Rubbed paint is a simple technique to distress painted wood items. It give the piece a worn, weathered, antique look.
I found these four wooden candlesticks at a Goodwill for about a quarter each (the eggs were a different project)
First, I primed them with a white primer. I have a very love/hate relationship with primer. It always feels like an extra step, but it's completely worth it in the end.
When the primer is dry, paint your piece with whatever color you'd like. I had some extra white trim paint, so I went with that. I recommend a light base color, and a darker color for distressing.
I used a regular black craft paint. I didn't water it down at all, but you could if you feel like it's too thick. I loosely painted over the lighter color with the darker, being sure to get it in the crevices.
While the black paint was still wet, I took a very slightly damp paper towel, and literally wiped it off. It left black in the nooks and crannys, and gave a bit of an overall glaze to the candlestick. If you rub too much off, no worries, just add a bit more dark paint and try again.
You will need to work a bit quickly before it dries, and if you're doing a large piece, just do one section at a time.
In the end, these look like they came from an old house in the middle of a prairie somewhere. They look like they have a story to tell. And, in a way, I suppose they do.