More May Art

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

20 thoughts on “More May Art

  1. Our flowers are just opening here, a plethora of possibilities. These are so clear and precise the prints and colours, just amazing.

  2. Amazing ! Some look like water color painting, some like impression painting. Wonderful mixed colors but not a mess. Love all and thanks for sharing.

  3. Gorgeous! You do get different colours from contact prints as opposed to dyebaths. My c.tinctoria gives oranges and rusts with a splash of ammonia in the pot. Will wait for your post on this! I love coreopsis.

    1. Indeed, Louisa, there is an inspiring difference between many plants in the dye pot and in the eco bundle. I think that is why contsct printing can be regarded as a contemporary take on the traditional dye practices


    1. Hi Darcy

      Three ways to get iron oxide without digging it up yourself:
      1. Buy the Fe powder from Msiwa in Vsncouver
      2. Make your own iron liquor by putting nails in a glass jar, covering with white vinegar and letting that steep until tne rust water hsppens – a few weeks in cool westher, sooner in warm weather if processed outdoors
      3. Actual bits of rusted iron OR metals you can induce to rust in the steam bath by splashing orvsoaking the bundle with white vinegar.
      The above are some of the ways to get rust


      1. Thanks for the quick response! I can’t wait to try these techniques. Thank you for being so free with you knowledge. I will definitely pass along the knowledge I gain to all who wish to know it.


      2. Darcy
        I should add that I use the iron liquor and powdered iron when I want to shift colours. When I need the iron for printing, I use rusted iron bits or rusted metal cans etc. See my articles in the next issue of Fiber Now Now plus Somerset Studio this summer for rust refs. ( I need to update my rust page here! )
        Good luck with the experiments


  4. Wendy, do you soak water colour paper completely in alum and water or dab it on with a sponge and then let it sit for awhile? Thanks!

    1. Hi Joy,

      I soak the paper overnight if I have time; otherwise, two hours. Sometimes just a turkey baster while steaming…try them all. Results are variable depending on plant, season, duration of steaming…etc…The “etc” is important because your local conditions and the kind of paper make all tne difference. The lowest common denominators are alum acetate in an overnight soak. Everything else is individual experience Nd wilingness to experiment.



  5. PS

    Your method of dabbing is also one I use – you can vary the intensity of dye take up by how much or how little you dab or sprtiz on…it is a way to shift colours in selected areas


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