Friday, October 31, 2008

Natural Stains: Pigments Going Green

Natural stains abound in the market, and they are not only eco-friendly, but they are easy on the eye with a naturally soft patina and amazingly inexpensive. With so many natural options, it's actually amazing how frequently we turn to a processed product instead of looking around us. Whether working with wood or fabric, natural stains can be layered to produce the color and depth needed.

Coffee and tea have long been used with fabric. Muslin, cotton, wool, linen, and lace were often "tea-dyed" to produce a softer, warmer color. The fabrics can be tyed frequently to bring up and intensify the color. However, did you know that they will also stain wood? It will take layers, but it can be done to produce warm finishes. Henna and chewing tobacco are two more options, but know that these are strong products and might not take as much to produce the desired effect. Wine can also be used on both fabric and wood, and will deepen as layers are built up.

For a truly beautiful finish that is rarely used today, try wax. Specifically: beeswax. Whether applied over one of the aforementioned stains, or used on it's own, wax produces a soft finish with a very warm patina. Note, however, that wax finishes are susceptible to water stains so be mindful of where you choose to finish with a wax. Also, wax mellows with age, and, depending on whether or not you live in a place with high humidity, you will have to periodically apply another coat of wax.

For beautiful, eco-friendly finishes, consider natural materials to bring out the warmth of your fabrics and woods.

St. Andrews from the Cathedral