chrome/gold airbrush paint (or pigment) for silicone appliciances

I'm on my knees, bowing to all of you amazing GODS of creation!! I'm learning so much!! Mahalo! Yet, I'm on a mission... I'm doing silicone and like it to be gold, silver or even chrome.. how would I go about that?  I got silcpig, yet there are no metallic colors. I have cast magic silver bullet, but (although never tested it) I'm afraid it will not be diluted correctly for airbrush application. (thinned with toluene) I buy my products from smooth-on, yet I'm very open for other suppliers of colors/materials. Any paints or pigments I can use within pouring or airbrushing? And.... same question for urethane appliances.. and latex foam. lol. Anybody has recommendations? Very much appreciated for your time! Have a marvelous day, Maaike Snoep


  • I've never done any metallic painting on silicone, so this is a tough one!  Normally I would just go with something like catalyzed automotive paint or Alclad metallic paints, but those would not do well on a flexible surface.

    One option would be to mix metallic oil paints with thinned silicone and airbrush that on.  I would do some tests on scrap silicone before doing anything experimental on your final piece.  

    Good luck, and I hope you can share your results here!

  • First off hunt down, and purchase a copy of Tom McLaughlin's book entitled, "Silicone Art". This book WILL  be your new "bible" for working with silicone. It is by far THE BEST compendium of all things silicone techniques!!! And, that is in no way an exageration, (you'll see). :-)

    Now, as far as making silicone look like real metal, you really need to approach it in two ways: intrinsically (coloring from within), and extrinsically (coloring from the outside). As with so many of the materials we all use, make SURE you practice all common safety proceedures and maintain proper ventilation, and wear a proper safety mask. (Sorry, it's important to always stress proper safety.) While making silicone look like real metal CAN be done, making it appear to have a true mirror-like reflective surface is [almost] nearly impossible, at least with currently know techniques. But, in most cinematic instances, a truely mirror-like surface can be a real nightmare on set, (the Cylons, from the original Battlestar Gallactica, are a good example of this), whereas is will reflect EVERYTHING, including the cameras and lighting. But, an extremely shiny surface is possible. A good starting point is to use a high quality metalic pigment. I've personally used "Cres-lite" brand metalic pigments to good effect. You can get them from Burman Industries, in small, affordable amounts. These can be mixed directly into the silicone(s), in proportions as high as up to 20%. The higher the amount of pigment you use the more metalic results, but do not go over the recommended maximum proportions. Otherwise, it could seriously affect the properties of the silicone. This will result in a realistic, but still relatively "satin-like" finish. These same pigment may also be used in a properly diluted silicone base, for airbrushing. By intrinsically mixing and casting the metallic pigment to the silicone it will give you a very good metallic base. Then, by airbrushing more silicone, pigmented again, with the same metallic pigment, the overall sheen and shininess will be even better. Finally, before the airbrushed coating has dried, you can directly powder it with the same pigment, to remove all possible stickiness. This combination, (casting, airbrushing, and powdering) will end up with the best, and most durable, shiny yet flexible silicone surface. It should also be mentioned that you can airbrush a surface coat into the negative molds, before casting, as well as airbrush painting the castings after they are removed from the molds. If you go ONLY with just casting the pigment into the molds for your finished parts, you can run the risk of swirls in the surface, in it doesn't have enough pigment in it. Airbrushing in a pigmented surface coat will create much more consistant, even surfaces in your castings. (You can also use "Pearl-Ex" brand in the same way. The Pearl-Ex pigments can be purchased in most quality Arts and Crafts retail outlets.)

    The big difference between "Cres-Lite" brand, and "Pearl-Ex" brand, is the former is mostly actual metal-based, and the latter is titainium-coated mica flakes. Pearl-Ex can usually be considered cosmetic-safe. But, Cres-Lite may or may not be, depending on which particular metals are used in the specific color pigments. Check before you buy. You DO NOT want to use ANY pigments that might contain "heavy metals" in them, ESPECIALLY if the finished silicone castings are intended to be in contact with the skin. We use enough really toxic materials as it is, you DO NOT want the liability of poisoning somebody, just for the "look" of a certain pigment. Play it safe, ALWAYS!!!

    Now, if you absolutely NEED parts that have a chrome, mirror-like surface, at least in partial areas, your best bet is to incorporate rigid parts, (such as vacu-formed parts), into your design. These rigid parts will be much easier to achieve mirror-like reflective surfaces on. For instance, you can use "Alclad" brand, airbrushable paints onto the inside surfaces of vacu-formed parts. These rigid parts could then be attached to an underlying metalic silicone skin. Thereby, allowing the chance to get the benefits of the combination of both hard and soft materials.

    Be aware that the final finish and potential shine of any material you use, will be directly proportional to the smoothness of whatever surface you begin the molding process with. If the beginning surface is rough and bumpy, then the final surface will be far more limited than if it was smooth and glossy to begin with. Matte surface= less shiny, more satin-like results. Glossy smooth surface= more shiny mirror-like results... get it?

    The folks at Legacy have managed to get some pretty impressive results painting flexible urethane, (for Iron Man). But keep in mind that while the urethanes they've used are "flexible", they are really only SEMI-flexible, NOT soft and flexible like skin. The urethanes they use(d) are more akin to a stiff car tire, than anything soft and flacid. Remember, they were directly trying to replicate mechanical parts, but with a little give, so the stuntmen and women had less chance of getting hurt.

    I'm sure John Cherevka, and Jamie S. Grove should be able to help you with their techniques and materials they've used for making metallic flexible urethane parts..., if you ask them nicely, (nudge, nudge, hint, hint).  ;-)

    'Hope this helps you out some. Just exactly what approach will work out best for you will really only be concluded, after some serious hands-on experimentation, by you, and you alone. So experiment constantly, and keep carefull notes of ALL your results, good or bad. And, before too long, you will surprise yourself wirh what you come up with.

    Good luck,
    -Jeffrey Warren Park
  • edited May 2016
    Great info Jeffrey, thanks for sharing!

    If you are able to get away with incorporating rigid parts, you can use some of the techniques covered in this lesson:

    Metallic Painting Techniques

  • The 3-part class on building and using your own vacu-forming machine, by Fon Davis, should be useful, too.




    -Jeffrey Warren Park

  • What about vinyl?

    I´ve got a friend who makes shirt designs and it happens to be that he uses chromed metallic vinyl. It´s heat glued. So, it is flexible. 

    In some cases, a vacuform machine could do the rest. But first, the adhesive tha bonds vinyl and silicone. Just thinking over the night, i´ve never tried this.

    I´ll do some practical research. 
  • Hihhhhaaaaaaaaaa!!!! Wow! Wow! Wow! How freakin awesome to get all these replies! Thank you so much!.

    Unfortunately rigid parts will not work, but I'm soooo happy with all the info about the silicone applications! Super!

    (unfortunately vinyl will also not be an option, but smart idea though! Thank you!)

    For the urethane more rigid, yet still slightly flexible pieces, I've worked with Alsa Automotive paints and will def ask them superduper kindly for more info when I get to the urethane appliances.

    I'll start testing and experimenting asap and show you the results of the silicone!

    It's amazing how good it feels to get feed-back from you. Thank you so much! 
  • edited May 2016
    Happy to help Maaike!

    Another technique that you could test is encapsulating non-silicone paints (like acrylics) between layers of silicone.  This is a technique Tim Gore discusses in this lesson:

    Basically you lay down a very light layer of your paint with an airbrush, then seal it by airbrushing on a thin layer of silicone, and repeat the process to build up your color.  Because the layers are so light, they don't crack.

    As always, I would run some tests with different metallic paints on a silicone test casting.
  • =D =D

    I can´t wait to see the results 

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