Metal Makeover

It was such fun meeting new painters at HOOT and renewing friendships with painters that I had met in the past. Many of you spent time in the Loew-Cornell booth discovering techniques and talking about brushes and projects and I hope that you are all truly inspired. The teapot set, purse and shoes received a lot of attention and many of you asked for information on how to prepare these items to paint. Since there are so many important steps to proper prep of these kinds of surfaces, I wanted to share the prep instructions in this article. Metal: I get a lot of my unique pieces from garage sales, thrift shops and auctions. When looking for the perfect surface, make sure it does not have any rust or flaking to the finish. Rust is a disease and can be treated, but it may be best to skip these pieces. You don’t want to paint a great masterpiece only to find it eaten away later by rust. However, if you absolutely cannot pass up a rusted treasure, you can have it sandblasted or use a wire brush to clean off all of the rust. Use naval jelly to remove the rest and to clean. Be sure all of the rust has been completely removed because it will come back. Metal Prep YOU GOTTA BE CLEAN! Use adhesive remover to remove any stickers, tape or debris. (I like UnDo or Goof Off) Use a scrubby pad or S.O.S. pad to thoroughly clean the piece, including all of the grooves. Fill sink with mild dish soap and warm water. Add object(s). Using a soapy sponge or dishrag, wash all of the pieces, rinsing off any residue with warm water before drying with a lint free towel. (I like the old “flour sack” type towels for this step) Wipe piece entirely with white vinegar applied to a lint free cloth and let air dry. This will remove any natural oils that might have been transferred from your skin or hands. Avoid handling the piece with your hands after this step is complete (transport pieces outdoors while wearing gloves or wrapped in a cloth). If you are planning to add any special features to the piece, be sure to add any feet, beads, or embellishments to the piece before priming. Make sure the glue is set before priming. Priming: Make sure the weather is in your favor..not too hot or too cold! Cover workspace with lots of newspaper and put on a mask before you start. I use an inexpensive, flat finish primer in a basic color. If I plan to paint on a light colored background later, I choose white primer, but I mostly use the grey or black primers because I love a dark, dramatic background. Shake the can until it is all mixed and you can hear the bead inside moving freely. Spray the primer with a light mist over the object, keeping the can moving so that you don’t get drips in your finish. It is better to do a few coats than risk drips and have to sand them off! Let each coat dry before spraying the next coat on. Keep misting until the coverage is opaque (you cannot see any metal showing). Let it set for a bit and then turn over. Repeat misting on the back side. If you have any areas that have “runs” from over-spraying, or if you feel it is too rough, you may lightly buff with a worn brown paper bag or wet sand with 400 or 600 grit sandpaper and plenty of water. If the weather is warm, I like to leave it outside for a while to kind of bake the primer into the pieces. Then, I move them to another place to cool down before I bring them in. (This helps keep the odor of the primer outside) If the weather is not warm, you may want to heat-set the primer indoors: I preheat my oven to 250 degrees and then turn it off. I place the primed pieces on a cookie sheet and then place it in the oven and let them sit until the oven has cooled completely. Seal Prep: Once the pieces are primed, you will need to add a sealer coat and paint. Since most sealers are clear, I mix my sealer and paint (1:1) for the first coat so that I can see where the sealer has been applied. Let it dry completely (you may speed this drying step with a hairdryer). Add additional coats of paint to the background but do not use sealer in these additional coats. If necessary, you can sand lightly between each coat to keep the paint even and fluid. You are now ready to transfer your design and create your newest masterpiece. Purse/Shoe Prep: I used leather for my pieces, but you can use vinyl purses/shoes for the same results. Gently wipe the purse/shoes with mild detergent and a lint free cloth. Rinse with water and dry with a lint free towel. Wipe piece entirely with white vinegar applied to a lint free cloth and let air dry. This will remove any natural oils that might have been transferred from your skin or hands so you will want to avoid handling it with your hands after this step is complete. Use light graphite paper on dark purses and black/grey graphite paper to apply patterns to lighter backgrounds. I did not apply sealer to the entire purse or shoes because I wanted to keep the leather finish fresh. I only applied sealer to the base-coated section of the designs as my first step to painting. Dress your brush with equal parts paint and sealer in the first basecoat. When you add the detail in the next steps to painting your design, omit the sealer and only use paint. When your design is completely painted, apply a light coat of varnish over the painted sections only by brushing varnish over the painted design areas. (I used a satin finish to keep with the look of the leather, but you can use a shiny coat if you prefer). I am really excited to see all of your creative efforts using leather or metal, and remind you that if you publish your designs, they may qualify for our “pay for publication program.” You can also take a picture of your work and submit it online to the Loew-Cornell Community Gallery.

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