Graining is a traditional skill that craftsmen use to give wooden doors the appearance of being made from oak. At the ORNC our conservators used this technique to transform the look of some of the King Charles Building's external doors.

After being sanded down and stripped back the doors were prepared with filler and aluminium primer before creating the faux oak effect with oak coloured paint. This paint has to be very carefully applied in two coats to give the impression of a realistic variation in pigment and to achieve grain patterns found in oak wood.

The doors are not the only part of the ORNC that use visual effects to trick the viewer into thinking that they are seeing something that they are not. Sir James Thornhill used trompe l'oeil painting throughout the interior of the Painted Hall. Trompe L’oeil, meaning 'deceive the eye’ in French, refers to a style of painting that creates an illusion of space and makes an image appear to be three dimensional.

James 'Athenian' Stuart also used decorative effects when he was redesigning the Chapel interior after the disastrous fire of 1779 which destroyed the interior of the original Chapel. It would have been very costly to have used all the decorative techniques that Stuart had planned to use in his neo-classical design so he made use of a few decorative effects. 

The imposing pairs of Corinthian columns at either end of the Chapel are not made of marble, but rather a mixture of plaster chips coloured with pigment, and mixed with animal glue, called scagliola. Similarly, the life-sized figures of evangelists and apostles in the niches between the windows in the upper galleries are in fact paintings that have used shadow and contrast to create a more life-like appearance.

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