More Rust Dyeing

I continue to be intrigued by the possibilities for rust-dyed projects, and have been playing around a bit the last several days.  When I was at the farm/hardware store last weekend picking up chicken feed and other assorted stuff, I decided to buy a handful of steel washers to see what rust results I might get.

After washing them to hopefully get off any manufacturing oils, I arranged the washers in some patterns on a plastic dog pen liner from a crate our dog has outgrown.  I soaked some fabric (from a thrift store sheet) in water with a some vinegar added and placed it over the washers.  I then sprinkled on some salt and sprayed it down with more water.  I covered it loosely with a plastic bag and left it out in the backyard.  I checked frequently to be sure it was still damp, spraying it down with more water as needed.  For two days, nothing happened.  I started to think that I must have gotten washers that were either not steel or were heavily coated with some sort of protective coating.  Finally, though, some little edges started to rust.  After a total of 4 days of dampness, this was my resulting fabric:

Now that the washers had a layer of rust on them, I decided to try again, this time using small pieces of fabrics rather than a large one.  Here’s a picture of one of my washer arrangements:

I then covered them with a piece of dry fabric ( I skipped the vinegar this time).  I sprayed it with water, sprinkled with a little salt and then sprayed it with a little more water:

I then covered them loosely with plastic, checking them and re-spraying them as needed.  This time, the rust designs started to show after just a couple of hours and were pretty strong in one day.  I left them outside for two days, though, as I didn’t have time to deal with them sooner.    I liked my first results, but I REALLY like these:

Here are some close ups of a couple of them that I especially like:

Here’s a picture of an old saw blade that I’ve also been playing with.  This is the side that was touching the metal:

This is the reverse side of the fabric, which I also like:

I’m going to play with overdyeing some of these and also keep experimenting with objects that look like they might rust.

My 18 year old son doesn’t usually show that much interest in my little projects, but he actually commented about these, saying that they had a steampunk look.  That is apparently a good thing :).



  1. Liz Plummer said,

    July 18, 2008 at 12:27 am

    I love these patterns you’ve got – I have done quite a bit of rust dyeing and it’s addictive! I found out about steampunk this year when I opened a shop on Etsy (there are quite a few sellers who make things in that style, apparently). But I’ve never thought of connecting my rust dyed fabric to it …

  2. jacidawn said,

    July 22, 2008 at 5:52 am

    I’ve been following your rust dyeing experiments and I have to say – I really like these results! Some day I will have to try this!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: