Rusty iron intensifies the prints from leaves on fabric, and “saddens” or changes colors when used as a mordant with natural dyes. I found some HEAVY old iron window sash weights, thinking they might come in handy as a source of rust in the dyepot. I decided to experiment and tried using it in an Eco print bundle. It seemed like a LOT of potential rust, but gave it a try…
Eco print bundle with iron sash weight
The process: I sprayed a small silk scarf with 1:1 vinegar, added Eucalyptus and a few other leaves, tied it up and gently simmered it in a Eucalyptus-onion skin dyebath for about ½ hour with 3 other bundles. The color was looking pretty dark on the outside of the bundles, so I moved it to the steamer so it was no longer sitting in the dyebath, then steamed for at least another 1 ½ hours.
Here it is immediately after opening the bundle. Too much of a good thing? There was a dark rusty area on the scarf where it was in contact with the iron pipe that was a bit unsettling, but I love the depth of color in the rest of the scarf. To stop the action of the rust, I rinsed and washed it well, then soaked it 15 minutes in a dilute baking soda solution. Some rust dyers say to use baking soda, others salt to neutralize the rust, so I also soaked it in a salt solution after that, about 1 T to 1 gallon water. (Using salt seems strange, since road salt causes the metal on our cars to rust here in Minnesota…)
The following images show both sides after washing, neutralizing the rust, and steam pressing. Too much rust? I might try wrapping the iron weight in a couple layers of cotton before adding the sik scarf, to hopefully avoid the really intense rusty area in the middle…
63 Eucalyptus Eco Print with Iron, side 2
63 Eucalyptus Eco Print with Iron, side 1
I also had a few other scarves in the same batch, which show the effects of the iron sash weight in the Eucalyptus-Onion skin dyebath. The scarf on the left is 11″ wide Crepe de Chine silk, printed over a scarf that came out too light the first time. The long 8″ scarf on the right is Habotai silk, with Eucalyptus and maple leaves. I am quite happy with all 3 scarves!
65 Crepe de Chine Silk Eco Print with Iron
64 Eucalyptus Silk Eco Print with Iron
** View available scarves in the Eco Print section of my ETSY SHOP.**