Working on a costume, prop or decoration that needs the look of old style rivets and metal straps? This is a cheap, easy and fast way to create them of almost any size. For this instructable I'll be creating some that are approximately .5x2 inches.
What you need:
Thin art board or heavy card stock
Gold and copper hobby paint
Green hobby paint
Gold "puffy" paint
Step 1: Cut and Base Coat
Cut the art board to the desired size. I usually make many more than I need so I can use them for future projects. Put on a base coat of gold paint. Depending on your project, you can obviously change the colors. You need to brush on the coats - this makes it thicker and adds texture. Spray paint will blow the pieces around and is too thin of a coat. I usually add a couple of heavy coats.
I wanted "streaky" looking metal straps - you could also build up lighter coats and make them smooth. Be sure to get the edges.
Step 2: Add the Rivets
I use dots of "puffy paint" - you can add one dot for small rivets, or make larger dollops for bigger ones. Puffy paint also makes fantastic weld lines. The number of dots and where you add them depends on the look you want. For a .5x2" metal strap, realistically you'd only need a couple of rivets. Let dry.
If you need a really rough looking finished strap, you can add some sand to your paint.
If all you need are rivets - just use the puffy paint on your project before you paint.
Paint with copper color. You'll notice my long straps have three rivets. At this point you can also dry brush off some of the copper paint to expose some of the gold. I use gold as a base because the copper paint gets one coat, and the gold makes a good base. Be sure to get the edges.
Step 4: Attach the Straps
Depending on the surface I'm attaching to, I'll use a variety of glues. If it's on paper or wood, regular old Elmer's white glue works. On plastic or paint, you can use rubber cement or goop. Don't use too much - you don't want it seeping out. Clamp each piece firmly and let set. Avoid clamping the rivet - it's puffy paint and can crush flat. If you WANT a flat rivet, then clamp on the rivet.
For overlapping straps, I form the top strap around the bottom one - this gives it a more authentic aged look. I have some straps I've glued on three years ago and they are still in place.
At this stage you can also use your finger nails to form impressions in the straps to simulate wear.
Step 5: Need Patina?
After everything is dried and set - I wait a day to be safe - you can add patina. Varying colors of green paint applied to the edges and areas where dirt and moisture would build up naturally. This is really personal preference and techniques vary. I think it adds an authentic look.
Step 6: Done!
There are endless uses for this technique. Plates, straps - whatever you can think of. I have used this on a lot of Steampunk projects and industrial photo sets. My favorite is the Steampunk robot mask.