My workspace upstairs has recently turned into a wood workshop, I am cheerfully sawing, sanding and drilling for a larger project. Last week, when I posted this photo, I promised you a little tutorial on how to age wood so that it looks like as if it has been exposed to the weather for years.
The thing I love most about making props or building small scenes is that often you only need one or two little secrets to make something look realistic. One of my favourite tricks is how to instantly age wood with only two ingredients, vinegar and steel wool (and a couple of hours waiting time):
All you need is a clean glass jar, white vinegar (mine is a 12% vinegar essence), fine steel wool and a paint brush plus plain wooden objects such as doll clothes pegs, baskets, ready-made doll furniture from the craft store - or anything else with an untreated wooden surface.
** Make sure that the steel wool is one that gets rusty after some time. I prefer to use the fine steel wool that contains soap - the one you use in the kitchen to scour pots and pans. The best is to rinse it thoroughly before you use it to get rid of the soap.**
Put the steel wool in a jar and cover with the vinegar. Put the lid on, but only gently, so that the gas that develops due the chemical reaction can escape. Let sit for at least 24 hours, shake or stir gently every now and then.
Find a good place to work with the solution. The best is to wear an old t-shirt and to cover the work table. Use a paint brush to apply the solution. It takes a few minutes for the mix to react with the wood - better wait before you apply too much of the solution.
If you want to paint smaller objects, such as miniature clothes pegs, you can also dip and dye them, it takes only a few seconds. Depending on the kind of wood you use, it will turn out darker or lighter.
For an even stronger paint solution, you can let the mix sit in the jar for a week or so. I always keep a jar in my craft cupboard and dilute it with vinegar or with water. Another trick is to throw in some rusty nails or the like. Some people use even strong black tea.
In the photo above you can see the difference between the untreated wood and the part where I used two, three brushstrokes. I also love that the mini clothes pegs look as if someone has forgotten to take them on a clothesline during winter.
The vinegar-steel wool solution is also perfect to age/ dye fabrics or paper or papier-mâché. If you want to use it on a larger furniture, I'd recommend a large (plastic) jerrycan because it is difficult to get exactly the same shade once you finished the solution. Also, try in a hidden spot on the furniture first - different kinds of wood react differently.
Have fun aging fairy doors, doll house panels and wooden Christmas decorations from the craft store!