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.

1 comment:

Carol Sloan said...

Great answer Lois! I will refer folks to your blog for this answer the next time that they ask me the same question. Thank you for posting that.