Surfaces Tips

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How do I paint on a floorcloth?

Preparing a floor cloth

First if you are starting with raw canvas you will need to build a frame to stretch it onto. To get a floor cloth ready to paint you need to prime it with a coat of gesso. For really detailed instructions go to
The alternative is to purchase a made floorcloth ready to go - but remember to keep it nice and flat while you are working on it.

How do I paint on slate?


Slate is the best hassle-free no-prep surface, and it is easy to paint on. Make sure it is clean and dust free before you begin!

How do you paint on Candles?

Prepping a Candle

The best way to have a candle ready to paint is to wipe it over with vinegar and water or alcohol wipes before you begin.

How do I paint on Emu Eggs?

Emu Eggs

Emu Eggs are a great surface to paint on. Sometimes the texture will be rough, other times smooth. Be sure that the inside and outside of the eggs are clean. The shell on the eggs won't break easily and can be kept steady for painting by resting them on a towel, or a wheat bag or cushion. As for basecoating, consider leaving the natural colour. If not, give it a coat of all purpose sealer and allow to dry for a few days. (The cure time is important) Then apply the colour. Complete your painting and them finish with a spray varnish. Finish the egg of by hunting down the right stand or finding through the Egg Artistry industry.

Can I paint on canvas?


Just for something different try painting on canvas. Canvas panels and boards come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and are fun to do. You could try stretching your own, but this means a bit more work. Stick with the ready made kind and all you will need to do is paint it. These are preprimed so just go for it.

What is a Gourd?


Gourds make a great painting surface when cleaned. They are a plant not unlike a pumpkin and grow into some pretty cute shapes. They are 90% water before dried and tend to go mouldy, so need to be cleaned up to find that great painting surface. They can also be cut into open vessels as well.

How do I clean a gourd for painting?


You need to ensure these are well dried and clean. Put on your rubberboots, gloves and waterproof clothing. Take a large tub full of soapy hot water, a green kitchen scrubber and or scrubbing brush and start scrubbing. It is hard work but it does pay off!

How do I paint on terra cotta pots?

Terra Cotta Pots

Terra Cotta pots are great painting surfaces. First and foremost you can Use Patio Paint. This paint is formulated to handle the moisture and the sun without cracking and peeling. It adheres well to terra cotta and concrete. This means no prep and no varnish! If you can't do this, then seal the pot with a multipurpose sealer. Then decorate and spray varnish...but! when wet these pots leech salt and chemical to the planting directly in the pot is not a good idea. Leave plants in their plastic pots!

What do I use for hats on light bulb ornaments?

Light Bulb Ornament Hats

You can be very inventive here. First you can take the easy way and use plastic cups from individual servings of long life milk. Second, you can melt and mould Styrofoam cups. Third you can stitch up some little hats from fabric.

Can I paint on canvas?

Candle sealing

You can seal candles ready for painting with an all purpose sealer. Then paint in the usual way. You can also use a candle painting medium mixed in with the paint and avoid the sealing step altogether.

How do you paint on Candles?

Candle paint lifting

To prevent paint from lifting while you are working on a candle allow each layer of paint at least a day to cure off. Alternatively wear cotton gloves so the fresh paint won't be tacky and stick to your hand.

What is a quick and easy project surface?


For quick and easy painting gifts try painting plain wooden frames. These are available at lots of stores. You can just paint them a colours, crackle them, texturise them with decorating paste, marble, sponge and glaze them. The possibilities are endless if you look at all the faux finishes you can apply to them.

Is there a paint for candles?

new candle and soap product

Delta makes it easy to decorate candles and soaps with Candle and Soap Colors Acrylic Paint. Candle and Soap Colors are specially formulated to adhere to waxy surfaces. Candle and Soap Colors is the ONLY one step acrylic paint with no medium required. The specially formulated paint adheres quickly and easily to waxy surfaces without lifting or crawling. Candle and Soap Colors are available in 14 bright and beautiful colors. Plus - all of the colors can be intermixed to created even more choices!

How do I join a styrofoam hat to a light bulb ornament?

Linking hats and bulbs

To join your light bulb and hat together get some fine wire and some match sticks. Wrap the end of the wire around the middle of the match stick twice, then leave a length for a loop of about two inches. Do another two wraps of the middle of the match stick. Now cut away excess match and wire with wire cutters. Insert this through the hole in the hat and then glue the hat to the bulb. The match will hold the wire for you and the hat and bulb glued together means there is a strong bond.

How do I prepare glass and plastic for painting?

Light Bulb Ornaments

You can paint on used or new electric light bulbs and create the most gorgeous Christmas Ornaments with them. Make sure they are clean by wiping over with Vinegar and water or alcohol wipes. Avoid touching them with your fingers. Then prime them ready for your acrylic paints by spraying with 'Krylon' 1311 matte spray, or another brand of spray as long as it is matte.Or, you can brush on some all-purpose acrylic sealer - any brand. Then leave them to cure for a day or two. Base coat in the colour desired and decorate away.

What Gourds should I buy?

Buying Gourds

Buy Gourds uncleaned. They are much cheaper and it only takes a bit of a scrub in hot water with a pot scrubber to get them clean.

How do I prepare glass and plastic for painting?

Glass and plastic

These slick surfaces need to be cleaned with vinegar and water before you begin and should also not be handled with bare hands after this until a base coat is on. Your fingerprints will prevent the adhesion of paint, so use cotton gloves.

Can I paint on my regular dinner ware?

Dinner Ware

Is dinnerware a good surface? While paints these days are considered non-toxic, none of them are recommended to be directly in contact with food. The paints would also not hold up to the wear and tear of being in use all the time. They are generally excellent for decorative purposes but for daily use lots of care is needed to keep them in good condition. For example, I painted coffee mugs. The paint goes soft when heated - and can be scratched off. They haven't stood up in the dishwasher over time either. If you do go down this path be sure to use paint specifically designed for the purpose: Liquitex 'Glossies', Decoart 'Ultra Gloss', Porcelain 500, 'Vitrail' etc.

What is a quick and easy project surface?

Papier Mache

This surface is best sealed with a couple of coats of Gesso before you begin.

What do I use for hats on light bulb ornaments?

Styrofoam Hats

Warning: Making these can be dangerous to your health! If you suffer from any kind of lung condition DO NOT DO THIS! You will need a well ventillated kitchen area - turn on all the exhaust fans and throw open the windows!

Pre heat the oven to 220 degrees celcius. You will do these one at a time. Get an oven mit and a light bulb handy. Place one cup in the oven and count the seconds down - 1 and 2 about 25 and take a peak at the cup. The point at which it melts and starts to collapse is where you will find the variation in hat designs you can make. leave it too long and it will burn, giving off it's payload of TOXIC fumes.

Be prepared to experiment a little with how you count the seconds and how your oven works. It's a bit like playing it safe with the kids at the pool - not good enough just to be have to WATCH. Pull the melted cup from the oven. It will not be too hot to touch so pick it up. It will be all soft and floppy. Place it over the end of the light bulb and mould into shape. Don't mould it so tight to the bulb that you can't get it off. Work quickly as they cool fast. Now heat up a steel meat skewer and poke a hole into the top of the hat for your wire to come through. Once the hat is moulded you can then paint it with an all purpose sealer and then decorate it.

Is my gourd clean?

Check spots on gourds

Gourds will have markings on them after they are cleaned. To check if a spot is a spot or a bit of mould to still be cleaned off scratch at it. If it scratches off you need to do a bit more cleaning.

How do I prepare light bulbs for painting?

Light Bulb Ornaments

Plaid has a book called "Ornaments to light up your Tree" by Rita Grisham
and Helen Nicholson that has an angel made from a light bulb. It also has
some Santas, snowmen, and a penguin. Very cute!

Tolefriends is a mailing list for decorative painters.

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Guru Spotlight
Jerry Mayo