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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.

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.

 

Wet Cyanotype Process

I have been creating cyanotype prints on fabric since I learned about the process from Sue Reno  in 2006. I enjoy the process and I feature cyanotype prints in many of my art quilts. I’ve used pre-treated cotton, raw silk, china silk and silk organza to create my prints. Each fabric features it’s particular fingerprint in the process, each one revealing subtleties that I like. I particularly enjoy the range of blue colors that the different fabrics produce — from delicate light blue to bold, dark blue — each appropriate to the unique setting that I use them in.

Recent Instagram posts have revealed experimentation by artists creating wet cyanotypes, tagged #wetcyan. The artists working on fabric posted results spraying water on their fabric and leaving it in the sun for long periods of exposure, 24 hours or more. My practice with the dry method has allowed for exposure for about 10 minutes. I had to try this.

I had pre-treated fabric that I brought with me from California — translation: it was over 2 years old. My supplier recommends using the treated fabric within 6 months. But what did I have to lose? I had white pre-treated fabric and a small amount of yellow pre-treated fabric. After gathering a few botanicals I got busy.

I sprayed the work surface, placed the fabric on top, positioned the fern and wild blackberry leaves, and sprayed the fabric surface. A sheet of glass was placed on top. Click on images for a larger view.

Within minutes I could see there was action. Color began to appear and the intense afternoon sun was cooking the leaves.

At noon the following day the chemicals were still reacting and creating a stew of colors.

I brought the fabric in and rinsed it out after 24 hours exposure. Here it is drying.

I was thrilled with the yellow, orange, brown and green colors that were revealed. Here are two more prints done at the same time. That’s rosemary on the left, Queen Anne’s Lace on the right.

My next experiment used smaller pieces of fabric and a shorter exposure time.

Again, the chemical reactions were happening immediately.

Here they are, dry.

I couldn’t resist a refrigerator raid for some Italian flat-leaf parsley.

And here are the printed scraps of yellow fabric I had. I love the dramatic colors on these!

I will be ordering more fabric from my supplier. I am eager to see if there is a significant difference in the chemical reactions with freshly treated fabric. Stay tuned.

What have you been experimenting with lately?