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Thursday, 24 April 2014

How to Guide: Painting My Skis

So as promised, here is a conventional blog post on something useful that someone may stumble across sometime.

Step 1:
Decide on your design.
I personally wanted a kind of doodle design, so I went for the approach of drawing with markers. If you want a more exact and neat/plain design I suggest you follow this blog on the subject: http://thezarseeffect.wordpress.com/2012/01/22/painting-a-pair-of-skis-research/
Even if you're going to do it my way I suggest reading the above anyway as that's what I used as research and it can't hurt to have more information. If you're going to do it the above way I imagine preparing your design will be the most time consuming part.

Step 2:
Prepare your skis.
This means taking everything off your lovely 2 planks. You're going to need to write down some numbers as it may be a while before you put these back together.
I'm no pro when it comes to skiing so I took down what distances my toe and heel bindings had been set for. For my bindings at least the toe and heel parts pop off the underneath part (we'll call it the "binding mount" for lack of a better name) very easily. There was a small lever you pull up and then they just slide off.
The next part is taking off the binding mount, this bit you need to be slightly more careful with as you don't want to ruin the holes that this mount screw into. So I used a torque wrench when taking off these screws to see what pressure would be required for putting them back on and took down this figure too.
Be careful as you remove the mount as there were some loose pieces that fit against the mount on mine so you don't want to lose these. I taped them to my mounts and taped the mounts together for safe keeping.
Put your mounts and bindings somewhere safe and out of the way until you're finished.

They should look something like this once the bindings are removed.
Step 3:
Your skis nearly definitely have their current design/colours in the actual plastic so you're not going to be able to remove this. What you need to do is cover it over. To do this we first sand down the the tops of your skis so that we have a nice rough surface that our paint will stick to.
It's hard to say exactly how much you need to sand them down, but do enough so that it has noticeably lost it's shine and they now look like an old worn pair of skis.

Notice the bottom of the skis is dull looking, that's what you want after sanding.
Step 4:
So now you're nearly about to start feeling like you're making your skis better instead of ruining them. I actually taped around all my edges and taped over the holes in the center of the skis, but with hindsight that was probably a waste of time. The paint should come off the edge when you get it sharpened anyway. A little tiny square of tape over the holes was probably worth doing though, I didn't want paint getting into the grooves and giving me trouble putting back on the mounts. Also tape over the metal at the top to save scraping it off there after can't hurt.
I used a white matt spray paint, and did 4 or 5 very light coats until I could no longer see the design underneath.

Now they look plain and nice and you may be feeling similar to how the other blog says, they look nice and clean and you feel like you may ruin them by drawing on them. What's wrong with plain white skis?
Well nothing, but they're boring and you can make them cool so lets try. Worst comes to worst and you can just re-spray them.

Step 5:
This step took by far the longest for me.
First I drew pretty much everything I wanted on an A4 pad, and then after getting it exactly right I started drawing on my skis.
Here's the very start.

Simple starts
And then after many more hours drawing and finishing I was left with this.

I'd recommend you take frequent breaks as you'll probably be inhaling a fair bit of marker scents if you draw with your head as stupidly close to the surface as I do, it can make you feel a bit unwell. Also, make sure you have good music on while you do this or you'll go mad/give up.

Step 6:
You're not finished yet though buddy. You still have what I have since discovered is the most important part to do. You need to gloss these puppies. Get yourself 2 cans of clear spray gloss from a hardware store. I only got 1 can and left glossing them too late so my work got a bit scratched while I was skiing as I only did maybe 3 or 4 light layers.
So to gloss them you're going to want to start with a VERY VERY LIGHT FIRST LAYER. I didn't do this and the gloss blurred some of my lines which really annoyed me. I thought I was spraying from moderately far back, maybe 8 inches, but seriously do a full foot and move at a pretty fast speed for your first layer. It said on the can to wait an hour to do a next layer but it should be touch dry in less than that and ready for another layer. Your second layer you can put on a little more gloss as the first layer should stop it from blurring, but still be careful as if your first layer was too thin you're going to blur the drawings. Just progressively do heavier layers. NOTE: This stuff really stinks the air (it smells nice actually). Be careful and adhere the warnings on the can. Spray it somewhere ventilated, don't inhale it and don't stick around. Leave them somewhere dry and not windy or else dirt may get blown onto them while drying.
You can see the right ski got very blurred from the gloss
You can probably tell from looking at this picture that there isn't enough gloss on the skis, but I wanted them dry for going skiing the next morning.

Hopefully you should be really finished at this stage, all you have to do is put back on your bindings, but if you're like me you'll have to do the next few steps.

Step 7:
Wrecking your skis.
This step is simple. Ski on them without sufficient gloss and they get scratched all over. I took some pictures but can't find them anywhere :/.

Step 8:
Repeat above
This step is also simple albeit a pain in the ass. Spray white paint over where got scratched off, making sure to tape lots of space around it so you don't spray stuff that is still fine. Remove the tape good and early so it doesn't harden with a big edge, I think you're basically guaranteed to get some sort of paint-edge though unless you smoothly sand off a large area but ain't nobody got time for that. Then re-draw whatever is missing. Then coat the whole thing in enough layers of gloss this time.

Hope this helps someone somewhere at some stage as otherwise I went to the effort of writing all this and taking pictures for nothing!