Preparing for the overhaul...

Sunday, September 9, 2012

How To Make Old, Grimy Cookware

Surprisingly, there are a lot of things you can do with Chrysnbon cookware.  I have a couple different ideas in the works, and will be posting pictures when I'm further along with them.  Which, incidentally, might be awhile.  We actually have found a place to rent for the winter, but between work, moving, etc, I really don't know what the next few weeks will be like.  I do know that I'll have an actual craft room--if a small one--for awhile, which will be nice.  And, hopefully, our house will get built within a reasonable time frame.

Anyway, moving on...

You will need:
  1. A set (or two) of Chrysnbon cookware.  Sometimes you can find it cheaper on eBay.  
  2. Testors buffing aluminum plate metalizer (unless you have an airbrush, make sure you're buying the 3 oz spray and not the airbrush only formulation).
  3. Testors metallic copper enamel.  I personally use the spray formulation, but it really doesn't matter; if you're more comfortable with a paintbrush, use the bottled version.  It's the same stuff, and interchangeable.  Sometimes, I spray things and end up touching them up with a brush later on; you can't tell the difference.
  4. Americana brand craft paint in "lamp black" and "burnt sienna."
  5. Q-tips (these are really good to have on hand anyway).
  6. Toilet paper (for all purposes, I prefer Charmin Ultra Strong.
  7. A sanding sponge or two.  I use 3M "fine" grit sanding sponges, which are intended for automotive use.  "Fine" is really, for miniature purposes, really more of a medium and, since these sponges hold a grit pretty well, as they dull down, they work well for successively finer work.  These are a little pricey but, in my opinion, worth the extra money; they last a long time, serve variable purposes, can take the place of multiple grits in many situations, and are excellent wet or dry.  If you buy them on Amazon, you can save as much as 40% off list.
  8. Brushes.  Michael's actually sells some very high quality craft brushes for cheap.
  9. Testors "dullcote" spray.
  10. Water, and, if you're using enamels (as opposed to water based modeling paint), thinner.
Your first step is to separate all the pieces from the sprue, assemble them where necessary, and sand off any odd bits.  The little circles on the baking sheets, etc are almost impossible to completely remove; don't worry about it.  This is only a problem if you want brand new-looking cookware (and you can fix it; I'll get to that in a later post).

Depending on whether you want copper or aluminum, spray your pieces appropriately.  You'll be the happiest with your results if you work in successive thin coats.  Once you've gotten the coverage you want, LET YOUR PIECES DRY OVERNIGHT.  This applies also to situations where you have to spray one side and flip it over--i.e. the baking pans.  I usually leave about 6 hours' dry time in between, then let everything sit for a day or two.

For the aluminum pieces: using a q-tip, or a square of toilet paper where appropriate, buff each piece to a shine.  The metalizers can be a little tricky to work with; if you get too over-enthusiastic and buff off all your paint (hard, but possible to do), just spray it again and repeat the same process.  It's really necessary to buff; not only does it really transform the piece into something real-looking, un-buffed metalizer sheds like crazy.  It's attracted to the oil on your fingertips much the same way fingerprint powder is.  I learned the hard way, wash your hands thoroughly after you've finished buffing.  I've ended up accidentally leaving silvery fingerprints on more than one stove part.

Some aluminum pieces in various stages of buffing.  The "cast iron" pieces have just been sprayed with flat black.  I like aluminum cookware; my grandparents' cabinets were full of pots and pans that looked just like this.

For the copper pieces: assuming you want your copper to look old, you want to spray it with a coat or two of "dullcote."  Basically, what this does is remove the shine.  It also provides a good base for the acrylic paints.  Sometimes, depending on your spraying environment, the thickness of the coats, etc, you can end up getting a kind of cloudy effect which, depending on your ultimate goals, might not be desirable.  One way to avoid this is to, first, spray your copper with a gloss coat (Testors calls it "glosscote" and it's pretty good stuff) and, once that's dry, spray it once or twice with the "dullcote."


Successive thin coats are best.

Starting with the aluminum, paint the insides of the pans with successive washes of burnt sienna.  My own technique is to paint the wash and--working quickly--dab off the excess with a q-tip.  This creates a more realistically "gross" effect.  In my washes, I try to concentrate my paint in areas where goo would accrete.  

Then, going sparingly--you can always add more--darken some areas with successive washes of lamp black.  I went more heavily in some areas (the inside of the muffin tins, for example) than others.  The edges and corners--like in the baking sheet--got a fairly heavy treatment, too.  I've found that what works best for this is to use a fine angled brush and pull a line down as far into the crevice as you can.  then, you can blur the line either with a q-tip or with a second small (dry) brush.  Keep going until your pans are satisfactorily disgusting.

Pay special attention to areas that'd be discolored by burnt food, oils, etc.

Remember the hard to reach places like corners, under and around handles, etc.  Also, some areas (like the insides of muffin tins) seem to get more disgusting than others.  Or maybe only in my kitchen?

For the copper, start by painting the insides of the pieces black.  I find that this is really where the "dullcote" makes a difference; it gives the paint something to adhere to.  I did several coats on the insides of the pots, baking dish and coffee pot, but only a couple of thin coats (addled by q-tips) on the insides of the pans.

Then, when I did the outsides, I thought about--again--where copper pots naturally discolor.  I paid special attention to the area under the lip, the area around the handles and, of course, the undersides of the pots where they'd be sitting on the burners.

The "baked on grossness" look is created with q-tips.

I also used a q-tip to stipple the black on the insides of the pots.

Some areas--like the lids--didn't get much treatment at all, since, in real life, these don't tend to get too dirty.  Also, for example, the actual handles, since constant grabbing would keep them pretty grime-free (and oils on your hands, which rub off on the metal, prevent discoloration to some extent).  The important thing to remember is that successful aging involves contrast.  Grimy areas are interesting, because they're next to comparatively clean areas.

This isn't the best picture ever, but you can get a sense of where I added the black.

This can be kind of a long process.  My husband read me an entire (long) article about the politics of the moose lottery while I worked on the copper pots.  It's a really good activity, I think, for when you're watching TV, or stuck inside on a rainy day, and want something relatively simple--but also absorbing--to work on.

If you want to age your cast iron, what I personally think works best is Testors acrylic "rust."  Trust me, you want your washes to be water-based.  The pan on the left has been sprayed flat black; the pan on the right, after being sprayed flat black, was given a couple washes of rust.  I concentrated the color on one side more than the other, theorizing that my dolls' cast iron pans don't age any more equally than mine.  I also like to have pots, pans, etc in various stages of revoltingness in my dolls' kitchens; after all, in real life, not every pan was purchased at the same time, gets the same amount of use, is of the same quality, etc.

So there you have it: gross pans.  I'm also working on some other colors and styles, so hopefully I'll have some more pictures to post soon.


Bell and Crow Miniatures said...

Thanks so much for taking the time to share this information. I plan on utilizing all of your Chrysnbon tips in my current project! You make them look so great!

otterine said...

They look fabulous! :D

Steinworks said...

thank you for this great tutorial I have to try that on my pots and pans :)


Unknown said...

Awesome! They look fantastic! Thank you for sharing.

Brigitte said...

Thank You so VERY MUCH for sharing this technique.I was looking for a tutorial how to make pots and pans when I run across Your pin.They look wonderful and SO REAL !!

Auralea Krieger said...

Great idea. I would love to have this tutorial in American Miniaturist. If you are interested please email me at :)

Best wishes,

Editor - American Miniaturist & Dollhouse Miniatures
Teach, Inspire and Entertain.