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Secrets to Good Sponging - And What's Bagging?

This is normally a positive technique although it can be negative.  
Prepare walls and paint your basecoat typically in a light shade 
flat or slight sheen.  Mix Latex paint and water equal  proportions 
(or to your liking).  You can add glazing liquid for more transpar-
ency if desired.   Wet a natural sea sponge and wring out.  Dip into 
the paint fully and wring out or put abit on the sponge then tap on 
a piece of cardboard to distribute the paint - whatever works for
you.  Gently pounce the sponge on the wall turning your wrist each 
time so you don’t repeat a pattern.  Don’t press or twist into the 
surface - keep a light and even touch.  Immediately go over what you 
have done with another damp sponge to soften up the sponge marks.  
This is optional but I like to do it to remove the dotty appearance 
of sponging.  If you plan to apply more than one color, leave lots of 
the background showing which you will fill in with other colors.  I 
apply 2 or 3 colors together even while wet so they blur and soften 
better.  Related colors such as pink, blue and purple (for example),
will work together whereas pink and green will create a muddy color.  
If you want a strong look, apply contrasting colors, but they won’t 
be as pleasing to the eye.  For a soft, muted appearance, colors from the 
same family work best and will be pleasant to look at.  You can do 
one color at a time letting each dry first, and will find this nec-
essary when doing contrasting colors.  For corners, use a small cut 
piece of sponge or a small splayed brush to tap in the color.  This 
is the part that needs extra attention as a poorly finished corner is 
a sign of a true beginner.  See tips sheet for more help on sponging.

Take a plastic grocery bag and turn inside out so the lettering is on 
the inside and won't come off on the wall.  Scrunch it up into a ball 
and dip it into the same thinned paint or glaze you would use for 
sponging.  Dab it onto a plastic plate or cardboard to distribute and 
remove some of the excess.  Make sure there are lots of little 
folds so that when you apply it to the wall, it creates a wrinkly
sort of effect.  Apply just like you would if you were sponging.  Keep
re-shaping the bag in your hand when you dip it so there is lots of 
wrinkles where the paint hits the wall.  I use this technique instead 
of sponging most of the time because I like it so much.  I tried it 
one day by accident and really loved the effect so have kept using it.
I prefer to add glazing liquid to the paint for this technique as it 
gives a softer translucent finish on the walls.

Everything You Need To Know About Colorwashing and Smooshing

Build up layers of thinned paint to create a cloudy, textured finish. 
Gives a soft look with the fluid quality of watercolor paints.  Create
a casual old-world feel to a room.  Apply base color in a flat or 
eggshell finish.  The colorwash is mixed: 1 part latex paint with 4-7 
parts water depending on the look you want.  More paint gives a darker
more opaque wash. You may substitute glazing liquid for the water - 
this will give an entirely different look - more translucent.  You 
can use all three, so is really necessary to practise this technique 
using various proportions of paint, water and/or glaze.  There are 
various ways to apply the colorwash: by using a wide brush, apply the
wash in every direction, creating X’s, arcs, or brushing all over. 
You don’t want your brush dripping.  You can leave some background 
showing, then go over a second time with a slightly different color 
and fill in the gaps or cover the wall area once and leave as is.  
You can also use a second damp brush to soften the brush marks as you 
work, by having someone help you because it dries extremely fast.
Another method: is by saturating a rag or sponge in the wash - cheese-
cloth works well.  Apply all over the wall in a circular “washing” 
motion.  Keep the rag wet but not dripping and continue until the 
wall is finished.  Again, you can leave open areas and go back with a 
second color once the first coat is dry.  Multiple layers look the 
best with this method, but is a personal choice.  Colorwashing is 
very effective when applied over sponging or ragging to soften. 

This is a negative technique so is best to use oil glaze and you will 
almost certainly need the help of a friend.  Prepare and paint your 
wall surface if necessary.  This is best done in a light base color
with a darker glaze applied over.  See my recipes for mixing glazes.  
Apply the glaze with a roller to the surface doing the whole wall at 
one time if you can manage it.  Immediately, apply a large plastic 
sheet to the wall, covering the glaze completely.  Once in place, 
smoosh it around with your hands, not fingers as they will leave 
imprints.  When you think it has been wrinkled enough start at the 
top and pull the sheet of plastic down, remove and discard.  The 
thickness of the plastic will determine the amount of wrinkles but a 
fairly thin drop sheet type of plastic works well.  Some people work 
in sections so that may be what you feel more comfortable doing.  See
my tips section for more helpful hints.

Ragging On and Ragging Off - How Do I Do It?

Prepare walls and base coat in low sheen finish.  Flat finish sucks 
up too much paint.  Make a glaze 2-3 shades darker than the base 
coat using oil glaze if doing a large surface for more open time.  
Mix according to my recipe given adding 1 part paint thinner if 
mixture is too thick.  Pour into a paint tray and use a roller.  
Apply to the whole wall or work in 3 foot sections, whichever you 
prefer.  Dab or roll a dry scrunched up rag through the glaze removing
a little or alot.  Texture of cloth will determine the crispness of 
the marks left on the wall.  An old diaper works well or T-shirt 
material.  Whatever material you start with, make sure you have plenty 
to finish all surfaces as they becomes saturated quickly.  If you 
work in sections, always leave a wet edge.  Be careful not to leave a 
noticeable pattern when working.  I have used a scrunched up plastic 
grocery bag turned inside out for doing this technique and find it
leaves a nice impression as well.  See hints section on how to dispose 
of your saturated rags.

Prepare base coat and glaze as above.  No need to use oil glaze for 
this technique, latex/acrylic glazing liquid will work just fine.  
See my recipe given.  Take an old sheet and rip into about 1 foot
square sections removing all frayed threads.  Dip into the glaze till 
saturated then squeeze out until it doesn’t drip glaze.  Roll up into 
a rosette shape ball and roll over the surface of the wall in
various directions until filled in.  As an option, you can dab the 
rag onto the wall continually changing it so that a pattern doesn’t 
develop.  These two methods are abit different so whichever one you 
start doing, continue until finished.  Keep re-dipping into the glaze 
and continue the same pressure at all times.  Stand back every so 
often to see if any area needs to be filled in more.  See tips for 
more general info.

Striping and Dragging (or Strie')


Create a wide range of effects by using a variety of color combina-
tions and different levels of contrast.  Bright colors with high 
contrast can give more drama whereas subdued colors with less contrast 
will create an elegant formal room.  Ways to create contrast:

1.  Paint a base coat in eggshell or satin in color of choice.  Make 
    stripes the same color only a higher sheen.
2.  Paint base coat in color and sheen of choice and create stripes 
    by sponging or ragging on.
3.  Paint base coat in color of choice and create negative ragged 
4.  Paint latex eggshell or satin sheen base color and create stripes 
    using a semi-gloss acrylic urethane.
5.  Do a low sheen paint technique on the walls like negative ragging 
    then create stripes by applying a clear semi-gloss urethane.
6.  Use these methods to create diamond shapes, checks or stenciled 
    contrast areas as well.
7.  Create metallic stripes using gold, silver or copper acrylic craft 
    paint mixed with glazing medium and create stunning stripes.  Can 
    also be used to create stars, or stenciled onto a wall randomly to 
    create various effects.
8.  Take watered down paint and brush on stripes.  More casual and not
    as even as when using masking tape.  Can be dry brushed overtop to 
    create more uneven coloring.
8.  Paint a base coat color then apply wide masking tape evenly across
    the wall.  Take glaze and roller it onto the wall in wide easy-to-
    do sections.   Remove the masking tape and immediately rag or bag 
    the glaze to mottle taking some into the masked out areas.  The 
    masked areas will remain lighter than the remainder of the wall.  
    Continue until you’ve completed the whole wall.  

How to measure the stripes  once your base color is completed:

1.  Decide how far apart you want the stripes to be and determine if 
    you will end up with an even amount of stripes by dividing the 
    width of the wall by the width of the stripe.  Say your wall is 10 
    feet wide, and you want 5 inch stripes - divide 120 inches by 5 
    and you get 24 stripes.
2.  Apply low-tack painters tape to the top and bottom of the wall by 
    working in 4 foot sections.  Make a tick where you want your 
    stripes to be - at the 5 - 10 - 15 inch marks on the top and 
    bottom tape sections and so on.   Stretch a line between the top 
    and bottom and check to make sure they are level.   Snap a chalk 
    line using blue or white chalk.  Don’t use permanent chalk.
3.  Remove the top and bottom tape and mask out every other stripe 
    with low-tack masking tape.  Leave the chalk line exposed so you 
    paint over it.
4.  Apply the color you want in the stripe area using a low-nap roller
    for applying urethane or paint glaze.   Or do one of the options 
    listed above.
5.  Immediately remove the masking tape to reveal the contrasting 


Done on woodwork or cabinets dragging gives a nice texture.
Paint with base coat color and allow to dry.  Using masking tape, tape
off where you wish the pattern to appear and if doing in sections, 
tape off those as well.  Normally you would do areas where you can 
drag a brush only in one direction.  Mix glaze according to my recipes
given, using either oil or latex glazing liquid.   Brush or roll glaze 
onto the area then drag a dry bristle brush (size depends on size of 
area) removing some glaze and creating a linear pattern.  If you were 
doing a cupboard door for example, you could do the outside frame by
masking out each of the four panels.  Side panels would be dragged 
vertically, top and bottom panels would be dragged horizontally.  The 
center of the door could be divided into 4 triangles and each one 
dragged individually or it could be painted and stenciled or ragged 
for abit of contrast.  Remove masking tape immediately and allow to 


This strie’ technique is quite similar to the look of denim.
Basecoat the wall in a light blue or off white color.  Working with a 
partner will be useful on this project as you need to work carefully 
and quickly before the glaze dries.  An oil glaze will allow more open
time.   Using a dark navy blue, mix with glazing liquid as per my 
recipes given.  It will lighten when mixed with the glaze so make sure
it is dark enough in color.  Mask out all areas and have drop cloths 
down and extra rags for cleanups.  Have a fairly wide bristle brush 
ready and pour the glaze into a paint tray.  Have your partner roll 
the glaze onto the area just like if you were painting the wall.  Take
the bristle brush and drag it vertically from top to bottom being
careful not to jiggle or wobble the brush too much and don’t lift it 
until you get to the bottom.  Wipe excess glaze off on an old rag and 
continue with the next row until you have completed the whole area.  
You can then take the brush and do very light dragging horizontally to 
create lines going in the opposite direction.  Make these lines very 
light.  Remove masking tape and allow to dry.  It is a good idea to 
practice dragging to have maximum control over the brush as it’s hard 
to erase a mistake without completely starting over.

By dragging from top to bottom you create Strie’ - an expensive French 
look - nice for an elegant and formal wall treatment.

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