So I’d made a good start, better progress, then ruined it all – I covered these details in my previous posts. If you want to know what I did to ‘recover’ from my mistakes, read this one!
To recap, this is what things looked like after I ruined it by having left the vinyl onto the primer for too long. It was a good reminder that primer is designed to help adhere whatever’s put onto it. And it doesn’t help that I was using the high-tac vinyl instead of the low-tac masking stuff.
Well, no better way to learn than ruining about €24 worth of primer, I suppose. Because I’m definitely not making that particular mistake again.
Okay, so at this point, I had a couple of recovery options. I was afraid that if I tried to remove more of the primer layer, it would pull away even further than intended, and that the results wouldn’t look as good. So I went with my second option, which was to just make the entire thing look gunky and dirty and used.
The first thing I had to do was to fill up those gaps. I could have used more of the spray-primer, but since the whole idea was to make it look older anyway, I went with gesso. I put it on pretty thick and I put it on several times.
The goal here from (at least from a visual and design perspective) was twofold. To hide some of those lines where the original primer was pulled off, and to add more lines in other locations (again, so the original lines don’t stand out as much)
This took a while. Gesso isn’t for the patient, given that it can dry very slowly – especially if you apply it thickly. But at least it’s dirt-cheap, which after the amount of expensive primer I’d already used, was more important for me at this point.
After that, I started painting. I mixed and matched all sorts of paints to just get as wide a variety of rusty browns that I could get. Unfortunately, the cheap paints made it very difficult to get good coverage on the white gesso, and I should have probably used a black gesso instead.
That’s an important point, actually, when painting. Pick a primer color that’ll make it easy for you to paint the entire thing into the intended color later. Using a white primer when you’re trying to make the entire thing dark-rusty and black just makes your life unnecessarily difficult.
Having said that, at this point I was finally starting to feel confident that this might end up as a fun prop:
I repeated this ‘old and rusty’ design on the insides of the weights, and even extended it onto the bar in the middle. Some of that will get covered up lately, but it helps to have a rusty layer underneath that.
To make the bar metallic again, I planned to spray-paint it with a metallic gray. Since I didn’t want the newly painted weights to be paintede as well, I masked those off with a whole lot of tape and old newspapers. I keep a stack of old newspapers just for situations like this:
Then to get a “rusty spots” look, I’d wanted to mask off areas I didn’t want to get paint on with… condiments. Yup! It’s pretty ghetto, but stuff like mayonaise and ketchup actually work pretty well for this. Unfortunately, all I had that was remotely similar was toothpaste, so I ended up using that. I was a bit afraid that it’d leave a white residue behind, but needs must… I also sprankled a bit of salt around, but most of that didn’t want to stick, unfortunately. It’s a neat way to get little spots of missing paint in flat surfaces, but doesn’t work very well on something like this rod.
I then quickly put on the spray-paint. I figured the sooner I could get that toothpaste off, the better. I’m guessing most of you will have never seen spray-painted toothpaste, and almost certainly never will again, so cheerish this moment:
Here’s what things looked like after removing the masking tape, the masking newspaper, the masking salt, and the… errr… the masking toothpaste. As I’d feared, it did leave some white-ish residue which does diminish the ‘rusty spots underneath’ effect somewhat:
Next, I had some paint ‘detail’ work to do. Due to the way I’d taped up the center rod that had some odd sharp corners painted onto it that looked very weird. I used some additional black paint to give a nice, rounded, and clean line instead. Notice that I also painted the supporting “struts” in dark gray so that they stand out just a little bit more.
Something else I also did, that isn’t really visible from this picture, is that I took a paint marker and made the edges of the weights randomly lighter in a whole lot of places to give it that “worn edge” look. Keep an eye on it in the next couple of prop photos.
With the paint job largely finished, it was time to put on the stencils for the text — hopefully this time without ruining the entire thing all over again. I started by having my cutter cut the same stencil as before, and then I had to weed out all of the letters by hand.
It’s perhaps interesting to point out that I used the oramask 813 stencil vinyl this time. Apparently it’s designed specifically to be low-tac and easily removable, ideal for stencil masking (as one would hope, given its name). I couldn’t find this stuff anywhere locally and had to import a couple of small expensive sheets through an individual reseller from Bulgaria. Good times.
If you’ve followed along with these posts, you’ll know that I made another mistake previously as well. At the time I used cheap, poor-quality white paint because I didn’t know that there were different kinds of white. Short version, almost all cheap white paint is zinc-white, which doesn’t cover well – you need titanium white for that, preferably artist quality.
So hey, that’s what I went out and bought:
So attempt two. The stencil applied easily enough, although I did notice that the oramask 813 prefers flat surfaces. I regretted making those extra bumps with the gesso now, but I’d already gotten this far, I decided to just go for it.
After putting on the stencil, I quickly put on the paint,
I did make one mistake here, which is one of those things you might not think about if you’re inexperienced like I was (and by and large, still am), but becomes clear as you do these things. You’ll noticed I combined small and large letters on the same stencil. Don’t do this if you’re painting by hand. The reason is that the small letters require much less paint than the larger letters, and the smaller surface area causes the paint there to dry more quickly.
This put me in a tough spot — if I removed the masking vinyl too quickly, the large letters wouldn’t have dried properly. But if I’d waited too long, the paint on the thin letters might connect and harden over the top of the vinyl, and might just pull off completely when the vinyl is removed.
I kind of picked a middle path and sacrificed some big and small letters, but ultimately I was going for a worn look anyway, so it didn’t matter that much. If anything, it helps sell the effect.
Behold, the final result:
Pretty cool, right? Given how much went wrong with the project, I’m pretty satisfied with this version after all.
The only thing I’d wish I’d thought of is that bright white was a poor color for the text of what is meant to be a worn dumbbell. I should have gotten some high-quality yellow ochre to mix it with, but that’s for another project and another time.
And to answer your one remaining question — yes, you can lift this entire thing with a single finger. It’s just really hard to balance. 😉
I hope you enjoyed this build! If you’d like to support more projects like this, please consider [supporting me]! Thanks! 💖