Dyeing Scraps with Tea and Rust

Being a Jill of all trades, I was prompted to have another go with metal and tannin by an article in Wendy Feldberg’s blog Threadborne.  I am switching from researching, to seed collecting, to sewing up clothes and soft furnishings, to printing, to photography, to collecting more rocks for pigments,  to drawing and back again with great rapidity at the moment.  So this dip into dyeing is yet another experiment.  Making the invisible visible through chance.

My intention for this project was to get some pieces of cloth that I could use in my art work.  I had one bath with just the tea and tea bags, and the other with the metal and tannin.  I tried to combine the two dyes, moving some bundles from the tea to the metal bath and leaving part of the bundle above the dye so it was just dipped into the liquid.

The results from the dye session were good, better than expected.  It was a simple process compared to other dye sessions I have done that took much more of my time – or I should say – my presence, watching and checking.  I used some new squares of light weight cotton with a glazed  surface on one side, together with some old sheeting and clothing.   The glazed side accepted the ‘dye’ the same as the unglazed side.  I am thinking I might try printing on this fabric…

Cloths were rolled or folded, then bundled, clipped and tied.  I actually had two dyeing sessions, refreshing the initial brew with more tea, tea bags and vinegar.  The metal was rusty scraps, coins, bulldog clips, an old metal zip, and some aluminium foil (don’t think that did anything) all in a plastic ice cream 1 litre tub. Once out of these cold dye baths – one was overnight, the second one day – the cloths were rinsed, then left for a short while in salty water, then washed with Ecostore hand wash liquid soap that sits in the laundry.  I was very lazy, but really I only had machine washing powder as the other option.  And I felt the hand wash liquid would be softer on the dye.  Anyway, it worked fine.

After drying, the cloths were ironed – once flattened the magic really became apparent.  I included some pink rose petals and leaves in one bundle.  The petals left a pale green colour, and there is a mysterious very pale pink – cannot image where that came from, but it may have been a label that was attached to the plastic mesh bag as it was not from the rose petals.  I included the bag hoping to get an impression of the grid, but that didn’t happen.  I also folded a piece of acid free office computer paper and put that in the second dye bath.

 

 

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