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Thread: artist acrylics on wood

  1. #1
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    artist acrylics on wood

    Planning to play with some artist grade acrylic paints on turned objects and found this article during my research. I found it very educational. Especially the reminder about grain raising. I've been using strictly oil based finishes so far and completely forgot about that. I think I'll invest in some of the MSA varnish (mineral spirits acrylic) as a precoat like they recommend. Good thing the Golden factory is kinda on my way home from work.

  2. #2
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    Mark, I've used Golden acrylics to paint toys and puzzles. They work great, and Golden paints is a wonderful company.

    Ken

  3. #3
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    Ok, I'm going to discuss some acrylic experimentation in this thread. I'm also discussing this on an artist forum I belong to (is it ok to post a link to there?) so please don't be offended if through cutting and pasting I write some really basic woodworking stuff here, bordering on intelligence insulting, as I can't assume the artist folks know as much about wood as we do here.

    There's a pic of my first test piece, a bowl gouge handle, in this thread. I don't want to upload the image twice, so go look there if you want to see the before picture.

    The tool (a 1/2" Thompson bowl gouge, U-profile) will be inserted to the end of the piece on the left of the picture. Just to the left of the red curtain are two grooves that are hard to see in this picture. There's a little excess wood on either side.

    In between the two innermost grooves will be where I paint the piece. I'm going to apply Bush Oil after painting to either end, since I don't know what kind of grip the acrylic will yield and I am familiar with how a light coat of Bush Oil feels in my hand.

    After doing as good a job as I am currently capable to get the piece smooth with a skew chisel, I power sanded with 320 grit.

    Here is my current plan for painting:

    First, I'll tape off a bit with low tack masking tape the ends where paint will not be applied. Then I'll apply some number of coats of MSA varnish (mineral spirits acrylic) - since it is snowing again today (happy springtime! ) this step will have to happen either tomorrow or later. If tomorrow isn't warm, maybe I'll pop off an email to Golden and see if they have a recommendation on how many coats of MSA Varnish to apply.

    After the varnish is fully cured (not sure long I should wait - I'll probably wait at least a day to be safe) I'll coat the work with a generous amount of AGL (acrylic glazing liquid) - this will make the paint more workable longer with a slower drying time. The AGL will also increase the transparency of the paint, which is good for me because I still want to see grain. Then I'll put a little tiny bit of red (not sure which one yet) Heavy Body on a bit of t-shirt material and go to town.

    I'll apply the AGL with the t-shirt too, and will just use the same t-shirt for painting. I'll probably just toss the MSA t-shirt bit after use.

    Safety considerations - since I'll be painting on a surface spinning at 500 rpm, true cadmiums are right out. Since I'm aiming for still seeing the grain, I should probably use a more transparent pigment anyhow. Maybe naphthol red light, quinacridone crimson or quinacridone magenta. I'll need to remember to wear my full face shield and ought to setup some sort of "overspray" wall.

    Assuming I get the red layer to a point that I am happy with, I'll let the red dry fully and then I'll try putting on a layer of interference blue. As long as this is a test piece, I might as well totally test the technique. I'm open to opinions about which red might go best with the interference blue to make a blue-red-purple shimmering effect.

    After the interference blue dries will be another coat or two of MSA varnish.
    Last edited by Mark Kosmowski; 04-05-2009 at 01:23 AM.

  4. #4
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    The acrylics sound like an interesting experiment, but for this application, where you want to still see the grain, why not just use wood dye like TransTint? It can be either water or alcohol based. If you use alcohol, you sidestep the grain raising problem, too.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  5. #5
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    Vaughn, ultimately I want to play with color blending and things like interference colors (i.e. interference blue on top of red will give a blue-red-purple shimmer depending on how light hits it). Additionally, I already have a bunch of acrylic stuff from dabbling in painting, so no money needs to be spent.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Kosmowski View Post
    ...I already have a bunch of acrylic stuff from dabbling in painting, so no money needs to be spent.
    I was guessing that might be the case, and I fully understand. The interference color thing makes sense, too, although I think it can also be done to a certain extent with dyes.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  7. #7
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    It warmed up a little today and I was excited about this project, so I figured I'd go try some stuff. If I don't like it I can always sand it off and try again.

    I made a 1:1 mix of Golden's MSA Varnish and the mineral spirits denoted as "good" for use on their website. The mix was a bit cloudy, I was nervous to use it and came back in to read their product literature again.

    Turns out, at one point in their literature they say "must be thinned" and then in another part it says "20-30% thinning is helpful for brushing, thin more for spraying" (that's more a paraphrase not a quote). So, I thought to myself, "I'm not using no stinking brush, I'll just put it on straight with a t-shirt." So that's what I did. After all, I can always sand it off if I don't like it.

    My bottle of MSA is maybe 3 years old and I originally bought it for woodworking, so it has sat through some freeze-thaw cycles in the unheated shop instead of living in the studio area with my paints. Unknown if this has any impact on what I'm about to describe.

    First, the MSA is very viscous. Maybe around 60,000 centipoise - this is going from memory of how the 60K centipoise viscosity standard flowed = and this memory is about five years old now. I started by putting a bit of MSA on my t-shirt material bit, turned the lathe to 500 rpm, dropped my faceshield and went to apply the MSA just like I apply Bush Oil, by gently wiping it on to the spinning piece.

    Except that didn't work as expected, since the MSA is too viscous and gripped too much to the spinning piece making it rather difficult to maintain control of the cloth. So I turned off the lathe and applied a generous amount of MSA to the piece with the cloth just by hand, manually rotating the piece to get the underside, etc., etc. So now I have MSA all over my piece, but not in a uniform thickness. So what I did was then turn the lathe on again, get a very secure grip on the cloth and then wiped off the excess MSA to leave (hopefully) a uniform thickness.

    The wood grain is still visible at this point and the MSA is very much just a clear coat now. The MSA has been applied to the area between the artists' tape in the below picture.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    The MSA varnish as I applied it dried really fast, so I went ahead and did the first painting coat. I put on a generous amount of AGL on the piece before applying some quinacridone red heavy body paint. I used a piece of t-shirt cloth to apply the paint, periodically also adding some more AGL.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I'm not 100% happy with my first attempt, but realized that I was starting to mess around with it too much. It was difficult for me to get an even color intensity throughout the piece. This difficulty seems to have been the worst with the height differences / curves in the piece. I'm thinking to let it dry and then add a second coat. After that I might lightly sand to try and even out the "brush" marks.

  8. #8
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    I'm surprised the wood carvers here haven't chimed in. Acrylics are the preferred paint used by carvers. You can dilute as much, or little, as you want and build up to desired shading. Check out woodcarving sites.

  9. #9
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    I managed to get in some sanding of my first coat today. Might be awhile before I get around to more painting. We're keeping it cold and snowy another week or two so Larry feels at home when he gets here!

    The last picture was while the paint was still wet.

    Here is a pic of the dry paint.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    And here is a pic after some sanding.

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    I might experiment using a brush to apply the next coat.

  10. #10
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    Here's the latest installment in my crazy experiment.

    I wanted to apply lighter, more transparent coats for the second coat to be able to slowly build to a uniform red. So I thought I had a brilliant idea. I mixed a little Airbrush quin. red with a bunch of transparent airbrush extender and used a 1/2" flat brush to apply it. After doing this and having some of the paint pool at the bottom of the piece I learned that the airbrush paints are designed to be a little slower drying to avoid drying up in the airbrush needle.

    Oh well, I guess this is why this is an experiment.

    Here's a picture after putting on two layers of my Airbrush paint mix.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I'm going to sand it down a bit again and I want to touch up the left end a bit - next try will be using a fluid, maybe with some AGL added. I'll apply with a brush again for better control.

    I'm happier with this than I was before.

    Heavy body on t-shirt fabric is too much pigment without much control. The Airbrush paints are too liquidy with too slow a drying time. Hopefully the fluid will be just right.

    If needed I suppose I could just leave the lathe running while the paint dries, but that makes one of my safety nerves tingle.

    Actually, I think it is Ned's safety nerves that tingled when he walked into my shop while I was wondering whether leaving the lathe running unattended while the paint dried was the best idea I'd ever had.

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