A few weeks ago, Margot asked me to come over and have a day of experimentation. She had some Shiva Paintstiks (oil paints in stick form) that she’d purchased awhile ago, and the instructions said they worked on leather. We figured we could create some amazing designs, provided they really did work. Well, we were about to find out.
We tried the Paintstiks on all types of surfaces — smooth leather, faux leather, suede, faux suede and fabric — with very mixed results. I guess without experimentation you get no data. Well, we got a lot of data out of this experiment!
We found that the Paintstiks didn’t adhere real well to smooth leather. Margot used some drafting tape to block off areas of a leather eyeglasses case (below right) and colored in each remaining area with a different color. The coverage wasn’t consistent, as it was thicker on the edges than in the middle. Also, even though the Paintstik instructions said it dried in 24 hours, we found that the glasses case took about 10 days before the colors were permanent.
One plus about the Paintstiks was that because they took so long to dry on smooth leather, Margot and I could create relief designs on the surfaces we were coloring. At left you can see that I used blues, brown, and a toothpick to make a peacock-feather design on a black leather purse (which also took about 10 days to dry). Margot “painted” a faux-leather wallet, then used a cotton swab to wipe away some of the paint to make a dash pattern (photos at lower left). Unfortunately, Paintstiks on faux-leather took even longer to dry — a full two weeks. Because of these long drying times, we wouldn’t use Paintstiks again on smooth leather or faux leather.
That being said, the Paintstiks worked very well on fabric and pretty well on suede (real or faux). Margot mixed colors on a suede bag to give it an interesting texture and shine that it lacked before (see lower right). She was able to use the Paintstiks to highlight a fabric purse’s existing palm tree design, which really livened it up (last photos on lower right).
I tried adding some gold flourishes to a pair of black suede heels (last photos on lower left), but because the tips of the Paintstiks are so soft and fat, it is difficult to “paint” a solid line or do a delicate design with them. Both the suede and the cloth dried in about two days, however. MUCH faster than on leather or faux leather.
If you try Paintstiks, be sure you either cover up or don’t care about your floor, work table, or clothes. Even though they come in nice little paper-wrapped sticks, Paintstiks are MESSY! We ended up with soft little shards of paint everywhere — most of which got mashed into the floor and haven’t come off yet.
Oh well, not all experiments are blazing successes, but if you take note of the cautions and stick (no pun intended) with suede or fabric, you’ll probably like the results. On leather, though, I’d have to give Paintstiks a ‘C’ at best.