Friday, September 10, 2010

A dose of hand-applied distress

In a post a week ago I puzzled over the fact that Restoration Hardware couldn't tell me what substance was used to produce the "hand applied patina" on a wooden table in its catalog. Well, the answer finally came, and it seems to be ... nothing. Patient correspondent Angela wrote for the third time:
We were able to locate the information that you requested regarding finishes. I can confirm that this item is unfinished. The hand applied patina refers to a hand applied aging or distressing. Due to the nature of the finish, stains are inevitable and will add to the vintage appeal of the table over time.
This was in fact useful information, as one of my questions was how well this coffee table would hold up to a drooling, cruising baby's fond ministrations. (Some stains add more to a table's "vintage appeal" than others.) But it wasn't what I'd expected, given RH's term "hand applied" (yes, it needs a hyphen). In my dialect, you "apply" varnish or paint, but when you beat up wood (or anything else), you don't say you're "applying" dents and scratches. Why not just call it "unfinished hand-distressed elmwood," if that's what it is?


John Cowan said...

Also, does "hand-applied" mean "applied with the hand alone", or was some sort of hammer or chisel or both employed?

Jan said...

Oh, I'm OK with "hand-applied" meaning "with hand tools" -- I mean, mouthblown glass doesn't come out of the mouth like a gum bubble, right? I just expect an "applied" wood finish to involve a substance, not just damage to the surface.