Tag: Sponging

Sea Sponge Painting

Sea Sponge painting is a centuries-old technique that adds a more textured look to a surface. One of the easiest methods to learn, sponge painting is an inexpensive way to add a customized look to a room, and also serves to hide any flaws or repairs. Sea sponge painting, or “Sponging”, creates the appearance of depth and texture that can be, depending on the technique, either subtle or pronounced. This faux painting technique creates the illusion of dimension and old-world feel by adding extra layers of color. And it is the porous nature of the surface of a natural sea sponge that creates this classic effect.

Sea Sponge Painting Techniques

There are two different types of sponge painting techniques, sponging on and sponging off. The sponging on technique is the application of glaze to the walls using a sea sponge. While the sponging off technique uses a sea sponge to remove glaze from the wall that has been applied with a roller. The sponging on technique creates a more porous or mottled appearance. And the sponging off technique results in a more subtlety textured surface.

Because the sponge painting method uses a minimum of two different colors (i.e. a base coat and an accent color) it creates the illusion of depth and any defects in the surface virtually disappear. Professional designers and decorators, as well as DIY homeowners, often use this easy sponge-painting technique to create additional visual interest or a classic Old-World feel in a room. Practice this technique with your color choices on a piece of board before applying it to the walls, to perfect this technique.

Sea Sponge Painting for Faux Finishes
Sea Sponge Painting for Faux Finishes
Natural Sea Sponges

Sea Sponge Painting Benefits

Sponge painting techniques have many benefits including:

  • Sponge painting is an inexpensive technique that anyone can quickly learn that does not require expensive tools or materials
  • Sponge painting is a faux technique that can be done relatively quickly
  • Sponging creates the illusion of depth and texture on any flat surface that is, or can be, painted
  • It is an extremely versatile technique that can create a wide variety of effects and can be adapted to many different decorating styles, limited only by the painters imagination
  • Sponge painting is a great way to hide surface flaws, repairs, or even dirt in high-traffic areas like kids’ rooms hallways and mud rooms

Using a Sea Sponge for Faux Painting

The first step in the sponging on faux painting process is applying the base color. Once the base color is completely dry, a damp sea sponge should be dipped in the accent color, but should not be dunked completely. The sponge should only be dipped on one side so that the edges have all been covered with paint.

The porous pattern of this faux technique is achieved by the dry spots and pores of the sponge that do not transfer paint to the surface. Once the sponge is coated, gently dab the sponge on the wall, pressing lightly. The paint should be dabbed on in a random pattern and spaced apart. The sponge will need to be recoated periodically, just like a paintbrush or roller. Because the first dab after recoating will transfer more paint than the last, these should be spread out over a large enough area that a regular patter is not created. Dab the paint closer to create a denser look of spread apart further to soften. Take care not to apply too much paint or dab too close together or the faux effect will disappear into a more solid look.

Accent colors tend to dry fairly quickly, so more than one accent coat or color can be applied after a short duration. However, ensure that the last coat applied is completely dry before applying the next or the accent coat will smear and ruin the affect. It is also important to leave enough space between dabs of one accent color, if multiple colors are to be applied. With just a bit of practice, this technique is easy, quick and creates an effect that is limited only by the painter’s imagination.

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How Sea Sponges Are Harvested

Natural sea sponges are harvested from the bottom of the ocean by fishing boats that specialize in sponge fishing. These boats are often owned and operated by families who have been sponge divers for decades, or, in some cases, even centuries. In many areas around the world, sponge diving has been a family tradition for thousands of years.

What Are Sea Sponges

Sea sponges are aquatic animals that cling to a hard surfaces on the sea floor such as rocks or coral and, once attached, do not move around. They are classified as animals, but have neither a central nervous system nor brain. The processed sponges that are sold and used for cleaning are only part of the animal. Living sponges are coated with a dark elastic skin that has pores through which they move water to feed or filter nutrients. Between the inner and outer skins of the living sponge is a gray gelatinous substance called gurry. Processed sponges have had the outer skin and the gurry removed from the structural element or skeleton of the sponge. And it is that skeleton that we use as a sponge.

Sea Sponges are Harvested Sustainably

Sea sponges are harvested by divers using specially designed cutting hooks or knives. These leave enough of the base of the sponge for it to quickly regenerate. Once cut, the divers gently squeeze the gurry out of the sponge and take them back to the boats. The sponges are then pounded to clean them, and then covered with wet burlap sacks on the deck of the ship, where the heat from the sun releases a gas that rots the sponges’ skins so that they can be more easily removed.

Sponge Diver Mosaic Tarpon Springs Acme Sponge and Chamois
Sponge Diver Mosaic in Tarpon Springs
Acme Sponge and Chamois History

Sea Sponge Harvesting Techniques

Sea sponges are harvested in many different countries using a variety of methods, but in the United Sates, sponges are harvested using sustainable methods that actually help the sponge population as a whole. Specially trained divers, who regularly and systematically rotate fishing grounds, sustainably harvest sponges by cutting the sponge to ensure that the base is left intact, which will allow the sponge to quickly regenerate. Rotating the harvesting or fishing grounds allows the sponges time for healthy and productive regrowth, without impacting the natural habitat the sea sponge colonies are harvested from.

Sea Sponges are a Sustainable and Quickly Renewable Resource

Scientific studies have consistently confirmed that the regular harvesting of natural sponges actually enhances the health and population of the sponges by increasing the population and removing older sponges. Properly harvested, or cut, sponges will re-grow within a few years, producing a bigger and healthier sponge than it was originally. Pieces of sponge that are broken off in the harvesting process that settle back to the ocean floor and reattach to a hard object, can regrow into completely new sponges. Studies have repeatedly demonstrated that harvested colonies actually increase in their population density, and through this practice the overall sponge population.

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