Rust Printing

I have been enjoying experimenting with rust printing which is something I haven’t done before. It is essentially a way of transferring rust from an object to fabric.

Freshly rusted objects seem to work best. If they aren’t freshly rusted they need to be scrubbed with a wire brush or something similar to remove all the old loose rust. The fresh rust underneath is what we need to transfer.

The rusty objects need to be pressed on to the fabric. A kind of sandwich is made – blanket, plastic, damp fabric/paper, damp rusty objects, damp fabric/paper, plastic and the finally another blanket. The idea is to create a warm, humid environment around the rusty object to create more rust which will mark the fabric. The pressure and blanket encourages the fabric to mould around the objects to enable the rust to transfer to the fabric as much as possible. This all needs to be weighted down as evenly as possible so a big board and weights works well. This all needs to be left for 24-48 hours.

You’ll notice that some of the rust prints are black. For these samples the fabric has been soaked in a ferrous sulphate solution. The rust reacts with the ferrous sulphate and turns black.

I would love to experiment with this some more and test different fabrics/papers and objects, particularly on paper.

The things that effect how well it turns out are: getting the fabric/rusty objects the right dampness, how well rusted/scrubbed the objects are, how long it is left, which fabrics are used.

Some really interesting prints can be achieved with this method on a variety of fabrics. With some testing the prints can be made very detailed and clear.