Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Yes, That IS Ice

Although I took this picture last week, the weather is milder this week. I think it is close to the time to pack up the old rusty stuff out on my deck and call an end to the rust dyeing season.
I find myself so inspired in the spring to start rust dyeing. As the days grow longer and the weather milder I start saving milk jugs to carry water from the side of the house to the deck. I study the weather reports for rain or warm weather and I plan my work accordingly. During the summer I usually spend 2 hours a day in the Rust-Tex studio. This past 4th of July I was out there ALL day.
Presently I am searching the weather reports for a warm dry day so I can pack it all up until the mild days of spring arrive here again.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Linen Scarves

Here is a picture of the linen scarfs I set up to dye last week.
See that strange pinkish color?
It washed out.

I ended up with a beautiful gold with specks of dark brown.

Here is a picture of two of the scarves, artfully arranged on my studio companion, Theresa. She sure makes those scarves look good. I wish I knew how to sew them into a vest like that. It wouldn't quite fit me as this Theresa is a size 4 and I am not.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Too Early for Indian Summer?

Today was the prefect day for rust dyeing, clear sky, 81 degrees F, no mosquitoes, just enough wind to keep the warm air moving so you feel comfortable, rain in the forecast. Needless to say I set out quite a few pieces of cloth. I tore up an old linen table cloth into 12" wide strips to make scarves for winter coats. I was getting a very different color on the linen than I usually get. It might be time for me to make fresh sumac juice instead of using the fermented stuff. I wonder how many other natural dyers are getting colors like that?
I didn't take a picture today because I can't believe that will be the final color. I plan to post a picture of the linen scarves when the dyeing is done.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Birch Bark

One of the Rust-Tex.blogspot.com readers came through my booth at Quilt Expo. She said her favorite thing on this blog is seeing the set-up and the resulting pieces. So here is a new set-up I developed that give me "birch bark" every time.
First picture is the gathered fabric smeared with "sludge", and dowsed in sumac juice and lightly salted.
Then beautiful results of white cloth with subtle lines of black and brown similar to the markings found on birch trees.
The side pillars at the top of this post shows how you might crop this fabric to REALLY make it look like birch trees.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Garage Sale Part 2

What I never told you was that I closed my garage sale over Labor Day week-end after a couple of hours. My in-laws were coming up from IL the next day, SEVEN of them!!! There I was sitting outside not getting a lot of business because it was a holiday week-end with perfect weather for being outdoors, worrying about what a mess my house was!!! As soon as I decided to close up the garage sale I was energized enough to really deep clean the first floor. But I still had 27 boxes of stuff to sell piled in the garage.
So today was the DAY!!! I sold off a bunch of stuff and took the rest over to Goodwill Industries. They have a drive through drop off center, where good natured young men happily unload your car.
If you EVER hear me talking about having a garage sale again PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE remind me how much better it would be for all the world, if I spent my time rust dyeing cloth and making fiber art!!!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Good News/ Bad News

The Bad News:
It has turned COLD here in WI. It is preventing me from working in the Rust-Tex studio. The wind and the squirrels have tipped several lightweight things over. My DH put up the storm windows and moved my main table and some small racks that were in his way. I can see all this damage from my kitchen window...sigh...
The Good News:
Everything I took to Quilt Expo has been put away!!!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Back in Business

It seems that this blog was down for a bit recently.
But it now is working ok!
I have not been posting because I was getting ready for Quilt Expo in Madison.
Sales are brisk at the booth.
Here is a picture of my booth. Notice all the nice rust dyed fabrics.
I call these fat quarters and yarns "Rust-Tex Coordinates."
I am too exhausted to post any thing else tonight.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Studio Portrait

This is how the Rust-Tex studio usually looks.
This is how it looked at 5 pm today.
This is why...no, I am not moving, just having a garage sale.
Our neighborhood is having a community wide sale and I want to get in on the added traffic. In preparation, I moved the picnic table and benches to the garage to hold merchandise.
So, no rust dyeing for me, for the next few days. However, I am expecting it to be really hot next week when the kids here start back to school in un-airconditioned buildings.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Too Much Fun

I just had to share this message that came with an order for the Rust-Tex instructional CD today.
"My husband thinks you have too much time on your hands to think up 'roasting' metal fish on a rusty grill. I think you have a fantastic creative brain. =-) Can't wait to rust."
The thing her husband doesn't get is that I DON'T have enough time to deal with all the interesting rusty things in the world. That is why I wrote the CD. I am having TOO MUCH FUN. I want everyone in the world to use this method of making marks on fabric cause it is easy and fun.
Rust-Tex Report for Today:
It finally stopped raining here and I got the trees fabrics properly rinsed out. I thought the rain would rinse them but I guess it never rained hard enough to do that. Mostly we had intermittent light showers and high humidity. What happened is the black lines that form along the copper wire became much darker and wider. I guess there was enough metal molecules there to keep on rusting.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Fan Letter

Crystal in FL sent me this email and I just wanted to share it with every one because you will be asking the same questions and having the same thoughts if you decide to take up rust dyeing.

Hi Lois,
I wanted to tell you how much I have enjoyed the CD you sent. Do you happen to have any handy excuses for when hubby starts asking why I'm poking around in his shop in the nail cans and the surplus metal stuff?
I'm definitely looking at everything differently now . . . just like when I started using resists with Procion. He lost a bunch of goodies then too; mostly his big orange handled clamps, not mention some of the odd pieces of 1/4" plexiglas.
I did talk a friend of ours out of 5 pieces of rebar scraps when he was building his metal bldg to house their 5th wheel trailer. Now I'm trying to decide if I really NEED all 3 of my cast iron cooking pots. Fortunately here in Fla, it doesn't take much to encourage rust. Now all I need is time.
Thanks so much for taking the time to put this CD together. It's great!


You can order your copy of the Rust-Tex CD at:
I am not doing much rust dyeing here in WI as it has been raining, raining, raining and I can't work in the outside studio to set any thing up.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


Today I decided to rinse out the 6 bottles of TREES fabrics I set out on Monday. I absolutely sold out of this pattern in Duluth. There will be a workshop held in that area soon that teaches how to make a free motion machine embroidered tree on wash away stabilizer and then sew it to another fabric. Someone it that group decided my trees fabric would be the perfect background. I think everyone who is going to take that class visited my booth during the course of the show and bought a piece.
Perhaps they were influenced by this piece that was hanging in my booth.
I need to make some more for Quilt Expo in Madison, WI which is coming up fast.
On Thursday we had 2.5" of rain and on Friday an 1.5" and today a trace, which fell while I was out there trying to rinse out the trees fabric!!! The above picture shows how wet everything was when I went out to the Rust-Tex studio to work. I took about 15 minutes to drain the water off everything and get the studio back in working order.

Friday, August 25, 2006

My Latest Product

I have a new product. I call it the Rust-Tex Starter Kit. It has everything you need to make what I call "Trees Fabric". I won't be selling it over the internet at Rust-Tex.com as I think the shipping costs will make it unattractive. BUT now I can go anywhere and teach rust dyeing. Instead of having students buy a book they can buy the starter kit instead!!!
I sold several starter kits in Duluth but whenever I saw someone with one in their hand I usually talked them into the instructional CD instead. Although the starter kit includes paper instructions for that one technique the CD has so much more information on it. Including instructions for four techniques!!!
Anyway here is what the kit looks like.
It includes:
  • A set of printed directions for this technique
  • Non metallic cylinder, use the plastic sleeve your starter kit is packed in
  • ½ yard high thread count cotton fabric PFD (Prepared For Dying)
  • 200” of 24 gauge uncoated copper wire
  • 2 coarse steel wool pads
  • 1 packet salt
  • 6 rubber bands
  • 1.25 oz Synthrapol detergent
  • 1 pair medium size protective gloves

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Back from Duluth

Here is a picture of my booth set up in Duluth at the Quilting on the Waterfront ~ Machines in Motion. I sold lots of instructional CDs for rust dyeing. That part of the United States is not call the Iron Range because the people there are all iron men. It is so named because it is the iron ore capital of the world.
I heard interesting stories of water so rich in iron that if you are not careful your sheets become naturally tie-dyed. Also many farm wives thought they should take up rust dyeing as they have barns full of things all ready for image transfer.
More stories from Duluth tomorrow.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Busy as a Bee

I have been busy getting ready to vend at Quilting on the Waterfront ~ Machines in Motion Quilt Show in Duluth. Getting ready to vend at a show is WORK. I ironed the ALL the scarves, remounted ALL the fat quarters, hung ALL the fabric on hangers, burned more instructional CD's, and printed many copies of my best selling patterns. So I have been busy working with Rust-Tex fabrics, just not rust dyeing. (If I had any idea how to do it I would put a sad faced blinking giff here)

Monday, August 07, 2006

Another Visitor

Yesterday it was a spider that made himself at home in my studio, today it was bees!!!
(I think they were attracted to the smell of the sumac juice. they were hanging around on the set up that smelled the strongest of sumac. When I poured some fresh they quickly moved to that set up. Fortunately I know they are not meat eaters so I was able to continue working.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Web Building

While I was busy building the Rust-Tex web site, I was not using the Rust-Tex dye studio very much. A spider took advantage of my absence to build his own web. One that went from the picnic table to the deck!!!
I guess I am just not spending enough time in the studio. First it was mice, now it is spiders and all the time it is mosquitoes and squirrels.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Latest Mono Print Scarf

I finally got around to using the iron grates I bought way back in May. I posted a picture of them on May 24, 2006. Once the paint was stripped off and they were allowed to properly age (get covered with naturally occurring iron oxide), I started using them in different set-ups, some were more successful than others. This week, I think I figured out the best way to use them.
The top picture shows the set up and the bottom one shows the finished scarf. Yes that is an old cafeteria tray. And yes the grates are propped up on the edges to give me more room to for the rest of the scarf.
I just love those black lines on this scarf.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Recipe for Grilled Steel Fish

At the Big River Forge and Ironworks in Lansing, IA, they cut fish from steel plate and use them to make things like this:
When I saw those fish I thought of a different recipe.
Put a steel fish on a cast iron grill and cover it with a piece of cotton cloth.
Sprinkle some salt on it, spray on some water and let the whole thing sit on the picnic table for a few hours on a hot day .

When it is a nice golden color around the edges rinse off the salt and water. Then iron it until it is flat and smooth.

I think it looks yummy, (but then I have strong cravings for fiber.)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Fabric From the Forge

Here is a picture of the fabric I dyed while on retreat this week-end using the stuff from the Big River Forge. The fabric I started with is a commercially dyed flannel that is already that nice daub color you see. The reason I posted this bit of dyed area is to show how the rust dyeing process caused some of the commercial dye to bleach out, giving more shades of color to the fabric. The dark area on the right is my shadow from taking the picture.
While looking through my stock the other day I noticed I had no gray fat eights. So yesterday I set out several of them as well as a fish cut out from the bottom of the plasma cutter at the Forge and a mono print scarf.
Even though the heat wave continues, I should have fun today rinsing fabrics. I tend to splash around a lot and get my shoes wet even when I am being careful.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Up and Running

I am so happy to announce that Rust-Tex.com is up and running, (finally.) You can see a sample of the instructional CD there as well as a gallery of artwork made using rust dyed fabric.
So go visit the website and see why I haven't been posting here because of work I did there.
This is not the piece I dyed with iron from the Big River Forge. This piece is a celebration of getting the web site done.
I hope to get some rust dyeing done tomorrow as the weather here is record breaking HOT. It is a good time to stay in the basement studio but also a good time to do rust dyeing.
I think I created a monster.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

I'm Back

The CD is finished and ready for purchase at Rust-Tex.com. I went to a sewing retreat in DeSoto, WI this week-end. A quilt shop hop took us into Lansing, IA, where just down the street from the quilt shop I found this ironworks. I went and asked if they had any industrial waste they could give me. A very nice man dug out some dregs from the bottom of their plasma cutter. He put it in a water tight plastic bottle for me. Back at the retreat site I did a bit of rust dyeing with it and...well it is too late to take any pictures tonight but here is a picture I took this afternoon of the Big River Forge and Ironworks, where that nice man works.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

And the winner is...

The voting went to the top CD label for the Rust-Tex Instructional CD, which is now finished and ready for you to purchase. The cost is $20. It includes complete instructions for 4 Rust-Tex techniques, an art gallery and a fabric gallery. I will be selling copies at the Art Cloth Symposium on Saturday night from 7-9pm at the Textile Center in Minneapolis at an event that is open to the public. The rest of you will have to wait till I get back to Madison. Next week, Rust-Tex.Com will be up and running by Wednesday. There you will be able to see one complete technique from the book, so you can, browse before you buy. I gotta go get some rest for the long drive to MN tomorrow. So good-night and sweet dreams, Dear Reader of Rust-Tex.blogspot.com.

Monday, July 10, 2006

CD Coming Soon

Maybe some of you Rust-Tex.Blogspot.Com readers noticed I have not posted since Thursday. That is because I am working hard to get my rust dyeing instructional CD finished. The target date is a week from Saturday. It is premiering at the Art Cloth Symposium at the Textile Center in MN Trunk Show on Saturday night. This event is open to the public.

The CD will have four complete techniques on it, in text and fabulous photos so the information can be accessed by both verbal and visual learners. There will be a gallery of art work using rust dyed fabric and a fabric gallery. It will run like a website in your computer, with pages hot linked. It will not be a PDF book on CD.

Also in the works is Rust-Tex.Com which will have a sample chapter, gallery, and order form. So you will have to forgive me if I do not post much this week.

If you need a rust-tex fix, please read the archives. My personal favorite is Saturday, April 22, 2006, "The Scarf, The Steel Wool Pad and The Copper Wire".

That is all for now I gotta go whip those gallery pages into shape.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Black Scarves

I have not been having much success with getting a good black dye this summer. I had put some bundles into the iron dye pot last night. This afternoon I opened up the bundles and found these beautiful scarves.
The new sumac juice and the hot weather are finally working in my favor. I got all inspired, made up a fresh dye bath and put two yards into it. I am hoping they come out just as dark.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

A Reason to Work Outdoors

While trimming some bushes, my dear husband, told me he thought there was a nest near by because a bird kept chirping at him. It was not a nest that the bird was trying to protect but this fledging.
Although the parent did a lot of chirping it was not dive bombing me, so I kept taking pictures. I finally got this GREAT one! I am very appreciative of my digital camera with its review feature.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy 4th of July!!!

Today is Independence Day here in the United States of America.
Long may the stars and stripes wave over the land of the free and the home of the brave, no matter what color they are.
(Be sure to notice "the dawn's early light" on this flag)

Sunday, July 02, 2006

The Rust-Tex Report for Today

I set out 4 fat quarters and 6 scarves before dinner. After the dishes were done so were some of the scarves. The new sumac juice is giving me FAST action and a variety of colors from daub to black including some deep blue!!!
These pictures are some fish I stenciled on a fat eight of Rust-Tex last winter.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Please Vote

Upper Label Vote for me

Today was a perfect day for rust dyeing. I have lots of fabric prepared, lots of rusty items, and lots of ideas. The thing I did not have today was lots of time. Our youngest daughter leaves tomorrow for three weeks in a counselor in training program. I spent most of the day doing things to for her. She reciprocated by designing the label for the Rust-Tex instructional CD. She likes one. I like the other. Please vote for your favorite by leaving a comment. Thanks!
No vote for me!!!
Lower label

Friday, June 30, 2006

Seven Down and No More to Go

Here they are, the last of the seven quilts, all finished.
The three in the first picture were started years ago because a mother saved sewing scraps from clothes she made for her three daughters. When those girls grew up someone took the sewing scraps and started these quilts. That person became unable to finish them so I was hired to border, quilt and bind them. They are cheerful quilts full of many warm memories for the women who will receive them.
I am quite proud of this quilt! It is a 50th birthday quilt for the woman who heads up the K-9 unit of the Madison police department. It features t-shirts from special events in her life spread over many years. I try to make each t-shirt quilt a unique design. As you can see if you compare this one to the one posted at "One Down and Seven to Go" on June 5th.
These done,(whew) I am going back to rust dyeing! (yeah)

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Mouse House

Today I was looking for some cast iron cookware to photograph for my upcoming instructional CD on rust dyeing. I spotted a frying pan handle in this pile of cookie sheets.
When I dug it out there was this neat little mouse house built inside it. The house was lined with dryer lint and had a separate dining room filled with empty maple seed shells. You can tell it has been a long time since I have REALLY spent any time in the dye studio because the mouse moved in and out without me even noticing.

The seven quilts WILL be finished tomorrow, the CD is coming along well (now that I got the gallery thing figured out). Soon there will be so much activity in the dye studio the mice will fear to go there!!!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Lois Jarvis Reports In

During my 32 years of quiltmaking, including the past 12 as Queen of the UFO Club here in Madison, WI, I have learned that the only way a quilt gets finished is if you work on it. So I have been working on those last 4 of the 7 quilts I have to finish by June 30, and have not been posting my adventures in Rust-Tex-ing.
The Rust-Tex Report
Sadly I ran out of sumac juice and had to wait for the rain to stop before I could gather some. Then I had to wait for a dry evening so my Dear Husband could set up the outside gas ring so I could boil the essence out of it. Now that I have some new potion sumac juice, I am excited about putting scarves into the iron-pot dye bath, knowing I will get a good black .
I also washed another 12 scarves and the rest of the PFD fabric in preparation for dyeing. But have been quilting not dyeing this week. (sigh)

Monday, June 19, 2006

Cauldron Scarf

Here is the scarf that came out of the cauldron pictured below.
Cauldron ScarfCauldron Scarf Detail
10" x 56"
100% Silk Satin
Signed by the artist Rust-Tex Scarf
$65.00 USD
US Shipping: $5.00
International Shipping: Please inquire

A Cauldron of Goodies

This is a little cauldron I found lying around. My youngest daughter used it when she attended Hogwart's. She isn't interested in potions any more. (sigh) So I don't think she will mind if I use it for rust dyeing.

It must have some power in it because I put a plain white silk satin scarf, some vinegar, iron filings and sumac juice in it and a magical transformation happened to the white scarf.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Results of Thursday's Mono Printing

Here is the results from the scarf I mono printed on Thursday. Someone asked me if the sludge leaves a smudge. As you can see it doesn't. It just makes the print sharper. And look how those georgous colors move through the fabric!!!

Mono Print #1

Detail10" x 56"

100% China Silk

Signed by the artist

Rust-Tex Scarf $65.00 USD

US Shipping: $5.00

International Shipping: Please inquire

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Losing a Friend

One of the cookie sheets rusted through today. I was sad for me to loose this good and reliable tool. But my rust dyeing life goes on.
Working over a plastic tray I was able to carefully control the breaking and shape the center into a big heart. Now I have a heart image to transfer onto fabric. Plus, I can always use more "Rust Flakes", which is what I call the smaller pieces that landed on the plastic tray. I dry them out , store them in an air tight container and sprinkle them where I want rust colored highlights on a piece of "Stormy Skies" fabric.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Mono Printing

Well that lawn mower spring is still with me. I have mono printed 6 more scarves since I predicted it wouldn't last much longer. I think I will be able to print one or two more times before it breaks. Here is a photo of a mono print set up. That stuff smeared on the scarf is what I call sludge. It is from the bottom of the black dye pots after I take the dyed fabric out.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A Busy Later Summer for Me

My vendors booth at Quilting on the Waterfront ~ Machine in Motions in Duluth, MN was confirmed today. I am honored that they are making a special display of my Ground Zero Quilt . My-Mini 9-Patch quilt will be there, too. I am busy making Rust-Tex products to sell in Duluth. I hope all my readers in the Upper Midwest will be able to make it to that show in August to see Rust-Tex in the cloth. The instructional CD-ROM should be ready for sale then too. Actually the goal for the CD-ROM is the Art Cloth Symposium in Minnesota in July. I'll have a table space there too. And of course at Quilt Expo in Madison in September. As you can see it will be a busy late summer for me.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

My Secret Weapon

My secret weapon for finishing commissions is arriving Friday. Our middle daughter, is returning from her job in New Hampshire and will be spending the summer here. She has already asked if she could work for me. Since she is the daughter who sews, I am sure to get all those commission quilts done on time.
The picture for today is of two of the three wild bunnies we found in the yard today.
The Rust-Tex Report for 06-11-06
Rust molecules affixing to cloth slowly but surely as cool weather continues in the Madison, WI area.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Three Down and Four to Go

The bad news is: Friday I didn't post the third of the seven quilts I have to finish by June 30, as I promised you, Dear Reader.
The good news is: I finished what I had to do on it on Saturday, 5 minutes before the person who is going to hand sew the binding arrived to picked it up. Right on scheduled as far as I am concerned!!!
Here is a picture of it.
The Rust-Tex Report for today...
The good news is: It has turned cold here. The low last night was 45F. Good sleeping weather. The high today was 65F. A lovely day for summer.
The bad news is: This is not great weather for rust dyeing.