Thursday, April 17, 2014

Stroke of the Brush: Wood Bead Finishing Part 3

Hand painted bead tutorial - Pepperell Braiding Company

Mmm-mmm! Hand painted beads. You can't get a cleaner look than that... except for maybe spray painting. While this method does take time, the finished look is second to none. 

Hand painting wooden beads - Pepperell Braiding Company
Painting wood beads by hand.
Time it does take... bead after bead for hand application. Unfortunately this method does not guarantee a finished look on the first coat, unless you've:

A. Primed the bead ahead of time, and even this wasn't 100% helpful.
B. Use a paint-primer combo paint type (see your local hardware store exterior/interior paint counter).
C. You're not too eager to have a completely coated bead.

As you can see above, you can mount your bead onto a pencil or disposable chopstick (or even a finger,) and then go to town slapping paint everywhere. However, most beads are a little flat at the entrance of the hole, so pinching the ends between two fingers to stabilize may be all that's necessary.

Completed hand painted wooden bead - Pepperell Braiding Company
Tah-dah! Finished wooden bead.

For this method I used both artists' acrylics and plain, cheap, simple (matte) craft paints. Honestly, I really have a preference to the cheap stuff. The paint applies surprisingly even and the color saturation can easily be pumped up with a couple coats of clear sealer. The artists' acrylics will give you a nice stained effect and an instant sheen; for a nice flat color, opt for the craft paints.

Artists' Acrylic painted beads leave a shiny & stain-like finishCraft acrylic painted beads will require a gloss coat finish.

Con list of the brush:
  • Multiple layers required (maybe 2 or 3 coats ideally).
  • Slow... see previous note & add a few minutes for drying time.
  • A little tedious if you have a lot of beads to manage.

Pro list for brush technique: 
  • Your color pallet is only limited by your imagination!
  • Clean looking results... unless you just glop on the paint.
  • The mess factor is significantly lower then other bead coating methods unless you're clumsy and drop things often. Then you may want to worry more about bead impressions on your clothing and furniture.

For small projects requiring maybe under two dozen beads, this really is the finishing method for you. Or also if you're meticulous about your details, you would probably enjoy this very much.

Professional painters tips: Really try to prime your beads first, especially if there's an obvious wood grain, because that can bleed through over time. Also I used a clear spray paint to seal my beads, but you can most certainly use a paint-on cover. The spray is just much faster.

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