Eco print bundles before steaming

Natural Dyeing – how to use rust as a mordant in Eco Printing

I love dyeing my own fabric.  I have used many different types of dyes,  but I really do enjoy Eco printing, using good old rust objects to make my own mordant.  It can be very varied in how it turns out.  But that it the fun of it.  I have been using Linen mainly, but other natural fabrics such as cotton are good too.

Let’s start with the mordant.  I have plenty of objects outside that are rusty, I even have a little sculpture in the garden that I made from bits and pieces of rusty things that I found in my wandering.  The patina of rust is such a beautiful russet orange red colour, it is delicious.  But I diverse, getting back to the Rust Mordant.  Mordant, is the thing you need to make your prints or colours stay on the fabric, so that once you wash, it is still there.  So this particular mordant is one you can make yourself.  Take a jar, and put equal parts of water and vinegar inside and some rust bits and pieces.  Nails, old tools, wire, lots of things can work.  Then leave it aside and forget for a week or more.  It will continue to develop in colour so that the liquid will take on the hue of the rust.  Then you are ready.


Garden Sculpture of Rusty objects

Then start experimenting.  I started with wetting my linen or scouring, (washing out any chemicals) before you start handling the rust water, best to put on a pair of rubber gloves.  Then I sprinkled on rust water, or watered it down and soaked the whole piece in it.  Then you find interesting plants to try.  I used anything in the garden, and some eucalyptus leaves.  But ferns worked too,  in fact I was wildly happy with all of it. 

Preparing bundles for eco printing

Once you have laid your plants, leaves, or flowers down, you fold it over, roll it up over a in this case, piece of a small piece of a branch, it was covered with lichen, so that was an experiment too.  Once you have rolled, then tie the little bundles tightly with string.  


Eco print bundles before steaming

Steaming is next, I bought some from the Charity shops, that were several levels, so that I could do more at once.  You should save these for only steaming your textiles, and not use them for cooking.  Then you steam them,  for about an hour, and voila!  

Eco print bundles of fabric

 At the unwrapping stage, once cool,  it is like Christmas, wondering what you will get.  You then give them a rinse, and put them in a sink of water with some salt added and give a good rinse.  Then out to dry.

Eco printing linen fabric

The beautiful imprints you get are just amazing, and so much fun.  If you would like to see more you can watch the video below.  Cheers Tracey.

5 thoughts on “Natural Dyeing – how to use rust as a mordant in Eco Printing”

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