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Botanical Printing and Natural Dye Part 3

After several days of printing with the larger pieces of fabric, Kristy brought out note cards for us. What a great bonus! Here is my first bundle of 5 note cards ready for a bath in cochineal.

And here are the iron  blankets and the cards.  Again, so fun to have two prints in this process. I am thrilled with the detail on these prints, with both the paper and the cotton cloth.

Each of us did our best to bring fresh cuts of plant samples for the days’ printing. My fellow students and Kristy all had access to much more than I did so I was very grateful for their contributions. Not only did I get some great prints but I also learned about more plants.

Back to more experimentation. I was specifically interested in the ability to print using dogwood with the flower. I also brought a bright yellow-green linen from my stash and used that for my iron blanket.  The green was much softened by the iron bath. I have taken two photographs of this length of fabric. In the photo below, the first two prints are of dogwood. In the first print I had removed the large node from the center of the flower, placing the petals in the right locations. I did not remove the flower node in the second print. I am actually happy with both prints. The lavender, yellow and grey colors on the silk noil are simply wonderful. I dipped the botanical specimens in iron water and used the linen fabric also dipped in iron water. The last leaf is an oakleaf hydrangea.

I am over-the-top happy with the second half of this experiment. The cedar is beautiful, detailed and, frankly, better looking that this image reveals. The print on both fabrics is completely usable. The wild blackberry leaf and dogwood spray also printed beautifully.

The next three images are of one piece of silk noil fabric dyed with weld. All of the botanical specimens were dipped in iron and placed on the fabric. The end of the fabric (here, the right end of the first photo) was left exposed. No iron blanket was used. The bundle was submerged in a cochineal bath.

I am thrilled with the subtle, detailed prints in all the leaf samples. I went for large leaves in the experiment and the reward was far more than anticipated. The fabric is 11″ wide.

I will be using every scrap of this fabric!

I was so much ‘in the moment,’ focused on each step and being accurate with my notes, that I forgot too often about taking photographs. I kept my wits about me here though. This is a white silk scarf with plants dipped in an iron solution and the linen fabric (you can see the original color here) also dipped in iron solution. Half of the scarf here

and the other half. The iron blanket was then placed on top and the sandwich was rolled and tied.

Here is how the bundles looked when they were ready to be steamed or boiled. My initial is on the label as well a the time that it went to be processed.

And here are the results. Again, the linen iron blanket was softened by the iron.

The colors, detail and outline of the leaves are crisp and wonderful.

On our last day of class I couldn’t resist bundling another bunch of small leaves with the note card paper. They are so charming.

The four of us in the class will be gathering next month at Katherine’s home to do more printing. I plan to take prepared cotton fabric. I can’t wait!

If you missed my first two posts on this class you can find them here and here.

Cyanotype Experiment

Blue Prints on Fabric, my source for fabrics treated for creating prints, has a new product. Hand-dyed cotton fabrics — available in medium pink, turquoise blue, bright orange, chartreuse green and medium yellow — are then treated with cyanotype solution. These fabrics provide a new twist on the classic blue and white of the historical cyanotype printing process.

I recently received a yard of medium yellow fabric, tore off a piece about the size of a fat quarter and printed using California Poppies.

Franki Kohler, Experiment with cyanotypeThe area protected from u.v. light remains the color of the dyed cotton while the area not protected obtains a unique color as the cyanotype chemistry turns blue but also reacts with the base dye color. From this photograph it may be difficult to discern the subtle change in the background color from strictly blue to the blue-green I see in my studio. Evidence of that is revealed on portions of the stems where the stems were not making complete contact with the fabric.

In the past I have used primarily flat plant segments such as leaves or dried flowers to create prints. Using these flat sources has meant that complete contact with the fabric was much easier to achieve. I’m not entirely unhappy with the varied level of contact from these fresh-cut California poppies though. In fact, I rather like the variety of color that this print created.

A word of caution about using fresh specimens: Pinning the fleshy specimen to the fabric means you pierce the skin and release some of the fluid from the plant. Notice the far left flower stem and little ‘blob’ 3 inches below the bloom. That is where the pin released liquid from the stem and the chemical began to run. I was lucky to have only one such blob. If there had been many such leaks I probably wouldn’t consider using this print. However, with one small one like this I am comfortable considering it for a future project.