Monday, July 22, 2013

Rust On Fabric


Rusty bucket and "rust dyed" fabric

For several weeks I have spent most of my time working on lesson plans for 2014 workshops.  On Friday I completed that planning and was excited to get back into my studio.  I began by making some new fabric using a variety of processes.  By the end of the day on Saturday I had used all but two cuts of the fabric I had prepared.

My friend Christine Mauersberger has been writing about her rust explorations recently so I decided this would be the perfect time to try this interesting process.  



detail of fabric

I had been aware of a very rusted paint can in our shed so it was an easy decision to use that as the source of rust.  I had the general idea of what to do so I grabbed some vinegar from the kitchen, some cotton string and my fabric and headed outside to work.




This details shows a larger area of the full fabric.




I had read somewhere to use white vinegar but since I didn't have that I used some brown apple vinegar to soak the bleached muslin fabric.  I wrapped the fabric around the paint can and tied with a string.  This was left outside overnight to process.



In this detail you can see the bits of rust on the fabric.


The fabric dried overnight and I loved the look of the rust particles and the wrinkles when the work is first removed from the paint can.  Of course you can't leave the fabric in this condition as the rust will quickly rust through and destroy the fabric.  I have read somewhere to either soak the fabric in a salt solution or a solution made with water and baking soda.  I choose the baking soda and made a mix of approximately 1 rounded tablespoon of the baking soda in one gallon of water.  I rinsed the fabric in plain water first, soaked the fabric in the soda solution for an hour and then washed the fabric with soap until the water was clear.  My understanding is that even with this "deactivation" process the rust process never really stops so the resulting fabric is not archival.



detail of two pieces of fabric

I liked the first piece so much I repeated the process on a second piece of fabric both which are pictured side by side in the above photo.  My photos do not show the richness of the background or many of the very subtle markings.  The color is rich and natural.  I don't have any specific plans for this fabric but I loved the immediateness of the technique and the always exciting element of chance.

***

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22 comments:

  1. I like the picture of the fabric wrapped around the can. The process might be more exciting than the end result. I haven't decided on that aspect yet.

    Glad you wrote about deactivating the rust, because I haven't done that yet, and I'm OK with the non-archival quality of the process.

    I am glad you tried this yourself, I expect you'll figure out a way to incorporate the technique in your work. xo

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    1. I love the wrapped can myself. I seem to have a taste for the odd parts of processes. You just never know where this might show up or hide. xo, t

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  2. I love rusting fabric,too. I forget sometimes that I need to soak the fabric afterwards in baking soda solution. Like the effect you got when you wrapped the fabric around the paint can. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thank you Mia. I have the fabric on my design wall just enjoying looking at the marks and color. xo, T

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  3. Terri- I have been working with rusted fabric for a while. Here is one important fact that I found out- it is much more fragile and will disintegrate some after a year or two. Funny story- I made a beautiful shirt out of remnants of rusted fabrics. The first time I wore it was at the opening night of one of Nancy's classes.... when you are supposed to introduce yourself. For some reason I gestured with my hands, and found that the shirt split right down the middle- showing my lovely bra! Talk about an introduction. Evidently the rust can weaken the fabric after a few years. The quilts I have done using rusted fabrics have not had a problem- since they were heavily stitched... but I would avoid anything where unusual tension was placed on the rusted fabric as I bet it will rip.

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    1. Great information and GREAT story. Sorry I missed your "coming out party". I wonder how it would work it the entire fabric was fused to a substrate???? If you're going to rust you might as well fuse....right?

      xo, T

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  4. Ooohhh... I'm thinking of all the funky rusted things that are in our old barn. I will have to try this!!

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    1. Your barn is a bastion of art materials! It produces lovely marks and wonderful color. xo, T

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  5. Great rust results, Terry. Be aware, though, that sewing rusty fabric, even if the fabric is neutralized with baking soda, is a nightmare. Thread and needles break constantly. Which is largely why I abandoned rusting fabric for quilting.

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    1. I have heard this so it will be interesting. I wonder how it needles??? Thanks Connie

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  6. Great to know I am not the only one seeking iron oxidation!! Enjoy!!

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    1. Seekers tend to be finders and I know for sure you will find what you need! You're very resourceful. Great to hear from you.

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  7. I have not had any problem sewing with it- some occasionally problems with my iron picking up residue when I iron it- Try shedding some steel wool. You can get the most marvelous textures. I used that a lot with my cancer comb series.

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  8. I did quite a bit of rust dyeing a few years ago and loved the results. I especially liked it when I did it on hand dyed fabric (light blue was great) I used nails, steel wool and other things. BUT, I had a terrible time trying to machine quilt it. I used several different kinds of thread and needles, but the thread kept breaking. Other people have not had this problem, don't know why.

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    1. I'm obviously not a chemist but it may be some variation of the specifics of the rust and all of the small other variables that results in some people having broken needles/threads and others no problems. Do you still use this process? Thanks for commenting!

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  9. Love the rusty can! And the resulting fabric. If you've any tea around, try splashing a bit on the fabric. Green tea will turn anywhere from gray to indigo-ish. I'm one of those who is as in love with the process as with the results. Good luck!

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    1. Thank you Jennifer. I love the idea of the green tea on rust. Chemistry at work!

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  10. I thought you might like to share this post on my Off the Wall Friday - just to show the great ideas of how to do it - amazing.

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  11. Interesting results! I love looking at this.....like clouds.....wonder what images everyone sees

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    1. The markings and color do indeed make wonderful imagery to ponder. I think that is one of the things that I love about non-objective art, it leaves much to the viewer to imagine. Thanks for commenting!

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