Can water thinned acrylic paints be used in a small air brush tool or do you need to use special paints?
You can use acrylics in an airbrush. Depending on the paints and the brush you may run into some clogging, chances are you'll be fine. In cheap paints the pigments aren't ground nearly as fine as in fine arts paints, that will make the difference.
There are special airbrush paints (Createx brand, for example) that can be used directly from the bottle, or thinned slightly with water. They are strained and will not sputter when sprayed. You also can use regular acrylic paints - my husband thins these more, and also adds a drop or two of Createx 'retarder', which slows paint drying and therefore the paint doesn't dry inside the airbrush tip and make it clog. The thicker the paint you're using, the bigger the needle & tip you should use. Acrylic probably a number 3 and india and other drawing inks probably the number 1.
If your just looking for a convenient way of getting an even coat of paint on an egg then a cheap , simple airbrush would be in order, the sort that model makers use.
However if it's for covering a large surface like an ostrich egg then a model with a cup would be the best ( to have a greater painting capacity).
The best way to obtain an even finish is to spin the egg on it's axis and then spray. You only need to buy an expensive (double action) airbrush if you want to do extremely fine work but that demands a very long apprenticeship and an awful lot of preparation.
I bought an airbrush for around $75 and I have done some pretty neat stuff with it. I don't think it's worth investing a whole lot more, unless you are going to use it for doing other work as well as eggs. I'm sure that other airbrush artists will be able to add to this .........
Having said that, airbrushes are wonderful inventions and are so useful. I have even used one for doing a free hand painting on silk!
* You will need a compressor as well, plus accessories.
I learned to airbrush ceramics with a Badger (200-1-IL series) airbrush with compressor, and have now started using my airbrush in my eggery art. Mine is about twenty years old now, and still in excellent shape.
I mix Duncan's ceramic opaque non-firing water-based stains:
1 part colour to 2 parts water, and then strain the mixture through a fine nylon to remove any impurities that might clog the airbrush.
To prevent splattering, I often open my airbrush to a wide spray after doing very fine spray work, and I often take off the paint bottle and just run hot water through the airbrush (open to wide spray) from time to time and in between colours. I also cover the end of the airbrush where the spray comes out with a sponge in a deep plastic container of hot water and let the water rinse backwards out of the airbrush so it bubbles out of the tube where the paint bottle usually attaches. This keeps it running perfectly.
At the end of my airbrushing session, I always clean out my airbrush by spraying paint thinner through it into a jar (outside with ventilation) and soak some of the front-end parts separately in paint thinner, rinsed well with water after.
I airbrush in a handmade cardboard box or in a sheltered area outside where the wind cannot affect the spray. No matter what type of paint I'm using, I always wear a protective "dust" mask to prevent the spray from entering my lungs.
I do not use the granite-stone, pearlized, metallic, or oil-based paints in my airbrush as they have a tendency to clog it. My airbrush is strictly for the water-based paints. Depending on what you plan to use your airbrush for, I would recommend checking the amount of preparation required and limitations on the type of paint/products that can be used with it.
You may not wish to use the same airbrush for water-based and oil-based products. I used my airbrush extensively with my wildlife themed ceramics to achieve a realistic look and soft detailing and shading.
Hobbyists use this type of airbrush for car models too, as they can achieve broad even coverage, as well as fine details, shading, and line work.
I have airbrushed a smooth base coat of white over top of the creamy rhea eggs and then applied artist's pastels and/or pencil crayon drawings on top of it so as to keep the colour pure and true.
I usually give the egg a good soaking in vinegar to remove the shiny finish before applying paint with an airbrush.
Sometimes you need to apply multiple light coats, letting it dry in between before applying another light coat. It does take a lot of practice to be able to use one to achieve the shading desired or for fine detailing.
I love my airbrush! I've purchased a fine point instead of the standard point tip in order to be able to do finer shading detail on eggs, and would recommend it. I like this system because you can adjust the volume and range of spray with one hand as you are holding and working with the airbrush in applying the colour to the subject in the other hand -- a wider spray for larger "base coats" down to a very fine line of spray for details.
The adjustment is at the back of the airbrush (which I find is better for me as my hand doesn't interfere with my line of vision to my subject and it is easier to use than the ones where the adjustment is at the front of the airbrush).
This airbrush is durable and lighter than the dremel handpiece. Unfortunately, I do not know the exact current market price, but it ranges around $75.00 (Canadian) plus tax.
I also use a handmade metal turntable when I am applying base coats. I attach a block of styrofoam to it, then poke a stick into the styrofoam, and use the stick to hold my egg steady and upright.
If you're still talking about the way to get an even spray coat on the egg, I just use a piece of wire rather than those spring-loaded affairs. A dowel would work just as well, I suppose, but whichever you chose, put it on a base of wood or styrofoam.
I only buy one-hole eggs, so when you slip the egg down onto the rod, the tip of it goes up into the top of the egg and if your rod is pointy on the end, you can give the egg a spin and it will spin for quite some time. Obviously, a pointed rod causes less friction. Anyway, this is a good way to get an even coat of air-brushed paint on the shell.
When I spray seal carved eggs that cannot be done this way because of openings cut into the top, I simply lace a bit of fishing line through the egg, tying it in a loop. Then I suspend it in the garage and spin the egg until the fishing line is all twisted. When I let go of it, it spins for quite a while until the twist plays out; but then - of course - momentum carrys it further and twists the fishing line in the other direction. While all this is going on, I'm merrily bombarding it with my spray sealer.