Friday, July 27, 2012

Ombre Rain Gear How-To and MS Spray Kit Review

I love rain gear, I don't think I could ever have too many umbrellas. I don't particularly like rainy days- but if it's gonna be gray and wet I feel like you should have some cute wardrobe options.

I had the idea for this set while watching the sky as a thunderstorm rolled in. The day had been gorgeous until the storm arrived. As it began to thunder in the distance, the sky darkened and became a perfect gradation from bright blue down to a dark ominous blue-gray.

I don't think anything says "it's gonna rain" more than a sky like that and I wondered if I could make an umbrella that mimicked it. Then I remembered an old pair of blue rain boots that were all scuffed up. I thought I might be able to cover the marks up with that dark blue-grey... and windup with a "new" set of rain gear.

I've painted umbrellas before but getting the subtle gradation of an ombre would be hard to do with just a brush. What I really needed was an airbrush or some sort of spray paint. It was the perfect excuse to try a "new to me" craft tool I've been eyeing for a while- the Martha Stewart spray kit!

In case you aren't familiar with this kit, it turns any of the MS acrylic craft paints (and I've heard that other brands work too) into spray paint. The beauty of this system is that I could mix the exact color I needed- essentially making a custom spray paint! But when compared to regular spray paint or even regular fabric paint, it was expensive.

The kit comes in two finishes, glossy or satin, I chose satin. It contains a thinning medium that you mix with your craft paint, two plastic bottles for mixing, and a spray canister that attaches to the top of the plastic mixing bottle. The instructions were clear, I also watched a video all about using the kit.

I started by spraying my open umbrella with a blue that was slightly darker than the umbrella. Unfortunately the paint was too close in color to the umbrella so it didn't really show up. And the spray can was clogging up more than it wanted to spray so I wasted a good bit of the spray can just trouble shooting! Finally I figured out that for some reason the (carefully measured) 1 to 1 mix of thinner and paint was just too thick. From then on I put slightly more thinner in than paint and it sprayed perfectly.

I adjusted my colors, making them both darker, then sprayed the umbrella again. It took a little switching back and forth between the two colors to get the fade smooth but I love how the effect turned out!

When finished I wait until the paint was dry and set (at least overnight) before closing the umbrella.

The boots were quick and easy. I taped off the soles with painter's tape before spraying.

This time I didn't need to switch back and forth between colors like I did with the umbrella. I think it was because the paint didn't soak in like it did with the umbrella fabric. I painted the medium blue first, then the dark gray-blue and I was done.

To me one of the things that makes the MS acrylic paint worth the price (twice as much as most other acrylic craft paint) is that it's supposed to work on almost any surface, including plastic. So I wasn't too worried about the paint adhering to both the the nylon of the umbrella and the plastic, rubbery  material of the boots. Unfortunately I did notice that the paint has already flaked off one spot on the umbrella... so I'm starting to have my doubts about how durable the boots will be. But I haven't tested either in a rain situation yet!

Since this was my first time trying the MS spray kit I wanted to share some of my impressions. 

  • I loved being able to make my own colors.
  • There wasn't the harsh odor of typical spray paint. Although I think you still have to spray outside or in a well ventilated area. In fact the package says it has no CFC's and no VOC's.
  • Cleanup is with water so older kids could try this (with supervision) too!
  • I liked that this works on a variety of materials like fabric, paper, and metal.
    • I loved the idea but the expense was hard to get over. I bought two kits at the same time (for two different projects) but before purchasing it again I'd really have to consider if the benefits of spraying with this kit instead of regular spray paint would really be worth it. 
    • Despite what the instructions said, using slightly more thinner than the 1 to 1 mix absolutely sprayed better for me (both times I used the kit) than using a 1 to 1 mix.
    • I really don't like that you can't buy a separate spray can. In my opinion this is one of the biggest negatives. Since I wasted so much of the spray trying to unclog the can every few minutes while using the 1 to 1 mix, I had barely enough spray to finish this project. I had a ton of the paint thinner leftover but the only way you can get the spray can is to buy an entire other kit- which means two more plastic mixing bottles and another bottle of thinner. I have since used the second kit I purchased, and although the spray can lasted longer this time (no clogs with the extra thinner) I had so much of the thinning medium left from the first kit I never even had to open the bottle included in the second kit. Which seems like a total waste to me!
    • The instructions didn't specifically mention switching colors but after watching the video I learned that it's the same process as washing the system after use. After washing according to the instructions it took a long time for my first color to purge from the spray system (another waste of the precious spray canister). So the next time I switched colors I washed not only the tube but also the cap on top of the tube, and I wiped off the bottom of the spray canister. (Basically I washed or wiped off any area where I  could see paint). The difference was dramatic! It took a fraction of the time (and spray) for me to switch colors.

    It looks like we're supposed to get some rain over the next few days so I'll let you know how well this set holds up.

    Monday, July 23, 2012

    Ombre Rain Gear

    Well I made it through last week in the SYTYC competition with my Rain Gear, but a whole new batch of projects is up right now! So I hope you pop over and vote for your favorite "For The Boys" project. (Voting closes Thursday July 26th.)

    Later this week I'll post my tutorial on how I made this rain gear. I used a "new to me" product I want to tell you about!
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