Sunday 29 October 2017


After the rust dyeing experiments of the past weeks I was really curious to see 
how the techniques could be applied to felt, especially working in 3D...

Rust dyes react well to natural fibres. 
It seemed like a natural progression of ideas to combine the two organic processes….
 1) with moisture, friction + warmth wool WILL FELT 
and 2) with moisture + time iron metal WILL RUST

Like ALL natural processes, once all the right conditions are set in place, 
they are inevitable, unstoppable and irreversible . 
So combining these two should produce some interesting results?

I felted simple bowls using pure white merino and natural BFL. 
The surface of the merino bowl was covered with patches of wire wool, 
kept in place with crepe bandage and soaked with a water/vinegar solution. 
After a couple of days a rich rust stain had developed...

The stronger BFL bowl was deliberately made thicker to support nuts + bolts, 
pierced through the felt, and rusted washers sewn onto the surface. 

This bowl was taken down to the Bay and soaked in seawater to act as
 the wetting agent and help accelerate the rusting process.

I also wanted to repeat the previous fabric dyeing experiments using felt. 
This time I wrapped the rusted shapes with strips of pre-felt 
using similar shibori-style techniques - 
stitching, wrapping and pleating the felt around the pieces….

 then wetting with sea water and leaving to dry for several 
days before unwrapping …

Some pieces were easier to unwrap than others!
 In places the nuts + bolts and safety pin fasteners had completely 
rusted and were impossible to undo….

And amazingly... with the more tightly bound bundles the fine wool fibres 
had actually ‘felted’ into the rusting metal. 
Fused together the metal + fibre were almost impossible to prise apart!

Where I could unravel the strips the rust stains had left some 
wonderful fuzzy impressions, more characteristic of felt and totally different
 to the previous woven fabric experiments—as might be expected!

I’m so fortunate to live by the sea, and like all coastal locations when you 
start to look closely you notice rust everywhere, permanently staining 
stone defences and eating away metal stairs and handrails!

 Evidence of man’s constant battle against the elements—but providing
some brilliant backdrops for the rust dyeing when the pieces 
were bought back to the Bay to photograph….

The pure white Merino bowl developed the mottled rich rusty colour 
from the wire wool in a couple of days.
The rust stains from the nuts + bolts on the BFL bowl took longer
to develop over a couple of weeks, but the dramatic effect was worth the wait!

 I’ve got more ideas for 3-D feltwork incorporating metal shapes and 
I hope these will come together soon...

Meantime some more photos taken on a beautiful late October 
afternoon at Freshwater Bay which you can click on to enlarge

And you can catch-up on my summer of rust dyeing 
Experiments #1 and Experiments #2 by following these links
or scrolling down to the previous posts...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...