How To: Rust Prints

Another amazing project from our Gallery Coordinator, Paula Wilmot Kraus!

This is an easy and fun project that creates beautiful amber tones of an abstract nature.  If you are like me, I have lots of old rusty bits I found while on walks – these “road kills” make for some great rust prints. It’s a little unpredictable – embrace the unpredictability!

rust print suppliesSupplies:

  • Plastic bags
  • Paper or cotton fabric
  • Spray bottle with ½ vinegar and ½ water (if you don’t have a spray bottle simply brush on)
  • Salt
  • Gloves or tongs
  • Items to rust: old steel and iron items work best for rust prints (steel wool, old washers, staples, etc). Note: Steel and iron rust easily, but newer items are most likely made from alloys that resist rusting.  If that is the case, you can “pre-rust” items by placing them in a disposable plastic container and cover them with the vinegar and water solution.  Let them sit 24 – 48 hours. Dispose of vinegar solution in corner of yard (remnants can stain sinks).

Set up a place to work outside or in the garage on a flat surface. Place a plastic bag flat, then place your paper or fabric flat rust prints setupon top of the bag.  Spritz the paper/fabric with the spray bottle of vinegar and water so that it is wet all over, from edge to edge. Sprinkle salt over the surface and then arrange your rusty bits on top. Spritz a second piece of paper and place the wet side down on top of the first sheet and cover it with a plastic bag. Weigh down the paper/fabric with books or other heavy items to keep them pressed together and let them sit for several hours. Check the paper/fabric occasionally to make sure that it has not dried; re-spritz as needed. When you get the desired effect of a rust print, undo your assembly and let the paper/fabric dry.  Be careful to contain any fluid or rusty bits – they will leave stains.  Once dry, place the paper under a book to flatten it. You now have a unique rust print!

rust print covered  rust print varieties

finished print

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