Painting in Partnership encouraged us to stretch with some bold choices. We trusted their experience and now have a 'masterpiece'.
- Lori and Don Lyon, Arlington Heights
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Archive for May 2010

Custom Mural Grouping Adds New Dimension to Decorative Painting

There is a great array of faux finishes that talented decorative painters can produce with today’s state-of-the-art products and methods. Custom Mural Groupings are a little-known form of decorative finishing and much under used.

What is a custom grouping? It is a hybrid between mural painting and faux finishing. It consists of a series of related paintings that, when combined into an arrangement, become greater than the summation of its parts. In other words, each painting can individually stand on its own. However, when combined, each piece enhances the esthetic appeal of the other pieces, as shown in these two pictures.

Custom Mural Grouping - Detail

Custom Mural Grouping - Detail

Custom Mural Grouping

Custom Mural Grouping

How did Painting in Partnership come across a project like this? First, during the course of the client’s last house painting project, a picture molding was installed above the fireplace, thereby creating an empty space of about 50 inches by 70 inches above the fireplace. Watching a television show, she got the idea of creating a custom grouping. She then communicated her idea to Lori Vieceli, her interior designer, who suggested to use a stylized leaf pattern as a theme for the grouping. This is how the idea for this custom mural grouping was born!

From this point until installation day, all conversations were held between Lori and Painting in Partnership. Lori trusted the company’s decorative painting skills and our partnership approach to house painting. We proceeded to develop sketches of the paintings, color distributions and a final sample of what a finished painting would look like, so she could ensure we were on track with the client’s vision.

Custom Mural Grouping - In Shop

Custom Mural Grouping - In Shop

From the time that the sample was approved by Lori, until the day of installation, she never felt the need to see any of the decorative painting work. This was the best measure of our success on this project: a totally relaxed designer, with a reputation at stake!

What did the work entail? First we primed the boards and painted them the same color and sheen as the matting. Our mural painter then sketched and painted the backgrounds of all the leaves. Our decorative painter then created a two-color stippled finish for each leaf. As a final step, our muralist painted the veins on all the leaves. This an example of how Painting in Partnership lives up to its slogan of “We paint in Partnership wit YOU!”

Historic Paint Colors, Circa 1887

This week, an important piece of American paint memorabilia made its way back to the U.S., thanks to two antique book dealers, one in England and one in the U.S., and Painting in Partnership, a house painting contractor from the Chicago area. In 1886, B.S. Mill wrote a book entitled The Painters’ Hand Book.

Painters Hand Book cover

The Painters' Hand Book - cover

The Painters' Hand Book - first page

The Painters' Hand Book

It was published in Cincinnati by the Eckstein White Lead Company in 1887. It was leather-bound and measured only 4 inches in width and less than 6 inches in height. It is now considered a very rare book. Why is this little book such a big deal?

First, Mr. Mills was an authority in his field. He was Secretary to The Master House Painters’ Association, which had been formed in 1884. Although I could not confirm it, Mr. Mills had likely been involved in the founding of the Association. That Association changed its name in 1937 to Painting and Decorating Contractors of America (PDCA), which to this day is the voice of the painting industry in the U.S.

The Painters' Hand Book - Master Painter Colors

The Painters' Hand Book - Master Painter Colors

Second, this book contains 116 lithographed reproductions of the master painter colors, along with their color pigment formula. Why is this important? Because, up to that point in time, and for quite a while after, master house painters mixed their own paints and colors. It was not until decades later that paint manufacturers succeeded in their attempts to directly supply the public with ready-mixed and colored paints. Consequently, these master painter colors give very valuable insight into “historic” paint colors as they really were.

Painting in Partnership is a national award-winning house painting contractor who specializes in historic paint restoration. Purchasing this old book is an illustration of our commitment to give our clients the best color consultation possible for their “period” homes.

Embellishing Cast Ornamental Plaster with Decorative Finishing

Decorative Finishing Techniques Embellish Cast Plaster

Decorative Finishing Techniques Embellish Cast Plaster

Plaster and decorative painting are allies in the world of decoration. Cast plaster ornaments have long been used in a myriad of ways to adorn simple surroundings with a touch of elegance or, outright opulence in the case of some public buildings and private residences. At Painting in Partnership, we often use decorative painting techniques to embellish such plaster elements, like in the picture below. The decorative finishes can be more subtle like in this picture or stronger, depending on the effect needed.

Chicago-based Decorators Supply, Co. has been manufacturing such plaster ornamentation for over a century and distributing it all over the world. In fact, the company was founded in 1883 and became one of the main suppliers of moldings for the buildings at the Columbian Exhibition in 1893. This giant World’s Fair attracted to Chicago scores of sculptors and artisans from all over Europe. This rich pool of talent helped Decorators Supply, Co. develop, over a period of four decades, a fantastic array of original carvings that are still used today to create all the company’s molds and casts.

Storage Trays for Carvings

Storage Trays for Carvings

This unique and rich artistic legacy of over 11,000 walnut and oak carvings is kept in a vault at Decorators Supply. Each carving is mounted on a piece of 3-ply board. They are catalogued and stored on wood trays that are stacked from floor to ceiling in the vault. I recently had the privilege of visiting this vault. It is truly an amazing sight! In 1896, William Grage Sr. joined the company as an office boy and he eventually became the owner of the company. The three current owners of Decorators Supply are third-generation descendants of William Grage. You can find more information on the company’s website.

Tray of Walnut Carvings

Tray of Walnut Carvings

A company like Decorators Supply is a partner to Painting in Partnership, in the world of painting and decorating. Their cast plaster ornaments give our decorative painters infinite opportunities to use their imagination to enhance the beauty of residences and public buildings we work on.

We are proud to count Decorators Supply Co. among our Trusted Partners.

Old Chicago Paint Color Card Collection Comes Home Again

Collecting Chicago paint memorabilia has been a passion of mine for a long time. Being “custodians of the past” for the house painting industry is a direct extension of the work we do in the historical paint restoration and historical preservation areas. Over the years, we have assembled a collection of many hundreds of pieces, from signs, tools, equipment, cans, supplier catalogs and paint dealer catalogs.

Because of Painting in Partnership’s national reputation as a custodian of the painting industry’ past, we were recently contacted by a Valspar employee in Minneapolis to see if we had an interest in obtaining a collection of paint color cards from bygone Chicago paint companies. How did this Chicago memorabilia end up in Minneapolis?

Over the years, Rockcote Paint of Rockford, Illinois, acquired many old-time Chicago paint companies and, in the process, inherited their paint memorabilia. In 1970, Rockcote merged with Minnesota Linseed Oil Paint Co. and changed its name to Valspar. Following the merger, that Chicago paint memorabilia was shipped to Minnesota for safekeeping. In the recent past, Valspar made the decision to find other suitable custodians for their collection.

Sampling of Chicago Paint Works Memorabilia

Sampling of Chicago Paint Works Memorabilia

Valspar contacted the Chicago History Museum and the Minnesota History Museum. Fortunately for us, theses museums were only interested in some items and had no interest in anything that had a paint sample in it. Consequently, Painting in Partnership became the recipient of choice for an amazing collection of original color cards from the 1920’s through the 1960’s, thereby providing us with an invaluable source of “Period Colors”.

Paint memorabilia and color cards from seven paint companies were sent to us: Armstrong Paint & Varnish Works, Enterprise Paint Manufacturing Co., Chicago Paint Works, Republic Paint and Varnish Works, Stetson Paint Works, Continental Works, Co. and The Elliott Paint and Varnish Company. Some of these items included paint dealer books with the entire offering of paints from those manufacturers, along with their accompanying color cards, preserved in mint condition. Above is a sampling of the items from Chicago Paint Works.

Thanks Valspar for entrusting Painting in Partnership with the safekeeping of this unique slice of the history of the house painting industry in Chicago.

For more interesting Paint Memorabilia trivia, please visit our Paint Memorabilia Corner.

Our house painting work requires the best and most efficient equipment

Being a Lead-Safe Certified Firm, our painting services, in some of our projects, involve the sanding or stripping of surfaces that contain lead. Doing those tasks with as little dust floating around as possible is important to the success of a painting project in pre-1978 housing. Through cleanup after the project is completed is also critically important.

HEPA Dust Extractor and Orbital Sander

HEPA Dust Extractor and Orbital Sander

Our tools of choice for doing mechanical sanding and stripping are made by a German manufacturer called Festool. This company has designed a brilliant line of fully integrated tools. Our house painters use the CT 22 E HEPA dust extractor, combined with the RO 150 orbital 6” sander. The sander plugs right into the vacuum and automatically turns it on or off simply by activating its own on/off switch.

The sander uses sand papers designed for each specific task; that it be polishing, sanding or stripping. The speed of the sander can be adjusted up or down to ensure a perfect result. The dust extractor has a replaceable, high-efficiency HEPA filter and has an on-board attachment storage area.

Investing in state-of-the-art equipment like Festool enables our painting services to deliver to our clients the best possible results every time.