Thursday, May 18, 2017

creating rust

"i'm not the black sheep,
i'm the rust-dyed one!"

a lot of rust-dyeing and rust-printing has been going on around the studio these days.  i've been creating new techniques and exploring old ones further.  you'd think it would be a simple task, and perhaps it is. at it's core. but there are so many alternative options and nuances to be discovered here. things that go far beyond simply wrapping a rusty object in wet cloth.

for instance, in the photo above, i have what i have come to call a "dye plate" in use.  for me, a dye plate is any flat rusty object that can be used to print or dye rust onto fabric or paper.  this is different from dimensional rusty objects in that you are more able to control the pattern it creates.  my dye plates range from identifiable images (like the grizzly bear above) cut from raw steel with a plasma cutter, to flat panels of raw steel used for overall dyeing and in contact shibori dyeing (which i also refer to as "nouveau shibori" or "guerrilla shibori"), to cast iron objects with flat or low-relief designs.

the process is more involved than simply wrapping the rusty object in wet cloth and leaving it alone for a bit.  you have to monitor it. coax it. feed it.  the cloth must be kept wet. for even prints, sometimes parts of the cloth must be allowed to dry while other parts are kept wet longer.  the "dye blooms", which are what i refer to the bleeding or running bursts of migrating rust marks, need to be manipulated to create pleasing backgrounds.  this is done by saturating some areas heavier than other with vinegar water, by covering the cloth in plastic to encourage condensation, and other techniques.  a single print takes anywhere from 48 to 72 hours to mature.  more complex prints, with overprinted and axillary images can take a week, or even a month, to create.

i will be going more in depth into some of these, and other developing techniques, here in the blog as time progresses.  it has been a fascinating journey and i am eager to share it with you.

until next time...



  1. Yea for you! The rust images are wonderful and I'm glad they are selling from your Etsy shop. Congratulations.

  2. Following along with your process with rust is so interesting. I just did my first little rust experiment on cloth, Friday...will rinse out today and see what I got.

    1. rust has been an amazing medium for me. there are so many colors and textures one can achieve with it. i have only begun to scratch the surface of the possibilities! enjoy the journey!

  3. have you tried rust dyeing on wool? wondering of the vinegar would hurt the wool... will need to do some tests once the weather warms up here inthe Land Down Under