Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Rust Dyeing

Here's a side by side picture of Radiance and cotton rust dyed. (Radiance is on the left.) On first glance, the Radiance seemed to be crisper, but you can see here, that the cotton produces a crisper image. The Radiance, however, produces a deeper rust color in a shorter period of time.

Most of the info I've read says that you should use vinegar or salt and water, but I get the best results using both. I spray the vinegar and then I sprinkle a little salt. Heat makes it speed up, and getting things just damp and not saturated seems to make the process go more quickly. So does heat and humidity, so it's fortunate that I started this on the two hottest days we've had in Ohio this year.

Several people have asked about the object I used for the rust. I think it's a threshing plate. Once upon time, my husband made clocks out of these gear looking thingies, and my stepfather Tim, whose family own Hetrick Farm Supply in New Bethlehem, PA passed these on to us. They've been sitting and rusting in the workshop for about eight years, so they are nice and rusty. You can see the gear somewhat clearly in the picture above. This is just after the cotton has been sprayed with vinegar, full strength.

The universe has also gifted me with a hundred year old house whose previous owner had a machine shop in the garage and casual cleaning habits. (His and mine, after all, we've been here a year). In our barn style garage, there are plenty of rusty items as you can see from this shot. What more could a fledgling rust dyer ask for?Here's a collection of some of the cotton I've dyed so far. Some of these, I'll put out in the rust again to deepen the patterns and colors. I have some bar wrapped pieces and the one a little to the left of the center was wrapped around a broken iron rake.

It's raining now, but once the sun comes back out, I plan to see how rust and tannin mix. The tannin I'll use will come from two iced tea size bags in one cup of water, but I'm thinking of trying it in different dilutions to see what kind of variation I get. I'm wondering if the tannins will attach to the rust that I've already stopped with washing soda or if it will just attach to the new rust. Hopefully, it will be hot again today. (And I live in a house without air conditioning, so that tells you how much fun I'm having with this--I don't mind being hot so long as my rust dyes can develop nicely. The sacrifices we make for art ;-).


Diana said...


Do you rust dye for the colour or for the decomposing nature of the fabric that has been coloured by rust?

If you 'just want the colour' will you have images, of your rusty fabric just the way you like it now, printed at a printing company like the one that was discussed on QuiltArt list or offered by a fabrci manufacturer as part of a fabric line.

Anyone can do anything; one step at a time!

Judy Momenzadeh said...

Nice work! I was happy to se the side by side comparison of the two fabrics. Thanks for sharing this info. Your results are beautiful.

Elizabeth said...

I love the rust dyeing that you have shown us!! that threshing plate is faulous!! I have been doing lots of rust work- on cottons mostly and have not heard of the radiance- what is the content.
I have several posts with rusting on my blog!
Drp on by when you have a spare minute!!~!
I will be back to visit your blog!!