Three Layer Paint Tips and Tricks

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About: I am a photographer, a tinker, an electronics technology engineer, and author; I write short stories and poetry for the love of writing. I started writing poetry in high school over thirty years ago where I ...

I get all kinds of solar garden lights out of the garbage and I got these three fairies this spring. Now I don’t know about you but I think these were made to be painted before you put them out in the garden.

When I paint these solar garden lights; I paint them in three layers, white primer for the base layer, colored water color paint for the color layer, and clear coat for the finished layer.

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Step 1: Tools and Supplies

White Automotive Primer, this is a flat white paint that will stick to almost anything, and when it is dry you can work it like paper and water paint. This primer will not wipe off with a wet rag when making repairs or detailing.

Colored water paints for color coating.

Automotive Clear Coat, for sealing and glossing as well as added UV protection.

Drop sheet I used news paper.

Screw driver for disassembling.

Masking tape.

Utility knife.

600 grit sandpaper for any dressing.

Step 2: Disassembling

These lights are not very stable for painting assembled.

The lens comes off by simply giving the lens a twist.

Under the lens you will find the screws holding the circuit housing together.

Remove the screws and the base plate.

Remove the battery and fold the LED over.

Now when you place the figurine on its base it wont rock or move when you touch it.

Step 3: The Solar Cell

If the solar cell is in good shape you can skip this step.

If the solar cell is showing polymer degradation from UV rays, sand off the polymer oxides with the 600 grit sandpaper. Then when you put the final coat of clear coat on the solar cell will be like new.

This is a more in depth Instructable on repairing polymer degradation. https://www.instructables.com/id/Repairing-Polyme...

Step 4: Masking

This is real simple; stretch the masking tape over the solar cell, and trim off the excess with the utility knife. Cover anything you do not want painted this way.

Step 5: Primer Coat

Automotive primer is oil based so it wont wipe off with water.

Once you have everything you want masked off place the figurine on a drop sheet.

Do not try to put all the primer on in one coating or you can get sags in the primer or loose fine details in the figurines texture.

Shake the spray can of primer for a minute and lightly spray the figurine with primer.

Once you have the first coating of primer on the figurine take the can of primer turn it up side down and spray for a second to clear the primer out of the nozzle.

Primer only takes a couple minutes to dry, so wait 5 minutes, and repeat the light coatings until you have a good coating of primer.

Step 6: Color Coat

Strait forward painting is easy; just mix the paints to the color you want, and apply. But if you want to take advantage of the contours in the figurine, this takes a trick.

The flat white automotive primer is oil based, so water based paints paint on, stick if you leave it alone. But if you paint a feature like this rock and wipe off the high spots with a damp rag, it brings out the contours without removing the primer coat. Now your rock has streaks of light and dark gray spots.

Step 7: Clear Coat

Automotive clear coat is UV rated and it will protect the figurine and the solar cell from the sun's damaging UV rays.

Before you apply the clear coat, examine the figurine for defects. Touch ups and repairs will be almost impossible to fix after the clear coat.

Remove the masking from the solar cell.

Do not try to put all the clear coat on in one coating or you can get sags in the clear coat and loose fine details in the figurines texture.

Shake the spray can of clear coat for a minute and lightly spray the figurine.

You can see how the clear coat brings the solar cell back to life.

Once you have the first coating of clear coat on the figurine take the can and turn it up side down and spray for a second to clean the clear coat out of the nozzle.

Clear coat takes a while to dry; so wait an hour before you repeat the light coatings, repeat the coatings until you have a good coating of clear coat on the figurine.

Step 8: Finish

Last reassemble the garden light and place it where it can get a full days sun.

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