Above: Vintage garment stained with the naturalness from a week in the compost pile! Click on any image in this blog post to enlarge.
I managed to wait for an entire week before finding out the results on three experiments conducted here at Wormfarm Institute, an art residency program set on an organic Wisconsin farm. One vintage garment was buried in the first stage of the compost system. I spill a large piece of fabric, straight off the bolt ... even though the bolt was over two decades old. One piece was wrapped around assorted, rusty farm implements and the other was rolled up with rusty chains and plenty of old nails.
On Saturday morning, I unwrapped the fabric and dug up the garment, washed everything, and hung them on the lower level of the barn ... because it was raining outside.
First ... here's how I found the compost pile!
Although I'd totally buried the garment, both the top ....
... and the hemline were exposed. Over the week, rain likely moved the contends of the compost bin toward the middle ... exposing both ends.
I dug the garment out. Worms were everywhere. Yes, it smelled. Interestingly enough, only the middle portion was really "eaten" by bugs and worms. Staining was subtle but nice. It washed up very well and I'm pleased with the results.
As with my other garments, the only place for photographing anything seems to be on the clothesline ... which is perfect! Sunshine was on my side this afternoon ... and so I snapped all these photos!
Here's the finished garment.
It looks lovely from both sides!
Even the damage is interesting!
So ... here's the two pieces of fabric ... wrapped around rusty objects, covered with plastic. I rust using an unmeasured portion of white vinegar and table salt.
First to be unwrapped was the collection of rusty implements ...
... all of which were in the bundle.
Here's the resulting fabric!
Next was the roll!
Here's all the chains and nails ....
... which produced this piece of fabric.
Here's the other side of it.
I also decided that the subtle peachy-pink natural dye just wasn't enough of change. I really want these garments to obviously show their age, wear, hard lives, and damage. So, I rusted the one with the tatted neckline. It looks great now! I really like it ... even though I accidentally ripped part of the skirt.
Gears create fantastic patterns!
I stitched together some of the damaged area of the little infant garment ... rough stitches, very handmade looking, using a variegated orange/rust/brown/yellow thread. It's perfect!
Another thing I did was to tie dozens and dozens of pebbles into two vintage tops.
After being rusted in my cast iron pot, they looked like this ...
... and two of these three are the results!
First on the clothesline is this top. It was tied with the pebbles.
Here's the other top that had been tied with the pebbles.
Finally, this is yet another top that got rusted in the pot with the tatted garment and the infant's dress.
So, what else is new at Wormfarm Institute? Well, the irises are finally blooming ...
.... I made deviled eggs for Sunday's "potluck dinner" ...
... and we welcomed two more artists to the barn! Angela Woodward, a writer, is on the left. Austen Weymueller is in the middle and that's Betsy Arant, the residency manager on the right.