Unintended Consequences (or a Creative Opportunity) with Glow in the Dark Paint
Someday, this bathroom ceiling will be covered with metal tiles, so I thought it was a great place to experiment with glow in the dark paint. I’ve always wanted to try it out, but never really knew where. Since this ceiling will be covered anyway, I figured, why not?
I decided to make little stars using a potato print. Years ago, I painted a friend’s bathroom using a star potato print, but with metallic gold paint. It was a great method, because I could quickly make a bunch of cute little stars without having to carefully paint them. I figured using this technique I would get tiny stars like those vinyl ones you can stick on.
If you have never made a potato print, here’s how you do it: slice the potato, so you have a flat side, score your design into the potato and carefully remove the pieces around the design.
The label on the paint said to stir it before using, so I used a bamboo skewer. If the directions on any paint or varnish instruct you to stir instead of shake, you should probably only stir it. In the past I have shaken cans of various paints and varnishes and then ended up with a lot of bubbles. The bubbles in the can became bubbles on my wall. I had to wait until they settled, so I could stir it properly and have a nice, smooth paint.
When making any kind of print, the paint you dip your stamp in should be a thin layer, so you don’t clog it up with tons of drippy paint. I used a plastic spoon on a styrofoam plate to smooth my paint.
I’m not a big fan of disposable dinnerware, but even when I tell takeout and delivery restaurants to not include napkins, utensils or plates they often do it anyway. Since I can’t stand to throw things away needlessly, I have a little stockpile of these items that I keep for occasions like this.
I dipped my potato into the paint
and began printing.
However, something unusual happened; The potato printed the outline of the stars instead of the actual stars. This had never happened to me before.
I checked the paint to make sure it wasn’t oil based. I thought maybe the water in the raw potato was making the paint disperse. It doesn’t say on the can explicitly whether it’s water based, but it does read, “clean brushes with soap and water,” not turpentine or mineral spirits, so I figured that wasn’t the problem.
Then I thought maybe I was using too much paint, so I brushed the paint on to see if that worked.
It did not. I still got the same outline.
I thought, I should stop right here and go make myself a stencil, so I could have the perfect little stars.
Then I remembered something. A wise man once told me when I made a mistake on an art project that it was a “creative opportunity.” As I contemplated making a stencil while standing on a step stool, potato in hand, these words rang through my mind, and I couldn’t let it go. I thought, what if the star outlines end up being really cool? I would never know if I made the stencil. I decided to soldier on and complete my experiment.
When I finished the job, I turned on all the lights to charge up the paint, and then turned them off to reveal my masterpiece (my camera does not have the technology to take a decent photo under these circumstances, so I had to do a little simulation using Photoshop). I have to say, it’s not the perfect starry night I was hoping for, but it still came out pretty cool.
The moral of this story: don’t be afraid to take advantage of your mistakes. OR if you want perfect little glow in the dark stars, use a stencil!