How I rust fabric. A tutorial!

I have been so intrigued by creating rusty fabric! All summer long, a part of my backyard has been taken over by various rusty implements:


rust-yardage-oil-drum-blog.jpgHere is a tutorial of how I use these rusty implements to create my rusted fabric. Today, we will work with an old oil drum, now being used to create a shibori-type pattern on some white cotton fabric.

rusted-fabric-blog.jpg Here are some finished fabrics– I like to overdye and stamp and stencil on the rusted fabric, to create unusual and unique art cloth!

I tend to figure techniques out without the aid of books or videos, because I find that the mistakes I make along the way lead me to create unique-to-me versions of whatever endeavor I’m attempting to produce. To rust fabric, Susan-style:

  1. beg the neighbors for rusty items
  2. stack said items in a heap in the backyard
  3. cook lovely dinner for DH who complains that the neighbors will think we live in a trashy dump
  4. explain over lovely dinner that neighbors are too busy laughing at wife and celebrating the removal of trash from their own yards to think badly of us
  5. dampen fabric (silk, cotton, rayon, poly– everything I’ve tried rusts) with a 50/50 mix of white vinegar/water
  6. arrange, tie, and/or smoosh fabric artistically around, over, on top of rusty object
  7. sprinkle fabric with salt
  8. cover fabric/rusty object with plastic tarp to keep fabric damp
  9. check every so often for appropriate level of rust transfer** note that this transfer seems to happen faster with silk than with cotton, and faster in warm weather than cool

I over dye with Procion dyes, then stamp or stencil with Lumiere paints. Voila!

If you want more detailed directions, videos, or tools, please visit Rust-Tex, a wonderful new online site for all things rusty!

Happy rusting!



Filed under Fiber, Fiber Art, paint fabric, Quilting, rust fabric, sewing, silk screen, stencil

6 responses to “How I rust fabric. A tutorial!

  1. carlafibers

    Love your experimentation, Susan!!! So very cool!

  2. I love your new rusty piece in the Elverhoj Museum. You have inspired me to try again. My first try was with steel wool and it didn’t work well. I now understand that I need to beg the neighbors for rusty tools, silly me! LOL

  3. Gina

    I gotta go!!! Thats so cool Susan! WOW! You are such an artist::sigh::

  4. Pingback: How to rust fabric using tannin « Wild Onion

  5. Daren

    Hi Susan
    Love your rust entry. I wondered how long do you keep the rusted object on the fabric. We are having a play day this Saturday and I want to try it and then overdye in MX. Can we do this all in one day?
    Do we just watch to see if the fabric is rusting??
    thanks for the answer. I bookmarked your blog.

  6. Kurt

    How long does it take to effect the fabric, ie: One hour, one day, one week??? My Aunty wants to try it with her students.
    Susan wrote: It takes a different amount of time depending upon the fiber content (cotton takes longer than silk) and the heat (fast on a hot day, longer when it’s only warm, forever when it’s cold out) There’s no way to give exact time measurements, but it doesn’t ruin the fabric to check on the fabric, so experiment, peek, and have fun!

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