The work commenced a little around a quarter to one AM on the 13th. First step was to float a fresh coat of mahogany-tinted shellac over the stairs to the 3rd floor that I did a year ago October. I made the mistake back then of letting the animals with their capers and their claws back onto the finish too soon, and in several places they'd scratched the treads to the bare wood:
|With cat and dog scratches|
|Too dark and red|
All this is what I get for failing to look for the scratchpad where I wrote down the proportions of mahogany and walnut dye to shellac a year ago. As it happens, it wasn't actually up in my study where I thought I'd left it; no, that notepad has to be in the avalanche that is currently my guest bedroom, where I dumped everything before I started repainting the study in late August. In any event, I didn't even try to look for the recipe when I mixed up the latest batch. Instead I used a formula inverse to that I used to mix the walnut shellac for the trim in March (meaning, mostly mahogany with a smidge of walnut instead of vice-versa). And even with that, I used less dye than the formula called for. I thought it'd match.
So my first mistake was laying on that shellac at night, under insufficient light. It wasn't till I got to the bottom treads down at the hallway that I noticed how dark the new color was, and how I'd merrily killed the golden-brown color I'd loved so much in those steps.
|This I loved. Too late now.|
But no, I had to keep going.
You'd think I'd remember that the first coat on the study stairs looked like this:
But somehow I thought it'd be All Right and marched-- I mean, brushed-- on.
This is where I left it around 3:30 in the morning on the 13th. The camera with the flash makes it look more finished than it is.
But this isn't exactly accurate, either:
Since then, it's hit me that I made another mistake: I forgot that with fully-stripped and sanded wood with no patina, the first colored coat sets up so much better if an untinted coat is laid on first. So even though I knew good and well by the next evening that what I had was too dark, in the following days I still had to lay on two or three more coats of mahogany-tinted shellac, though not half as strong, so the color wouldn't be just a watered-down burgundy red.
The next two days, the 13th and 14th, I finished the first coat on the hallway and brought it down the stairs.
|The second stage starts at the bathroom door|
|Then on in front of the upper stairs|
|Did this in 3 stages, to have a dry place to perch on|
My friend Frieda* came by about the time I finished up the bottom tread. She thought it looked "beautiful." I'm trying really hard to take her word for it and so make the best of it. Wiping it down and starting over wasn't an object once I got to this point-- too much damage to the walnut-shellacked risers and stringers. I'll follow up with a post or two on how it looks now, two weeks later, with the caveat that my crummy camera is not to be trusted . . . And I'll promise to buck up and not whinge any more. Really.