I dunno about y’all, but if there’s one thing that can make this dumpster fire of a year have marginally fewer apocalyptic vibes, it’s definitely glitter. World burning down around you? Just focus on the shiny thing (and then, for the love of all that is holy, go VOTE)!
So anyway, like I said last week, I found another pair of FreeJump stirrups at a really random mostly western consignment shop in Arizona. They looked dirty and scuffed and sad but the price was definitely right, so I nabbed them. I was already 2000% tired of swapping stirrups back and forth between Henry and Presto’s jump saddles, it was starting to make me irrationally irritated by swap number 3.
As you can see, they were just plain black. Not sure if y’all know literally anything about me, but I’m more of a navy fan. I did consider dark green, since Presto’s colors are navy and dark green, but I had a vision of navy glitter and once it got in my head I just couldn’t turn away from it. Sparkly navy stirrups. Um, yas please.
This is not my first rodeo with painting things, so I followed the same process I’ve done before with plastics. I already had all the items I needed except for the navy paint, so I invested about $3.50 into this particular project, but in total I used: super fine grit sandpaper, rubbing alcohol, spray paint (I used Rust-Oleum 2X Painter’s Touch, which is primer and paint in one. If you wanted to be super diligent you could get a separate primer and paint.), a glitter clear coat, plastic bags, and tape.
The first and perhaps most important step: clean and sand the surface. This will make a big difference in how well the paint adheres. You want to lightly scuff up the surface as well as remove any top coats that may have been applied during manufacturing that will interfere with adhesion. I cleaned both stirrups first with dish soap and a scrub brush, then sanded the part I was going to paint, then wiped it down with rubbing alcohol to make sure it was as clean and residue-free as possible.
I decided to paint just the outside branch of mine, like FreeJump does with all of their colored irons. 1) It was less to paint, 2) it looked more “true” to the brand to follow what they do. 3) I think it will make the paint job more durable, since it’s not coming into contact with dirt/sweat from the horse or having a stirrup leather running over it all the time. That meant I had to cover the areas that were going to stay unpainted. I opted to use leftover plastic grocery bags with blue painters tape around the edges, to make sure I got clean lines.
Next step: paint! I experimented with the navy paint on a box first, so I could get a feel for the sprayer and how fast/heavy the paint came out. To prevent chipping and lifting, it’s really important to get the paint coats light and even, with no bubbles or excess paint. Both of those mistakes are especially easy to make when doing small items like these. That paint in particular also comes out pretty fast with good coverage, so I was glad I experimented with it first. Once I got the feel for the spray, I did the first coat on each stirrup.
The shape of the area I had to paint made it a little tricky to get it all even, so I ended up just holding it in one hand so I could move it around and turn it while I sprayed with the other hand (a glove would be useful there… I got a blue thumb). I ended up only doing two light coats of the navy, since it did cover so well. I didn’t see a need to do anymore. Follow the instructions on the back of your paint can to see how long you should wait between coats. I should also mention that I did this on the most ideal type of day for painting – it was about 80 degrees with under 50% humidity, and I stayed in the shade. Your paint can will probably mention guidelines like that too. Read the can.
Once the color coats were dry, it was time for the clear glitter coat. Aka the fun part. The glitter I had was multi-color, kind of iridescent or holographic looking, but you can buy pretty much any color glitter you want. Originally I had pictured just plain silver, but this is what I had and it looked super pretty on SO’s projects, so I figured I’d give it a whirl. Worst case scenario I could always remove all the paint and start again or just revert back to the original black if it all went sideways… it’s not the end of the world.
I ended up doing 3 very light coats of the glitter, for maximum shine. I was impressed with how smoothly it went on compared to other glitter brands I’ve tried in the past (where it inevitably gets clogged and/or no glitter really comes out). The glitter is very fine, which helps I think. When I first applied it I was in the shade so it was hard to tell just how much the glitter was showing up. My advice would be to walk out into the sunlight and take a look after each coat. You could also finish with another plain clear coat or a gloss coat if you wanted to, but I left it at the glitter clear coats.
So how did they turn out?
In the sun you can really see the nice slightly holographic look of the glitter. It’s not so much that you can see it from very far away, and it’s not so sparkly that anyone is going to be blinded by it, but it’s there. You have to be up fairly close to really notice it. As far as glitter goes, it’s pretty subtle. I prefer that, personally, since it’s not quite so garish or HELLO I HAVE GLITTER STIRRUPS. I can show in these with no qualms at all and I don’t feel like they look like childish or overdone.
In the shade they mostly just have a really pretty metallic sheen to them, which I really like as well.
So far I’m super pleased with how they came out. I’m giving them this week to completely cure before I use them, but then we’ll see how they hold up to barn life. I did drop one on the hardwood floor the other day and you can’t even tell that it took a hit, so I’m hopeful that it will at least be relatively durable. Like I said, very worst case scenario I can re-do it or just remove the paint and go back to the original black. Honestly though, I like these so much that I kind of want to do my other FreeJumps to match. FJ’s standard navy color is pretty bright, more like a royal, and I much prefer this darker navy. Plus, uh, the glitter.
Overall this was a cheap easy project that cost me less than $5, took about an hour, and has already brought me a lot of joy. What more could you want?