Look at that beautiful aged metal.
Verdigris patina and rusted or aged metal pieces are perfect for
recycled art projects like my table leg dragonflies and butterflies.
Even though I have a stash of aged pieces and parts I use in recycled art,
I sometimes start with new or new "looking" pieces but want them to
have a little more character. To achieve that, I use this process and
it works great for me.
Please use your own judgement when mixing ingredients, even "natural" ones.
This is one small section of my supply of metal
pieces and parts I choose from when I'm creating.
Some of my supply, like this great vintage hardware, already has a beautiful
patina of rust, oxidation or chippy paint so I don't touch them, other
pieces need a little help!
I've tried lots of different combos for aging metal.
I've dissolved bromine tablets that are used for pool and spa sanitation in water then
sprayed the metal... don't bother,
I've used straight bleach, straight vinegar and have straight up left stuff in the
weather and rain. I've gotten pretty good results with all of them, except for the bromine
but my new process seems to work the best for me.
This is the body of one of my Architectural Angels I made a while back.
Those are metal roofing nail discs that I aged with hydrogen peroxide and salt.
You can buy boxes of these at your home improvement stores and they start
out very shiny.
On this giant vintage reclaimed wood Butterfly, I aged the metal strapping that wraps
around the edge of the butterfly with hydrogen peroxide and salt and it worked
fine but my latest recipe includes vinegar as well.
I used the combo with the vinegar after loosely following these instructions I found online.
By loosely, I mean I didn't use a degreaser and I didn't measure anything.
After I had the basic idea I just combined ingredients to see what I could get.
I don't have a "during" pic but I start with a big plastic tub and dump in all kinds of metal
pieces like wire, knobs, washers, house numbers or whatever I have laying around.
I pour plain white vinegar to cover all the pieces and let soak for a while.
It could be a day or a few hours, it just depends on what I have going on.
I have found setting the tub in direct sun seems to speed it all up.
The vinegar helps to etch the metal so the peroxide and salt that I add later can work it's magic.
After the items have soaked, I pour off the vinegar then pour on several bottles of drug store hydrogen peroxide and sprinkle with kosher salt, I'm sure regular table salt is fine but I had
a big box of kosher salt on hand.
The basic gist of this process is that hydrogen peroxide is an oxidizer and salt,
when left on metal, is corrosive and will cause rust.
I usually have my bin packed full so every now and then, I'll tilt the tub to swish the
peroxide and salt around and over the pieces to make sure they are all getting coated.
If you only have a few items and they are all covered with the solution,
you don't need to worry about swishing it around.
Then I let the pieces sit in the peroxide and salt solution anywhere from 30 min to a day
... so technical😄
Final step, I pour off the excess liquid and dump the whole tub of pieces
on a big piece of cardboard and let dry in the sun.
Then I wait for it to dry to see what I get. It's exciting...really!
Since I do this processt kind of haphazardly, I can get haphazard results which is actually
perfect for me. But if anything is not "aged" enough, I will put it in the next batch.
Sometimes newer pieces with heavy duty finishes may need two rounds for the
vinegar to etch or break through the tough coating/finish.
The metal door knob back plates above that I bought shiny and new from Restore,
Looks like they probably needed to be soaked in vinegar a little longer to etch the coating
so the the hydrogen peroxide and salt could help them rust.
Shown here, rusty wire, metal strapping and roofing discs.
I actually used to pay money to buy rusty wire to use on my dragonflies until
I realized I could make it. I buy big rolls of galvanized utility wire from Home Depot or Lowe's
and create my own rusty wire. These rolls of wire are usually in the
picture and mirror hanging supplies area of these stores.
Some rust will come off on your hands as you are working with it but
once the project is complete, I apply either a spray clear sealer or brush on
Minwax Polycrylic to protect the finished piece.
Above are huge clock hands that started out shiny black along with metal hinges, and a piece of
I ended up using those clock hands on my country to funky cabinet makeover.
Thanks for stopping by to check out my rust technique!
Update May 2017
Please visit my new online shop featuring my mosaics.
I still have some items in my Etsy shop as well. You can also find me on