Saturday, June 11, 2011

What, Me Paint?

I have never tried to hide the fact I prefer the start to a project rather than the finish. In other words, I love the glue and hate the paint. It's not that I hate it, I just was never very good at it. I started with a Paasche single-action, then went to an Aztek double-action, but I never seemed to get the hang of it. Most of the problem was a result of clogging. No matter how much I stirred, shook, or thinned, it seemed the airbrush would clog up in 30-45 seconds. It got so frustrating, I rarely finished a project totally.

One day I'm going through the Micro-Mark mailer and see a motorized hand-held paint mixer on sale, and think, "Why not?" It arrives in a week, I slap in a couple of batteries, grab a bottle of Polly-Scale, and...........

.....Boy, is my face red!  And no, it's not because the mixer splattered paint on it. It's because all those years of frustration and torment were due to never once having used a properly stirred bottle of paint. My stirring by hand for a minute or more didn't come near the results of a 10 second spin of the mixer. Now when I use the airbrush, the only time I stop is to refill the cup.

I won't say I love to paint now, as I still prefer the construction phase, but I sure don't dread it. So, here is my mixer and some accessories I made for it.

I liked it so much, I bought a second. The spinner on the right is how it comes out of the box, which is perfect for probably 90% of the paints out there. But if you use the Vallejo line of paints, it is too big to fit down the narrow neck of their squeeze bottle. However, a little alteration with a Dremel grinding wheel gives you the spinner on the left, which will fit.

I found cutting a small hole in a large prescription bottle and filling it with water (if you use acrylics like me) makes for easy clean-up of the mixer. A quick spin in the bath and it's clean as a whistle. Check with your local pharmacist for a suitable bottle if you don't already take horse pills like me.


When I first introduced this topic on a forum, there was concern by some about splatter. As long as the paddle doesn't break the surface of the paint, it usually isn't a problem. But accidents do happen, so I came up with this. Again using a large prescription bottle, I cut out a quarter segment from the bottom, and contoured the top to fit my fingers. Slide a paint bottle in the bottom. and any splatter is contained. I made a little stand to hold it along with my thinner and the two mixers.

Here is something else on my painting bench I find very useful. Whether you're mixing paints or cleaning an airbrush, you always need water and alcohol handy. I made these two, again using prescription bottles. If you make the holes just large enough for the pipettes, evaporation is not a problem. What is important is to make sure you label the pipette as well as the bottle.


  1. Hi, this is interesting blog. I have same problem, I need stirred vallejo paints and bought trumpeter mixer, but spinner is too large. Since I saw badger paint stirrer on web. But I dunno how large is stirrer - on picture seems smaller, who knows..

  2. If you get this one from MicroMark, you can use a file, instead of a Dremel Tool, to let it fit the Vallejo bottle. Glad you like the blog.