What materials to use to
May 1, 2011 2:25 PM   Subscribe

Installation/exterior decoration artists: What materials to use to draw/paint permanent text and illustrations on a brick wall?

Starting next week, I'm picking up some extra work at a local cafe as an old-fashioned soda fountain clerk at a tiki-type/soda-fountain bar they've built in the back garden.

The owner knows that I also do illustration, and asked if I could draw a permanent menu of drinks, along with some illustrations, on part of the back wall of the bar, which is made of old red brick.

Now I realize that I really don't know the best materials to use for this. IE, what paints, brushes (or markers), tapes, (stencils?), etc to make sure the text and illustrations remain clear and permanent on a brick background.

I'm guessing that the text will be relatively small (maybe about a brick high), as the space is about 8 bricks high by 10 bricks wide.

I'm also a little concerned that since I'll be using permanent materials on brick, there is little room for error. Maybe there are mediums that can be washed off in the short-term in case of error but then become permanent after drying?

I'm sure some artists who do exteriors have some experience with this. Would really appreciate advice.
posted by cotesdurhone to Media & Arts (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Paint it on paper, scan it, and have it laser-cut out of adhesive vinyl by a sign shop.
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:56 PM on May 1, 2011

you can use products like sakura's solid paint markers or mean streaks to write on porous surfaces like brick. (basically, look to what street artists are using -- solid paint markers, spray paint, etc).

but i think it would be much better to put a piece of glass or plexiglass in a very basic frame and hang that on/over the brick (or without a frame for the plexiglass, even) -- you'll still see the brick through the glass, and you can easily make the marking on glass as permanent or temporary as you want.
posted by jimw at 2:57 PM on May 1, 2011

First, I'd strongly recommend laying everything out on paper or in Photoshop/Illustrator at a smaller scale first and then projecting (data projector or overhead) it onto the wall to trace.

Vinyl absolutely is not going to adhere to unpainted exterior brick permanently (if at all). It might stick somewhat to primed or painted brick, but it's not intended to go on textured surfaces (little pocks in the brick will make for unsightly air bubbles and compromise the contact).

In a perfect world, you'd be scraping down the brick, possibly treating it with muriatic acid, sealing it and priming it with a product specifically formulated for brick. Then you'd do the actual lettering and illustrations with sign-painting brushes in an exterior-grade enamel.

What I think you should actually do is to prime with Killz 2 (I think that's the exterior-grade formula, but check the bucket) or whatever the people at the hardware store tell you to use for exterior brick. You could do it either over the whole surface or just under the area you want to paint (for instance, write out everything in primer first and write it out again overtop with whatever colored paint you want to use). Just use any old exterior latex house paint for the final lettering and illustrations (artist's acrylic could also work okay in a pinch). Some kind of clear sealer overtop the whole thing might not be a bad idea, either.

Also, if you're going to doing geometric shapes and want to tape them off first, lay masking/painter's tape down first and then run a bit of clear acrylic medium (from the art supply store) over the tape edge with your finger to seal the tape down more securely and prevent primer/paint from bleeding under.
posted by wreckingball at 4:18 PM on May 1, 2011

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