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Tips & Techniques

Get tips and techniques to become a better beader at Lima Beads.


Coloring Brass with Inks and Paints

When it comes to altering the appearance of your metal, the easiest way to achieve a unique look is to use combinations of alcohol inks and acrylic paints. Below are some ideas for experimenting with your inks and paints to create one-of-a-kind looks.

Coloring Metal Technique Examples
Whitewash or Shabby Chic

Whitewash or Shabby Chic

To create this effect, apply Adirondack Mixatives Snow Cap Alcohol Ink to your metal surface. Then buff some of the raised surfaces to get your desired look. (Pictured: Vintaj Natural Brass Damsel Wings Pendant, Adirondack Snow Cap Alcohol Ink Mixative)



This is a simple finish to achieve without using chemicals. First, cover the metal with Adirondack Metallic Mixatives Copper Alcohol Ink. Then dab a combination of blue and green acrylic paint to your metal surface in a random fashion. Once the paint has dried, buff the surface to reveal some of the metal so that the entire piece isn’t covered in paint. Voilà! (Pictured: Adirondack Metallic Copper Mixatives; Acrylic paint dabbers in Pool, Stream and Bottle; Vintaj Natural Brass Tree)

Blacken or AntiqueBlacken or Antique

This look can be applied to textured or patterned pieces as well as smooth blanks, giving them a beautiful blackened appearance. I combined Pitch Black and Espresso Adirondack Alcohol Ink, but you can use just one to get a great sepia tone or black aged look. (Pictured: Alcohol inks in pitch black and espresso; Brass Artisan Heart Blank)

Fill TextFilling Text

Filling text on a stamped blank is a great way to make your message pop. Just dab your chosen color of Adirondack Acrylic Paint Dabber over the text, making sure to sink the paint into the grooves. Let the paint sit for a moment, then wipe off the excess. I found that my finger works best for this since it doesn’t grab the paint out of the grooves… if you don’t mind a little paint on your fingers :) (Pictured: Adirondack Stream Acrylic Paint Dabber; Brass Square Blank; American Type Lowercase Letters Metal Stamp Set; Texturing Hammer Round 8-Faces)

Ink Over Paint

Ink Over Paint

Adding alcohol inks directly to your metal surfaces does give a beautiful finish, but if you really want to see those colors pop, add Adirondack Acrylic Paint to the metal first. Wait for the paint to completely dry, this is really important. Then add your alcohol ink to the alcohol ink applicator and color away! (Adirondack Pearl Acrylic Paint Dabber; Alcohol inks in wild plum, pool, and clover; Brass Butterfly Profile)

Using the Fillable Pen

Using the Fillable Pen

The Adirondack Fillable Pen gives such great results! Adding the ink to the pen is so easy–just unscrew and pour. Make sure your surface is dry, and you can begin drawing on the metal. Draw beautiful patterns or scribble the meaning of life on your metal design. Choose your ink wisely! You don’t want to mix two inks in the pen–and the metallic mixatives won’t work, either. Finally, you can experiment with the two different tip points to vary the thickness of your lines. (Pictured: Pitch black alcohol ink in pen; Pen; Acrylic paint dabber in pebble; alcohol inks in slate, terra cotta, rust, gold metallic mixative, silver metallic mixative; Brass cuff)

Same Inks, Different Metals

Same Inks, Different Metals…

Keep in mind that one ink may not look the same on all metals! Try one color on different materials to see how it will blend with the properties of the metal. If you’re after a more consistent look, try Adirondack Acrylic Paint Dabbers. Here’s an example of the same ink color used on Vintaj Arte Metal, Vintaj Natural Brass, and raw brass. (Pictured: Vintaj Arte Metal, Vintaj Natural Brass, and raw brass leaves; alcohol inks in rust and terra cotta)

Using the Blending Solution

Using the Blending Solution

The blending solution does exactly as its name describes–it is used to blends different inks into each other. By using the blending solution, your colors will seamlessly flow from one color to the next. For best results, Adirondack recommends applying the blending solution directly to the felt on the ink applicator. I did this for the red combination pictured. On the blue combination, I dripped the solution directly onto the color metal. (Pictured: Vintaj Natural Brass Altered Blank Canvas; Adirondack Alcohol Blending Solution; Reds – alcohol inks in rust, terra cotta, sunshine yellow, copper metallic mixative; Blues – alcohol inks in sailboat blue, pool, stream, snow cap mixative)

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Read the comments (or add your own)

  1. beaded banana
    beaded banana says:

    i was thinking this would be great for making christmas ornaments! i’ve been looking through the colors, and figure gold, silver and white would all be fine on brass. but is there a shade of blue, red and green that would look christmas-y enough? would i be better off with the brighter brass, gunmetal, or the antique-y looking brass?

  2. Beadlady3 aka Cindy
    Beadlady3 aka Cindy says:

    Yes, these inks are great on Xmas ornaments! I did a demo at a local craft store for this, and it is amazing the way they turn out. Use the acrylic daubers on the outside, or drip the inks into the clear ornament and swirl.

  3. Coey
    Coey says:

    I have made several of the painted brass cuff bracelets using the acrylic paint dabber, the alcohol inks and then finishing with a clear acrylic sealant. And they are gorgeous! However, I have noticed that after painting and applying a sealant the bracelet scratches very easily. Any ideas on what I could be doing wrong? I do let everything dry before and during the painting process. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!!

  4. Ali
    Ali says:

    @Colleen r
    Ranger Inks says not to use a solvent based sealer like a spray. I have tried a lot of sealers and highly recommend the Claudine Hellmuth multi-medium sealers that we now carry http://www.limabeads.com/Sealers-C5667
    I haven’t had trouble with mine scratching off as of yet and I am pretty tough on my jewelry. :-)

  5. Coey
    Coey says:

    Thank you Ali. I will give that a try!!

  6. ScarletBegonias
    ScarletBegonias says:

    I’m a newbie at this and want to know the difference between using a dabber and painting. Is the dabber the one that comes right out of the bottle, or is it the stamp she uses in the video?
    And when you say ‘paint’ do you mean with a brush or the stamp?

  7. Ali
    Ali says:

    A paint dabber is acrylic paint in a bottle with a top that has a spongey circle at the top for the paint to dispense from. It allows you to get away without much cleanup. If you want to use a paint brush, you just unscrew the top and you can get to the paint that way.

  8. handychick
    handychick says:

    Can this technique only be used on brass?

  9. D Hillemeyer
    D Hillemeyer says:

    Has anyone tried using regular alcohol with acrylic paint, or do you have to use the special coloring alcohols? I lover the Guildders Paste, but have so many pearly paint pots and colors that I’d like to try them on metals.

  10. B3wald
    B3wald says:

    Can you mix the Vintaj paints with the Adirondack acrylics? I recently ordered the Vintaj but would like to “tone down” the color. Any suggestions? I’ve not used any of the patinas or paints before.

  11. J Manyak
    J Manyak says:

    I would like to use the dabbers on my hand-stamped bangles, to fill in words (text). A lot of my customers keep their jewelry on when they wash their hands or are otherwise near water. Are the acrylic dabbers waterproof? What about the Adirondack inks? Are they waterproof? If possible, I don’t want to get involved with sealants. Which would be my better choice?


  12. No Photo
    Taryn P says:

    I am new to theses products but am very interested in trying them on Vintaj altered blanks. My question is do I need to use the alcohol blending solution with the alcohol inks? If not then what is it for exactly?


  13. No Photo
    l_waddell says:

    Would you add the color to plated brass or raw brass? And if it is added to raw brass, would you then need for it to be plated over the coloring or would this ruin the color? How would you then seal the color on the raw brass in order to make it into a quality jewelry piece?

    I am not familiar w/ using raw brass, but recently purchased some lockets and am trying to figure out if they need plated and how to add color to them. Don’t want to ruin them!

    Thanks for any info!

  14. No Photo
    RonnyJ says:

    Will someone explain how you use mixatives? I would love to use the gold on a project, but don’t know how.

  15. Ali
    Ali says:

    I apologize for missing so many of your questions regarding this particular Tip & Technique! Get ready, here come a lot of answers:

    @ handychick – This technique of coloring metal can be used on any metal.

    @ B Waldrep – No, I would not mix the Vintaj Patina Inks with acrylic paint. The Vintaj Patina Inks have been designed to bond permanently to your raw metal. If you want to tone down the color, mix one of the “whiter shades” with a bolder color or use the Vintaj Glaze to thin the color.

    @ J Manyak – Yes, acrylic paint (when it has dried) is waterproof.

    @ Taryn P – The blending solution is not essential to using the alcohol inks. However, if you would like to blend your colors together, the blending solution can be very helpful, just make sure to go a little bit at a time.

    @ l-waddell – I would recommend sealing the color if you used the alcohol inks or gilder’s paste on your raw brass.

    @ R Hunter – Just make sure to shake the mixatives up well (that ball inside should bounce around a bit) and then use the same way as any other alcohol inks.

  16. No Photo
    Beret W says:

    So much information on this site !!!

  17. No Photo
    Myrna g says:

    I CAN’T WAIT TO TRY THIS. I love lot’s of color and different idea’s. Thanks

  18. No Photo
    Eha K says:

    May I use alcohol ink with polymer clay?

  19. TerribleFishArtworksMsu
    TerribleFishArtworksMsu says:

    Eha K, I would think not but not experienced with that. Remember alcohol is a solvent and can actually lift acrylic paints so I think it may not be good with the clay. Make a small test item and try it out!

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