Preserving rusted objects when used with precious metals for jewellery

I’ve been wanting to post this Topic for a while now, almost from the moment that I joined Ganoksin, but decided to wait a while and become more acquainted with the Forum, it’s Members and Interests. I have in the mean time, looked through the Archive and while there are a few Topics in a somewhat similar vein, most of them are more concerned with Patinas or Removing Rust from objects and tools and my question is pointedly about Preserving actual age-related Rusted Objects.

So, do any of you have any suggestions or recommendations for Preserving the Rust or even a Very Heavy Age-Related Patina on a Found Object when used with Precious Metals in Jewellery work?

I know that using Found Objects in Jewellery isn’t to everyone’s liking and some consider it beneath a Jeweller’s skills and that they should be left to Mixed-Media Artists. I believe that I understand this thinking, as Found Objects aren’t the Traditional Jeweller’s Medium, though to be honest, I don’t really understand it, as Found Objects have been used in Jewellery work for many thousands of years and are still be used today throughout the world. When some of you use a pebble, a shell or even a porcupine’s quill that you’ve picked-up on a trip, that’s a Found Object, sure it’s not a piece of Rusted Metal, but it is still not a Traditional Jeweller’s Medium either. I believe that using an interesting Found Object, whether it be of Natural or Man-Made Material, such as an old Rusted piece of Steel, can be combined with Precious Metals and transform into a truly beautiful work of Art Jewellery. Take for instance this Brooch made by Thierry Vendome:


Anyway, back to my Topic, I am aware of and have Renaissance Wax and it is wonderful and effective, but it also wears off over time and needs to be reapplied. Does anyone know of any longer lasting or even permanent Treatments or Methods of Preserving Rust or Old Patinas?

I am also curious to see if anyone has suggestions on how to Remove the small particles of Loose Rust that are always found on Rusted Objects, while Preserving the underlying Colour or Patina of the Rusted Metal? So, Wire Brushes are out, as they almost always leave tiny and not so tiny scratches… I know of an Artist who Tumbles some of his Rusted Objects to do this, with I’m assuming Ceramic, Corn Cob or some other Non-Metal Abrasive Media, though I don’t know with what. Any thoughts, suggestions or ideas?

Thank You for taking the time to read this and for any thoughts, ideas or suggestions that you might share, I really do appreciate it!


Would a polyurethane destroy the look you are looking for? It comes in gloss or satin. The broach, by the way is beautiful. Tom

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Thank you very much for your reply, I really do appreciate it! I have thought about polyurethane, but I think that it would fill-in the Rust’s Texture and end up being too shiny… Though, that being said, I’ve not considered the satin, so I’ll have to do some experimenting… Yes, Thierry Vendome’s Brooch is one of my all-time favourites, though most of his work is truly amazing (it’s not all “Rusty” too!), take a look if you have the time! Thank you once again for the Idea, I will definitely do some experimenting, I think that you can thin polyurethane as well, so that might help with it filling-in the texture…

I make jewelry with found objects too and use ProtectaClear from Everbrite to coat everything including copper wire andglass beads. It’s thin, barely visible, scratch resistant, long lasting, skin safe, and anti tarnish.


Check out Keith LoBue on fb and send him a DM.


The trouble with using rusted ferrous metals in a piece of jewelry is that the rusting is a continuing process; the oxidation keeps eating away at the metal until it crumbles. I don’t think that surface coatings will altogether stop that from happening. Perhaps an alternative would be to use a piece of brass or something else impervious to rust and coat it with a rust patina, which has small particles of iron in a permeable base. Chemicals are used to induce rust in the particles, and multiple coats produce a fairly convincing rusty appearance without the instability of actual rusty metal.


I wondered whether it might continue to corrode as well. I just looked up the product I use - Incralac (spray version) - and it says it contains a “chelating agent to inhibit under-film corrosion”. I think it’s used a lot for marine applications. I mostly use it on copper to which I’ve added torch colouring. If you use several layers it’s pretty shiny, but one or two layers aren’t noticeable.


I read acrylic spray works - probably more protective than wax.

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M. Scarpa,
Thank you so much, I’ll definitely check out ProtectaClear from Everbrite, I’ve never even heard of it before! Interesting that you can also use it on Glass Beads, that might come in handy! Thank You one again!

Thank you for the recommendation of Keith Lo Bue, I’ve actually purchased a few of his videos and have also been in contact with him. He’s the Artist that I know of who Tumbles some of his Rusted Objects to remove the loose rust, I’ve just never asked him what Media that he uses (Keith is mostly making his Flat Caps these days and isn’t doing as much Mixed Media Art). Unfortunately, I’m no longer on Facebook, but I will contact him directly and see what he says about Tumbler Media and if he recommends any other Preservers, besides Renaissance Wax, which I know that he uses. Thank you so much!

Thank You for your information on Rust and it’s continual degradation, I agree and that is one of my concerns as well, though I do know that there are ways of halting the process - I’m just not sure of whether or not those methods will destroy the the look or patina of the Rust, which is why I posted this question. I have considered using Brass or some other Non-Ferrous Metal and simply applying “Rust” to it or using some of the amazing Patinas that you can find now, but that kind of defeats the whole idea of using interesting “Found Objects”… I will of course still take a look at and consider all of my options. Thank You for taking the time to reply, I really do appreciate it!

Thank you so much! I’ll definitely look up Incralac, it sounds like it might be just what I need! Since you use it on Copper, you may not know the answer, but does it Fill-In any surface impressions or fine details or does it conform to the surface of what it’s sprayed onto? Thank you once again for your recommendation!

Thank you very much! I’ll definitely have to take a look at Acrylic Spray, as I’m not familiar with it… Do you know, does it go on “Shiny” or does it have more of a Matte finish? Thank You!


I’ve had very good results with Clear Guard by Sculpt Nouveau Clear Coats – Sculpt Nouveau

They have other clear coat options as well. I’m on the east coast and purchase through a distributor in NJ who has quick turn around and reasonable shipping, Sculpt Nouveau patina - Solution to your finishing requirements

I have a dedicated tumbler for cleaning steel and have found silicon carbide grain, garnet sand and//or play sand, all of which would be run dry, to be effective at removing material to different degrees and imparting various finishes.

Hope this is helpful,


I see that most of the discussion revolves around preventing what residual iron or steel there may be in a rusted piece of same from continuing to oxidize and crumble away…I used to do, many, many years ago, work on my own cars (before they became electronic), including body work… A friend of ours had an auto repair shop and did everything from rebuilding engines to auto body work…even small amounts of rust that were primed, then painted over and sealed would continue rust as “iron cancer”. (you see that as raised flakey bumps on steel parts of damaged paint jobs that haven’t had all of the rust completely removed first, before being sealed and painted over.)… I don’t know if even modern sealants have the ability to prevent oxygen from reaching the iron by diffusion and causing rusting to progress…the process however is very slow and would take decades if the sealing material were “air tight”… so in the short run it probably won’t matter at all… if the piece were to kept for 100 years or even 20, it might make a difference…water also diffuses thru paint and coatings… a damp environment will accelerate the rusting process…


I haven’t really looked that closely but it’s just an aerosol so I would say it probably doesn’t fill anything in (except tiny spaces) unless you put on a few coats.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to reply and your interesting insights, I do appreciate it! I agree, even if I were to find the right sealant/preservative, it would probably only last for a handful of years to a few decades and then would need to be redone at some point… I wonder if Thierry Vendome had that in mind when he created his line of Jewellery, with Rusted Found Objects? Most Jewellery needs some care, cleaning and repair throughout it’s lifetime, so maybe that is just part of creating a piece of Jewellery with Rusty Objects, whenever it comes in for a check-up or cleaning, that is when the new sealant/preservative is applied? Interesting…

In the vintage car world they spray the cars with a clear matt varnish to preserve the patination (rusty look).

There is also an excellent book I got in the 1980’s called the The bronzing, colouration and patination of metals by Richard Hughes


Thank you so much for your recommendations, I do appreciate it! I will definitely check out Sculpt Nouveau’s Clear Coats and Patinas and also the Tumbler Media ideas, I had never considered a Dry Tumble, that would probably be better than a Wet Tumble with Rusty Objects… Thank You!

Thank you so much! I actually know a few people in the Auto Body Repair world, so I’ll ask them what they use and how well it preserves or protects Rust… Thank you, yes that book has been on my Want List for many years now and while I have several books of Patinas, that one has eluded me - one of these days, I’ll probably just purchase one of the expensive ones that are listed online… I have a weakness for books on Jewellery & Metalworking Techniques, Individual Jewellers, Jewellery History and really Anything that interests me, so I go to the various Bookstores in and around the area a lot! I’ll Find it one of these days! :slight_smile: Thanks again!


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I have used several pieces of rusted pieces in jewelry. I carefully washed them with Dawn and a very soft toothbrush then dry well before hanging them on wire and dipping in Clear Guard matte liquid by Sculpt Nouveau. I hang them on a dowling over a small trash bag taped flat. The spray works, but if they are heavily rusted the liquid locks it in better. Sometimes, a few tiny flakes of rust come loose but I left them heavily rusted because I was curious how much the Clear Guard would hold. Clear Guard doesn’t change the patina either.

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Wow! Thank you so much, I really do appreciate you taking the time to reply and for explaining your technique - that is truly helpful! I will definitely purchase some of the Sculpt Nouveau Clear Guard and do some experimenting of my own! Do you have any idea or experience on how long the Clear Guard will last on the Rusted Object? Also, do you just Dip the Rusted Object in the Clear Guard or the entire piece of Jewellery? Just curious… Thank you once again!

I would think that if a piece of jewelry is worn and not just kept in a display for show, that any sealant would wear off with use. Cleaning and repair would strip off the sealant… so I would think that a sealant would have to be reapplied… It seems to be a matter of common sense rather than science… I would appreciate anyone’s comments about this.

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Thank You! I actually replied to you earlier with my thoughts on this very question, even though your first comment was more about the progression of Rust and how sealing it would only delay its progression for a while… Here is my response:

“I agree, even if I were to find the right sealant/preservative, it would probably only last for a handful of years to a few decades and then would need to be redone at some point… I wonder if Thierry Vendome had that in mind when he created his line of Jewellery, with Rusted Found Objects? Most Jewellery needs some care, cleaning and repair throughout it’s lifetime, so maybe that is just part of creating a piece of Jewellery with Rusty Objects, whenever it comes in for a check-up or cleaning, that is when the new sealant/preservative is applied? Interesting…”

Although my original question was asking about longer lasting or even permanent Treatments or Methods of Preserving Rust or Old Patinas, I do of course realize that nothing applied will last forever and any coating will eventually need reapplication - I was just hoping that there were some Treatments out there that I wasn’t aware of that will last longer than Renaissance Wax… Anyway, I too would appreciate reading anyone’s comments on this as well…

Here is some info I saved from 2011… at the bottom it addresses making your own patinas I hope its helpful:

Rust Blackening (experiment) Japanese techniques in metal - see links…

Fixing:Some water is put in a pan and heated. Next some Japanese green tealeafs are put in the hot water. While the tannin in the tea leafs neutralizes the oxidation of the iron and stops it from rusting further, it also turns the rust black.

Having put the tea leafs in the hot water, the piece of work is placed on a wire rack and left in the solution to simmer for 30 minutes.If the solution boils, cold water is added. When the time is up, the piece is removed and cooled by rinsing and washing it with water.

Once the piece is cool, it is wiped dry and placed on a previously warmed burner. When white smoke rises from the piece it is removed from the heat.

rusting cold rolled steel (Japanese brown) & copper green (Tiffany Green) see YT:

Patina Demonstration 1 of 3