Encaustic Painting with Rust for Powerful Effect | Step by step instructions

Encaustic rust

Encaustic Irony and Rust

Thought Bubble…Now rust would be an interesting conversation in an encaustic painting!

First hurdle. How do I get this intriguing organic substance for my art without wrestling a rusty piece of iron from the scrap yard into my home studio?

Alchemy!

Rust

Big Box Hardware, here I come. A little aisle surfing and steel wool caught my eye and leapt into the cart!

Next hurdle. Break through the protective coating used on steel to prevent rust. Some iron products even have a thin coating of wax. As an encaustic artist, I appreciated the ‘iron’y.

In this case, however, steel wool has a microscopic oil layer.

More curiosity screen time led to a link about pickling steel, a process used to remove the protective coating. My grandmother was a pickling wizard. Pickled cucumbers, beets, and watermelon rinds; you name it, and out came the vinegar. I can say I finally have her with the pickled steel.

Now to soak the steel in vinegar, and then expose it to oxygen and moisture. A two-step process.

Then again, I’m a bit patience challenged. Why not speed this up and mix some pickle with some H20? One-step process!

Encaustic painting with rust! How-to instructions and photos to get you started Click To Tweet

How to create rust for encaustic painting

Supply ListVinegar, Steel wool, and water to create rust for encaustic painting

  • Glass dish
  • Glass jar with lid
  • Steel wool
  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  • Paint brush

Instructions

  1. Set steel wool inside glass dish
  2. Mix 1 part vinegar to 1 part water in spray bottle.
  3. Spray steel wool with mixture and let sit for several hours or overnight
  4. Store rusty run off liquid in glass jar
  5. Create art

I use rust like paint for my encaustic art. Brush on, let the moisture evaporate, then fuse.

This seemed the safest way to produce rust. I encourage your own research.

Safety Precautions

This technique does produce a smell similar to sulfur — ventilate! Wear gloves and a surgical breathing mask so you don’t breath in the particles.

encaustic painting with rust by Sharon Blomquist
“Mesabi Homage” | “Cuyuna Homage”
Encaustic Paintings by Sharon Blomquist

Enjoy encaustic painting with rust!

If you have a tip to share about using rust in encaustic painting, please join the conversation and leave comments below. Thanks for reading.

About Sharon Blomquist

My best conversations are with abstract art. It is a place where the discourse can go where it may, and the final word is always a delightful surprise. Working with encaustic is like creating the Creme Brulee of the visual art world. I use a torch and am surrounded by the delicious aroma of sweet beeswax. Fuse on! Sharon Blomquist

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4 thoughts on “Encaustic Painting with Rust for Powerful Effect | Step by step instructions


  1. You can then use the rusty steel wool on paper, spray again with vinegar water mix and leave wool in contact with paper overnight. Voila beautiful rusty collage paper. I like to use this on baking/parchment sheets from the supermarket the paper almost disappears in the wax


  2. Merci pour ce site merci pour votre partage de vos expériences c est encore plus important qu il y a peu de cours de ateliers ma ou je habite ( France )
    Merci encore
    Thank you for this site thank you for sharing your experiences it is even more important that there are few courses of workshops ma or I live (France)
    thanks again

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