“In painting” is a term museum conservators use for touching up “losses”, areas now missing, from antique paintings or other objects. As far as I know, it isn’t typically done on furniture, but it is done occasionally. Conservators talk about “fills” for furniture. When carvings or bits fall off, they glue in patches or “fills”. Sometimes those fills are “in painted”.
I tried the technique on my chippendale chair. You may recall this chair from my articles in PW some time ago. Not sure if I mentioned at the time, but I had no plans for this project beyond the articles and my own personal learning experience. I also had no confidence that the project would turn out. Consequently, I used scrap lumber.
As you can see from this photo, the stock I used for the crest rail was just junk. It was a terrible piece of wood. It lacked color and the grain was open. I tried tinting it with dyes and stains, but it never really matched.
To some extent, because the grain is oriented perpendicular to the back splat, the light catches the wood differently and the crest rails always look a little bit different from the splats. But my chair is far beyond the norm.
Using artists’ oil paints and brushes, I dabbed vandyke brown, burnt and raw sienna at the crest rail straight from the tubes. I pounced color into the corners in clumps, building up a texture that reminded me of the original unrestored chair. 18th c servants may have wiped down woodwork regularly, applying various potions and tonics (possibly including beer?) to “clean”, “brighten”, or “shine” wood. But these servants were far from furniture conservators, so what they applied and how they applied it would typically be concentrated on the broader, flatter areas. Thus the concentration of gook in the corners and carvings.
This is where I am now. I haven’t applied any top coats. A spit coat of shellac and wax is my plan.
My goal was to reduce the contrast between the crest rail and adjoining joints. I’m happy with the color matches.
In this picture, I see lines that look like brush strokes. I’m not sure if they are brush strokes or scratches in my ground work. I can definitely see that on future carved projects I need to be much cleaner with my carving. Sharper tools and a little more experience will certainly help. This is exactly the reason why I used scrap wood for this project.