Thursday, October 26, 2006

Rusting Update

Last Thursday or Friday I began my "rusting fabric" experiments - after reading lots of hints from fellow Quiltart list members. Above is the mess on the back deck, rusting away nicely prior to bringing it in for rinsing. I've learned several things that weren't necessarily included in various instructions:
1. vinegar and water stings in paper cuts
2. vinegar and water is VERY cold in 45-50 degree temps
3. this is a very messy process
4. rust "dyes" lots more than fabric (plastic containers, wood floors, kitchen sinks)
5. the process is extremely slow when the fabric-wrapped rusty items are submerged
6. thus air drying speeds the process considerably
7. so soaked rust-wrapped cloth set on an unwanted plastic object rusts faster
8. bleach works well removing rust from counter tops and aluminum sinks

Here they are after wringing them out, but prior to any rinsing:

The best, most complete help came from Kimberly Baxter Packwood, who has written a book about this process. She has generously shared quite a bit of her information on her website - the most important of which is how to STOP the rusting process from coninuing forever. Salt water soaking does that trick just fine - I know, because I rinsed the rusty fabrics in plain water, then salt water, then plain water again - the first two waters turned a lovely shade of burnt sienna (rust), the rinse water was clear!
Here the fabrics are soaking in saltwater:

Here is the saltwater AFTER the fabrics were removed - not the lovely color you see below. The next rinse was perfectly clear.

I wasn't that pleased with the over-all effects - that's why I think that the soaking actually prohibits the oxegen from oxidizing the rust onto the fabric... Anyway, I chose to put the fabrics back into the rusting process for a second round.
Below: the fabrics are back into a strong vinegar solution, wrapped around various rusting objects, more rusty things laid on top, and now they are left to the elements to do their thing once again. This time should be faster since few of the pieces of cloth are totally submerged in solution.


bopeep said...

Loved your tree photos, Pat,
I find the rust thing very the fact that you are willing to try again for what you want. So what happens if the rust is live....could the work then be considered active art, instead of passive?

MargaretR said...

Thanks for your comments on my blog Pat. And thank you also for your tips on rust dyeing. I have been collecting objects here there and everywhere with the idea of having a go. Thanks for inspiring me.