Tutorial: Making Things Rusty and Blackened

A beautifully rusted item or one darkened with age can add an air of mystery to almost any mixed media piece. But sometimes you can’t find just the right item in just the right condition. When new just won’t do, you can follow these simple instructions from author (Dusty Diablos) and artist Michael deMeng.

Michael DeMeng, known for his lyrical three-dimensional assemblages, shows you how to take that new (plastic!) toy or other item and apply readily-available agents to produce just the right amount of rust or tarnish.They’ll look like they’ve been unearthed after decades of hiding.

(This tutorial was previously published in the book Dusty Diablos by Michael deMeng, copyright 2010; republished here courtesy of CreateMixedMedia.com.)


Needless to say, I enjoy far more rusty things than just bottle caps. When I can’t leave something in the street for a few months to get a nice natural rusty look supplied by time, I often resort to “forced rust” as an alternative. Even skeletons can rust—who knew?

Stuff You Need

object to rust
metal paint (Modern Options, Iron)
rusting solution (Modern Options)


To rust something, begin by giving it a coat of metal paint. Here I am using iron paint.






When the piece is dry or almost dry, brush on the rusting solution.






Set the piece aside for the solution to take effect. After several hours, you will see the rustyness come to fruition.






You won’t find too many shiny, new-looking elements in my work, and blackening solution is often just the, well, solution, to getting a great tarnish on something that is fresh out of the package.

Stuff You Need
shiny metal charm
blackening solution (NovaBlack)
small brush
sanding block


Shiny charms can be instantly aged by brushing blackening solution such as NovaBlack onto them.







If they end up too black, you can always go back in and sand them to polish and bring back their original shine in the raised areas.






From Dusty Diablos by Michael deMeng, 2010; courtesy of www.createmixedmedia.com.

To learn more about or purchase Dusty Diablos by Michael deMeng, click here.

For more on Michael deMeng, check out:

Book Notes: Dusty Diablos

Building Ex Votos

Assemblog of Michael deMeng



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One Response to Tutorial: Making Things Rusty and Blackened

  1. lizzi472002 says:

    Now I can hardly wait till halloween deco is put on the shelves… Have I now learned how to play with them goodies.
    Thank you for sharing.