Painting a Mason Monterey A-Frame

Please excuse while we are under construction
updating our site!

We’ve shown a Smokey Maple A-Frame start to finish,
but wanted to share a few images of painting
the other  A-Frames, as some are very different,
and to tell a few more stories.
Note: Fun Fact.  We were restoring this furniture
while looking at the tall warehouse of Montgomery Ward, which sold the pieces in Portland, Oregon.

Above, Chateau Orange, Chateau Green, and Spanish Red with a Straw Ivory splat.

Regarding Chateau Orange and Chateau Green: We named these colors because we could not find them in any reference materials, even the Monterey Book, and it is a great tribute to the NPS, which certainly bought an entire hotel of Mason Monterey furniture.  It is our contention that Frank Mason was inventive and experimental and the line of colors was much larger, and variations existed from batch to batch.  The green color shown in an original A-Frame chair, which we are calling “Chateau Green,” is a variation on Spanish Green but the base color is much lighter and quite blue, so it presents itself as a minty green, as opposed to the olive tones of Spanish Green.

Many of the colors are primed with white paint, presumably so no wood grain shows through, but it also makes the colors brighter!


 We chose to create one of the A-Frames in what we are calling Chateau Orange, because we wanted to match the original lamp-Table, which is in the Museum Collection.  It is true that we have no historical basis for this, but used information from the other decorative splats to inform us.  It is the only non-historical choice we made, and it allows visitors to experience the color spectrum of the Monterey pieces if they don’t visit the museum.

All colors were mixed from scratch from Gamblin Artist Colors rather than paints from the hardware store.  Color cards were created for all furniture pieces, right, and then final colors were placed on wooden swatch boards, an example shown under the chair right.  Swatches of actual paints, and the layerings, plus the decorative elements (if applicable) were placed on the cards, with notes, which are in our possession.


On the Smokey Maple (and possibly Old Wood) chairs,
it does not appear the entire chair was primed with gesso,
shown right, however, the seats were, above!  We asked,
why paint gesso (or white paint) on the seat under
the Smokey Maple, but not on the rest of the chair?

The key is in the image right, where you have the best example of original Smokey Maple pigment left on a leg top. If this seat were stripped of all paint, the grain on the leg and the kerf (notice the line across the round leg top) would be different from the grain on the seat. They gessoed the entire seat (and leg top and kerf wedge) then painted “grain” — or the marching directional lines you see on the seat, which are not really grain but a coarse bristle brush distributing Smokey Maple paint.  The Smokey Maple color is the closest to a wood color, and perhaps this is why they did it.

Later we were to find that they did this on some of each of the colors, so there was apparently no consistency on the colors or chairs!


The final finishing of the paint is important to
the process.  Above, the leg is finished in
Spanish Red with topcoats, however, it is too shiny.  The finish is etched with steel wool, left and
shown after, center above.  Then it is waxed,
above right, which gives it the warm
older appearance.

Smokey Maple is not simply diluted Asphaltum, but has other pigments added to get the proper glaze.

When adding the top coats, we chose which to use to obtain the desired effect, and often used both Asphaltum and a variation of Smokey Maple.

Below, completed splats.

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