What you will need to brave this diy:
If like me you want to use a copper spray paint and have found that although there are more blog posts and reviews than you can count that talk about the different benefits and draw backs of every single brand of spray paint out there - finding one in a shop is a completely different story. Apparently in Britain copper spray paint is like a mythical creature and is almost impossible to track down for a reasonable price.
I initially tried one my sister found for me from the Range that was around £5 (one of the cheapest I've found in the shops) by a brand called 'Plastikote'.
Despite being resonably cheap I wouldn't recommend this one because I found that when I used it the colour was very subtle and only the glitter showed up on the fairy lights.
For around the same price B&Q do have their own brand of copper spray paint but having tried a cheaper brand before and regretting it I brought a brand called 'Valspar' from B&Q which was slightly more expensive at around £8. I also brought a plastic primer from Halfords for £6 to be on the safe side (I tested the original spray over the primer but it didn't make a difference).
Once you've tracked down the spray paint you want...
Begin by either masking off the lights or removing them from the string - I took my lights off the first time I tried this but I would recommend using masking tape instead so that the ends don't stay green - It will also prevent unwanted paint from goiing inside the lights. Both methods are time consuming but taking the lights off meant I broke a couple of them and although removing them took a long time.
A really long time.
Putting them back on without breaking them took even longer. If you're thinking of choosing this option I would recomend using a pair of pointed tweezers to help pry them off and to avoid breaking them. It's also a good idea to make a note of where the fuse light sits on the set because the lights won't work if it's in the wrong place. Using masking tape is a really fiddly task as well and taking it off is equally as annoying but I preferred this method because there's less chance of breaking the lights and you'll get a better result.
Once you've done this make sure you have a big open space - preferably outside so that it doesn't matter as much if you get the paint everywhere. Although make sure you don't do this on a windy day or you'll end up being more copper than the fairy lights.
I used a grey plastic primer from Halfords to prime the lights because it was the only colour I could find. This part is optional but if you want a vibrant colour with less coats of your spray paint you might want to try this - especially if you're spraying lights with a green wire. I ran out of my primer half way through spraying the lights so I found that although it helps to make the finish and colour better it wasn't essential and can make this diy quite expensive. You can see from the photos below why you need to do this in an open space - the paint sprays everywhere.I laid my lights on the ground - sprayed one side - left them to dry for a couple of hours and then sprayed the other side. Once I'd sprayed as many of the lights as I could before I ran out of the primer I left them to dry for around 6 hours before bringing them inside and leaving them over night.
After your primer has completely dried (if you're using one) it's time to start spraying your chosen colour of spray paint. When using your colour remember 2-3 thin layers will look better than one thick one as you're less likely to have streaks or runs. If the paint does start to run this could be because you're holding the can too close to what you're spraying so hold the can a little further away but with fairylights this isn't a huge problem.
You'll need to leave the lights for a few hours to dry inbetween coats which makes this diy quite time consuming especially if you're using a primer (I spent the first day masking off the bulbs and priming the wire). So be prepared to dedicate a couple of days to it. I know it's tedious but don't be tempted to rush it or the paint may crinkle or lift.
When all of the coats are finished (It will probably need 2-3 depending on how bold you want the colour to be and if you've used a primer) the lights need to be left to dry completely overnight before hanging them.
Then all that's left to do is take the masking tape off the lights or attach them back onto the wire.
The finished result