Yet Another Addiction (Rust Printing on Paper)

Book cover on Tyvek

Book cover on Tyvek

On a whim I signed up for a two-day class of Rust Dyeing on Paper with the option of creating a book out of my experiments. This was in Asheville at Bookworks, and I had no idea what to expect.  But what I didn’t expect was to be almost immediately hooked on the teacher, the process, and the final product.

Mostly steel, some brass

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Unlike regular eco-dyeing on fabric, you can complete many pieces in under a day, all dry and ready to be stitched into a book.  I brought home around 40 pieces.

There’s both little and much to learn; it’s your choice.  And it is easy to get started in this with almost instantaneous results, but I’m one of those people whose mind spontaneously ignites with “what if’s” and I can’t seem to stop.  I now find myself looking at everything everywhere and questioning if it will rust and whether I can print with it.

So here are some examples of my foray into this new-to-me art form.  I am very pleased and full of wonder about what a little tea, iron, vinegar, clorox, lye, some watercolor paper and a collection of rusty metal pieces can produce.  If you’re not into this kind of thing, I imagine you’ll merely see the top of an old coffee table covered in water marks and stains.  I on the other hand see splendid chemical reactions and wondrous art surprises.

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About Patsye

I am an older woman and artist. I love to craft. I love to sew and knit and crochet and needlepoint. I love to paint and draw and make art with my hands. Being creative is what gets me up in the morning. Art is my tea, my fresh air, my good book, and my cats all rolled into one. I have much to share and hope you'll visit often.
This entry was posted in A Day In My Life, OMG!, Uncategorized, Watercolor, Whimseytopia and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Yet Another Addiction (Rust Printing on Paper)

  1. Oh, this is so interesting and really beautiful! I’ll definitely have to give it a try myself one of these days. Christmas is just around the corner 😀

  2. Katharine says:

    Patsye,
    Glad for an update about your processes and passions. Looks like fun!
    A question: I try to keep the items I include in journals and books acid-free. Is acid-free possible with this rust process?
    Katharine

    • Patsye says:

      Hi Katharine: Nice to hear from you. Your question was actually discussed in class and basically the instructor said that because of the amount of vinegar and lye, and other caustic chemicals, no, this is not going to last forever. She held up books that were done several years ago with no discernible change, according to her. Many of my papers are so thick, even some degradation of fibers would hardly be noticeable. Color was the most important thing to me, and most rust is a reddish brown, with brass producing a green. We had organic dyes and ink crystals to work with as well. But I imagine you can lose some of that over the years. Now for plant dying, which I’m also into, alum (aluminum sulfate) is what I put on the paper to hold the color (mordant). I have thought to use some of this over the rust, just to see if that makes it more stable, but honestly I’ll be dead and gone before these pages change, and then who cares. Also I have read you can simply use an acrylic varnish to maintain color, though in doing so you are adding yet another, or perhaps several more chemicals.

      Because I am a recycler by nature, I often buy old frames with non-acid-free matting and backing. Some of these I imagine are more than 70 and possibly close to 100 years old. The mats are intact, as well as the backing. There seems to be only a tinge of brown around the edges of the watercolor paper and the mat. I might be wrong in thinking that’s the worst that can happen.

      Anyhow, how the heck are you? I have seen some of your journal work on your site (or am I wrong?) and as with everything else you do, I remember they are beautiful. You are the true artist. I’m just playing, and having a fun time with all these fun crafts. Actually today I went through old boxes of “basement stuff” and found pounds and pounds of metals waiting to be rusted and printed. The most interesting was a bag of etched plates (zinc?) from ancient sewing machines that years ago I had dismantled to save those plates. I also salvaged as much as I could to be made into jewelry and then threw away the heavy skeleton. Sounds odd, I know, but here in WNC some of the most interesting jewelry I’ve found in places like Asheville are made from the most unusual things. Anyhow, I’m going to photograph these plates before I rust them in case I destroy them in the process. Maybe I’ll take rubbings as well. Thanks again for writing. Hope all is well. Patsye

  3. Very interesting technique! I love the second on from the top because it has some red in it but all are beautiful.

    • Patsye says:

      Well you’ve been busy! I can barely keep up just reading about all you do. Yes, it is an interesting technique. Never even thought to try something like this, but the results are intriguing because you really don’t have a clue what you’re going to get until the entire process is complete. Lots of surprises!

  4. These are beautiful. I think my most favourite is the second one, but they’re all little stunners. I’d want to frame them.

    • Patsye says:

      Hi Cobs: I’ve left comments for you to write to me on email, and haven’t heard back. Wonder what’s up with our sites??? Yes, these can be framed, but they make beautiful art books.

      • Well, I got this message… so maybe my trick of ‘unfollowing’ you, then I counted to five and ‘followed’ you again … maybe this has worked and I’ll now get your posts and messages again. I’ll dig out your email on your site I think somewhere, and email you. ~ Cobs. x

      • Patsye …
        I can’t find an email address for you. If I click the litle girl with the postbox, a box opens up and gives me two options to choose from in order to email you (Google and … one other which I can’t remember), and I use neither of the options it gives me.

        I can’t find an email address for you anywhere! Is there a place I should be looking? ~ Cobs. x

  5. Dale says:

    This is so cool! Even I, who does not have an artistic bone… well maybe one of the small ones… could do this? Fun stuff, Patsye

    • Patsye says:

      Hi Dale: You bet. You can do these. I would never have thought to even try this because it’s a bit too “chemical” for me. But it really isn’t once you figure it out, and there really isn’t that much to figure out. You just learn by trial and error. We were encouraged to write on the back of our papers what sequence we were using, how long we cured the papers, and what inks, if any, we applied. That was how we were to keep track and allow repeats if we liked the outcome. Dale, most of these classes are combined with bookmaking so look for that on the Internet. Also, just youtube “dyeing with rusty things” and see what you come up with. Perhaps all of this is available online and I could have saved money. But I made new friends, enjoyed the fall leaves of Asheville, learned more because of the experience of doing it, and just felt it was sooooooo worth the time and expense. I had a ball. I hope you try it. Patsye

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