A splash of color, part 2

After my first successes with anodizing I became a bit more adventurous with techniques. The results weren’t as good, but it was still fun to try. Here’s the rundown of samples.

1) I recall reading somewhere that hot glue worked for a masking agent.  I dyed the piece turquoise, then threw on some stripes of glue from a hot glue gun.  I then dunked the piece into the pickle bath (where the glue actually seemed to do okay as a mask), and then the piece went into the sealing bath (just boiling water).  That may have been my failing – it probably would have been better to try and remove the glue first.  After boiling, the glue’s grip on the aluminum became even more tenacious, and I really didn’t have a chance of removing it.  You can see all the remnants that remain as the whitish areas.

2) I wanted to try doing a droplet of pickling solution onto a piece, hoping for a splash pattern like Edgerton’s legendary high speed photos.  You can barely make out some of the radial splash pattern, but it’s not nearly as marked as I had hoped.

3) I believe I had come across mention on Caswell’s forum about the use of a baby medicine syringe to squirt/spray on rubber cement for a nice chaotic looking splash pattern.  This sounded like a great idea, so I picked up a baby medicine syringe at Toys ‘R’ Us, and gave it a shot.  Try as I might, I simply could not get the cement to ‘spray’ out of the nozzle, no matter how I attempted it.  What happened was a giant loogie of rubber cement blobbed onto the  orange dyed piece.  I shrugged, pickled the piece and threw it into the electric blue dye.  I’m guessing you could probably build a sprayer to get the effect I was trying for – maybe creating a big external mix airbrush that feeds rubber cement rather than paint?

4) An attempt at doing an ‘acid wash’ finish.  After dying, I used a sponge to dab on the pickle solution, then washed it off.

5) Another attempt at the same technique.  You can see the rectangular impressions of the sponge block.  The acid wash technique apparently takes a good deal of practice to master!

6) For this piece, I tried ‘spraying’ on the pickle solution onto an olive drab dyed piece by running my thumb over the head of a toothbrush loaded with the solution.  I let it sit for a while, then dyed it in bronze.  The result is a barely noticeable color combination.

7) I had wanted to try a toner transfer technique I had read about (use a laser printer or copier to print to a piece of transparency, then use an iron to transfer to toner to the piece as a mask).  Frankie had an even better solution, which was to use Press-n-Peel Blue, which is used for etching PCB boards.  We tried this little cupcake guy on a piece of flourescent yellow dyed aluminum, then put in the pickle and dyed bordeaux red.  After wiping off the mask with acetone, the results looked pretty good.

8) I had also read that Sharpie magic markers worked for anodizing, as you could simply draw onto the surface and then seal the anno.  This worked like a champ, although you can’t really scribble over areas to fill them (you can see where strokes overlapped, just like on paper, though the blue marker didn’t really exhibit this).  As an aside, many many years ago in Action Pursuit Games, there was an article on some of Carter Machine’s custom paintguns. One that I recall was called the “Lil’ Pounder” – it was a standard Nelson style gun that had been so heavily machined that it weighed a whopping 16 ounces as a result. The caption had noted that “anodizing pens” has been used to accent some of the milling cuts, and I spent years looking for these mythical “anodizing pens”. In the end, I’m betting that Earon Carter used nothing more than a red Sharpie!

9) This was done simply by using pieces of electrical tape to mask off areas.  With custom vinyl stickers, you can create fairly complex hard-edged patterns.

10) I wanted to try something a little different with this one – specifically, I wanted to have an effect that looked like a sponge pattern had been brushed on.  I dyed the piece in fluorescent yellow, sponged on Krylon matte clear spray, pickled and dyed orange.  I then removed the masking with acetone, and brushed on rubber cement.  After pickling and dying red bordeaux, I got the result shown.  It’s not as convincing as I would have liked – the sponging still shows through the red.

11) This was pretty simple – dyed bronze, sponged on Krylon mask, pickled, and dyed green (I forget which specific shade).

12) Similar to (10), I did a dual sponge and brush effect.  But in this case , I did both the sponge and brush at the same time (violet was the base color, with red bordeaux after pickling).

5 thoughts on “A splash of color, part 2

  1. Very good articles! I also do anodizing and it’s just great to see all of your experiments, gives me good ideas and inspiration!

  2. Thanks John! There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of openly available information regarding multicolor anodizing techniques, so I’m glad someone finds my successes and failures useful!

  3. damn dont stop trying things please…… any thoughts on adding dyes to an insoulable solution to splash the color on instead of color, strip, 2nd color?

    tried any of the cold seal methods?

  4. Everything so far has been done with water based dyes, but the idea of ‘splashing’ with a solvent based dye on top of a water based base color has occurred to me. This would probably only work well when doing a fairly dark splash on a relatively light base, but would still be fun to try.

    I haven’t tried any cold sealing yet – I still need to try out a proper nickel acetate hot seal.

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