Rust Dye with Stencils

Yesterday, I saw a blog with instructions for making freezer paper stencils for t-shirts.  I’ve done this in the past with fabric paints, but seeing it made me wonder if I could make this work with rust dyeing.  I thought it would be great if the shape of the rust dyed image was not limited to to the shape of my rusty object.

I was (of course!) out of freezer paper, so after a quick bike ride to the grocery store, I cut out a few basic shapes.  For this experiment, I didn’t want to spend a lot of time on the images- I just wanted to do something quickly to see if it would work.  After cutting, I ironed the shiny plastic side of the freezer paper onto the fabric:

I then took it outside to my plastic tray and placed it over my rusty saw blade- which is the only semi-solid rusty shape I currently have.  I sprayed it with my water bottle, sprayed it with a bit of water, sprinkled it with salt and then sprayed again with some water:

I covered it loosely with plastic to keep it from drying out too fast as it was way too hot yesterday.  I sprayed it a few times throughout the day and also at night when I closed the chickens into their coop.  Here is the image that I washed out today:

Success!  This image has sort of a country look which isn’t really me, I think because of the hearts and stars and the saw blade shape.  Still, it worked and now I can continue to experiment.  I need to get a flat piece of steel that I can turn into a rust stenciling surface for other sorts of images.  My son wants me to try to make him a skull and crossbones image rusty t-shirt and I think this technique will work for that- since I don’t happen to have a flat rusty skull and crossbones :).

I plan to play more with the freezer paper and maybe some other resists, too.  I’m thinking that soy wax would work.  I was also looking at a plastic mailer that came with a book I ordered.  I think that it might be interesting to try to cut shapes out of it and sew them to the base fabric as resists.  I’m definitely going to be exploring this idea more in the future.



  1. Lisa said,

    August 9, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    You are soooo creative! I love the look of the rust. Pretty neat!

  2. angerella said,

    August 10, 2008 at 10:51 am

    This is cool!! I have been reading alot about hand printing lataly anf I really love the effect of rust. I will be rummaging in the garage this evening for something rusty. I wonder how contact paper would work??

  3. April 7, 2009 at 7:00 pm


  4. lcd said,

    January 24, 2010 at 9:39 am

    You have great blog and this post is good!

    best regards, Greg

  5. juli said,

    March 26, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    Awesome! i’ve been searching for iron pieces online as my home is in a semi rural location and couldn’t think of key words to type in to find scroll pieces etc. I would never have thought to try doing it this way!!

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