For my final project on my textile course last year, I chose rust as my theme. I was inspired by the artist Alice Fox whose exhibition I had seen and I learned how to make rust prints and develop ideas to incorporate into my final piece of work.
Reflecting on the experience, I decided it wasn’t something I’d pursue in the future. Though I found the process exciting and some of the marks and colours very beautiful indeed, (if you are instinctive about colour you will understand this) I knew the colours just weren’t mine. Secondly, as someone who loves comfort and the feel of things, I was uncomfortable with the grainy, crusty textures, the sharp smells and the ‘rust dust’ on the fabric that seemed to affect my chest.
At the back of our garden stands an ancient dolly tub. It was there when we moved in and I grew potatoes in it. We’ve also used it for bonfires and when I picked it up to move it the other day, because of the rust and weight of ash in the bottom, the rim came off in my hands.
Before I sent Dolly off to the recycling centre, I started to really look at her ridges and edges, and the anticipation of revealing a print from them was irresistible! There was also the top of a decorative plant stake I’d found when I weeded the borders so I wrapped them both in an old cotton sheet that I’d soaked in Yorkshire tea. Then I sprayed some areas with white vinegar. And waited.
By the following day, marks had begun appearing on the fabric. I dampened the fabric again over the next few days and waited some more.
Around a week later, I reckoned it was time for the Big Reveal. I wanted good strong marks while stopping the process before the fabric became too fragile and holey.
The whole purpose of this was to enjoy of the process and anticipation of seeing interesting marks develop. I’ve created a gallery of some of the areas I particularly like.
Although I’ve no plans for the fabric (it will be stashed away till an idea comes), I have made use of the binding string straight away. It had taken on a weathered look and was just what I’d been looking for to attach the shells my girls brought home from holiday and create a little garden bunting as a memory of our trip.