I am deeply attracted to rust-dyed papers and enjoying reading about the technique. It usually seems to involve different combinations of tea, rusty stuff, paper bundles, and a cauldron, and I don’t have room for anything remotely that big, even in my studio, which is a scant 98 square feet and filled to the rafters with ephemera and tea cups. Recently, however, I found a method of dying papers that, while it lacks the eerie depth of mark-making with rust, it is pretty darn lovely; also simple and quick, which makes for near-instant gratification.
Ink (I use a variety of fountain pen inks and homemade walnut ink)
Medium to heavy weight paper or cardstock
A water mister
Ink, Sponge, and Mister
These pages are to be used for a sketchbook. Rather than cut them to size, I tore them, using a ruler as a straightedge. This torn edge is pretty as it mimics a deckled edge, and it absorbs the ink.
Tearing the Edges of Paper
Dip the sponge in the undiluted ink, then dab the edges of the page around all sides.
Now spray the page with the water using your mister/spritzer. Start with the edges, turning the page as you mist. When you have covered the edges, mist the middle of the page and keep turning, letting the ink drip and flow where it will.
Spritz and Turn!
Lay flat or hang to dry. You can also use a heat gun to dry smaller pieces for cards or tag art.
And that’s it. Note: Even after the paper has dried, it may feather when writing or drawing with certain inks. I tend to use a fountain pen in my journals, both written and illustrated, but in my experience, they make a blobby, feathery mess on these pages. I have, however, had good luck with Pilot pens.
Here is a handbound book using faux-dyed pages inside of vintage book cover.