Whether you plan on electroforming flowers, plastic, ceramic, or leaves, you’ll need a quality copper conductive paint to achieve good looking results. But if you’re a beginner, you might not know which one you should get. In fact, purchasing the wrong paint could negatively impact the durability of your project. Below, you’ll find my best tips and tricks on how to use copper conductive paint and the best options for electroforming.
Note: Affiliate links may be used in this post. I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through my affiliate link.
What is copper conductive paint
Copper conductive paint – or graphite paint – is an electric paint that makes non-conductive items such as plastics, resins, leather, flowers, or leaves conductive so they can be electroformed. The paint becomes conductive once dry. It can be applied to any material, making it easy for you to then electroform non-conductive items. This paint is a must-have when you do electroforming.
How to apply copper conductive paint
There are several ways you can apply copper conductive paint on your creations. As for me, I always apply my paint with a paintbrush. I’m clearly not a painter so I often put paint where it shouldn’t be, but graphite paint can be easily cleaned with a little bit of water. Below, I’ve listed different ways to apply copper conductive paint:
Brushing: It’s the most common way of application. Use a clean paintbrush to apply. Wash your brush with water after use.
Dipping: You can directly dip your object in the paint if you want. Easier if you want to cover your entire creation in copper – and not only a small surface.
Spraying: you can spray paint on your object using an airbrush. This technique uses the smallest amount of paint.
Additional tips for using copper conductive paint
If you’ve never used graphite paint, here are some other useful tips for using it the right way:
- Make sure your creation is clean and free of dust before you apply the paint. If you want to apply several coats of paint, wait at least 3 hours or until it is dry to touch between each coat. You can use a hairdryer to accelerate drying.
- Copper conductive paint can be easily cleaned with water and soap, so you don’t have to worry about spilling
- Before applying paint on organics, make sure they are sealed with a lacquer to prevent your organic from breaking down during electroforming.
- Highly textured surfaces require more paint. For my textured projects, I usually apply 3 to 4 coats of paint.
- Do not put copper conductive paint in the freezer. You should store it in a cool area. I put mine in the fridge when it gets hot in summer, and it still works fine.
- You can keep your paint for several months after it is open. I keep mine for up to six months.
- Always wear gloves and a mask when you apply your paint. You should also wear gloves when you touch your object once it’s painted otherwise oils from your skin will leave non-conductive patches on your object.
The 3 best copper conductive paint options for electroforming
I’ve tried two different paints so far, which I’m both recommending. I’ve added another one which was recommended by fellow electroforming artists. You can easily find the three paints I recommend online. Some paints may contain hazardous ingredients, which means they cannot be shipped abroad. As far as I’m concerned, I prefer using water-based paint. It’s just one less thing to worry about. So, to make it easier I’ve added links for international sales. Here are 3 great copper conductive paints for electroforming:
1. Cat Music
This graphite paint is the best I’ve ever used. You can find it on Etsy. This paint is non-toxic and really affordable compared to other paints. Easy to apply, this paint can be used on any non-conductive surface. I apply it with a paintbrush. For the best results, I recommend putting two coats of paint on your creation. The instructions recommend waiting 12 hours for it to dry between coats. As far as I’m concerned, I apply one coat in the morning, and one in the evening – so I wait like 8-10hours between each coat and it works fine. If you’re looking for a cheap and effective graphite paint, that’s the one I recommend!
2. Sherri Haab
Sherri Haab’s graphite paint is the first one I ever tried. I personally tried the first version – which was toxic and contained hazardous ingredients. It was working just fine but I definitely didn’t feel comfortable using it. The new version of the paint is now water-based. It is smooth to apply and can be used with the matte primer Sherri Haab also sells on her website. This paint can be cleaned with soap and water.
3. Safer Solutions
I’ve heard a lot about Safer Solutions conductive paints, but I’ve never used it. I think it’s the most popular paint for electroforming in the USA. Safer Solutions paint is not a graphite paint, it’s a conductive copper paint. This means this paint is made with copper, not graphite. I’ve seen many electroformers rave about this paint. It can be applied using a paintbrush or an airbrush. The website recommends waiting for only a couple hours between each coat, which is a lot less than the Cat Music paint I recommend above. Safer solutions sell worldwide, so you can buy their paint from anywhere in the world.
How to make copper conductive paint
You can make your own graphite paint at home. It’s not hard to make once you find the right recipe, and it’s very cost-effective. I haven’t made my own paint yet – you’ll be the first to know when I do. But, you can find several recipes online and make homemade conductive paint with as little as 3 ingredients. To make copper conductive paint you need graphite powder, acrylic paint, and distilled water. You can watch this video for instructions.
Copper conductive paint is definitely one of the first supplies you want to get if you want to try electroforming. It’s the best tool to make non-conductive items such as plastic, leaves, or flowers conductive. I definitely recommend getting the paint from Cat Music on Etsy. If you’re on a budget, you can try making your own graphite paint at home and see how it works. Which copper conductive paint do you use? Let me know in the comments below!