Water based craft paints
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
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.
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