Should I get agitated?
Posted by Martin on August 13, 2011
I’m just gearing up to resume my seat at the painting table after my Summer holiday and one small irritating detail is lurking at the back of my mind. I just know that quite a few of my Vallejo paints will need a very vigorous shake (to say the least) to get them back in to shape ready for use, even though I store them all upside down. I know that if I don’t shake the paints thoroughly, the pigment and the carrier won’t mix properly and then bad things will happen – poor coverage, failure to dry with a flat matt finish and so on.
The trouble is that I hate shaking paints. I especially hate shaking them when I’m already in the middle of a painting session because it disrupts the creative flow (ooh, get him duckie!). The question is, what can I do to avoid spraining a wrist from a monster afternoon-long paint shaking session? And even if I do shake them all thoroughly, I know that the pigment and carrier will start to separate again the minute my back is turned.
Well, a possible solution has presented itself after a smidgeon of idle Googling. And the magic search was: paint agitators. Originally, when I typed this, I was thinking of those little machines that vibrate and shake things because I had this nebulous recollection of cheap ones sometimes being sold by DIY stores and those German supermarket chains like Aldi and Lidl. As it happened, and as so often happens with Google, I didn’t find what I was looking for but found something else equally interesting instead. My interest was piqued by these two links: one from the Warhammer Forum and the other from the Dakka Dakka painting website.
If you read these, you’ll see there are several commonalities but they’re basically about the idea of inserting something heavy inside the paint bottle that moves around and efficiently mixes the paint when the bottle is shaken, making the chore much less arduous. In truth, this isn’t a new idea and it isn’t even a new idea in the world of miniature paints – both sources assert that Reaper Miniatures used to include little white metal skulls (yes, skulls) in their bottles of paint. Of course, it doesn’t surprise me to learn that the skulls are no longer used because of concerns about the lead content and, apparently, Reaper has switched to beads.
Both sources also mention the use of steel ball bearings but caution against them because of the risk of rust contamination of the paint. The final commonality is the mention of beads (either glass or stone) as the best option. Received wisdom appears to be that beads offer the best combination of inertness, weight and value for money. So that seems to settle it except for the small matter of where to acquire suitable beads. And I think I have a potential answer to that question too (at least here in the UK): Hobbycraft. On checking out the Hobbycraft online shop, I’ve discovered that the jewellery making section includes a category for glass beads in which there are packs of said beads of 4mm, 6mm and 8mm diameters for under a fiver (though it isn’t clear how many beads you get for your money). All I need to do is decide which size to go for.
However, I’m a cautious soul, so before I try out this innovation, I’d like to know if any of you have experience of doing this and have any tips for me.