Repainting over Enamel Paint


Why I Chose to Repaint a Sculpture

I recently made an abstract sculpture and painted it with gloss oil based enamel paint.  The trouble was the color was not as brilliant as I had hoped.  The first paint job consisted of Valspar Anti Rust Armour tinted Cosmic Berry.  It is surely a lovely deep red violet but, unless it is placed in direct light, is rather dark.


Deglossing the Paint Finish

Gloss enamel paints by definition dry to a very slick shiny surface.  Painting directly over this will result only in the peeling and cracking of the new coating.  It is necessary to degloss the original coating to create a toothed or “keyed” surface for the new coating to adhere to.  If I were to apply an enamel paint of a simular color such as red, blue, or a darker or lighter purple, I would use 220 grit sandpaper, wipe down, then just apply the new color.  Since I am applying a drastic color change, I need to apply a coating of white primer between paint layers.  So I use a little coarser grade of sandpaper of 150 grit.  Primer will fill small scratched better than a top coat of paint.


Reapplied the Primer

After wiping the surface completely, I cautiously applied the new primer.  I was cautious because I had a few layers of coatings on the sculpture already.  So first coat barely covered as I wanted to give time for the aggresive solvents to flash off.   A second and third coat were applied more thoroughly.  After checking that everything was good, it was time to apply the turquoise paint layer.


The Final Finish

I applied the turquoise gloss enamel on top of the primer in the same cautious manner.  The solvent for the enamel I sprayed was pure VM&P Naphtha and did not contain acetone, xylene or any other harsh solvents.  As mentioned in my post about thinning enamel paints, VM&P naphtha allows for the smoothest sheen due to it’s superior flow improving properties.

I must say I have a much brighter finish with the turquoise paint and I am quite pleased.  Go to the listing for this sculpture in my Etsy shop for purchasing or more information.  From there you can cusom order the sculpture in the size and color of your choice.

Rust Patina on Steel and Iron

Rust Patina as a finish

In this page, I will be describing the intentional rusting of steel art to create a pleasing color and texture on the metal surface. I will briefly illustrate what rusting is then I will discuss various methods to accomplish a rust patina on steel.I will cover several ways to rust steel both naturally and artificially. Most of the chemicals are cheap,readily available, and of low hazard.


Some of the methods in this lens for rusting steel may involve using irritation or even toxic ingredients and/or electricity. You are being advised that any activity you engage in influenced by this site is your sole responsbility. By reading this, you hold me NOT LIABILE for any damage to property or personal injury you incurr due to negligence or just plain stupidity.

What is rust?

Rusty 1937 FordRust is a form of oxidation where Iron or steel react with oxygen in the air to create orange, red, yellow, or brown flaky oxidation. Water or moisture in the air are required to intiate the reaction making it a catalytic process.

Unlike copper or aluminum, because the iron oxide flakes off, fresh metal is always exposed and hence rusting truly deteriorates the iron completely if left unchecked. You could apply a sealant to protect the rust finish but you are only slowing down the inevitable. Iron is not meant to exist as a free metal and it will revert to iron ore in due time.

Rusting metal naturally

Rusted Star bellWhen making steel art, one option is the natural rust finish you will get while leaving the unprotecting metal outdoors in the element. It does take awhile but the coverage is quite complete.

Rusting Steel chemicaly

Spray Master BottleIn this method we are talking about artificially rusting steel by chemical means. Do not let the word chemical scare you. Most of the chemicals used are the same you do home cleaning with or even cook with. The main benefit with this method is you can achieve the desired results in a very short amount of time.This first method to consider is very simple. It consist of applying a strong solution of table salt in water and applying to the cleaned metal surface and setting in the sun for a few days. Although it is simple, it is still kind of slow taking a few days to weeks and periodic applications of salt water treament are needed. It does work though and this method is almost completely void of hazard aside from getting salt in your eye.

A second and superior method still uses materials that are cheap and not severely toxic. This is the vinegar and peroxide process. It entails getting a Spraymaster Bottle and putting anywhere from 2 ounces to 4 ounces of distilled white vinegar into the bottle and a tablespoon of salt as a catalyst. Then you buy a fresh 16 ounce bottle of 3% of hydrogen peroxide from the Dollar store or pharmacy and add to the salty vinegar in the bottle. You spray this on the cleaned metal and it attacks the metal at once creating a deep red mixed iron oxide/acetate and the peroxide gives off activated pure oxygen which further continues the attack. Spray once, when dry knock off loose rust, and apply two times more and you will have a beautifully rusted piece within ONE day to be coated in wax, varnish, or lacquer.

Another method that bears mentioning is the peroxide/bleach process. Unfortunately, this process required the precautions normailly assoiciated with handling chloine bleach so wear goggles and gloves AND PROTECT YOUR CLOTHING! Most sculptors that use this mix equal part of Clorox with peroxide and vigorous fizzing ensues which is activated pure oxygen. Be alert as the mixture may overflow the container making a mess! If iron is present the rusting is prolific and quick. You can try this method as the chemicals are cheap but givin the effectiveness of the vinegar/peroxide method, this process is not recommended.

My rusted assembled wall art

Rusted mixed media sculptureHere is a sculpture I put together. It is an assemblage of steel pieces that where artificiallly rusted with vinegar, salt, and 3% hydrogen peroxde. The metall assemblage was fastened onto a cherry wood panel for a truly unique mixed media work of art. The wood wash finsihed with polyurethane and the rusted metal was treated with a drying oil mixture.

For more options of coloring steel,  you can check out my latest hub about the various finishes for steel.

A Post Modern “Perspective”



Putting it All in Perspective

A recent work that I endeavored to create was based on some triangular pieces of sheet steel I had found at my local metal supplier.  I had contemplated on what way to arrange them for quite some time.  It wasn’t until I decided to add a circular metal disc to the composition that I realized how to approach this project.   The 5 inch diameter circle is a main focal point drawing the observer in.  You could say it really helped putting this piece in perspective.


High Gloss Enamel Finish

All the paint applied to this piece was high gloss oil based enamel.   The paint is specifically designed for metals as it helps to prevent rust.  Prior to spray application, the paint was thinned with VM&P Naphtha according to my recent post on “Thinning Oil Based Alkyd Paints for Spray Application”. As you can see from the glare that the finish went down very smooth.  Like all surface finshes though, its all in the preparation. 


Color Corrdinated

Don’t let the whimsicle nature of this compostion fool you.  It was carefully planed out.  Even if some of the accents where incorporated as an afterthought.  It was decided that the main triangle was going to be turquoise.  It is a calming and pleasing color to the human eye and would make for a really good central color to work from.  All other colors were chosen to match and coordinate with the turquoise.  You have the second largest traingle intersecting almost perpendicular to the main triangle and it is painted in bright sunburst yellow.  The circular disc, which is the focal point, is painted in grape purple.  The sweeping arc that wraps particially around the composition is painted gloss white.  There is a series of smaller trangles adorning the arc which seem to be very directional.  They are painted coral pink to provide the highest contrast to the main theme color of turquoise. 

To see more details of this composition or for purchasing options, check out the listing for this item in my Etsy shop.

Clear Coats For Paint Jobs


Clear coatings


You have painted a work of art, a piece of furniture, or a ceramic vase and you used water based acrylic paints. The color varieties of these paints seems endless yet , even when fully cured, they do not offer the hardness and durability exhibited by traditional enamel paints. This where a clear protective coating comes in. Clear coats come in many formulations depending on the application of the finished good and the surface the clear is to be applied to. Also, these finished can be either sprayed, brushed on, or the object dipped into a vat of the clear.

Krylon Clear

Copper and nailsOne of the most widely available and cost effective clears I have used is Krylon clear. It comes in gloss, semi gloss, satin, and flat. It is best used for indoor use. Although the can states it has outdoor capability, there is no mention of UV inhibiters so it should be regarded as not fit for exposure to direct sunlight. Krylon does make a clear with UV inhibiters which cost more.The quality of the finish is astounding and it dries truly crystal clear. If three or more coats are applied you will get a “wet” look. It adds great hardness and scratch resistance to water based acrylic finishes allowing you to use these paints on primed metal. One finsihing aspect of Krylon Clear is to apply it directly to bare metal that has been cleaned of corrosion and wire brushed. A good example is featured on the photo as well this Etsy listing. It is brazed nails with a copper accent. Not only does this bring out the contrast between steel and bronze brazed joints, but offers protection from further corrosion.


A word on oil based finishes


Would like to mention that alkyd or oil based finishes still out perform acrylics hand down, especially for outdoor use. The way the oil based finishes work is they are based on drying oils. These are vegetable or seed oils that harden by polymerizing and oxidizing in the air. They may dry to the touch in hours but can take up to 8 weeks to fully cure! 


Rustoleum Clear Enamel Spray

Rustoleum clearAnother option to consider is Rustoleum enamel clear spray.
It is an oil based clear. In my experience, it is quite durable but it is not as clear as krylon as it is enamel. The reason is that Rustoleum has UV inhibers to protect the pigments from fading in sunlight. For this, I recommend it for outdoor garden sculptures as a finish over oil based paint.

UPDATE: At this point when I use spray paint, I have been using Rustoleum products almost exclusively as the spray consistency is much better and the covering power is superior. The difference in quality between Rustoleum and Krylon is most noticable in the primer. The Krylon can jusy spits and sputters like a third of the time while the Rustoleum sprays smooth and covers quick.


Smart Coat clear coat

Smart clearHere is product offered by Sculpt Nouveau is called Smart Coat. Sculpt nouveau distributes two versions of smart coat. One is 1K and it is a water based urethane/ resin based finish. The other is Smart Coat 2K which is a two part urethane coating which is more for outdoor use. Both have UV and corrosion inhibiters. The one I will discuss here is the 1K 1 part water based polymer coating.

 As you can see, there are several options when choosing clear coats to protect your prized finish.

Thinning Acrylic Paints

Thinning of Acrylic Paints

this lens' photo

I am going to cover my remarkable explorations in my attempts to use ordinary acrylic paints and run them through the airbrush. The main thinner I will discuss will be Pledge Floor Care with Future shine( Formerly Future) which is basically a clear acrylic emulsion with the viscosity of vegetable oil. It is not so much a thinner but more of an extender or flow improver.At a later time I will discuss use of other conventional and unconventional thinning mediums such as isopropyl alcohol, water, glass cleaner, Fantastik Cleaner, as well as fluidizers formely designed for such uses.

Thinning craft acrylics with floor polish and other media


Thinning craft acrylics can be a tricky proposition! I have been reading about all these forums from model rocketry, model railroad, and model builders in general. For the most part they all swear about using Future Floor polish as both a clear coat on finishes, as a barrier between two different kinds of finishes, and more imporantly as a flow improver and thinner for acrylic paints.
NOTE=Future Floor polish is now called Pledge Floor Care with Future shine. It is the same products and still works great.I will discuss primarily the results of putting mixtures of the paint with the Future to thin with the additional help of a little water. In the photo shown here, I have a mix of blue metallic paint mixed with an equal volume of Pledge Floor Polish with some water. As you can see it worked OK but I would like to mention that your paint MUST be like skim milk WITHOUT any lumps! Otherwise the airbrish will just clog up every 20 seconds and you will be doing more cleaning than painting.After repeated ventures with this stuff it is a great all around reducer for most types of acrylic paints. Sometimes I even use it neat without water to reduce paint. It did well with the thicker Createx airbrush paints and they came out smoothly.

It should be mentioned that there are a number of other unexpected materials that are use with various levels of success. I would also like to comment on the comparison of these in contrast to acrylic media designed for blending with paints.


Preparing some stock thinner


Floor polish flow improver/thinnerWhile using Pledge floor finish as a paint flow improver/thinner, I found that mixing up 1 part acrylic floor polish and 1 part water thins acrylics better for airbrushing. Using floor polish alone doe not get the mixture thin enough to get through a airbrush nozzle. It is best to make some extra and keep it in a bottle so you use the same mix proportions while thinning acrylics.On my continued use of this floor finish as a medium, I have found that sometimes a more uniform consistency of paint can be had if I extend the paint with straight Pledge with future instead of adding water. For heavy bodied acrylics, I will thin with water just to get them into a mayonaise consistency before adding the Pledge as this reduces mixing times and helps eliminate lumps. More on this later.


Floor Polish clearcoat


On this second attempt on thinning with Pledge Floor Care, I used just plaint flat aqua acrylic paint as opposed to the metallic blue in the first run. It seemed easier to thin and when in skim milk consistency, it sprays evenly. I allowed it to dry then applied 2 coats of pledge straight from the bottle. As you can see it leaves a shiny clear coat.


Thinning acrylics with glass cleaner


WindexAnother option for thinning water based paints is to use glass cleaner. In it usual form, it is a blue tinted liquid. Unlike the floor polish, glass cleaner has no acrylic binder so it cannot extend the paint. Therefore you should use sparingly. The principle here is that glass cleaner has a tiny amount of detergent and some alcohol to reduce surface tension of the water. Most glass cleaners also have ammonia which helps to keep acrylic emulsions liquified. Acrylic emulsions are most stable at slightly alkaline conditions. Ammonia, being moderately alkaline, serves this purpose admirably.CAUTION: I would like to mention that ammonia solution can dull, corrode or even damage metallic airbrush components with continued use! The ammonia concentration in window cleaner is low however but keep this in mind. It might be advantageous to find a glass cleaner that is ammonia free. <:hgroup> 

Novaplex 235


Novaplex 235This time we are heading in the direction of using more professional materials to thin acrylic paints. I will be talking about Novaplex 235 from The medium is more fluid than regular gel mediums. I wanted to thin down some purple Sargent art Liquid metals paint to be airbrushed. What I did was I used volumetric disposable syringes and drew up 15 ml of Sargent Art Liquid Metal purple. I then proceeded to extract 15 ml of NovaPlex 235 into a second syringe. I mixed them in beaker and stirred until the gel disappeared into the metallic paint. If you have a larger 5 mm airbrush tip you will be able to spray this as is. If you are using smaller tips, you will need to add a little water until the paint is of skim milk consistency.
Acrylics can be thinned with ordinary distilled water but adding too much effects the integrity of the finish.  Therefore, in a pinch,
an artist can make there own airbrush medium for spraying acrylics.  Using gloss or matt medium with about 50% water
produces a thin milky liquid that when added to paint thins it so it may be sprayed all the while contributing extra acrylic resin
to the paint mixture maintaining film strength.

Thinning Oil Based Alkyd Paints for Spray Application


 Spraying Alkyd Paints

Alkyd oil based paints are durable and can produce a high shine if proper preparation is taken.  Oil based paints are self leveling and this allows application with a brush without leaving brush marks.  Even so,  application by spray produces the best overall finish with little fuss. IMAG1176

Choosing a Solvent to Thin Alkyds

Alkyd paints are a solvent based finish.  They consist of a polyester resin and are crosslinked by drying vegetable oils and fatty acids.  The traditional solvent for oil based paint is mineral spirits.  This slow evaportorating solvent keeps the paint wet long enough to assist in leveling.  Mineral spirits are unsuitable for spraying alkyds unless it is very hot.  This is because it dries too slow and is suseptable to runs.  Therefore a faster evaporating solvent is desired.  The common choices are VM&P Naptha, Xylene, and Acetone.

Xylene, pictured above is an aromatic hydrocarbon solvent of medium strength.  It evaporates slower than acetone or naphtha but faster than mineral spirits.  The higher solvent strength allows the xylene thinned alkyd to bond better with primers.  It will produce somewhat glossy finishes but not that shiny and it still evaporates slowly at temperatures below 80 Fahrenheit.

Acetone is the fastest most powerfull solvent available.  In fact, it evaporates so fast that if you spread it on a smooth and warm surface it will dry while wiping it.  Using this alone to spray paint would be bad as it would evaporate too quickly.  Most spray paints in cans use acetone as the principle solvent but usually add in xylene or other petroleum distillates to keep the paint from flashing the solvent too quickly.

VM&P naphtha is a petroleum distillate much like mineral spirits but it evaporates much faster and leaves no oily residue.  It does not flash off as fast as acetone though.  It is perfect for spraying in that it limits sags and runs.  It also allows the alkyd paint to level out a bit as well producing a finish with a “wet” look.  Consider the photo below of a sculpture I am working on.  Notice the reflective quality in the finish.


The disk shape is taped up so it can be painted a different color later.  Naptha thinned paint will usually produce this shiny look so long that it is not too hot or humid.  High heat can dull the shine a little.  It might be a good idea to add a little xylene or mineral spirits to the naphtha before thinning if it is near or above 90 degrees fahrenheit.



Here is the completed sculpture.  When carefully applied with a Preval Spray Unit or the vfan airbrush, alkyd oil based enamel thinned with naphtha will give a near mirror shine. This composition is titled “Perspective”  and the central theme is the main triangle which is turquoise.  All the other colors and shapes were designed and picked out to find a harmonius balance in color and style.  Follow this link to the items listingin my Etsy shop for purchasing information.


A few words of discretionary caution are in order here regarding additives.  The first and most important, DO NOT USE PAINT HARDENERS without proper respiratory protection.  They are isocyanate based and will cause serious respiratory problems if you don’t.

Japan drier should be used according to instructions sparingly.  Do not add to thinned paint you intend to store.  Add only to thinned paint you plan on using at the time.  It does not take much because a little goes a long way.

Working with Quart Paint Cans

One of the most difficult parts of mixing and thinning your own paints is getting out of the cans to begin with.  This can be an extremely wastefull and messy process if certain techniques are not used.   You will need a few of the quart sized plastic paint pails like the one in the top photo.  You pop the lid off the paint can with a screw driver and raise up the can a few inches above the pail.  Never put the lip of the pail to the lip of the can. If you do that the paint will flow everywhere but inside the pail.  In a quick and assertive fashion, dispense the required amount of paint into the pail and quickly wipe off any drizzle from the side of the can.  If using a larger portion it is best to pour several small portions instead of holding the can there until you have the right amount.  When aiming the paint try for the center of the pail to avoid as much paint going on the walls of the pail creating more cleanup work.  These plastic pails are soft and are MUCH easier for dispening paint into jars and air brush containers.  Thin the paint in the pails before dispensing so the pails will clean up easier with less mineral spirits.

Upcycled Metal Art

Upcycled Metal Art

this lens' photo

This lens will be concerned with upcycled metal art that can be purchased for your home, office, or garden. The main appeal, aside from buying something great handmade, is that you are actively participating in a method of using otherwise discarded metal scraps. These unique pieces bring a new life into the unwanted materials.

Upcycled metal art can be made from all sorts of materials. Many are made from nuts and bolts and other fasteners, scrap metal and sometimes a mass produced imported metal decor can be modified to produce a truly unique work of art.


Art Nouveau Scroll Wall Panel


Art Nouveau Upcycled artThis is art I created from a rather indescript scroll panel I found in the dumpster. After I welded on some embellishments, I put some unique iridescent paints I mixed myself to give this piece its special shine. Please click here to follow the link to this item in my Etsy shop.


Upcycled bolt robot candle holder


Second BoltbotThis is my second bolt bot. He is new and improved and now pearl lime green. You can see the Etsy listing for the
lime green bolt man candle holder here.
Scrap bolts, nuts and washers are welded together in a human shaped robot form. Then it is welded to a 4 inch square steel plate base and given two small bobeches for holding tea light candles.


Industrial Chic assemblage


Industrial Chic AssemblageThis is an assemblage of scrap bits of steel I have collected over recent months. They are laid out in a presentable form and welded to together. The art piece was pickled in acid to remove oxidation and wire brushed to a subtle luster. Then different hues of copper and bronze paints where applied to give a shimmer. A gloss clear lacquer was applied to protect the finish and add depth to the metallic finish.


Found object retro metal art


type=textThis is an upcycled art work for you garden as well as your office. I featured it also in my main metal art lens and here because it contains no new metal. Everything in this piece is repurposed. You follow this link to Etsy where this item is listed to purchase.


Welded Dog


Welded DogThis is a wonderfull way to use up scrap metal to create something more personable than an abstract piece. This art would make a great addition to your garden and it will never need feeding!! Be sure to click on the picture to go to this dogs page!


Unique way to reuse flatware


Flatware dragonflyWould you like to see bland flatware reused and upcycled to something totally unique? Ho about a dragonfly made from stainless steel flatware.
Then click on the flatware dragonfly for more information!