By Natalie Parish
Powertex Design Team

The first thought that popped into my head when presented with the theme Rusty and an MDF Owl was an old English nursery rhyme from my childhood that really resonated with me through childhood and into adulthood. Maybe because it is an adage that I am still trying to achieve. It was also an opportunity to bring on the rust. However, I wanted some other colour in the mix and decided upon a hint of purple because of its association with royalty, dignity and wisdom and spiritually with the higher self to which this nursery rhyme alludes.

A Wise Old Owl.
A wise old owl lived in an oak
The more he saw the less he spoke
The less he spoke the more he heard.
Why can’t we all be like that wise old bird?

Resonating Rusty Rhyme


  •      MDF Owl
  •      Wooden Gears and or Metal Gears
  •      Bronze Powertex Universal Medium
  •      Easy Structure Paste or Ivory Powertex Universal Medium
  •      Rusty Powder
  •      Sand and Balls Sample Pack
  •      Vinegar (household)
  •      Stone Art
  •      Easycoat Glossy

Embellishment Colours

  • Powercolours (can be colours of your choice). In this project I used Red Ochre, Yellow Ochre, Mars Orange,
  • Colourtrix (can be colours of your choice). In this project I used Bronze Gold, Rich Gold and Pale Purple.

Boom Gel Stain

  •  Pearlescent Mauve and Violet
  •  Gold

From the Useful Box

  • Cardboard
  • Old Keyboard keys


  •      Spatulas
  •      Paint Brush
  •      Mist spray bottle
  •      Mixing Bowls – I use recycled containers
  •      Palettes – I use old plastic or tin lids
  •      Gloves & plastic table cover

Step One – Design Layout 

  • Collect your materials and equipment and set up plastic workspace area.
  • Layout pieces to test your design ideas and rummage through your useful box.
  • As with all my artwork, my initial collection of idea materials form a skeleton plan and I am happy to abandon materials or find new ones as the art piece progresses.
Resonating Rusty Rhyme

Step Two – Making the Rusty Structure Paste

Using a flat spatula, mix together Easy Structure, Boom Gel Stain (colours of your choice), rusty powder, sand and balls. The Easy Structure will make the rust section thicker to scratch back into but you can also make a rusty paste with a light coloured powertex universal medium (such as ivory).

Resonating Rusty Rhyme

Step Three – Apply Paste to Rust the Owl 

  • With a spatula, scrape the mixture onto the mdf owl body and pieces.
  • Spray with vinegar to set off the rusty powder and change it from grey to brown. This will take a few hours and you could leave overnight).
  • Scrape back into the paste to form tunnels. Later when rusted, pour a bit of boom gel stain (pearlescent colour of your choice) into the tunnels formed.
  • If you wish you can sprinkle some of the rusty powder directly on to your piece and spray with vinegar. This will turn a gun metal grey colour.
  • For the face, stain with Boom Gel (colour of your choice)
Resonating Rusty Rhyme

Step Four– Forehead Feathers 

  • For interest, tear a piece of corrigated cardboard (from an old box) into a v shape. It does not need to be exact and more texture is created through folding, scrunching and tearing.
  • Apply powertex universal medium to the back of your cardboard piece and a little onto the MDF Owl where it will go. You can use a paintbrush or finger paint with gloved hands. Position into place.
  • Paint the front of your cardboard. If torn pieces fall off you can position back into place using a bit of powertex universal medium (or later with a bit of clay)
Resonating Rusty Rhyme
Resonating Rusty Rhyme

Step Five – Make Stone Art 

  • In a bowl with a small amount of bronze Powertex Universal Medium (approx. 1/2 cup), add Stone Art (approx. 1/2 cup) and mix with a flat spatula.
  • Keep adding small handfuls of Stone Art until it forms a kneadable dough like mixture that no longer sticks to the bowl or your gloves. Remove the sticky ball and add a little more Stone Art to the bowl to ‘flour’ the ball. Knead until the clay can be pushed into a textured surface and be removed again without sticking.
  • Wrap the ball in glad wrap followed by a wet chux cloth and then pop it in an airtight container. It is air-dried clay so you need to keep it wrapped in plastic while you work.
Resonating Rusty Rhyme
Resonating Rusty Rhyme

Step Six – Assembling the Owl

  • Improve attachment by applying powertex universal medium to the back of the object to be positioned and then press on your Stone Art Clay. 
  • Apply more powertex universal medium to the exposed Stone Art Clay before pressing your piece into position on the owl. 
  • Use the Stone Art Clay to strengthen or create the feathery bits to the cardboard forehead. 
  • Unlike glue, Stone Art Clay takes time to air harden which gives you an opportunity to position correctly, or if you’ve misspelled words with your keyboard pieces like I did, then you can pull apart and re-attach.  
  • I decided that the clockface would cover up the beautiful rust features that had appeared on the belly of the owl, so it went into my useful Projects Box.
Resonating Rusty Rhyme

Step Seven – Embellishing

  • Pour a small amount of Easy Coat Glossy Varnish into a lid/palette. If you wish to make this an outdoor piece use Easy Varnish.
  • Palette out the rusty powercolouurs and metallic Colourtrix pigments of your choice.
  • With a very dry brush take up a small amount of the Glossy Easy Coat Varnish into the brush tips and criss-cross your brush onto the palette to load the varnish into your brush. 
  • Pick up a small amount of powercolour or colourtrix and criss-cross your brush with it into the palette to create a paint. 
  • Apply colours where you wish remembering it is easier to build colour than remove it.
  • Try using a flat stroke that is parallel to your piece but perpendicular to the textures as this will prevent you from overpainting the rusty surfaces you have created. 
Resonating Rusty Rhyme

Step Seven – Final Touch Ups

  • Don’t forget to finish the back of your piece and seal it with the Bronze Powertex Universal Medium. 
  • Use your stone art to embed a d hook if you wish to hang your artwork on the wall.
  • If you wish to marine varnish or resin, wait for three weeks for your piece to fully cure.

Congratulations! I hope you loved it and have fun creating one.
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