Friday, May 10, 2013

Shady business.

     Not long ago, my dad came home one day and dumped a bunch of freebie plastic sunglasses in my lap. And my eyes shone like Abu when he sees that big ol' ruby in that weird treasure cave, for I love cheap sunglasses.


     See, cheap sunglasses are my jam. I'm too hard on sunglasses to bother investing in a good pair: I squish them, lose them in stupid places, leave them in my car until they melt into a misshapen ghoul of their former selves. I like to not feel terrible when that inevitably happens. Some of the free sunglasses were plain black, which meant I could wear them as is and look like one of the Blues Brothers, which is obviously a look I approve of. But the others...the others were less wearable. Specifically, they were bright safety orange and said "Ditch Witch" on the sides, which isn't exactly the type of embellishment I usually go for on my sunglasses. Not my style. But show these glasses a little love, and they shine up real purdy. Let me show you!

     Curious how to give your own shades a new look? Read on, stylish friend.

     First up: gather supplies! You'll need your undesirable pair of sunnies, newspaper, tape, striping tape (which is basically just thin tape, so if you don't have that but you do have an excess of patience, you could cut strips of regular ol' scotch tape for this), two colors of spray paint, and an optional clear coat. 

     Before you start, you'll want to protect the lenses of your glasses to keep them from getting painted. That would kind of defeat the purpose. Depending on the style of your glasses, you might be able to pop the lenses out easily and simply put them back when you're done. Mine didn't want to come out without a fight, so I taped them instead, as you can see in the photo above. Be careful to get the entire lens covered without covering any of the frame, or that color will peek through at the end. And remember to do both sides of the lenses! We want these to be functional at the end, after all. 

     When you have everything all taped off, you can spray on your first coat of color. I chose a gold base coat because I was imagining a black and gold art deco pattern (Thanks a lot, Gatsby fever!), but you could use any colors that speak to you. You could even spray on spots of several different colors so the end result would look like those crayon etchings we used to do in school -- scratch off to reveal a rainbow! Please tell me someone else remembers that so I feel less weird about it. Anyway, spray your first coat and let it dry. You'll probably have to do this in two shifts so you can completely cover the top and bottom of the glasses, unless you've got some sort of sweet 360 degree spraypaint set-up going on, in which case do tell. 

     Once you've got your glasses evenly covered, fight your impatience and let it dry completely. Most decent spray paints are dry to the touch in half an hour or less these days, but you want it DRY dry, not just dry "to the touch." I left mine for about two hours, but a less reckless person would probably wait longer. When they're good and dry, you can start mapping out your design with the striping tape. For those who don't know, striping tape is a very thin tape primarily used in nail art. You can buy it super cheap online. I bought a few rolls thinking I would be a nail art MASTA, but it turns out I suck at nail art. This is a much better use, in my opinion. Position the tape anywhere you want your base color or colors to show through your second coat of color. I went for a simple geometric design, and also decided to use office tape to add some gold tips to the arms of the frame.

     When you're feelin' good about your design, give the frames a good once over, pressing down every piece of tape to make sure you get a clean edge. Then you're ready to add your second coat of paint! I used black enamel, purely because it was the first black I found in the paint cabinet. Let that coat dry for a good long while too, since you don't want to go smudging or scraping your nice even paint when you're handling it to pull off all the tape. You might find a pair of tweezers helpful when removing the tape -- use them to gently get underneath the end of a strip of tape, then "ooh" and "aah" as you pull it off and reveal your masterpiece. Or curse and frantically wave your arms because little bits of tape keep getting stuck to you and it's squicking you out, that has a good dramatic effect too. 

     The last step is to add a coat of clear lacquer to protect your design. If you're really not worried about your sunglasses or you're convinced you'll break them within a month anyway (the whole point of painting them up is that they're cheap so you have nothing to lose, right?) you don't have to do this step, but it can't hurt. I haven't done that step yet in my final result picture (you might have noticed the lenses still have paint-covered tape on them -- that's why) because my black paint was still a little sticky and I wanted to let it cure for a few days before adding lacquer over top. 

     And that's it! This is a really easy way to spice up a pair of ugly or boring sunglasses. You don't need any special skills other than a bit of patience, and you can do it in a day, so the patience required is still pretty minimal. Plus you can use this method to make so many different color combinations and designs -- you can really make your shades as subtle or dramatic as you want!

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