Paint Tips and Suggestions for Artists

The sculptures we provide to art projects like yours are specifically designed to be safe for any artist to work on by using the least toxic materials on the market, and in most cases, are readily available for artists at hobby and art supply stores for use by artists in their homes or studios. Below you will find suggestions and tips for artists when painting primed, ready to paint, fiberglass sculptures made by Icon Poly for community art projects.

  1. Lightly sand the entire surface with 100-200 grit to clean the surface of dirt and residues that could cause adhesion problems with your paint. After sanding, clean your surface with straight water on a damp cloth. Be sure to let the entire surface dry before painting. Do not use mechanical sanders. If any primer flakes off when sanding, sand back to where the primer is stuck, and then reprime or Gesso that area. We suggest using any brand of Gesso, and almost all paint manufactures have an exterior grade primer that will work. Be sure to follow directions and safety guidelines on any products that you use.
  2. Wear plastic gloves when doing this and when touching the raw sculpture after sanding. This will keep oils from your hands off the surface, which could cause an adhesion problem when painting. Do not wear powdered latex gloves because powder residue will remain on the sculpture.
  3. Using acrylic paints is recommended. Most brands work fine. We recommend staying away from oil paints if you do not have a lot of experience with them. If you have specific questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Icon Poly.
  4. Icon Poly suggests a Dremel-type rotary tool if a drill is needed for embossing or any other creative reason.
  5. (For experienced artists) If an artist plans to cover the entire surface with materials other than paint, in the case of tile or mosaic work, an artist should remove as much primer as possible, so the adhesive can attach to the raw resin surface.
  6. (For experienced artists) When attaching items with adhesive, be sure to sand or rasp down into the material of the sculpture. Gluing directly to the primed surface may not yield the best results.
  7. (For experienced artists) If attaching items, we recommend using physical attachments (i.e., screws, bolts) in conjunction with adhesive attachments when possible. Using both together will create a much more durable piece. If you intend to change the structure or add to the structure, don’t hesitate to contact Icon Poly for guidance.
  8. (For experienced artists) We highly recommend structural urethane adhesive when bonding things to the sculpture. Several companies make these, such as 3M, U-Pol, and Norton. These are normally found at auto body supply stores.
  9. After your sculpture is complete, you must apply an automotive or sign-grade clear coat for protection from UV and exterior elements. Three coats are encouraged. Always follow application instructions on the product you select. Be sure to test for compatibility in an inconspicuous area before clear coating the entire sculpture. No matter which product you select, be sure to follow instructions and safety guidelines.
  10. Your sculptures will have a 1/8” clean drilled hole somewhere on the underneath side. Do not seal this hole off. If you cover the hole with paint or other materials, please re-drill the hole as it is a breath hole and is important for the longevity of the sculpture and the artwork applied to it by limiting expansion and contraction.
  11. Here at Icon Poly, we only use the taping process when we can clear coat with urethane clear between layers.  If we want to do fine lines without clear coating and taping, we use fine line acrylic paint pens or paint bottles with needle-type tips to make the fine lines.

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