Eco Print Fest!

Today's post shows more experimental prints made by students during the recent IMPRESS '13 International Print Festival. But first, a few thoughts in which to situate the sharing we can choose to aspire to as art bloggers. In the Foreword to the festival catalogue, internationally esteemed British painter /printmaker Hughie O'Donaghue remarks (with admirable humility, I would say, for this guy is a Big Wheel in art):

The fine art print is constantly changing and developing and it is a medium that is advanced by dialogue and exchange. Unlike painting, which is very much a solitary activity, printmaking often takes place in a social environment where artists gather together to share equipment and facilities and, as a result, inevitably exchange ideas. This dialogue is something I have prized in the various print studios that I have worked in over the years in Italy, Ireland and Great Britain.”

Here is some more work by other accomplished printmakers who participated in the festival and who also became students of eco printing:

An oak leaf: rust and logwood powder over …something yellow (no label…)

Eucalyptus (L) with iron modifier producing black outlines. Source of the blue? Could be juniper berries or bits of Red Cabbage.

Rectangular cuts of metal rusted with vinegar, printed on silk tissue, with Red Cabbage

Brushing on some of the dye modifiers, postprinting. Note the conscientious labelling!

Carrot tops (yellow-green) and logwood with a tad of Red Cabbage (blue), with colour mixing

Red Cabbage and kale

Metal pieces, rusted with vinegar, with dye powders on accordion folded watercolour paper. Much colour mixing, especially in the folds of the paper.

Sage and eucalyptus (L) modified with iron (R). Note the well-filled notebook (L)

Adventurous collection including juniper, Cow Parsley, nettles – modified with iron liquor (L) using a fan brush – giving the effect of raking light.

Sumac (pink), nettles, R.Cabbage et al, i.e., colour mixing taking place.

Turneresque euca with iron. Pigments leaked through from the prints on the back of the paper.

Lovely. Nettles? The green, centre. Rose leaves (L). R. Cabbage and sumac berries (R)

Euca, R. Cabbage and madder powder

Just vinegar and metal pieces on silk tissue to give a rust print

Rusted metal with plants and string resist. The shiny patches that look white are rust

Beautiful wash of colours. By now, can you guess? Colour mixing here is wonderful.

Another view of one shown in the previous post. Sumac and berries- juniper? mistletoe? Acorn cap?

On silk organza ( for chine colle) – ??? plants with string resist.

Crocus blue, mint yellow green, sumac pink

A repeat from last post – I remembered that this was a rose petal and not a rose leaf modified by iron to give dark shades

Here are some prints drying on the rack. Great to work in a real print studio!

While we were in the studio eco printing, Andy Lovell http://www.andylovell.com of the Gloucestershire Printmakers Collective and a participant in the festival was screenprinting up a storm on an adjacent bench. Here is one of his wonderful screen prints:

Not sure of the title. Would like to call it “Mine” . It calls to my mind the landscape of the Cotswolds, anyway.

..as does this landscape by Constable (seen in the Tate Britain)

…and this, my own photo of the Cotswolds looking over to Wales. Talk about “green pastures”…sigh….

More about the artists in the festival next time – including Damien Hirst! Subject of many debates, as is only proper for art…

And bearing in mind Damien's “dot” paintings – here, to finish, is how my grandson, Dylan, appropriates dots as an art medium:

Why stop at Red Dots?

And why stop at the hand as canvas? And why not include stars?

Best

Wendy

 

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Winterlude Eco Dye Prints on Silk

To continue the previous dye report:

My “Winterlude” project combines dyeing with printing so as to extract plant pigments by immersing tied or clamped bundles/stacks of leaves with papers (cotton/cellulose fibres) and leaves with textiles (silk/protein fibres) in simmering/180 degree plant dyes.

Two summers ago, when I first began using natural dyes to print textiles and paper, I experimented with Purple Cabbage. See this image of silk crepe de chine below: No colour change, still lovely mottled blues. I had several pieces in my stash. What if I overdyed some with my winter leaves in a walnut dye bath? I love blues and browns and yellows together!

So to start with, I bundled the previously eco printed/dyed silk with the winter leaves over bamboo skewers so that I could snap them and bend them to fit the crockpot. I tied the bundle tightly with waxed linen thread, entered it into the dye pot and processed at a gentle 180 degrees for about an hour. I wanted the linen thread to make a lot of delicate lines of resist prints. You can tie linen thread really tight, too. (I got my linen thread at a leather work supply store. It is not easy to find and not cheap, either)

Here we are after the procesing and after the thread has been removed (I unbundled right away. No patience.) The thin, light lines on the bundle are the lines of resist prints. Of course, the waxed linen thread was dyed at the same time, its wax all melted off in the dye bath. The bendy bundle came about as a result of bending the bamboo skewers, as noted.

L
Now the reveal: The blues come from two sources: first, the acer palmatum prints:

Some blue patches, as in this detail below, are from the Purple Cabbage print that survived the walnut dye bath; the resist lines, now characteristic of this printing method, show beautiful marks from the walnut dye and linen thread:

Other views:

Resist lines: I LOVE the white tracery effect. This passage looks like something hand drawn, such a great contrast to the more diffuse prints and the colours.

Printed silk in front, printed linen at rhe back (more next post on linen) – the effects of the blue in the silk make a grey blue background on the silk, while the white linen, undyed previously, retains the lighter background colour. Both are lovely.

Walnut on Purple Cabbage blue mottles on silk, contrasted against the same leaf pigments on linen.

Below:

Part of the Winterlude collection, printed with winter leaves processed in dye baths.

Left to right:

1. Paper in coreopsis-tagetes 2. Linen in coreopsis-tagetes 3. Paper in coreopsis-tagetes 4. Linen in coeropsis- tagetes 5. Silk in walnut 6. Linen in coreopsis- tagetes 7. Paper in walnut

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

More next time – on vintage linen.

 

Eco Print and Natural Dye Sampler Book – done!

The medium is the message!

My sampler book illustrates and describes aspects of my processes for eco dyeing and printing on fabric and paper. Dye printed fabrics and papers make up both form and content of the book.

Now my sampler “pocket” book has its covers, endpapers, “flags”, text, inserts and closure.

Covers are made with dye and paste printed 140 lb watercolour paper (madder, cochineal and logwood)

Back Cover

Front Cover

End papers: Logwood paste paper, embossed with a wood block:

“Flags” made from fragments of eco printed and dyed silk samples, inserted into the inner accordion spine by sewing with waxed linen thread:

An array of eco dyed silk flags printed with madder, logwood and cochineal:

The signatures sewn to the spine are intended for images of the dyes and for text and images about them. There are enough pages for me to keep adding info as it appears useful for my records. I transferred inkjet printed images from a transparency to silk organza using Purell! Then cut out the silk organza images and fused them to the book pages. R to L: Cochineal insect, chemical structure of logwood, logwood plant. (…partially successful with the Purell transfer- will keep working on that technique! … No close-ups, ha ha)
The pocket inserts below are constructed from a large sheet of eco print leftover paper fragments, glued on to a thinner paper background and cut to size, 2″ x 4″ approx. The back of each printed insert records my handwritten info about the print:
The sampler closes with a machined-cord tasseled tie attached to each cover. I used the same red waxed linen thread as for the bindings. For the ties, I punched a hole in each cover with a screw punch ( from Lee Valley Tools. Martha Stewart makes a decent one, too )

 

Last looks at my newest toy!

Inside the book showing paste paper pockets, sewn signatures, eco dyed/printed silk flags and paper inserts:

And the outside of the book, showing covers, ties and madder-printed accordion spine:

Next posts: Stash Busting!

1. Back to the textile stash! I am recovering a chair with my collection of needlepoint canvases from the sallyann.

2. And a new Artist Book about my stash of rust printed papers, linens and cottons

A bientot!

 

 

Eco prints for wedding guests

Just a few days to go before the wedding …Chuppah Day is May 6!

The Bride is making up little Loot Bags to greet the wedding guests, with fun contributions from sundry friends and family.

For the cause, I am donating my stock of stitched and eco printed greeting cards…about six dozen. This is still the year of stash busting! The cards were fun to make, especially with eco printed watercolour paper, cut to fit a greeting card window. The stitched cards have always been a favourite way to limber up in the studio…no planned designs, just playing with colours and textures using fragments left from finished works to make tiny artwork – see a selection below:

The eco prints below were made Fall 2011:

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Fig leaf print

Before leaving for NYC, I had to cut back my indoor fig:

 

What to do with the fig cuttings? Why, layer them over silk velvet and silk noil them with fermenting (three months) eucalyptus:

On silk velvet:

 

On silk noil:

 

The euc gives up its colour right away:

The two were bundled, wrapped in plastic and left outside in a wee portablevgreenhouse to solar dye until I get back. We will see if steaming or immersion dyeing will be needed to develop the colours.

Until next time

Wendy

Assembling the Chuppah: Almost Done

“Chuppah” means “that which covers or floats above ” ( cf. The New Jewish Wedding, Anita Diamant)

Silk organza and silk chiffon float nicely but they are not so easy to sew. Boy, do they slip and slide and stretch… and float away from your fingers. I cast my mind back to Needlework class at High School in England and to Sister Mary Joseph, our Needlework teacher, and all my wonky lapped, French and Run – and – Fell seams. Sigh. Indeed lovely. But time consuming. Could there be a less ” Slow Cloth” solution?

I tried a “short cut” to a faster cloth. What if I laid the textiles out on the wood floor, stuck it down with low tack tape and used the straight joints between the wood boards to true the fabric and to align the seams?

 

Not every “What If” works. All I got from this one was more wonky seams, just as in Needlework class. Several hours, some Avoidance Activity ( will report later on this) and much really picky seam unpicking later..

I was ready to heed Sister Mary Joseph’s advice: “Tack them in place first! “

It took me quite some time to baste four 72″ lapped seams but this is Slow Cloth and it was worth it. I even enjoyed it. The eucalyptus print panels were lapped to the Red Cabbage print overhead canopy after seam edges were zigzagged to reduce fraying/ and straight stitched for easy folding; then the seams were machine stitched flat. (I think the US for Sister Mary Joseph’s term is to “flat fell” a seam)

Next was the applique of motifs on the canopy. I had some misfortunes with the lettering on the canopy roof. For the English verse “His /Her Banner Over Me Is Love” I used very old fusible and so the letters peeled off after a few days…another lesson learned. For the replacement letters, figleaf motifs, Hebrew letters, Mogen David and Olive Branch appliques, I switched to new Steam A Seam Light. It took a couple of extra days to re-do the lettering but the results were satisfying.

Lettering lower left.

 

An Olive Branch entwines the letters on the canopy:

 

Fig leaf motifs in five layers of silk organza for the four corners of the chuppah, strong enough to support the poles and the canopy:

With a soldering iron, I burned holes in the fig leaf motifs for the screws on the finials to pass through, then fused the fig leaf “patches” to the corners of the chuppah.

The finial in place. We found the poles and finial on sale in the drapery department at a local fabric store

 

This house plant provided the template for the figleaf. Can you see a fig?

 

Remember the recent Red Cabbage experiments? These lovely blues and turquoises are now part of the chuppah.

 

All of these printed textile fragments are to be incorporated into the final phase of the chuppah construction as long ribbons or fringes attached to the poles at the corners. The ribbons go in groups of eight on each of the four poles to signify fringes, as on a prayer shawl.

Here are some of the ribbons in progress. The Red Cabbage blues are combined with fragments of other eco printed textiles in co-ordinating colours. The yellow silk is Golden Rod, the dark one is tea and rust printed, the light is a eucalyptus print, the blues are Red Cabbge.

 

The edges of the chiffon and organza ribbons need restraint and a narrow zigzag does a pretty job of edging. For readers cringing at the very thought of how long it might take to zigzag around 32 ribbons, 72″ long:

SURSUM CORDA! Lift up your hearts!

It took me ten minutes to make one ribbon after cutting it out: so six minutes to sew one ribbon, two more minutes to iron it and another two minutes to trim off the “beards” with my trusty little Fiskars snips. Add five minutes as guesstimate for cutting, so fifteen minutes per ribbon times thirty- two.

Thus, four hours to make the ribbons ONCE the printing is done…and the amount of time for eco printing is another story…Slow Cloth indeed.

 

Finally, here is a pic of part of the chuppah in progress with lettering and leaf motifs in place. The blue of the sky today (it was a ridiculous 80 degrees F here in Ottawa!! ) and the blue of the silk roof of the canopy look almost the same. That was the idea- for the Bride and Groom to look above their heads, for the canopy to disappear almost against the sky and see only blessings on their wedding day.

 

Last pics of the chuppah before the wedding will be to show the ribbons all done and the 16 small “buntings” or “prayer flags” in place. After the wedding (first weekend of May) I will post pics of the finished textile.

Next post: Avoidance activity: eco printing with blue hyacinth

Red Cabbage Rules

A few readers have asked me for more details about the results I have obtained with some recent eco prints.

Here again is an image of the prints with blues, yellows and oranges. The blues are from Red Cabbage. If I had drenched the bundle in vinegar, reddish purples would have emerged where the vinegar had contact with the cabbage. Euclyptus cinerea “Silver Dollar” was bundled with fresh fig leaves to give yellows, oranges and greens. The greens from the fig are under the yellows. The brown markings on the blue silk are from the copper pipe.

There are a few new features to my process in the current print collection but I do not know how critical they might be to my results. I am reporting them here anyway for your consideration but first let me review The Usual Alchemy:
As usual, I bundle the plant material tightly in the textile, roll it over a piece of copper pipe and then
steam it on a rack over boiling water for a minimum of one hour and as long as two hours, or until I see good colour on the textile. Or, as my mother-in-law used to say when I asked her how I long I should cook the gefilte fish: “Until it’s done.”
What is different this time? Two things.
1. The textile is silk organza, not the silk habotai I used for the “Silk Roads” collection. However, I used Red Cabbage for both and obtained a wide range of blue values from pale to very deep. Both organza and habotai were scoured in very hot water and a big capful of Synthrapol in full washing machine
2. The alum mordant is alum acetate from Maiwa in Vancouver, not the food grade alum I used for the silk habotai and which I got from Bulk Barn. I understand that using alum acetate avoids the need for additional tannin when mordanting cellulose fibres (cotton, linen) – which is not an issue with silk. i would need to do more precise experiments to show that alum acetate results in more intense colours than aluminum potassium sulphate – which I think is the Bulk Barn kind. (…so please straighten me out If I am wrong here, folks)
FYI on mordanting with alum: so far, I have not cooked my fabrics in an alum bath; instead, I soak the textile in the alum (25% weight of fibre -not much when the fabric is organza) with cold water in a big deep plastic bucket, for 24 hours. I rinse it quickly and proceed to printing. No problem if I do not get around to printing after a 24 hour soak. I have left things soaking for weeks.
3. I usually use a piece of copper pipe to bundle the silks with, ready for an reactions with the plant dyes. This time, the copper made a distinct mark, not what it always does. Alchemy?
The mordant and the fabric, then, are new variables this print run!
One last thought is about the fastness of Red Cabbage and eucalyptus. Eucalyptus has a good reputation in the dye literature, better than Red Cabbage. So like many other questions in this fascinating field, the answer to “Will the colour last?” has to be: Time will tell. And maybe we can count on new data from artists in the new field of eco/contact plant printing (thank you, India Flint)
The first two pics are of Red Cabbage blues dyed last summer, 2011; the third pic is from winter 2012. The cabbage is in interaction several different plant dyes plus rust and various sources of tannins. Alchemy!
With Golden Rod, rust and Perennial Geranium
With tagetes marigold (the greens from the calix)
With black tea, rooibos tea, safflower petals
Someone once said to me : Well, that is fabric, and it ‘s gonna rot. I replied that indeed it likely would rot, but that I would likely rot before my textile does.
PS I will have articles on eco printing appear in the April issue of Fiber Art Now and in the online Hand Eye magazine (next issue, I think)
Thank you for opening these topics, dear Readers.