I recently did a Facebook Live video where I shared my haul of Christmas goodies from Dollar Tree. If you didn’t catch live, you can watch it here on YouTube. Among all the goodies, were a trio of woodsy snowflake ornaments. I liked the idea of snowflakes being made out of birch twigs, but the finish on the dollar store ornament was lacking. I decided to try a little faux finish experiment, and I am really happy with how I was able to get a faux birch finish in just a few steps.
I started out by taking the dollar store ornament apart. The elements were held together with twisty wires, so it was very easy to do.
You can see from this picture that the dollar store version of a birch finish just makes it look like the snowflake has been playing in the mud. To give it a more realistic finish, I started by coating the plastic snowflake in a coppery brown acrylic paint. I learned the hard way that you should really keep the hanging ribbon on the ornament to avoid having to handle the ornament while you are painting.
After the paint had dried, I applied a coat of crackle medium. Crackle medium is a clear gel that you use as a base coat for other paint colors. The medium causes the top coat of paint to crackle as it dries.
After the crackle finish had fully dried, I added a coat of satin white acrylic paint. It’s important that you use satin finish so that the finished ornament looks like matte birch bark. Since acrylic paint dries so quickly, I could actually see the crackle medium working in real time. The brown base coat peeked through the cracks to give the snowflakes a much more realistic-looking birch finish. You can contrast the unpainted ornament on the left with the painted ornament on the right.
I reassembled the ornaments and wired everything back into place.
It’s definitely a detail that not everyone will notice, but I think the ornaments look MUCH better with the faux finish paint job.
Now that I know how easy this technique is, I am looking for other Christmas projects to use this faux birch finish on. What do you think, was the paint job worth the effort?
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