Glossary

Even in United Kingdom English, the vocabulary of decorative art will differ. Some decorators use different terms for the same materials or techniques and others, including ourselves, produce their own names to describe finishes or processes that they have developed.

Certain words such as stippling, dragging and graining, although they do have specific meanings, often get used as catch-all words to describe the process of putting any specialist decoration onto any surface.

The following is a list of various terms that we use, or may be used in relation to our trade.
A B C D E F G H I L M N O P R S T V W

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Acrylic Paint
These fast-drying, water-based paints first appeared in the 1950s. Some of the early paints, readily adopted by many Pop Artists, suffered from durability issues, but modern acrylics are strong and long-lasting. They have the advantage over Oil Paint that they do not yellow with age, so colours such as blue stay fresh. Extenders can be added to give them more working time though, in general, for decorative artists the fact that they do not stay ‘open’ for too a long period is an advantage, preventing the build-up of dust and allowing reparability. At DKT we use acrylics from Lascaux, a Swiss company.

Ageing
See Antiquing and Distressing.

Aluminium Leaf
Often used as an alternative to Silver Leaf. Unlike silver it does not tarnish suddenly, though it can dull slightly with time. It has a cold colouring, but this can be modified to an extent with an overglaze. It is readily identifiable by its larger leaf size, usually 140mm square against 80mm square or thereabouts for precious metals.

Anamorphosis
This is a distorted projection of an image which, when viewed from an oblique position, becomes fully recognisable. They have been used on and off in Western art from da Vinci to Dali. See also Trompe l’Oeil.

Antiquing
When presented with new paint, gilding, plasterwork or other pristine surfaces, a variety of materials and processes can be used give to the sense of age that would have occurred with wear and discolouration. This can involve anything from subtle abrading to hitting with steel chains. See also Distressing.

Arabesque
The discouragement of the depiction of living forms in Islam probably led to the development of an art that made use of the most complex patterns. These can be derived from pure geometry or from calligraphic or vegetal patterns, and they usually possess a symbolic meaning beyond their obvious aesthetic.

Architrave
In classical arcitecture this is the beam that sits across two columns. In more contemporary buildings it referrs to the moulded frame surrounding a door, window, arch or panel.

Art Deco
A design style popular in the first part of the 20th Century, right up to the Second World War. It was essentially modernist, though it could draw inspiration from Ancient Egyptian and Aztec art. Its characteristics are geometrical forms, stepped shapes and streamlined designs, both celebrating the machine age and encouraging its own mass production. Examples can be seen in William Van Alen’s architecture, Tamara de Lempicka’s painting and Jean Dunand’s lacquer work

Art Nouveau
A style of art and architecture popular from the late 19th into the early 20th Centuries. It is characterised by strongly stylized forms taken from nature, such as leaves and flowers. It can be seen in the architecture of Mackintosh and Gaudi, the art of Beardsley and Klimt, the furniture of Bugatti and the glassware of Tiffany.

Artisan
See Craftsman.

Artist
An artist is by definition someone engaged in art. What is harder to define is the age-old question “what is art?”. There has always been a grey area between artist and artisan/craftsman. It could be proposed that an artisan uses their skills to a pre-set formula, with little creative input of their own right. But, in fact, many a so-called Craftsman, certainly from the Middle Ages onwards has been called on for strong creative input. For our part we are happy to use the term Decorative Artists to describe ourselves, although we place as much emphasis on the value of our various crafts.

Arts and Crafts
The Arts and Crafts Movements in Britain was at its height for 30 years from 1880. Inspired by the theories of John Ruskin and William Morris, it was partly a reaction against industrialisation, although it was not essentially backward-looking but sought more to re-establish the skill of the craftsman. It was joined by a similar movement in North America.

Artwork
An object of art in its own right, or a scheme for a design.

Ashlar
Rectangular cut stone blocks laid in courses in building. Ashlar can be simulated using textured paint or Stucco.

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Bagging
A matter-of-fact title for the process of creating a pattern in a wet glaze with a plastic bag or, even, cling film. A simple finish, but certainly more attractive than Rag Rolling.

Bambooing
Painting to look like bamboo.

Baroque
A period and style of architecture and decorative art that flourished throughout Europe from the late 16th to the early 18th century. Its characteristics tended to be exaggerated to give a heightened feeling of drama and grandeur. Examples are seen in the sculpture and architecture of Bernini, the architecture of Wren and the paintings or Rubens and Caravaggio

Baseboard
See Skirting Board

Bas-Relief
Sculpture that projects slightly from the background. When natural forms are sculpted in this way their actual contours are flattened. This technique is frequently seen in the architectural decoration of buildings, for instance in a carved stone frieze. Bas-relief carving is highly suitable for the production of cast objects – see Stuc Pierre.

Bauhaus
This highly influential school of Modernism in both architecture and applied arts was founded in Germany in 1919 by Walter Gropius. Its closure by the Nazis in 1933, and the general political climate, resulted in many of those involved re-settling in other parts of the world, thus spreading its influence.

Bello
Stucco Bello is an attractive plaster finish from DKT, with an almost enamel-look to its surface.

Bête
The French for animal. DKT’s Faux Bête range for walls and furniture imitates a variety of finishes traditionally coming from living creatures, but reproduced in conservation friendly paint.

Biedermeier
Decorative and furnishing style of the first half of the 19th century in Germany and Austria, inspired by the Empire style. Much of the furniture became solid and homely looking but, at its purest, its influence on subsequent movements, such as Art Deco and Bauhaus can be seen.

Bodycolour
See Gouache.

Boiserie
An intricately carved wooden panel, often reproduced in Woodgraining.

Bole
A coloured, refined clay, used in Water Gilding.

Broad Canvas
A range of finishes developed by DKT and applied onto canvas. The work is carried out in our Studio, ‘made to measure’ to be installed on site.

Brocade
A rich fabric woven with raised patterns often using gold or silver threads.

Broken Colour
A variety of painting techniques where one or more colours reveal underlying colours.

Bronzino Veneziano
A decorative plaster finish from DKT which typically combines rich colours and soft metallic overtones.

Brutalism
An architectural style offshoot of Modernism, the name was not chosen to be critical but to describe the use of raw, unadorned materials such as steel, concrete and glass.

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Canvas
Canvas is a heavy-duty fabric with a simple weave, available in various weights and fineness, and used as a surface for painting. Today, the texture of the canvas is usually seen as an attractive part of the final painting, but Renaissance painters would have ensured that no canvas was visible in the final work. When complete, a canvas mural in Acrylic Paint can be rolled and transported for fitting without any cracking of the surface.

Caplain Leaf
A silvery leaf used in gilding. Darker in colour and more subtle than silver, it also does not suffer from a tendency to tarnish badly.

Cartoon
In painting, particularly in Fresco, a cartoon is a full size drawing of the final composition, made on paper.

Carving
Probably one of the oldest skills. The carving of a material to form either a finished design, or as a model for Casting, requires patience and an understanding of the characteristics of the material.

Casting
In this process, liquid material is introduced into a mould and allowed to solidify. Depending on the design and strength of the Mould, this allows for numerous repeated items to be produced.

Chinoiserie
A style of decorative or fine art based on imitations of Chinese motifs, dating from the late 17th Century onwards. See also Orientalism.

Classical
This refers to the styles of art and architecture of the Ancient Greek and Roman civilizations. In architecture this saw the formalisation of building, with the use of elements such as porticos and columns. In sculpture this saw the use of the human form and a tendency towards naturalism.

Classicism
Starting in the Renaissance, the return to the Classical art of the Ancient Greeks and Romans has been an almost cyclical occurrence in Western culture, punctuated by more ornate styles. See also Neoclassicism.

Colonial
A style of Neoclassical architecture used in the British Colonies in America in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Color
See Colour.

Colour
Colours are those wavelengths of light visible to humans – the visible spectrum – red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet. When describing a colour we use the terms Hue, Saturation and Value but beyond the basic theory things become more complex. The perception of colour depends not only on viewing conditions, but on the viewer. Apart from the fact that different people will view the same colour differently, they will also use different terms to describe it. Although various systems, such as the Natural Color System, have been developed to put colour naming on a scientific basis, most people use more emotive descriptions, and one individual’s idea of ‘terracotta’ or ‘taupe’ will not be another’s.

Colourwash
A paint technique achieved by applying several layers of thin paint. At DKT we prefer to use water-based products but occasionally use oil-based to achieve certain effects not possible or less effective with acrylic.

Colourway
This is used to define a series of colours used in a single design.

Combing
The technique of dragging a semi-rigid comb through a plaster, paint or glaze to produce grooves.

Cornice
An architectural feature projecting from the border of the upper wall to the ceiling. Usually plaster or timber, it can range from plain and simple to extremely elaborate and decorative.

Crackle Glaze
A decorative glaze finish giving a network of cracks. Can be produced on a variety of surfaces using a variety of techniques.

Craftsman
A craftsman or artisan is a skilled worker who uses tools in their particular work. Up until the Industrial Revolution they were the major producers of goods, often forming individual guilds.

Craquelure
The fine cracking that occurs in old paintings or porcelain. This can be reproduced using paint.

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Dado
The lower part of a wall sitting between the Dado Rail and the Skirting Board. Dado is frequently used incorrectly to describe the Dado Rail, causing confusion to the painter. See also Wainscoting.

Dado Rail
A projecting horizontal moulding traditionally running at waist height along a wall, dividing the lower wall (dado) from the upper wall. Also called a Chair Rail, it can serve to protect the wall from damage.

Damask
An often elaborately finely-patterned fabric formed by weaving. The original damasks came from the East, taking their name from Damascus.

Decorated Furniture
Most decorative techniques can be applied to furniture, suitability being determined by period or personal preference. There are many classic effects. DKT have also developed a number of treatments that require to be applied in a specialist workshop environment, including lacquered metal-leaf effects and shagreen.

Découpage
The art or process of decorating a surface with shapes or illustrations cut from paper or card.

Diptych
A painting or carving on two panels, usually hinged.

Distemper Paint
A very porous, traditional paint usually made from powdered chalk, glue and pigment. Traditional paints have popularity and, in the right circumstances, there may be good reason to use them. On the other hand the attractive ‘chalkiness’ of distemper can usually be reproduced using more modern and durable paints.

Distressing
This is the process of treating a new surface to create the feel of an old one. In contrast to Antiquing, distressing can often be quite stylised, and does not necessarily aim to convince that the surface is genuinely antique.

Dragging
The technique of dragging a brush through a glaze horizontally or vertically to produce fine lines.

Dry Brushing
A paint technique that keeps the bristles of a brush fairly dry in order to build layers, or to use as a final coat on a textured surface as a highlighter.

Dutch Metal
An imitation gold leaf which is made from a combination of zinc and copper. It is used as a cheaper substitute for real gold leaf, but, unlike real gold, it will tarnish and therefore has to be varnished shortly after gilding. It is readily identifiable by its larger leaf size, usually 140mm square against 80mm square or thereabouts for precious metals.

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Ebonising
Or Ebonizing. To stain or otherwise finish in an imitation of ebony.

Egg and Dart
An ornamental moulding in which a half egg shape alternates with a dart shape.

Eggshell
Denotes a mid-sheen finish, achieved with a paint or varnish. Generally the higher the sheen, the more durable the surface. Eggshell is seen as a good compromise, giving a durable surface without the brashness of gloss.

Emboss
A technique to create a raised three dimensional image on a surface. DKT have so named a gesso and paint technique that they devised for their Broad Canvas collection.

Empire
Early 19th Century style, originating in France and reflecting the ascent of Napoleon. This was an extension of Neoclassicism and influenced Regency in England, North America’s own Empire and the more bourgeois Biedermeier in Germany.

Emulsion Paint
An emulsion is a mixture of two immiscible substances. In the UK, an emulsion paint usually means a water-based house paint.

Enamel
Vitreous enamel is a strong, smooth coating formed by the application of molten, pigmented glass on metal. Enamel paint was so-named since its hard, glossy finish resembled vitreous enamel.

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Faïence
Tin glazed earthenware suitable for painted decoration, often used as architectural embellishment on tiles or friezes.

Faux Bois
See Woodgraining.

Faux Finish
From the French word meaning ’false’, this indicates a finish created to imitate another material, such as wood or marble. In some instances, when carried out with confidence and style, it can be a pleasing pastiche. However, when done well, such as the work of Thomas Kershaw from the 19th Century viewable in the V&A Museum, it will be a near perfect copy of the real thing.

Faux Marbre
French term. See Marbling.

Fino
Stucco Fino is a finely pitted decorative plaster finish from DKT.

Fissured
A name given by DKT to a textured technique where the surface is cracked either randomly or regularly. It is part of the Broad Canvas collection.

Flat
A flat or matt paint or varnish has a non-reflecting surface. This is the best finish for hiding imperfections and, aesthetically, is often preferable to higher sheen finishes, although the trade-off is that it will mark more readily.

Floorcloth
Early American painted canvas designs, used as an alternative to, or a protective covering for, carpets.

French Polishing
A method of finishing wood to a high gloss, deeply coloured finish. Traditionally achieved by multiple applications of spirit-based Shellac.

Fresco
The Italian Renaissance was the great period of Fresco painting, although this method of wall painting certainly goes back as far as the Minoan Civilisation on Crete. A disciplined technique and very durable, proper ‘Buon Fresco’ uses pure pigment painted onto wet lime plaster. Probably the most famous example is Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel in Rome. At DKT we also name one of our decorative finishes ’Fresco’, a colourwash evocative of the natural patina of a lime plastered wall.

Frieze
A broad horizontal band running round the top of a wall, often decorated usually with plasterwork or stencilling.

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Georgian
This period covers the reigns of the four English King Georges from 1714 to 1830, a period of massive social and technological change. Stylistically it encompasses the English interpretations of Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassicism.

Gesso
Traditional gesso is a mixture of chalk and animal glue and is used as a base for Water Gilding. It tends to be brittle, so does not make a strong substrate, but it does produce a very smooth surface. It can also be used as a traditional ground when painting onto rigid panels. A modern acrylic gesso is available, though it is not a total substitute for classic gesso.

Gilding
The art of applying Metal Leaf to a surface.

Glaze
To cover a surface with a layer of semi-transparent colour to modify the underlying tones or colours.

Gloss
Denotes a high-sheen finish, achieved with a paint or varnish. Generally the higher the sheen, the more durable the surface, though ultimately this must be balanced against aesthetics.

Gold Leaf
Very thin gold sheet (0.0001 mm or less thick) produced by rolling or hammering gold and used for Gilding. It is available in various purities. 24 carat is pure gold, but this leaf tends to be unsympathetic to use and lower carat leaf is preferred for most applications.

Gothic
Used to describe the style of art and architecture in Western Europe from the 12th to 15th centuries. Originally the term Gothic was applied in the 18th Century as a pejorative term, comparing these medieval styles unfavourably with the classicism of the Greeks and Romans. Architectural characteristics are the lancet arches and flying buttresses found in, for example, Notre Dame Cathedral. In painting and sculpture it is more difficult to define a style, and one can include such disparate artists as the Limburg Brothers, Bosch and Grunewald.

Gothic Revival
In England, from the mid 18th Century into the 19th Century, there was a strong movement to revive medieval forms in reaction to the prevalence of classicism. This distilled to Europe and North America. Architecturally, Pugin and Barry’s Houses of Parliament in London exemplify this interest. In the decorative arts mass reproduction techniques enabled Gothic designs to be easily reproduced for a wide audience.

Gouache
This paint is a Watercolour, but it is made opaque by the addition of a white agent such as chalk. It is frequently used in graphic art.

Graining
See Woodgraining

Granite
Light coloured, coarse-grained, igneous rock.

Grisaille
Using monochrome paints on a flat surface to give the illusion of an item in three dimensions. Often appearing as an architectural feature such as a moulding. See also Trompe l’Oeil.

Grotesque
A complex painted or sculptural design where elements such as flowers, figures, fruit and fantastic animals intermingle. These were seen in ancient Rome and revived in the Renaissance. The word also refers to the fantastic creatures carved in Gothic architecture.

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Hue
One of the three characteristics of Colour this is the basic description such as ‘green’ or ‘red’.

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Inlay
A form of decoration placed into flat surfaces, mostly used on furniture.

Iridescent
A spectrum of colours that shimmer and change as the observer’s position change. There is a variety of natural and synthetic materials that achieve iridescence.

Italian Plaster
See Polished Plaster.

Ivory
DKT’s Faux Ivoire finishes imitate ivory which, traditionally, came from the teeth and tusks of large mammals.

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Lacquer
Generally a clear waterproof varnish with a high sheen and depth. Original Asian lacquerwork spread from China to Korea to Japan. It involved maybe 40 coats of slow drying natural lacquer from the sap of the Rhus Vernicifera tree, with painstaking flatting down between coats, and items could take years to complete. With the advent of quick-drying, synthetic lacquers the process was able to be put onto an industrial scale, though the difference in quality was inevitable. Modern 2-packs, especially polyesters, have made it possible to produce very deep lacquerwork.

Lapis Lazuli
This is a brilliant blue variety of the mineral Lazurite, used as a Pigment. It is also one of the traditional specialist decorator’s showcase finishes.

Latex Paint
See Emulsion Paint

Leather
DKT’s Faux Cuir technique was devised to imitate Leather. It is one of our Paperworks collection and usually applied to walls and furniture.

Limewash
Whitewash is primarily an exterior paint made from just slaked lime and water. When pigmented, Limewash can also used internally.

Liming
Liming waxes are used on timber to give a bleached look. Other timber treatments can give a range of similar effects.

Lustre
The radiance on a surface from reflected light.

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Malachite
A bright green mineral and a source of copper. It is also one of the traditional specialist decorator’s showcase finishes.

Marbling
Also called marbleising, this is the technique of painting a surface to imitate that of natural marble.

Marbre d’Eau
A paint technique by DKT that broadens the possibilities of marbled paper. It is one of our finishes in the Paperworks collection.

Marmorino
Meaning ‘Little Marble’ this mixture of crushed marble and lime putty is one of the traditional Polished Plaster finishes.

Marmorino Classico
A smooth plaster finish from DKT.One of several variants on traditional stucco plaster finishes.

Marmorino Naturale
A lightly pitted plaster finish from DKT.One of several variants on traditional stucco plaster finishes.

Marquetry
Pattern of inlaid veneers of wood, brass, ivory etc. fitted together to form a picture or design, used chiefly as ornamentation in furniture.

Matt
See Flat.

Metal Leaf
There are many types of metal-leaf used in gilding, ranging from fiery copper, through a range of golden hues, silvers ranging from leaden to bright, to the cold sharpness of aluminium. There are also variegated types of leaf, and a further seam of creative possibilities is opened up by metallic and pearlescent powders, which can be suspended in various media and are often combined with leaf-work. See also Oil Gilding, Water Gilding and Verre Églomisé.

Metallo Velato
A reflective burnished metallic plaster effect developed by DKT.

Modernism
A term covering the many movements in arts and design from the end of the nineteenth century to the present day that aim to reflect the realities of the industrial age, without reference to any traditional forms. Both Modenism and Brutalism are often unfairly blanketed with criticism based on their worst examples, but the concept is so widely based that no single work that can be said to define it on its own. Examples of work that would generally be considered Modernist are the architecture of Mies van der Rohe, the paintings of Mondrian and the furniture of Eileen Gray.

Mosaic
The composition of small pieces of coloured glass, stone or other materials with the gaps between the tiles being filled with grout to give an even surface, the art goes back to the ancient world. DKT work in glass tesserae and smalti, marble, pebbles and ceramic, all of which are suitable for a broad range of applications.

Mould
A mould or mold is produced from an original model to allow the casting of a run of identical items, such as Bas-Reliefs. The design of the model, and the material of the mould, dictate how readily and frequently this can be done.

Moulding
A strip of material with a constant or repeating cross section, used at transitions between two surfaces. This can be made in a variety of materials such as wood, plaster or stone.

Mural
Derived from the Latin word for a wall, this strictly refers to a large painting on a wall, although the term is freely used to include paintings on ceilings and other permanent surfaces. The first murals were cave paintings, such as those at Lascaux in France, and the tradition has continued, more or less uninterrupted, from there.

Muralist
Someone who paints a Mural. Whereas many muralists are also artist/painters, not all painters are proficient muralists. The scale of composition within a room brings with it a whole series of challenges.

Muro d’Argilla
A rigid tightly textured plaster effect developed by DKT to give the feeling of a solid ‘worked’ finish.

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Natural Color System
The NCS is published by the Scandinavian Colour Institute and aims to provide a logical and precise definition of colours based on perception. It has been taken up by various manufacturers.

Neoclassicism
A style that emerged in Europe in the second half of the 18th Century in reaction to the excesses of Baroque and Rococo.and continued through such movements as Empire and Biedermeier up to the 20th Century. In architecture and the decorative arts, the references to Classicism are obvious in the style, whereas in painting and sculpture it is more often the subject matter than the style that is classical. This can be seen in the architecture of Robert Adam and John Soane and the paintings of Ingres and David.

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Obelisk
A square or rectangular stone monument, tapering to a pyramidal point at the top.

Oil Gilding
This is the application of Metal Leaf to a surface using an oil-based size (glue). This process, though not having the ultimate lustre achieved with Water Gilding, is far more practical when decorating multiple items, in particular interior or exterior architectural features on site. It is also possible to substitute a water-based size for the oil equivalent, though this is not to be confused with water gilding,

Oil Paint
The traditional medium of fine artists, oil paint is valued for its highly-saturated colours, transparency and slow drying time. This also made it the traditional material for decorative artists, allowing plenty of time to manipulate the material over a large area. However, although oil paint still retains a place, for many applications modern Acrylic Paints are preferable since they do not yellow and are more readily repairable.

Onyx
A banded form of quartz found in a wide range of colours.

Orientalism
The term refers to the use of typically Eastern styles and motifs within Western art, design and architecture – see also Chinoiserie. In 19th Century painting, it refers to a somewhat exotic and inaccurate interpretation of Eastern cultures.

Ormolu
The industrial gilding of cast alloy ornaments from the 18th Century onwards.

Ornamentation
Enhancement or Embellishment

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Paint
Generally a product that protects and colours a surface. A basic paint is a binder that solidifies when applied to the surface. An obvious additive is Pigment, but a whole range of materials can be added to govern a paint’s characteristics. Lastly the dilutant is the liquid that controls the paints viscosity.

Palladium
A dark silver heavy metal. Available as leaf for use in gilding, it has a less shiny look than silver, and does not tarnish in air.

Panel Moulding
Inlaid or raised Mouldings applied to flat wall surfaces to give variety and detail.

Paperworks
A range of decorative finishes developed by DKT. They are designed to created in our Studio, ready for application by ourselves or others to walls or panels.

Parallel Wave
One of a selection of paint effects developed by DKT for their Paperworks collection.

Parchment
The skin of certain animals was treated to form a durable material for bookbinding and manuscripts. DKT’s Faux Parchemin finish imitates the look of waxed parchment for our Paperworks collection.

Pastello
Stucco Pastello is a lightly dimpled, semi-opaque plaster finish from DKT

Pastiglia
A paste of Gesso or similar, moulded in relief to a miniature design and allowed to harden, then frequently gilded.

Patina
A name given to the appearance that age or atmospheric corrosion gives to a surface, assuming it is seen as attractive. DKT calls one of its water-based finishes Patina.

Patinato Veneziana
A traditional polished plaster finish devised by DKT. It has the possibility of being highly burnished.

Pearlescent
See Iridescent.

Pelmet
Structure that conceals the top edge of a curtain or window blind.

Perspective
Perspective is the perception of an object’s relative position in space. The representation of convincing perspective in two dimensions was one of the breakthroughs of Renaissance Art. Whereas convincing perspective is relatively straightforward for a small painting, where a single viewpoint naturally presents itself to an observer standing in front of it, for a Mural it can be a more complex task. What looks correct from one viewpoint can look crazy from another, and the muralist’s skill is to create convincing perspectives from as wide a group of viewpoints as possible.

Photoshop
Adobe application, often used as a generic for any image manipulation software. Such programmes can be excellent tools for sketching and presenting schemes, but it’s always important that they do not dominate the design process.

Picture Rail
A moulding running along near the top of a wall to facilitate the hanging of paintings.

Pigment
Powder colour that is mixed with a medium to make paint. The first pigments in prehistory were naturally occurring earth colours. In time these were joined by more colourful pigments from various natural sources, including crushed insects, cattle urine and mercury compounds. From the early 18th century, these were supplemented by synthesised pigments making paints more affordable and, often, more safe. In choosing pigments permanence is important since some, many reds for instance, can fade over time.

Pilaster
A shallow section of a pillar, usually incorporated into a wall to add architectural interest, rather than for any structural purpose.

Plaid
A cross-dyed fabric, the name was also used for one of a selection of paint effects developed by DKT for their Paperworks collection.

Platinum
A silvery white heavy metal. Available as leaf for use in gilding, it has a less shiny look than silver, and does not tarnish in air.

Polished Plaster
One of the various generic terms used to describe high-end decorative plasters. These once-forgotten materials and techniques have seen a growing interest since the 1970s. Self-coloured, lime or synthetic-based they possess much of the architectural appeal of a natural material. They can be smooth or pitted, regular or patterned, almost flat or polished to a high-sheen. DKT have worked with these plasters since the late 80s and developed a distinctive range of finishes.

Porphyry
A reddish-purple rock traditionally used as a colouring pigment.

Postmodernism
Post-Modern design has its roots in North America in the 70s. Subject to considerable analysis, in essence it suggested that functional modernism could go no further and it aimed to return ornament and, in instances, humour into design, often using references to past styles, from Classicism to Art Deco. However, it can be argued that it is really a continuation of Modernism, remaining essentially forward looking whilst playing with the past.

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Rag Rolling
One of the staples of traditional specialist decoration, a rag is rolled through wet glaze to give a pattern. Not the most refined of techniques.

Regency
Between 1811 and 1820, the future King George IV of England acted as Regent through his father’s insane periods. Regency architecture, epitomised by the terraces of John Nash, marked the transition from the Georgian to Victorian periods.

Renaissance
The European Renaissance was the period from the 14th to 16th Centuries, following the Middle Ages. It is often seen as the start of the modern age although, in fact, the main changes in everyday life were only felt by an elite, with major developments in science, art and culture. Led by Italy, with such familiar names as Giotto, Piero dell Francesca, Leonardo da Vinci, Brunelleschi, Fra Lippi and Michelangelo, a primary factor in art was the understanding and development of Perspective and the revival of Classical architecture and sculpture.

Rococo
A continuation from the Baroque style, emerging in France in the early 18th Century, Rococo was characterised by a more playful touch. In its architecture, much use was made of stucco and elaborate plasterwork. The architecture can be seen in the Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam and painting in the works of Watteau and Boucher.

Rustication
In Ashlar this is the name given to the introduction of V cut joints.

Rustico
Stucco Rustico is one of DKT’s more textured plaster finishes.

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Saturation
One of the three characteristics of Colour this refers to how intense the colour is.

Scagliola
Although the technique might go back to Ancient Rome, this flourished from the 17th Century Baroque period. In essence, pigmented plasters are manipulated, trowelled or cast, then highly polished to resemble marble. The result can be of an extremely high quality, having the look, strength and feel of the real material, whilst maintaining a character of its own.

Schlag
See Dutch Metal

Sculpture
The art of carving or moulding with stone, wood, marble etc.

Scumble
A term with various meanings. In fine art it can be used to describe a thin, semi-opaque coating, applied to soften a painting. In decorative art, scumble glaze is a very useful medium, either oil or water-based, that can be tinted to give a paint that stays open and workable for a good period.

Secessionism
The Vienna Secession was a varied movement, allied to Art Nouveau.

Seta Dura
A decorative stucco application developed by DKT. The name translates from Italian as ‘hard silk’ and the finish is a cross-grained, linen-like, textured effect with a burnished weave.

Sgraffito
A technique used in decorative work where two layers of different coloured plaster are applied on top of each other. The decoration is derived by incising a design into the top colour, often whilst the plaster is still soft, in order to reveal the ground colour.

Shade
This refers to a colour being made darker by the addition of black.

Shagreen
A type of leather. Originally made from specially treating horse’s skin, in the 18th Century the term became applied to leather made from the skin of rays and sharks. When dyed, the circular scales give a distinctive pattern. DKT have various techniques for producing Faux Shagreen for furniture and walls.

Shaker
A religious denomination from the 18th Century, their faith led them to design objects of attractive simplicity and functionalism.

Shellac
Made from the secretion of an insect, Coccus Lacca. When dissolved in alcohol it is used as a lacquer in French Polishing.

Silver Leaf
Very thin sheet produced by rolling or hammering silver and used for gilding. Silver has a tendency to tarnish quickly and badly. This can be overcome by correct application and subsequent varnishing, but alternatives such as White Gold, Caplain, Platinum or, even, Aluminium leaf are often preferred.

Skirting Board
The strip, usually timber, applied around the base of an interior wall, also called the Baseboard.

Slate
DKT’s Faux Ardois technique was devised to imitate Slate as part of our Paperworks collection.

Smalti
Small irregular pieces of mosaic tiles. Smalti are available commercially but, in fine compositional work, pieces are cut by eye to fit.

Spatter
Scattering small drops of paint over a surface.

Spatulato
One of the traditional Polished Plaster finishes, as its name suggests this finish is achieved by painstakingly building up a surface using small metal spatulas

Sponging
Application of paint using a sponge to give a mottled surface. Many painters prefer a sea sponge to give a looser pattern but, in reality, synthetic sponges can be readily prepared and are easier to keep workable.

Stencilling
A method of decoration where paint is applied through a cut out shape to create a decorative image.

Stipple
See Stippling.

Stippling
Application of paint in such a way as to allow control of the density of the paint, thus permitting shading. The normal tools are specialist brushes or sponges.

Stone
DKT’s Faux Pierre finishes imitate natural sandstones and limestone’s.

Stuc Pierre
More or less literally “stone plaster”, DKT use this term to describe work carried out in a convincing stone-like material. It can either be applied direct to a wall, usually in a block pattern, or three dimensional, sculpted artworks can be modelled, then cast from it.

Stucco
Traditionally this tended to describe a plaster-like application to an external surface. However the term now is applied to more refined decorative plasters, used both externally and internally, and at DKT we identify all our decorative plasters with the prefix Stucco. A good example of the way the vocabulary that we use reflects the history of the material, this Italian term is in turn derived from German. See also Polished Plaster.

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Tadelakt
Originating in Morocco, this lime plaster, usually highly coloured, gives a strong and attractive surface.

Tempera
A tempera is a medium for painting, but the term is most usually used in Egg Tempera, a paint made from mixing pigment with the yolk of an egg, and popular in the Middle Ages. DKT also used the term for one of their paint finishes.

Tesserae
The plural of a tessera, an individual Mosaic tile.

Tint
This refers to a Colour being made lighter by the addition of white.

Tobacco
DKT’s Faux Tabac paint technique was devised to imitate tobacco leaves. It is one of our Paperworks collection.

Toile Peinte
A range of decorated cloths by DKT in collaboration with Riviere Interiors. They are custom-designed and hand-painted to individual specification.

Tortoiseshell
Items used to be made from real tortoiseshell until the banning of the trade in the 1970s. At the same time, faux tortoishell, both stylised and realistic, was part of the traditional specialist decorator’s repertoire.

Triptych
A painting or carving on three panels, usually hinged.

Trompe l’Oeil
A French term, meaning “to trick the eye”, this refers to a painted optical illusion. It can be a simple architectural Grisaille, but it can be a full-blown Mural scheme, using Perspective to create a convincing feeling of three dimensionality. See also Anamorphosis.

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Value
One of the three characteristics of Colour this refers to how dark or light the colour is.

Verdigris
As a result of the weathering of copper, bronze and brass, the metals turn green. This is seen as an attractive feature and can be reproduced chemically or reproduced in paint. In addition, verdigris used to be a common pigment in painting.

Verre Églomisé
Taking its name from Jean-Baptiste Glomy, who popularised the technique in the 18th Century, Verre Eglomise involves applying designs to the back of glass, incorporating metal leaf in order to give a mirror-like reflection.

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Wainscoting
Often used as an alternative term for the Dado, it is more correctly used only if this lower wall area is constructed in tongued and grooved or panelled timber.

Water Gilding
This is the most refined method of applying Metal Leaf, resulting in items of a uniform lustre, indistinguishable from a solid piece of metal. The process involves building up a smooth surface in Gesso then applying a coloured Bole. The prepared surface is wetted with water and gold leaf laid on immediately. The water is sucked into the gesso, drawing the gold onto the surface. When dry the metal can be burnished or varnished.

Watercolour
One of the most delicate painting techniques, watercolour consists of pigment suspended in a water-soluble binder. It relies on transparency, so is unforgiving of mistakes and overpainting.

Weave
Paint technique devised by DKT. It is one of our Paperworks collection.

Woodgraining
The technique of painting a surface to imitate that of a natural wood.