Rusting an Object

I recently made a book in a tin which I had rusted. The tin was aluminium so wouldn’t rust by natural means so I had to be creative and come up with a way of making it look the part. (You can also do this on any other surface you would like to look rusty.)

You will need: –

  • A tin or surface to rust
  • Sandpaper
  • Alcohol inks or acrylic paints in rust colours
  • White paint
  • Gel Matt Medium
  • Rusting/iron powder
  • Vinegar
  • Crackle paste

I had another couple of tins I could rust too so wrote down how I did it to share!

I cleaned them up and separated the lid as it’s just easier to work on. You don’t have to of course but, like in the top photo, I replace the normal hinge with something else anyway. They’re usually quite simple fold over or pin hinges. They had a light sanding to help with the keying of the other layers.

On the smaller tin I used alcohol inks for rustyness in Gold, Orange, Walnut and a bit of Burgundy but use any of the colours you have, leave to dry. (No blues or greens please, that’s verdigris and copper not rust and iron!)

On the other box I used acrylic paints and let dry. They’re not as luminous and probably better on a more absorbent surface but should be ok if you key the surface well. Again, rusty colours Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Raw Umber, Red Iron Oxide, Venetian Red or anything you have in that colour range.

The next layer is white paint. If any of the under colours bleed through it all adds to the aged texture.

Note that some areas are quite thick and others a light wash. Think of years worth of paint. There are many sources of photos out there to look at and I’m sure many of you have taken a lot yourself!

Once the above is all dry randomly add gel matt medium and then sprinkle with rusting or iron powder.

This will stick to the gel medium so make sure it’s in places where you would find rust like dents and corners as well as random.

Give it all a good spray with vinegar and put aside to dry overnight.

In the morning the rust will have happened and you can start to see the over all effect.

Cover more areas with crackle paste. I have both DecoArt and Golden versions. Thin areas make fine cracks and thick makes large ones.

Again leave areas and don’t worry if any of the previous colours come through. You can even give a very light spray with vinegar again to encourage this a little.

Sorry, but again this is now best left overnight for it to work it’s magic.

Some bits will flake off and add to the texture.

When everything is totally dry gently cover with a coat of gel matt medium to help seal the flakes.

As I mentioned at the beginning you can do this to a lot of objects, best if they don’t flex.

Please comment below or tag me if you do this as it’s nice to know it’s being used. There is also a video I did a few years ago on rusting on Vilene and card at the top of my blog.

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