Eco printing the chuppah 2

Sorry folks – learning to use iPad with Blogsy for blogging…hmm..

Here are pics of plant materials I collected in Savannah and Charleston a few weeks ago; in the prints on the chuppah, they represent the Southland, home of the Groom:

Southern Magnolia



Sweet Gum

Lichen fallen from Live Oaks…but what kind of lichen and how to process? Have to check Karen Diadick Casselman’s book “Lichen Dyes: The New Source Book”

Fig leaves from trees known in Israel, (the Groom’s spiritual -and one-time geographical – home), from a plant in my house:

…and Silver Dollar eucalyptus that printed the yellows and oranges shown below and in my last post:

…plus another type of eucalyptus (what kind?) gathered from a park in Tel Aviv:
A fig and eucalyptus bundle on silk organza:
These four silk organza bundles look yummy, like Vietnamese rice paper roll ups! The four finished panels (16″ x 72″) will form side flaps on the chuppah:
After unbundling, the eco prints on the silk panels looked like this:
And this is the eco print of the Sweet Gum, magnolia and camellia leaves (above) on silk dupioni


Next time: blue, blue, blue


Eco Print Adventures with Dye Extracts and Associates

More trials with dried dyestuffs, regular and irregular, on 10 mm silk habotai and modified post-printing with iron. 

1. Top: Osage Orange with madder (rich) Bottom: Ditto, modified with iron.

2. Left, Osage Orange, modified with iron, post-printing; Right, the same Osage Orange. Bundled over driftwood.

3. Left, Osage Orange and cochineal, modified with iron post-printing.Right, Osage Orange and Cochineal. Bundled over copper.

4. Collection: Osage Orange, Shizandra Chinensis with dried lemon tie-dye(beiges and tans); ditto, modified with iron to give greys and khakis.Second left, a fragment of silk chiffon printed with Tel Aviv park eucalyptus leaves, simmered in dried lemons,  modified with iron.

Dye Sources

1. Rubia tinctorum (madder rich) and cochineal (Dactyopius coccus) concentrated extracts (from Maiwa/Couleurs de Plantes)

2.Maclura pomifera (Osage Orange), woodchips/sawdust (from my stash). Interesting history of use recorded by Rita J. Adrosko in “Natural Dyes and Home Dyeing”, an authoratative reference (much misquoted, it seems to me).  

3. Dried lemons. They look like wee black walnuts and are actually small limes. From my kitchen cupboard via the mid-east grocery.

4.  Black Tea (loose Assam/Darjeeling) the darkest I could find.

5. Schizandra chinensis ( schizandra berries, ground). Often referred to in less frequent dye literature as a tannin-rich mordant. “On Special” at the health food store along with other intriguing roots and leaves with dye associations like  calendula, hypericum perforatum, nettles, calendula, etc. Among other claimed health benefits, an aphrodisiac in Chinese Medicine. Various colours claimed for this dyestuff so one needs to experiment with mordants, modifiers, heat, length of cooking time, etc.

Next post: Travelling further along the “Silk Roads”

Eco Prints with Eucalyptus on Paper, Silk and Wool

I had heard that sometimes soaking eucalytpus leaves for a while before printing can help to release the colours into the paper or textile, so over the busy-busy-busy Christmas holidays I left  some plant material to soak  in water in separate containers until the Twelve Days were up.

After soaking, the leaves looked like this: (Starting at top left): 1. Seeded Eucalyptus , larger oval leaf 2. Seeded Eucalyptus, smaller oval leaf 3. Israeli Eucalyptus (variety TBD) 4. Silver Dollar Eucalyptus (rounded leaf) 5. Baby Blue (centre) Eucalyptus

              Each kind of eucalyptus (with bits of bark, too) was sandwiched between two sheets of watercolour paper and stacked for steaming as usual. The “What If..???” for this session was to insert some silk chiffon (see later) in between the papers, to trap the leaves and stalks and to catch some colour.

I liked the print made by the stalks, as well as the range of colours.

Note the colour variation on the Seeded Eucalyptus: large oval leaves gave chartreusey yellow; smaller ones gave bright red orange, as did the seeds and stalks. The brown blotchy parts are from some aby Blue that began to slime up and compost in the water. The soaking seemed to coax more orange-reds out of the seeded eucalyptus on to paper.

Browns, tans and sagey greens from this variety (TBD) collected as both fresh and dry specimens from a park in Tel Aviv. Now this lot was not pre-soaked for I received it as a gift on New Year’s Day only.

OOO, Eye Candy! The sunny yellow eco print on paper from this variety (E. Globulus?) is pretty much the same intense colour as the one obtained on silks and wool (see pics below) without prior soaking but with longer cooking.

Baby Blue Eucalyptus eco prints (like strings of rounded fruits) on handwoven wild silk dupioni (lots of slubby texture), modified with iron liquor (rusty nails in vinegar) to shift the yellows and red-browns to greens and greys. Some  Seeded Euc is on the left. The panel has the feel of an oriental scroll –  I look forward to stitching this one.

The semi-transparent silk chiffon pieces that were  sandwiched between plants and papers are layered here for a painterly look. I am planning to stitch them in to some woollen pre-felt to create a new textile  from ecoprinted fragments layered over  wool.

Last fall, Baby Blue E. (no pre-soaking) gave bright yellow on wool jersey in an eco bundle with Black Walnut (brown).

More Fall 2011 prints: Silver Dollar E. (not pre-soaked) gave yellows on silk charmeuse (centre), and golds, oranges, and orange-reds on silk-wool blends. 

  For Seeded E., a shortish steaming (two and a half hours) brought orange-reds on both paper and silk when the plant material was pre-soaked; and chartreuses whatever process was adopted. Steaming for as long as four hours (and certainly not less than two) , seems to bring out the orange -reds in Seeeded, Silver Dollar and Baby Blue E., at least in my practice so far. 

Next posts

1. Some more updates to my Dye Plants page. In January, month of snows, what better way to brighten  dark, late afternoons than look at the images of a summer garden?

2.  I have broken down and bought some Couleur de Plantes natural dye extracts from Maiwa in Vancouver…I could no longer contain my curiosity about madder, logwood, etc etc. Can’t wait to see how – or IF! – they will work with  my  usual dye stuffs in the next collection of eco prints on silk habotai.

Happy New Year, Bonne Annee 2012!


Eco prints with Fall leaves on dupioni silk

Fall leaves, starting with alder at 12 o’clock: Alder, Blackberry, Chokecherry, Cotinus Coggygria, Ginkgo, Japanese Maple, Sweet Gum. This is my principal print material this month.

Cotinus coggyria, Japanese maple, Sweet Gum, blackberry, green carrot tops on silk dupioni, mordanted with alum and modified with iron liquor (rusty nails in vinegar). Lovely broken colour purple-brown from the Smokebush (cotinus c.) and sage greens from iron-modified carrot tops.

Detail of the panel:

Red cabbage as a background blue-violet dye colour to mix with the yellows from the blackberry leaves for greens. The panel evokes a blue sky with white clouds and fall leaves swirling by. A close-up:

The layered colours and forms are reminiscent of a windy, cool  fall day. I love the near-transparent colours and shapes of the blackberry leaves against the “sky”.

The back of  Sweet Gum leaf

And preparing for the next batch of eucalyptus prints: Silver Dollar (E. Cinerea) is soaking in a Moshe’s Kosher Pickle jar:

Now waiting for my shipment of silk and wool panels to arrive!


Eco prints on silk with eucalyptus, Rooibos tea, Red Cabbage and fall leaves

This time my eco prints are on some longer pieces of silk charmeuse, silk and wool mixture (80-20) and a small piece of silk twill.  Two lengths of  silk – wool, 24″ x 100″ were pre-mordanted in 25% alum , and the charmeuse and twill were post-dye mordanted in a 25% alum bath…am hoping for the best because I made a mistake in thinking that these two had been pre- mordnated. The collection:

From the left: 1. Sweet Gum and Japanese Maples on silk twill; 2. “Silver Dollar” eucalyptus on silk-wool mix bundled over cherry branches; 3. Red Cabbage, Rooibos tea, blackberry vine and leaves, dried tagetes petals and black tea (Taylor’s of Harrogate “Bungalow” blend) on silk-wool bundled over some very old iron rebar 4. Japanese Maple, Cotinus Coggygria, Sweet Gum and red Chokecherry bundled over copper. All steamed for at least an hour; the eucalyptus bundle was steamed for over three hours.

Some close ups and some details:

The sought-after reds from eucalyptus have arrived here in small measure, in stripes, outlines and spots here and there, adding sparkle and vivacity to the oranges and chartreuses of the leaf and stem prints, as touches of red are wont to do. I used the whole eucalyptus branch (from the florist) and like how it looks printed, better, in fact, than  isolated ovals printed from leaves torn from the stem . 

But to obtain red prints of the whole branch? My understanding is that I need  to soak the leaves several days before printing them; to use dry as opposed to fresh leaves; and to be patient while they cook, under steam or in a dye bath of water. Longer than other leaves…that means over two hours, for sure. Next time.  Meanwhile, chartreuse and orange with just splashes of red will do nicely:

I love the broken-up look of the leaf prints here. That effect comes from how I folded the cloth over the branches. I like how the red dye has drawn lines around the oranges and yellow-greens of the eucalyptus leaves in places and filled in small parts  of the print but without colour blocking the whole area. More Monet than Morris again!

I scrunched up the length of silk to get the photo – I like it better than the long “table shot”. You can see the incredible variety in the marks made by the dye stuffs and know that no two areas will show the same sets of marks or colours. Blues from the cabbage, greens from the marigold mixing with the cabbage; greens from the blackberry; rusty brown red from the Rooibos tea; blacks and dark greys from the black tea and the iron rebar; yellows and oranges from the dried tagetes petals, of course.

A couple of detail shots:

Great detail of the blackberry and the iron rebar.

Rooibos (“Red Bush” in Afrikaans), red cabbage and tagetes meet and mingle.

A range of gentle blues and greys from Japanese Maple, soft browns and ochres from Sweet Gum and more blues from Cotinus Coggygryia (I think I have misspelled that last word a hundred times in this blog – just can;t make it stick in my head… better stick with “Smokebush”… I can spell that…)

And a detail:

The darker blue values are from Chokecherry leaves (burgundy red all year) and the darker browns from Sweet Gum.

Next post: More eco prints on watercolour paper.

Honour Roll for this post:

Why, India Flint of course, the Great Queen of Eucalyptus Dye lore.  Her book on eco prints has taken me on this fascinating journey of discovery.

Eco prints with eucalyptus and walnut on wool

The wool came from a recycled sweater, part wool jersey and part lamb’s wool. I mordanted the wool in alum for several days, cut the sweater into sections and bundled each section over a variety of supports: copper pipe, catalpa pods, dried corn cob, stripped cherry wood branch, eucalyptus stems, rough bark-covered branches. Acorns, rusty iron nails and staples were bundled in also.  The bundles were tightly wrapped in lots of cotton string (to give many kinds of marks), then steamed a while first over plain water, then simmered in a walnut dye bath. The outside of the bundles became rich dark brown, and areas  inside ,softer browns and greys from the walnut dye. The eucalyptus gave yellows and the iron bits, greys and blacks; the catalpa and the corn gave red-browns. Not sure about the copper – maybe it greened up the yellows to  bright acid yellow from the eucalyptus.  Some pics:

I snuck in a sprig of fern with the round Baby Blue leaves: they gave yellow and the fern gave greys:

2.  A range of browns and greys from walnut, yellow-greens from Seeded eucalyptus and blacks from rusty nails etc.:

3.  Dark brown walnut on the outside of the bundle, yellow euc’s and a circular print from an acorn cap:

4. Similar results but some blue-grey-black from the iron marks thrown in:

5. I like the contrast in this little wool canvas:

6.  The rusty iron bits leave great marks – and so does the acorn cap:

7.  Complex layering of marks and colours on  this small canvas:

8. This eco print made me think of the poem by William Blake:

Tyger, tyger, burning bright

In the forests of the night

What immortal hand or eye

Framed thy (awful?fearful?) symmetry?

9. Another view of the fern-eucalyptus print: a delicate and understated area, a contrast to the strong stripes in brown. It looks like a flowering bough.

 In  their next stage these small eco printed wool canvases will become one larger textile,  stitched and maybe felted. But that will be later in the winter when the garden plants are under snow and prints will be made from the materials in the stash – or at the florist.

Eco prints with eucalyptus

Three varieties of eucalyptus from the florist were used for my prints on silk: Seeded eucalptus with pointed oval leaves; a smaller oval leaved, unseeded variety (on the left) and the rounded leaf Baby Blue:

Seeded eucalyptus and “Baby Blue” eucalyptus plus another larger round leaf (unnamed) gave oranges, chartreuse greens and yellows:

The whole silk cloth:

The seed prints:

The whole stem prints:

 Red colours come from eucalyptus cinerea (with large round leaves) and are commonly named “Silver Dollar” eucalyptus. All varieties come to Ottawa from California but not all are available at all times… so I am waiting for some Silver Dollar next, to try the red print.

Next up: more eucalyptus prints on wool and with walnut dyes

Eco prints with Black Walnut, Eucalyptus and Catalpa Pods on silk, wool and vintage linen

So the Black Walnuts were steeping in a plastic bucket outside on the deck, with another bucket of dye (marigold) on top to keep the squirrels and the raccoons out.


 Only a mess and 25 walnuts left… that hairy, healthy squirrel culprit:

So I tied the walnuts up in a vintage damask  linen tablecloth and simmered them in a dye pot of their soaking liquid:

I left the linen soaking for several more days because walnut dye does not colour deeply on linen but a longer steep can add depth.

Next tried was the walnut dye on wool,  a vintage (sallyann) sweater, part lamb’s wool and part wool jersey, with the seams cut out.  To make the eco bundle, I layered on Seeded and Baby Blue Eucalyptus (from the florist: I can’t grow eucalyptus in my USDA Zone 4 garden so  I cheated) as well as some  rusty nails and bits, then rolled the sweater parts over fat twigs, copper pipe, even catalpa pods and eucalyptus stalks; then  tied each bundle  up with lots and lots of cotton string wound round and round to make lots of string marks; steamed a while; then dunked them all into the walnut bath, leaving them to simmer at 160 – 180 degrees for an hour or so:

The outside of the wool bundles took on the dark brown of the walnut dye with string resist marks. The inside of the bundles took on dye leaks in paler browns and the eucalyptus dyed yellow;  the rusty bits dyed black..and one other bit was an acorn cap – it made the circle print. More:

Yellow eucalyptus prints, brown walnut with string resist, and – ta da! -a Red Ornamental corn print on the left.  I wrapped one of the wool fragments around this ear of dry red corn to make the eco bundle:

Even after steaming/soaking , the corn kernels remained dry enough for use in other bundles.

Here are the catalpa pods – they  print dark red  brown. I used them to wrap the textiles around as well as for printing: 

Marigold -dyed silk bundled over several catalpa pods: 

And after steaming for an hour:

A detail look:

PS. Do not wrap the bundle in weird synthetic threads as I did for the catalpa pod print: the thread was melted by the steam and then bonded to the silk -I  had to scrape it off. 

 Next posts will be about eco prints with Sweet Gum, eucalyptus and maple – plus eco prints on water colour  paper.

September eco printing: marigolds, sumac, golden rod and associates

Detail pics of textiles eco dyed and printed this month and late last month. Dye stuffs from tagetes marigolds were plentiful so there are lots of yellows and oranges. Red cabbage, eucalyptus, red sumac berries, fresh bay leaves and golden rod offered interesting  variations to marigold colours. Note that eucalyptus gave a yellow overall (immersion) dye but pinks and reds as contact prints in an eco bundle. See Image # 4, below for the contact print.

1. Orange-yellows from marigold petals, greens from the marigold calix and violet from red cabbage.

2. Mixed yellow bloom eco prints  (anthemis, coreopsis, marigold)  modified with iron liquor (rusty nails in vinegar) by splashing areas. 

 3. Detail: Coreopsis verticillata, dried and fresh, bundled in alum-mordanted silk habotai (8 mm) and steamed for an hour.

4. Detail: Eco bundles with eucalyptus  (pinks), tagetes (oranges) , purple sandcherry (blues), purple basil (blues, purples) and fresh bay leaf eco print on silk.  The burned area? I cooked this bundle in the microwave but failed to wet the plants and the textile sufficiently…the bay leaves dried up fast (they are not very absorbant) and caught fire…NOT a recommended practice at 3 a.m. in the morning…But the series of burn marks all through the bundle looks great.

 5. Detail: Tagetes marigold (oranges ), eucalyptus (pinks) eco print on silk

6. Detail: Fig leaf (blue!) and mixed yellow blooms (coreopsis, anthemis, Black Eyed Susans) for yellow dyes on eco bundled vintage linen. Blue fig eco print? A nice surprise. I do not know the laundry history of this textile-and this is a principal allure of eco printing on vintage textiles

7. Detail: Golden Rod (whole plant) eco print on silk: greens from the leaves; yellows from the blooms.

8. Detail: Eco bundled tagetes marigold (orange from petals and green from calix) and coreopsis verticillata (red-orange) on silk .

 9. Detail: Silk, first dyed all over (immersion dye bath) with tagetes mari for a lighter yellow; then eco bundled and steamed with marigold blossoms to give darker orange areas. 

10. Detail: Eco bundled tagetes mari (deep orange) and purple sandcherry (blue) on vintage linen-cotton mix.

Notes: This vintage linen is well scoured and conditioned for dyeing by its history of much use!  I soaked it in alum and tannin (from sumac leaves) for good measure. Vintage linens take natural dyes better than newer linens because they are well scoured. Linen’s reputation for being hard to dye is perhaps more applicable to linens not previously laundered or prepared for dyeing. Vintage linens with a unknown laundry history will dye in unexpected ways: that is their allure! 

11. This (well scoured, new) silk noil panel was eco bundled with tagetes mari (orange) and purple basil (blue-violet). 

12. Detail: Tagetes mari (orange-yellow), dried rose petals (grey-brown mottling); rose leaf (green) eco bundled in vintage handwoven refectory linen (from a monastery).  The start of some handstitching – more of  that after the garden season is over in  Zone 4, Ottawa, Ontario!

13. Detail: Lost my notes on this textile!  But the greys are likely the result of an iron modifier on a yellow dye – from lichen, maybe,  or even from one of the fruit tree (prunus) barks I tried in the early summer. Sometimes I get too excited to and forget to write stuff down. A lovely print, I think, though.

14. Detail: Silk eco bundled with pear leaf (some leaves turned red early) , tagetes mari and purple sandcherry leaf: Brown-green, yellow-orange and blue-violet prints,  respectively. I like the dotty-mottles on the pear leaf contact print.

 15. Detail: Mixed eucalyptus leaves (from the florist – this is one plant I did not grow myself!) with tagetes marigold, giving shades of yellow then modified with iron to give shades of browns, greys and blue-greys . This is one of my favourites! Thank you, India Flint, for sharing your knowledge about eucalyptus dyes – and everything else. India’s work  (see link in my Blogroll at left) inspired my 2011 summer’s work.


16. Detail: An eye-popping combo from red sumac berries (pinks and reds) on BlackEyed Susan eco print and dye (greens),  in a lumpy eco bundle with silk habotai (8mm). The tiny red berries print little dots and circles and blobs.