Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Rust Dyeing Tissue Silk

After collecting so many rusty things I felt I needed to justify their presence in the middle of my walkway, by having a go at rust dyeing tissue silk.                                                       The silk was soaked in undiluted vinegar before twisting and wrapping around an old rusty tent pole. I then tied it with rusty wire...criss-crossing along the length of the pole.

The rust reacted almost immediately.  I had intended to leave it for 24 hours or more, but when I saw how fast it was taking I decided to unwrap after only 18 hours.  I neutralised the rust by soaking for half an hour in a bucket of salted water. 

The colour is soft and I think it suits the silk well.  I was very pleased with the wavy water mark effect and the random slashes from the wire.   Sadly the photos don't show the detail very well.  With all the rain, good natural light has been scarce.

The silk was left to cure for a couple weeks and I now have the option of  using another rust pattern or adding some leaves or onion skins as a feature.
I was amazed at how simple this process was. It has opened up a flood gate of ideas yet to be tried.



  1. hello Joan,
    well if we just exchanges samples (carrot tops and cabbage dyed, with your rusty)......... job done......
    it's amazing how easy some of the things are, we have just forgotten and gone complicated for a while I think.....
    thanks for the instructions, I am due some rust/vinegar imprints instead of the dyeing as some of the rusted stuff is too big for the pot.
    Have you checked out YTubes, is instructions on a childs inner matress springs rusted, interesting...........

  2. Hi Madeleine
    That's the great thing about rust doesn't need a pot. Just drop it where it is and wait while magic happens. Will certainly check out the You-tube demo you mentioned.