Artfully STAINED

Equipping Creatives to Do-It-Themselves

Category: Home Decor

How to Hand Paint Metal: Upcycled Brass Elephant Figurine

I’m so excited to share this project with you of how to hand paint metal with this upcycled brass elephant figurine turned teal boho beauty.  There are lots of great ideas about spray painting plastic animal toys, but not a whole lot about hand painting small metal figurines.  I hope you find this helpful, and it opens your eyes to see how a little paint and time is all it takes to easily change an older metal decor item to better fit your current home decor.

Since I had recently purchased Unicorn SPiT, I went looking at a local consignment store for a few small items to try the products on.  I found two things that I had to have: the elephant in this post and this vintage wooden box you can check out here.  The elephant was in good condition with these pretty mother of pearl type inlays in diamond shapes on both of its sides.

Here’s the before picture of the elephant…

Brass Metal Elephant Figurine Statue

Prep Work or Lack Thereof

From what I have found, there isn’t a whole lot of prep work or anything special you need to do to hand paint metal if it’s brass.  I simply gave him a quick wash with a little liquid dish soap and water.  I always wash everything I bring into my home especially from second-hand stores since often times they haven’t been cleaned or have been collecting dust on a shelf.  After wiping him off with a dry cloth I gathered the following supplies:

Supply List:

  • Unicorn SPiT
  • Polyurethane Spray
  • Cotton Swabs
  • Old Rags or Cheesecloth
  • Paint Brushes in small to medium size
  • Small Cup of Water

Hand Paint Metal

To hand paint the metal I used a medium sized paint brush with a 50/50 diluted mixture of Navajo Jewel by Unicorn SPiT(US) to paint a base coat of color.  I could have used the stain undiluted which would have given me a thicker product possibly reducing the need for a second coat.  However, I wasn’t too sure how the stain was going to look and I didn’t want to waste more than I needed to trying it out for the first time.  I painted it on, but you could just as easily use your fingers if you prefer.  The Unicorn Spit Gel Stain is easy to work with, and if it starts to dry just add a little more water to make it fluid again.

Special Note: Keep in mind the brass metal will be a smooth surface to hand paint, so you won’t be able to play around with your painting much.  On the flip side, if you don’t like how it’s looking you can just wipe it off.

After painting two coats working from one side to the other then back around I had gotten to the coverage I wanted. Smaller brushes came in handy to get in the detailed areas and in between the stones.

Paint the Stones

Hand Paint Metal Brass Elephant Teal Pink Blue Stones

  1.  Use the cotton swabs to apply full-strength US gel stain in Pixie Punk Pink and Blue Thunder
  2.  Let it dry
  3.  Use clean cotton swabs to rub and polish the painted stones.


Distressing the Paint

Lastly, I used a lightly dampened cloth to gently rub all the teal ‘paint’ to remove some of the color…distressing it to have a worn or aged look.

Sealing Hand Painted Metal

At this point I liked him, but decided he needed to be shiny and sealed properly. Since US is water-based it has to be sealed.  I chose to spray paint using semi-gloss polyurethane.  As you can see, US’s color changes greatly with the sealer.




Isn’t he so cute!?!  I love how the colors really pop after the sealant and the stones are still a little opalescent.  Thank you for checking out this post.  If you are going to hand paint metal please leave a comment below to share with the community of DIY’ers like yourself.

Oh, and here’s the link to the other US project where I upcycled a vintage wooden box into a custom boho jewelry box.

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White Picture Frame Makeover

I created this quick post to show you a tip on customizing a picture frame for this DIY Mermaid Art.  In this post I’ll show you an awesome little trick for a white picture frame makeover.  This is a great way to use an old frame you already have.

Maybe your picture frame was like mine, not in bad shape, just outdated-in need of a makeover.  It was raw wood and kinda blah.  It didn’t match the contemporary vibe I wanted for my artwork.

1.  First, give your frame a quick wipe off with some soap and water.

2.  Lightly sand with a medium grit or 100 grit sandpaper.

3.  Paint your picture frame white with acrylic paint.  Mine was a little too shiny, so I sanded it with a 220 grit sanding block afterwards.

4.  Lastly, use a Sharpie marker to draw a line in the grooves.  You can use any color Sharpie that matches your artwork.  The great thing is if you get out of the lines a little just have a cotton swab or tissue with IPA on it handy to wipe it off.

Blue Sharpie to give White Picture Frame MakeoverBlue Sharpie in frame grooves to five White Picture Frame Makeover








I’d love to see how you gave your White Picture Frame a Makeover using a Sharpie.  Come on over to my Facebook page and share a photo with the Artfully Stained community.
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DIY Mermaid Art

Mermaid Art Aqua Blue Scales White Frame

I have a fun DIY Mermaid Art project for you today.  It’s a Disney’s Little Mermaid theme, but with a contemporary inspiration for an adult.   

* Post edit:  I have since made a larger version & added its photo here to the right of the small one.

This project uses your basic painting and paper crafting skills.  Grab your tools, a cup of joe, and let’s get started!  As always, your supplies list is at the end of the post with convenient affiliate links for some items you may need to purchase.  

Step 1: Paint the Scales

Start with two pieces of 9 in x 12 in, 90 lb.  Cold Press Watercolor Paper.  

*Note: If you’re making these 3 x 5 or smaller you’ll only need one piece of paper.  

I chose this paper because it has a little texture to it and I knew it would hold-up well.  

Using a wet on wet watercolor painting technique or just drop some wet paint on your paper in greens, blue, and purples.  Mix some of these colors together to create additional colors to use, too.  When painting watercolor you don’t want to overwork an area, so move around your paper constantly.  For example, start at one corner then move to another corner then go back to the first corner and add more paint, and so on.  If you get it too wet you can dab it with a clean paper towel.  Try not to water down/thin out your colors too much, so that they stay vibrant.  

*Note: You may opt to stretch your paper first, but if you aren’t familiar with watercolor painting skip this- you shouldn’t be saturating it with water too much.  If your paper warps it’s won’t matter since you’ll be cutting it apart anyway.

Allow the paper to dry thoroughly overnight or use a heat gun/blow dryer to speed-up the process.  

Step 2: Enhance the Colors with Chalk Pastels

watercolor painting aqua blue green blended colors


Next, use chalk pastels in the same colors as your paint, and go over your watercolor painting to enhance the corresponding colors.  Rub the chalk in and blend it all to not have any harsh lines-fingers work just fine here!  Think of how scales look under water, all the colors flow together.

Step 3: Seal Your Painting

 Now you’re going to want to seal and protect your painting.  This Mod Podge sealer will  darken the color just a little-almost like a wet look.  I opted for two coats which enriched the colors to my liking.

 Spray according to manufacturer’s directions in a well ventilated area, and allow to dry accordingly.  This sealant allows you to layer another medium without the risk of your watercolor being affected, so when you go to the next step you can wipe off a mistake without ruining your painting.  

Step 4: Design the Shape of the Scales

After the sealant is dry, it’s time to turn your painting into individual scales.  I chose to design mine in a ‘U’ shape, but if you have a 1”-2” paper punch in the scale shape your work will be much easier and faster (and I’m jealous).  Just find something around your house that’s round and the size of the scales you want; trace on card stock-half the rounded side then use a ruler to finish off the straight edge.  I made a couple different sizes until I found the one I liked best.  

Tracing Shape of Scales on the watercolored paper


Using your card stock scale template, trace scales across the entire painting.  Try to trace them as close together as possible to make sure you don’t run out of paper.  

*Note: Make sure to trace the scales in the same direction, so that the textured lines on the paper don’t end up going in different directions on your scales.  I preferred my lines to go horizontally across the scales.

*Post Edit:  I barely had enough when I did the small frame, so when I made the larger version I traced my first row as seen in this image then I flipped my stencil down to trace the next row.  That allowed me to tuck the curved part in between the two curved edges of the previous row.  The third row I matched the flat ends together still keeping the lines horizontally across the scales though.  I had just the right amount with two pages for the larger frame.

Step 5: Cut Out the Scales

cut out scales

Cut out all the scales using a pair of scissors for detailed paper crafting.  Precision is key!

Step 6: Add Shimmer to the Scales

Gold Shimmer Paint Brushing off onto paper towel Very little paint dry brushing the gold scales with the gold dry brushed on them

After you have all the scales cut out, it’s time to add a little shimmer.  Dry brush with Modern Masters metallic paint in Warm Silver.  I actually used an old cosmetic brush that’s full and fluffy as you can see here.  Use what you’ve got!

Dry brush from one direction focusing on the lower portion of the scale since the upper will be covered when it’s tucked under the scales above it.  Going the same direction & focusing on one side mimics how a single light source would shimmer under the water.

Step 7: Attach the Scales

Mermaid Scales glued in rows on base paperNext it’s time to assemble and attach the scales.  Do a ‘dry run’ first by laying out the scales on the paper to make sure you have enough.  Using the frame’s backing as a template, cut a piece of card stock out for your base to glue your scales on.

At first I used glue, but I didn’t like how the scales were looking and I had to carefully tear all the pieces off the paper which was a hot mess.  I then used a tape runner and found that to work best since it gives you a little work-ability/move-ability.  

With your tape runner in hand, run a strip of adhesive along the back, upper/straight edge of the scale.  I did one at a time to not get too ahead of myself, but you could opt to have all the scales taped and ready to apply.  

Starting at the top, apply one row of scales butted-up next to one another but not overlapping.  The second row will go below that one.  Tuck the scales under the first row while alternating where the scoops are.  Ya know, like when you lined-up in PE and used the ‘windows’ layout so the teacher could see you all.  

As you’ll see, you’ll have some half ones to cut off the sides.  Go ahead and cut them as you go and set those pieces to the side.  You may be able to use them further down the paper.  

Just eyeball the rows by lining-up the bottom of the scales with one another.  If you prefer, you could use a ruler as your guide.  If some of the rows are tucked under further than others, don’t worry about it.  Once all the scales are on you won’t notice any little differences.  Once you’re all done and satisfied with the look, press down on all the scales to make sure they’re adhered well.  Gently tug at each one and re-tape or glue it if you need to.

I liked leaving the bottoms of the scales free, so they stood up a little from the ones below it.  You don’t want it to all be flat.  This is also why I focused my metallic paint on the bottom portions, so that each would stand out from the scale below it.  

Step 8: Make Your Quote to Finish Your Mermaid Art

Choose a quote to use.  The one I chose from The Little Mermaid is Ariel saying, “Who says that my dreams have to stay just my dreams.”  Find a free font online or type your quote in a word program in whatever color you like, then print it out on white copy paper.  I used colored pencils to write mine out.

Cut out each word separately leaving a little margin around each word.  To make them pop and not look half-fast, use Glue Dots and adhere the cut-out words onto silver foil paper.  Then cut out the silver foil, leaving a little more margin around each word.  This is again why those precision scissors are important!    

Mermaid Art small white frameStep 9: Mount the Words Onto Your Painting & Ta-Dah!

Do a dry run first to figure out your preferred layout of the words over the scales.

To mount the words, I used mini clear Glue Dots.  Glue Dots will also give you a little work-ability upon initial placement.  Using your Glue Dots go ahead and stick your words onto the scales and enjoy your gorgeous artwork!  

If you’re using a purchased frame for your artwork you should be all set!  If not, I wrote this separate post just for you to re-purpose and customize an old frame just for this!



Supplies List

Watercolor Paper

watercolor paper pad

Watercolor Paints & Brush

Chalk Pastels

Mod Podge Matte Water-Based Sealer

Glue Dots: Clear, Mini

Modern Masters Metallic Paint: Warm Silver

Silver Foil Paper

Paper Crafting Sissors


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In this post I’ll be teaching you how to easily paint lettering on your artwork.

All you need is some water soluble crayons(pastels would work too), and a water brush.  You may be wondering what those are and where to get them.  I’m here to help with that, too!  I’ve included my affiliate links for your convenience, and when you do purchase through that link I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Water Soluble Crayons or Pastels

These are water soluble little sticks of pigment that have the look and feel of a regular wax crayon.  This makes them easy to write or color with.  Then you add water with a brush which basically liquefies the product making it look like you painted it.  They’re very easy to use!

Water Brush

This super handy tool is one of my must-haves for any creative person.  It’s a nylon tip brush with a plastic barrel  which you fill with water, so it’s self-moistening.  There are different sizes available, but I like the large one the best.  I show you exactly how to use it in the video.  Easy, easy, easy my friend!

Grab your tools and lets get started.  Here’s the short video showing you how to easily paint lettering.  If you have any questions or comments please leave them below.  Oh, and if you use this technique please share a photos with me on my FB page @ArtfullyStained.


Supplies & Product Links:

Water Soluble Crayons

Caran d’Ache Classic Neocolor II Water-Soluble Pastels, 15 Colors

Here’s a Complete Color Set I found that would make an awesome gift-it comes in a nice box!
Caran d’Ache Neocolor II Water-Soluble Pastels, Wooden Gift Box – 84 Colors

Water Brush Pen

I found a great deal for you on a pack of 4, so you’ll have all the different sizes.  This is around the same price I paid for my single brush, so it’s a really good deal.

Arteza Water Brush Pen – Self-moistening – Portable – Watercolor – (Assorted Tips, Set of 4)

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Quick and Easy Way to Change a Picture Frame to Match Your Decor

Quick and Easy Way to Change a Picture Frame to Match Your Décor

Have you ever had a hard time finding just the right picture frame for a painting or photo?  Maybe the colors in the store don’t match your décor or your current frames need an update.  Refinishing frames is one of my favorite projects, because it’s so quick and easy.  Let me show you this quick and easy way to change a picture frame to match your decor using acrylic paint.

While visiting my dear friend, Jessica, and delivering this watercolor painting to her we found we needed to find a frame for it, so we headed out to shop for one at her local Wal-Mart. Watercolor Painting of an OwlWe did find a decent and affordable Mainstays™ frame that was pretty close to what we were looking for it just needed a little color adjustment.  I found PLAID® craft’s FolkArt multi-surface acrylic paint in 2951E Patina and 2921E Aqua although after trying the colors out at home we settled on just using the Patina one. Bottle of Acrylic Paint in Patina

I also bought a small pack of acrylic brushes which was a great deal for the lot plus it came in a clear carrying case.  I used the largest paint brush from the pack which was a size 10.  You can find a similar pack of brushes here.

Frame and paint brush

Here’s a short video loop showing how I lightly brushed the new teal paint onto the frame.  There was no prep work involved, and there’s no need to seal it.

With the time it took me to gather my supplies, try out the two colors, and paint the entire frame it probably took about 15 minutes to complete.  This is such a quick and easy way to change a store bought frame to match your décor.

framed owl painting

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DIY Jewelry Box

How to Turn a Vintage Wooden Box into a

Unique Boho-Inspired Jewelry Box

DIY Jewelry Box Using Unicorn SPiT™ Gel Stain!

Please note this post contains affiliate links like this one… Unicorn SPiT gel stain

I found this old wooden box (fantastic carved details) at a local antique store, and decided it would make a great DIY project to use Unicorn SPiT gel stain. I decided the size made for a perfect little jewelry box; measures about 8″w x 5″d x 2″h. A couple little cracks on the bottom which I filled with wood glue, but still a beautifully handcrafted find.  I tend to forget to take a ‘before’ photo, so shown is after I was a few steps into the project.  If you’re a beginner DIY’er this is a great project to start with.  You can find all the materials used at the bottom of this post.

Stripping the Finish


I started by stripping the clear finish off the box using dish soap. I rubbed a little water and soap all over the box and let it sit for a couple minutes. If it started to dry I put a little more water on it. Then I used a metal scraper to gently scrape off the finish. I found this method on Featured on here.  It worked great! I also gave it just a light sanding to get all of the remaining finish off.


Painting with Gel Stain

I started painting with the gel stain by using undiluted Unicorn SPiT™ in Pixie Punk Pink™ just as you would paint; hand painting it directly on the flowers and letting it dry.

Using the same paintbrush, I dipped it in water and blended the color, thinning it out a little. I focused on the crevices since I was going to add a second color to accent.



To paint the center, I used red undiluted Unicorn SPiT™ in Molly Red Pepper™, full-strength then doing the same blending with water as I did to the pink.




Dry Brushing and Layering Colors

For the remaining of this project I mixed colors using my four base colors: Blue Thunder™, Pixie Punk Pink™, Molly Red Pepper™, Navajo Jewel™ (all Unicorn SPiT™). By using all the colors to make multiple new colors everything blended nicely and I achieved a lot of layering of the colors and differentiation throughout the entire piece.


The circles became a shade of purple. I just played around with the colors on a palette to get different colors I liked then dry brushed each one all over.  Aside from the flowers and circles, everything was dry brushed.




Here’s the inside with some light dry brush layering done. As you can see I did not overlap a lot of the lighter colors. I would do one color at a time then mix something different and add that all over.


Creating the Inside Jewelry Storage Area

I used a watercolor painting on paper which I cut to fit the base of the inside of the box. I had some craft rope/trim I also measured for around the inside.  A piece of foam, and an old shirt I found to make a ring holder.

**Note:  Make sure you take into account the thickness of any material you’re covering the ring holder with, and any trim pieces that may go between the holder and the wall of the box.  Put everything in place to double-check your measurements.

After these were all measured I set them to the side, and sprayed several coats of Polycrylic over the box. While that was drying (layer after layer), I coated the watercolor paper with several coats of Mod Podge, and allowed it to dry.  I used an exacto knife to cut several deep slits (don’t cut all the way through!) in the foam block.  You can make yours whatever size and shape you want to fit your box.  Just use good scissors or a blade to cut through the foam.

Making the Ring Holder

I re-purposed material from an old shirt and jeans(wrapped around sides) to cover the ring holder.  To make the ring holder, I laid the material on a table and put the foam slit-side down on top of the material. I glued the top end (use a side without the slits), then I put glue in the first base of a slot, and used a small crochet hook to push/wrap the material up into the slot then slid the hook out. This gave me a way to wrap the material around each section without getting my fingers too close to the glue and risk burning myself.  You could use the handle of your paint brush, too.  You can never be too careful while using a hot glue gun.

Assembly Time!

To assemble the inside, I first glued down the watercolor paper, the rope trim, and lastly the ring holder.

As you can see, I added a little piece of rope which I looped and hot glued under the edge of the lid, so that I can pull it open easily.  The poly darkened it a little (happens with the Unicorn Spit™ gel stain), but sealed it nicely.  That’s it!  Although it doesn’t hold a lot, I love how it turned out plus it looks so cool on top of my dresser.

Materials I used for this project:

You can get a variety of colors in this set: Unicorn SPiT™ Gel Stain & Glaze in One – 10 Paint Collection

Basic Materials You’ll Need, But Should Have On-Hand:

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