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Botanical Printing and Natural Dye Part 4

A study group is a wonderful thing.  Since taking a class on botanical printing/dyeing in July, I’ve met several times with the ladies who were in the class with me to continue learning and experimenting. Our most recent gathering took place yesterday morning. Our hostess had a pot of marigolds on a slow simmer. Goodness but it smelled good enough to eat! I’m certainly glad we didn’t though, because I got a beautiful print from it. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

My goal for the day was to get at least one long piece of fabric printed using eucalyptus and print more cards. I found a nice bunch of eucalyptus — with flower buds and flowers galore — at the local grocery store. A lovely feature of this species is that the stems are thin and flexible which means that they are easily rolled up in the fabric around the poll. I used quite a few stems, shared them with my friends and still had enough to bring home for the vase.

I used cotton fabric 18″ wide by 45″ long. This size allowed me to lay down full branches without too much fussing. The fabric was wider that the pole so I folded it over the leaves. Instead of steaming the bundle to create the print, this bundle went into the vat of marigold flowers and simmered for about an hour and a half. I like the drama created by that fold on the right side. And I am delighted with the crisp prints that I got of the leaves and stems and the incredible rich yellow and gold colors from the marigolds. Click on images for a larger view.

Here’s a detail image.

The note cards were also a success. I used a silk scarf for the iron blanket on the cards — half of the scarf was pale green, the other half was brown. I am thrilled with the prints on both the cotton paper and the silk fabric. Here are the cards that had a light green silk blanket. Note: the bottom right card had a cotton fabric iron blanket.

Here is the second group of cards:

I can see using every scrap of these fabrics!

 

 

Botanical Printing and Natural Dye Part 1

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.

 

Quilt Named and More Sketching

I asked for suggestions for naming the quilt I completed last week and received many ideas. I particularly liked the suggestion of Branching Out from my friend Carol Larson. Capturing the obvious (a tree branch) and the allusion to my trying something new with the quilting hit the spot for me.

The on-line class I’m taking with Jane LaFazio is coming to a close. The final lesson — Collage as a background for your page — was given last week, but we have until August 15 to upload more work and receive feedback from Jane and fellow students. I chose to collage a city map of Portland, one of my favorite cities to play tourist in.

08-07-Lesson-6-collageThe wine glass, rose and camera were sketched, painted inside the black line with absorbent ground, and finally painted with watercolor. The sun glasses were sketched and painted directly on the map. I wanted the lettering for “Portland” and “City of Roses” to be clear and handsome so I browsed my options on the computer, selected fonts, sized them, printed them out and traced them with permanent pen on artist tissue paper. They are applied with soft gel medium.

After reading one of Jane’s tutorials, I was eager to try my hand at using the absorbent ground in a new way. Here is the journal page with absorbent ground applied over a stencil then given a color wash using a one-inch brush. The stencil was a gift from my friend Anne (purchased from The Crafter’s Workshop) because she knows my penchant for ginkgo leaves.

08-04-Absorbant-ground-plus-stencil,-watercolor-overMany layers of painting later, here is the final page.

08-08-Absorbent-ground-and-watercolor-pageI like the texture and ghostly imaging achieved by stenciling the absorbent ground.

Here is another page using a collection of pod stencils, ready for work. I’ve taken this photograph at an angle to better see the absorbent ground on the paper.

08-04-Absorbant-ground-plus-stencilThis is actually the other side of the page I completed above. I’m eager to get started on this one!

You can see what I did for all of the lessons with Jane — this year and last year — by clicking on the Sketch/Watercolor category in the right-hand column.