Rusty, Junky Plastic Pumpkins

Rusty, Junky Plastic Pumpkins

This post is sponsored by Rust-oleum, who provided a Rust Finish Metal Effects Kit by Modern Masters at no charge to me. All opinions are my own.

I have to admit- on certain junk or antique pieces, I like the look of rust more than actually dealing with rust- the chipping, the flaking, etc. So, when I had a chance to try out the “Rust Finish Metal Effects” kit by Modern Masters, I jumped at the chance! Right off the bat, I knew I wanted to try it on those plastic pumpkins that are ALWAYS at thrift stores this time of year.

Plastic pumpkins and pumpkin candy holders at thrift store to be upcycled into junky rusty pumpkins by Sadie Seasongoods /

These guys are pretty common…

Plastic pumpkins or pumpkin candy holders at thrift store to be repurposed with rust effects kit by Sadie Seasongoods /

Can’t get away from ’em!

You see, I had a feeling that those jack-o-lantern candy carriers would look pretty darn good with a rusty junky finish…but I didn’t know how to achieve that on my own. Basically, this opportunity was a match made in DIY heaven. This post contains affiliate links for your crafting convenience.

Trying out Rust Finish Metal Effects Kit by Modern Masters on some upcycled plastic pumpkins for junky Halloween decor by Sadie Seasongoods /

Time for a Product Test Drive!

So, here’s the skinny- there are several steps to getting the nice crusty-rusty finish using this kit, but none of them take very long AND there’s no special painting technique required. Let’s consider this one of my “Product Test Drive” posts, so long as I make it very clear that this kit was provided to me free of charge.

Let’s get right to it- (the first step is applying the primer– same kit as mine, but smaller quantities), which is a rust-brown color on its own. I will say- the “rougher” your surface is, the better this stuff adheres. It dries pretty quickly so I brushed on two coats, as identified in the instructions.

Applying the Rust Finish Metal Effects primer on repurposed plastic pumpkins or pumpkin candy holders by Sadie Seasongoods /

Primer step- DONE!

Next, I added two coats of the iron oxidizing paint…which also dries quickly. This gave the plastic pumpkins an almost chalkboard paint look.

Applying the Rust Finish Metal Effects iron oxidizing paint on repurposed plastic pumpkins or pumpkin candy holders by Sadie Seasongoods /

Iron Oxidizing step- DONE!

NOW we get to the fun step- spritzing on the rust activator! I had painted the primer and iron paint inside, but moved everything outside for this step. Following the instructions in the kit, I spritzed on a light layer…waited a few minutes, and spritzed on a second layer.

Spraying on the rust activator from Rust Finish Metal Effects by Modern Masters on upcycled plastic pumpkins by Sadie Seasongoods /

Moment(s) of truth…

At the time that I worked on “rustifying” my plastic pumpkins, it was SUPER humid out. So, I let the rust activator work for 48 hours to fully achieve a rusty finish.

And almost magically, the jack-o-lantern candy carriers looked all kinds of rusty and old! Even though the rust finish didn’t rub off or easily chip, I went ahead and spritzed on the sealer, as recommended.

Spraying on the sealer from Rust Finish Metal Effects by Modern Masters on upcycled plastic pumpkins by Sadie Seasongoods /

Can you see how rusty they are??

As far as the Rust Finish Metal Effects Kit was concerned, I was done! But my plastic pumpkins needed just a wee bit more “oomph”. Painting in the jack-o-lantern face with plain black craft paint was exactly what they needed!

Creating rusty pumpkins from upcycled plastic pumpkins or jack-o-lantern candy carriers from the thrift store by Sadie Seasongoods /

One final touch to make it come alive…!

That was it- my rusty, junky plastic pumpkins were all done. And while there are multiple steps required, the finish is SO realistic and any level of crafter can do this, so I’d call it a rousing success.

Creating rusty pumpkins from upcycled plastic pumpkins or jack-o-lantern candy carriers from the thrift store by Sadie Seasongoods /


Now I can use them however I want in my Halloween decorating- holding a mum on the front porch, filled with candy for my work desk, etc.

I love them!

A couple of Product Test Drive thoughts to consider:

  • Spraying a smooth plastic surface with regular flat grey primer made a HUGE difference in how easily the rust primer could be brushed on, but this was not included in the kit and added yet another step to the process.
  • Do not use a sponge brush for the primer or iron paint steps- use a chip brush!
  • Humidity matters! On humid days, the oxidizing finish takes a LONG time to process- so if you’re able to complete that step on a dry, crisp day, I definitely recommend it.

What would you try this rust finish kit on?

And if you’re interested in even more upcycled Halloween project ideas, please check out my full collection here before you go!

Craft on!


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  1. Oh my gosh!! I need that stuff!!!! I love this project!!

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      You would LOVE IT! I’ve seen faux rust finishes before that needed paint mixing or special techniques, but then they don’t *feel* like rust, so this kit definitely has them beat!

  2. I LIKE them! But if I make them, I’d add bright yellow or yellow-orange in the eyes because the black is so little contrast I’m not sure they’d be identified as jack-O-lanterns when seen from a distance. Other than that, they’re adorable!
    You are immensely clever and creative; thanks for sharing this idea.

  3. Can the pumpkins be painted a different base color? I’m not a big fan of the brown base color. I’d prefer more of a iron gray shade… Your finished product sure didn’t look like plastic! Makes me want to hit the thrift stores…

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      I’m not sure what you mean- the whole point it to make them look rusty, which is inherently brown-burnt orange in color. You can paint them any color you want, but I specifically used this rust-finish kit that came with all the paints to be used and the goal is to make them rusty-looking.

  4. Donna Wojdacz says

    Love the look!

  5. Sheryl Danner says


  6. Wow, those plastic pumpkins actually look good now! Thanks for sharing the idea…I probably have some stuff around my house that would look way better in a rusty finish ;0

  7. Lisa Tucker says

    Did you use the whole kit on these pumpkins? I’d love to try this product out and just trying to figure how far 1 kit goes. Thanks! Pumpkins are super cute!

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      The kit that Rust-oleum sent me is much larger than the one I link to- I simply couldn’t find the same size kit online. If I were you, check Hobby Lobby(I’ve heard it’s sold there but haven’t looked myself) and pair it up with a coupon. I still have a ton of paint/spray left over from my sized kit, and I did even more pumpkins that I show in my photos!

  8. Gosh, this is so neat! Thanks for sharing this. I just pinned it to my Pinterest board titled: Halloween!

  9. Sarah, these pumpkins look perfectly rusty-licious! Based on these photographs, had I not seen this post, I would have thought these pumpkins were made of rusty metal for sure! What a great kit to rust out your non-metal thrift store scores, awesome!

    Question, are the products strong smelling or offensive?

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Thank you!! And the primer & iron paint steps don’t smell any worse than using regular latex or acrylic paint- but I do recommend using the rust activator outside for better ventilation. It’s not obnoxious, but not something you want to get on anything in your home (acid).

  10. Boy, if you hadn’t told me, I would have thot these were expensive metal! In these pictures they have a velour look to them. Rust isn’t my favorite buy it is a heckuva lot better than orange plastic! I may have to look for pumpkins at GW once the season has passed!

  11. Janet johnson says

    I love this look, and what a great use for those plastic buckets. I especially love the look with the mums inside.

  12. Love Modern Master’s metal effects kits and this particular one is on my Must Try list. Love the pumpkin transformation, Sarah 🙂

  13. I can’t believe it actually adheres to plastic–VERY cool!

  14. Love that rusty look! For an indoor project I’ve had good results with brown spray paint and cinnamon sprinkled over when it’s still wet. It’s a simple and cheap rusty look!

  15. Hope Smitherman says

    Oooooohhhhhh, I’m going to have to get some of that stuff!!

  16. The very day after reading this I found myself in a thrift store face to face with one of those plastic pumpkins. He had such a quirky grin, I knew he was meant for me! (and the 25 cent price…). Mine did not come out quite as evenly colored as yours did, probably my fault, trying to do three things at once, but even so, I am happy with its’ grungy, rusty look. Thanks for letting us in on this product, I’ll have to use the leftovers on something else….


  1. […] DIY faux rusty fall Halloween pumpkins by Sadie Seasongoods […]

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