a little bit rusty.

Between my most recent trip to my mom’s and then to Florida, I feel like my painting skills have gotten a bit rusty.  Since coming back I’ve been so busy in the garden that I haven’t even picked up a paint brush … well, except to paint the obelisk trellis in my garden.

But more on that later in the week.

In the meantime, speaking of rusty, I did pull out the Dixie Belle patina paint before my trips to turn some small garden statues into rust.

As you probably know, I just love this stuff.  The Iron paint combined with the green spray creates a perfectly authentic looking rust.

Here’s where my two pieces started out.

The pretty girl on the left is from the thrift store, and St. Francis came from my friend Sue.

Both are made from some sort of plastic or other man-made material, and have faux finishes.

After cleaning them up, I gave them a base coat of spray red primer from Rust-Oleum.  Dixie Belle does make a primer to be used with the patina paint called Prime Start, and they recommend you use that on metal pieces to prevent the patina paint created rust from becoming actual rust.  But I prefer to use a spray primer on pieces like these that have lots of nooks and crannies simply because it is easier.  In addition, neither of these are metal, so technically they don’t require the Prime Start.  However, both of them have a surface that may not hold onto paint well.  So rather than attempting to scuff sand, I just spray primed them.

For the full instructions on using the patina paints, check out my how-to post here.

I painted both pieces with the Iron paint, followed by the green spray.  After a day or two, they still weren’t looking as rusty as I wanted so I sprayed them with water.  That’s not an official technique for using this product, but I have noticed on my outdoor garden pieces that more rust comes out after they get rained on.  Sure enough it did the trick.

Here is how St. Francis turned out …

And here is how the peasant girl turned out …

I’m always rather particular about faces when it comes to statues like these.  Some of the cheaper versions have some fairly awful faces.

But her face is quite sweet I think.

At this point you may be wondering how this rusty patina holds up outside, and if it continues to develop more rust over time.

I’ll start by first noting that the durability of any paint treatment really depends upon what you are painting over, and in addition whether or not you applied it correctly.

But here are some examples of my rusty pieces that have been outside for a while.

I painted both of those last summer, and they both sat outside all winter.

Sometimes, in fact, even literally buried in snow.

They get some pine sap drips on them from the tree overhead, but otherwise they look really good.  I didn’t blog about the bench specifically, but I did share the two matching chairs and small table with all of the details here.

But how about items that have been outside for more than one year?

You may remember that I rusted up a pair of planters back in the summer of 2019.

These are made out of that molded plastic composite stuff, I don’t know exactly what that material is made out of.  But they are lightweight, not iron, not metal, not concrete, but some kind of man-made material.

These have been outside since they were painted, including winters.

So they are going on four years and are holding up fairly well, except for the very bottom where they often sit in snow.

When I purchased these pots, they were dark brown.  So actually, it’s the original paint that has failed down to the white material underneath it here, not the patina paint.  I plan to touch these up with some more patina paint, and that will be quite easy to do.

Also, you may notice that the pot looks a bit rustier now than it did when I first finished it (first photo with purple flowers).  So yes, these items will get rustier over time when outside in the elements.

I think my advice would be to take these items in for winter (if you live in a climate like mine in Minnesota) if you want them to last for many years.  However, if you only paid $30 for the pair at a garage sale, and you don’t mind having to touch up the patina paint down the road here and there, I say enjoy them outside in the winter!

Tell me what you think of my garden statues, was the rust an improvement?  Leave a comment and let me know.

14 thoughts on “a little bit rusty.

  1. I much prefer the rusty finish on both of these statues. I like the rusty, time worn look for garden decor especially. Two thumbs up!


    1. Wow…what a difference! Here’s a weird question for you. If you were to have to move one of those planters, does the paint stuff come off on your hands, or jeans, etc? I mean after it’s technically “set”? Maybe even after a year? I’m assuming not, but just curious. Love the metal like look – so much better than originals. Glad you had a good Disney trip! 😊


      1. It will at first, especially is if it is wet (like after a rain), much like any rust. That’s why I don’t recommend using it on a piece of furniture that anyone is going to sit on (like a chair or bench). The chair and bench that I used it on are both placed in the garden amongst plants, not in a spot where someone would sit on them. However, at this point I can pick up any of my pots that have been rusty for a while and nothing comes off on my hands anymore. Dixie Belle does make a sealer for the patina paint that would prevent this as well, but I personally prefer the look of the rusty finish without the sealer.


  2. A definite improvement for sure. I love the resin stuff as it lasts forever but the plastic look is not great sometimes. This takes that away immediately and makes it look like a metal work of art. So it’s the best of both worlds. Win win!


  3. Fabulous finish and wow, makes both look like priceless relics! Thanks, for sharing not only the how tos, but the long term outcomes too! I LOVE the two new statues….will be on the hunt for something for my garden now too! Lovely stuff…wonderful directions, always. Thanks so much!


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