How do I keep hand-painted figurines from "melting" in a snow globe?
November 10, 2009 4:23 PM   Subscribe

How can I seal hand-painted Preiser figures so that they can be submerged indefinitely?

I'm using model train figurines to make a snow globe. The snow globe will be filled with fluid - probably mineral oil, karo syrup, or water (I'm still deciding which fluid, but open to input).

The figurines are mostly Preiser HO figurines which the hobby store informs me are painted with water soluble paints.

I asked how I could best seal the figurines so that they could be under water without paint loss indefinitely and they weren't sure. They suggested painting a clear lacquer, but couldn't decide whether it would try yellow or be thin enough, or using floor wax to coat the figurines.

I'm baffled. I've never worked with model trains or snowglobes, but am a little horrified by the idea of the gift recipient unwrapping the snow globe in december to discover the paint has all come off the figurines. Any suggestions would be highly appreciated!

posted by arnicae to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Water soluble paint (hydrophilic) may not be soluble in oil (hydrophobic) at all. It wouldn't be a bad idea to experiment with the mineral oil. Sink a figurine in oil for a few weeks and see what happens. My guess is that the paint will prefer to stick to the figurines rather than dissolve. You may have a problem with the snowflakes though. They may not flow too well in the higher viscosity mineral oil, but will certainly settle better with oil than with corn syrup.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 4:32 PM on November 10, 2009

I've tried this in a very thin layer to coat items I wanted in a tank. It shouldn't make the paint run but test to be sure. Any clear sealant labeled safe for aquariums would probably do the job; they will not be water soluble.
posted by variella at 4:34 PM on November 10, 2009

I'd just use a spray on glossy finish. A urethane of some sort, maybe.

Also, I recommend against karo syrup as your medium. Unless everything is straight up sterile as you're working on it (like autoclaved sterile, not just washed), it's going to grow gross things.
posted by Netzapper at 4:44 PM on November 10, 2009

The water soluble paint normally used in the model kit world is acrylic paint. As soon as it dries, it doesn't dissolve in water any more. Other chemicals, oils or coatings, on the other hand, could produce rather fancy effects, so indeed: make sure to make a test or two. I'd stay away from mineral oil in any case since it might have a bad effect on the plastic as well. You might also run your question past Preiser (there is a contact form in the list at the left of the page: "Kontakt/Händler". Don't check the box "ich suche einen Händler". At the anti spam field below on the form you'll have to fill in the letters into the field below. They will be able to answer in English).
posted by Namlit at 1:49 AM on November 11, 2009

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