Strié, or dragging, is a broken color technique that creates a woodgrain-like effect. Although strié is more informal and softer than the woodgraining technique, it produces a similar look. Dragging can be done with a variety of different paints.
Strié is performed by dragging a dry brush through glaze which is still wet. This lets the base color show through in irregularly spaced fine lines, creating an appearance similar to woven fabric or planed wood. After dragging vertically and letting the glaze dry, a second glaze layer can be applied and the same technique applied horizontally. This will create the appearance of heavy woven fabric.
Many other strié effects can be created by experimenting with additional coats of glaze and dragging in various directions. By painting glaze on in two different directions but dragging both coats vertically, you can create the look of watered silk. Many people find that strié is best accomplished in natural earth tones or pastel colors.
Different paints will produce different strié effects. If an oil-based topcoat is used, it will be slow to dry and appear soft after dragging. If an oil-based base coat is used with a thinned eggshell paint for a top coat, the finish will be more translucent and dry faster. An eggshell base with a latex overcoat may be trickier, as the latex paint does not adhere well to the base, but it will create a delicate finish. Using an oil-based paint for the base and the top coat will give the surface very sharp definition but can take a long time to dry.
Dragging is much easier, especially when covering entire walls, if you have a partner. One person can paint the glaze on while the other performs the dragging. However, the jobs should not be alternated, as the dragging will not look the same when done by someone else. After every few strokes, the dragging brush will need to be wiped with a rag or the lines will stop showing up. In addition, the dragging should occur before the glaze becomes sticky and hard to work with or it will not show up well.
Performing strié in a straight line can take some practice. Hanging a plumbline from the ceiling can help, as can using a straight edge. Keeping your wrist loose makes the process easier, as does trying to do half of the wall at one time instead of the entire wall. However, if you do this, make sure that your stopping point is below eye level, or it can be very noticeable.
Strié is ideal for woodwork, but can also be used on other surfaces. Surfaces must be as smooth as possible, as any bumps or dents in the wall or on the surface will be exaggerated.
Written by Bronwyn Harris
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