Something that you may not know about me is that while I'm out walking the dog, I will occasionally bring my camera and take pictures of rocks, and particularly architectural stone installations as research for getting the color and texture of stone right when I'm making it. Then again, maybe you did know that in which case I apologize for this little digression.
The "slate look" color scheme starts with a base color which they call "patina", which is a sort of blue-green undercolor. Over the top of that goes what they call "pewter", but is more of a dark charcoal gray color. The colors themselves are pretty good on the acid-etched concrete, but the texture is kind of missing; real slate has a couple of things that aren't in the faux slate: the "high" spots tend to get a whitish chalky look as they wear, and there are interspersals of different colors, mostly a reddish-brown hue that is mottled in and out, most likely an iron oxide pigment.
At the hardware store, I picked up a rust-colored transparent wood stain. It's not the same kind of stain as the concrete stain, but it does stain concrete as I discovered quite by accident last year, and I decided to try applying it over the concrete stain with a light dry-brushing technique. I ended up getting a little heavier with it in places to more match the color mottling that I've observed.
I then went back over the concrete with a polishing rock. This is a small piece of slate that I'm using to scour the concrete, which has the effect of "chalking up" the high spots-- concrete pours are never exactly flat and level-- by actually abrading the concrete and sand aggregate down flat. The look that it provides is very similar to the look of abraded slate.
I then went over some of the chalked spots with a dry brush of the original patina stain to bring out more of that color. It gives some variation to the chalky edges.
It was starting to get dark by the time I finished, but when I stood back and looked at it, I was impressed as hell with the way it looked. MUCH closer to the look of real slate. I also stippled the patina stain on the wrought iron railing, which gives it a more aged look that ties in with the steps a lot more, and makes it look a lot richer. It's rather subtle, but I'm down with that. It was too dark to get pictures, and tonight there are other plans, but I'll try and get some taken soon.
It's been a lot more labor intensive project than I had originally planned, and it's kinda weird that the first time using this stuff I decided to try on something as highly visible as the front steps. At the same time, I didn't have any paver molds ready, and I'm pretty confident in my ability to make something look like something it's not. And really, pretty much anything looks better than bare dirty concrete, at least in my world.
While I was doing all this, Barb called. Her birthday was a couple of weeks ago, and I had sent her a computer. Before you get all frothy, a long time ago I had given her my old computer, which was a dual pentium II running Windows 2000, and which had carried her through college. A couple months back, the motherboard had died and she was wondering if it was something that could be fixed... I told her that she'd be a lot better off saving up that money for a new computer. What I didn't tell her is that I had recently been dusting off some old work-obsolete computers that I had picked up, and one was not entirely a piece of junk. And since I had an old Dell Windows XP install disk, I decided to try it. Well, it worked well enough to be usable for small stuff, so I packed it up in a box and sent it to her (I think the shipping cost me more than the computer itself, and the shipping was pretty damn reasonable-- I've paid more for a bottle of wine from a grocery store).
So she got it the day after her birthday, and was actually squealing with glee. She can now watch videos on YouTube and the like, and has been pretty much locked to the monitor since she got it. She's been learning about downloading MP3s too. And someday she will learn about buying software. See, it's not an inherently evil gift. It's like giving someone a DVD player that you found in a dumpster but still works, then they start buying DVDs, and before long their DVD collection has cost them tens of thousands of dollars. You have indirectly contributed to their materialistic demise.
She did however miss calling me on my birthday. She called a day late. I gave her crap for that.
I didn't give crap to loba though. Then again, she's not my ex.
Tonight there will be walkies, then a quick shuck-and-jive over to the House of eldogo for some moviemaking golden moments. It is for teh awesum.