Saturday, July 23, 2011

Valerie Brincheck: Rusty Paper Tutorial

Click on the picture to see a larger view.
Hello again all you fellow steampunk enthusiasts! Here is my second tutorial and I am going to show you how to make rusty paper like the piece you see under the gears in the canvas pictured above. (Don't worry, I am going to show how to make the completed canvas too.) I think this is a basic must if you want a good background to make anything steampunk..... and it is super easy.

So here are the supplies you'll need to rust paper:

acrylic picture frame or cookie sheet (8.5" x 11" or bigger depending on your paper size)
rusty pieces of metal (Examples- nails, locks, screws, bailing wire, keys, cotter pins, etc.)
container of water
assortment of paper
paper towel or eye dropper
spray bottle of water (optional)

Here are the supplies needed to finish the canvas:

1 - 5" x 7" artist canvas (edge wrapped to the back)
Sophisticated Finishes Gold Metal Finish and Blue Patina Solution (You can also use the Modern Masters finishes to get the same look.)
assortment of brass gears
piece of rusted paper about 6"x9"
stencil paste
stencil 6" x 6" (I used one by the Crafter's Workshop called Brocade)
palette knife or old credit card
(optional) - Gold Leaf Rub-N-Buff (Or other gold wax paste)
decoupage glue such as Mod Podge or Deco Podge
metal glue such as E-6000
4 to 5 cotton swabs
mini mister
large brush

1. Collect an assortment of rusty objects and old paper you want to make rusty.

2. Place as many pieces of paper in your tray as you can get without overlapping them.

4. Place the rusty objects all over the paper in a random fashion.

5. Pour in enough water to cover the paper and touch all the rusty objects from underneath.

6. Remove excess water with an eye dropper or a piece of paper towel. (Don't try and pour out the water because all the rusty objects will move.)

This is how rusty it looked after only one hour of soaking.

5 hours of rusting.

This is how it looked the next morning.

This is how it looked later that afternoon. (Notice the water has almost all dried up.) If it hasn't rusted as much as you would like just spray it with a water bottle to re-wet everything.

7. There is always a small amount of water that clings to each object on the underside and takes longer to dry if the object is left in the tray so at this point I decided to remove all the rusty pieces of metal to make it dry more quickly. (If you want to leave the pieces in it will probably take another full day to dry.)

8. You can also take another dry piece of paper and blot up some of the excess water which will also allow it to soak up some of the bits of rust. (It is a more subtle look but you'll still see small spots of rust appear.)

Paper dried in the tray

Closeup of rusty paper.
NOTE: All of this paper will have to be sealed in some way or the rust will rub off, and any sealer will make the rust appear darker.

OK..... So now we have some rusty paper. What do we do with it?


1. Take your 5" x 7" artist canvas and your selected stencil and tape the edges of the stencil in place so that it won't move. (Use painter's tape or any other tape that you have stuck to your clothes to take off some of the stickiness.)

2. Get some stencil paste on a palette knife and wipe it across the stencil. Try not to wipe it too hard or you'll force the paste under the stencil and "blur" the image.

3. Carefully lift the tape and stencil off the canvas. (Be sure to wash your stencil before the paste hardens.)

4. After the stencil paste has dried (preferably overnight) paint it with the Gold Metal Finish paint. Let the first coat dry completely and then add a second coat.
5. While the second coat of paint is still wet apply the Blue Patina Solution with a mini mister. (If your selected metal finish and patina solution require different directions be sure and follow them.)

6. (Optional) I wanted the stencil part to show up more so I took some Gold Leaf Rub-N-Buff on a cotton swab and highlighted the raised areas. (You can also use your finger but I found it easier to get good detail with the cotton swab.)

7. (Optional) I also took some more of the Gold Leaf Rub-N-Buff and rubbed it along all the edges of the canvas.

8. Tear one edge of a piece of rusty paper then position the paper on the right hand side of the canvas. Take a pencil and mark the edge to make it easier to place the glue.
9. Paint the decoupage glue on the front of the canvas up to the pencil mark then attach your rusty paper. (Be sure and rub it well to smooth out any air bubbles.)

10. Glue the sides of the paper to the canvas then clip the corners.
11. Glue the smaller flap to the end of the canvas on both sides.

12. Glue the end of the paper to the canvas.
13. While the paper is still wet from the glue tear the edges even with the canvas. If you prefer you can simply glue them around to the back. I didn't do this because I have other plans for the niche created on the back of the canvas.

14. Brush some of the decoupage glue over the rusty paper to seal it. (Any matte type of sealer can be used for this step.)

15. Glue an assortment of clock and watch gears over the rusty paper and you are finished. (Some of the gears are actually screwed into the wooden stretcher bars and others are just eyelets that look like screws or screw heads I sawed off and are glued to the center of the gears.)

Just a quick note about this piece. I wanted to do a hinged 2 piece canvas but I decided to keep this one simple. I will eventually finish the second canvas and add something to the niche in the back of both canvases that is created by the wooden canvas stretchers. If you want to see the rest just keep an eye on my blog.


  1. ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS PROJECT AND TECHNIQUE!...i Love it!....thanks for sharing!...I'm impressed!.....

  2. This is clearly not a quick project - I admire the focus you put into your art, and the time you are willing to spend to get just the results that you want.

  3. Thank you for the great ideas..Donna

  4. Wow. This is so cool. Great tutorial. Off to find some rusty junk!!!

  5. What a great tutorial. Thanks for sharing your rusty paper and the rest of the canvas.
    Can't wait to see the niche part of this.

  6. Wonderful tut...I learned alot. Your art piec is amazing too. Thank you.

  7. So cool love your technique :)

  8. Wonderful project and great explanation. Thank you so mucn,

    Lucy x

  9. I love his technique it looks so good. Easy is the name of the game here. Great instructios and I will be using your tip. Thanks for sharing. Kathy

  10. I had no idea t was this involved, the results are well worth it. Gorgeous, thanks for sharing.

  11. Now I gotta try the rusty paper idea, way cool!


Thanks for your wonderful words!

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