Saturday, October 11, 2008

Rust Dyeing

I've been following the Rust Dyeing group at Yahoo, and this week I produced my first rust dyed piece. The process itself really only takes over night or a full day at most, but I kept working on this same half yard of cotton fabric, trying different rusty things to see what gave the best images.

The first two photos are the back and front of the cotton, and I used a rusty saw blade that I found in the shed behind my house.

Rust dyed cottonRust dyed cottonThe second two images are close ups of places on the fabric where there were more distinct images.

Rust dyed cotton

Rust dyed cottonRust dyeing is really simple: take a piece of fabric, any kind will do, and soak for a little while in vinegar water, 50/50 would be good. Directions I've seen say you should use salt water for cotton and vinegar for silk, but I found the salt water didn't work as well on cotton. I'll stick with vinegar in future, regardless of type of fabric.

Then lay out the fabric on a piece of plastic, and place rusty junk wherever you want to, wrap the fabric around, wrap the plastic around the whole thing, and leave overnight or for a day. I worked this piece for five days, because I was trying different things, as I said above. I started with a beautiful piece of old rusty chain, pretty thick stuff, but found it didn't dye well because despite it's being so lovely, there wasn't much rusty surface area for the fabric to come in contact with. Then I tried a couple of rusty garden tools with long blades, which worked well. Then I found the saw blade and a fireplace tool set and tried all of those. Definitely flat stuff works best for covering larger areas with rust.

This morning, satisfied that I had as much rust on the fabric as I wanted for now, I steamed it for 20 minutes, then washed and dried it. Now I've got a half yard of interesting dyed cotton to do something else with!


Taueret said...

Connie, I believe you are infringing my IP, as the inventor of rust. Please cease and desist.

Sue O'Kieffe said...

well, anyway, this work is lovely, fascinating color and texture...
when i used to make paper, i would get similar colors and patterns using onion skins in the are doing exciting stuff here...
what next?

Connie Rose said...

LOL Taueret, I was wondering who invented this?!

Sue, thanks for your comment. I forgot about onion skins, they were the first thing I ever dyed with back in the early 1970s! Maybe I'll just take them directly to fabric along with vinegar. Good idea!

Sue O'Kieffe said...

yes but you know rust never sleeps :)
i was thinking some of that beautiful turquoise that occurs when copper oxidizes would be yummy...mmm

Anonymous said...

Cool stuff, I saw some pictures of this dye process on Flickr and wondered how it was done.
I was wondering whether you have to fix the rust with something so that it doesn't wash out???
And would it be possible to sprinkle Iron Fillings on the wet cotton and leave for a slightly longer period keeping it wet?

cheers :)