Alter Metal Surfaces 15+ Ways with Susan Lenart Kazmer

What I love about Susan Lenart Kazmer in her videos and workshops is that she floods my mind with possibility after possibility. If you’ve ever taken an in-person or online course with her, you know that her enthusiasm and creativity come bubbling out in a way that is quite contagious.

ABOVE: Join in Susan’s world of color, shape, form, and texture in her workshop 15+ Ways to Alter Metal Surfaces.

Natural inspiration: Chipping playground paint and aged newspapers provide examples of how objects endure through time.

Natural inspiration: Chipping playground paint and aged newspapers provide examples of how objects endure through time.

Observe the World Around You

Susan draws her inspiration from the world around her. This is especially evident in her latest workshop, in which the name almost says it all: 15+ Ways to Alter Metal Surfaces: Cold Enameling, Resin, Powders, Pastels & More. From crackling paint on weathered playground equipment to yellowed paper packaging, ideas can come from right in front of us. Susan takes this input and runs with it, demonstrating how to combine shabby and shiny effects like rust, burnt edges, ink, paint, crackle, sgraffito, glitzy glitters, colorful oil pastels, and much more to create truly unique pieces.

Susan sealed this crackled piece with a matte sealant.

Susan sealed this crackled piece with a matte sealant.

Where to begin? All I can say is that you’ll learn far more than just 15 ways to alter metal surfaces. Susan starts off with advice on how to prepare your metal to accept surface effects before launching into a plethora of ways to personalize your pieces.

As long as you have a base paint that is incompatible with the top layer, you’ll achieve a crackle effect. Even nail polish will work!

As long as you have a base paint that is incompatible with the top layer, you’ll achieve a crackle effect. Even nail polish will work!

Crackle Your Way to Unique Surfaces

One of Susan’s favorite effects is crackle, in which the top layer of paint peels due to its incompatibility with the base layer. Several types of crackle paint are available – including nail polish (affiliate link). However, don’t stop once the crackle effect is achieved! Now comes the part where you make the piece look real.

Finishing touches give the piece a realistic, genuine feel. Try sanding to reveal parts of the metal beneath and applying ink or paint to define edges.

Finishing touches give the piece a realistic, genuine feel. Try sanding to reveal parts of the metal beneath and applying ink or paint to define edges.

Susan emphasizes the importance of spending some time sanding, painting, and defining to give your piece a sense of completeness and authenticity. And then, don’t forget to seal it to preserve your work. Susan covers several options, including resin (affiliate link) and spray-on matte sealants.

Cold enameling can be done with a heat gun.

Cold enameling can be done with a heat gun.

Beat the Heat with Cold Enameling

Another fascinating technique Susan shows is cold enameling. This versatile technique can be used on materials as diverse as copper, silver, bronze, paper, acorns . . . just about anything! Using wax-based embossing powders and a heat gun (or a hot plate), you can create beautiful surfaces ranging from stone-like effects to glitter and mica powder. The best part is that you only have to be done when you want to be. If you don’t like the look, sand it off or add more layers to modify it. Resin works wonderfully to seal your design, creating a shiny, glasslike surface.

Susan creates sparkly faux drusy and faux opal designs using resin and glitters.

Susan creates sparkly faux drusy and faux opal designs using resin and glitters.

But Don’t Stop There

To explore even more techniques to alter metal surfaces, you’ll have to join in the workshop for yourself. You won’t want to miss her demonstrations with oil pastels, texture hammers, stamps, stencils, patinas, faux drusy and opal, dapping, riveting, wirework, and more to make your pieces come alive.

A pop of color contrasts beautifully with the rest of Susan’s aged-looking piece.

A pop of color contrasts beautifully with the rest of Susan’s aged-looking piece.

Alter Metal Surfaces with Susan’s Top 5 Tips

1. Prep for success.

Sanding your metal is a crucial step to remove oils, dirt, and other debris. Soaking the metal in salt water also helps open the surface to allow surface effects to adhere.

2. Bring it to life.

Once you’ve created your initial surface effects, get busy making the piece look real. Sanding the edges and select areas of the surface will allow a bit of the metal to show through, creating a natural, weathered look. Black ink or acrylic paint can help define edges.

3. Embrace contrast.

Juxtapose worn, shabby-looking metal with shiny resin coatings or crystals for an artistic effect. Try adding a splash of color to your piece to contrast with the aged look. (See Susan’s piece above, where the hot pink pops against the worn metal background.)

4. Tap into dapping.

Dapping your metal first can turn a flat shape into a unique, dimensional piece. Start with the larger dies, moving to smaller and smaller dies if you desire a deeper dap.

5. Finish with cold connections.

Once you’re happy with your piece, be creative with cold connections to turn it into a finished piece of jewelry. Riveting with nuts and screws is a great way to attach multiple layers. Be creative with wire, hammering to flatten if desired, and experiment with hanging your pieces. Wire can also be patinated, sanded, cold-enameled or sealed.

To learn all this and much more, check out Susan’s intensive workshop on how to alter metal surfaces. With all the instruction of her original video, you’ll also enjoy quizzes, discussion boards, and interactive activities to reinforce the lessons, such as this riveting recap:

Rivet like a pro with Susan’s instruction!

Rivet like a pro with Susan’s instruction!

Want a bargain? To access this course as well as our library of on-demand options, subscribe to Interweave’s Online Workshops.

Go be creative!
— Tamara Kula
Producer, Bead & Jewelry Group


Personalize and Alter Metal Surfaces with These Resources:

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