A Rusty Tutorial

I’ve always been fascinated with rust: the amazing texture, the beautiful contrast of colours (especially when it appears on bluish backgrounds), and the general atmosphere of historical mystery suggested by its presence.

Over the years, I have tried a few ways of imitating rust in my artwork and crafts (burnt sienna acrylics, grainy orange embossing powder, paint on glue, etc). Today, as promised, I will show you my favourite way of achieving authentic-looking “rust” very quickly and easily.

Choose the surface which you want to “rust”. I chose a metal key (similar to the one on this card) and a cogwheel. Now you will need some PVA glue, granulated coffee, and a heat tool. I would also recommend using a fixative or varnish of some sort, just to seal the finished result.

Step 1: Apply a layer of PVA to the surface of your charm.

Step 2: Sprinkle some granulated coffee on top. While doing this, break and powder the granules between your fingers. Don’t worry about any bigger pieces – non-homogeneous grains will help you achieve a more natural look. Gently remove the excess.

Step 3: Heat it up! Let the gluey coffee burn a little. But learn from my mistakes – transfer the charm to a cleaner surface before you use the heat tool, or you risk blowing the coffee powder everywhere (and I mean, everywhere).

Step 4: Gently remove or sand-down bigger bits of coffee.

Voila! Doesn’t it look authentic?! You can repeat the process again until you reach the desired effect. I went ahead and did that with the key.

The same technique can be used on paper/card.

Below you can see two different effects; the difference is the amount of glue. I applied much more glue to the left side, so there was much more of it to burn, creating bubbles and leaving a very interesting texture that you can often see on rusty metal.

At this point you might want to seal the result using a fixative/matte varnish, as both PVA and coffee are water-soluble.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and will find it helpful. Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below 🙂

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