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Tips & Techniques

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


Using ‘Swellegant’ Metal Coatings & Colorants

Presented by Christi Friesen…

Here’s a bit of how-to, some tips and other fun stuff you ought to know about the Swellegant line of metal coatings and colorants!

SwellegantAbout the Swellegant Line

The Swellegant line is made up of five METAL COATINGS, three PATINAS, thirteen DYE-OXIDES and one CLEAR SEALANT. All of the products are non-hazardous.

  • All have low or no odor and wash up with soap and warm water.
  • Use common sense when using these, just like you would with any paint or craft product. Don’t drink it, keep it out of your eyes, all that smart stuff.
  • The metal coatings are finely ground metal suspended in a binder, and some of them do create natural expansion of gases, so when you open your metal coating bottles, aim away from yourself in case there is any burping of liquid.
  • The dyes will stain, so wear rubber gloves and an apron if you think you’re going to be messy (I’m messy, so I’ve found the gloves to be rather handy!).
  • The Tiffany and Verdigris patinas are traditional patinas, which means that they are slightly acidic – they won’t burn your skin or clothing, just avoid prolonged contact. (Wet wipes come in handy here).

Basic Usage

  • Shake all the bottles very thoroughly each time, before you use them.
  • I find it best to pour out a little of whatever product you’re using, then put the lid back on the bottle, since they all dry out when exposed to the air.
  • Use the ‘Swellegant’ CLEAR SEALANT to fix the coatings, patinas and dyes – it’s made especially to go with the products! Other sealants, glazes and coatings might work (I haven’t experimented yet with to tell you which will or won’t), but the CLEAR SEALANT does work and does work well! It is absolutely flat – it will not add any shine or interfere with the patina either! Just a little something to remember… let all the coatings DRY COMPLETELY for 72 hours before applying the sealer (it’ll work much better this way… I know, I know… that requires patience, which I don’t really have much of either, so we’ll just all have to try our best together). The sealant works best applied in thin coats. You can add multiple coatings if you want. I’ll have more tips as we go along, but now…

… let’s play!


The first step is to clean the surface of the item to be coated, if necessary. Soap and water will remove any oils. If the surface to be coated is slick or shiny, you may want to rough it up a bit with sandpaper or fine steel wool. If you’re working on metal or baked polymer clay, like I do, you don’t have to do anything special to prep your piece!

About Metal Coatings

The METAL COATINGS coat things with metal! Things that aren’t metal, become metal (at least on the surface). Things that already are metal, can become a different metal, or can get a fresh touch-up or accents of another metal color. The METAL COATINGS work on just about anything – wood, ceramic, polymer clay, resin, glass, foam, metal, plaster… experiment! AND, after you coat something with metal, you can add the patinas and dyes… more about that later on.

Adding the Coatings

  1. Coat your piece! Use a soft brush to stroke/dab on the METAL COATINGS. Cover it the best you can for the first coating. If there are thin spots, don’t worry, you can get ‘em on the next coating. You can use more than one color of metal coating on the same piece – hey, mix ‘em up and see what happens. If you want to, you can brush the coatings onto unbaked polymer clay, and then bake it all together. Just remember to brush gently so you don’t damage your clay details!
  2. Let the coating dry (5-15 minutes).
  3. Dab on a second layer of the metal coating. Make sure you cover any thin areas. If you dab-dab-dab with your brush (or even use a sponge to apply) instead of stroke, you’ll create a more textured surface, which is will be just perfect later for accepting patinas and dyes.
  4. You don’t have to, but I suggest a third layer of the metal, after the second layer dries. The more metal you layer on, the stronger and more scratch-resistant your finished piece will be.

You’ll notice that the metal coating is a bit thick, and may fill in some of your tiniest details – don’t fight it! It’ll just make your creation more bold, with larger details and deeper lines and texture.

Once you’ve covered your piece with two or three layers of metal, get your patinas ready (if you’re going to add a patina to age the piece!).

Adding Patinas

There are three patina choices in the ‘Swellegant’ line. The DARKENING PATINA, will antique your piece, adding a dark brown-black oxidation to the textures, lines and crevices. It works on all metals. The TIFFANY GREEN/RUST PATINA and the GREEN-GOLD/VERDIGRIS PATINA both add a green bloom to brass, copper and bronze metals and a rust oxidation to iron. These are real patinas and they actually oxidize metal (both real metal and metal coated pieces!)

Ok, this is important: BEFORE you add the patinas, dab on ONE MORE LAYER of the METAL COATING and while the metal is still moist, immediately add the patina — use a brush or sponge to dab on a nice, juicy layer of patina all over the piece! (I like using natural sea sponges – very absorbent and nice, irregular patterning). You can also put the patina in a spray bottle and mist it onto the piece.

You can add more than one type of patina at the same time. Or you can add one patina, then let that dry and add a different one. OR you can add patina layer after layer. Whatever! You can’t do it wrongly! :-)

The DARKENING PATINA reacts very quickly – you’ll see it right away! The TIFFANY GREEN/RUST PATINA and the GREEN-GOLD/VERDIGRIS PATINA both take longer to react. Nothing will happen at first – don’t worry, you haven’t done anything wrong… just wait… See that hint of green verdigris or blossom of orange-brown rust? That’s the patina working! Keep checking every 5 to 10 minutes. Heat and humidity will affect the reaction time. It may take 15 minutes to get the color you like, or it may take two hours – that’s part of the fun!

Once you like how dark, how green-blue, how golden-green or how rusty the patinas have made your piece, you can stop the reaction by rinsing the surface of your piece with water. So simple. I usually just keep a bottle of distilled water nearby and pour it over the piece each time I want to stop the reaction. (I’ve found a little bowl underneath to catch the water is better than just spilling it all over the table.) This will lock the patina in at your desired finish, otherwise, it will just keep on oxidizing and deepening the patina – which you may like, or not. I find it best to rinse and then blot dry with paper towels once I like what I see.

Remember that you can use these patinas to react with other metals, not just the METAL COATINGS!

Adding Dye-Oxides

As if coating something with metal and creating a real patina bloom weren’t exciting enough, you can add colorants in the form of dyes! Whoooohooo! Here’s where it really gets fun. These DYE-OXIDES are a patina too, in that they soak into the metal and into the patinas to become part of the piece, not just a color that lays on top (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) They are intensely colored, but transparent, which means you can add them to create just the whisper of color or you can really layer ‘em on to create and intense tint.

Add the dyes right on top of the METAL COATINGS and/or the PATINAS. Add one, add two, add all thirteen colors! Whatev! Use a brush or a sponge to dab the colorant onto the piece. Wipe off any excess.

Let the dye soak in. Check the color in 5 to 10 minutes – you may need to add more dyes to reach the intensity you want. This way you have the choice of how intense or subtle you want to be! No need to do anything special to halt the reaction. Just brush/blot on the dye and that’s that!


Did the patinas and dyes take over? Is the metallic color too hidden? Often that’s the case – patina doesn’t pay attention, it just oxidizes willynilly! So it’s time to brighten up your piece, renew the metal glow!

I find the best way to pop the metal is to use your finger (gloved, of course) to smear a bit of the METAL COATING right over the top of all the other colorants, hitting the highlights. Wow!

Using some of the underlying metal to re-touch the piece looks great, but no need to limit it to that. Often using another metal to hit the highlights can be really exciting. Using Brass to touch-up Bronze is really effective. Silver over Iron is too. And hey, if you end up not liking it, re-coat it with the original metal and patina again. You don’t have to be finished until you love what it looks like!

Also: layering is your friend! Add dyes to patinas, metals on the bottom, on the top, in between! Layer, layer, layer! You know you wanna!


Another way to bring out the metallic glow is to burnish your piece. This can be done with a cloth, a burnishing wheel or 0000 steel wool, BUT you must wait at least 48 hours (72 hours is better) before you burnish!!! This is because it takes a bit of time for the metal coatings/patinas/dyes to fully cure and attach themselves to the piece they’ve been applied to. Oh sure, they will all be dry to the touch within about 15 minutes or so, and yes, you can go ahead and wear or hang your piece, but just know that you’ll have to finalize the last steps after waiting a bit. If you choose to burnish (and you don’t have to, it’s an optional step) before the metal is ready, you may just scrape the metal off the piece. That would be sad. :-(

Protecting and Sealing

All that is left is to add a protective coating! It’s not necessary, but it does keep the patinas from rubbing off if you’re going to wear the piece.

Allow the piece to set for 72 hours before adding the CLEAR SEALANT. Shake it thoroughly before using. Brush it on in a very thin layer (thick stuff gets milky looking, yuck). Let it dry. Add another layer if you want to.

The CLEAR SEALANT is an absolutely flat coating – it won’t add ANY shine to your piece. It will just protect it. If you want a shiny coating, first use the CLEAR SEALANT, dry it, then re-coat with your choice of more shiny coating or gloss. Test a small section first to make sure the coatings are compatible.

So whadda’ ya’ think? Pretty cool stuff, huh? Get out there and play! Don’t be scared! GO PLAY! IT’S SWELL!

Designs using this Tip:

Read the comments (or add your own)

  1. No Photo
    R McC says:

    I have to try this! Just want to wait till the craziness of the holiday gift making season is over … then it’s time to play for ME!

  2. Lois D
    Lois D says:

    Oh my goodness, this looks like so much fun! Can’t wait to try it :) The looks you can achieve are amazing.

  3. Asia
    Asia says:

    I saw them on Christi Friesen web site, it looks like a lot of fun and the results are amazing, thanks LB.

  4. Beadlady3 aka Cindy
    Beadlady3 aka Cindy says:

    I have this! I got it a while back from CF’s website. If you want a more rustic patina look than the Vintaj patinas, this is perfect. It really reacts with metal, whether you put the metallic paints on or not. I’ve attached something I did a while back. :)


  5. Asia
    Asia says:

    Cindy, this looks amazing , I have to get this.

  6. puppychick  labratbecky
    puppychick labratbecky says:

    soooo cool! I ordered 5 colors already and I can’t wait til they get here!!!

  7. D Redlin
    D Redlin says:

    Hi, this does look fun. I was wondering if you could use these products with Gilder’s Paste?
    If anyone has checked it out I’d like to know.

  8. No Photo
    B Flickinger says:

    I just received the products and I am looking forward to giving it a go! Just need the time!

  9. No Photo
    D James says:

    These paints work as easily as described. I have used them on multiple types of product and they even work on plastic! They are absolutely perfect for brass stampings. Use your imagination to create unlimited amounts of looks. Read additional comments on the internet for pictures/ comments of other peoples’ formulas to create specific looks.

  10. No Photo
    Jax luvs jewels says:

    LOVE the informative design tip spiced with humor!!! YOU ROCK!!

  11. No Photo
    Lyone f says:

    Does anyone know if it is possible to MIX the dyes with the metals?

    I am thinking that I would like to mix some yellow in with the brass to try to make it look more gold-like…..

  12. P Burrell
    P Burrell says:

    These are so beautiful when applied to stamped brass & engravings. I used pale green and a touch of blue to a stamped bird on brass and it looks phenomenal. I am ready for more colors!

  13. No Photo
    L GAGE says:

    Once a piece is burnished, wouldn’t the matte sealant dull the shine? Thanks.

  14. CatPark
    CatPark says:

    @L Gage – The clear sealant is just that – it doesn’t add any shine or really dull the piece. If you want more of a high gloss finish you can seal it first with the clear sealant then add a glossy finish.

  15. No Photo
    wilsonannette60 says:

    When you say a gloss finish can be added after the sealant…can you give some specific examples of what you would use for that? Something found in the jewelry section or elsewhere? Water based or not? Just not sure what “high gloss product” to use on a metal jewelry piece to make it have some gloss.
    Also, would E6000 glue be what to use to “glue” my metal pieces together once they have been coated and allowed to dry, when attaching them to a base/pendant?

  16. No Photo
    Brad T says:

    Can the patina’s or Swellegant line be mixed with epoxy to make a color for inlay? I use epoxy with egg shell to get white, coke(spent coal) for black, and so on. If these can be mixed with epoxy, they would make my job a lot easy.

  17. No Photo
    Moogie says:

    It would probably be best if you visit Christi Friesen’s site & ask the question there. Same for Ranger, who makes the Vintaj patinas. Let them know if you mean resin, epoxy glue or whatever substance you are talking about. Hope that helps.

  18. Wordgrrl
    Wordgrrl says:

    Has anyone tried the clear sealant on glass beads with special finishes? I’m thinking of Czech beads that have finishes like “AB” or “shimmer” or “Celsian,” or even colors like saturated metallics. I love the look of these beads but I don’t know if there’s a way to make those finishes stay on the beads. Or is there another product that might work better? thanks for any help!

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