When our resident artist, Stephie McCarthy, looked closely at the siding on her little garden cottage, she became inspired by the imitation brick pattern embossed on it. See what she ended up doing to give the wall and window, a whole new look!
Big and Little Tricks with Bricks
Here’s a scene from a garden I am rehabbing in a historic district of West Virginia. This siding was white painted galvanized steel from a bygone era and I’ll share how I got this look. You can do this on any faux brick siding indoors or out.
But, first, let me show you some easier projects you can do with bricks around your garden, beyond walks.
These stacked columns of worn bricks were made by Sydney Minor’s family. Did you know that you can hold bricks and even flat stones together with Gorilla Glue, Construction Adhesive … no mortar needed? This project would take about 48 bricks and two pavers for two columns. I plan to try this for sure if I’m ever lucky enough to get that many weathered bricks in my hands. Notice how Sydney topped her columns with pavers for instant plinths? I’m picturing those covered in Feather Finish concrete that’s been antiqued, or simply chalk painted. I love the ingenuity, the patina and character, and every mossy edge. They look like they are from Frances Hodgson Burnett’s Secret Garden. Thank you for sharing this idea, Sydney.
Here’s a great idea by Linda Wiley, who wanted her brick planters to look fresh and new. She painted over the mortar stains with terra cotta-toned paint. New paint shown on the right. Also, if you don’t like the color of your grout or mortar, paint it with a small round brush. Wipe off the goofs with baby wipes or spray with a water bottle. You can antique white mortar with brown or moss, or you can look like a wizard with cleaning products with a snow white. (We won’t tell your secret!)
Stephie’s She-Shed Project using faux paint
Fresh and new is not my first choice in decor! I like worn and chippy finishes. This she-shed was sided in a vintage embossed steel with a brick pattern ready to be painted. Glum isn’t it? Vines were even growing under the siding! What I wanted was the look of white-washed brick seen on historic structures around the world, with a few romantic pops of pink and salmon.
My heart flutters when I see certain shades of pink … no, make that pretty much every shade of pink. With that inspiration in mind, it was time to transform this she-shed!
I dipped a paintbrush into flat white latex and water, and then into a cup of dry diatomaceous earth. Dabbed on, it looks a lot like chippy mortar. DE turns yellow when wet, but dries snow white. I baby wiped more white latex for the white-wash effect. It all passed the scratch test and will be permanent until the next owner paints it solid white again, right? On a whim, I used a home-made stencil for the cat graphic.
I bought these shoeboxes from a thrift shop for my paints. I dribbled colors right on top of other colors. There’s a lot of randomness in real bricks. For the pink pops of color, I used paints straight from bottles and tubes, the kind of artist’s and craft paints you can find in any hobby shop. I did not use exterior grade paint, but I scraped the dry paint hard to see how durable it was. It’s tough and will last until the next owner paints this building white again, fifty years from now. Oh, and when I quit for the day, I sprayed the top of my box paint with water, and then snapped on the lids.
I knew the walls would look a bit awkward as they were color blocked, which is what I call first layers of paint. Here you see color blocking on the left, and a finished section on the right. Color blocking looks awkward at first doesn’t it?
Details are what pulls it all together. I let the color blocking dry overnight then concentrated on the all-important details. I dipped a two-inch square paint brush into watery, flat white paint … then straight into a cup of diatomaceous earth. I found that this was great for creating the chippy mortar patches (it also discourages spiders and ants so that’s a bonus). Diatomaceous earth will turn yellow when wet, but it’s bright white when dry. I concentrated the mortar effects in a few areas. Mostly, I painted double-basketball sized patches of watery white, and rubbed it gently with baby wipes. The final touches were the grout lines which I made with a half-inch round brush and off white. Oh, and I touched up a few bricks with those pink tones that make my heart dance.
Hint: Find Diatomaceous earth at the hardware store.
I did some research on those old fashioned advertisements that are painted on brick walls. My heart goes faster whenever I see those from the Victorian era. I sketched a simple design for a small advertisement. I have to be careful because if someone sees it from the street, I don’t want drop in visitors! It’s more a street sign, then an ad … I printed out the pattern, then figured out how to transfer it to stencil paper … then snip, snip, snip!
What I did was stencil this on the wall, and the next two days, I blended colors on top of the stencil. I photographed it, then played with it in Photoshop to figure out how to make it look a little more real. This still needs a little bit more finesse … I’m much better with digital art … but I never give up!
I figured out that this made-up graphic reminded me of the KING SYRUP cans my grandmother had when I was a little girl. I named my driveway East King Alley.
I want to add a little more layering to the cat’s face, BUT, until then, I’ve decided to move on to my next trick!
Let’s see … I can tole paint flowers the back door, paint the deck (fresh blue), OR, paint a large concrete porch to look like it is made of old paving bricks. Or, I can go back to cleaning, sanding, and pulling weeds. Nah, I want to create! But what do next?
The gypsy painted door
I bought this old house because there were so many things just needed to be painted!
First layer of colors on a door at the old house… it’s going to be a lot more colorful when finished. Why am I doing this? I should be pulling vines, and a lot of other grungy jobs. But, when inspiration strikes …
On the left are the colors I did with flat, chalky paint. I made some patterns based on embroidery I saw on Google images. I transferred them using chalk on the back of the paper and a pencil. I lightly painted these white, then erased the chalk. Next I started layering on colors over flowers.
One panel finished. I used clear wax by Waverly from Wal-Mart craft department. I dribbled brown, red, yellow, and some hot pink on top of the wax, and stirred just a little. Then I rubbed the wax over the beige paint with a sponge and a wash cloth.
Today, after pulling another mountain of crabgrass and grape vines, last-minute touch ups … I added the beetle and the bee. Filling in gaps on the top panel.
About the wax/paint …whenever you use a rich color paint, you can rub it later with a towel and a faint bit of color will come off. Today I saw that a faint bit of color comes off when the wood work is rubbed. It should stop doing that as the paint cures over the months.
Before and after!
I still have to do a roof in the front, and another side that faces toward the neighborhood. The top should look cute with that eyebrow window!