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Strange Problem With Painting My First Pewters


Type2
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I need the reaper forum detectives on the case right away!

 

So,  a while ago I bought my DND group pewter minis along with a vampire to use in our Castle Ravenloft campaign for Halloween.  Ive been exclusively painting bones up until this purchase and went ahead and got rid of my mold lines, washed the mini(soap,water,toothbrush), assembled it and then primed them all with a spray primer.

After the minis were primed we used them for a few sessions (5-6) and I decided that I had some time to start painting them at my leisure. 

I went ahead and tried the blending technique posted by Ollie and after a few hours got some great results. I thumbed the mini and not only did the coat of paint I worked hours on come off but the primer followed all the way down to the pewter! Upon further inspection I saw that even glazes were take the paint away down to the pewter in some areas.

 

What the heck? Did having the minis in use while primed put some residue on them to make the paint not stick as well? Do I need to paint my miniatures closer to the date I prime them?

Is my primer wonky?The brand is dupli-color sandable primer.

Or should I simply avoid any pressurized contact until I seal off my miniature?

 

Im eager to retrace and redo the process and get back to painting these awesome guys for my group.

 

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Sounds like something a little extra weird went on here, but yes, you should seal the miniature before you handle them.  Absolutely.  When I paint a pewter miniature, I plunk it onto some blue tac and once I start painting I do not touch it until I am done painting and I have sealed it twice.  Oddly enough, even with this method, I occasionally still find a tiny chip here or there on the miniature before I finish it and I have to re-touch it before sealing.  

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If I'm reading you post correctly, you used the mini's primed a few times before painting?  If that is the case, remember that our hands have oils on them.  This is one of the reasons your wash your mini before priming (granted I don't often myself).  So if you indeed handled them after priming that might be one of the reason for paint not sticking.  Though, I have had primed figured that I didn't handle that sat for awhile have difficulty taking paint.  That's all I got from personal experience.

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Sounds like something a little extra weird went on here, but yes, you should seal the miniature before you handle them.  Absolutely.  When I paint a pewter miniature, I plunk it onto some blue tac and once I start painting I do not touch it until I am done painting and I have sealed it twice.  Oddly enough, even with this method, I occasionally still find a tiny chip here or there on the miniature before I finish it and I have to re-touch it before sealing.  

So in the future if I wish to use a pewter ill avoid doing anything other than basic assembly if I dont plan on painting them right away. I initially thought it be nifty to get as many steps done as possible so I'd be set to paint them right away when the time came.

 

I even had brush strokes chip little bits off during this particular painting session. I imagine I have to chemically remove the primer now right? I cant just slap a new layer on over this one and try again..

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Your biggest problem was almost certainly handling them. Your fingers deposit oils on everything they touch, so handling your minis before painting will make it harder for water-based acrylics to stick to them. In addition, touching them before sealing will always run the risk of rubbing the paint off with simple friction, so make sure not to touch them during or after painting. Get something to attach the mini to during painting, so you don't have to hold the figure itself. You can use pretty much anything, from dice boxes to wine corks to plastic soda bottle caps, depending on the size and weight of the figure in question.

 

There's also the possibility that that primer is no good (I haven't heard of that brand) but I'd try just not touching the minis until they're sealed and see if that helps first.

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Yes, you should seal your minis, but this sounds like some kind of residue on the metal itself, or settling issue with the primer.

 

My first question would be, how sure are you the soap in question did not leave residue? I always make sure to rinse several times with hot water, as I find it is possible for soap residue to remain in the details.

 

Second, you may have a bad can of primer, or may want to think about what conditions you used it under. If you sprayed during a damp, cold day, for instance, moisture may have been trapped under the primer, which may have affected its "tooth."

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My understanding is that primer cures and strengthens over time, so I don't think it's an issue with the gap between when you primed them and when you painted them. 

 

It is much more likely an issue with residue. Since the primer is coming off as well as the paint, it seems likely the residue is on the metal. Did your group also play with and handle them before priming? If so, people would have been depositing skin oils, Cheeto dust, etc. on to the surface of the metal, and where that happened could lead to primer flaking off with handling. Though I would have thought that as likely to happen with handling of the primered figures, but maybe the application of water/paint made it worse. These things can be mysterious at times...

If you handle miniatures after priming and you're worried about having grease on them, you can clean them a bit by running a Q-Tip dipped in rubbing alcohol over them. I also do this if I've added greenstuff parts to something post-washing and I used a little Vaseline or something like that to lubricate the tool used on the GS, and it works fine.
 

The moulds that are used to cast metal figures are coated with a thin layer of powder as a release agent before the molten metal is poured in. Figures are handled by hands in the factory when they're removed from the mould, inspected, and packaged. Any or all of those works might also have skin oils or lunch residue on their hands. So I generally make it a practice to scrub figures with soap and water prior to priming. Many people don't, and say they've never had a problem, but it's a simple step that isn't much of a pain, so I do it even when I working with batches of 40-60 miniatures for painting classes that aren't even my figures.
 

An issue with the primer seems another possibility. The cans recommend shaking it at least a minute, and if you're priming multiple figures, stop and shake the can again for a bit every few minutes. Primer is sensitive to temperature and humidity extremes, though in my experience Duplicolor is one of the more tolerant ones. Aim to shoot at temps between 50-80, and on lower humidity days. You can cheat and do the main spraying outside in not as optimal conditions and bring the figures inside to finish curing, but be aware that they'll still be off-gassing some chemicals. I'd cheat more with temperature than with humidity. I believe the reactions to weather will usually be visible (the dreaded fuzzy primer). So I'd maybe look more at the shaking issue. Glues and such can go off, and I've heard of the occasional bad batch, so those are possibilities too.

Lt. Coldfire's advice is good. Once you start painting, use a handle and try to minimize touching the paint. It seems dry to the touch in minutes, but really takes a day or two to cure to full strength. So if you can minimize touching the paint while you're working on the figure, and you give it a few days to fully dry before you use it for gaming, that helps the paint job be a lot sturdier.

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Yes, you should seal your minis, but this sounds like some kind of residue on the metal itself, or settling issue with the primer.

 

My first question would be, how sure are you the soap in question did not leave residue? I always make sure to rinse several times with hot water, as I find it is possible for soap residue to remain in the details.

 

Second, you may have a bad can of primer, or may want to think about what conditions you used it under. If you sprayed during a damp, cold day, for instance, moisture may have been trapped under the primer, which may have affected its "tooth."

Few questions, could I repeat the whole wash with soap process on a primed mini or will that ruin the primer?  Just wondering is simply washing that primed mini again couldve solved my problem.

Secondly, Im pretty sure I washed it properly. I used a plastic container full of warm soapy water and gave it a good scrub. Then ran it under hot water. I may have handled it from one resting area to another before priming it.

As for the conditions. It was not raining when I used it but its been a very wet fall/winter season in Seattle and remember waiting for a long while to get the best weather available to me. It mightve still been damp/cold just not raining.

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Washing with soap and water and then re-priming will be fine. It'll probably take some of the current paint and primer off, especially since it's already coming off so easily. Other bits may stick. Both of those are fine, since anything that survives a toothbrush scrubbing is stuck on perfectly well, anything that comes off will just give you a fresh surface to prime, and you'll have a nice, clean, oil-free surface to start over on either way.

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My understanding is that primer cures and strengthens over time, so I don't think it's an issue with the gap between when you primed them and when you painted them. 

 

It is much more likely an issue with residue. Since the primer is coming off as well as the paint, it seems likely the residue is on the metal. Did your group also play with and handle them before priming? If so, people would have been depositing skin oils, Cheeto dust, etc. on to the surface of the metal, and where that happened could lead to primer flaking off with handling. Though I would have thought that as likely to happen with handling of the primered figures, but maybe the application of water/paint made it worse. These things can be mysterious at times...

If you handle miniatures after priming and you're worried about having grease on them, you can clean them a bit by running a Q-Tip dipped in rubbing alcohol over them. I also do this if I've added greenstuff parts to something post-washing and I used a little Vaseline or something like that to lubricate the tool used on the GS, and it works fine.

 

The moulds that are used to cast metal figures are coated with a thin layer of powder as a release agent before the molten metal is poured in. Figures are handled by hands in the factory when they're removed from the mould, inspected, and packaged. Any or all of those works might also have skin oils or lunch residue on their hands. So I generally make it a practice to scrub figures with soap and water prior to priming. Many people don't, and say they've never had a problem, but it's a simple step that isn't much of a pain, so I do it even when I working with batches of 40-60 miniatures for painting classes that aren't even my figures.

 

An issue with the primer seems another possibility. The cans recommend shaking it at least a minute, and if you're priming multiple figures, stop and shake the can again for a bit every few minutes. Primer is sensitive to temperature and humidity extremes, though in my experience Duplicolor is one of the more tolerant ones. Aim to shoot at temps between 50-80, and on lower humidity days. You can cheat and do the main spraying outside in not as optimal conditions and bring the figures inside to finish curing, but be aware that they'll still be off-gassing some chemicals. I'd cheat more with temperature than with humidity. I believe the reactions to weather will usually be visible (the dreaded fuzzy primer). So I'd maybe look more at the shaking issue. Glues and such can go off, and I've heard of the occasional bad batch, so those are possibilities too.

 

Lt. Coldfire's advice is good. Once you start painting, use a handle and try to minimize touching the paint. It seems dry to the touch in minutes, but really takes a day or two to cure to full strength. So if you can minimize touching the paint while you're working on the figure, and you give it a few days to fully dry before you use it for gaming, that helps the paint job be a lot sturdier.

I dont think we handled them before the priming but I did make sure that I washed them a second time the day I went to prime the figures. Any soap will due right?

I need to buy something to help stick the mini onto a surface so that I can avoid grabbing at it before I finish the project.

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I dont think we handled them before the priming but I did make sure that I washed them a second time the day I went to prime the figures. Any soap will due right?

I need to buy something to help stick the mini onto a surface so that I can avoid grabbing at it before I finish the project.

 

I use hot glue for this, if I am painting a 'based' mini. I attach them to old 35mm film canisters that I have filled with water, and roughed up the tops to give the glue something to 'grab'

It usually comes off easily with an X Acto knife slid between the base and the top, and a quick twist.

I used to use white glue, but that takes a while to dry...

Super glue can be a royal pain to get off the base after the mini is finished...

As people have mentioned, there are a lot of things to use for handles, just try to be sure that they have some weight to make it harder to tip the mini over if the table they are resting on gets bumped...

 

George

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When washing minis I use Dawn dish soap as it specifically targets oils. Since I wash my dishes with it, I always have it in the house (and Dawn with Bleach is excellent if you get tangled up with poison ivy as it's normally the oils in the plant that causes the rash). It also rinses clean, so I don't worry about residue. Bath soap will leave a residue.

 

If you notice paint peeling off as you're painting this could be several factors. If you use a drying retarder (Liquitex Slow Dri for instance), your layers may not be dry enough yet. This is one of my problems. I want to keep moving on the mini, but forget the paint needs to dry. Since you're in Seattle, which is very humid (I lived in Edmonds a short time; loved it there), you may want to hit the mini with a low heat blast from a hair dryer to speed the drying time.

 

I use a handle on all my minis while painting them before they've been sealed. I found if I didn't, I could rub all layers down to the metal (even the primer) during the course of handling. Also, you're adding more oils to the mini as you handle it, which can affect how the paint will stick.

 

Good luck! Let us know how it goes!

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I'll echo the previous comments.

 

I also suggest giving the mini another wash after assembly.  Or just a single wash after assembly (rather than your wash-assembly-prime).  Depending on how much handling you did during assembly and the state of your hands, you might have put on some oil on the pewter just before the priming.

 

Duplicolor is generally a very solid primer.

 

Ron

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I use dish soap, it's fairly cheap, intended to remove grease, and less likely to contain conditioners or other things that might leave a residue. I use Palmolive Free & Clear for my benefit, since I have issues with a lot of dyes and perfumes, but it also seems to work pretty well for the figures. I use a lot of hand lotion, so I usually wash my hands before I sit down to work on minis. Doing that, you should be fine touching them to transfer them between washing stages or handling them to affix to a holder.

 

I use a variety of things to attach a mini to a holder. If it's a slotta style base, a good sticky poster tack works well. If it's a flat bottomed base, double-sided foam tape works really well. You can get it at the hardware store, but I've also seen it in the office supply area at Walgreens. Superglue can work, but since it's more trouble than the other two I rarely bother. 

 

These are general good idea tips, but don't feel like you have to be fanatical about it because you've had an issue this one time. Based on what you've said, it's as likely to be caused by the weather or an issue with that can of primer. It's probably like paint in that exposure to freezing temps might damage it, and that could have happened in transport and storage before it got to you. Sometimes flukey weird stuff no one can explain happens. :-<

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