3 Apply a brightly colored dye, such as blue or
look much better (Photo 5). I often use a glaze that's basically the same color as the dye, but darker. If you're adventurous, try experimenting with different colors. Adding this layer makes the finish look much richer and more complex.
A glaze is simply a pigmented finish that's applied over a sealed surface. (The surface is sealed—with shellac, in this case—to prevent the glaze from penetrating too deeply and unevenly.) You can buy ready-made glazes at an art-supply store, but I prefer a wider choice of colors, so I make my own. The recipe is very simple. I use a tube of artist's oil color for the pigment, mineral spirits to thin the pigment, and a clear gel varnish to bind the pigment to the surface (see Sources). The exact ratios aren't critical. For this small panel, I squirted out about 1" of pigment from the tube and mixed it with about 1/2 capful of mineral spirits, stirring until there were no lumps. Next, I mixed about 1 teaspoon of mineral spirits with 2 teaspoons of gel varnish, and added the thinned pigment.
Wipe on the glaze with a piece of cheesecloth, using a circular motion. Then lightly wipe the panel with the cheesecloth, using a straight motion, to even out the glaze. You can remove or leave as much glaze as you wish, or apply a second coat later on. Let the panel dry overnight, then apply more coats of plain gel varnish, or any other finish (Photo 6).
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