What is the Quebec Finish? I can't tell you. I'm promised to secrecy.
When I started carving many years ago I was (and still am) obsessed with finishes. Finishes that looks and felt old. I feel that age (even if contrived) strengthens the story that is within every carving I produce.
I developed a system of distressing in which I imagined a piece's history -- where it had been, how it was handled. Even accidents and minor repairs could be part of that story. To tell the story I applied a variety of paints an goo. I developed ways to bang things around and bump them and abrade them in meaningful ways. Every piece was waxed and buffed to give it a matte finish and a velvety feel.
This is my standard finish. It's found on most pieces.
There was still the unreachable -- I had still not found a way to develop an authentic crackled and alligatored finish.
Oh, I tried the traditional glue methods. I ventured into the big-box craft shops (shudder) and tried their crackle media. I have a collection of old and alligatored surfaces. Nothing I tried resulted in the subtle little squares that are created with the right combinations of time and finishes.
Then I discovered a decoy carver that had it all figured out. His finishes matched my favorites. There was just the right pattern of tiny polygons. Just the right amount of underpainting peeked through. The pieces begged -- even on line -- to be picked up and stroked.
I became friendly with this carver. I sought him out. I drove to Quebec to meet him and his wife.
There was no talk of his finish. I would never ask. As artists we spend years developing our methods. We hold them close to our hearts.
I was greeted enthusiastically at his door. We talked a bit. Then he walked me to his studio and -- after agreeing to keep things secret -- he shared his secrets.
The goos news is that I was familiar with all of the materials and techniques. I had just never put things together in the fashion that he had.
I took this home and made it my own. My Quebec finish is not identical to his. He simply provided the information needed to get the results I desired. For that I will always be grateful.
So....When a piece is marked "Quebec Finish" you are looking at a piece that represents our cross-border friendship. You are getting a finish that speaks of ages of loving use. You are getting tiny little lines and bumps of age and color and texture. You are getting a polish and luster that is unlike others.
I tip my hat to my Québécois friend. I'll see you in June
I am planning on teaching and sharing my original painting techniques. This is the finish that I use on most of my work and is still something special. Look for a bulletin soon.