Learn 6 Ways to Add Color to Metal with Gail Crosman Moore

six ways to color on metal with Gail Crosman Moore paint ink enamel heat colored pencils nail polish

Have you ever met a jewelry designer or other artist whose work is so appealing to you that you love every single thing they create? For me, one of those jewelry artists is Gail Crosman Moore.

Gail’s work features so many of my favorite jewelry-making techniques, including enameling, metal clay, traditional metalwork, felted fibers, lampwork glass, along with a well-placed smattering of seed beads. Most of her pieces are colorful and nature-themed, including flowers, seed pods, bugs, berries, seashells, and creatures from her imagination.

Gail’s work has a romantic, whimsical feel that I love, and I look forward to visiting her space at To Bead True Blue in Tucson each year. I’m determined to get into one of her classes at Bead Fest someday! Meanwhile, I’m so happy to share that we have the next best thing: Gail’s jewelry-making video workshop, Coloring on Metal for Jewelry Makers with Gail Crosman Moore.

In her video tutorial, Gail shares how to do a bunch of fun metal-coloring techniques, including my favorites–enameling and heat patinas (or “flame painting” as I call it)–plus alcohol inks and more, even nail polish!

Here are six of the metal coloring techniques she covers–and four of them are torch-free techniques!

color on metal with alcohol inks 1. Alcohol inks: For a more transparent colored metal look that still shows the metal and any textures or patterns that it might have, alcohol inks are ideal. They couldn’t be easier to use–just dab on and wipe off the high areas, leaving ink in the deeper recesses of the metal’s design to really make it pop.
easily color on metal with nail polish 2. Nail polish: I love this one, because I love using whatever I have around the house in artistic ways. I’ve kept a bottle of black nail polish in my closet for years because it does wonders to touch up a scuffed sole on a black shoe! Gail shows off how to use gorgeous nail polish (can you think of anything that comes in more amazing colors?) to maximum effect decorating your metal jewelry designs, for a cold-enamel look. Pretty much any brand at any price will have good results.
color on metal with model paints 3. Model paints are another inexpensive, readily available way to color on metal that, like nail polish, is easy to apply, adheres well to metal, and comes in a wide variety of colors. Gail points out that it comes in matte or shiny finish; the shiny will also help you achieve the look of faux or cold enameling, the matte more of a heat patina look.
color on metal with PrismaColor colored pencils 4. PrismaColor colored pencils: After the metal is properly primed, you can use PrismaColor colored pencils (for some reason, that brand is very much recommended; I’ve heard it’s the only one that works on metal) as they are to add colorful designs or use them in conjunction with turpentine to blend and create watercolor-like effects.
create heat patinas on metal 5. Heat patina: I call using a flame on metal to coax out colors “flame painting”–most folks call it heat patina. Either way, it’s incredibly fun and makes me feel like a bit of an alchemist. While there are certain guidelines you can follow to (hopefully) achieve certain colors and effects, it all feels a little bit like wild experimentation or magic to me, and I’m usually so pleasantly surprised with whatever colors I get. If you want to achieve bright, vivid colors, like purples and blues on copper and gorgeous rainbow effects, Gail will help you do that–and she does it with a micro torch!
create color on metal with enamel 6. Enameling: Here it is, another chance for me to say how much I LOVE enameling! I’ve been torch enameling for about six months now and I can’t stop, I do it all the time. If I had a big enough flame, I probably would have enameled some of my furniture by now. Torch enameling in particular is so much fun, because I feel more involved in the process than I do with kiln enameling. I love mixing colors on a single piece of metal, too, and using transparent enamels on brass for a beautiful effect.

If you want to learn more about adding color to metal, don’t miss Gail’s great video workshop. In it she covers all of these ways to add color to your metal jewelry components as well as how to prime and prepare the metal to “give it some tooth” and achieve the best results. Download Gail’s Coloring on Metal for Jewelry Makers hi-def video download to learn more!

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