How to paint a carving

JTR159

New member
I just completed a carving intended to be mounted on a painted fireplace. The carving will need to be painted to match the fireplace.
The fireplace in painted white. I have never painted a carving before and am concerned paint will compromise the carving details.
Is there a way to paint a carving and preserve the details?
 

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Mark Maleski

Well-known member
I haven't done this before, but I have installed a custom-cast plaster medallion in my dining room that required painting.  I ordered the medallion from Hayles and Howe (Baltimore, MD) who are ornamental plaster experts, so asked them for the very same advice you're seeking. They advised me to use the regular interior satin paint I was using on the ceiling, but thin it with water and apply a minimal number of coats.  That's what you'd do when applying shellac to a carving (thin it...but not with water!), so I think that advice applies in your case as well.

Note that unlike plaster, wood will experience grain-raise with a water-based paint.  You might want to experiment with applying a size before painting. To avoid any surprises, you could carve a very simple test piece in the same wood and paint that first.
 
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