This month, I am experimenting with eco prints on larger pieces of fabric – silk lengths up to three yards as well as large vintage damask linen tablecloths. I have printed with red cabbage, tea and rust on other art cloth but this is the first time I have combined the three.
The silk measures 45″ by 90″. l laid out the silk with cabbage pieces and tea leaves (dry: a Christmas blend tea by Kusmi entitled the tea of “…les Rois Mages” – the Three Magi), wrapped the silk into a bundle around an iron corn stick (muffin) pan, soaked the bundle in 5% vinegar, tied it up tightly and steamed it over water for an hour or so in my thrift-shop vintage aluminum turkey roaster. Here are some more images of the finished printed cloth and of the process:
Here, detail shots of the textile work better than an image of the whole cloth to give an idea of the fascinating range of marks achievable by this method of printing on cloth. The blues are the result of acid which pushes the purples in the cabbage towards blue. Note the rust print of the manufacturer of the corn stick pan!
More lettering visible and the strong rust imprints.
More Monet than Morris is my goal in this eco printing: diffuse and impressionistic forms and passages of colour and marks. The black specks are the tea leaf prints, the brown is the rust from the iron pan and the blue is from the red cabbage. I slipped in a few dried tagetes to give a burst of orange as complement to the blue that I expected from the red cabbage. The challenge is to harmonise my plan as designer with the serendipity of the dye prints.
This photo shows the back and the front of the corn stick pan printed in rust. The pan was placed in the centre of the silk length and the textile was folded in half over the pan, rolled around the pan to make the layered bundle and then tied:
You can see the purple dye seeping from the cabbage even before being steamed. Note the change of hue from purple to blue in the vinegar acid environment.
..and the tea: it has bits of dried orange peel, cloves and jasmine blossoms…they each played their part in the print I am sure though I cannot say for certain what it was.
Finally, I would like to thank some of the artists who have mentored me unawares and at a virtual distance:
I am indebted to many artists for their generous sharings in documenting their eco print work on the web. It provides wonderful information and inspiration for others like myself to try this work. Today would like to acknowledge three artists in particular:
Arlee Barr www.albedoarlee.wordpress.com and Pat Vivod www.patvivod.blogspot.com, are two fibre artists doing inspiring work with similar combinations of plants etc to eco-print textiles; and Amelia Poole on Flickr in the Botanical Alchemy group who is showing mastery in the art of leaf eco-printing and who most freely shares her processes.
Next time, some more eco prints with leaves on watercolour paper; then something on dyeing with safflower (fascinating!) and then some dye experiments, TBD still, with”Tree Shelf” mushrooms/fungus.