Why I Watched Paint Dry

Craft, Dry Mediums, Experimental, Experimental Art, Mediums, Paula Lynne -

Why I Watched Paint Dry

And you will want to as well...

I consider myself to be an experimental artist. I will try pretty much any product, tool or technique and will probably invent a few new techniques along the way. Sometimes it’s a complete failure but for the most part I love the end results. Of course, this could just be because I keep experimenting until I end up with something that I love.

I was incredibly fortunate to receive some samples of a number of Derivan Matisse Dry Mediums from artsupplies.co.nz to play and experiment and create and generally have fun with. To be honest I’d never seen any of the Derivan Matisse Dry Mediums so I was immediately fascinated. I thought about putting them all into one project, but I decided to start with just one product and give it my full attention. Let me just say, right up front… it did not disappoint.

The Derivan Matisse Ferrous Powder grabbed my attention because the bottle was just so heavy and solid feeling, compared to the other products. That, and I’d never heard of Ferrous Powder before, so I had no idea what it was or how to use it. Luckily, I found a short video on the Derivan YouTube channel that gave me a recipe to create rust. Awesome! I love rust. I love the texture. I love the colour. I love that it’s big in design at the moment. I love that it can be formed by mother nature over time naturally and I love that we can create faux rust to use in art and craft projects.

There are a number of manufacturers that have released products that can be used to create faux rust. I’ve tried some, and they can be difficult to master to achieve a really natural look. The Derivan Matisse video made it look really simple and easy to do, so I made it my mission to prove if it really was that simple as well as see how the results compared to other products I had used. Would this make a convert of me?

I decided I wasn’t going to take it easy on the Derivan Matisse Ferrous Powder, but instead would put it through its paces to see how it performed.

I selected a clear flexible plastic cell phone case and a cheap white plastic business card holder to use as my chosen projects. Rather than just use them as they were, I decorated them with a range of different items, in different materials, to see if I could create harmonious finished projects.

I adhered onto the outside of the two pieces a selection of MDF wooden and metal cogs; metal zippers, keys and charms; plastic beads, ribbon slides and flat back pearls and some genuine metal watch pieces. Once all the bits and pieces were firmly adhered in place, I primed both pieces with gesso then set about painting the two pieces in preparation for the rusting technique.

The key to this rusting technique is the Derivan Matisse Ferrous Powder. You mix it into the paint prior to painting your project. As it thickens the paint you need to ensure you use a more fluid paint, so that it can still be “painted” once you have mixed in the Ferrous Powder. I used three different colours to see how the paints would react to each other as well as to the rusting technique. I have to admit I didn’t follow the process exactly as described on the Derivan YouTube channel but used less of the Ferrous Powder than was advised. This resulted in a finer, more subtle rusted look which was better suited to the fine, delicate embellishments I had added to both pieces.

Once the paint has thoroughly dried, it’s then time for the magic to begin, as well as a little chemistry lesson and well, this is where I literally sat and watched paint dry.

In order to start the rusting process, you need to mix up an Oxidizing Solution. I’ve included the recipe down below so you can try it yourself. Once the oxidizing solution is thoroughly mixed and the salt has dissolved, you pour it into a spray bottle and start the real fun.

 You spray your project which has been painted with the paint/Ferrous Powder mix with the oxidizing solution then sit back and watch the oxidizing solution start to work. Within minutes you can see the chemical reaction between the Ferrous Powder and the oxidizing solution. Hundreds, if not thousands, of bubbles start to form and the oxidizing solution changes from a clear liquid to a milky white colour. As the chemical reaction continues, the solution then starts to change colour as well and you can literally see the rust start to form in front of your eyes. It is fascinating to watch.

Leave your project to completely dry – you don’t need to watch the whole process – but after an hour or so, depending on how much oxidizing solution you used, your project should be ready. Once it has dried you can decide if you are happy with the result as it is, or if you want to re-spray with the oxidizing solution and bump up the rust factor. You can add as little or as much oxidizing solution as you like to create the look of rust that you want.

So, what did I think of the end result?

I loved the end results of both the cell phone case and the business card holder and I will definitely be using both creations. The technique itself was as simple as was shown in the video. Although it showed a 50 – 50 mix of paint to the Derivan Matisse Ferrous Powder, my experimenting showed that you can vary this recipe a little to get a more subtle rust compared to the more extreme rust that they created in the original video.

Unlike most other art and craft based faux rust products on the market, you are not limited to the colour(s) the manufacturer has chosen and to me, this makes the Derivan Matisse Ferrous Powder infinitely more versatile. The colours resulting from the oxidizing process are amazing. They range from a creamy white, through mustard and orange to a deep, rich, milk chocolate brown. And its hard to tear your gaze away as you keep seeing subtle differences every time you change the angle that you are looking from.

Both my projects have the look and feel of naturally occurring rust and speckled across the paint finished is a subtle shimmer that can be seen in real life, if not in the photos. The phone case is still flexible enough to stretch and flex as I put my phone in and take it out of the case, even with all the added embellishments and rusted finish.

Would I try this technique again?

Most emphatically YES! I’m already planning what I want to try next. But this is not all you can do with the Derivan Matisse Ferrous Powder. You can also use it to create a magnetic surface – something I will also be trying in a future project.

If you are going to try the Derivan Matisse Ferrous Powder, and I recommend that you go straight to the artsupplies.co.nz website and order some as soon as you’ve finished reading this post, here are some things you can experiment with when you give it a go yourself.

  1. Try different ratios of Ferrous Powder to paint for different rusting results. More ferrous powder will mean more extreme rusting, less will give you a more subtle rusting result.
  2. Experiment with the colour of fluid acrylic paint that you add the Ferrous Powder to. Just bear in mind that lighter colours will be darkened by the addition of the Ferrous Powder and may change their colour significantly, whereas you may not notice any difference in medium to dark colours of paint.
  3. When you add the oxidizing solution expect it to run and drip. You can control this a little by using something to balance your project on, however the unexpected runs and drips add to the look of the finished project so let gravity have a play. Just take care that you put something under your project to catch any drips so as to avoid any possible permanent staining of whatever is underneath.

Be sure to share your projects if you try this product and technique. I know the team at artsupplies.co.nz would love to see your creations, as would I.

Happy creating. Be sure to have fun.

All the best

 - Paula


You can find the full range of Matisse Dry Mediums Here

Rusting / Oxidizing Solution

85 ml Hydrogen Peroxide 3%

15ml White Vinegar

1t salt

Mix all ingredients together until the salt has completely dissolved, then pour into a spray bottle.

I bought the Hydrogen Peroxide from the local chemist. It is available in a couple of different strengths, but the 3% is what was stated in the original recipe.

I used fine Himalayan pink salt as this was all we have, however the original recipe used iodized table salt. Experiment to see if this makes a difference.

For a start to finish video of both projects please check out my YouTube Channel.