Pedro Felguerias, a London-based lacquer and historic paint techniques specialist, has earned the well-deserved reputation of “custodian of old techniques"; the man to go to if you want the paint on your walls to have a depth and texture unachievable with modern paints.
Coming from a background in art restoration, the founder of Lacquer Studios has widely researched manuals and treatises from the past, and by following centuries-old recipes, he painstakingly mixes his paints by hand, sourcing rare pigments and reviving lost methods of lacquer and paint application. One of his favorite pigments is Blue Verditer (otherwise known as Electric Blue), as seen in this application at Strawberry Hill House.
Photography by Pedro Felgueiras.
Above: Blue Verditer is an authentic 18th century blue that has to be custom made for each job; weather conditions permitting. The pigment needs to be buried for a month when there is a ground frost in order to achieve the right intensity of blue. "This pigment is now extremely difficult to get hold of as it has been superceded in the paint and art suppliers industry by more recent modern blues that are much easier to use," says Felgueiras. "So, each time I need to use it, I have to wait quite a long time to get hold of it. Apparently, there is one English man that makes it to an old 18th century recipe; delivering his batches in a shopping trolley."
Above: "Making paint it is just like cooking," Felguerias says. " I literally cook on the stove top in a mixture of rabbit skin glue gelatin and chalk. It needs to be kept warm in order to make it runny enough to paint. It then needs to be applied onto the wall very quickly, or otherwise the paint on the walls starts drying and coagulating, which results in unsightly messy brush marks on the final paint film."
Above: "The paint mixture in the pot has to be stirred constantly as the heavy metal nature of the blue pigment makes it sink to the bottom almost immediately. I think that in the old days they used to have a child stir all day long in exchange for a biscuit and a piece of cheese."
Above: "Nowadays, I have to stir the paint myself with an assistant. It is back breaking but the end result and intensity of blue well worth it. Ten layers are usually needed to achieve the uniform color."
Above: One of the recently restored rooms in Strawberry Hill House, which was created by Horace Walpole in the 18th century and is an example of British Georgian Gothic revival architecture.
(N.B.: To see an application of Caput Mortuum, another favorite pigment of Felgueiras, see A Red Garden Wall by Pedro Feigueiras. For more color inspiration, see 133 images of Color in our Gallery of rooms and spaces.