Transforming Light Fixtures
by Regina Garay
As a decorative painter, I have access to many finishes and techniques that transform surfaces. A few years ago, I discovered a beautiful lamp in a gorgeous bright lime green. I bought it and it worked for a while but then when I moved, it completely clashed with my new soft neutral palette: Coppers, golds, chocolates and olive greens. So, I changed it — and I was able to keep the piece I loved. Here is the transformed piece:
Oftentimes, I will walk into a client’s home and there is a light fixture that the client wants to replace simply because the color is wrong. It really is a relatively easy fix, not to mention helping to transfer those funds into purchasing another design accent.
I’ll walk you step by step through the process starting small — literally. I bought a Mini Genie Lamp at Pier 1 Imports that I liked, even though the only base available was silver. That, I could change.
Keep in mind that if you have the three basics down — Prep Work, Paint & Glaze and Topcoat — you have a formula for success every time no matter what you tackle.
Here is the packaged lamp with the silver base:
1) PREPWORK – Please make sure you protect the area you are working on with a tarp or craft paper. (I used a white polystyrene board.) In this case, after taking off the lampshade, the lamp base required just a light scuff sanding and minimal taping.
If you are tackling a large piece, I would tape every surface that is not going to get painted. Your local paint store can help you locate the perfect roll but I do like 3M’s orange core tape. It is low tack (perfect for not leaving sticky residue) and yet it nicely resists
2) PRIMER – A good metal primer provides the right substrate. One trick I have is to have the primer tinted to a dark chocolate brown or black. The dark tone provides a nice base to give the subsequent metallic layers some depth.
Rustoleum makes great metal primers that you can spray and are easily available everywhere. I like to use the Breakthrough products and in this case used MetaLast Primer. I wanted a “hammered metal” look and used a 2″ chip brush and pounced on the tinted primer. I gave it two coats for rull coverage.
3) PAINT - One of my favorite metallic paint lines is from Modern Masters. For my home, I chose Tequila Gold — but you’ll have fun looking at all the available options. I again used a 2″ chip brush to pounce on the metallic paint. It will take two coats to provide good coverage. Let dry overnight.
At this point, I want to take a small break to show you the technique. Full coverage is achieved by dipping the chip brush into the material, brushing off the excess and lightly pouncing the surface. I don’t come too far off the surface and turn my hand around frequently so that I don’t get that dreaded “straight paint line” look.
On the left is the seamless look we are going for and on the right is the “line” look we are trying to avoid. I used the polystyrene board to get my technique flowing before I went to the lamp.
4) GLAZE – Metallic colors are beautiful but sometimes they need a little aging since they can be too bright. I’ve decided to age mine a bit with McCloskey’s Asphaltum Aging Glaze. It’s a strong brown-black color and a little goes a long way. (In fact, I would keep the quart handy for other aging projects.)
Using the same pouncing technique, chip the aging glaze on. The material is somewhat translucent and you will see the metallic through the glaze. This is desirable and a main difference from the previous steps since you don’t want to cover the metallic, you just want to knock the bright metallic back a bit. Let this dry overnight.
5) TOPCOAT – For interior projects that don’t get a lot of wear and tear, you would not need this extra step. If you’d like some extra protection, a good topcoat always comes in handy. I always choose a water-based product that has non-yellowing, UV-resistant qualities in a Satin finish.
Put on two good coats and let dry. Make sure the glaze is fully cured since some topcoats are so strong, they will pull any material underneath that’s still wet.
Here’s my “new” Mini Genie Lamp nestled among my books.
Let me know if I can answer any questions you may have. Until next time!
Regina Garay is an accomplished artisan with creativity and energy to spare. A specialist at all manner of decorative painting techniques, she shares with us tips, how-to’s and trends in surface design, as well as inspiration from the design of public spaces.