Innovation – a short success story or 2+1


That word again… all it is really is the ability to stick to task, be persistently curious and find the answer.

cRaCkInG UP!

I started crackle glazing in 1986 but unfortunately the techs at Mylands (who sold the stuff for a mere £75.00 per 5 ltr bottle!!) misinformed me a bout the base coat.  The result resembled scrambled egg.

So I double checked and they got it right – the fall out was that I was to develop a couple of super accidental finishes out of the debacle.

But at 75 quid a shot I started to apply myself to working out what this mysterious stuff was and how it reacted to emulsion or water based acrylic.

Listening to Capital radio’s Chris Tarrant musing over a story about US postal workers suing the board for putting on excess weight had my chuckling at the traffic lights in Forest Hill one day.

Bang – it had to be!!

Apparently these workers were licking stamps and putting on kilos because of the starch based glue.

That had to be it – remoistenable glue – I whirled the car around home, grabbed yellow pages and had a local adhesive supplier bike a sample straight over.

I had it painted on a panel in minutes and dried off with a hair dryer… now to apply the acrylic emulsion … wow it cracked!!!

The link was done.

Within 2 weeks I had a product on the shelves of most Faux finish suppliers across London… Harwood’s Crackle Glaze was born!

Polished off!!

I was asked to set up a French polish production run for 5000 pieces in the CAC factory.

No one had a clue how to do this finish.

I ordered in the raw shellac flakes from India and in a few days we mixed up a big pot of the stuff with my team of 15 or so finishers looking on gleefully.  They expected me to do miracles of course!

French polish traditionally takes time and is a labour of love 6 layers bodying up the surface is not uncommon.

I had to make it happen in 1 layer.

I used a soft polishers mop brush at first but it was too slow.


We then opted for a hefty varnish brush and slapped on a heavy coat all over the stained piece.  It kicked up lots of imperfections but generally covered well.

To finish I had a tin of wax polish and a can of automobile ‘T-Cut’ at hand mixed them together and went over the piece.

The result … stunning!

2 coats – 15 minutes finishing T&M per piece.

A happy distressing tale!

So we had a massive order of country kitchen sets finished in worn white over teak natural stain.

I arrived and saw to my horror hours of dry sanding and retouching to create the distress. It was a mess and didn’t match the samples… hmm a big (but easy) design fix needed.

I pulled Bobby and the team over again…

The plan was dead simple:  create a distress process in less than 1 min T&M.

First we stained the sample chair – sprayed done 11-15 seconds.

Then I wiped the edges with a cloth made damp with oil satin varnish. Just s glean… 5-10 seconds

Top white paint applied by spray and light wave over with brush for surface hand finished warmth. 20 seconds

Here’s the magic…

400 wet dry paper with bucket of soap water –

WIPE over with 400WD and the job was done … distressed for dinner!  15 seconds

How it worked was the top white paint was acrylic water based and once dry came off ultra easy only where the oil satin varnish was wiped on – on the edges where we needed it – literally a breeze!

But after 24 hours the paint adhered like life and death… so we had the job rolling through with no dust issues easy light work and TM bliss.

Target 1 min max 1.15 seconds achieved – margin restored – deadline fulfilled.