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Brush on sealant?!

There’s a lot of health concerns about using Mr. Clear as a sealant due to the odor and chemicals so I often get asked if it’s fine to use a brush on sealant. The answer is yes and there have been quite a few repaint artists who have been making the transition.

Andreja demonstrated that brush on sealants can be used using an airbrush method. See the video below!

If you have an airbrush (or can afford to get one) you should definitely try out Andreja’s method.

Another artist, Glace, has demonstrated that you can also dab on sealant as seen in this gorgeous gargoyle repaint.

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Mr. Super Clear has been getting a lot more difficult to find lately so I myself want to see if there’s a good alternative and how brush on sealants work for me.

The result is Narcissa! Brush on sealants are great because they also offer the same benefits as Mr. Super Clear UV and the added benefit of not having to worry about inhaling chemicals. I tried out Glace’s method of applying Liquitex Matte sealant with some Flow-aid to thin using a brush.

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Since this was a trial run, there’s a few things that differ from using Mr. Super Clear.

First off, the wait time between layers is around 1-2 hours instead of the convenient 15 – 30 minutes of waiting for Mr. Super Clear to set. You have to be very careful to apply very thin layers or at least stick to just one painting layer followed by a final finishing layer. If there is too much sealant, the surface starts to feel gummy.

Second, using brush on sealant is great for blushing! My pastels have a better time sticking to the surface… unfortunately that also means the layer itself attracts dust and debri like a sponge! As such, you have to make sure that your work surface is absolutely pristine. A damp cloth can be used to wipe away dirt from your work, but might also mean that you may have to do any blush work over.

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Up close, brush on sealants have somewhat of a rougher texture compared to using Mr. Super Clear. I also like that the colors are a lot brighter. The paint also holds a lot better to the sealant layer so fine lines can be finer too.

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Because the brush on sealant attracted dust like a sponge, I couldn’t help but spray Mr. Super Clear as a finish. It also leveled the work so that the brush strokes aren’t as obvious. Once I get used to using brush on sealants and explore more of the pros and cons, I’ll write up a tutorial for those interested including a recipe!

Edit 7/31/2013: Additional notes from Glace

Oh, hey, it’s my doll. I didn’t expect that, hehe. I’m super flattered! And thanks for the post, I’m still experimenting with different ways to seal. I have some additional notes:

  • I didn’t notice tackiness on the MH heads I sponged the varnish on at all. I tried brushing it on a Barbie once, though, and that got a little messy. Your brushed results look a lot better!
  • I’ve tried using Liquitex Matte Medium too. That is very tacky, but takes watercolor pencils better than my Zoukeimura spray sealant. I use the varnish on top.
  • With the gargoyle, I didn’t water the varnish down at all and sponged it on straight with makeup sponges. With newer projects, I’ve watered it down with retarder and lightly rubbed it on in circles with the sponge. It comes out really smooth this way. http://www.flickr.com/photos/glaceleau/8954858921/
  • I used an airbrush with the medium once too. WAY tacky and kind of shiny, even with spray sealant on top. http://www.flickr.com/photos/glaceleau/8954859009/
Glace

To see more of Narcissa, check her out at the gallery here. She’s also available at Etsy.

This Post Has 17 Comments
  1. These work by brushing or air brushing? I am wanting to do this because I am sensitive to toxic stuff and haven’t even painted on a doll yet, but I have been sewing just waiting for the right time to paint.

    1. There’s an example of an airbrushed doll (by Nicole) and by brushing (by Glace). The one featured in the article that I worked on was a mixture of both.

  2. Interesting read! Could you recommend if this can also be used on resin BJD?
    Or even on vinyl dolls, if it is removable, e.g. with acetone?

    1. I wouldn’t. I don’t think acetone is good for a lot of BJD brands and sometimes what’s ok or not varies on different types of BJD dolls. I haven’t tried it myself so if you try it, it would be extremely experimental. You should probably share your findings with the community if you do. Lots of people will appreciate it.

    2. I’ve tried this method on my resin girl. I used Matte as the bottom sealants and then varnish to finish. I used Rubbing alcohol to remove it, but I love Winsor&Newton brush cleaner, it works so well with removing it. I’ve also heard Winsor&Newton is good for ABS plastic dolls, I don’t know about vinyl though. I plan to try this method on my ABS girl soon.

    1. An airbrush mimic’s the effect that a spray sealant does but you can brush on a sealant just like what I did for this experiment.

      Airbrush will allow you to use pastels so that they won’t smudge.

    1. I have no idea. I’ve never tried it. I’ve seen a few people experiment with it but the results weren’t too good. It might be one of those situations where it depends on execution? If you ever try it out, can you send me pictures? =D

  3. I don’t really understand, did you use the brush-on sealant before or after the face paint? If you use it after, does it smear pastels and pencils?
    My problem is that there are NO matte sealants in my country whatsoever and I can’t bring sprays from other countries on the plane or have them mailed here. Everyone praises MSC and Dullcote while I sit here with glossy paints and pastels that don’t stick to dolls…

    1. I applied the brush on sealant before a repaint begins. That’s an absolute must to create a layer of protection and double as primer for the paints you use later on. You have to or the paints will bleed right into the plastic.

      I didn’t cover the actual process in detail because this was a trial run. I also didn’t use any colored pencils either so I’m not sure how well those will work using a brush on sealant. In this case, it didn’t appear to smear my pastels. I don’t know if that’s normal or I just got lucky.

      If you can’t get pressurized type products imported, you might want to try the airbrush method. Sorry to hear about that. =(

      1. Thank you for the quick reply! I’ll follow your blog experiments in case you come up with anything, and I’ll let you know if I find better alternatives on my own 🙂

  4. Oh, hey, it’s my doll. I didn’t expect that, hehe. I’m super flattered! And thanks for the post, I’m still experimenting with different ways to seal. I have some additional notes:

    -I didn’t notice tackiness on the MH heads I sponged the varnish on at all. I tried brushing it on a Barbie once, though, and that got a little messy. Your brushed results look a lot better!
    -I’ve tried using Liquitex Matte Medium too. That is very tacky, but takes watercolor pencils better than my Zoukeimura spray sealant. I use the varnish on top.
    -With the gargoyle, I didn’t water the varnish down at all and sponged it on straight with makeup sponges. With newer projects, I’ve watered it down with retarder and lightly rubbed it on in circles with the sponge. It comes out really smooth this way. http://www.flickr.com/photos/glaceleau/8954858921/
    – I used an airbrush with the medium once too. WAY tacky and kind of shiny, even with spray sealant on top. http://www.flickr.com/photos/glaceleau/8954859009/

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