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Project of the Month – April 2018

Preserving the “old-world” look at Strathisla Distillery

Strathisla distillery was built in 1786 on the banks of the river Isla, and today is the oldest and most picturesque distillery in the highlands of Scotland. The distillery maintains many of the traditions and techniques laid down during the earliest days of whisky production. The making of Strathisla Single Malt Scotch Whisky is an entirely natural process. You can observe the care and attention that is devoted to the selection of the finest raw materials.

As far as the distillery buildings were concerned, Alfred Barnard says that “all the Distillery buildings have an old-world look, suggestively characteristic of the long-established character of the works…”

When a recent refurbishment was undertaken, the owners wanted to retain the original areas and character of the building. There had been much wood graining done at one time at the distillery and a new fire door had to be fitted as part of the refurbishment. It was essential that this be in keeping with the style and match the old oak wood graining which would have been done more than thirty years ago. Jeremy Taylor was contracted to undertake the work.

To match the old graining and keep it within the style it had been grained, Jeremy had to first identify the ground colour which can range from a very light cream to a deep chrome buff colour. To begin the graining process, Jeremy had to then make his own materials using artist oil colours mixed with raw linseed oil, turpentine & liquid driers. The glaze was then applied to the door. It was rubbed in and brushed out, then steel combs of various sizes were used to imitate the straight grain. Once the first stage of the graining process was complete and dry, Jeremy painted on the figuring which is known as quartered oak and silver grain. The graining process requires such attention to detail, that imitation pore marks that are found in oak had to be painted on to the door. This was done using a check roller in conjunction with a mottler loaded with colour. The final stage was to make up a darker glaze, so it would match the older doors, this was also done in oil colour using Van Dyke Brown and a touch of Titanium White.

The completed work is a showcase of skilled craftsmanship and traditional decorating methods, many of which are being lost with the innovation of modern materials and techniques.

About Jeremy Taylor

Jeremy P Taylor began his painting and decorating career as a painting & decorating apprenticeship in 1982 and was fortunate to serve his time with Robert Black who was a real old-fashioned craftsman and a master at his trade. Jeremy has attended a Graining & Marbling class at Bill Holgate’s studio in Lancashire, who was world famous for his Graining & Marbling and also trained with Walter Riley another master of the art of Graining. Jeremy has also taught Graining and marbling to the advanced craft students at Inverness college passing on his skills to the next generation of skilled craftsmen.

In 1994 Jeremy moved back to Scotland and started his own Painting and Decorating business. He has undertaken conservation work, in the Grampian area, for Historic Scotland looking after all painting & decorating works including graining & signwriting at many castles and monuments. He has worked with numerous Architects, Designers and the Scottish Redundant Churches Trust.

In 2012 Jeremy traveled to Sweden to develop his skills further by taking a Trompe L’oeil class at Palm Fine Arts, learning architectural elements such as molding profiles and decorative ornaments to add to his Graining & Marbling skills and is also qualified in traditional signwriting.

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