Rust Dyed Silk

I love the color of rust. Where some people see decay and crud I see beauty. When I’m hiking with friends we often come across old discarded rusty metal bits and pieces and now everyone knows to give them to me. I’ve been collecting these objects for a while now and I finally got around to doing the deed. It’s not hard and I found great directions at written by Maggie Howe.

The process takes a few days for the metal objects to leave an imprint on the fabric. Here’s how to do it. I used silk organza, I love the transparence of organza and use it for jewelry and my sculptures. I wet it with a mixture of 50%water and 50% vinegar. I let the fabric be folded over onto it’s self randomly and made sure it was soaking wet.




I laid the objects down gave it all another spritz of the water vinegar solution, covered it with plastic and weighted it down with heavy objects.



It’s important to make sure the objects are in contact with the fabric and the plastic helps to keep it wet the whole time. I checked it daily to make sure it was still wet and because I was so anxious to see how it was doing. After 3 days I removed the objects and here’s what I got. You can see the places where the fabric was folded I got a repeat of the objects imprint.




I made some soldered jewelry with feathers and matching earrings and cuffs. Some of these pieces are at the Alternatives Gift Shop at the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts now. I have a few left that I plan to list in my shop next week.





Now I’m wondering what else I can dye with rusty objects!

Inspiring Artists

I’ve been researching artists working in the realm of public art that are using soft materials. I came up with 3 women, with different and equally impressive bodies of work.

“American artist Janet Echelman reshapes urban airspace with monumental, fluidly moving sculpture that responds to environmental forces including wind, water, and sunlight.” excerpted from her website. This all started for her when she was on a Fulbright lectureship in India. She had promised to give painting exhibitions around the country but her paints that she shipped never arrived. Watching the fisherman bundling their nets at night she decided to enlist their knowledge and with their help made her first large sculpture. By the end of the year she had a series of lightweight volumetric sculptures made out of netting. The rest is history as she continues to make and install her beauties in cities around the world.

Janet Echelman

Janet Echelman  Sydney, Australia

Janet Echelman

Janet Echelman  Denver, Colorado

Janet Etechelman,

Janet Echelman, San Francisco

Janet Echelman,

Janet Echelman, San Francisco


Kendall Buster, also American, was initially trained as a microbiologist. While working in a laboratory she was inspired by the beauty she saw under the microscope and took a turn into art. While working as a lab technician in a hospital she had the desire to bring the beauty she saw through the microscope to life. She went to art school and her drawings blossomed into beautiful biomorphic sculptures. Her materials include metal armatures covered with shade cloth. When light passes through the cloth the forms are transparent but in the lack of light they are opaque.

Kendall Buster Parabiosise

Kendall Buster, Parabiosise


Kendall Buster Parabiosise

Kendall Buster, Parabiosise

Kendall Buster Agave

Kendall Buster, Agave 

Jan Blake from the UK is working with silk organza painted with procion dyes. She draws from her extensive background in theatre design for her public art commissions . She says in her artist statement 

“Light and movement are the essence of my work.
My preoccupation is to capture moments at a point of
anticipation and change
……a sudden breeze through grass, the unseen intervention.
……The tension of silk that supports steel, the unseen strength.
….. A seed pod about to disperse its seeds …….. unravelling.”

excerpted from her website

A woman after my own heart and she generously shares her process on her website.

Jan Blake, Glaxo Abundance

Jan Blake, Glaxo Abundance

Jan Blake, New Leaves

Jan Blake, New Leaves, Beijing

Jan Blake, Defra

Jan Blake, Defra,

Here are some of the steps in her process.


Jan Blake

Jan Blake

Jan Blake, research

Jan Blake

Jan Blake

Jan Blake, Work in Progress





Silk Sculpture

My show Overflowing at Crane Arts in Philadelphia is open through April 27 with a second opening Thursday April 10th from 6 – 9 pm.

Here’s a short video of my new silk and wool sculpture Natural Growth. After installing the piece I discovered that it moved when someone walked by it. Not sure how close or how fast one would need to be to create the movement I videotaped myself going by it a few times. I like how there’s a little movement even after I’ve left the frame.



In the Studio

I’m in the final preparations stage for my upcoming show at Crane Arts in Philadelphia. The show titled Overflowing runs from March 13th through April 27th with openings on 2nd Thursdays, March 13th and April 10th, 6-9 pm.

I’m working on a show statement and choosing what will be in the show. I think of a show as a work of art in and of itself. It’s like a musical composition. The placement of the works to create flow and and overall impression is so important and can make or break a show. This is difficult as I add new pieces that may not relate directly to older pieces. 

Scroll down to see my dilemma about the sculpture I’ve been working on.

Soft sculpture cut out and pinned

Soft sculpture cut out and pinned

Sewn and ready to felt

Sewn and ready to felt

Soft sculpture after felting process

Soft sculpture after felting process

Silk Soft Sculpture

After ironing and steaming each piece

Soft sculpture on a painted background

Soft sculpture on a painted background

Sculpture Pinned to the wall

Sculpture pinned to the wall

I painted a background on linen for my new silk sculpture but now can’t decide if I should use it or not. I think it would look cool pinned right to the wall but labor intensive if I have to use a hammer to drive in each pin. So many decisions.

I’m just working with a small piece of this sculpture to try to make a decision about how to present it. I like both ways, hmm, what to do?

Plexiglas Painting

Playing with options for Plexiglas painting using 3 layers

I’ve been using Instagram regularly if you are interested in following me @lindacelestian for studio updates and beauty found in nature.