Cerused Wood! How to Ceruse Finish (And…Ceruse Makeup?)

by on Friday, January 14th, 2011

Waxing food furniture is a fun idea that you can try! I love the idea of this ceruse effect on furniture (aka waxing wood.) It’s a refinishing technique for wood. It works best on wood with “larger pores” (much like my nose, eek!) aka large open grain like Oak and Ash.

cerused wood

Image from August's Martha Stewart Magazine 2010.

White wax is rubbed onto a stained wood, and this stains your furniture that color while also highlighting the grain with white to give you a wonderfully cool contrast in the wood. It’ll give great dimension to your wooden furniture. I think it looks very cool, and I’d love to to it to my desk although I don’t think I have the proper grain needed to give the proper ceruse finish effect.

How to Ceruse Finish

1. Strip the finish from your wood.

2. Torch wood to open the grain more.

3. Use a wire brush to go over the wood and open the grain even more.

4. Now you’re ready to apply the stain with a brush, and wipe off with a rag. You might do two coats, or you might want more. I don’t know a ton about stains, but I think it would be fun to use colored stains like a purple berry, if they have them!

5. With everything dry, rub a clear water-based sealer over the entire piece. I’ve done this before. It’s a taxing process but you’ll be so glad you did it.

ceruse finish

The Tall Mirror - Cerused Oak from artfulhome.com

6. Time for the wax! Use your hand to rub it on and really make it go into the grain (you can use a rough terry cloth or bristle brush.) Use steel wool to rub off the wax that hasn’t gone into the grain, but stayed on the surface.

Sources: My Dad who is a handyman about everything, and an article called Furniture Makeover by Kevin Sharkey (Home Designer with Kevin Sharkey feature)  in the August Martha Stewart magazine.

The Cerused Wood Mirror is at ArtfulHome.com.

Trivia! Ceruse white wax was used to give women very white skin in the Elizabethan age. They would combine it with vinegar and apply it to their face, neck and bossom area. (Source: elizabethancostume.net) Elizabethan makeup seems like it took much more work than today’s makeup, plus it wasn’t very good for the skin. We’ve come a LONG way now with having all organic and mineral makeup!

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