Well here goes, Asphaltum has been used for well over a hundred years as far
I know. I buy gallon cans of it and basically a gallon will last a life time
. Take a dollop put it in a coffee can or similar container and thin it with
mineral spirits, you then have a basic stain the depth of which depends on
the amount of mineral spirits you mix with it.
The color of the stain is pure brown ,no red whatsoever, being mixed with
mineral spirits it is slow drying and thus very easy to work with. You never
see it advertised in paint shops because it is so cheap I suppose they
cannot make a profit on it .
I have used it for thirty odd years ,and it can be used under practically
any finish .
I use it in two ways ,as a basic stain and as a glaze,primarily the latter.
As a stain it will tone mahogany to a walnut color [which is handy because
wide walnut boards are nonexistent these days ] and is good for oak and ash
and walnut as they stay brown [no redness]. As I make mainly antique repros
these days I use it as a glaze to give that antique look . I shun
brutalizing pieces with chains and the like . My process is to stain the
piece with a conventional stain to get the base color you want, then seal
the stain in with a couple of sealer coats ,perhaps shellac or sand and
sealer. Then cover the whole thing in a heavy [dark] coat of asphaltum. Now
wipe it off with a rag, after which you will see that the basic stain color
is a shade or two darker,so bear this in mind when you do the initial basic
staining. what you will be left with is asphaltum stain in the wood pores
and any crevices. You will note that the moldings will be more noticeable
and any details will also show. You can experiment with how much you leave
on the piece so you get the desired effect. let it dry and then overcoat it
with a clear finish . Prior to overcoating if you think it is too dark take
a clean rag with mineral spirits and most will come right off and you can
repeat the process.
I forgot, if you question this procedure take two pieces do it on one and
not the other and you will see the one has that much more depth and
character than the other.
My logic, if you think about it people like antiques because how the look .
most of these pieces have lived in dwellings that have had coal fires in the
winter with the ensuing coal dust .If you ever lived in this environment the
ceilings needed to be repainted almost every year due to the soot generated
by the fire . Every time the furniture was dusted or polished this dust was
ingrained into the surfaces and left in crevices and moldings .......mjh
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