Introduction: Distress Your Kymera Wand

About: Eldest of five, son of two doctors, 10 years in Graphic Design and marketing, then retrained as a Biomedical Materials Engineer, don't ask me why, I think it was because I had always wanted to design artificia…
This instructable will show you how to make (almost) anything look like old ivory or bone. The technique I have used is also called distressing. I am distressing (you might want to call it a creative hacking) my beloved Kymera Wand. If you don't know what this is, have a look here . If you already know what it is, it's possible that you might have bought a Kymera, or had one bought for you, or if you are very lucky you might even have won one here on Instructables, in their great Christmas competition. However you got one, hacking a $90 gadget takes some guts, but I think the result speaks for itself and you end up taking something original and turning it into something completely unique.

You will need:

One Kymera Wand (or any other gadget you would like to distress)
Ivory (or cream) coloured mat spray paint
Light brown spray paint
600-800 grade wet and dry emery paper
A thin paint brush
A small amount of black acrylic paint
Some black shoe polish and a polishing brush
Masking tape

Step 1: Take Out Batteries

Make sure that the wand is clean and free of any greasy fingerprints by wiping it down with a damp kitchen paper towel. Don't immerse it in water, or use running water.

Dry it off and then remove the battery door and take out the batteries, put them all in a safe place, where you can't get any paint on them by accident.

Step 2: Mask Shaft and Thread

Carefully and accurately mask the shaft of the wand with masking tape. Make sure it is tight round the end of the shaft where it meets the body, but wind it loosely round the rest of the shaft so that it will be easier to peel off later.

Scrunch up some masking tape and poke it down inside the battery compartment to mask off the battery door thread. Getting spray on this might stop the wand working.

IMPORTANT NOTE: At this point you are about to make changes to your wand (or whatever you are distressing) that can not be undone. DO NOT continue if you are a) doing this to someone else's equipment, or b) you are worried that you might ruin your prized possession...

Once the wand is neatly masked up you could gently run some very fine (600-900 grade) wet and dry emery paper, over the surface to be painted. You don't want to see visible scratches, but a slight key will help the next stage.

Step 3: Spray Cream

Spray cream! That's not the confectionery dessert topping that comes in a can, but good old fashioned off-white spray paint. This technique requires a nice thick coat. To get a thick coat build it up a layer at a time. This shouldn't take long, but it does require a bit of patience. Don't spray it all at once as thickly as you can, because the paint will run and then you will have to wipe it off and start again, and that can be very messy.

I used mat paint and sprayed about 5 or 10 coats. You might find that as the first couple of coats go on there are little areas or spots that don't seem to take the paint so well. Don't worry about those, just wait for the paint to dry for about 10 or 15 minutes and then dust over another coat, eventually these spots will go. For the best effect hold the item to be sprayed (wand in this case) at arm's length and move the can backwards and forwards along the wand length pressing the spray button only when the can is moving. let go of the spray button at the end of each pass so the paint doesn't build up too thickly at each end of the spray area. As you do this rotate the wand in your hand so that it gets a nice even coating.

Stand the wand, tip down, in a highball glass in between each coat and leave it somewhere warm to dry off, say on top of a radiator or in the airing cupboard. Beware of the smell though. Some people like the smell of drying spray paint, some do not. If you live with someone who does not, perhaps the best place to do this is the garage. (Never spray in a confined space as the fumes can be dangerous)

Step 4: Polish

I used mat paint because it allows me to control the level of gloss on the surface. You can always polish up mat paint, and it gives a lovely flat finish. Gloss paint tends to look more fake on this sort of project and it is hard to get the variation between mat and antique "worn" gloss that you want in a distressed piece if you use gloss paint to start with.

Leave the wand overnight to really harden off and dry properly. If you can, leave it somewhere warm and ventilated. 

When the paint coating is really dry, rub you hand up and down the shaft (steady guys...) to bring it up to a gentle sheen.

Step 5: Paint Wash of Black (begin Distressing)

Now you are going to start distressing.

The art of distressing (and it is an art) is to build up a credible layer, or layers, of what looks like age related dirt and yet leave certain areas clean and highly polished as if the device has been used for years and has built up that lovely antique patina of age. Think before you start... where would the dirt build up, where would there be less dirt, what bits would become polished with age. Right now you are seeing how to distress your Kymera Wand, but you could be doing this to an X-Box, or a Wii controller, or an old remote control (how cool to have an old ivory one of those), so think through how you use it and where the dirt should and shouldn't go.

Don't worry so much if you mess this stage up a bit, you can always dry off the piece and re-spray it, indeed that might make it look better and older.

So... here goes....

Mix up some black, water-based acrylic with a little bit of water and paint on to the crisscross area. you will need to work fast and as you are going to wipe most of this off, have some damp paper towels ready before you start as acrylic dries very quickly.

Step 6: Wipe Off Black Paint

Wipe off the black paint. See how the black colour has stained the ivory paint slightly, no issue, but it has stayed in the crisscross areas of the wand. In real life, I am thinking that the high spots of the crisscross areas would be more polished, lighter and perhaps have less black on. If too much black wipes off, put more on especially in the dips and wipe off again. try to keep the rest of the wand clean, we'll get to that part in a minute.

Step 7: Mask High Points

Ideally I wanted the high points of the piece to be really glossy and cleanly polished. As you distress, you go through a cycle of painting on and polishing off and the high points can rub through eventually to the material that is under the paint layer (however thick you have done it) so I decided to mask off the really high points to protect them.

Cut very thin strips of masking tape and wrap securely round the three main high points of the wand's handle.

Step 8: Add More Black

Add more black in the areas that dirt would have collected. Again add wipe off, add, wipe off, and repeat, etc etc until you are happy with the aged look. If you have an airbrush, you can use this to get a very smooth look.

Step 9: Spray Brown

I wanted an old bone / ivory look, so I sprayed a lightish brown paint in the areas that i thought would have collected a bit of aging.

Step 10: Lightly Remove Brown

If you want, you could add and wipe off more black at this stage. For me I lightly sanded the crisscross area to bring the cream colour back up (grateful now that I had put on so many coats of base colour cream paint) to give the area a really neat, worn look. Also I was unhappy with the finish of the handle so I resprayed some cream in the middle of the handle to really make it look like it had been polished completely clean by years of spell casting.

Step 11: Remove Tape

It's a cool moment when the project starts to come together. This is especially true if you have been brave and creatively hacked something expensive. Peeling off the masking tape revealed the contrasting rings in their unpainted state and the piece really started to look trick.

The rings weren't perfectly clear of brown paint, so I sprayed some cream paint on to an old plate and used a fine brush to carefully touch the rings up to make sure that they looked really dirt-free.

Stand wand in a highball glass so that the rings can dry without touching anything.

Step 12: Apply Polish

Black or brown shoe polish as a very simple way to add the finishing touch to any distressing project. Just like the paint, apply it where you think dirt might have collected over the years and then polish off first with a brush and then with a soft buffing cloth.

Don't be afraid to go over this (or in fact any of the distressing stages) any number of times to build up a nice, deep, high quality finish.

As you polish off the shoe wax you'll see the lovely look of work worn ivory staring right back at you!

Step 13: Admire Handiwork

At last it is time to remove the masking tape and review your handiwork.

Phew, either it looks fab or you have just ruined a hundred dollars of high tech wizardry. Perhaps it might have been better to practice on an old wooden spoon first.

Perhaps instead of ivory you could go for an old jade handle or even a marbleized one (slightly different technique) or even a pink, soapstone look.

Look on the web or in you local bookshop for books or articles on distressing and various paint finishes.

If you don't like what you see, mask up and go back to step one and start again... remember as it says on the Kymera Wand manual...