Under the spotlight: the driftwood effect.
Jing Hua appreciates having a workstation beneath the workshop window. “I just like to have that little bit of extra light. With this particular job, it helps if you can see every groove.” The arms for the Karla armchair sit beside Jing Hua, who’s responsible for the oak frame’s weathered texture. He refers to it as a “driftwood effect” because, “once stained and finished, it has that look of a treasure that’s washed up on shore.”
Jing Hua presses the oak arm against a spinning-sanding machine. “It’s much sharper than typical sandpaper,” he says. “It has a metal spike sanding belt which effectively carves out grooves in the wood.” He moves the wood as he works, changing the angle and applying different levels of pressure as he goes. “The idea is to roughen the surface, to get an imperfect finish. It can be harder to reach imperfection than perfection sometimes.”
Once the frame has been assembled, it’s the finishing process that completes Jing Hua’s washed-up-treasure look. To begin with, Tian Wu applies a single coat of water-soluble wood paint. It’s a dark stain, creating an overall effect that’s natural. He moves his thick brush up and down the frame careful to ensure he covers every surface.
Once the wood stain is dry the frame is sanded by hand using a sandpaper sponge. “It ensures the overall surface of the wood is smooth,” Tian Wu tells us. “But without loosing any of the rough texture created during the driftwood process. Try it.” We run our hands over the arms and find that the despite the deep grooves mapped into the wood surface, there’s smoothness to it, just like a piece of driftwood.
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