Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Rust dyeing

Well, now I can say I have tried rust dyeing.
Rust dyeing is one of those things, like gelatin monoprints that you have to prepare for days in advance, which is why I never seem to get around to it.
However, I decided that some rusted fabric might go well with the Tangled Textiles theme "Tools"
So, I had a go and I liked the results.

I used steel wool (which I stole from my other half's polishing cupboard, but you can get it at the hardware, or steel wool scourers at the supermarket, only make sure you wash all the soap out as it will slow the rusting)
  • First, I soaked my steel wool in a salt solution for about an hour, then poured the salty water off.
  • I left my moist steel wool for a few days in a plastic tray, dampening it with more salty water, when it got dry.
  • Don't leave the steel wool laying  in salty water as you will get greenish Iron Chloride instead of orange Iron oxide or rust 
  • When the steel wool is falling apart, it is ready to use.  
  • To damp cloth, add the rusy material and allow to leach into the fabric overnight, then allow your fabric to dry. 
I did not pre soak my fabric in anything, although it is suggested that you soak in soda ash before adding the rust.  (I would have used Alum soaked  fabric which had been dried)  I found that the rust was pretty permanent.
This piece of fabric was totally untreated (just rust dyed) and has been boiled a few times.
This piece of fabric was soaked in a saturated solution of Alum when dry and has also been boiled a few times.  As you can see there is not much difference, really.
This was a treated piece of fabric, like the one above, and now we come to the reason for boiling.  I did an experiment with some wax as well on the last two pieces.  However, I used what I had, just molding wax.  The problem was that the wax did not penetrate the fabric properly and when the fabric was immersed in rust, the wax could not resist properly - there was only wax on one side.  You can see above that the wax did penetrate in a few places where the fabric is white.
As well as this problem, I had trouble getting rid of the wax,  and had to scrape and boil a few times.  I think I will leave my wax experiments until I get hold of some soy wax.

As far as the rust goes, however the experiment was pretty successful and as I like the colour and texture in these fabrics, I will be doing more!

If at first, you don't succeed - try try again.