Rust Dyeing

It’s been a long time since I posted here but lately  I was very busy traveling and fabric dyeing. I dyed bunch if fabrics with Procion MX dyes, but my last adventure was dyeing with rust.

Living in Lithuania summer is the only time when I can dye fabrics. Our summers usually are not hot and have not too many sunny days. It rains a lot here. Lithuania in Lithuanian is called Lietuva, that means a place where it rains a lot.

Last weekend I was lucky to have both- hot weather and a lot of sunshine. I drove 100 miles to Zypliai Manor where my friend Lolita was taking part in a plain air event. Lolita introduced me to her friend who was a blacksmith. That was quite a discovery! His workshop looked like a place out of fairy tale:




And the best thing was rusted metal pieces laying everywhere!


Right away I knew I had to come back for rust dyeing session. I’ve done rust dyeing before and I made a quilt ”Underground River” that is traveling right now with SAQA Made in Europe I collection. My problem always was I didn’t get interesting rusted metal to use. This looked like a treasure  for me and I went back with required supplies.

I soaked my fabrics in water/vinegar solution and started layering them using plastic bags. I used white cotton, white linen and also some cotton/polyester mix. It was quite difficult job getting down on my knees and getting up to look for more metal pieces:




I also had few pieces of fabric previously dyed with chemical dyes, and some of my naturally dyed fabrics that I couldn’t find use for. Those I wrapped individually and placed into zipper bags:

Finally after three hours of hard work I covered everything and left laying outside for two days:

Two days later I did the same 200 miles round trip to see the result.  It was fun to unwrap fabrics  and see the magic to happen:






These were previously dyed with plants. Tannin in plants make rust to produce black color:




These two previously dyed with Procion MX dyes:


Finally last piece:

The next day, after soaking fabrics in salt solution, I washed them  to uncover the final result. Some rust washed out, of course, but still I am very happy to have a collection of rust dyed fabrics in many values:









  1. beautiful work..and thank you for sharing your process..

  2. Fascinating…thank you!

  3. Shelagh Fox says:

    Thank you for this exciting inspiration! I lived in Lithuania for three years and – for me – the summer memories are of hot, sunny days with heavy rain around 4 p.m., which dried almost immediately! I wish I had known about your work while I was there.

    • Thank you! Most possible when you lived in Lithuania, I lived in US ๐Ÿ™‚ Come back for a visit here!

  4. Maryte, it is the art by itself already! You are a genius…

  5. Just beautiful, I will try this idea and hopefully be able to incorporate it into my printmaking. Thank you for sharing. Jan

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