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feathers5

Painting Lead eyes

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I'm looking for efficient ways to paint dumbbell eyes. I tried to paint black nickel eyes, but the paint wouldn't hold. I guess they were too smooth. I used gel finger nail polish. My final coat has been Liquid Fusion and it works great on foam poppers. If you could direct me in the right direction I would be grateful. I did a search here but couldn't come up with anything.

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If you want them solid color just for weight, powder painting works great. It's what I did on these last night:

ytPy8a1l.jpg

If you want actual "eyeballs" on them, I have had decent success powder painting the base coat (yellow, white, orange, etc...) then dotting the pupil with some black liquid paint of your choice and sealing with Sally Hansen's Hard as Nails. They'll chip eventually but they hold up OK that way. 

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^^nice tip^^ no credit? 😁😁

Eventually whatever coating is applied it’s going to chip off

try looking for anodized dumbbell eyes online

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3 hours ago, Bryon Anderson said:

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Nice. What kind of paint did you use? You have any links for lead eyes in bulk?

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I used spray paint from a big box store-- couldn't tell you specifically what it was, just a spray enamel. Krylon or similar. I don't have a source for bulk lead eyes, sorry. Someone else here might.

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I"ve been painting lead eyes in bulk for a lot of years... I'll do some digging and see if I can find the pics that show what I'm up to with them... In the meantime here's a pic or two of the paint I use and the homemade eye painters I use... 

Found a few pics... 

c6hFQ81.jpg

Here's my eye painters - just nails of different sizes set in small pieces of fiberglass or graphite rod tips.... Whatever size applicators you use - the dot of paint is generally a bit bigger than the applicator... Although the photo doesn't show it clearly all of my eye painting is with Ace Hardware Alkyd enamel (and although the label shows "Quick Drying"  - it's anything but quick..). This paint comes is small cans (or it did the last time I bought any...) and I use the lid of each can as my painting palette... 

eztQvj8.jpg

All of the eyes I paint have black centers and white, yellow or red backgrounds.. 

gaPSVwx.jpg

This pic shows part of the setup to be able to paint eyes in quantity... I'll explain... 

 

I start with a 2x6 board and use a router to cut a shallow groove in it - just right to lay a 1/8" threaded rod only halfway, leaving the top half exposed.  Before I lay that rod in the small channel I lay thin pieces of monel wire across the channel every five to six inches - then place the rod, pushing it down into the channel carefully with each wire sticking out (each wire is about 5" long) on each side of the rod - then carefully mount 15 or 20 unpainted lead eyes between each pair of wires (usually loading 80 to 100 eyes at a time on top of that first rod... then take a second threaded rod and place it on top once the rod is loaded up... The second rod is held in place by hand until I can take one of the wires, wrap it around both rods then twist it tight... I do this with every wire up and down the two rods binding them together and trapping the lead eyes into place in a single "stick"... To do this properly you must have all of the eyes the same size... And I'll do up as many "sticks" as needed to be able to paint the different sized eyes needed... 

Now let's look at that last photo again... You'll see the first rod in place with the thin wires every six inches or so with the lead eyes in place - ready to mount that second rod on top - then twist the wires around both rods creating a stick of eyes that you can easily handle for painting - then baking (more about that shortly...).

 

You can only do one coat of paint at a time with lead eyes - then allow it to dry thoroughly before coming back and painting the black centers... If the paint you're using isn't quick drying that's a day between coats.... I greatly accelerate the process by taking a freshly painted stick or sticks - and hanging them in an oven - baking them at 300 degrees for 20 minutes... then removing each stick (when it's time to paint eyes I'll generally do four to six sticks at a time...). and allowing it to cool before doing those black centers... You get outstanding results doing lead eyes this way - but if you're going to be baking that paint - you'll need windows open , fans on, and your wife and family - out of the house for an hour or two... Once the painting and baking is done and all the sticks have cooled down... It's a simple matter to clip the wires on each stick and allow the eyes to fall into a container - then transfer them to a plastic box with dividers... When you're done you'll have every eye size you use in three different colors per size all separated out and ready for tying.  It makes just one more part of production tying a bit quicker and more efficient in my opinion... 

Here;s a pic or two of flies with painted lead eyes that I've done a bunch of at times over the years back when I was serving up to three shops at a time... 

yglPAmB.jpg

DLsF8SH.jpg

YZxZDUd.jpg

 

once you're comfortable using painted eyes - you can also do them on thread heads (but you must seal the thread first so the paint can't be drawn into the thread - I use thin superglue as my thread sealant...).  After the eyes on all of the flies shown had the eyes painted on you have to leave them for a day to dry before doing the clear finish coat (for this I've always used FlexCoat - a two part rod builders finish... You can't use an oven to accelerate the drying process without harming some of the materials in each pattern (another of those "ask me how I know" moments...).

SgitLp0.jpg

The Sand Devil

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The Prince of Tides (my version of Flip Pallot's famous backcountry pattern)

 

 H1oZMwC.jpg

The Big Eye Bendback

 

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4 minutes ago, feathers5 said:

They look great. You really do a great job.

Agreed.  Simple, clever, and effective Capt.  

 

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Forgot to mention... The lead eyes I’ve for many years (and prefer) are from Wapsi Fly and any shop can order them... They’re called Presentation Eyes.  Back when I was still a commercial tyer I usually bought them by the thousand per size...

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On 5/4/2020 at 10:33 AM, flytire said:

^^nice tip^^ no credit? 😁😁

Eventually whatever coating is applied it’s going to chip off

try looking for anodized dumbbell eyes online

Sorry about that flytire! I totally passed that off as if it were my own--which the photos definitely were not; they were from an earlier post of yours, as you know. 🙂 It wasnt intentional, just forgetful. I must be getting old or something...😁

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squatch agrees about getting old! ive been there for quite awhile

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