Sunday, June 15, 2008

Alternative Rust Dyeing

I saw this method on Artstitches blog some time ago and gathered together all the ‘ingredients’ but hadn’t got around to doing anything until Ro Bruhn gave me the nod about the Mystory blog entry. When I saw the fabulous results Jo came up with, I decided to have a go.
All three of these blogs are wonderful by the way, well worth a look at some of the brilliant work they produce.
All you need are tea-bags, Ferrous Sulphate and Caustic Soda.
I certainly wouldn’t recommend this technique if you have small children or pets and I have serious doubts about the longevity of any fabrics coloured using this method of rust dyeing, but you do get some amazing results. Just a note if you intend to try this: work outside, wear gloves, make sure you observe all the usual health and safety rules and dispose of the solutions down an outside drain.
The recipes on each blog differed a little and this is the one I followed.
You need 2 waste oil/cat litter trays. In one you brew 50 cheap, strong tea bags in 2 litres of water, let it cool and add a tablespoon of Caustic Soda. In the other you dissolve 250 gms. of Ferrous Sulphate in 2 litres of warm water. (Ferrous Sulphate is available from Artvango).
The rest is simple. Just dip your fabric in the tea-bag/Caustic Soda solution, let it drip, dip it in the Ferrous Suplhate solution, then lay it out to dry. You can get a variation in colour if you reverse the order of dipping. Or you can dip in one tray, lay it out and dribble the solution from the other tray on top, which is how I coloured some of my pieces.
Next time around I will try tie-dyeing and such to see what results I get.
I must have dyed around 40 pieces of fabric and took loads of photos, these are just a small selection.












All these pieces were plain white PFD fabrics. The best results were using Cotton Velvet and also from fabric that had been wetted out first.
The fabric is still stiff after ironing (with the workroom iron, not the good one!) but now I have taken the photographs I shall wash them through to see if they come up any softer without affecting the colours too much.

Notes (to self) for next time:

  • Don’t wear your bestest trainers that you paid almost £100 for just a couple of months back.
  • Don’t wear your most favourite jeans.
  • Make sure your gloves haven’t got holes in them especially if your day job requires you to be suited & booted and you don’t want your hands & nails to look like you have steeped them in something unpleasant all weekend.

26 comments:

Gina said...

Fantastic results on the fabric (even if it made a mess of hands, jeans and trainers!)

Quilt Pixie said...

those are absolutely fabulous looking! I hope they soften up after the wash...

Carol said...

oooh yum yum, gorgeous textures and colours as always.
it will be interesting to see how they come out after the wash.

Susan D said...

Wow you have been busy. I know what you mean about making a mess of hands, I keep forgetting to put gloves on when I've been dyeing.

Vicki W said...

Those are beautiful fabrics!

Carol said...

OOOOOOOhhhhhh! How lovely, realy fab patterns and for Mags I see a man in the third one down!

Julie said...

Wow, looks like you had a party! the results are amazing (shame about the trainers/jeans/hands ouch) I have been very tamely rusting fabric with vinegar this week but your results are much more varied.

hippopip said...

beautiful results and thanks for the intro to the other blogs.I know what you meant about gloves,my patients are getting used to me having green or purple nails but it doesnt look very professional

Shirley Anne Sherris said...

I stopped worrying about the dye on my hands long ago. They are regularly colourful. A hot soak on the bath helps or do a bit of (dare I say) hand washing some clothes!!- sorry to mention domestic activities. What we do for our art!!!!!
Cheers

Pat said...

Ouch that was a bit of an expensive experiment but the results are super. They are so varied. Excuse my ignorance but what are PFD fabrics, I just know I'm going to go Doh!!!

neki desu said...

woo hoo!just great! and the missus was having fun!
now some questions if i may.
1.what does the tea do? if you leave it out will the process still work out?
i imagine the reaction takes place
between the ferrous sulph. and caustic soda hence question1.

2. did you notice any difference in the end product between the usual salt water etc rust and this new one?
btw sorry about the trainers :)

neki desu

Jo Horswill said...

Oh, well done...some stunning results. Just wonderful.
Adding some softener or hair conditioner to the final rinse of the fabrics may help with the stiffness. Regards Jo

Homeleightigger said...

Wonderful results Lynda and thanks for the links to the other blogs and for sharing what you achieved. I really must have a go at this, the colours are so varied. Val

Carrie said...

wow - totally amazing results - I think a day off work this week to have some special 'me' playtime is in order. I love the textures and colours especially.

Doreen G said...

Fantastic results Lynda and I know what you mean about wearing gloves--I was using Potassium Permanganate (condy's crystals) once to dye some fabrics and I did have rubber gloves on but unknown to me there was a small hole in one finger and when I had finished and removed my gloves I had nice white hands except for one very dark brown finger(the pointer one).
Not a pretty sight.

Micki said...

Fantastic results with this experiment. I must say though, that I don't think it would be something I would try (because of the caustic soda).

Sorry about the shoes and jeans.:-(

Ro Bruhn said...

Wow you don't mess around, I'm glad you found the info useful. You've created some fabulous effects with yours too.

Penny said...

I have used this to make the most incredible papers, but never on fabric, must give it a try, as I have all the ingredients, I think I thought it might weaken the fabric but we will see.

Carol said...

Fabulous results Lynda.

Fran├žoise said...

Beautiful results Lynda! But sorry, I'm not really tempted this time, because of the products you used.

Michele Matucheski said...

Wow! These are absolutely GORGEOUS! I'm going to put Rust-Dyeing on my list of things to try this summr!

Collectincat said...

I just bought my first foil and downloaded the instructions and now you are tempting me with this gorgeous stuff. How do I find all those weird -to me- ingredients. I am definatley going to visit the blogs you mentioned to find out more. Thanks for all the info and pics to help us newbies understand how you do these fabulous things.

Viv's Visuals said...

I have just spent some real pleasurable time looking at your blog! Your work is amazing. Colours, fabrics everything..thank you for helping me make my 'ME' time so enjoyable.

Carol said...

Congratulations Lynda. Your work is stunning, as ever.

Judi S said...

These are magnificent. Thanks for posting the how-tos. I must try this as soon as I get the necessary ingredients. Your results remind me of
aerial shots of terrain. Just inspiring.
Judi

k baxter packwood said...

Absolutely goregous, this is how I got the coloring on my river piece!

If you get a chance try over dyeing this with Indigo for even more exciting colorations. I think you will love the results. Kimberly