Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Your very own rust pigments

Hey boys! During the last point I introduced the way I produce pigments from pastell chalks.
Fran asked, if he should try it. Mojo says: Go ahead, dust them models! It'll take the factory-look from your tanks and stuff!

Today I'll show you how I produce rust pigments. You can spend lots of money on pigments if you want to use them. But seriously, I don't think they're really worth it. You can have it much cheaper with the same result:

First, go get some ako/Brillo Pads. You know these. It's steel wool combined with soap used to make crusted pots shiny again. I got mine at woolworth for about 2 bucks per 12 pads. I should have. But I didn't notice that someone had opened the box and took 2 out. Some people really seem to be desperate for them...

Now go ahead and scrub the soap out of a pad. Maybe you'd polish the sink while doing so. Your wife is gonna think you're ill, but your not. You're doing hobby stuff. Always.
Afterwards, put it into a jar or on a plastic cap and make it damp (not wet). After the first night, you will notice the first oxidation. If the pad is dry, tear it appart and try to separate the rust from the steel. The earlier you get it off the rest, the better and brighter your pigment will be. Keep this bright rust dry in an extra container and soak the rest of the steel again. If you wait too long before separating, you'll get something like this:
Well its still some kind of pigment, but not what I aimed for. Anyways, I worked on with it to show you what to do.

 If you got enough of the bright rust, put it into the mortar and crush it. Make it as fine as possible:
 You might notice that there are some steel threads remaining. You can get them out in two ways: Sift it!
 Surely lots of the threads will fall through again, but still, sifting has another benefit as it makes the pigments even finer. It breaks up the clumps that evolved while crushing it inside the mortar.

The second way is to use a magnet. Put a weak magnet into a face tissue and hover above the rust. As rust is much less magnetic than the steel, most of it will remain where it is, while the steel will stick to your magnet. Anyhow, the steel threads take lots of pigments up with them, so I suggest to gently knock 'em off inside your mortar.

 You can then put the steel threads into water again, but I don't recommend that. You'll better use a second/third/forth pad instead, because the outcome on wetting the remains is very small and very brown.
This is what I got out of one pad. 50/50 pretty  bright rust and pretty rotten steel. Not too bad.
Apply these as usual with either pigment fixer or matte varnish.

Try it out! I hope your wife/girl won't hate me for the mess you'd possibly produce, but on the other hand...
If you polished the sink, she might even like me :)

There are another three new followers! Check them out:
Another Thomas :) and
Monty whom I know from the german "Behind Omaha" Tabletop Forum recently started his own blog!
and last but not least: Schrumpfkopf with another two blogs: and



  1. Hi Mojo,

    as always a nice and useful tutorial.

    Thanks for mentioning my new blog.


  2. Thanks and you're welcome, Monty! ;)

  3. Thanks a lot for that, nice explanation.....

  4. Now this is a nice and useful tutorial!
    I'm really looking forward to my wife's face when I start to polish the sink!

    PS: Thanks for the address of welcome, I've put you on my blogroll.

  5. I love tutorials and this is indeed a nice one.


Thanks for commenting! You make me glad :)