Emperor’s Silk

Great Buddha of Kamakura

Years ago I traveled solo to Japan following a business trip to the Republic of China (Taiwan). I doubted I’d ever get to Asia again and wanted to see as much as I could.

I visited the Great Buddha of Kamakura, a massive bronze sculpture, originally cast in 1252.  His size creates a sense of power, but his peaceful expression conveys serenity. He originally resided in a wooden temple but a series of typhoons and tidal waves destroyed that temple and others that followed. Since 1495 — over 500 years — he meditates out in the elements, calmly enduring rain, heat, and snow.

I took my photo during the summer:

Great Buddha at Kamakura 1

I recently acquired a replica of this Great Buddha. I bought him at an estate sale and he came with a note taped to his bottom: “1994, To Vicky from Haruko Sato, wife of Bishop of Kamakura (Great Daibutsu).” Great Daibutsu means Great Buddha.

That stirred memories of my visit — he still inspires awe. And a Japanese bishop’s wife gave this statue as a gift to a woman visiting the shrine. I needed to do him justice.

1.  I could leave him matte black, his original state when the gift was exchanged.

Great Buddha Black Matte

2. I could recreate the verdigris patina that I used on my cherub candle holders and attempt to match Buddha’s present-day patina.

Cherub Candleholders

3. I decided to paint him Annie Sloan’s Emperor’s Silk, a red with an Asian sensibility, and add gold foil. The original Great Buddha of Kamakura once dazzled worshippers with his gold leaf covering. No longer. But there’s still a hint of gold on his right cheek.

A team of researchers from Tokyo University and CAD Center received permission in 2000 to create a virtual reality model of the Great Buddha in the Main Hall. It’s amazing.

Imagine approaching that original temple and catching sight of the magnificent Buddha gleaming inside:

Main Hall and Great Buddha 3D

Great Buddha 3D Gold

Step into the temple and have the breath knocked out of you. Virtual reality is amazing because it integrates geometric and photometric models with environmental scenes. The result is a hologram that offers an intimate sense of the original shrine and Buddha’s golden glory.

Here is my Buddha after a coat of Emperor’s Silk. Clearly, I have not yet achieved my vision. A couple more coats followed.

Great Buddha First Coat of Red

I pulled out my Artisan Enhancements’ gold foil next. After brushing on the liquid Size I waited about 30 minutes and  carefully applied the foil. Now, foil can be tricky because it’s like a finicky cat. You never know how it’s going to settle. I hoped for a strong contrast of the red and gold, and that’s what I got. I waited 24 hours and brushed Clear Finish over the very patient Buddha.

Buddha Gold Foil

His supreme dignity intact, he may continue his meditations uninterrupted.

Here’s one final photo from my trip to Kamakura:

Great Buddha of Kamakura 2

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Ann Marie and David

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Vintage End Table Converted to Luxurious Pet Bed

My son and I rescued another end table from an estate sale. Solid wood and weighing around a hernia, we found ourselves drawn to its intriguing carvings. Red Pet Bed Unpainted Unlike our earlier pet bed converted from an end table, we decided to leave the doors on because of the eternal pet debate: when company visits, should you close up your pet’s sleep space if you are able? Or should you leave it out because your pet is part of the family? I see it as a personal preference. This should have been a quick job but we ran into obstacles at every turn. It was very dirty. Every job begins with a thorough scrubbing using Simple Green cleaning solution. Inside and out, with sponge and a clear water rinse. A pet’s home should be pristine. Zinsser Shellac came next, exterior and interior, followed by a couple of coats of Annie Sloan’s Old White. We planned to have a white pet bed, but the dark wood and oils kept bleeding through.

Old White
Old White

We shellacked again over the Old White and opted for a stronger color: Emperor’s Silk, a  striking red.

Emperor's Silk
Emperor’s Silk

Once painted, David waxed the top. Big Red Flag: he forgot to put down the Clear Wax first; he just spread Dark Wax directly on the paint which darkened the piece far too much. Frustrated, he brought it to me and asked what was wrong. Luckily, I knew a simple solution to this problem. I simply erased the Dark Wax using Clear Wax. The technique is to dip a cloth into some Clear Wax that you’ve put on a palette and go to town. Over and over again until your cloth is brown with Dark Wax. I love Emperor’s Silk and it looks terrifically opulent with Dark Wax, but I always start with Clear Wax. Red Pet Bed 2 Next, I chose the wrong fabric for the upholstery. The red and white flannel matched the Emperor’s Silk but lacked the stiffness to make the fabric manageable. It took lots of time and patience to get the seams right and everything glued into place. But it looked like snug little home once I finished. Kind of like a logger’s warm flannel shirt. Red Pet Bed 1 Let’s just skip to the end. David nailed in the faux tacks to glitz it up and we added a new, cushy pet bed. Unfortunately we forgot to take an updated photo of the tacks outlining the flannel on the doors. The Dark Wax really emphasized the exterior carvings, and we used Rub N’ Buff on the hardware. Luxurious Red Pet Bed SOLD We carted the Luxurious Pet Bed to our shop at Avonlea Antique Mall and, within 48 hours, it went home to a lucky kitty or pup — just not this curious kitty. Her name is Starbuck and unlike this table she will be staying with us.

Ann Marie and David

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