To all rusty, junk lovin' people, you may not want to read this post. You have been forewarned =)
When I wiped it off, it pretty much *all* came off, so I ended up using straight-up paint with no water. This is what it looked like with one coat.
It was a little more like the color I wanted, but not enough, so I did another coat. At first I was dry bushing it on, but that left streaks which was so not the look I was going for. Since I wanted the rust and some of the original patina to show through, I pounced the surface with the brush (like what you would do if you were stenciling) and then used a paper towel to give it some visual texture.
Here she is after the second coat.
Please note that you can still see some of the rust. I don't wanna give anyone a heart attack here! =)
To further age it, I applied some dark walnut wood stain to make the colors richer and I used a q tip to apply some green paint to the letters so they would stand out. You would think I would be pretty much done at this point, but did you notice the little area under the word 'MAIL'? Yeah, it's pretty much screaming for some attention. I'm assuming that's where the address goes. If not, that's just too bad, 'cause I'm puttin' an address there anyway! =)
I made up an address (I swear I don't live at this address, so if you want to stalk me, you *will* get lost. Hehehe), and I printed it out on brown packaging paper. But to avoid the mistake I made with my mini picture frames, I went ahead and taped the brown packaging paper to a piece of printer paper so that it wouldn't get jammed. After cutting it out to size, I used some brown paint, dark walnut wood stain, and a toothbrush (don't worry, it's a toothbrush I use *only* for painting and *not* to brush my teeth!) and I splattered some paint and dripped some stain on the paper to make it look old.
Are you ready to see what she looks like now?
I left the inside unpainted because it would have been a pain to paint and I wanted to leave a little bit of the original patina.
I'm still trying to decide how I feel about this ol' rusty mail holder, but I think it'll grow on me eventually =)