How to make faux-zinc house numbers, part 2

Years ago my husband gave me Jocasta Innes’s book Paint Magic, which is completely inspiring and totally intimidating at the same time. She is a professional so she is really big on oil paints and pigments. I spent hours learning how to faux marble with oils (among other things, I faux marbled a series of lawn statues for my husband’s MFA show on “The Art of the Lawn”) and actually got pretty good at it. But after a lot of trial and error, I’ve found you can get a lot of the same effects with acrylics, and they are SO much easier to clean up. So that’s what I used for the house numbers. We’re starting with numbers that have been primed and painted with two coats of silver paint, so if you need to catch up, check out How to make faux-zinc house numbers, part 1. If you’re with me, here goes:

bronze pigment
Step one - bronze pigment

Step one is bronze powder. I love these loose pigment powders – they are totally forgiving and add layers and layers. I used bronze and then a little green, going around the edges to create perspective and texture (try putting it just on one side – i.e. what you see if you look at the numbers from the left or right).

brush applying bronze powder
Try the pigment on one side only for perspective

The bronze is to simulate rust; the green, for patina.

Pearl Ex metallic pigment in green
Green for patina
Bronzed, to look a little weathered and rusty

Next, I added some black, watered down to make droplets.

I feel like Jackson Pollock, but these will be blended

If it’s not obvious already,  the crucial thing at this point is to experiment and have fun. As long as the base paint is dry when you start, nothing is fatal – you can wash off the decorative layers, or wipe them off, or blur them, or just paint over them and start again (and acrylics dry quickly, so even if you decide to start over you haven’t ruined your day). So relax and try to BE THE ZINC – and have fun!

Once the watered down black had time to dry and mark the rings, I laid a paper towel over it to blot the rest. Then I fine-spattered some iridescent white.

Add some white

I let the white set until it was JUST dry and then took a wet brush and smeared it around. See how knocked back the black is from the previous photo? That’s where the blotting will take you. I like to smear in one direction, just to keep the mood – on these, I blended vertically.

Looks like metal!

So this is looking pretty OK to me. It’s not totally zinc-like; it’s actually more like galvanized, but I like galvanized. I let it dry and then added two coats of exterior water-based satin polyurethane – for protection, and also because the additional coat blends the colors a bit more.

House numbers, painted
Ready to hang!

These puppies are ready to hang. Now if it would just quit raining so we could get the damn house painted…

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