Tuesday, September 6, 2011

How to Alter an Acrylic Cameo

I'm a big snob for glass, gemstones, and crystals, but I'm also a sucker for a sweet faux vintage cabochon, even if it's plastic. Trouble is, you see them everywhere. So here's how I customize my cabochons to get something unique, following techniques I learned for working with polymer clay and paper crafts. You can follow these tips to get anything from a strong to a subtle effect, it's entirely up to you how far you want to take it. (Tools and materials are highlighted in Lavender.)

1. Choose a cameo -- new or vintage. It should be plastic (aka acrylic, resin, lucite, and other fancy words for plain ole plastic).

2. Grab some acrylic paint. I mixed a dark brown. You can use whatever color you like.

3. Slather the paint all over the cameo. No holding back. Mush the paint gets into all the crevices, nooks and crannies.

4. If you're using craft paint from the bottle, let it dry a bit before removing any of it. If you're using artist grade acrylic paint from the tube, start removing it now.

Get a paper towel barely wet. I mush mine into the water at the bottom of my sink. That's how little water you want to use.

Dab off some of the excess paint. Do not drag, swipe or wipe. Come straight down onto the cab and barely press.

5. Let the paint dry a little more, then carefully remove more paint. How much you leave or remove is entirely up to you. I could have removed a lot more paint. Use a corner of the paper towel to remove paint from the background cameo. Or not. I like this color of pink, so I removed paint from it so the color would be very visible. If the paint starts to dry too much, get the paper towel a little wetter.

6. If you're using craft paint from the bottle, it will most likely dry shiny. This shine won't enhance the aged effect. So I sprinkle dirt onto the still drying paint. Yep, sandy dirt from my yard.

7. Tap off the excess dirt just as you would embossing powder.

8. Let the paint/dirt mixture dry completely, then apply a bit of heat with a heat gun -- do NOT overheat. Applying some heat will help to bond the acrylic paint and the acrylic cab. Again, don't overdo it or your cabochon will melt and warp.

9. You can stop here if you like. But I like to highlight the high areas -- hair and dress mainly -- with Rub and Buff or other waxy pigment.

Use VERY SPARINGLY and be careful not to get the Rub and Buff down in the crevices. I squeeze out a very small amount then rub between my fingers to get a very thin layer. Then I dab the wax pigment carefully onto the high areas of the cameo. Don't drag or smear. Let dry completely, then buff very gently with a dry paper towel.

You can also use paint on the high areas. Dab very carefully. I forgot to photograph this, but I used a hint of silver paint in this example.

9. Next, I sprinkled fine glitter over the damp paint and tapped off the excess.

You can seal the whole thing if you want -- I generally use matte medium for vintage stuff. You can apply in stages, adding more glitter to some wet areas.

This is just one example of what you can do with your acrylic cameos. You can also highly rosy cheekbones, jewelry, and eyelids if you want but be careful not to overdo it.


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