I spent four days in early July with Kristy Kun of Opulent Fibers and three classmates learning about the process of botanical printing and natural dyeing. Kristy spent the week before our class preparing the fabrics with mordant — a substance that prepares the fibers of the fabric to bond with natural dyes — and dye so we were able to hit the decks running from the first day. We produced prints on a variety of fabrics and a good range of natural dye such as logwood, madder, cochineal, weld and chestnut. I am more interested in printing with botanicals than I am in dyeing fabric using plant resources and you’ll see that reflected in the samples I will share here.
Each of us brought our own fabric to use as the iron blanket — fabric dipped in an iron solution or fabric wrapped around some rusted metal– that was used for many of the prints. I was delighted to see that many of the plants I used printed very successfully on the primary fabric as well as the iron blanket. This first sample shows just that. The fabric on the bottom of the photograph is silk noil with chestnut dye. The blanket is cotton fabric dipped in an iron solution. Plants used were sumac (a variety I was not familiar with but what a beautiful leaf! My classmates referred to it as ‘fancy’ sumac.) and peony. Click on photos to reveal a larger view.
Plants here are peony, dogwood and sumac. I can definitely imagine using both the silk and the cotton prints.
The following images are of two panels (two images per panel) of silk noil using plants dipped in iron solution and no iron blanket. Panel one has wild blackberry, maple
hawthorn and oak. I’m very happy with the shadowy effect that was caused by some dripping of the iron solution as I placed the leaves on the fabric.
The second panel has eucalyptus, maple
and sumac. I love the strong colors and crisp edges produced in these samples.
Stay tuned for part 2 coming soon.