Hey, Marty. I’ve got a wedding plate (see photo below) that I’m rather happy with the way the carving turned out, You should be proud of your carving. It looks really good!
but I’m a little frustrated with the stain. I’m using a General Finishes gel stain, and this is the second project that has had such blotchy staining. I’ve attached a photo of the current condition, so my questions are two-fold:
1) What causes this irregularity?
2) How do you recommend smoothing out the coloration? Anything besides just sanding off extra and touching up as needed?
For additional context, I coated the whole plate with sanding sealer and then the gel stain, doing small patches at a time, wiping off excess immediately. I know you’ve said the sealer isn’t necessary with gel stain, but I did a test on a practice board and found that the stain seems too dark and kind of rough/gritty without it. The gel stain looked nicer after sealing, but I’m still getting this. Sanding sealer first will indeed create a more uniform color with gel stain. I zoomed in your carving and the three spots you circled are so random with sharp edges that it looks like they may be rough spots or blemishes on the plate. The right spot and on top look like they could have possibly been sanded out before carving. The spot on the inside of the rim on the left I can’t really say. To even out the color you can carefully apply more gel stain with a brush to the areas surrounding the darker spots. It will get darker and blend it in better. Overall your finish is quite consistent. But, if you want it perfectly even you will need to seal the surface even more before applying gel stain. After the sanding sealer, apply 3 coats of spray lacquer and then the gel stain. The less the stain comes in contact with the wood pores the more consistent the color will be. Keep up the good work! Marty