Contemporary Textiles Fair 2018

Sadly, a mini Beast from the East swept in again at the weekend, with biting winds and snow flurries keeping footfall down at the Contemporary Textiles Fair at the Landmark Arts Centre in Teddington.

One very unfortunate casualty was the installation “Journey” by Ross Belton, half of the Modern Eccentrics duo. Ross had naturally dyed and rusted 120 metres of fabric made from recycled hotel sheets that meandered through the woodland outside the Landmark.

However, due to the Siberian blasts and heavy snow it had to be taken down on Saturday for health and safety reasons. 😦  Here’s one of Ross’s photos before this happened so you can see it in all its glory.

Luckily, the exhibition by featured artist Debbie Lyddon was well under wraps indoors – although, ironically, exposure to the elements often plays a part in the making of her work! In “Moments of Being”, seven Sluice Creek Cloths (named after a local tidal inlet) were pierced with holes, bound with iron wire and then placed in the sea to speed the change and degeneration of the cloth and rust the iron. They thus represent the movement and change of natural processes over time.

Debbie also creates structures covered in salt crystals – intriguingly beautiful and strange.

Image: Landmark Arts Centre

Despite the lower visitor numbers I made some good sales and some new friends – roll on next year!

flextiles stall at contemporary textiles fair 2018

Shibori rust dyeing

Long-term readers of this blog may remember that a couple of years ago our house was really badly flooded when the water tank in the loft overflowed while we were on holiday. 😦 We came back to a ghastly mess, but since then the house has been redecorated and we’ve got on with our lives.

Most of the water ended up in the cellar, and although we cleared out the items worst affected, most of the other stuff remained. This included some plastic drawers for storing nails and screws. ESP inherited these from my dad when he died, but as he doesn’t practise much DIY these days they see little use. 😉

As you can see, the rust on these is fairly spectacular (my dad would be turning in his grave if he could read this!). So I thought I’d use the screws to try out some rust dye shibori.

I dipped a silk scarf in vinegar and laboriously tied rusty screws of different sizes into the scarf. I left it on the windowsill outside for 24 hours, by which time it was a good rust colour, with the parts tied around the screws very dark brown.

It was equally laborious to untie the screws. Because I have to bind fabric very tightly when using the indigo vat to prevent the dye from penetrating the fabric, I used a similar technique here, but it was probably unnecessary. However, the results were pretty special.

This is what it looked like immediately after untying.

rust shibori kumo1 rust shibori kumo2

The wonderful peaks created a great shape, but sadly I couldn’t retain these. After leaving it to dry I pressed the scarf to set the colour, then soaked it in bicarbonate of soda, washed it in shampoo and rinsed it. Interestingly, more colour came out this time than with my previous scarf – maybe I should have left it to cure for longer?

rust shbori kumo6 rust shibori kumo3 rust shibori kumo4 rust shibori kumo5 rust shibori kumo7 rust shibori kumo8

The reason I didn’t want to leave it any longer before neutralising was because there were a few tiny holes in the silk this time (unlike last time). This may have been because some of the rusty screws had quite sharp edges, or because I accidentally made holes when removing the binding. But it could have been due to the rust actually eating through the cloth.

I can’t sell this scarf with holes in it, so I will need to do further experimentation to see if this is a viable commercial technique. Maybe with a less delicate fabric, or leaving it for less time.

But it gives me an excuse to keep it for myself! I wonder what dad would say. 😉


Update on ecoprinted/rust dyed scarf

After yesterday’s post about my ecoprinted and rust dyed scarf, I had a couple of queries/comments about washing and colour fastness.

I ironed the scarf when it was dry to help set the colour, and noticed that the areas that showed as bright pink in the photos yesterday were much less bright. I was intending to leave the scarf for a couple of days before washing it, but then I read on this blog by Kimberley Packwood Baxter that I needed to neutralise the rust by soaking the scarf in water with bicarbonate of soda.

So I did that this morning – the soaking removed the crusty bits of rust that were attached to the scarf, but I didn’t lose much colour. Then I rinsed it, washed it with a bit of shampoo and rinsed again – still very little colour loss.

rust scarf1

Interestingly, now that it’s dry and ironed again, I can see the bits that were previously pink have changed to an olive green – would be interesting to find out why this is. Is it due to oxidation, or to the change in pH?

rust scarf 2 rust scarf3

Also, the outlines of some of the onion skins can be seen very clearly.

rust scarf4 rust scarf5 rust scarf6

I’m hugely excited by this technique – though it could be beginner’s luck (well, second-timer’s luck). I think the rusty pipe is acting as a mordant as well as providing the rust colour.

Already the next scarf is wrapped up and rusting gently on the windowsill – and I’ve acquired two more rusty bits of metal from building sites I was walking past. 🙂