Old metal pieces may have several coats of old paint on them, may be rusted or might even have old decorative decals applied to the surfaces. So the first step is to strip the piece down to bare metal.
Rusty metal: Purchase, from a lumber yard or home improvement center, the product called Naval Jelly® Rust Dissolver. This bright pink gel is a great product: it works well and is easy to use. Follow the directions on the container. Once all rust has been dissolved, scrub the piece with a stiff brush, using hot soapy water, rinse well, and let dry completely. I sometimes put smaller pieces in the oven and set it on warm so all the moisture is evaporated from the surface
and any crevices. Then it’s ready to prime.
Painted metal or metal pieces with decals: Purchase a product called DAVIES 300-X STRIP-EZE PAINT REMOVER or any other recommended paint stripper.. Follow the instructions on the container. Once paint is completely dissolved, scrub all the residue off with a brush and warm soap and water and allow the piece to dry thoroughly as above.
Priming the metal: Once the metal piece is stripped, scrubbed and dry, you are ready to spray all metal parts on the entire piece, inside and out, with two coats of gray (or other color of your choice) metal primer, purchased from your local hardware store or a local lumber yard. Let first coat dry and then rub well with steel wool. Remove all steel wool particles with a tack cloth or by wiping with a damp cloth. Wait the recommended time and respray. Sand once again with the steel wool, and remove particles with tack cloth.
Sometimes I use the primer for my background color, particularly if it’s a nice neutral color and goes well with my design. If you plan on painting on the primer color (rather than painting the piece with acrylic) spray the primed piece with Liberty Matte Finish or with Krylon Matte Finish, # 1311 to seal the primer before applying your design.
Acrylic Background Color: But most of the time, after the metal is primed, you would then proceed to paint the piece with the acrylic color or wet-on-wet acrylic background you desire. Once the acrylic has been applied, and sanded with steel wool between coats, spray it with Liberty Matte Finish or Krylon Matte Finish, # 1311 before applying the design.
Antiquing or Glazing: Metal pieces are often antiqued or glazed to soften the acrylic background and to impart a country or antique look to the piece. Antiquing can be done after your decorative painting is complete and dry, or before you apply your design. Make a very thin mix of Raw Umber oil paint (or any other color or mix of oil colors that would better enhance your design) thinned with odorless thinner and to which a drop of siccative has been added. Apply this mix with a synthetic brush in crevices and hard-to-reach areas, or with cheesecloth in larger flat areas. Soften and blend glazing to a value gradation with a pad of cheesecloth. Glazing evens out and deepens the naturally darker areas in corners, along the edges or around fixtures where the metal pieces attach. Allow all to dry and spray with matte finish once again.
Final Finish for Oil Paintings: Before painting is dry, clean up any paint smudges or messy edges on background around painted areas. Then let the piece dry for a week or two if you used Cobalt Siccative in the paint; a month if you did not. When dry to the touch, clean up any remaining graphite lines with thinner. Wipe piece with damp cloth to remove any dust or thinner haze, especially if piece is painted on a dark background. Let dry thoroughly.
Spray first with Krylon Spray Satin Finish Varnish, product # 59-7002.
Let dry. This initial spray coat helps eliminate streaks and even out the finish in the next step.
Now apply one coat of a good interior gloss oil-base varnish. A gloss varnish is the most durable finish so it’s preferable. Do not use a urethane or polyurethane, particularly if it’s to be used outside. Let the first coat dry well. Then rub down with steel wool to desired semi-gloss or satin finish. If another coat is desired, repeat last steps.
SHERRY C. NELSON MDA