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Van Dyck crystals

Help with choosing the right coloured milkpaint to slather all over your new project.

Van Dyck crystals

Postby Mike G » 09 Nov 2020, 22:37

I've just ordered some for an upcoming project. I've never used them before, so if anyone could talk me through their mixing and application that would be helpful. I would quite like to be able to darken up certain areas more than others........is it just a case of putting more on? Does it work differentially on long grain compared with end grain, and does it raise the grain? Are there any restrictions as to what finish I can use afterwards?
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Re: Van Dyck crystals

Postby Blackswanwood » 09 Nov 2020, 23:22

Mike, simply dissolve in hot water and leave for an hour - the shade is determined by the strength of the solution ranging from light to dark brown. I tend to use a teaspoon of crystals per inch of water in a jam jar to get a deep mahogany colour. I de-nib between coats and tend to use a foam brush to apply it. Multiple coats increase the colouring but with a bit of trial and error you can quickly get the shade(s) you want in the mix.

I have used wiping varnish over it, shellac/polish or hard wax to finish and all have been fine.
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Re: Van Dyck crystals

Postby Mike G » 10 Nov 2020, 00:34

Brilliant......thanks for that.
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Re: Van Dyck crystals

Postby AJB Temple » 10 Nov 2020, 02:36

I've used Manns and I was always told to dissolve in cold water. That is also the advice on wood finishes direct instructions.

It will raise the grain (because of the water) and soaks more into end grain - behaves much the same as any wood dye. You can concentrate it with additional water soluble dyes as well.

You can make exactly the same dye by boiling walnuts, husks and all. I have known people add black ink and black food dye to simulate ebonising (looks very dark but unconvincing as ebony IMO).

Wear gloves when applying - it stains your fingers really effectively. DAMHIKT.
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Re: Van Dyck crystals

Postby Blackswanwood » 10 Nov 2020, 07:50

I wonder if we have found the finishing equivalent of should you cut your dovetail pins or tails first with the water temperature!

Mine came from AG Woodcare and the instructions say to use hot water. My guess is that this speeds up the time to dissolve?
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Re: Van Dyck crystals

Postby sammy.se » 10 Nov 2020, 09:17

Pretty much as above. You can create darker shades through additional coats, and/or more concentrated solution. Pretty fool proof, like using a water based ink.

I've used it on beech really successfully. Not tried it on pine or other softwoods.



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Re: Van Dyck crystals

Postby RogerS » 10 Nov 2020, 11:13

Ah wish I'd known you wanted some, Mike...I have a bagful...more than I would ever use in a lifetime. You really only need a few grains to get the colour!

Anyone else? Just ask and I'll pop some in an envelope.
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Re: Van Dyck crystals

Postby Mike G » 10 Nov 2020, 19:25

Thanks anyway Roger. Another kind offer. I've got a ton of oak projects in the pipeline, and a number of them are going to need staining, so I doubt I'll be wasting any of the stuff I've bought.
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Re: Van Dyck crystals

Postby Woodbloke » 10 Nov 2020, 19:40

Mike G wrote:... I've got a ton of oak projects in the pipeline, and a number of them are going to need staining....

Can I be nosey and ask why you're staining Oak? Just curious - Rob
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Re: Van Dyck crystals

Postby Mike G » 10 Nov 2020, 20:07

I've got a heap of projects coming up in a Jacobean style, with quite a bit of carving and mouldings and so on. There might even be a bit of turning involved, you never know. This style really isn't right in self-coloured oak, so I'm going to be darkening it up a bit. OK, I know that a lot of furniture of that era was painted quite garishly, but we won't be going quite that far.
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Re: Van Dyck crystals

Postby Trevanion » 10 Nov 2020, 20:15

Have you considered ammonia fuming, Mike? Works really well with oak for getting an even colour and you can scale it up for bigger projects/furniture by building an enclosure to suit.

I haven't tried staining after fuming but I imagine it would work rather well for touching up parts to be darker than others.
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Re: Van Dyck crystals

Postby Mike G » 10 Nov 2020, 21:13

I have, yes, but it looks a bit of a schlep. My finishing is getting better, from a low base, but fuming looks like a good way to revert to my old practise of stuffing up a perfectly good piece of furniture right at the last minute! :)
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Re: Van Dyck crystals

Postby Trevanion » 10 Nov 2020, 21:18

Mike G wrote: fuming looks like a good way to revert to my old practise of stuffing up a perfectly good piece of furniture right at the last minute! :)


But that's the fun of it! Aside from breathing in the fumes of course ;)
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Re: Van Dyck crystals

Postby Woodbloke » 10 Nov 2020, 23:15

Mike G wrote: There might even be a bit of turning involved, you never know.

That must be your mate who's doing that :lol: - Rob
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Re: Van Dyck crystals

Postby Cabinetman » 11 Nov 2020, 00:25

I’m sorry if I’m telling everybody what they already know, using ammonia to stain Oak was discovered ( or so I believe) when the oak beams in French stables were found to have turned brown, it was the ammonia in the horse urine that had that effect. I always wanted to build a fume cabinet to try it out, life is just too short sometimes. Ian
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Re: Van Dyck crystals

Postby Woodbloke » 11 Nov 2020, 09:19

My own pet theory is that so called original Tudor etc 'Dark Oak' furniture was never stained when it was first made, but was simply finished with beeswax. Over the centuries, grime and dirt was ingrained into the timber (remember they had open sooty fireplaces etc) and as the wax didn't seal the surface it eventually turned brown.

The NT revamped a house at Avebury recently (the subject of TV programme a while back) and the 'Tudor Room' has been outfitted with reproduction pieces (couple of chairs and a bench, 'hayrake' table, aumbry) which have been left in the natural oak colour...and they do look rather fetching!

I have to make an oak linenfold chest for my daughter which will eventually end up 'oop narth' and there's no way it's going to get stained brown, but I suspect that Mike will be under a much greater influence :eusa-whistle: and will have no real choice :lol: - Rob
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Re: Van Dyck crystals

Postby Mike G » 11 Nov 2020, 09:39

That's slightly unfair to the other half of the design team, in that I am quite happy to take the oak down a shade or two. We have a house full of light oak at the moment.....posts and beams, doors, stairs, kitchen units & shelves, coffee table etc......and am wanting something a little different. The next project is a built in TV cabinet where I'll be trying out the heavily-carved darker-oak look in preparation for the big one, next year maybe....a really big dining table and 10 chairs. I like the look of dark oak (just as I like the lighter look, too).

You're dead right though, Rob. The Elizabethans and Jacobeans almost certainly didn't darken their oak furniture. Damp and soot played a huge part in their colouring, as I am sure did sponging them down in the Victorian era*, but don't forget that much of the higher end stuff was painted in bright colours initially.

*I know Scandinavia has a tradition of finishing with soap, but I reckon we had this inadvertently, given the Victorian/ Georgian/ Edwardian housemaid's duty of washing everything down with soapy water.
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Re: Van Dyck crystals

Postby Cabinetman » 12 Nov 2020, 20:16

Or you could use brown oak Mike, one of my favourite woods to contrast with, I bought four consecutive boards a couple of years ago and I’m just waiting for the right opportunity to use it.
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Re: Van Dyck crystals

Postby Mike G » 12 Nov 2020, 20:25

No, I've got a good stash of ordinary oak, and no brown oak. In fact, stock of all wood is pretty high, as I thought lock-down might be a bit more severe than it has turned out to be, so I did a good raid of the timber merchants.
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