Friday 8 September 2017


As the long hot summer days continue into September, 
so does my fascination with the rust dyeing…

More rusty objects and interesting shapes have turned up on my doorstep, 
including lots more tools, and even a rusted sculpture... 

 Previously I’d been using vinegar + water to wet cloth, but on-line research
led me to discover alternatives such as teas, fruit drinks and even red wine!  
They are all organic + acidic, but the dyed results are more subtle compared with 
the rich orange/brown tones achieved with vinegar. 

All these liquids not only wet fabric but their mild acidity reacts with iron 
and helps speed up the rusting process.

Salt can also be used as a wetting agent and living a stone’s throw 
from the sea I thought I’d try sea water. 

Up to now I’ve been dyeing fabric so I decided to experiment with paper, 
taking a range of qualities (some thick water colour paper + fine tissue)
down to the Bay to soak in the sea…

Instead of wrapping & binding the rusty pieces I placed them directly 
on top of this damp paper, hoping they would leave impressions…   

Keeping everything damp with sea water these 
dramatic results were produced in a day

In complete contrast 
these soft ‘ghostly’ prints were made in exactly the 
same way but using tea as the wetting agent...

I was curious to see whether the rusted metal sculpture would give up any colour?
It was made by our dear friend & neighbour Eric Geddes
and had been sitting in his studio for many years.

I draped it with damp cloth + tissue paper wetted with vinegar,

 left it for just a day, and this amazing colour developed...

I was careful not to disturb the process, letting 
 the cloth + paper completely dry out

... before slowly peeling them apart…

The rusting not only dyed the cloth with this wonderful patterning 
but it produced a brilliant new patina on the surface of the sculpture 
which I hope will remain...  I think Eric would approve!

At times during these past weeks I could have done 
with a “printers’ devil”...
A term remembered from art school days - used to describe a 
long-suffering friend with clean hands, who manipulated paper for you 
during a print-run when your hands were covered with ink… 
thus avoiding all those inky finger prints!

No such luck here in the shed—hence grubby finger marks everywhere!!!

But now I do have a fantastic collection of rust prints 

both on paper and fabric

to stitch, and make into books and collage...

And how does all of this fit in with my felt making…

Well the next posting will show how, as the rust experiments continue...

PS. Don't forget you can click on the photos for more details 

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