Brenda J Bunten-Schloesser, Peeking Through (detail)

SDA Book Club: “Spirituality of Rust” Reviewed by Lauren Sinner

Spirituality of Rust: A Sacred Language of Iron Through Art by Rio Wrenn

Depending on who you talk to, you can get some pretty heated or positive thoughts on rust. To some, it shows unsightly wear and tear and needs to be removed. To others, like author Rio Wrenn, it is a conduit for creative expression, a way of seeing the world, and something that should be honored like any other patina. Spirituality of Rust is a mix of poems, technical advice, personal stories, and a look into one’s creative process. 

Wrenn’s musings cover many facets of her creative and personal journey through working with rust. The book is broken down into many small chapters and sections, making it easy to read in short batches, and not get overwhelmed by the consistent shift between personal musing, past work, chemical processes, and poems. 

Spirituality of Rust includes sections titled: “Why Rust?,” “Historically Speaking,” “My Story,” “Work in Progress,” “Worship the Earth,” “Closing Thoughts,” and “Recipes and Formulations.” As a maker who’s always interested in learning new techniques, I was personally drawn to the “Recipes and Formulations” section towards the end of the book. In this section, Wrenn shares multiple recipes and techniques she’s learned over the years alongside helpful photos and illustrations. There is even “technical advice” and “optional things” included in each recipe to help with troubleshooting or additional information for more experienced dyers/printers. 

If rust is a technique, material, and process that you’re interested in, I would highly recommend this book. I’ve personally experimented with rust dyeing on silk and cotton (though very long ago), and while I haven’t gone back to it since, I’ve found a newfound excitement and inspiration to try it again!

Lauren Sinner

  • Publisher: Independent  (buy it here)
  • Date: May 2023
  • ISBN: 979-8987020609

If you’ve read this book, leave a comment and let us know what you think!

Do you have a recommendation for a recent fiber-related book you think should be included in SDA’s Book Club? Email SDA’s Managing Editor, Lauren Sinner, to let her know!

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