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What’s the Rust Print?

Discovering this ancient technique typical of Romagna

Parallel to that, now consecrated, with movable type, some alternative printing techniques have developed over the centuries: one of these is the rust print, a very particular procedure that dates back to the eighteenth century and that was born in Romagna, used to decorate the fabrics.

How does rust printing work? Carved molds are made, using pear wood in particular. On these molds, coloring mixtures are then applied, with different compositions based on the desired color.

Among the colors, the main choice traditionally fell on the rust color, which gives the name to the technique and which was applied through a chemical process based on caustic soda, flour, and vinegar: the result is the application of real rust, which is fixed to the fibers of the fabric and becomes visible on both sides

It does not end here: the final passage takes place with the “ranno“, a special washing with boiling water and ash, in order to make the print resistant to time and subsequent processing.

A precious technique preserved and handed down even today: the splendid artifacts made with rust printing are a precious product that the Romagna artisans continue to treat with great passion.


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