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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 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.

Botanical Printing and Natural Dye Part 2

If you missed my first installment sharing the results of a 4-day class on Botanical Printing and Natural Dye, just click here to be all caught up. A reminder that I am not showing everything I did in this class, just the pieces that I found the most exciting and that I can see using in future art pieces.

The example below, shown in two images, was one piece of silk noil fabric with half of the piece being covered in an iron-dipped cotton cloth. I love the results on both halves. The first photograph is the side with the iron blanket. The prints of the leaves are sharp, though the pigment transfer did not highlight veins of the leaves, except in the far right leaf.  I really like the subtle color background on this fabric — it’s uneven and has a dreamy, quiet feel. The iron blanket prints were unsatisfactory so I won’t show it here.

The leaves on this side of the fabric were dipped in an iron solution. The veins are well defined in these prints. The colors that came from the leaves varied — there is brown, gray, black, yellow and violet here! A wonderful mix that has great possibility! Again, I have some splotching where the iron solution dripped from the leaves while they were being placed on the fabric. This is one yummy piece of fabric!

I almost passed on the opportunity to print with this next fabric, a silk jersey dyed with logwood. This is not a fabric I would ever choose to work with. It slips and slides just looking at it. But boy, am I ever glad I did! The prints that I got are incredibly clear on both the silk and the cotton that was dipped in iron solution. Thank you, Kristy, for that gentle nudge in the right direction.

I’ve taken two images of this piece of fabric to better show the prints. I love the sharpness of the prints, the variety of colors and the bonus of having two great images of each leaf. I will stabilize the jersey fabric with Pellon Shirt Taylor before I incorporate it in my work.

Stay tuned for part three. I think you’ll discover some nice surprises.

 

 

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.