Saturday, March 24, 2012

Workshop on Rusting

Don't you just hate when you forget to do something important?  I taught a workshop on rusting last week at SIUE.  Brought home all my show and tell, my bags of goodies, my supplies and the three scarves I did -- and after lecturing students to wash their workshop fabrics, etc. etc.,  I dumped my stuff and went to work on a volunteer project I'm involved with.

One of Professor Laura Strand's experiments on cotton napkin

Eight days later--tonight I was chatting with one of the students who sat in on the first day of the workshop and chided her for not washing her fabric.  Guess what?  I hadn't washed mine.  And some rusting had continued on one I'm sure.  I should have neutralized it right away.  The others not so bad, but then I put two pieces in to soak a while ago.  One was very dark and a lot of the excess seeped into the water and further stained the cloth.  Lesson learned.  You'll see from the pictures how it changed.  Of course I'm looking at it wet now and the  scarves are in the washer now.  Will post an update farther down.

This student wrapped her fabric with a horse bridle made of chain.
Of course that's not my only regret.  I should have been taking pics throughout the workshop or had one of the students do it.  When I remembered my camera was in my purse the work was done and I only got shots of the fabric on the clothesline after students had rinsed their experiments in the textile lab.  Too many things to keep track of.  I was too focused on preparing my slide lecture and forgot to write down the note to take pics.  But all went well.  The students produced some fabulous first time experiments.

Chains were used to make this beautiful piece.  On silk I think.
We had free use of the sculpture yard to experiment wrapping and laying out cloth for rusting.  Of course there was iron all over the place well rusted.  And though there were an abundance of pipes around, several people chose chains to wrap fabric around.

Lisa Forsyth, a fellow fiber artist from St. Louis who was in grad school with me came on the first day to wrap some fabric.  The piece at left is silk organza that was bundled around big washers inserted into folds of the cloth.  She had a 2nd piece but I haven't seen it yet.  I suspect it's the piece wrapped on the pipe in the wagon at the top of page.

Detail of student work on a lopsided piece of organza.  The results were spectacular.  Looks like natural stone


Another beautiful student piece that utilized chains.
In hindsight--we should have been running around documenting what everyone was doing!  I warned students that I rarely document my own work in progress and I know what it was like in grad school and since.  It was always a chore for me despite knowing how important it can be in process oriented tasks. I didn't then and don't now keep a sketch book and only remember to photograph half the time.

In three hours on that first day, there was my lecture, then showing of actual fabrics, followed by instructions and then a move downstairs to the covered sculpture patio to try our experiments.  I demonstrated my wrapping technique but everyone was so excited to get started on their own experiments and there was so little time left in the class that it was a mad dash to grab, consult, wrap and protect with plastic until the next class 2 days later.  At the end of that day I thought it would be a miracle if we had results.  Oh me of little faith!

I'm dying to see the silk gauze piece room to spread it out on the clothesline.  Remarkable results given the transparency of this fabric.  The whole organza piece that I pictured above in detail can be seen on the left.

Shannon Norton, a metalsmith student at SIUE, who also happens to be one of my long ago high school students, came for the first day of the workshop by skipping out on her metals class.  (Thank you Professor Paulette Myers!)  I caught her just as I was packing my car on the last day to leave and urged her to open her bundle before it went to far.  It was Shannon I was chatting with this evening when I realized I hadn't washed my own fabric.

There were 10 or 11 students in the workshop.  My photos have only showcased about half.  Hoping to go back out to SIUE soon to see the end results and more experiments and perhaps sit in on a critique.

My own experiments.  At this point they had not been rinsed...just shaken out and taken home to dry on the line outside.  That was March 15.  They were washed late tonight (23rd).  The design on the left was a complete shock. As the demo piece, it had been done hurriedly with very little tea and no presoak.

The middle scarf as you will see has lost the almost white background near the top because I left it to soak too long instead of doing a straight rinse first.

These 2 details are from the scarf on the left that surprised me.  Though I'd had students presoak their fabric before the experiments were started, I completely forgot about doing it to my fabric.  If memory serves this was spritzed with water, folded, and sprinkled with tea dust in a wavy pattern.  The range of color and design is amazing and I'm anxious to try more dry starts in future.

I usually use vinegar.  And of course I can never predict the outcome anyway.  The pipe was from the sculpture yard and had never been used for this purpose before.  Its special qualities might very well have been unique to the process.

This scarf was done at home for the workshop.  It was wrapped closely around a large spring (perhaps from a garage door?) and tied with string that fit into each groove.  As I wrapped I inserted ivy leaves against the rust.  No clear leaf prints are visible-just vague shapes lighter in color.  The string made some wonderful hazy violet colors.  The range of color in this scarf is also delightful especially with the many little black spots that are created by the spring where the string touches.

I attempted another zebra print using my auger and the results are somewhat similar to a previous scarf, but no near white areas.  In fact this design's lightest areas darkened considerably through the soaking I mentioned doing this evening.  You can see the difference here in this detail from near the top of the scarf as compared with the picture of the scarf on the clothesline.  A lot of purple/violet colors developed throughout the piece as well as rich blacks and some strange greens at the bottom and almost pure yellow as you'll see from the center portion of the scarf. The streaks you see are a result of the auger standing nearly upright while it rusted.  All the juices were running!

The dark is inky black--a result of reduction rather than oxidation.  There is no trace of orange rust on this piece.

Detail 3 of the bottom of my new zebra scarf .  Am puzzling over what created the greenish colors.  It is unique.  String marks seen in other details of this scarf have been obscured by the migration of juices.  

Having done this first workshop I am contemplating the future.


  1. Your work continues to blow my mind, Pat! Simply the best rusting I've seen.

  2. delicious...i may just have to sign up for a class with YOU sometime!

  3. Pat, I would love to be your student :)
    Amazing work... Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. Really great results Pat! Makes me excited to get out my pots and rusty stuff and get going.

  5. Pat, I tried to leave a comment back on the 24th..... but for some reason it wouldn't let me :(
    So, I'll try again!
    I can't remember my awestruck comment from then, so I'll just have to join in with India and Betty... I would LOVE to have you as my teacher!! Perhaps someday?

  6. How I wish I could have been there!

  7. What an amazing work. I think I will get my metals out soon, you are such an inspiration.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...