These are photos of various fabrics that I "rusted". By that, I mean that I rusted them myself with two 12 by 12 inch steel sheets I bought at Ace Hardware. No, I wasn't the originator of this idea, I read about it in a book. I bought a sheet of non-anodized steel, which is supposed to rust, and indeed it does. One sheet came in the size of 1 foot by 2 feet, so I asked the salesman to cut it in half for me, which he did. So I ended up with two one foot square sheets, for approximately $9.00.
Then I sprayed each sheet with white vinegar water in a ratio of 1:1 and sprinkled table salt generously over that. Then I put down a piece of off-white, cream colored fabric on each sheet, and then sprayed them with the vinegar water also. Then I put the two steel sheets together, one on top of the other, with the fabric sandwiched inbetween. And waited for the rusting to begin!
When you start out with new steel sheets, it takes a while for them to commence rusting, at least overnight or even a few days. I just kept checking them every few hours, and kept spraying them with the vinegar water and sprinkling more salt on them. Once they've started to rust, and after you've used them a few times, it doesn't take nearly as long for the fabric to rust.
This technic can end up being rather messy, so it's good idea to put down newspaper or plastic under the sheets to prevent your table surface from rusting too. Last fall, I used our picnic table on the patio, and inserted the sheets in plastic garbage bags and twist tied them. That kept the moisture in, which helped the fabric to rust faster. And it helped minimize the mess. Also, you should wear plastic gloves when handling the sheets, if you don't want your hands stained with rust.
Everytime I did this, the results came out a little different. I used different kinds of fabric, such as muslin and burlap, and other kinds, and the results all varied. I also rusted paper this way, mostly plain old white copy paper, but also map paper from atlases. That came out very cool, and maybe I'll post some photos of that at some point. You can basically rust anything that will lay flat between the steel sheets.
I hope this encourages you to try this technic. If it does, please leave a comment and let me know about your experiences with this technic. Better yet, post your results to your own blog, and leave a link, so I can view them.