Dyeing to get back!

Like a lot of people, lockdown had an adverse effect on me, just couldn’t get motivated, certainly wasted a good opportunity of being in my workshop all day without feeling guilty!

But, there is a light at the end of the tunnel or maybe I should say there is rust at the end of the tunnel.

I have had a passion for rust dyeing for several years now and have tried all different methods but my favourite by far is Caustic Soda Rust Dyeing because the results are virtually instant.

Watercolour paper samples

Some people are put off by the very word ‘Caustic Soda’ but it’s only the product you use to clean out your drains and as long as you wear gloves and follow the instructions for use you can’t go far wrong.

You need three dye baths – one with tea-bags, one with Caustic Soda and the third one with Ferrous Sulphate which is available from garden centres for getting rid of moss on your lawn.

Felt sample

You then dip your fabric or paper into each dye bath and leave to dry. As it dries the chemicals oxidise and you can get the most amazing results. Reverse the order of dipping and you get a completely different effect.

Cotton velvet samples

Once your paper or fabric is dry you rinse it under the tap which gets rid of any excess ‘dye’ and you are ready then to print, stitch or whatever.

Khadi paper sample

Of course, the longevity of the fabric or paper cannot be guaranteed but I still have pieces from about ten years ago dyed in this way and they are still fine.

Sometimes the back can be as good if not better than the front.

Front on the left, back on the right. Watercolour paper samples.

These are just a few of the 60 or so samples I made over the weekend and just the start of many more I should think.

This is wet strength tissue paper. It has been bonded on to a piece of linen after rust dyeing. Although it is hard to tell in this photograph the bottom half has been covered with Acrylic Wax and then scrumpled which makes it looks like a piece of old leather.

This is my favourite piece. Again it is wet strength tissue paper that has been bonded to Decovil II after dyeing. I have plans for this piece – watch this space!

I believe I have found my mojo again!

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