Thursday, January 10, 2013

Rust Dyeing

I've always loved old rusty things...there's just something about their old, rustic look that I find charming.  And, as an avid cyclist, I see a lot of interesting rusty pieces of metal along the side of the road in my travels.

About a year ago, I read about rust dyeing and thought if would be fun to try.  I started carrying plastic bags in my bike's pannier, so I could collect the interesting bits of rusted metal that I'd see in my travels.  As a side note, there is a relatively large (about 14"-16" diameter) round 'thing' that seems to fall off of large trucks on a frequent basis!

I dyed one piece of fabric with some of my rusty bits and loved the result, but as with so many things, it got set aside and nothing ever came of it.

Then, last week I got an idea for an art quilt, partly in response to a call for entry that I read about in the SAQA newsletter, and I got out my collection of rusty metal and dyed some more fabric.

I just love the fun of opening up the piece after a couple of days and seeing what surprises it holds.  You have to check both sides because the results look different from each side and you therefore have a couple of choices as to which parts you will use in your art piece.

If you're interested in trying this, you just need some rusty bits of metal that you've scrounged up from somewhere, fabric, water and some white vinegar.  The acid in the vinegar speeds up the rusting.

Use relatively small pieces of fabric (fat quarter sized or there abouts) because if the fabric is too big you won't get the interesting designs on large parts of it.

I wrap the piece of metal in the fabric, put it into a plastic bin and then pour a 50/50 mix of water and vinegar over it to wet the fabric.  Let that sit for at least 24 hours.  You can check it to see how it's looking and then decide if you want to leave it longer.

Take out the fabric and rinse it well.  I continue rinsing until the water runs clear, and then I wash it in the washing machine to make sure I've got all of the residue out.

Keep the rusty pieces of metal because you can use them again.  I just put them on top of another piece of fabric (which will get rust marks on it too!  bonus!) and store them in a plastic bin until I need them again.

I wasn't sure about the long term effect on the fabric, but in last weeks episode of DMTV, Linda Kemshall was also talking about rust dyeing and she mentioned having a cushion that she made ten years ago using rust dyed fabric and it was no worse for wear.

13 comments:

  1. I love the idea of dying with rust, Linda! Such neat patterns. Thanks for the inspiration to try something new!

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    1. You're very welcome Penny. Thanks for your visit to my blog today. Have fun trying this technique.

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  2. This piece:

    http://kitlangfiberart.blogspot.ca/2012/03/ontology-of-rabbit.html

    was made with a piece of rust dyed fabric that didn't turn out well, which just goes to show how amazing it is. I love rust dyeing - so easy and such a great results!

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    1. Absolutely. Other people see old rusty things as junk...I search high and low for them!
      And yes, I remember that lovely bunny and the most interesting post that accompanied it.

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  3. The fabric looks fabulous but be careful to only use your machine on the non- heavily rusted sections. I found that my trusty Bernini started making a horrible noise that was completely eliminated when I started sewing on regular quilting cotton. No permanent damage but I think that the metal dulls the needle and that what was the real reason for the noise. Penny B's "Rusty Gate" piece was stitched by hand

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    1. Thanks Anne Marie. I'll keep that in mind when I go to stitch it. I'm so glad to hear that it didn't do any permanent damage. I know it's touch on needles and it's surprising how out machines react when our needles get dull. Maybe I'll plan to do more hand stitching on this piece as Penny did.

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  4. The fabric looks fabulous but be careful to only use your machine on the non- heavily rusted sections. I found that my trusty Bernini started making a horrible noise that was completely eliminated when I started sewing on regular quilting cotton. No permanent damage but I think that the metal dulls the needle and that what was the real reason for the noise. Penny B's "Rusty Gate" piece was stitched by hand

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    1. Tee Hee...Is this duplicate message a sign of aging or a computer glitch? Have a fabulous weekend Anne Marie!

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  5. I just found your rust dyeing article the other day Linda. I wrapped a piece of rusty log chain in a white cotton towel just this evening. I added half water and half vinegar. Did you drain the liquid off after the fabric was soaked? Or do you leave the liquid on it the entire time?

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    1. Hi Cheryl. I left it in the liquid, which will give you an over all rusted colour with the darker marks where the piece actually touches the fabric. If you want to maintain a bit of the whiter fabric (it will still get somewhat rusty I'm guessing) try draining it. Experiment and have fun!

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  6. I think I'm going to have to try this. Thanks for sharing.

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Linda