Texture is everything when it comes to glazing. We used one of our woodgrain texture bitmaps to create the file in EnRoute and then machined it on our MultiCam CNC router from 2-in.-thick 30-lb. Precision Board.
The two sides of the sign were laminated over a steel framework and then mounted on top of the steel tree armature. The lift point structural steel goes through the sign to the tree frame. The tree armature was then covered with galvanized diamond lath in preparation for the sculpting.
We troweled on a thick coat of fiberglass reinforced concrete. Once it has set just enough, we carved in the wood texture on the bare woodgrain. The rest of the tree was sculpted with a rough bark texture. Texture is the key to a believable paint finish using our faux finish glazing technique.
Here Grant is applying one of two plain base coats of acrylic paint to the tree. Fine cutting isn’t nearly as critical as covering the tree well at this stage. The hardest part of this stage was keeping well clear of the sharp steel leaves. Grant found out the hard way.
Next, a series of glazes were applied to the various areas. The first glazes are only slightly darker shades of the base color. Once these glazes are dry, Becke goes a little darker. The final glaze on the bare wood was a dusty brown. The raised letters on the sign were painted last.
Even up close it is hard to believe this sign is made from Precision Board HDU, steel and concrete. It looks like it has been around forever and will last much, much longer than if we had made the sign from real wood. They will look even better over time as they gather dust and dirt and perhaps even a little moss.
The glazing makes any woodgrain or texture come to life.
We extend the grains to all sides of our signs, including the rear. The end results are believable woodgrains which help tell the story we are sharing.
This sign had a little less texture than we normally incorporate into our signs, making it a little trickier to pull off the glazing. Using terry towel rags helps some as the cloth introduces some texture. Becke has done this so many times she can achieve magic with almost anything we hand her. Practice does make perfect!
A job is never finished until the paperwork is done. Each and every color of paint and glaze is carefully noted in our files for every single project. Our detailed records date back more than a decade of projects. These notes serve as reference for later touchups if necessary. They also serve as reminders for future projects. The signs in this article are but a small part of a project that will go over a number of years.
This sign was routed as individual boards from 2-in. 30-lb. Precision Board HDU. They were mounted to a curved steel frame after painting the backs and sides with three coats of dark grey. The fronts were then painted with two coats of tan before getting two more coats of wet blended color.
There is a whole lot of color going on at this stage. The blended base coats cover the raised letters as well, but are painted a slightly lighter shade of the background color.
After the base colors were finished, Becke applied two coats of grey glaze. The first one was very light and the second darker, and both went over the lettering. A second coat of dark glaze was then blended around the letters to make them pop. Then a couple coats of white were dry-brushed over the lettering. Our goal was to make the lettering look old, faded and peeling. The top and bottom scrolls were base coated, blended and then glazed slightly to age them. The lettering was done as a dark blue to black blend.

Glazes bring textures to life

3D textures get much more dramatic when you add glazes

By Dan Sawatzky

Posted on Sunday, June 28th, 2020

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A SignCraft reader recently asked about faux finishing, which is something we employ on almost every sign that leaves our shop—albeit not necessarily in a traditional way. Faux painting or faux finishing are terms used to describe decorative paint finishes that replicate the appearance of various materials using paint. The term comes from the French word “faux,” meaning false.

In our shop we use acrylic house paint for the most part. We apply no less than three coats of base colors first. Then the magic starts. We follow with a series of glazes to create the magic we are known for.

We create our own glazes by mixing regular acrylic paint with a clear acrylic medium in a 50/50 ratio. For our clear medium we use a non-tinted clear base of the same brand of paint. When you ask for it at the paint store you inevitably will get some questions, but persist—this is exactly what you want.

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Dan Sawatzky's shop, Sawatzky's Imagination Corporation, is in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada. Dan shares his experience in his Sign Magic Workshops on 3-D sign making, and his Sculpting Workshop.

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