August 9, 2018

Paint or Dirty Paint Pours on wood turnings

Filed under: Wood Lathe — peteblair @ 2:02 pm

Have you ever taken you time and finished a piece and no matter what you did it just was an ordinary turning not the ‘special’ piece you had planned? If so you might consider a paint or ‘dirty paint’ pour. I had spent many hours on two pieces that I had dyed blue, one a hollow form and the other a cup shape but even with the dye I just wasn’t happy.

Enter the paint pour. Dirty paint pours are all over the internet and social media and I am always looking for something new to try. I googled Dirty Paint Pour and got a load of hits. I watched a few, especially if they were pours on wood. Mostly the Dirty Pours are on a flat pieces of art canvas or occasionally on a round slightly convex wood turning. I think the one I enjoyed the most was from a well known kilted wood turner, Ronald G. Campbell. After watching some of his videos I thought I would give it a try.

Before I was willing to try it on the blue pieces I thought I had better do some experimenting on a few other unfinished pieces I already had in my shop.

I decided that if I wanted to do a hollow form or cup shape I might need to do it a little differently than the inverted cup or colander method. The cup shape I had would not allow me to invert a cup of paint on it unless I was to do it from the bottom up and for some reason I just feel that the paint should run down the piece not up it. This may or may not be the best way, you be the judge.

The wood should be finished with a sealer or finish prior to beginning or the base coat will soak into the wood and prevent an nice pour, don’t ask me how I know this.

First for the hollow form, I started out making a sort of colander from a small plastic cup that would sit over the opening in the hollow form. I heated a small awl and made small holes around the base of the cup. I have found in some instances the holes work better around the perimeter of the base actually in the bottom instead of the sides. I use both styles.

I knew that if I poured paint into this cup while it sat on top of the form it would likely slide around and possibly even fall off. My solution was to hot glue a short section of dowel that fit into the opening of the hollow form onto the bottom of the cup. It can be seen as the light coloured section in the center of the cup. I soon discovered that this also allows me to rotate the cup to assist in placing the paint. I sometimes just put drops of paint into the cup after the initial pour to add color, variety or detail to specific areas.

I love to work with Jo Sonia acrylic iridescent paint and decided this was what I wanted to use. Knowing that these paints look their best on dark or black surfaces I began with black and dark colors as the base coat. The piece below is coated with a wet base coat and is ready to have paint poured or placed into the cup.

The small cups let me place paint in any area I want and to watch the result and make adjustments as the paint flows through the holes in the cup and down the sides of the piece.

After the paint has dried for several days I wet sand with 800 grit and apply about 10 coats of spray on Lacquer. This is then sanded back and the process is repeated several times. The high gloss finish is then buffed to get an even more glass like finish. I was shooting for a piece that looks like fired glass or porcelain.

For the cup shape I turn a plug for the top of the cup that fits flush to the edge and is sort of tapered from the top down to let the paint flow. I use the inverted cup method for this but find it a little less controllable and much prefer to do hollow forms. I did find a small screw in the top made removal of the top easier to do before the paint hardens and makes it a permanent top.

Above, paint has been poured into the cup in layers. The cup and lid are inverted and the cup of mixed paint is placed against the top and then all the pieces are inverted. The cup is then lifted allowing the paint to flow down the form.

I have experimented with other acrylic colors and find that they just don’t seem to retain their color and randomness when they are dry. I do admit however that they are fun to do and exciting to see the paint flow.

Paint mixing – There are many ways to mix and apply paint. I like to mix the iridescent paint with water and acrylic base paints with water and Flotrol or any other medium that slows the drying process. I usually mix the base coat to a light cream consistency. It’s painted onto the piece and the the other paint is allowed to flow into and onto it. Silicone can be added to any of the top paint to allow them to form ‘cells’. I bought a tin of spray silicone and sprayed it into a cup from which I poured the silicone into a dropper bottle to allow me to accurately add it to the paint. I find that this process is hit or miss with me, sometimes it seems to help separate the paint into cells and other times not so much. I also on occasion briefly pass a propane torch over the surface which seems to help add cells. Another tip is that once I am happy with the paint flow I can slow or stop it by the use of a hot air gun held at a distance so as not to spread the paint. I believe this helps me ‘set’ the paint.

Here are some in progress shots of my favourite pieces. These are all at the wet paint stage.

The ‘cells’ are really visible in the above photo.

I did also try a pour and then blew the paint around with an airbrush for a much different look. The air brush tends to blend the paint. I’m not fond of this one but some of my friends and family love it. There is obviously lots more experimenting to do.

Until you try a pour, whatever method you decide, you can’t fully imagine the fun it is!! It can be a little dirty so grab a pair of


Give it a try and don’t hesitate to email me for more information of just to share photos of your work.



1 Comment »

  1. Beautiful work Pete. You seemed to have learned how to control the application of the paint really well. Thanks for sharing once again.


    Comment by Dave Fritz — August 27, 2018 @ 6:48 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: