Customize Your Jewelryby Heather DeSimone
We bead designers are always striving for ways to come up with new & exciting designs that have a totally different look from other designers who work with beads. One way to have your designs stand out from the rest is to custom-color your own line of filigree components
We at The Beadin' Path
are always finding vintage metal filigrees in raw brass & other base metals. Sometimes they have plating on them. Other times they have taken on a very cool patina with age - a term come to be known as 'aged brass'. Other times, the finishes on these pieces are a bit too 'vintage' looking. There might be spots of rust, or oxidation that has occured in not quite the right places. Cynthia Deis' new book 'Beading with Filigree'
is a fantastical new feature, that includes countless ways of working with filigree. One of her brilliant and 'now-why-didn't-I-think-of-that' suggestions is to pick up inexpensive cans of enamel spray paint at your local hardware store and dramatically change the look of vintage filigree or contemporary metal filigree pieces simply by giving them a new finish.
One of the things that drew me to this idea was the photo in her book of some brilliant red pieces she had painted or 're-surfaced'. At first glance, I swore they were lucite. As you know, we have a special fondness for all things bright and lucite so I just had to figure out where these rare & fabulous pieces of lucite filigree were coming from. When I read on and realized that she had resurfaced metal I was way intrigued (really, you need to get this book 'Beading with Filigree'
) and decided that I needed to do some of my own experimenting with this technique.
So I went down to my local Wally-world and found my way to the spray paint can aisle. I
had no idea that spray paint came in so many whimsical and fun colors! My Dad is a land surveyor and growing up, I thought that spray paint only came in flourescent orange. My assumption had been that my color choices would be flourescent orange, black and maybe that nice robin's egg blue that they used to spray paint 1970's vans with the bubble windows with... I'm dating myself now. I found bright cherry red, an emerald green, a mint green, a rustic brown, a bubble gum pink and on and on. Now the key word to look for when choosing your own spray paint colors is the word 'enamel'. This insures that the finish on your pieces will be sound and that most likely will not have to go over them with a clear coat of any type.
My 6-year-old Max & I decided we should take our experiment in color outdoors on a beautiful Fall day. We spread newspaper all over the gravel part of our driveway so as not to make new designs on our paved road. After anchoring them down with the other paint cans we started to open our first color choice - cherry red. Now here is a tip that's worth it's weight in spray paint - that little doodly-bop that is sticking out of the sprayer when you first open your can... it's NOT a protective piece of plastic that should be removed. It's the guide that keeps the paint from exploding all over you when you first press down on the sprayer. Had I read my directions on the can, I probably would have learned that the easy way. I have a new cherry red splattered paint smock, as does Max, let's put it that way. So leave the little plastic doodly-bop ON.
Then after we had moved on to another color, keeping the doodly-bop in place, successfully painted our first small batch of filigrees, a big gust of Autumn wind decided to make off with our paper and in turn, pepper our freshly painted pieces with the gravel from our driveway. Lesson #2 - a heavier surface such as old plywood makes a much better base than newspaper. After finding an old heavy canvas that we were recycling (a really cool way to make a unique painting by the way), and moving it to the grass, we had a more successful work space ready to go.
Another tip is to avoid 'Satin' finishes. Of course you can experiment on your own because maybe you're looking for more of a matte finish. I found that the glossy paints gave me the wet look, glazed enamel finish that I was looking for. Cynthia also mentions in
her book that while you cannot mix paints that come from spray cans, you can play around with layering various colors to achieve different finishes and looks.
A fun wire to use with your bright new colored metal pieces is the Artistic Wire or Parawire in fun bold colors. You can also re-create the look of fine metals or high end metal platings by going with automotive enamels such as glossy silver, gold or coppers. Various browns take on the look of patina'ed brass or copper.
So go through your collection of old metal beads
& filigree components
. You're sure to find something that could use some customizing and resurfacing. And if you don't have a collection started yet, you've come to the right place. Carisa has just added some fresh finds to our website. And who knows, you might even find The Beadin' Path will be offering some of our own customized and re-surfaced filigree finds. We have 'that box' of filigrees that are just too 'vintage' in finish that we now can re-purpose and breathe new life into them