a transparent but matte paint?
July 6, 2015 9:06 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a transparent paint to cover up a reflective surface (insect wing) such that the surface is no longer reflective.

This is for an experiment with insect wing appearance. Many wings reflect light (like a cd in sunlight - technically called interference colouration). I need to block this somehow without altering the other wing patters such as bands or spots. I'm looking for some sort of paint or spray or something that I can apply over the wing (preferably non toxic) that would dull/eliminate this reflection. This is my best candidate so far, but if there's anything you can recommend, I will be very grateful! I should think there should be such paints available from hobbyist shops but I live in Mexico where we don't seem to have these kinds of shops.
posted by dhruva to Grab Bag (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: My first instinct would be to go to a drugstore's cosmetics section and pick up some mattifying top coat - it's transparent, but designed to make anything underneath non-glossy (matte nails are apparently "in", or WERE in recently). It'll cost you less than five bucks.
posted by julthumbscrew at 9:12 AM on July 6, 2015 [5 favorites]

It does add some texture but I think dulling spray might be what you want. It's transparent and water soluble. I do not think it is non toxic. It might be found at a photography store.
posted by ftm at 9:13 AM on July 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

posted by slateyness at 9:36 AM on July 6, 2015

Response by poster: Nailpolish would be ideal! We use it to mark the insects etc. Do you have any brand recommendations?
posted by dhruva at 9:38 AM on July 6, 2015

Essie's Matte About You matte top coat is good!
posted by phatkitten at 9:41 AM on July 6, 2015

You can apparently make matte top coat by adding a bit of corn flour/starch to regular stuff.

Although Seche Vite is the best on (my) nails, I'd recommend against it for insects because although it's awesome as a top coat, it stinks and I wouldn't be surprised if it's full of horrible chemicals.

There are a lot of [some number]-free brands that would probably be better.
posted by hydrobatidae at 9:50 AM on July 6, 2015

Liquitex makes a matte medium that would do this, too - find it anyplace that has an "artist" aisle in a craft store like Michael's.
posted by ersatzkat at 10:03 AM on July 6, 2015

Response by poster: The Liquitex matte medium (I assume you're talking about this?) needs to be mixed with some other paint? does it work on its own?
posted by dhruva at 10:10 AM on July 6, 2015

Honestly, any old cheap brand will be fine - and cheaper might be BETTER, since it'll likely be thinner. I think Sinful Colors is the go-to cheap brand at Walgreen's and CVS (not sure which pharmacies you have there).
posted by julthumbscrew at 10:15 AM on July 6, 2015

Yes, that's it, and it works on its own over glossy surfaces. It's awesome!
posted by ersatzkat at 10:47 AM on July 6, 2015

Krylon also makes a matte finish spray sealant.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:10 PM on July 6, 2015

Mod Podge makes a non-toxic matte sealant.
posted by corey flood at 12:39 PM on July 6, 2015

Does it need to be waterproof? If not, regular white glue thinned down with water dries mostly matte and mostly clear (play with the proportions). I remember this mainly because I spent 3rd grade lacquering my fingernails with Elmer's white glue and then peeling it off in bits.
posted by yeahlikethat at 7:36 AM on July 7, 2015

Do the insects need to live through this and still be able to fly or are you just modifying the wings?
I often use hairspray as a first step to kill wasps and bees that get in the house as it is non-toxic and turns a flying stinging insect into a walking stinging insect. IOW, it will inhibit flight.

You might try aerosol underarm antiperspirant. This used to be a tool of the trade for food stylists to get a nice attractive haze on grapes.

There is a product for model makers called Rust All which includes a substance called Dead Flat which does what it says on the bottle. You should be able to mail order it.

Model makers also use Testor's Model Master Flat Clear to get rid of shine from decals. Again, mail order.
posted by plinth at 8:26 AM on July 7, 2015

Response by poster: Sorry for the delay; I tried out the nail polish trick, and it worked very well. Still to run experiments to be absolutely sure, but it's looking very good. Yes I needed to paint it on living flies, so the layer had to be very light. Thanks a ton for all your suggestions!

Among the brands, this blog post helped me make a decision.
posted by dhruva at 4:12 PM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

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