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Color on metal

Greetings Metal Wizards:

I make metal critters, charms, animals, or netsuke, but all these
creatures need a splash of color. I can make an enchanted frog
princess out of bronze, shibuichi, or silver, but she cries out for
red lipstick.

How strong is enamel, epoxy resin, or metal paint? Enamel is
supposed to be strong, but I’ve seen plenty of cracked enamel. Also,
I don’t know how well enamel will attach to the curved lips of an
enchanted princess. Does Epoxy resin, like Colores, really stick
well? How well does metal paint stand up? Please give your wizardly

Thank you.
Sally Parker

I make metal critters, charms, animals, or netsuke, but all these
creatures need a splash of color. I can make an enchanted frog
princess out of bronze, shibuichi, or silver, but she cries out
for red lipstick. 

What about a copper inlay for the lips, I know it’s not ruby red,
but it would look nice.

Regards Charles A.

Try paints from an auto paint store-I used to air brush them onto
brass pins and earrings and then cure them in an old turkey roaster-a
low temp, probably about 250-300 degrees. And I also used Ceramit,
both with good ventilation. They both have opaques and translucent
colors and can look very much like real glass enamels.

Good luck!


Here is an Orchid post from May 2010. I have a necklace painted with
Colores three years ago and the color is still good and has not
chipped. I wish Orchid would schedule another class. I would take it
again. Mary

I have used the Rio product, Colores, which is a resin, to paint
on sterling. I have used brushes and for very fine lines, I have
used toothpicks and hat pins. I also use the syringes for mixed
colors. You simply mix the colors in one of the plastic cups that
is provided with Colores then pour it in the syringe. 

If you use the paint brush, you need to immediately wash the
brush when finished so it can be used again. I wash first with a
simple green product and then wash with goo gone. 

When painting with Colores, the first color must be dry before
the second color is added. Drying time is minimum 36 hours for
each color in areas of high humidity. I have ignored the long
drying time and applied a second color after 12 hours and for
certain things the colors bleed together in an attractive way.
However, this is not always the case. 

From an Orchid posting in Sept 2008 the following may help. 
    Colores is sold in the Rio catalogue. Read the instructions
    very carefully. The colors are wonderful! The application is
    challenging. It takes time to stir the colors and to mix the
    color and the hardner. It takes time to learn to use the
    bottles with the syringes. The drying time is minimum 24 hours.
    On my last piece I applied a second color after 23 hours and
    the colors ran together on the sterling. I am in the process of
    removing two layers of Colores and re-reading the instructions.
    I will be sure I allow 72 hours for drying when I re-apply the
    Colores. Now that I better understand the process I like it. 
Rio teaches a Colores class occasionally. I took the class in
Feb 2005 from Bruce and he was a good teacher. In the class, we
practiced on wax paper. After I bought the kit, Anne Larsen
allowed me to use her studio with five of her students and we
"played" with Colores. Everyone was trying something different.
Ideas were flying all over the room. Someone was always saying "
Look at this!" and we all learned significantly from working
around the same table and reviewing each others experiments. 

The positives are fantastic color; non-toxic; clean-up with soap
and water then Goo Gone; you can drill with a flexshaft cleanly
through Colores on sterling; you can wipe the plastic cups clean
and use again; you can knock a mixing cup of Colores off the
table onto the floor and it stays in the cup when it hits the

The negatives are difficult instructions; long drying time often
dependent on weather and humidity; it will finger print at 72
hours under some conditions; Colores can spill during shipment
even though it appears very tightly closed; difficult to achieve
hi lite effect as it is not possible to duplicate "puffing"; you
must work on a completely level surface or your work can slide;
if you use an oven to dry the first color, you cannot use the
oven for a second color without damaging the color of the first
layer; you need color mixing skills.

First, in explanation, I’m an artist - metalsmithing just happens to
be my current primary medium. Historically I’ve done a LOT of mixed
media… So… get some paint and paint the lips! Why not? There are
all sorts of paint, including enamel paint… go for it!

Beth Wicker
Three Cats and a Dog Design Studio

Or, you could use Niobium and anodize it…


There are all sorts of paint, including enamel paint... go for it! 

Haven’t followed this thread, but to follow Beth’s comment. Testor’s
model paints are wonderful for lots of things beyond models. They
are extremely high quality, stick to most anything and have a high
amount of tint.

And they are bright and last seemingly forever. I used to paint
mandalas on windows with them. Great stuff!

John and Jo-Ann,

Have you used the Testor enamels on sterling? Is it more difficult
if the sterling surface is very smooth? Do you use ordinary paint
brushes? Is there a concern for wearing sterling painted with Testor
enamels in below freezing weather?

Thanks for your help.