Archive for the ‘Eco Prints’ Category

I stART the year..

January 11, 2014

…by looking back! Small wonder the god Janus is conceived as two-faced: with one face that looks back, the other that looks forward. So to look forward, I start from the experience of my 2013 Pilgrimage of Life In Art.

My pinched nerve and rotator cuff injury in early December 2013 has forced quite a few changes of plan, art-wise, for the early winter of 2014. So without 2014 work to show you just yet, for the next while I will present some images and info about my pre-2014 work, some of which has not so far made it to these pages, plus the work of some other fave artists.

My other intention, looking forward, is to update other pages on this blog, especially the info about native dye plants and links to other artists who work with bioregional plants for contact printing, wherever they might live in the world. That will indicate to you the focus of my art direction in 2014! I am looking forward to planning a new native/bioregional/pioneer plant dye garden in my new abode this summer.

Meantime, may I show you some pics of some of my 2013 Artist Books in their clamshell cases, the latter made by my husband, Shlomo? We are both members of the Canadian Book Binders and Book Artists Guild. Our chapter, the Ottawa Valley, has an exhibit of members' Artist Books at the University of Ottawa Morriset Library for a month, starting January 13. The photos of the books were taken in last summer:

Rust and maple prints:

Now this is not an Artist Book, nor do I have his permission to show the work since the unnamed artist died several centuries ago. But the image shows inspiration for my Italian eco prints and eco dyes: Umbrian frescos, decayed over time.

Below is a collection of contact prints on paper and textiles made with blue iris, part of my summer 2013 project to discover the pigment potential in blue iris blooms and the handmade paper potential of iris leaves. These works were exhibited at Portage du Fort, Quebec, as exemplars of Renaissance artist pigments and part of the Samuel de Champlain explorer festival. The display at Portage du Fort was later set up at the Ottawa School of Art. The photo shows a printed silk panel, several iris prints on paper and Artist Books of various structures including pages made with iris leaf paper, printed with iris pigment and iris ink. Clamshell case by Shlomo, papers by Wendy:

,

My artist residency work in Assisi:

More of my paper and textile fresco work, this time at the public gallery of the City of Assisi in the historic Piazza Commune. The photo shows a group exhibit of work by artists in residence 2013 at Arte Studio Ginestrelle, Assisi, Umbria:

One of my Artist Books shown at the University of Ottawa this month:

And the next series of beautiful glass mosaics was made by my daughter, Sarah, using a box of leftover glass fragments given to her by Shlomo. She took a pair of glass doors in her house and fitted the panes with glass mosaic:

Here is a work by another of my fave artists, my grandson, Dylan, now aged 4.

And a final work by an unknown artist's hand, found at the flea market in Gubbio where Saint Francis tamed the wolf: showing Assisi work, though in a less popular colour, pink. Note the beautiful damask linen weave typical of linen handtowels in that region. It is wonderful to think that once, time spent on work like this was considered time well spent:

Until the next Look Forward!

Happy new year to all my readers and a special thank you to all who have subscribed as followers.

Wendy

 

October prints from the Subasio

October 14, 2013

So mostly photos today showing my experiments with the regional plants of the Subasio. My printing setup is a tad on the ghetto side which is what I had predicted and had planned to cooperate with. The first few prints had way too much steam puffed at them so came out rather watery. An iron wash (ferrous sulphate painted on the wimpy bits) brought out the lines and new colours. So far, I have obtained a multitude of yellows and not a few blues (from dogwood berries and blackberries) plus pinky purples from pomegranate seed juice. Browns, tans, rusts are coming along as the days of October draw closer to the end of the month and the leaves begin to turn colour. Good old cotinus gave a tad of blue, too!

 

Here are the pics from the first two weeks of textile prints ( prints on paper coming soon – they are being worked into Artist Books. I must say I have my work cut out for me to complete the projects I had intended to do…the “distractions” are many…so let us start with a few of them before we get down to eco/enviro print buisiness:

Brunellschi's Dome (Il Duomo) in nearby Florence:

 

 

 

Mount Subasio view:

 

Assisi with pilgrims:

 

Studio visitor:

 

Fuzzy photo, sorry: Balckberry leaves and fruit, cotinus, oak and iron:

 

Detail of above:

 

Juglans regia (European walnut) on the Studio's vintage sheets:

 

Cornus sanguinea (Dogwood) leaves and berries with dried Sunflowers:

 

Cotinus coggygria (Smokebush), dogwood berries and iron on cotton:

Cotinus, pomegranate, dogwood berries and leaves on vintage cotton:

 

The cotton collection:

 

Silk organza soaking up the rust juice from the rust-printed papers; white wine vinegar at 6% acid on rusty iron bits,

 

The iron mordanted silk organza (from home) with cotinus and dogwood (berries):

Others in the silk organza collection:

 

With pomegranate and dogwood berries:

Random print: blue from dogwood berries, yellows from the leaves, browns too.

 

Next time:

Eco printed papers for Artist Books and prints on vintage handwoven linen from the monthly flea market in Assisi. Could not resist the linen…

 

Pax et Bonum to all my readers- the beautiful Franciscan blessing

 

Wendy

 

More October Ecoprints from the Subasio

October 14, 2013

“Inspired by the broken colours and forms of the still-radiant ancient frescos on the walls of churches and streets in Assisi and neighbouring medieval hill-towns, I created a series of Artist Books and textile frescos whose content refers to the natural environment of the Subasio as well as to its powerful spiritual and Dantean heritage. My intention was to research the bioregional plants of the Subasio near the Arte Studionestrelle at Santa Maria di Lignano and to discover natural pigments which I could use to dye and print locally-made paper and vintage linen. I was interested in a contemporary application of the traditional knowledge about natural dyes associated historically with this region of Italy where much of that older wisdom seems to have disappeared. My question was: Could some version of that knowledge be restored? The October native vegetation growing high up the mountain provided a rich palette from leaves, bark, berries and late blooms that worked together in successive layers of dye and print. My work on this beautiful mountain recalls to me the Fioretti (Little Flowers) of Saint Francis of Assisi whose love for the Umbrian landscape brought him and others closer to God. And although I was here too late in the season to use the traditional ginestrelle blooms in my prints, I was able to obtain much colour from their seed pods! ” (Shlomo Feldberg constructed covers and boxes for Wendy's Artist Books during his residency in addition to completing his own mixed media work.)

The statement above about my work during my residency at Arte Studio Ginestrelle appears in the catalogue for the show of contemporary art at the public art gallery of Assisi. The show takes place the last week of November. As well as the inspiration I found so abundantly in and around Mount Subasio, I am pleased to share with you some of the Artist Books and textiles created during my October 2013 residency and featured in the annual exhibit by many of the Artists In Residence. I have also brought home with me many eco printed papers and textiles that will form much of my work later in the winter.

First pic: Umbrian handwoven linen, highly textured and serviceable cloth; an Assisi-fleamarket find, vintage but never used.

It took me many prep and printing sessions with mordants and local plants to express the Giotto/Cimabue/Pintoricchio fresco colours I had in mind. Even then, I used madder dye powder for the reds since Rubia tinctorum does not grow at almost 1000 metres above sea level where the Studio is located.

The abundance of yellows in the earlyOctober leaves was a challenge. During my first week of printings, shades of yellow or brown was all I could manage to obtain using a basic alum acetate mordant. Hmm. I knew I would print the papers and cloth several times again for more colour and form.

As the October days passed, the fall colours began to change and pigments both increased and decreased in the leaves. I searched for sources of blue and found them in Dogwood berries (Cornus sanguinea), Sloes (Prunus espinosa – tiny plums) and Cotinus coggygria (more blue after the middle of October). Purple showed in the bark of walnut twigs (Juglans regia) as well as late blackberries (Rubus fruticosus) and sloes; greens from Dogwood leaves (and berries, too); moss greens from Rosa canina (Dog Rose). The yellows were varied: Golden-apricot from Olive leaves; deep golden from Walnut; yellow-chartreuse from Sumac. The “ginestrelle” or Dyer's Broom (Cytisus scoparius in these parts) had only seed pods for printing tannin browns in October, its brilliant yellow blooms long gone.

Here, blue, green and teal from Dogwood berries and leaves:

 

And the enticing golden yellows from European Walnut on old cotton sheets:

 

A small display of yellows with iron (flowers by Shlomo)

 

Dogwood greens, walnut yellows and deep browns; pinks and purple-pink from walnut twig bark.

 

Rusted silk chiffon with BlackBerry and Dogwood berries:

 

 
Dogwood and walnut with the last sunflower:
 
 
Walnut with Dogwood, Elder and iron:
 

 

Artist Books : “Subasio Scrolls”

With the Subasio Scroll Collection I am continuing to develop an earlier goal: to use the accordion book form as a botanical scroll. This collection of three books is entilted “Little Plants of the Subasio: October Scroll” (1, 2, 3). A fourth book is coptic-bound and contains my handwritten copies of sayings from Dante and Francis of Assisi. The book is also entitled “Little Plants of the Subasio”.

Each page of each book, back and front, is printed with leaves, bark and/or berries and fruits of the area around Arte Studio Ginestrelle, which is llocated nearly at the top of this part of the Subasio. The range of available plants changes with the altitude (here, between 800 and 1000m.) So while madder might be found on the bottom layer of the vegetation belt, only a relative (Galium lucidum, but not a red one! ) was found at the mid-to-high level where the Studio is.

 

My aim was to use only what I could forage within that vegetation layer on the mountain and therefore not to import plants from other areas. I did succeed in that aim, except for my use of powdered madder…one cannot express the spirit of Giotto's frescos without red! All the other plant colours came from the vegetation right at hand.

(Aside: I was unable to find any really good locally-made paper for my books , despite the fact that the Fabriano art paper factory is within a few hours drive of Assisi and the other hill towns. The art supply shop in Florence was closed on Saturdays, the day we went there. One bookbinder we met in Florence says he sends for his supplies to Talas in Brooklyn!!! Or to Paris or Germany. Wow. )

 

Some of my main pigment sources were: Juglans regia, Cornus sanguinea, Rubus fruticosus, Prunus espinosa, Robinia pseudoacacia (invasive, introduced), Carpino nero, Quercus robur, “Rutacae” – species unknown except for the family relationship), Sambucus negra, Rosa canina, Acer opalus, plus Olive and Grape.

 

My “Subasio October Scrolls” collection of Artist Books consists so far of three accordion-spined and one coptic-bound book. ( Covers and Book Box were made by Shlomo Feldberg using my printed textiles and papers.) These Artist Books remain in Assisi for exhibition. Others will be added to the collection in time as I continue to work with the many papers and textiles I made there and brought home.

 

Below: Walnut leaf print on the box: walnut dyed linen thread for the book stitiching

 
 

Completed scrolls atop the reference books I used to help me identify the native and local plants. I had hope they could tell me which might be for use as sources of pigment. None of these books discussed the traditional dye uses of the plants, even when they gave extensive info about medicinal use. This confirmed my supposition that natural dye knowledge about the area was limited or non-existent.

 

 

A wild fennel and rust page in one of my books:

 

Walnut leaf page:

 

An arrray of pages in a scroll book:

 

The spine of a book with plant labels in English, Latin and Italian:

 

 

Robinia pseudoacacia:

 

 

Carpino nero (Black Hornbeam):

 

 

The little coptic-bound book of sayings from Dante and Francis of Assisi; on ecoprinted pages:

 

 

Dante, Canto IX. Mount Subasio and some prayer-poems by Francis of Assisi.

 
Title page:
 

 

 

Book box and book covers:

 

 

 
 

I leave you today with a promise to post more pics and info when (a) I have sorted and retrieved some lost photos (FB crashed iPhoto and ate my camera upload…lost a LOT of pics!!!) and (b) after we have moved to our new house next week.

(This is not our new house)

Those colours! The ducal palace at Gubbio, the town where Francis tamed the wolf:

 

Here is more inspiration from tne colours and forms of Umbria:

The view from our bedroom:

 

Look up for inspiration:

 

Look down…

 

Even the distressed surfaces inspire: in fact, these above all…

 

 

I hope I leave you looking for more like Brother Cat Cimabue (L) and Brother Cat Negrito (R)- the Studio's Resident Royalty, assigned to outdoor duties but skilled in finding “work” inside
 

 

More pics next time! Leaf prints for book pages, inspiration photos…and photos of the Studio and environs.

Best to you, dear Reader.

 

Subasio Scrolls and Fresco Textiles

October 14, 2013

“Inspired by the broken colours and forms of the still-radiant ancient frescos on the walls of churches and streets in Assisi and neighbouring medieval hill-towns, I created a series of Artist Books and textile frescos whose content refers to the natural environment of the Subasio as well as to its powerful spiritual and Dantean heritage. My intention was to research the bioregional plants of the Subasio near the Arte Studionestrelle at Santa Maria di Lignano and to discover natural pigments which I could use to dye and print locally-made paper and vintage linen. I was interested in a contemporary application of the traditional knowledge about natural dyes associated historically with this region of Italy where much of that older wisdom seems to have disappeared. My question was: Could some version of that knowledge be restored? The October native vegetation growing high up the mountain provided a rich palette from leaves, bark, berries and late blooms that worked together in successive layers of dye and print. My work on this beautiful mountain recalls to me the Fioretti (Little Flowers) of Saint Francis of Assisi whose love for the Umbrian landscape brought him and others closer to God. And although I was here too late in the season to use the traditional ginestrelle blooms in my prints, I was able to obtain much colour from their seed pods! ” (Shlomo Feldberg constructed covers and boxes for Wendy's Artist Books during his residency in addition to completing his own mixed media work.)

The statement above about my work during my residency at Arte Studio Ginestrelle appears in the catalogue for the show of contemporary art at the public art gallery of Assisi. The show takes place the last week of November. As well as the inspiration I found so abundantly in and around Mount Subasio, I am pleased to share with you some of the Artist Books and textiles created during my October 2013 residency and featured in the annual exhibit by many of the Artists In Residence. I have also brought home with me many eco printed papers and textiles that will form much of my work later in the winter.

First pic: Umbrian handwoven linen, highly textured and serviceable cloth; an Assisi-fleamarket find, vintage but never used.

It took me many prep and printing sessions with mordants and local plants to express the Giotto/Cimabue/Pintoricchio fresco colours I had in mind. Even then, I used madder dye powder for the reds since Rubia tinctorum does not grow at almost 1000 metres above sea level where the Studio is located.

The abundance of yellows in the earlyOctober leaves was a challenge. During my first week of printings, shades of yellow or brown was all I could manage to obtain using a basic alum acetate mordant. Hmm. I knew I would print the papers and cloth several times again for more colour and form.

As the October days passed, the fall colours began to change and pigments both increased and decreased in the leaves. I searched for sources of blue and found them in Dogwood berries (Cornus sanguinea), Sloes (Prunus espinosa – tiny plums) and Cotinus coggygria (more blue after the middle of October). Purple showed in the bark of walnut twigs (Juglans regia) as well as late blackberries (Rubus fruticosus) and sloes; greens from Dogwood leaves (and berries, too); moss greens from Rosa canina (Dog Rose). The yellows were varied: Golden-apricot from Olive leaves; deep golden from Walnut; yellow-chartreuse from Sumac. The “ginestrelle” or Dyer's Broom (Cytisus scoparius in these parts) had only seed pods for printing tannin browns in October, its brilliant yellow blooms long gone.

Here, blue, green and teal from Dogwood berries and leaves:

 

And the enticing golden yellows from European Walnut on old cotton sheets:

 

A small display of yellows with iron (flowers by Shlomo)

 

Dogwood greens, walnut yellows and deep browns; pinks and purple-pink from walnut twig bark.

 

Rusted silk chiffon with BlackBerry and Dogwood berries:

 

 
Dogwood and walnut with the last sunflower:
 
 
Walnut with Dogwood, Elder and iron:
 

 

Artist Books : “Subasio Scrolls”

With the Subasio Scroll Collection I am continuing to develop an earlier goal: to use the accordion book form as a botanical scroll. This collection of three books is entilted “Little Plants of the Subasio: October Scroll” (1, 2, 3). A fourth book is coptic-bound and contains my handwritten copies of sayings from Dante and Francis of Assisi. The book is also entitled “Little Plants of the Subasio”.

Each page of each book, back and front, is printed with leaves, bark and/or berries and fruits of the area around Arte Studio Ginestrelle, which is llocated nearly at the top of this part of the Subasio. The range of available plants changes with the altitude (here, between 800 and 1000m.) So while madder might be found on the bottom layer of the vegetation belt, only a relative (Galium lucidum, but not a red one! ) was found at the mid-to-high level where the Studio is.

 

My aim was to use only what I could forage within that vegetation layer on the mountain and therefore not to import plants from other areas. I did succeed in that aim, except for my use of powdered madder…one cannot express the spirit of Giotto's frescos without red! All the other plant colours came from the vegetation right at hand.

(Aside: I was unable to find any really good locally-made paper for my books , despite the fact that the Fabriano art paper factory is within a few hours drive of Assisi and the other hill towns. The art supply shop in Florence was closed on Saturdays, the day we went there. One bookbinder we met in Florence says he sends for his supplies to Talas in Brooklyn!!! Or to Paris or Germany. Wow. )

 

Some of my main pigment sources were: Juglans regia, Cornus sanguinea, Rubus fruticosus, Prunus espinosa, Robinia pseudoacacia (invasive, introduced), Carpino nero, Quercus robur, “Rutacae” – species unknown except for the family relationship), Sambucus negra, Rosa canina, Acer opalus, plus Olive and Grape.

 

My “Subasio October Scrolls” collection of Artist Books consists so far of three accordion-spined and one coptic-bound book. ( Covers and Book Box were made by Shlomo Feldberg using my printed textiles and papers.) These Artist Books remain in Assisi for exhibition. Others will be added to the collection in time as I continue to work with the many papers and textiles I made there and brought home.

 

Below: Walnut leaf print on the box: walnut dyed linen thread for the book stitiching

 
 

Completed scrolls atop the reference books I used to help me identify the native and local plants. I had hope they could tell me which might be for use as sources of pigment. None of these books discussed the traditional dye uses of the plants, even when they gave extensive info about medicinal use. This confirmed my supposition that natural dye knowledge about the area was limited or non-existent.

 

 

A wild fennel and rust page in one of my books:

 

Walnut leaf page:

 

An arrray of pages in a scroll book:

 

The spine of a book with plant labels in English, Latin and Italian:

 

 

Robinia pseudoacacia:

 

 

Carpino nero (Black Hornbeam):

 

 

The little coptic-bound book of sayings from Dante and Francis of Assisi; on ecoprinted pages:

 

 

Dante, Canto IX. Mount Subasio and some prayer-poems by Francis of Assisi.

 
Title page:
 

 

 

Book box and book covers:

 

 

 
 

I leave you today with a promise to post more pics and info when (a) I have sorted and retrieved some lost photos (FB crashed iPhoto and ate my camera upload…lost a LOT of pics!!!) and (b) after we have moved to our new house next week.

(This is not our new house)

Those colours! The ducal palace at Gubbio, the town where Francis tamed the wolf:

 

Here is more inspiration from tne colours and forms of Umbria:

The view from our bedroom:

 

Look up for inspiration:

 

Look down…

 

Even the distressed surfaces inspire: in fact, these above all…

 

 

I hope I leave you looking for more like Brother Cat Cimabue (L) and Brother Cat Negrito (R)- the Studio's Resident Royalty, assigned to outdoor duties but skilled in finding “work” inside
 

 

More pics next time! Leaf prints for book pages, inspiration photos…and photos of the Studio and environs.

Best to you, dear Reader.

 

September Goodbyes

August 8, 2013

Not goodbye to my blog this September but certainly goodbye to the studio and garden at 20W. The Blue Heron came to say farewell:

 

Spent all of August and September so far sorting, packing, recycling, chucking out:

 

 

Of course, I saved a stack or two of this summer's printed textiles for blog pics. July was basically my last month working in the studio, racing to finish eco printing wools for an article in the British “Journal for Weavers, Spinners and Dyers” (www.thejournalforwsd.org.uk); making sure to use up all the iris leaves in my garden to make paper and the frozen irisvblooms to print book pages and cloth; finally, printing up silk that had been soaking for weeks in alum water.

First, the wool ( a recap of last blog post):

 

Wools eco printed with iron, maples, sumac, coreopsis and prunus cistena. Now for the silks:

 

 

Prunus cistena and coreopsis, above.

 

 

Rose, marigold, iron, sumac, prunus c.:

 

 

Coreopsis verticillata, rhus typhina, “Purple Passion” apple slices:

 

 

Rugosa rose, prunus cistena, iron, sumac:

 

 

Tagetes, iron, prunus:

 

 

Rhus typhina, Coreopsis v., Rosa rugosa:

 

 

Tagetes, Prunus cistena, Eucalyptus globulus:

 

 

As above, with “Purple Passion” apple slices.

 

 

The Story Table.

Witness to the spinning and weaving of many life-tales ( and plenty of unravelling, too) this (five-dollar) school library table was rescued and gifted to us 40 years ago…Oh, it has seen and heard many a story…For the new house, it will get a face lift but it will always remain our communion table:

 

Here we all are, as we are on Labour Day 2013, saying goodbye after a final meal as a family in our home of 35 years and celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary.

Clockwise from the tallest: Shlomo, Shannon, Sarah, Scott, Hannah, Matthew and Wendy. Seated ( L to R) : Nemo the Lab, Dylan, Noah, Layla.

 

Next up? Making art in Umbria, Italy!

Off to spend the month of October experimenting with the dye properties of plants in Umbria along with bookbinding traditions there as well as papermaking…Will be posting from Mount Subasio near Assisi.

Arrividerci!

 

Books, boxes and eco prints

August 8, 2013

Time to catch up on reports about studio work! Where did July go? Well, this month took me and Husband on a new adventure. We have sold our house and have (almost) bought another, much smaller and with a much smaller garden…so lots of work ahead of us, sorting and recycling and, O Lord help us, DESTASHING…But somewhere in between the house selling and house hunting I managed to fit in some July eco prints – for the good of my soul and my sanity – challenging myself to work with wool, (What a great distraction from the Task At Hand…) Thanks to the generosity of James Dennison, eco printer extraordinaire, who sent me some wonderful pre-felt yardage (second-hand wool is hard to come by), July did not pass without an eco print or two…

To start:, A coiled pre-felt: the coreopsis leaks red…the strings were iron-dyed and made their own marks:

 

Three pre-felt fragments, printed with Black Walnut, Golden Rod, Purple Sandcherry, Coreopsis, Rose and Sumac:

 

 

Detail – greens, blues and teals from Prunus cistena: red from Coreopsis verticillata, yellow from sumac and Golden Rod:

 

 

A little silk habotai with coreopsis and Purple Sancherry:

 

 

My friend Carmella Rother, a felt artist, tried eco printing for the first time on her felted and embroidered merino. We had a fun session at my studio, with many lovely results. Even a first-time “student” print can succeed beautifully, as you can see. Carmella is captivated! She is now experimenting with eco prints on her felted vessels

 

Here, coreopsis and rose leaf with iron bitsmon felted merino:

 

 

String embossments on felt with eco prints (Purple Sandcherry)

 

 

Sumac and Purple Sandcherry on felted merino:

 

 

Sumac, coreopsis, Red Salvia blooms on embroidered felted merino:

 

 

Native plants for eco prints: Monarda, Golden Rod, Coreopsis, Black-Eyed Susan:

 

 

…Book Report

My books arrived back from the July Canadian BookBinders and Book Artists Guild National Show in Calgary.

A Blizzard Book (Hedi Kyle design) with soft cover: clamshell case by Shlomo Feldberg. Eco printed with maple and rust.

 

New World Scroll: Acer Saccharum. Eco printed papers, bookcloth, embroidered. Slip case by Shlomo (Book and box covered by eco printed papers and cloth)

 

 

Coptic binding; rust and maple printed papers; maple-printed linen covers (iron-dipped):

 

 

Rust printed and embroidered cloth; rust and maple printed papers:

 

 

That's it for now. Next project is to install a small show of eco printed Artist Books and prints at the Ottawa School of Art on August 12. The Iris Green books and prints will be part of the display as well as other books, including the ones in this post.

I will be giving a class in eco printing on paper at the Ottawa School of Art August Fri 23 Aug evening and Sat 24 Aug, for the day.

Hope to have some more student prints to share after the class!

Wendy

 

Eco Printing Synthetics with Serviceberry

July 1, 2013

Leisa Rich's article in the current issue of Fiber Art Now is inspiring. (My article on eco print artists is in there, too, brag brag, see future posts). She challenges us “granola” types (you know who we are in the textile world: recycled-everything, natural dyes, non-toxic-this-and-that) to make art from the humongous piles of discarded synthetics out there. Thus she leads us on a Camino with artists who have kissed the Toads of the art materials world and turned them into Princesses and Princes…

Let me not slander my buddies, the garden toads, though: I do love them. As an icon for this post, I introduce you to my Guardian Toad, here watching over Canada Violets, Rosa canina and rock-nostalgia from Wharfdale in Yorkshire:

 

This week I tried printing Pellon with Serviceberry. Pellon is a synthetic material in various weights used for interfacing that can also be painted, melted, waxed, embroidered, etc for mixed media art applications. It is known as Vilene in Britain and as Freudenberg by handmade papermakers who use it in heavier weights as felts when couching sheets of paper.

Here is the lovely Serviceberry in May:

Here is Serviceberry in June, in full fruit:
 
 

Serviceberry (Amelanchier laevis) is a Canadian native with delicious berries (we ate a bowlful with ice cream yesterday). First Nations peoples use them to make pemmican. The tree has given a truly bountiful crop this year, with so many berries that the squirrels do not even bother to eat the ones that fall on the ground. (Mind you, who can understand how the Squirrel Brain works at any time? It reminds me of the kind of thinking employed by some galleries when they run about collecting art to sell…)

We have one Serviceberry tree in the front yard whose berries fall on the sidewalk so I have to sweep them up (Aside: Alas, some folks around here use terms like “litter” to describe fallen fruit, even if they do live in a neighbourhood known as Granola Heights, suggesting it is populated largely by Ex Hippies on Fat Pensions – not me, BTW. ) My thought is consonant with Leisa Rich's : that pretty well any “litter” can have art in its future, that one woman's litter might be another woman's life support.

Why waste certain of our fallen plant bounty if it can be eco printed? Even “deadheading” has been dropped as a term in my gardening vocabulary since I began eco dyeing and printing. I now say I am collecting dye plants when I nip off dead blooms to be saved for dye pots later.

So assorted pebbles, pine needles, soil samples, unknown sidewalk treasures and Serviceberry leaves ended up in the sweepings destined for eco print bundles in the steamer:

 

Silk, linen, cotton, paper and Pellon wrapped the berries. Sad to say, the linen and cotton were a bust, print-wise, despite pre-mordanting and post-dye-pot treatment with iron and copper assistants. A complete flop! The watercolour paper (unmordanted because I had no mordanted sheets ready) did quite well, despite lack of alum: some purples from the berries and greens from the leaves, as well as lovely embossings overall because I had rolled this bundle over a copper pipe instead of layering it flat. I have to assume that the copper pipe assisted the dye take up even in the absence of alum mordant:

 

The surprise of the dye pot was the unmordanted Pellon, bundled around a fat, bark-free branch (no extra tannins), steamed first, then immersion-dyed for an hour with iron bits and Serviceberry materials; later dipped in homemade copper sulphate (which did not shift the colours further to green, to my mind). Blues and purples emerged from berries and with a tad of lavender-grey with iron. Greens from the leaves. I tried a lot of colour-shifting manoeuvres but I believe the original green print from the unmordanted Pellon printed in the steam process is what we end up with.

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, a comparison with the ever-dependable silk habotai. Silk on the right. Note the “deckled edge” on the Pellon which comes when you tear it:

 

On silk alone: Note that there are hardly any prints from the berries here and ditto for the other textiles. Still, a fresh, lovely green from the leaves of Amelanchier laevis. In the fall they turn beautiful shades of red, orange, yellow, even purple and those colours do print, too.

I have lots of synthetic interfacing in various wieghts in my stash so this experiment with synthetics will likely not be the last, and neither will dyeing with Serviceberry.

 

Best

 

Wendy

 

Eco printing Perennial Geranium

July 1, 2013
 

Before the July- August garden begins to blooms its gaudy head off and I get carried away taking photos, I thought I might present some of the last of my June eco print images. Artist and blog visitor Julie Shackson inspired me to share more about printing with geraniums, a topic I touched on only briefly last post. If not published now, those geranium photos would most likely sink unseen into the pile of 3000+ already on this iPad.

Hoarding issues, folks? Thank you, Julie, for encouraging me to divest. I have promised myself that whatever else I might hoard, I will not hoard knowledge that might assist or inspire others.

One of my favourite plants is the Cranesbill (above) or Perennial Geranium (Geranium macrorrhizum” or “Big Root geranium”.) The “geranium” part derives from Greek “gerano” meaning “heron” (or “crane” ) so named because the seed pod is a capsule, shaped long and pointy like a beak ( “bill”). The pods “dehisce”, which means they explode open and fire their seeds into the air like wee projectiles. In my garden, the purple flowered geranium have virtually replaced grass in some areas, growing “dwarfly” in a mat of leaves covered with little elfin flowers and defying the mower by their speedy regrowth. These and the “album” ( pale-pinky-white) geranium make wonderful drought-tolerant ground cover in sun, shade or semi shade. I let them romp and replace unwanted plants- if there is any such thing…Either plant is perfect in dry rooty areas under trees. And it is pretty-well evergreen here in Zone 4 USDA. ( Garden talk today, my lifelong passion…I have grown a garden in every place I have lived in my 72 years – and there lies the true root of my newer passion for natural dyes)

As eco prints, geraniums are stars. They were among the first I used for prints on cotton and linen, which, as substrates, I now know are not as easy to print as silk and wool. This June 2011 eco print (below) shows leaf and flower prints, the latter being the blue and purple marks on the alum-mordanted vintage linen. The blooms print quite well, though not in flower forms but in patches of blue or purple – unlike the leaves which can be relied on to print realistically (if that is your aim).

 

 

Geranium print colours vary with the season and even the month. Deep under snow in January, the leaves remain green but they print in the khahi-brown range:

 

The same January Under Snow Priint dipped in iron liquor (rusty nails in vinegar). Thanks to Amelia Poole for this tip. (See Refs pages)

 

In late April – early May, yellows emerge:

 

The buds print beautifully – see below. Blue patches have leaked from an iris print!

 
With iron, one can shift the colours from yellows to deep grey-purplish-charcoals with some original yellows holding their own as luminous passages ( Honestly, my photos cannot do justice to the nuanced colours and forms in many of my eco prints. I am certain other artists would agree re the difficulty of taking a good photo.) A tiny blue stain or two leaking from an iris bloom in the paper layer above in the steamer offers an inspired near-complement as foil to the geranium leaf colour. The iron liquor induces near-lavenders from the yellows of the initial print. The shadow effects are delightful, I think.
 
 

As the season progresses, the geranium leaf prints become greener, especially on cotton rag paper. This print is from August 2012:

 

Later last year, I made some little journals like the one above using the geranium leaf printed papers as soft covers. The colours continue to glow in soft but bright shades. Coreopsis verticillata sent some pigment way down through a couple of paper layers in the steamer. Coreopsis contains powerful pigment! I try to plan accordingly. Here it is welcome, providing a tad of red-orange complementarity to enhance the greens. I love the contrasts of forms and colours in this print and I enjoy the challenge of manipulating the materials and the processes to obtain certain outcomes. I look forward to trying more prints with geraniums as the season advances. .

 

Finally, “Forest Floor”, a deep green geranium leaf print on a silk habotai panel, one of my botanical scrolls series. The silk was immersion-dyed a cinnamon colour first in a lichen bath (Parmelia saxatilis), then with safflower, (oops – vice versa, actually), overprinted with geranium leaf, iron dipped and embroidered. (The lichen was foraged from the forest floor of a wee plot of Boreal land my daughter owns, so it was responsibly foraged, IOW) The colours in the photo seem to be picking up mostly the cinnamon lichen and yellow safflower dyes; in the real world, this work shows a wide range of rich greens besides cinnamon.

 

 

I hope you will try some geranium prints and find them rewarding as I do.

Dear Readers, I know this post is not about soils! Will get there… trying to track down some Leda (Blue) clay, a chief soil constituent hereabouts in the Ottawa Valley. And hoping to make good on my promise to experiment with water soluble glues for attaching plants to substrates for eco prints. Has anyone tried that?

 

Best

 

Wendy

 

Iris leaves as a source of paper and pigment

June 29, 2013
First, some pics of my Artist Book “Botanica: New World Scroll” referred to in my previouscpost. The tutorial I published here some minutes ago gives instructions for making a book like this. The July issue of Somerset Studio magazine has published my article on how to make this book. That is great! But Because of some editorial errors and wishing to correct the info for readers, I have published my unedited article here for readers' benefit – as well as to relieve my own anxiety. See previous post!

This book will be in the show of work by the Canadian Book Artists and Bookbinders Guild held in Calgary later in July at the University of Calgary. And speaking of Calgary prayers and hugs go to my blog buddy arlee barr of Calgary who lost so much especially her studio.

Now a return to the Iris Adventure, El Camino de Las Irises ( forgive the rusty Spanish).

Guessing that blooms were not the only source of colour in iris, I decided to cook up some iris leaves to see if I could obtain both paper and pigment.

 

In water to cover and a cup of soda ash, the cut-up iris leaves (post-bloom period) were soaked overnight, then simmered at 180 for three hours in a large granite canning vessel.

Into pot also went a few lengths of alum-mordanted habotai, a bit of cotton, some vintage linen. Plants and fabric were simmered an hour together and left overnight.

 

 

The familiar soft iris green developed on the fabric in the pot but turned a neutral “greenge” when dry. Time to get out the dye assistants. Copper sulphate (home made, vinegar on copper pipe) can shift colours towards greens. Indeed it did, but much more strongly on silk (R) than on linen (L).

 

Iris leaf sludge made this ribbed cotton quite green. The sludge is a kind of green paste that settled in the bottom of the dye pot and that I collected after draining the pot:
 
After dyeing the fabric in the pot with iris leaves, I set about making paper from the leaf fibres. I was pretty sure by then that any paper made from iris leaves would be green.
I have made paper in a class situation before but never from my own garden plants. My aim was to produce handmade iris leaf paper to use in an Artist Book about irises and pigments.
Here is the first sheet, handpulled and a soft green (but not such good colour in the photo). Husband made me a mold and deckle from scrap wood and window screen fabric, 4″ x 8″, a good size for pages in a small book. I followed the usual papermaking steps: cooking the plants, straining them, rinsing the fibres well, squeezing out as much water as possible, separating the fibres into wee bundles, processing handfuls of plant fibres in a blender, mixing the iris fibre with newsprint (unprinted) pulp in the vat, pulling the pulp up on the mold to make a sheet, couching the sheets in a stack, pressing and drying the sheets.
 
 

I made 17 – 4″ x 8″ sheets from my pot of iris leaves, some thicker than others. The thicker, the greener.

The thinner, the more easily frayed or fragmented and in need of some fun stitching. (Repairs to medieval vellum MSS were often done with lovely embroidery. Very entertaining to the eye)

The thread I used for reparing the breach in the paper was cheap cotton string, solar dyed in green iris ink made from blue blooms. Waxing with beeswax made the cheapo cotton very much easier to work with. I was trying to work with comes to hand, like cheap string.

Don't forget that you can see a close up by clicking on the photo- you can even entertain your Inner Stitch Police Persona by checking my hand sewing…Note the various greens possible, depending on the material dyed:

Below, you see the different textures imprinted on the papers as they dried on J Cloths and Shop Towels; plus you can see the long iris fibres. Some of the papers have bits of green leaf embedded. Poor colour reproduction here, though – they hardly look green at all! They sorta look like home made crackers.

I do enjoy the deckled edges!

Next time: The Iris Book: with iris flower eco prints and iris leaf papers. This turned out to be serious Eye Candy for me!

After July 6, reports on soil pigments plus comments on my class on Renaissance pigments and using the iris “clothlet” as a source of green pigment for painting.

NB I am still looking for confirmation on the correct name for the iris variety that produced iris green for Renaissance painters and before them, Medieval MSS artists. I have out out requests…

Meantime, a few pics of fun things from my June garden, before June departs:

Perennial Geranium eco print on watercolour paper, dipped in iron liquor:

Ditto, a sumac leaf print:

Used iris blooms composted on watercolour paper:

Coreopsis, iris blue, iris green solar- dyed string:

 

Happy Canada Day July 1 and Happy Fourth Of July this week to all!

 

Wendy

 

More May Art

May 23, 2013

Today some more views of prints starring Coreopsis verticillata. This coreopsis is a native of North America. The Cherokee apparently knew of its red dye. Other forms of coreopsis, like “tinctoria” give deep yellows, and “lanceolata” blooms give yellowy- orange. I am trying each of these, and the whole plant not just the bloom.

Here Is what she looks like in bloom:

Meet C. verticillata's cousins, C. lanceolata and C. tinctoria (in front of Husband's Maypoles…(Did you know that medieval herb gardens often used brightly-coloured, striped wood to delineate square planting beds? I had that in mind when I, errrr, “commissioned” this sculpture from my resident Garden Art Sculptor) The coreopsis bloom with the red striped face is tinctoria.

I tried all three kinds in a wee “Blizzard” book (thank you, Hedi Kyle, for showing us that freely), inserting entire stems with blooms into the book pages and then steaming as usual. (C. Verticillata has no blooms yet). With these results. Coreo v. = all red; Coreo l. = orange-ellow and deep red-brown blooms, brown stems; Coreo t. = yellow blooms, brownish stems. Grey-blue from…???

 

 

A spent marigold joined the party, with large golden prints on the point of the left triangle fold: a bit of sumac, too. Going Native, you see.

 

The C. lanceolata gave the deep blackish marks here.

In the steamer: I wrapped the Blizzard Book in paper to avoid the bamboo strips printing on the book.

I have to say, they look edible…like exotic pastries…

Now a selection of printed papers (Strathmore Wet Media, 90 lb, mordanted with alum acetate in an overnight soak) First, some sprays of pink crabapple blooms with red leaves and stalks (Malus “Royalty”) that printed beautiful yellows and blues with teal. The white space does wonders for the composition.

Acer saccharum seeds with spent tulip petals and anthers: Nice to play with the colours and the placement of elements. Baroque curliqueues.

More tuiip petals: pink, yellow and red ones with black patches and anthers.

Maple seeds alone:

Elm leaves:

More red “Royalty”: Amazing teal blue-greens!

Ms. Isabella Preston's legacy blue lilacs: yellow leaf prints, turquoise blooms, a bit of iron.

A LOT iron, dipped post-printing. Coreopsis v. with Prestonia lilacs. Accordion folded paper, opened out. The colours settled so well in the folds.

More iron dipped colours: turquoise lilacs turn blue-grey.

A paper liner from under bundles in the steamer:

Tulips a-rioting

A stack of riotous prints:

White lilac with Purple Sandcherry and red “Royalty” crabapple. And a slice of rusty metal.

To finish: some more Embroidery Retrospectives. These embroideries were inspired by our Boreal spring growth and rushing snow-melt waters

“Beyond” – on painted silk.

“Summer Willows”. On painted silk organza.

 

Until next time and the last of my May posts for this year.

The crabapple and has now dropped all its blooms, and the tulips are nearly all gone. So no more eco prints from the garden using these lovelies.

The lilacs and the Prunus cistena will be with us for maybe another week, soon making way for iris, peony, poppies, cranesbills and the first of the roses.

But faithful coreopsis will be sticking around all season – no spring ephemeral is she.

Next post: A review of coreopsis in my dye studio


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