Monday, August 29, 2016

ephalumps a'stompin' 'round

"i'm truly surprised
that we seem to get by
without polka dotted elephants,
serving us pie!"
-marc johns

this past month has been a struggle at best. between another lay-off, job search, training, bodhi having health issues, piper growing older by the minute, and the ephalump of depression stomping about in my brain, it's no wonder i've managed so little stitching!  today, however, was an ephalump of another color: no, i still haven't managed to find a polka dotted ephalump to serve me pie, but i did manage a little needle chanting beneath a shady tree this afternoon.  a little romp through a cloth fragment stash and a little playing about with sharp objects.  not sure where i'm going with him from this point.  perhaps i'll work him into a little pocket. a zippered vessel for bits and bobs. a keeping pouch.  i recently salvaged some lovely old metal zippers that i should be able to harvest one from. there seems to be a little story there, somewhere. whispering quietly in the background...


Friday, August 5, 2016

the slow burn of rust

"you know, rust is just oxidation.
the same chemical process as fire.  
oxygen interacts with steel,
electrons drift from one
element to the other.
so really, rust is a slow fire.
isn't that weird?
water causes something
to burn."
-leah raeder

i was doing a little rust-dyeing last night before the sun got away and while i was neutralizing the fragments, a thought kept crossing my mind like an anxious kitten. there is a strange idea circulating around the web about rust-dyeing that just makes no sense to me. i don't know if it is simply a misunderstanding that has taken on a life of its own (which is quite common on the internet) or something else altogether.  it has to do with the process of neutralizing the rust process. i have seen it stated, and repeated incessantly, that to do this one must soak the rust-dyed cloth in a salt water bath.

it seems strange to me that one would attempt to "neutralize" the rusting process with the very solution that causes the rust in the first place.  true, most people (myself included) use vinegar in the mix, as well.  but you can use simply water. water and salt. water and vinegar. water, salt and vinegar. or any number of other combinations as well.  so why would anyone think that salt water would neutralize the rusting process when salt water is used to foster it? oh, that's right....because somewhere, someone said on their blog/tutorial/article that was what we are supposed to do. it must be the way to do it.  it was on the internet...or in a book...or...or some highly admired mucky-muck said so!

hmmm...was that a bit curmudgeonly of me?  ah well, i'm getting old and take liberties from time to time.

now to be helpful.  the (ahem) "proper" way to neutralize your rust-dyed cloth is to soak it in a bath of baking soda and water. yep! this is the only way to do it.  you read it right here on my blog. here on the internet. in black and white and rusty orange. it must be true!  ring the church bells and shout it from the highest hilltops!  ha!

seriously, though.  baking soda and water is the way to go to actually neutralize the oxidizing process that is rust.  it also neutralizes the vinegar, making it a win win!

for those of you unsure of the entire rust-dyeing process, here it is (as i employ it, at any rate):

1.  gather rusty objects such as steel and iron in the form of springs, nails, metal plate, steel wool, cans, rods, hinges, architectural bits, etc.

2. soak cloth (i use primarily cotton, however, silk, wool, rayon, and even synthetics will work) in solution of water, vinegar and/or salt. (i use a 50/50 water/vinegar solution...but feel free to experiment. there are as many variations as there are rust dyers.)

3. arrange/wrap/press/fold/etc. cloth on/around rusty object. be sure to do this on plastic sheeting or in a plastic box/bucket/etc. to protect your surfaces. unless, of course, you want to rust-dye your surfaces.

4. loosely cover in plastic sheeting to slow evaporation (also insulates). be careful not to wrap too tightly as the oxidation process requires air to breath.

5. allow to sit until desired level of rust-dyeing has occurred (this is completely subjective! it could be in as little as a couple hours, or as many as several days. generally, however, 2 to 48hours is a good rule of thumb, for those of you who truly must have a number.)

6.  hand wash with dish detergent (this rids the cloth of the vinegar smell, the salt, and any dirt that may have joined the party). i suggest you do this in a bucket or other vessel outside as you most likely will not wish to introduce rust to your household plumbing. if you are dyeing dark tones, use a stiff brush, like a fingernail brush, to scrub the cloth to get rid of built up metal particles.

7.  soak in a solution of baking soda and water (approximately 1 cup to every gallon of water....which means, if you are doing only a small amount of cloth, then a couple tablespoons to a large bowl of water).

8.  rinse thoroughly in clear water and allow to dry. press, if desired.

a note of caution when rust-dyeing: rust can do all kinds of nasty things to your hemoglobin, not to mention that any cuts or scratches can become infected, so it is highly recommended that you make sure your tetanus shots are current and that you wear rubber gloves when handling rusty bits to be on the safe side!

most of all, enjoy yourself and find wonder in whatever it is you do!


Thursday, August 4, 2016

idle hands

"happiness is
a warm puppy."
-charles m. schulz

i've been so busy with building barns this summer that i've been tuckered out by the time i drag my butt home at night and can't bring myself to do much more than let my hands sit idle at the needles. this week i have been playing around with a some ideas for a slow cloth version of bodhi though. i really like the direction this one is going so will have to muster the energy this weekend to dig through my fiber stash and see what i can come up with. maybe i'll manage a little rust dyeing and stitching, too?