Tole and Decorative Painting
Quick Tips



Use refrigerated, distilled water to dip your brush in when floating your shading and highlighting. Your floats will go further and be much smoother than just using tap water. (Thanks to Cathy Rothwell!)



Next time you're at the grocery store, pick up a box of plastic coffee stirrers for stirring paint. They're inexpensive and perfect for the job.



To create perfectly straight painted lines on a flat wood surface, score lines in the wood using a stylus and a see-through ruler. Load a liner brush with thinned paint and follow the depressions created in the wood by the stylus.



Ever mask off an area or stripe on a project, only to have the stripe color bleed under the tape? Next time, first paint the stripe or masked off area with your background color. Any paint that sneaks under the tape will seal the gaps. Then when you apply the stripe color, you get clean, even lines. Using a low-tack masking tape also helps a great deal.



Use toothpicks for applying paint to fine details, making tiny dots or applying color in hard to reach areas of your project.



To avoid accidentally swiping a sleeve across a freshly painted surface (thereby avoiding the suicidal ideations that follow) place your water or turpentine, palette and supplies to your painting-hand side. This will eliminate the need to reach across your painting and everything you need will be within easy reach.



There are many ways to keep your brushes neat (and visible) in their cup holder. You can place a couple of inches of rice in the bottom of the cup (preferably uncooked : ). You can cut out a piece of corrugated cardboard about two inches wide and however long you need it to be, roll it up and stand on end in the bottom of the cup; plant your brush handles in the corrugations of the cardboard. Or you can eliminate the cup altogether and stick your brush handles into a block of styrofoam or florist's clay.



A great recycling tip: If you work at a job where you print a lot of address labels, save the shiny "backs" they come on and use them for paper palettes.



If you have a lot of edges or "corners" of a project to paint, simplify and speed up the process greatly by loading up a small sponge with your paint and swiping it down the edge.



This one's been around the block a few times, but in case you haven't come across it:  Save the cardholder picks that come with your flower arrangements.  When painting from a photo, just insert the photo in the cardholder and stand the cardholder in the jar with your brushes.  This not only keeps your picture at eye level but also keeps it from getting messy with paint.



Ever been in doubt about how a certain color or stroke will look on your painting?  Place a piece of clear acetate over the painting, then apply the stroke or color to the acetate.  Voila!  Like having a crystal ball.



When bottles of acrylic paints start getting old and have been used frequently, little bits of hardened paint can get inside the bottles.  Don't throw them away and buy new ones yet!  Instead, cut out a small square of pantyhose or nylon, stretch it over the top of the bottle and replace the cap.  It acts as a strainer and you'll get much more mileage out of the bottle.



To save money on palette paper, use a dry marker board, a piece of smooth counter top or a smooth glass cutting board as a palette. When finished painting, let the paint dry and scrape with a razor blade. (Thanks to Renate' Capalby, Kingman, AZ)



I paint round glass tree ornaments by the tons - after I've painted the ornament, I use bottle caps as stands for them to dry on. Hope this is helpful to other painters.



I use as a painting palette and old ceramic tile (glazed with no texture in it) which I simply wipe/wash clean with water when its surface is fully used. Mine is a leftover from a bathroom floor (we always buy too many and there's always a few extra in case one cracks during installation or afterwards) but it can be bought cheap at Home Depot or any renovation center. Here in Canada regular price for a sq.ft.tile is 2.99-3.49$CA but can be had for as little as 0.80$CA a piece. (Thanks to Christal!)



When setting up painting space, keep a bar of ivory soap on top of a paper towel, next to your water container. This is for washing out your brushes as you finish with them. Saves trips to the sink. Also keeps brushes CLEAN and no paint buildup. (Thanks to Linda of Rayville, Louisiana)

If you have a Quick Tip you'd like to share, please email us!


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