim that didn’t match the others was carefully removed.
I found painting books in my library, and was set. Since I didn’t have to strip off any old paint, the next part was easy. I wanted white marble tops, but by studying different marbles, you can imitate any stone, brick or marble you like.
In this article, I’ll outline a plain little end table purchased in England. It has no molding, no decorations, nothing. Perfect.
This article assumes the furniture pieces have been sanded and prepped beforehand.
Notes to Consider:
• All paints listed here are oil based.
• When handling paints or oils, always work in a well-ventilated area
• You can use turpentine to thin paint, which helps keep the surface wet longer, thus giving more time to work between coats than paint thinner does.
• Keep in mind that this is a slow process. The end results are worth the time and effort.
You will need:
• Black lacquer paint or desired color for furniture bases
• Eggshell paint
• Black paint
• Feather – for veining
• Gold paint, if desired
• Boiled Linseed oil
• Assorted paint brushes- buy the best you can afford for oil based paints
• White spirits, for thinning paint and cleaning brushes
• Gloves to protect hands
• Glazing liquid (oil based)
• Practice pieces of wood
• Paint stirrers
• Containers for mixing- obtain these in the paint department as they are made to withstand the chemical reactions of the products.
• Measuring implements
• Painter’s tape
• Plastic grocery bags
• Water based varnish
• White paint
Practice Your Technique First
It’s important to practice on a few pieces of scrap wood, cardboard or newspaper first to perfect your technique. Nothing is worse than having to strip a piece and start over.
Step One: Make Your Glaze
Mix 80 percent glazing liquid to 20 percent paint. That would mean for 10 total ounces of glaze, 8 ounces would be glazing liquid and 2 ounces would paint.
Glazing liquid may be tinted by using light or dark paints. One way to test the transparency of your glaze is to spread some on newspaper or cardboard print. You should be able to read through the glaze.
The layers of glaze will make the 3-D effect of marble, so take the time to practice with it first.
I used eggshell glaze and a glaze made with white paint/eggshell mixed. The results were a transparent glaze and a milky glaze.
Paint the bottom of the table with primer and allow to dry for 24 hours.
Paint the top of the table, which will become “marble,” with eggshell paint and allow to dry for 24 hours.
Tape off the bottom of the table from the top. The top, sides and underside of the table will be ‘marbleized,” so the effect is going to be magnificent.
Before beginning the veining process, have a few pictures of marble in front of you- the kind you want to imitate. Notice how the veins seem to run in a direction from one side to the other. Some patterns look diagonal, others look “spidery,” and others look fractured, all in the same piece. The point is that marble isn’t perfect, so you shouldn’t agonize over making yours look perfect, either.
Using the black paint and a feather or artist’s brush, dip the tip in the paint and draw lines along the surface, the sides of the table and the underneath- any surface to be “marbleized.” Don’t concentrate on making the top and underneath lines match exactly- it doesn’t in real marble, either.
Hold your paintbrush by the very tip, the same with the feather. Turn your wrist and hand this way and that, varying the size, width and clarity of the veins. Allow to dry.
Now the fun part.
Apply a coat of varnish to the veined surface. Allow to dry for 24 hours. I did say it was slow going. It’s these layers that form the marble.
Mix your transparent glaze and apply to the surface. Crumble the plastic bags into semi-diagonal shapes, and following your veining pattern, apply them to the wet glaze, pressing firmly.
Paint between the bags with the milky glaze using rough strokes. Don’t bother being delicate here, just don’t apply so much it runs.
Using another plastic bag, crumble and dab the milky glaze to soften the edges and blend it a little.
Pull off all the plastic bags and allow to dry for 24 hours.
Using the feather or brush, again apply some veins to the surface. Follow some of the crackle lines created by the glazing, others should be in the veining direction. Don’t try to paint over the same lines- you want a 3-D effect.
On the first surface, I might run a line or two of gold. Here, I might run another couple of gold lines, just for fun. While most marble doesn’t have gold in it, I think it looks pretty.
Grey paint in varying shades also works well for the 3-D effect. Mix the black and white paints for your shades.
Allow to dry for 24 hours, then varnish again.
Follow this technique to get the layers and look you want.
To finish the piece, use varnish in a final coat. Paste wax may be used to protect the piece and give it a high gloss.
You haven’t forgotten about the table bottom, have you? This now receives the coat or two of black enamel paint after taping the top of the table to protect the “marble.”
The piece now looks like it came from an expensive store, even though it was a cheap wooden table with no personality. My bedroom set, which could be considered “eclectic,” now looks tied together and expensive.
Imagine a marble headboard and bedroom set on a “McDonald’s” budget.
Real existing marble doesn’t have to be followed exactly. You can create any color marble you want, from pinks, purples, and so on. Your imagination is key.
Practice this technique by purchasing or making small wood boxes, and creating one of a kind holiday gifts. How about “marbleizing” the molding in the room? The dining room table? How about taking a metal frame or shutters, making and painting a marble tabletop? And that new bathroom countertop and tile you wanted, hmmmm.
Source: That Painter Lady, “Faux Marble/ How to Paint Faux Marble Technique,” That Painter Lady Website, No date given
Source: Mindy Drucker and Nancy Rosen (1995). “Recipes for Surfaces, Volume II,” New York, New York, Simon & Schulster Inc.