Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Rust Stains

I recently spent a few days rusting fabric in my backyard. If you have never done this before it's pretty simple, needing only fabric, water, vinegar, some rusty metal objects and plastic bags. 

To start, just pre-soak your fabric in water and vinegar, (1/2 and 1/2 will do) and wrap it around some metal objects that have a bit of rust to them, (it doesn't have to be much rust, as the vinegar and water will quickly grow the rust, so only use objects that you don't care about.) Cover the fabric with a plastic bag and let it sit for awhile. Depending on how the wet fabric and rusty objects react, you can have a rusted piece of fabric generally within 3 to 24 hours. 

Keep an eye on your fabric as if the rust gets too intense, it can be very difficult to sew through. Once you are satisfied, soak the rusted fabric in some salt water, followed by another soak in some water with baking soda added to it... both help to neutralize and stop the rusting process. Afterwards, give the fabric a good washing in some soapy water and rinse well. (I have heard it's ok to do it in the washing machine, but personally, I felt better doing it in an old metal wash tub out in the back yard.) Keep rinsing until the water is clear.

As far as objects go, a rusty pole works fabulously. Just wrap the wet fabric around the pole, tie with some string to secure it and cover it with a plastic garbage bag. The rusty circle above, was the top of the pole!

Another great way is to place the wet fabric on an old metal cookie tray, (one that you don't mind getting rusty) then place some old metal objects on top of the fabric, and another wet piece of fabric on top of that. Slide the tray into a plastic bag, seal shut, and place some heavy objects on top to keep the fabric pieces in close contact with the metal.

For the fabric above, I used an old rusty, metal seahorse ornament that I had hanging on my shed, and some vintage rusty keys, along with some old nails. The wrinkles in the wet fabric, along with the rust formed on the metal tray during the process, helped to create the other organic shapes.

Part of what makes the process so enjoyable is that you never know what you will wind up with. Check out the fabric on the left... I used the seahorse on this piece as well, but unlike the previous fabric sample, this time the rust formed a negative image. 

Oh, and a bit about the fabric... I used several types of fabric, all cotton but of varying weights, from light muslin, (pictured on the left) to quilting weight, (pictured below) to heavier muslin/feedsack weaves, (pictured on the right). I also only used fabrics in a natural color range.

This key shape also came out in a negative form on this sample, while on other samples it came out in the positive... the mystery of the rusting process never fails to amaze!

Above, more organic shapes formed from the wet wrinkled fabric laid on top of the old metal cookie tray. 

Before rusting I tied some of the fabric samples around some sticks and plant matter from my yard and soaked them in a hot tea bath. Those fabric samples turned black and gray in some areas during the rusting process... more mystery! One thing I find comforting is rust won't fade, unlike some other natural dyeing methods that I have tried. (Even with mordant I have had problems). 
As for those blackish areas, only time will.

Pretty, pretty, pretty!


And last but not least... in regards to my last post, a heartfelt thank you on all the positive feedback and support, and for those of you who have had similar experiences and long held fears... you are not alone.

I also want to clear up some confusion that I may have inadvertently caused... in regards to the story about the sketchbook that I was given as a child, I fear, based on some comments, that I may have given some of you the impression that I haven't drawn since then... so far from the truth. I just didn't draw in that sketchbook, and since have had a block with all sketchbooks... thank goodness for loose paper!

In case of any confusion, please know this: The arts were a big deal in my house, and from an early age it was pretty much a given that I was to be an artist of one degree or another. I drew constantly my whole growing up. I went on to art school where I majored in graphic design and illustration. Outwardly, I did very well, inwardly I was a mess of conflict and unhappiness. It took a toll on me and by my early 20's, I lost the bravery that my child self once possessed, and I could no longer take the ingrained self-doubt of not being "good enough" anymore. So, I put away my illustrating dreams and for the most part, stopped drawing. (One of my professors hit the nail on the head when he said that I suffered from the disease of perfectionism, and I can attest to it being a very debilitating disease.)

Now, over the years I have doodled here and there, and have played around with machine and hand-stitched drawings, which I have shared here along the way and can be seen in my flickr sets, (just click on "Gallery" on the top bar of this blog). However, those ghost voices of self doubt and criticism have been so unrelenting that the joy is always soon squashed down, and I give up again. I almost wind up in a fetal position of heartache. It just becomes too much.

My goal this time is to once and for all, overcome the fear, release the feeling that perfection is the goal, and embrace the fun and play that drawing once was and held the promise to always be. It is just not okay that a piece of paper and a pen or pencil can be frightening. I gotta get over this.

Judgement is the scariest monster that ever lived under one's bed.

The good news is, I am drawing, my shell is slowly cracking, and each day more and more light is shining inward. 

(We all know that monsters can't live where light shines.)


Glen QuiltSwissy said...

I am totally in love with the rusting pieces! Oh, do I love them!

Hey, are you in a modern quilt guild? Can I ask you a few questions?

Kathryn said...

Love how the fabric has turned out! I've been doing the same thing in my back yard, but using indigo. I hosted eight creative ladies over and we went to town and now that the craze is over, I can dye to my heart's content with what is left over. I can't wait to see what you do with the fabric.

Diane J. Evans said...

What fun! I can't wait to see what you create with these beautiful fabrics.

And, yes, put Mr. Fear in the corner where he belongs, and start drawing with abandon. Easy to say, difficult to do, but "do it, you must; there is no try." (I quote Yoda often.)


Anonymous said...

These are beautiful! The element of surprise is wonderful. I think this is a great exercise to "release the feeling that perfection is the goal". Look what happens when you just let stuff happen. You'll get through it. Take care, Byrd

k said...

I have a rusty cookie sheet. I bet I can figure out how to fold the material to work with it. Thanks!

Karin på Ösäter said...

Rusty fabric is so fun!
Childhood, I try to learn my and others children that it should be fun to show what you have created so once every summer I have Galleri Ösäter when I and children showing to friends and family what we have been doing. I blogged about the latest a few days a go, please come over and see then I can tell the kids that we had a visitor from america at our Galleri. http://karinpaosater.blogg.se/

Hugs from creative kids in Sweden

Venus de Hilo said...

"Rusting" looks like so much fun, and the effects are so beautifully organic and intriguing. I have some linen in an ugly color that might be improved by this process. A nice practice in letting go of the process/outcome.

patty a. said...

Thanks for sharing the rusting process. I have some metal left from many of my home construction project that could work!

I am glad you are working on overcoming your fears. My dad told me I would never be an artist because I didn't have weird hair and a tattoo. What?

CitricSugar said...

What a great experiment! Very cool results!

And good for you for cracking that shell - Eleanor Roosevelt said "Do one thing every day that scares you." :-)

Rumi said...

The result is great. I have tried to rust fabrics last summer and like the results. http://3patchcrafts.blogspot.com/2012/08/dying-with-rust.html
The problem appeared when I started to stitch them - somewhere the needle couldn't go into the fabric. So be careful with the "heavy rusted" places. It is possible to break the needle. Especially when you stitch two layers. Good luck!

Victoria said...

Rumi, yup that's very true and I mention that in the post. Just looked at your samples, and I like your results as well, especially with the grate... very cool!

Cheryl Arkison said...

Totally mesmerized by the seahorse images on those fabrics...

The disease of perfectionism, I know it well. And I know I've passed it on to my daughter. Sigh. This is the kid who picked up her bike and threw it across the street when she couldn't miraculously ride it the very first time she tried.

I've been frustrated by my kids' actions with my own sketchbook. I've often let them draw and colour away in it, as long as they respected other drawings and my expensive markers. But I found a marker without a lid that was subsequently dry and threw a hissy fit. Neither I nor them have sketched in the three weeks since. Only three weeks, but it could become longer. Oy.

Jayne said...

Stunning pieces! I had to rip myself from the computer...I could look all day long! Very inspiring to me!

Unknown said...

I just happened on your blog and, as is my way with blogs that are different and interesting, I kept reading and quickly found this. Thank heavens for people like you, who let the rest of us know we're not alone.
I have (another) chance to set up my own business in a way that won't cost me a big investment and I'm watching myself backpeddle as fast as I can...no more! Your post has given me courage and a good shaking. thankyou.

Victoria said...

Thank you so much for your very kind words, Sandy. Best of luck with going forward and very best wishes to you! xo

Angela said...

Hi Victoria, your post has inspired me in two ways, so thank you. The first is my fabric isn't precious and is not doing anyone any good stored in a drawer so I need to get it out and go for it and so what if I don't like the result first time, I will call it experimentation! The second is I have lots of woad dyed fabric from a workshop but I haven't known what to do with it but I suddenly saw it rusted over and the colours could look amazing. I think also that adding another method that is accidentally designed could break me free from the agony of decision that I get every time I think I might spoil all my hard work of dying by my stitching. I'm going to have a go.

Victoria said...

Angela, I like your attitude of go-for-it experimentation!! Hope you have loads of fun and awesome results!!

Batik Te'ye'ng said...

Hi, I love your artwork rusting dyed fabric. I olso do that on Batik fabric
greetings from Surabaya Indonesia

Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing your art and heart! It is nice to know someone else has gone through similar experiences, it helps me to know I'm not alone in these confusing experiences with art.
I love the effect you got with using the cookie sheet. I am so going to try that.