tea and rust

I’ve been using tea as part of my rust print process without really realizing its significance.  My first experiments used tea to wet my paper because I liked the colour and the tide marks it left when drying.  It is only more recently that I’ve understood that the tea is playing a significant part in producing the results I’m getting.

Tea has tannic acid in it and this reacts with rust.  I found someone on the internet using tea to help remove rust from old watch parts and some a nice pieces on tea and rust here and here.

I find that the tea also darkens the marks from an orangey colour to something much darker: browns, greys and sometimes almost black.

During conversations at the Open Studio event a couple of weeks ago I felt a little foolish that I couldn’t explain the science of it.  I did a little experiment to prove to myself that the tea really was making a difference.  Scraps of the same fabric were left wet (one group with just water and one with tea) with rusty items laid on until dry.  The image at the top shows the ones with tea on the left and just water on the right.

When I returned last weekend to some rust bundles I’d left in the lighthouse I added a bit of tea to the already stained fabric and immediately there was a change:

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