Thursday, February 18, 2010

Rusty things and Pearls of Wisdom

I grew up on a farm where most of the equipment was held together with bailing wire.  I wish I had some of those old tools and machine parts of my dad's to rust with now.  Still, I have amassed a nice collection of iron.  I've bought, begged for, found and been given some very interesting things.  The lovely twisty thing casting a shadow on my newly painted shed is an auger I bought in Greenville which yielded some great scarf designs last fall.  One of my proudest purchases a few years ago at a local junk yard was six spiral toothy wheels, seen above, that were once part of a rotary hoe.  The kind man at the yard disassembled the machinery so I could buy just the spirals.  I've used them many times as in the photo below.

This shot was taken just after I'd picked up the silk from the work table.  The blue and magenta came from elderberries and poke berries tightly packed and mashed around the hub of each wheel.  The black resulted from the chemical reaction between tea leaves, fermented walnut juice, vinegar and the iron.  Both tea and walnut juice serve as mordants, but even with that protection, this piece was cured in a covered galvanized can for over two months before washing to preserve the wonderful blue.  The finished piece which hangs vertically is called Pearls of Wisdom.  It's over 100 inches long by 45" wide.


  1. just hopping from India to see your work - its amazing! You have a great studio outside, need one too, cause mine is inside the house. I quess we all start in that way. Working with elements of nature and founded objects is such an endless and lovely adventure - like to follow and read yours. Bye for now, Dorie

  2. Wow Pat

    this is fab - I remember years ago coming across someone who had used the rusting process in their artworks -- Do you think you could do this stuff on etching paper like eg German etch (Hahnemuhle)


  3. Replies
    1. Sorry for the incredible delay here...
      Thank you. I came to look at this post the other day and found your comment because there is currently a discussion on "Natural Textile Dyeing" page on FB regarding elderberry color longevity. This piece is now 10 years old and doing well.


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