Friday, August 10, 2012

More rusty goodness

Awhile back, a couple of things happened to precipitate this post. The first was Neet of Hickydorums fame, who visits from WOYWW asked about my rust dyeing, since she was unfamiliar with it. The second was, I found a big round rusty metal cylinder in my neighbor's trash can. And yes, I have definitely been known to remove things from his "dumpster." He has no problem with it, since he says it's all fair game for my art.

So one day a couple of weeks or so ago, I grabbed my vinegar, a couple of plastic bags, and some rusty "people" I have used in the past, as well as that big cylinder I pulled from the dumpster. I also grabbed part of a bed sheet my neighbor Sally gave me.

I put on my disposable gloves and went to town. After wrapping several of the "people" and the cylinder in dry fabric, I placed them in two plastic bags. I poured vinegar over each of the bundles and allowed it to pool in the bottom of the plastic bags. I tied each bag tightly and rotated the bundles until I was certain they were well saturated. Then I set them in the hot sun to dry for two days. Please note that I ran out of fabric before I could use the wire hearts.

When I opened the cylinder (once again wearing disposable gloves), I realized I had allowed the fabric to accept more rust than I had hoped for.

It was even more evident on the people and their smaller bits and pieces. Before I took the fabric inside to wash it, I chipped much of the excess rust off the fabric. I had NO idea our extreme heat would activate the vinegar so quickly.

Next I took the fabric inside (still wearing disposable gloves) and ran it through three baking soda and water rinse baths in my kitchen sink. ONLY AFTER I had done all this did I remove the disposable gloves. The fabric was now safe to touch.

It's always easier to dry things on my front porch that I've washed in the kitchen than take them out back and hang them on the clothesline.

In case you are asking why I wrote it was now safe to handle the fabric, it's because rust reacts to the hemoglobin in your blood. I'm not sure how since I'm not an M.D., but I know it's a really bad thing. That's why I always insist on telling you to wear some type of non-porous gloves when working around anything rusty. If you want fabric to stop rusting, wash it in baking soda and water. If you want metal or paper to stop rusting, spray it with a fixative, a sealer, or cheap hairspray.

Here is a closeup of a couple of the rusty people. They look like they are dancing. In fact, they are now dancing their way to other, far away lands.

This is a really easy technique and one you can create if you have a bit of vinegar, plastic sacks, baking soda, and old fabric. As for the sun, that will depend on your climate!


Edit: I just noticed the neighbor's tree was still standing in the pictures from my front porch. Not a regular visitor? Don't know what I'm talking about? Here's the post on the fate of this gorgeous tree.

15 thoughtful remarks:

Anonymous said...

These came out amazing, love your rusty folk! xox

Dianne said...

wow, this fabric came out truly beautiful despite the 'too rusty' appearance....and I didn't remember that health concern with handling rust, either. thanks for the reminder. hope you're staying cool these days. Fall is definitely coming though, as our cottonwoods are dropping leaves like crazy, and the locusts are buzzing away. rusty fabric makes great fall color! hugs...

Craftymoose Crafts said...

Wow! That is really awesome! Such fun to see how it turns out each time. Glad you have such an accommodating neighbor! Have a wonderful weekend my friend!

Halle said...

The dancing people are very cool!! Love the rust!! I have to do some more rusting. It's such a fun technique.

...the yorkshire fox... said... thats amazing Elizabeth, you really know your stuff, the effect is so unique, I must try this some time...thank you...hope you have a wonderful weekend...Mel :)

SandeeNC said...

Very cool how the images transfer to the material, and I had no idea that handling rusty things could affect your blood, scary! waving hi from the hills of North Carolina :)

Marlynn said...

LOL - you never disappoint me when I stop by! Love your rusty stuff. Yummy. Thanks for stopping by the breeze and wanted to let you know that I picked up those Crayola paints at the grocery store. I did not see them in Michaels. Love THEM! Look for them - you and Bleubeard can paint Wendy...... Hugs

Carol said...

Great rust projects!!! I just might have to give it a try real soon!

Neet said...

Thanks so much Elizabeth for that. I have never seen rusty fabric. Didn't know you could rust fabric!
Love those rusty people, how fabulous. Now I need to just ask, does it matter what kind of vinegar? We have white and malt mostly.
Thanks for the Health and Safety hint too - never knew that.

Thanks again for the tute - Hugs, Neet xx

~*~Patty S said...

Wonderful rusty goodness you've created again Mz E!

I bet you have that tree in other photos too...we never know how these small things can mean so much...I know you are still mourning the loss of that beautiful tree

Sending Friday hugs to you!

Rita said...

That really is rusty goodness! Never tried this, but it looks like a lot of fun. Yours turned out really great, too. Even if it was darker than you planned it looks so cool!

I can see why you'd miss that tree. :(

Carolyn Dube said...

You do the most wonderful things with fabric!!

Seth said...

Thanks for sharing your process here. And thanks for making those rust people so very happy!

HeARTworks said...

Hmmmm, I don't know if I'm up for making rusty cloth. I'm the type that gets crazy thinking about what if I get tetanus or something. And now I have to think about the hemoglobin as well! :^) Happy weekend! Patsy from
HeARTworks and

Brian Kasstle said...

Elizabeth these are amazing. What do you do with them when they are finished???