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Ombré, Shadow or Graduated Work.

These three terms are applied to the process by which the color of a wall, ceiling, or similar surface is graduated from dark at the bottom or side becoming progressively lighter at the top, or center, in the case of a ceiling.

The actual graduation may be from a very strong color to a very light one which is practically white but as a rule such considerable contrasts are not desirable.

Graduated work can be carried out either in glaze colors, ordinary oil paints, or in water paint or distemper. For the latter, see that the colors are of a proper working consistency and not merely thin washes. Separate brushesclassic ombre shading and stipplers are essential for each color.

The ground should be perfectly dry and free from porosity; in colour it should he rather lighter than the palest shade in the graduated effect you wish to obtain; for example, if a wall is to be shaded from deep fawn to a pale cream, the ground should be a good solid ivory. A slight egg-shell finish is probably the most satisfactory.

The effect of graduation is obtained with at least three mixings of the same color or combination of colors. (For the deep fawn mentioned above, tint white paint with umber and raw sienna until the desired shade is reached.

For the pale cream, add a little of the same two colors to the white. You now have your darkest and lightest shades ready for use, but one intermediate to these is necessary; this is procured by mixing the first two together in the proportion, approximately, of two parts of the cream to one of the fawn.)

The three shades should be applied with separate brushes in the following manner. The lightest shade is brushed on the upper section of the wall, from the cornice or picture-rail to a point rather more than a third of the depth of the wall.

The intermediate shade is then put on, slightly over- lapping the lighter colour, a separate brush being employed to blend them together where they meet and to prevent any suggestion of an obvious join.

The deepest shade is then applied in precisely the same way, overlapping the intermediate shade and blending in with it.

On a wall of any considerable area, the man with the brush should be followed by another with a stippler, working as closely behind him as possible and manipulating his stippler in zigzag fashion so as to eliminate all brush marks and any trace of a definite join between the gradations.

The success of this type of decoration depends almost entirely on keeping the edges wet to permit soft blending, and any quick-drying material is consequently unsuitable.

On large surfaces this is often extremely difficult and a ready-made scumble or glaze, such as is made by most of the leading manufacturers, is probably the most successful medium. Owing to its composition, it does not run too easily, and yet does not dry off too quickly to prevent proper working.

The colors should not be applied too heavily, and the brushes should be frequently rinsed in turpentine (or water, in the case of water-based colors) or they will become clogged.

Graduated or ombré effects on ceilings are carried out in precisely the same manner as that for walls: the surface is grounded and allowed to dry hard and the lightest shade is then applied to the centre of the ceiling and brushed freely outwards with a circular movement;

the same process is carried out with successively deeper shades, each being allowed to overlap its predecessor slightly and being blended and stippled.

To produce a satisfactory result the gradation must be uniform and quite
ombre  shadow pattern free from lines or marks. On any large expanse of surface this is by no means easy by brush, although it is simple enough if spray equipment is available; for information on shadow painting by spray see the following instructions;

This method of treatment is essentially one adapted to the use of the spray gun; shading with the brush requires skilled handling and even in the hands of the expert can hardly produce results comparable with those obtained by the use of the spray.

It must not be taken for granted that no skill is required in spraying, as this is not correct ; the greatest difficulty that presents itself is in the elimination of a streaky appearance, due to the variation of density in the band of color produced by the gun.

There is no difficulty in shading small surfaces,but the trouble is experienced when large wall flanks have to be treated in this manner.

There is only one method of overcoming this difficulty and that lies in practice, which enables the operator to gauge the pressure on his trigger and the correct method of application.

Shading enables the decorator to introduce a number of shades into his colour scheme, ranging from variations in tone of one color to the blending of various colors, one into the other.

The ground color is applied over the whole surface and must be the most predominating in the case of multi-color schemes, or the most predominating shade where variations of one color are being employed.

This ground coat may be applied either by spray or brush, but as the shadingombre pillars is carried out by spray, the presence of the spray outfit will probably ensure its use for the purpose.

The shading effect is produced by the way in which the coats are applied.

Thus, when a deep tone is to be graduated into a lighter one, the heavier tone is applied by opening the nozzle and holding the gun at a distance of about 6 in. ; as the tone is required to be lightened, so the nozzle is closed and the distance of the gun from the surface increased.

This change in application must be gradual, otherwise the streakiness already mentioned is bound to show itself, and once this appears it is very difficult to remedy.

However, proper use of the gun will prevent the possibility of this trouble occurring.

There is no doubt that shading of wall surfaces has a definite place in decorative schemes, and wallboards in particular lend themselves to this form of decoration.

They have the advantage over plaster surfaces in the fact that their texture is always the same; this cannot be said for plaster work, in which the decorator has often to contend with variations in the rendering of the plaster due to the work of the plasterer.

Particular attention must be paid, however, to the porous type of board, and the application of the paint carried out with care, otherwise the work is liable to turn out patchy.

Such results are due to unevenness of application and are in no way due to the wallboard surface; they must not be confused with the results, sometimes obtained on plaster walls, which are due to the variations of porosity in the plaster.

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