How To Paint Faux Malachite

published Feb 23, 2010
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Faux malachite — who knew? The idea for this grew so organically I can’t even remember what the original impetus was, but I think the architect was intrigued by the stone’s jade green color. I see as per an article in the latest Elle Décor that gemstones are the dernier cri, so I count ourselves as prescient on this point.

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My father was a geological engineer and had semi-precious stones laying all over the house, so things like the pattern of agate are in my blood. Said architect implied that there is no such thing as malachite in paint and that we’d be making history, but I see now that that is not quite true. I found malachite wallpaper samples on line, which I found to be too pebbly, and also the fabrics in aforementioned Elle Decor. I also found a recipe in one of my decorative painting books, and here’s how I made it my own.

What we are basically doing is painting a very dark glaze over a light base of satin paint and scraping it away with cardboard in twirly patterns. The base coat is Crystal Blue 2051-70, the glaze was made with one part Yukon Green 2051-10 to three parts glaze. This was my first oil glaze, and I’ll never go back. Also, we started out with colors from the 2047- line, and though truer to the local color of malachite, the sample was just this side of garish.

Once I figured out what to do, I gave myself permission and got creative. This isn’t so much literally malachite (which is small and has many patterns) but something of a fantasia on malachite themes. Tape off your walls and work on opposite sides of the room. Continue by painting your glaze and dragging torn cardboard through it, and the fact that this is oil gave me a long open time. To me, this doesn’t get interesting unless you vary your technique — as soon as I felt the pattern get busy, I’d break it up with some larger strokes, or go back and forth in layers. Malachite as a decorative stone is usually used in small inlays. I think our project is better for using this “stone” in the periphery — you’re never completely confronted by it.

Also, the maple cabinets were lovely but didn’t match anything else in the whole apartment, so we toned them down with Narragansett Green HC-157. I don’t like green unless I love it. I love it!

• Benjamin Moore Crystal Blue 2051-70 (satin)
• Benjamin Moore Yukon Green 2051-10 (glaze)
• Benjamin Moore Narragansett Green HC-157

– Mark Chamberlain, interior and decorative painter

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