Acrylic Craft Paints

Water based craft paints

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Acrylic craft paints are inexpensive, come in dozens of colors, nontoxic, and the versatility is greatly under-appreciated. Just like other water based paints, they are intermixable. These paints are found in virtually all craft and hobby stores and even in Walmart! Most people use them for paper and wood crafts but they will work on many surfaces including metal! And they can even be thinned and ran through an airbrush!Although they are water based, when fully dry they are water resistant. So if you brush or spray the paints and let them sufficiently cure(about 24 hours) you should be able to apply an acrylic solvent clear lacquer to increase the durability and shine. Just be careful with that first coat of clear lacquer. If you put the first coat on too heavy the solvent in the clear lacquer might damage the acrylic paint.


Metallic craft paints


A really nice option available with craft paints is metallic paints. They are available in many colors available and they are intermixable simular to the regular colors offer infinate color mixing properties. The copper, bronze, silver, and gold paints have real metal powders like copper powder or aluminum powder dispersed in the emulsion. The rest of the colors are mica based. A special note on the water based paints with copper powder. They are not made for humid or corrosive environments. The paint film will probably hold up in a humid aread like a bathroom but the metallic copper pigment will probably oxidize to a dark brown or even black oxidized form.

Applying to metal and wood


The acrylic craft paints may be painted on metal surfaces as well as wood. For wood primer is optional but recommended. If you want the wood grain to show through then you will need a clear acrylic medium and some thinner. But stained varnished would be better. There are a series of water based varnishes in the market and the craft paints can be used to tint the varnishes if used sparingly.For metal primer is essential else the paint is suseptable to peeling off the substrate. The primer serves two roles. One to seal the metal surface and two as a surface with “tooth” for the top coat of paint to adhere better to.


Accent paint on bare metal


Industrial Chic Usually if I have acrylic paint on steel I use a primer. In some cases, acrylic paint can be applied directly to bare metal. This is done sometimes to hide blemishes and imperfections in the metal surface to produce a more uniform appearance. Sometimes though, a dry brushing can really enhance the look of bare metal. Take for instance this industrial chic assemblage which has shades of copper and bronze lightly applied to the brushed steel surface. After it was dry, I applied a gloss lacquer and the depth was quite nice.

A Tribute to a Metal Master John Searles

Master in metal art

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I am pleased to bring you this site which discusses one of the metal artist that had a major influence on my style as well. That artist is John Searles. He has been making quality contemporary art on all scales for a number of years and he uses methods I have not seen anyone else use.One of the most striking and unique techniques this artist uses is the weaving of sheet metal. To be able to treat the metal as it where fabric is really an amazing concept in of itself. Also his tendencey to focus on both geometric and organic form really captures my imagination.


Metal weaving


Undulating copper weave with patina One of the most amazing techniques John uses is metal weaving copper and aluminum. He takes advantage of the pliability and softeness of these metals, especially in the annealed state, and weaves them as if they where a textile material. To top it off he applies patinas and finishes to the weavings to make them even more distinctive.

Large Garden Sculpture


Lawn Art One of John’s areas of expertise is large garden sculptures which seem to impose a powerful presence when standing amongst shrubs, trees and floral arrays in any decorative garden. It is though a synthetic element is removed from its industrial settings and being put in the context of nature to become as one with it.

John Searles website


Wavy Column One of the best things about John Searles is his website . Not only does he showcase his work and have a blog but he even has a “how to” section for the aspiring artist. There he talks about working metal, how to market, and how to set up a consignment contract. This is an artist who truly enjoys what he does and wants to share with the world.

Use of Patinas


Space Time Framed Copper Part of the magic is Searl’s use of patinas for his copper compositions. In the sculpture Space Travel John used two patinas to point out two distinctive elements in this work. A copper grid patinated red to symbolize space time continuum. The second patina is a green patina on the circular and oddly shaped pieces representative of the orbits of heavenly bodies along with various space craft and debris.

Steel Shelf for Storage

IMAG1958   Handmade Steel Shelf I am constantly looking for ways to organize my materials and tools.  While recently  going through my closet, I noticed that I had 35 pounds of stick welding electrodes.  Some of them are stainless steel specialty electrodes and are quite expensive.  So I wanted to create a storage solution that would keep them dry and easily accessed. I did not want to invest in more steel so I needed to work with I had on hand.  My goal is to work with materials that I would otherwise not have used in my art.  At least not in the near future.



I made two shelves from some expanded sheet and 3/4″ square tubing.  These shelves are 6 inches deep and 15 inches long.  I then used two 3/8″ square bars nine inches in  length.  I needed some braces in front for strength and support.  They were made from 1/8″ strips that were 1 inch wide.  The completed shelf is shown in the photo below.



The mounting plate is hot rolled steel tread plate 2 1/2″ wide and 18 inches long and 1/8″ thick. The tread plate adds a distinctive industrial look to the shelf unit.  Four 5/16″ holes were drilled into the mounting plate and it was welded to the main shelf unit.  The mounting of the shelf was the most interesting part.  I went to the nearest Home Despot and found these EZ anchors.  They are sturdy metal spirals that you drive into your drywall with only a number 2 phillips screwdriver.  No drilling required.  I chose to mount on studs. The easy anchors even go into these with a little more force.  They come with screws that you mount your item with by screwing them into the anchors.  Each fixture is capable of supporting 50 pounds.




Here is the support shelf fully loaded with 35 pounds of welding electrodes.  I am quite pleased with the whole ordeal.   I chose not to paint or clear coat the metal to just keep its rough, industrial image intact.  I make metal art that I display on my Etsy shop.  Stop by and have a look.

Paints and Coatings for Metal

Protective coatings for your metal creations

Whether you are making your own garden art, candle holder, or metal wall art, you probably want to protect it from the elements and add your own personal touch to your creation. In this lens I will talk about finishes on metal art and there application. This information has the potential to inspire so be prepared to experiment and learn. Continue to check back as more information is added.

acrylic or waterborne paints

type=text If you have been into a home improvement store in recent times, you will find a shortage of oil paints and a proliferation of water borne paints. These are mostly acrylic paints or a blend of acrylic and pva resins. There is very little odor and cleanup is with warm soapy water. Acrylic paints are used in canvas painting but there is also a several brands of craft acrylic paints that are of little thinner consistency. Many brands of airbrushing paint are mostly acrylic paints also. There is also a selection of Enamel paints that are waterborne for outdoor use, but I will have to test them out for myself.The finsih dries hard and will not dissolve in water and it is only removed with solvents like acetone or lacquer thinner with difficulty. They are not as robust as oil based paints though and require a solvent borne lacquer to properly seal the finish.

Water based paints are not only safer for the environment, safe to use indoors due to low
VOC’s, but they are easier on thje wallet. They can be thinned with water instead of expensive
specialty solvents and thinners! Clean up usually is a breeze as well. Soapy warm water is all that is needed.

Enamel or alkyd paints

type=text Enamel or alkyd paints are oil based paints. They are usually a blend of drying oils or a blend of modified drying oils with pigments. The drying oils are usually nonedible oils like linseed oil from the flaxseed plant. These paints take several hours to dry and they can only be thinned with petroleum solvents like mineral spirits or xylene. These paints are high in volatile organics(VOC) and are not only bad for the environment they are quite toxic and proper ventilation is a must. Unfortunately, these paints are still around due to there excellent weather resistatnce outdoors. They still proliferate in industrial coatings. They are usually brushed on but can be thinned up to 25% and sprayed.

Powder coating

Another caoting option for metal art is powder coating. This is the optimum finish if you are making outdoor sculpture. The way that it works is that a finely powdered pigmented plastic is sprayed on a electrostatically charged substrate. Afterwards, the item is placed carefully in an oven or under a heat lamp to cure the coating by melting it and allowing to flow. The benefits inchlude the absense of toxic solvents, and the any overspray can be picked up and reused.


Abstract Wall Hanging in Antique gold


Here is an abstract metal wall hanging with organic curves painted in a custom blended antique gold finish.  The color is deep, rich and enticing and this sculpture will look good in many decor.  Check out the close up below to view the subtle yet persistent glow of the dark gold paint.


The piece was made from 1/4″ diameter mild steel rod that was hand bent and then welded together in the pattern shown. 

Removing Rust Stains with Lime Juice


Lime or Lemon?


This lens will be about using citric acid from limes and UV rays from the sun to remove rust stains from clothing. Lemons will work just as well maybe better but I cook with key limes so that is what I use. Limes and lemons contain from 8% to 10% citric acid where as grapefruits, manderines, and oranges have less. This is the magic ingredient that bleaches the rust stain without effection fabric dyes.

Things you’ll need

  1. lemon, lime or citrus fruit high in citric acid
  2. salt, any table salt, rock salt, or sea salt
  3. old used tooth brush
  4. garment soiled with a rust stain

Mixing the cleaner

Cut the citrus fruit in half and use a lime squeezer. I use the lime juice straight but you can add a little water to make it a little easier to apply. Next add a quarter teaspoon of salt. Salt is a catalyst because it is an electrolyte that helps removing of the rust stain because it is a redox or oxidation/reduction reaction.


Apply the juice mix

Pour the lime juice concoction on the stain so it can wet the fabric and the stain. With an old toothbrush, rub the citrus juice into the fibres which the stain is in. Agitation is important to ensure all the rust stain is contacted with the juice so the citric acid may react.


Intermediate stage

Withing five minutes after applying the salt/juice mix, the citric acid wiill convert the ferric oxide in teh rust to a greenish complex called ferric citrate.

Final bleaching action

If exposed to UV or direct sunlight, the citrate ion reduces the ferric iron to ferrous iron. When the remaining citrate is bonded to the ferrous iron, the resulting ferrous citrate is white and appears invisible. If you smell the stain you will still smell a characteristic blood or iron smell. The garment still needs to be washed like normal to get the juice and salt from the fabric.

Scrap Metal Jewelry Tree

Scrap Metal Jewelry Tree

Jewelry Tree

Today I wish to introduce a jewelry tree I made from screw, bolts, a nail and some bent 1/4 inch rod from a torn up box spring .  This is a perfect example of making something practical from junk.  The three branches are actually corners from the box spring steel frame
As seen from the photos above, I used an assortment of screws, bolts, and nails as “foliage” to add interest to the work.  Lastly, the base is a square piece of steel and I attached the tree with welds to create the illusion of roots.
The last picture shows the jewelry tree with jewelry hanging from it.  It would look good on any dressor and make a great gift.