Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Another Question about Rust Dyeing

Someone email me this question today:

"When you're working at home...do you use plastic bags? I couldn't decide whether it was right...it keeps in the water, but would restrict the air."

I am home all day so I can keep the rust dyed pieces hydrated when necessary. I love checking on them, it gets me out of my cold, damp basement studio into the beautiful summer day, which is one of the main reasons I took up rust dyeing.

Using plastic bags just sends more things to the landfill so I try not to use them. Wrapping your rust dyed piece tightly with plastic will restrict the oxygen available. I had an interesting talk with a chemist at Midwest Fiber and Folk Art Show. He said iron oxide formed with less air is black, iron oxide formed with a lot of air is reddish. This might open up a whole world of experimentation for someone.

Would that be you?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Question and Answer about Rust Dyeing

Today I got an email from someone asking me the longevity of rusted fabric. She wanted to know if it will last 1 year or 5 years? And can it be treated just like you would procion dyed fabric, with ironing and washing, etc? She said, "It seems like it's been pounded into our heads the preservation of quilts, photographs and etc for archival reasons. Was wondering, is there special handling in the preserving of rusted fabrics?"
Here is my reply to her:
Quilts that were made in the late 1800 contained fabric that was dyed with natural dyes. Iron was one of the mordants used in natural dyeing. When combined with natural dyes it "saddened" the colors, meaning it makes them darker. Many black and drak brown fabrics were created by combining iron oxide and tannin. In quilts from that era we sometimes see those black fabrics have rotted away. But those quilts are 100+ years old, have seen hard wear and been washed many times .
I do not recommend that people use any fabric that is dye with iron oxide in a bed quilt. But I think it is fine for wall hangings that might get vacuumed a few times in their life. I also sell rust dyed wearables and figure that the buyer will get tired of wearing that scarf before it develops any holes.
I am expecting my rust dye fabric to out last me and I am 55 years old. I think the archival thing is overblown. If you enjoy making and using rust dyed fabric are you going to let some "archivists" scare you off?
I hope this information will free YOU up to try rust dyeing.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Finished Commission

I finally finished that commission I started back in January.
The person this was made for came to pick it up and she was thrilled!!!

I was glad she was so delighted with it.

She and her mom said the most complimentary thing, "You will never get tired of this wallhanging. Every time you look at it you will see something different."

It made me feel validated as an artist.

Cause that is what I always try to buy in something to hang on my walls.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

July 4th, 2008

Here is how I decorate the fence that lines one side of our property,and here is the Rust-Tex fabric I rinsed out that day drying in the shade. Happy 4th of July!!!
Two days late but good wishes are always better later than never

Friday, July 04, 2008

Rust Dye Shibori

I have been experimenting with combining a shibori technique and the Rust-Tex Trees Technique. Shibori is a Japanese word for shaped resists. The particular technique I have been playing around with is a pole wrap. You wrap a string around a fabric that is wound around a pole, trying to keep the spacing of the string as even as possible. As the string reaches the bottom of the pole you push the fabric toward the top of the pole so you have more space to continue wrapping the string. After the fabric is all smooched up you dye it either by submerging it in a dye bath or by painting dye on it. Because I am a rust dyer I put a layer of steel wool under a silk satin scarf and used copper wire instead of string.
Here is what it looked like after the wrapping was done.

When it looked like the picture below I knew it was time to unwrap it.
I set it in a pan of vinegar so the edges remained white.

And here is the finished result.

Detail to show patterning

Thursday, July 03, 2008


I have been rust dyeing. I have just not been posting.
I have been experimenting with shibori rust dyeing. Using a variation of the trees technique. Maybe I will post that tomorrow.
I also have been experimenting with magnets and iron filings. Way cool results!!! Maybe I will post that the next day.
But many other things are going on in my life. Some of you know I have fibromyalgia, that means everything hurts, all the time. Most of June I didn't feel like doing anything. Our eldest daughter is getting married Aug 2. The ceiling in the living/dining room had to be replaced because of damage from ice dams this past winter. Here is a picture of how that looked a couple of days ago. Today it looks even dustier!!!
We leave on vacation Wednesday. I am vending the week-end after that at the Midwest Fiber and Folk Show in Crystal Lake, IL. I am teaching rust dyeing on Fri. I am pretty sure there is still room in the class.
So now you know the truth about why I am not posting.
I hope my dear Rust-Tex.Blogspot.Com readers will be understanding.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Rust Dye Vidcast

I am Bonnie McCaffery's vidcast this month!!!
Picture of Lois and her new best friend
She recorded this in my booth at International Quilt Festival in Chicago way back in April.
See if you can find this shot in the vidcast
So anytime you want to hear and see me talk about rust dyeing just follow this link: