Rust, Mold, and Compost Dyeing

October 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

We have started a few experiments with dyeing directly onto fabric.  We mordanted the muslin with alum and are trying three different techniques which may or may not turn out brilliantly.

The first is with rusty lids right from RISD’s dye lab.  Rust can leave a ghost on the fabric of the object it came from with different degrees of clarity and abstraction and I can’t wait to see what happens.  We may soon have rusty polka dots!  They are currently sitting slightly compressed in a tupperware with vinegar and we will wait on the results for just a bit longer.  A good resource for rust dyeing is the Prairie Fibers Company–  http://www.prairiefibers.com/Rust%20Dyeing.htm.

The next experiment is a bit stranger but potentially life changing.  We haven’t been refrigerating our excess dye baths, so they’ve been sitting in their jars growing strange and beautiful molds.  We laid out a yard of damp muslin and skimmed the top layer of mold off the dyes and arranged them in an all-over pattern.  Then we folded the fabric into itself and have it sitting in a closed container so that they might spread and sink into the fabric.  We don’t have a set time frame for the process and the result may be close to decomposition, but it’s exciting to let an organic material operate on the fabric and not quite know what it will do.

Lastly, we are dyeing with the absolute moldiest coffee compost I’ve ever seen.  We have folded the grounds into the fabric and it is all sitting in a jar with enough water to keep the fabric damp.  It will be a few months before we get to check on it though.

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