How I Learned To Love Power Tools: BUST True Story

by Erica Stout

I began powder coating in 2013.

In 2012 I began my jewelry line, Funhouse Labs. I found myself wanting to use brightly colored metal components in my jewelry. Body heat and skin oils eroded through many of the paint and enamel formulations I was working with. Then I remembered something that I had heard before called powder coating.

Powder coating is a type of coating that is applied as a free-flowing, dry powder. This powder is made of plastic particles and the consistency is very similar to loose cosmetic powder. The dry powder is applied with a spray gun using compressed air. The powder will stick to the object being coated because of static electricity…the gun has a power box that is plugged in and actually emits an electric charge. Once the object is coated, it is transferred to a curing oven where high heat causes the plastic powder particles to melt and “flow out” into each other creating a hard finish that is tougher than conventional paint. Most materials that are powder coated are metal, but in some instances glass and wood can be powder coated. I like to tell people who are unfamiliar with powder coating to think of a bicycle frame as bicycle frames are usually powder coated.

The components required for powder coating are a spray gun with electrical circuit box, an air compressor, a spray booth, a curing oven, powder, and a respirator (to avoid breathing in powder particles and fumes from the curing oven).

It was a little overwhelming at first. The equipment can be complex and it does require some skill and experience to achieve a beautifully finished piece. But it is very rewarding and I would encourage other women who are interested in learning any industrial tool to go for it. Online videos will help familiarize you with the equipment and there are in-person classes that many equipment manufacturers offer.

Erica Stout Funhouse Labs Bling Rings

I think I really hit on something special when I started creating my Bling Rings. I use sterling silver ring settings and then I powder coat them with vivid colors. Next, I carefully set bright and sparkly stones inside and the result is beautiful and like nothing else out there right now. I receive orders for the Bling Rings from all over the world, and my work is currently stocked in several stores throughout the Los Angeles area. I have an art installation scheduled for December (also in Los Angeles) where I will be using powder coating as my medium.

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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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