Monday, November 28, 2016

Magic Band Custom Painting - A DIY

Today I wanted to show you the method I use to decorate and customize my magic bands! 

Of course many of us have already heard that the magic bands are going to be undergoing a major change in the new year, converting to a new "puck" system with a center piece that is removable so that it can be worn in several different ways. But the primary way of wearing the magic band will still a band, so even though the shape may soon differ, this painting method should still apply


To create the designs on my bands, I downloaded a band template online, and sketched out both designs. A few things to note when creating your designs: don't forget about the Mickey head at the center of your band. There are many opportunities to get creative with how you decorate this part of the band, but it's also the area that gets the heaviest use and wear. Also, when you are designing the portion of your band with holes, don't forget that for most people, you will have overlap and not all the holes will show.

Once I was satisfied with the sketch for my bands, I used a fine-tip black Sharpie to draw out the design on the actual bands. This is a  nervewracking part of the process, but remember...if you mess up, you can cover it up with acrylic paint if the mess up is in the area you planned to paint. And even if you mess up in a spot you planned to leave blank, you can alter your design to paint in the background.

I then filled in my outline with acrylic paint and a tiny-bristle paintbrush. I generally tend to use cheap Apple Barrel-style craft acrylics for my magic bands, and they seem to work just fine.

After the acrylic paint dried thoroughly, I used DuraClear on each of them, brushing it on carefully with the bands clasped around a couple of spray paint cans that were about the size of our wrists. When I painted the gloss over the holes, some tended to seep down in. I used a straightened paper clip to keep the holes free of gloss.

I did three separate layers of the DuraClear, waiting two hours or so between coats for the previous coat to dry. But I'm an impatient person, so it might be better to wait even longer between coats if you can bring yourself to.

I find that the DuraClear works best out of all the varnishes I've tried for magic bands. You still may get a little bit of cracking by the end of your trip if your design requires you to coat your whole band with the varnish, but for most trips, after six days or so, there is still very minimal wear to the paint. 

Have fun decorating your magic bands! And here are a few extra tips:

The first time I decorated our magic bands by painting them, I dug out my husband and my bands from our first trip and do some testing on them. I am so so glad I did this, as simply reading from others that "acrylic paint sprayed with acrylic sealer works well" wasn't enough for me. I have three different kinds of acrylic paint in my crafting cabinet, and it was through doing these test bands that I discovered they all had different success rates: my large tubes of paint crack easily even with a top coat, while the smaller tubes of art paint and the craft acrylic paints held up much better.

I also discovered that Sharpie, when sprayed with Krylon Crystal Clear spray acrylic sealer, immediately runs and bleeds into a terrible mess. I can't imagine how distressed I would be if I had painted my bands and found that out the hard way. I also decided that the spray gave too uneven of coverage for my preference, although it should be said that I only did two layers of spray on my first test band. DuraClear does not smudge Sharpie, and makes the colors of the acrylics even more glossy and vibrant. You will be able to see brushstrokes in the finished design, so if you don't like that idea, Crystal Clear might give you smoother coverage (I don't know this for sure though).

And if you have smaller wrists like I do, try trimming off the excess black band rather than removing the entire thing. In other words, snip it right above the first hole on the black band area so that it appears to border the entire band, and still "frames" your art well. This is the first time I tried cutting off the excess band rather than removing the entire black frame, and I love how it looks...I wish I had done this every time!

I'll leave you with a few more examples of bands I've decorated for past trips!