Friday, June 12

How To: Do A Faux Metal Finish

Several weeks ago I was strolling through our local craft store looking for something to occupy a blank space above our television.  I like words, quotes, sayings, proverbs-- all things linguistic-- and I stumbled across some galvanized metal letters that I thought would be perfect.  Unfortunately the letters they had didn't spell anything useful.  When  I got home I did some snooping and found some papier-mâché letters on the cheap, which I ordered immediately.  They arrived, they were perfect, and they took up residency in the craft room while I tried to figure out how I was gonna do what I wanted to do, and then find the time to do it.

Last week I decided to charge in without further ado.  All the supplies were already on hand:

  • Craft paint in gray, chalk white, burnt umber, raw sienna and black
  • An opalescent craft paint in white
  • Mirror finish spray paint
  • Plastic wrap
  • Paint brush
  • Sponge "pouncer" brushes, usually used for stencils
  • A level
  • Clear, temporary mounting squares

I mixed together the gray, black, white and burnt umber paints, then base coated the letters.  After painting I let them dry a good 30 minutes.

I took the letters outside to my much abused porch and sprayed each individually with the mirror effect paint.  Immediately after spraying, I mottled the paint with a wadded up piece of plastic wrap to give it a distressed finish and a bit of texture.  I had to move pretty quick as the paint set up amazingly fast. I did the same with the sides of each letter, but I left the back free from all paint to make them easier to attach to the wall after completed.

Now comes the fun part.  I took a little bit of the black, gray, raw sienna and burnt umber paints and put them on my makeshift palette.  

I dipped a pouncer in a little bit of each color, then dabbed it off on the palette until most of the paint was removed.  Then I pounced along the edges of each letter, allowing the sponge to give it a natural rusted/worn look.  I rotated the sponge after each pounce, to give it a nice contrast of colors, and I used a few different sized pouncers to randomize the effect.  I tried to imagine where natural wear patterns would emerge if one were to leave metal letters out in the elements for any length of time (clever monkey that I am).

Once I had completed each letter, and they had thoroughly dried, I used the opalescent paint on a dry brush (meaning, you dip the brush in the paint, then dab it off on a paper towel until barely any paint remains on the brush) and I went over the edges again.  This gave each letter a little random shine along the edges to reinforce the metallic effect and naturalize the wear.

I used thumbtacks to hold my level on the wall above the television, then set the letters on it to figure out the spacing.  

I put 3 or 4 squares of the clear mounting tape on each letter, then stuck them to the wall (I left the level attached to the wall, and did each letter individually).  

And that is all there was to it!  All in all it took me about 3 hours, including drying time and a few "I got distracted and started doing laundry" type moments.  It really finished off the wall nicely-- though you'd never guess it from the photos.  I still haven't figured out how to do pictures of the house that don't look...odd.  We've also been having so many storms its nearly impossible to avoid artificial light so everything looks washed out and glare-y.  

I am not a photographer by any stretch, though I do love taking pictures. Sigh. Anyway, you'll have to trust me, it came out great.  I'm thinking of adding a mini bunting garland or something.  We'll see...

It is a super easy finish to do, but it looks impressive and difficult, which is perfect-- everyone thinks I'm wildly creative and artistic, and only I know its all about the sponge brush.  Mwahahaha :)  

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Let me know what you think in the comments below-- and don't forget to leave a link back to your own blog or google+ page- I'd love to follow along on your adventures!