Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Rust dyeing

I have never been very interested in rust dyeing before and I really didn't want to go down the path of caustic soda and ferrous sulphate. Living in the coastal tropics as I do, I spend much of my time trying very hard to stop everything from rusting and I always thought why on earth would you do it deliberately!!!
Rust dyeing has come up in two of the online courses I am doing, and Doreen very kindly posted about a very easy way of doing it with steel wool and vinegar. Follow the link to see what she has posted on her blog.
I was in a hurry and thought (quite incorrectly) that I remembered the instructions so I laid out the steel wool, then poured white vinegar over the top and added the paper, which I weighted down with stones ( with no plastic sheet in between). These papers are the result and this is one time when I am glad I didn't read the instructions!!!

I was so taken with the papers I had another go today with fabric instead and I really love the colours and pattern which have shown up in this as well. I have another piece of fabric soaking as I write this. My sister has tried it using a piece of bubblewrap as the plastic between the paper and the weighting stones. She got some fascinating patterns with that so that will be my next effort. this is becoming addictive.

I am way behind with all the samples in the online courses. The end of the school holidays saw the volunteer groups swinging into action again, and suddenly my time was being taken up. I have the last committee meeting for the University Library Society tomorrow, then I hand over the treasurer's books at the AGM a couple of weeks later, yippee! I have been closely involved for about 18 years now and it is time to step back and let someone else carry on, probably in a new direction.
I seem to be spending more and more of my time sitting around in doctor's or dentist's surgeries, thoroughly boring and very expensive, but unfortunately a necessity as you get older. I currently have a lovely white patch across my nose where I have had a skin cancer removed today - some wonderful new method which involves a cream and a very bright red light and apparently leaves no scarring - can't tell you what it even looks like yet till the dressing comes off, but has to be better than surgery.
We are still getting beautiful rain here, over 520 mm for February so far, but coming in fairly steady bursts so that nothing is damaged, just brilliant for the cane fields and all the gardens, and also for the cattle. This is the first really good wet season we have had for about 18 years, we are just so lucky.
Last Monday was a red letter day here, I was visited by two new textile friends who drove down from Airlie Beach (about 2 1/2 hours north of here). We had a wonderful couple of hours playing show and tell, not nearly enough time to look at each other's work, but their husbands arrived early to pick them up. Now we have discovered each other we intend to try to get together and have a mini workshop or something, it is so much more inspiring to work with other people than doing it in isolation. Internet is great, but personal hands on contact is even better.
Must go and check on the other piece of rusting fabric. Catch you all later.


  1. Like you i find dyeing a bit of a chore - I would rather use paint if I can - but I do rather like the effect of that rust dying, so I might even try it. Hope everything goes well with your treatment.

  2. Wow love the paper, cant wait to see what your fabric will look like!
    Can I ask you what kind of paper you used?
    Thanks soo much for sharing!
    Good luck with your treatment!!!

  3. Lovely papers and fabric - I've never done rust dyeing but am intrigued, especially if it is the easy way. Hope your nose heals quickly and is not uncomfortable. I'm going to check out Doreen's blog for the instructions with vinegar and wire wool as I don't like working with chemicals. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  4. Great pieces of rust dyeing Robin. It was so generous of Doreen to share the method with us - like you I prefer not to use the chemicals but this I intend to try over the next few days. Hope the treatment has worked out well. Maggi

  5. those are almost finished pieces as they are. Landscapes or ferns..beautiful.

  6. Your rusting looks great and so much easier than the other way, I must get some steel wool. I hope your skin cancer is better than Johns, he still has stitches in and a huge nasty scar, and they are now worried about a couple of other bits. A huge worry.
    Would love to join you when we come up but I keep being told you are too far away.
    I have to say I need some incentive later on to get some of my class stuff done, no time at the moment but I have done both tyvek and lutradur so I will wait to have fun with those later and then, then I need to finish Module 5!!
    Great you are getting rain. Nothing here still.

  7. I too liked the rust dying & checked back to Doreen's Blog. Have already asked John if he has any old steel wool in the shed!
    Shall have a go in the next few days

  8. Great effects with the rust dyeing, I have used sheeting soaked in vinegar and wrapped around a few nuts and bolts which worked quite well. I'll have to hunt out some steel wool and try this.


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