How to Paint a Metal Sculpture

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The reason for painting metal sculpture can be as simple as the need for a sealant that prevents rust or preserves the patina. Or, it can become an elaborate expression of color, furthering the intention of your artwork. Make certain there is plenty of ventilation and that you have a respiratory mask, chemical gloves and goggles for protection. Decide if you need to remove rust from your sculpture before you start. If you want to preserve what is already there, you may only need a sealant. If you are interested in painting a color on your sculpture, new metal paints no longer require a prime coat or top coat.

Things You'll Need

  • Coarse sandpaper
  • Xylene
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Rags
  • Hair dryer
  • Sealant "Everbrite" or metal paint "Hammerite"
  • Metal paint pan
  • Old white T-shirt
  • Sand off any spots of rust that have built up on the metal.

  • Remove any further contaminants with Xylene and a rag. Xylene can be purchased at a hardware store.

  • Further wipe off contaminants with denatured alcohol, making sure the metal is completely clean. Do not use isopropyl alcohol.

  • Use a hair dryer to make sure the metal is completely dry prior to sealing or painting. Let the metal cool prior to a followup application.

  • Seal your sculpture by pouring Everbrite sealant into a metal pan. Use an old T-shirt as an applicator. Saturate the applicator in the sealant and gently squeeze out excess.

  • Apply sealant in smooth, even strokes. Wipe out drips or runs with the applicator. Most surfaces will require two coats. If you are painting on raw metal, the job may require up to four coats.

  • Paint directly on the surface of your sculpture. Some metal paints by Hammerite may need to be brushed on, while others are aerosol. If your painting is detailed with many colors, painting with appropriate size brushes and liquid paint is the best choice.

Tips & Warnings

  • Everbrite is dry in 20-25 minutes and can be cleaned with soap and water.
  • Do not mix Hammerite paint colors.
  • Avoid using Enamel paint--it tends to chip and become sticky in hot weather.

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