Thursday, May 28, 2009

Rust You Can Trust

(A couple of people have asked about this rusty fleur de lis - so sorry, it's now sold and no longer available!)

If Rust Could Talk

There is something about rust and peeling paint and honest every-day wear that fascinates me. I find myself wondering who owned the item. What was it used for? Where did it come from? How did it get the way it is today? Was it a well-loved tool or kitchen gadget? I have one of my grandmother’s old paring knives that has been sharpened down to less than half its size with the handle worn smooth as silk. I can still picture her sitting in her apron with a pan full of potatoes in her lap; her hands quickly and deftly paring them with her favorite knife.

Aside from the personal stories and pictures these old things bring to mind, I love the varied colors and textures of a well-used or rusted object. Those that contain iron or steel will, over time, begin to decay as the mixture of moisture and oxygen attack the surface. A discarded piece of metal or a long unused tool will take on random patterns and patina from this natural process.

Using rust in collage or assemblage art lends an interesting historical or industrial air to the piece. But who wants to sit around watching a piece of metal rust when the creative muse is beckoning? Sometimes we just have to help the process along and there are a number of ways to accomplish that task.

If you live in places like Houston, where the sea breezes are loaded with moisture from the salt water, you’re probably spending a lot of time getting things NOT to rust. You’re probably also thinking that people with a real lust for rust are a bit loopy. If you live in a rust-starved area of the country, however, read on for some trusty rust recipes. (Remember to read package directions, protect your skin and clothing, and work outside where there is plenty of ventilation!)

The Natural Method on Steroids

If you have no time to wait for Mother Nature to do the trick, you can hurry the process along by adding your metal pieces to a solution of two parts bleach to one part vinegar in a non-metal bowl or pan. Let the solution do its thing overnight – longer if you crave more rust. No rinsing is necessary; just place the oxidized objects on newspaper to dry. Bleach and contact with rust will ruin clothes and other porous surfaces. Which brings me to another way to rust.

The Contact Method

Natural, non-metal surfaces can be rusted by contact with metals that have already been rusted. Synthetics will also take on some rust but not as well as the naturals. Simply wet the item (paper, fabric, ribbon, etc.) with vinegar and put them alongside the rusted metal. Placing the wetted items in a plastic bag out in the sun will help speed up the process.

Fabric treated with rust will continue to decay over time. Neutralize the fabric with a mist of baking soda and water to slow down the process.

Rust Solutions for Wood, Plastic and Other Non-metals

I recently played with some Modern Options Sophisticated Finishes paint to rust a ceramic angel and a wooden box. Simply paint with their primer and follow with the rust solution. You’ll have a very robust faux rust in less than a day.

You can also try out coarse garnet gel, coarse pumice gel, or a rusty-colored embossing powder to simulate the look of rust

Trusty Rusty Tin

Modern Options also has a green patina solution that will rust up tin lickety-split. Give the solution a place to hold onto by roughing up the tin with some sandpaper. Use an old brush to paint the patina and work it around with a bit of pressure. The results are as fast as a squirrel on crack. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy!

Of course, if you don’t want to experiment with solutions or wait for Mother Nature, you can always find some nice rusty goodies in the Junque Shoppe at Wellers. We would even be happy to ship you some. See the website for contact information:

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